Friday, December 25, 2015

Joy - Review

    It’s well known that directors enjoy working with specific actors and vice versa. But what David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper have is truly a loving work relationship. Earning two best picture nominations for their previous two times out, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, perhaps the third time, Joy, will be the charm for the trio to bring home the big Oscar prize, or maybe not.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sisters - Review

   As hard as it can be to really nail comedy down, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler always seem to get it right. Their off-screen friendship creates a profound chemistry that makes them feel as though they may be actual sisters. And that’s what Sisters has going for it. While the jokes and comedic moments as a whole are rather un-spectacular, the sheer ability of these two lifts the film onto their backs for a majority of the runtime. Sisters is by no means a classic, but has its share of funny moments along the way.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Review

   As far as films go, you can’t build much more anticipation than Episode VII has. Arguably the most talked about movie of not only 2015 but possibly the last few decades made me wonder if typing a review up was worth it. Those of you who will are going to see it will see it no matter what and those who have never enjoyed Star Wars (the evil people that you are) will probably not give this a chance. But the reviews here anyway because I can’t not talk about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Krampus - Review

   It may be a safe bet to assume no one, or perhaps a vast majority, had heard of the legend of Krampus. Those select few people who are up on their German tales, or those that are just avid viewers of FXX’s The League, knew that the legend was ripe for a cinematic story. In a combination of holidays, Krampus evokes an 80s horror vibe through it’s creepy creatures, while maintaining it’s humorous charm.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Creed - Review

    In the world of numerous sequels, and more importantly unnecessary reboots, comes the seventh film in a franchise spanning forty years. No it’s not that seventh installment, which comes later this month. This film tries to reinvigorate a franchise that has lain dormant since 2006 and 1990 before that. Creed brings back everything we love about the Rocky films while being it’s own thing and like its main character, make a name for itself.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Brooklyn - Review

   As awards season draws closer, more and more films with Oscar hopes start crawling out from the woodwork. There is bound to a period piece somewhere along the line, but not usually in the same vein as Brooklyn. While many period pieces are more dramatic or biographical, this steps into the romantic side with one toe in the dramatic hardships of immigrants coming to America. It balanced wonderfully and it all centers around one young woman and her growth along the way.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Good Dinosaur - Review

   How lucky is the world to be given not one Pixar film in 2015, but two? Granted they skipped a year in 2014 but still. The earlier release this year of Inside Out was met with stellar reviews (and still ranks in my top 5) and is considered among the studios best. While it’s not fair to compare that and Pixar’s new film The Good Dinosaur, its bound to happen. And while The Good Dinosaur isn’t the masterpiece that it’s predecessor was/is, the fun tale set in prehistoric times is still another great entry into the Pixar filmography.

Room - Review

   I have a rule when it comes to books turned movies: try my hardest to read them before the film comes out. I read The Martian earlier in the year just as I recently finished Room mere days before seeing the film. For the first time in a while I wish I had broken that rule. Yes it’s nice to read the source to compare, but Room is truly a film that benefits tremendously from the mystery that surrounds the events about to unfold before you.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Night Before - Review

   There may not be anyone else in Hollywood that has been producing solid comedies more than the team of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. The two team-up again for the Stoner comedy The Night Before and deliver a raunchy, albeit juvenile, holiday treat. It certainly can’t stand up there with true holiday classics, but it’s one that will get you into the holiday spirit in it’s own strange way.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Spotlight - Review

   The film industry has never shied away from telling gripping real stories about some touchy subjects. Transgressions of the Catholic Church in Boston is about as touchy as they come and yet Spotlight manages to handle everything with an emotional weight that doesn’t focus on the acts themselves but rather on the work that these journalists put in to hopefully do some good in the world and bring theses actions, and cover-ups, into the light.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - Review

   The recent splitting of the final film in a franchise into two parts is slowing become a trend for the epic conclusions. I can’t say it’s a trend I can get on board with as it seems some films certainly suffer when being resticted as such. But somehow The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 breaks that mold and delivers an action packed war film with just a hint of real world elements to bring the saga to an epic and worthy close.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Peanuts Movie - Review

    There probably isn’t a more classic cartoon since it’s inception in 1950 than the Peanuts.  Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock, and the rest of the gang have been continuing to entertain through comic strips and many holiday specials. But transferring the beloved characters to modern times certainly present some challenges.

