Friday, December 30, 2016

The Countdown - The 25 Worst Films of 2016

   The year has brought many great films, more than the bad of course, but there are still plenty of horrible, horrendous, and downright despicable films of 2016. Of course film is subjective and these are all my opinions, but trust me when I say that these select films don't even remotely make the grade.From big budget blockbusters to under the radar snooze-fests, the year was filled with movies that just aren't worth anyone's time or money.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Manchester by the Sea - Review

   The medium of film has a really unique way of pulling on heart strings and carrying emotional weight in two hours that other mediums cannot even hope to accomplish. In many ways, films do this with certain emotional, almost cliché, beats that are designed to manipulate the audience to get this desired reaction. While other film create this vast array of emotions without the big sweeping tragedies or heart wrenching twists. Other films craft their storytelling in such a way that they feel real to an alarming degree, becoming extraordinarily powerful along the way. Manchester by the Sea is one of those other films.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Passengers - Review

   The need for original sci-fi films is constant and unmoving, so when a film comes along with an interesting premise, it gets immediate attention. Add two of the biggest stars in Hollywood and a script that’s been on the blacklist for a while and the film will garner a large amount of anticipation. The results are incredibly muddled, and though visually pleasing, Passengers has an identity crisis.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Assassin's Creed - Review

   Well it is inevitable that a good video game film will be released, it’s just a shame Assassin’s Creed is not that film. The pieces were all in place to ensure a good film; a stellar cast, an up and coming director, and an inventive premise from the source material. But none of these elements come together to form any semblance of a movie, let alone a good movie.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

La La Land - Review

   The musical. A time honored tradition of Hollywood that’s seen it’s ups and downs over the years. The glory days of Hollywood saw many a musical spectacle before things went a little south since then, none really capturing the magic of the classic Hollywood musical. La La Land does something spectacular here to get back to the glory days of musicals, putting just as much focus on energy and movement within the music, making even the simplest note mean so much more.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Review

   A franchise can earn certain goodwill where no matter what the reviews say, the audience will still go out in droves to see the newest entry. The marvel cinematic universe has almost earned this peak, the Harry Potter franchise arguably hit that point, but the real king of this is phenomenon is Star Wars. Regardless of the words I type below, or anyone critiquing the film, you’ll most likely see it no matter what, and you definitely (DEFINITELY) should.

   In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

   The biggest pitch for this first anthology film was using a war-like feel within the Star Wars universe. Rogue One hits this premise almost perfectly; particularly the third act, and feels incredibly grounded. The story is more contained than the saga films despite the large scale and numerous worlds and characters. It’s a stand-alone film through and through that will satisfy casual and hardcore fans alike, including a few classic characters like a certain dark lord that gets a truly chill inducing scene at a certain point.

   Star Wars, while known for big sweeping battles and action, is about characters. Rogue One has interesting characters that don’t get a lot of development and that’s really the biggest flaw in the film. They're interesting enough characters but the only one to get any focus or backstory is Jyn Erso. Played wonderfully by Felicity Jones, Erso is clearly the main character of the team and thus Jones has the most to work with. But others like Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, and Donnie Yen all get their moments to shine in one way or another. The real standout, however, is Alan Tudyk as the voice of K-2SO. The newest droid to the galaxy manages to get laughs time in and time out, entering the realm of great Star Wars characters with ease.

   By getting Gareth Edwards in the director’s chair, the heads at Lucasfilm and Disney knew they’d get something with a focused and appropriate scale for the epic nature of the film. Rogue One does this particularly well by showcasing the battles and size of things from the perspective of those fighting on the ground. Not only does it illustrate the scope of events but it also shows the life of the people in this galaxy unlike any other Star Wars film.

   Overall, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is precisely what a film outside the normal Skywalker saga should be, expansive yet contained. The story is extremely interesting and the third act is impressive and satisfying, in action and emotion. With great performances and stunning visuals, minus some issues with the uncanny valley, Rogue One delivers on everything one could hope for.

   So what did you think of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Have you seen it and where does it rank among the other 7 films? Subscribe, share, comment below, and as always return to I Am Sam for weekly reviews and insight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Loving - Review

   Something really interesting about Loving is the inherent stress it places on how little the people of Virginia cared about the relationship of a white man and black woman before the wedding rings came into the picture. The sheer fact that a piece of paper can change the perspective from slight side-eyes to actual arrests is incredibly hard to imagine and yet it was a part of that time. Loving illustrates this beautifully, in a subtle and nuanced look at history through the lenses of today’s world.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Nocturnal Animals - Review

   To combine two separate narratives into a single cohesive film is hard enough but to throw in a third is near impossible. Tom Ford, however, does this fairly well with Nocturnal Animals, taking the suspense to new heights in the chilling, neo-noir type thriller. The film ventures into so many different themes and ideas throughout its runtime, getting under your skin like you’d never believe.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Office Christmas Party - Review

   The almost annual Christmas time R-rated comedy has finally hit with Office Christmas Party. Place a fairly exceptional comedic cast into some wacky situation like a Christmas party and the results should at least work in most aspects. Outside of a few good jokes, some visual comedy, and a few good performances, Office Christmas Party is ultimately a disappointment.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Moonlight - Review