Spectre - Review

   In 2015, or the year of the spy, it’s only fitting that the final spy film of the year is the number one guy himself, 007. When it comes to Hollywood, there may be no bigger icon than the role of James Bond. And with so many actors getting the coveted spot as the man with a license to kill over the years, many people will have different preferences. But one thing is for sure; Daniel Craig is certainly making his case better and better.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Goosebumps - Review

   The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp. Night of the Living Dummy. These books and many more make up the Goosebumps series of books. No matter what age you are, I’m sure you’ve come into contact with a Goosebumps novel at some point. The idea to create a fictional film involving the real life writer was an idea that seems cheesy at the time, but it’s execution is done in a way to make up for the concept itself.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Steve Jobs - Review

   Regarded as a genius by many and if nothing else a truly brilliant business man, who could sell someone a similar product to one that’s already in their pocket by making it seem like the greatest thing in the world. I say these things as I type this review on my Macbook and check movie times on my iPhone, with slow anticipation for the next big thing Apple will do, even after Steve Jobs has left this world. With that in mind, there is no question the effect this man has had on the world, but will everyone feel the same when the curtain is peeled back?

Bridge of Spies - Review

   Steven Spielberg, the Coen Brothers, and Tom Hanks. What more do you need? The combination of those three alone should excite even the casual moviegoer, but place them into the Cold War era, throw in some espionage and audiences everywhere are given one of the most intelligent and complex movies of the year.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Crimson Peak - Review

   These days, horror films have been reduced to smaller budgets and jump scares. With Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro brings a higher budget and a deeper meaning to the horror genre. The execution isn’t always there in the gothic horror style of film, but the stunning visuals will certainly help distract from the lack of true scares.

Pan - Review

   It’s often a wonder how something can look so fantastical and wonderful but be so tremendously boring at the same time. Taking a journey to Neverland should never leave one checking their watch to see how much time there is left in the atrocity before them. The new trend of updating classic tales has become a hit or miss genre; Pan lands on the side the filmmakers undoubtedly didn’t want to be on. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

99 Homes - Review

   99 Homes asks the ultimate question of how desperate a man can become to save his family. It is, in every sense of the word, a drama that features exceptional storytelling. The back and forth moral dilemma of the story’s lead character creates the question, would you put aside your outrage to accept a lifeline from the man who caused you such anguish?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sicario - Review

    There may not be a director in Hollywood on a better winning streak than Denis Villeneuve in my book. After delivering two great films over the last two years (Prisoners in 2013 and Enemy in 2014), it’s safe to say Sicario was high on my most anticipated list. Add in some stellar leading names and one of the best cinematographers of all time and you may just have a winner.

The Walk - Review

   Well the reviews regarding The Walk certainly were not wrong. Another film that thrives due to its visual spectacle also creates an experience that can’t be described. As someone who is fearful of heights, I was unsure of my feelings headed into the theater, but minus a few moments of uneasiness, The Walk delivers an amazing story through it visuals. Although I must warn my fellow Acrophobiacs (fear of heights), if you don't want shaky legs while in the theater, I'd avoid the IMAX 3D. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Martian - Review

    The return to form has been made by the great director Ridley Scott. That’s not to say the long time director has made bad films, just not superb or nearly on the same level of some of his earlier work. But The Martian changes all of that. Returning to space once again, Scott crafts an elegant and beautiful film with all of suspense you’d expect, along with some surprising comedy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Grandma - Review

    As the world enters the fall movie season, more and more Oscar worthy performances will work their way to the top.  Grandma is no exception as Lily Tomlin is a revelation in a film that belongs completely to her. If her performance is any indication of what’s to come from the upcoming, yet unofficial, awards season, audiences everywhere are in for a treat.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials - Review

   Yet another book-turned-movie franchise recently released its follow up to a solid first entry in the series. While the first film, simply titled The Maze Runner, was not a spectacle of any sort, it at least executed an interesting idea to a certain degree. The sequel, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, drifted into a clichéd post-apocalyptic film that was too focused on setting up a sequel rather than telling a self-contained story.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Everest - Review

   There have been a lot of visual spectacle films to come out over the years, movies that simply must be experienced in IMAX. Everest adds to this ever-expanding list in tremendous fashion. In a film with so many big name actors, it’s truly amazing that none of them are the star. Instead the mountain itself is the star of the film, the focal point for which the story to take place, the dramatic center and ultimately the most interesting part of Everest is Everest itself.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Black Mass - Review

   Johnny Depp, one of the most well known actors of the modern age, has been on, what seems continuous, a cycle of putting on a bunch of makeup and acting strange and wacky. While not all of them are awful, most of them have been (I’m looking at you Mortdecai). Nevertheless, many were looking for the return of the actor everyone knows Johnny Depp can be. Though he does wear quite a bit of makeup in Black Mass, Depp ditches the shtick and delivers a creepy and shiver-inducing performance.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Visit - Review

   It’s no secret that M. Night Shyamalan’s career has gone a little off the rails. After three successful outings to begin his directing career, Shyamalan went on to direct such masterpieces as The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth. But there is no denying that the talent was there at the start. The Visit shows signs of life and a possible return to form for the director, trading the high budgets in for a smaller horror film might just have been what he needed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Transporter Refueled - Review

   When a film opens with a car commercial for it’s opening title, you know you’re off to a bad start. And while this may be a slight exaggeration, The Transporter Refueled, a reboot of the Jason Statham-led franchise, opens with a rounding shot of an Audi that seems to last way to long to just be an establishing shot.  This is a nitpick of course, but in reality it set the tone for what was going to follow for the remainder of the runtime.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The End of the Tour - Review

   Often celebrities today present a false image, a personality set in place specifically for the camera.  This allows one to pick and choose their mood for that day whether it’s a good or bad day depends on them. The End of the Tour is about the exact opposite of this celebrity mindset. Studying the short but meaningful relationship between a newly acclaimed writer and the Rolling Stone reporter who was lucky enough to interview him.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Straight Outta Compton - Review

   As someone who was born after many of the events depicted occurred, Straight Outta Compton served as a sort of history lesson tied in with the hip-hop revolution that went on during the time. While I’ve heard the music and know who these individuals are, specifically Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, I still had about as much knowledge about the Compton based hip-hop group as I did about nuclear physics. But even with that lack of information going in, I was able to enjoy these true-life characters based on the superb acting and wonderful direction of F. Gary Gray.

No Escape - Review

   Advertised as a high paced international thriller, No Escape hardly delivers on the good trailers it put out. In retrospect, the film isn’t even an international thriller; it’s a zombie film. Not the traditional zombies of sorts, but still nameless, faceless, and ruthless killers who constantly chase our film’s protagonists to no end.  No Escape is quite a simple piece of film and while it features some good performances, just can’t get passed the clichéd, and slightly racist, story.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Z for Zachariah - Review

   The post-apocalyptic film is slowly becoming a film genre in it’s own right. The flood, ironically, continues to flow, but this time in a different form. While other films will bring huge disasters or hoards of zombies running wildly around, Z for Zachariah instead focuses on it’s characters and how they adapt and behave at the end of the world. The result is a delicately calibrated and deliberately un-sensational triangle drama.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cop Car - Review

    Cop Car is an independent film featured in very few theaters, but is one of the new films, luckily for me, to be almost immediately released in digital formats. The film is relatively simple one featuring a small cast with two children at the center of it all.  It presents itself through every turn with a sense of wickedness and builds tension ever so slightly to craft a taut thriller.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sinister 2 - Review

   Sinister 2 is the latest outing from the top horror production studio in the business today, Blumhouse. The film is the sequel to the 2012 hit Sinister (REVIEW) and with any luck was hoping to recapture some of what Scott Derrickson and Ethan Hawke did so well with the small little horror originally. Unfortunately, as is the case with most sequels in this genre, the follow-up plays too closely to original without realizing what made the first film work.

American Ultra - Review

   The lesser-known secret operative spy film of the tail end of summer movie season comes in the form of the stoner comedy, American Ultra.  While not the big budget extravaganza that other spy/secret agent films of 2015, American Ultra is just as entertaining though does suffer from some issues. The film is a lightweight but certainly likeable story about a slacker who is suddenly thrown for a loop when he becomes basically Jason Bourne with an apt to get high whenever possible.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sinister (2012) - Review

   As August is over halfway over, the true blockbusters are finished, at least for the time being. But there will be a release of yet another sequel, Sinister 2, as summer winds down into the lighter months of fall. Before the film is released however, I felt the need to revisit it’s predecessor, the horror film Sinister.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - Review

   The year 2015 may be many things, but one thing is certain; it is the year of the spy. With two pretty fantastic spy films already released, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Review), and two more on the way, Spectre and Bridge of Spies, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is unofficially the midway mark for espionage this year.  The 60s TV show of the same name is revived to produce a more lighthearted, cold war era film and is nothing if not enjoyable, despite some flaws.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Southpaw - Review

   After way too long, I was finally able to see one of my more anticipated films of 2015, Southpaw. Despite the notion that boxing is a dying sport, Hollywood continues to produce boxing movies on a pretty regular basis. And why not? The setting is perfect for an underdog story that everyone can get on board with. Southpaw doesn’t differ much from this rise-fall-rise again template, but manages to bring just enough to make it a solid film.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Gift - Review

   After a summer filled with superheroes, dinosaurs, and disrespected video game characters, it was nice to slow things down a bit with the film known as The Gift. A more sophisticated product from Blumhouse Productions, The Gift is a home invasion film with a slight twist that is far from routine, creating an intense psychological thriller.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fantastic Four (2015) - Review

   Earlier in the week I reviewed two less than average films that attempted to bring the superhuman team, the Fantastic Four, to the big screen. The third attempt titled Fantastic Four (or Fant4stic as it’s referred to in all the marketing) is the latest in a series of disappointing films about Marvel’s first family. Expectations for the movie were at an all time low, and the film still managed to fall flat and disappoint in every imaginable way.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) - Review

   The second part of the Fantastic Four franchise, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, is a slight improvement over the first film, Fantastic Four (REVIEW), though not by much. It trades the cartoony aspects for a slightly darker tone, but still doesn’t manage to become a good film along the way. There are some redeeming qualities, mainly to do with the titular character, the Silver Surfer himself.

Pixels - Review

   Well I finally got the energy and motivation to see Adam Sandler’s newest endeavor into screens across the country with Pixels. The longtime comedian has had a lot of low quality and flat out terrible films over the past few years. Now Pixels is by no means good, but lowered expectations certainly make it watchable.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fantastic Four (2005) - Review

   With the release of Fox’s third attempt to get the Fantastic Four right directly around the corner, August 7th to be exact, I felt it was only necessary to go back and revisit the first two. The first part of which is 2005’s Fantastic Four. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - Review

   Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the fifth film in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Not many series can say they’ve reached a fifth film, and even fewer can deliver the way Rogue Nation has. The film is a constant thrill from start to finish, with beautifully pieced together action and consistent suspense.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - Review

   Five years after Mission: Impossible III and fifteen after the original, came Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. The fourth film in the franchise is the best and not many franchises can say that. The movie is a thrilling and awe-inspiring ride, making it one of the better action films of the last five years.

Mission: Impossible III - Review

   After a spectacular first entry and a less than stellar sequel, the third entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise got the action-spy series back on track with an adrenaline boost from J.J. Abrams. Mission: Impossible III is a thrilling, high stakes film and the most action focused installment.

Mission: Impossible II - Review

   Mission: Impossible II is the second movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise. The action is certainly stepped up from the first; resulting in over the top set pieces as only John Woo could produce. Mission: Impossible II is still a fun action film but a rather weak entry in the series.

Mission: Impossible - Review

   Based on the old television show of the same name, Mission: Impossible started what would become a franchise that has now spanned almost twenty years, as well as launching Tom Cruise’s action star career. After all this time, Mission: Impossible stills holds up as a fun, action-spy film.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Vacation (2015) - Review

  The continuation of the Vacation film series, aptly titled Vacation, might’ve worked if it was titled anything else but Vacation. The fifth film in the franchise feels nothing like the previous four and thus suffers because of its title. When trying to continue a series, a film should feel somewhat like it’s predecessors right? But alas Vacation is just a typical R-rated raunchy comedy and fails to recapture the wittiness of the original Vacation.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) - Review

   With the upcoming release of Vacation, a semi-reboot/continuation of the franchise, there had to be a look back at the original from 1983, the tale of Clark Griswold and his family’s travels across the country in National Lampoon’s Vacation.