   Every year, decade, or era, there are films that feel vastly relevant to the current landscape of the world. They vary in quality and subject, and yet they feature such a poignant nature when it comes to what films mean. Moonlight happens to be one of those films that not only manage to be great, but also meaningful and accessible with every shot, scene, and sequence.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Moana - Review

   Is Disney attempting to rule the world? I’m asking out of sheer curiosity because it certainly seems like they are. Between Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar, Disney had no shortage of success and yet their animation studio continues to build better and better films as the years go by. Adding to their repertoire of animated features, Disney grabs another hit out of the air with Moana.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Review

   There are very rare times where prequels work, just ask George Lucas, but when they’re done correctly, they can both expand the previous films while creating something entirely new. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a return to the Wizarding World that was met with some hesitation, despite the creator of the world, J.K. Rowling, writing the film. After five years away, is the return to the world of wizards and witches worth the wait?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Edge of Seventeen - Review

      It’s quite interesting how particular films can completely sneak up on everyone and become one of the better releases of the year. There seems to be one every year and it just happens to be The Edge of Seventeen in 2016. Harkening back to the days of classic John Hughes coming of age stories, The Edge of Seventeen brings those themes into a 21st century atmosphere and it works incredibly and impeccably well.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Arrival - Review

   The time has come to really consider which films are going to make the cut for the coveted Best Picture crown when it comes time and Arrival may as well be a lock for one of the nominations. With a director that’s making great films as of late, an extremely talented composer and director of photography, and a stellar lead actress, Arrival was all but guaranteed to be good, but the results are truly magnificent.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Doctor Strange - Review

      A consistent track record is so hard to maintain over years of once franchise let alone multiple that converge into one large universe, and yet Marvel has done it for fourteen films now. Even with the deck stacked against them, whether it’s a new character, a little controversy, or a completely insane concept, Marvel appears to have another hit on their hands. Another year, another franchise, and with the next few years planned ahead, Marvel shows no sign of slowing down.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge - Review

   To be out of the game for nearly a decade is a long time for any director, but particularly a former Oscar winner. But that’s exactly where Mel Gibson was before the release of his newest film, Hacksaw Ridge. A few heinous comments amidst a bevy of issues in his personal life sent Gibson out of Hollywood for a large chunk of years until his return to the director’s chair in 2016 with a story worth telling and something to prove.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Inferno - Review

   When so much talent comes in to make a film, the expectations are that the sum will be worthwhile to an extent. An award winner in the director’s chair, a couple of solid actors, and an all-time great composer should be able to create a good film and yet Inferno falls almost completely flat for the entirety of it's two-hour runtime. Struck by the third film curse or just the result of boring source material, Inferno just can't get anything right.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ouija: Origin of Evil - Review

   Horror franchises are all the rage these days, with unneeded sequels and prequels galore that desire nothing more than quick cash grab that they garner. The original Ouija from 2014 was hardly a critical success (earning only a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes) but it did manage to make some money at over $103 million worldwide, so a sequel was inevitable. What we got is a prequel instead titled Ouija: Origin of Evil and it’s actually…good?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Accountant - Review

   The sheer amount that Ben Affleck has turn his career around is astounding. From just another actor with some decent ability to someone who continually knocks it out of the park with the projects he picks. Now his true Oscar contender (Live By Night) won’t be released until later this year but until then we have The Accountant, a thrilling, slow burn mystery that may just kick start an entirely new franchise.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Birth of a Nation - Review

   A biographical drama can be hit or miss more so than any other genre. The film has to stay true to the time period and it’s inhabitants while also crafting a coherent narrative around interesting characters. The Birth of a Nation is the newest biographical film to be released, telling the story of Nat Turner. Premiering earlier this year at Sundance, the hype was through the roof, but does the film live up to it?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Deepwater Horizon - Review

   The disaster film, often an over exuberant mess or patriotic to a nauseating degree, comes around every once in a while to remind everyone how terrifying events like these can be. But every once in awhile a filmmaker can leave those tendencies behind and make a gripping and thrilling film about the human spirit, and that’s exactly what Deepwater Horizon provides.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Magnificent Seven - Review

   Now remakes are a tricky thing to truly nail down, but a remake of a remake, that’s just tall order beyond anything a remake could face.  The original tale of Seven Samurai was given the remake treatment in the form of 1960’s The Magnificent Seven, both classics in their own right, the former more so than the latter. And thus 2016 produces another remake that attempts to capture a fraction of what those two did.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blair Witch - Review

   It’s rare that a single year can produce so many solid, some even great, horror films and yet 2016 has done that. Of course now the peak of scary movie season is approaching as October draws near and the quality is sure to take a dip, but maybe the sequel to one of the best marketed films of all time can give us one last good before all the bad.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sully - Review

   Clint Eastwood, a staple in Hollywood for almost six decades whether in front of the camera or behind it, has returned to the director’s chair. The eighty-six year old man takes another swing at biopics with a take on a rather recent event with “The Miracle on the Hudson”. As if that weren’t exciting enough, why not throw one of the greatest working actors in there as well? The results are bound to be something special.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Light Between Oceans - Review

   Blockbuster season has officially drawn to a close as September rolls in and brings with it all the awards season films you could imagine. This year, the awards bait starts early with the first weekend in September seeing the release of a drama with an Oscar nominee and two Oscar winners as the leads. That film happens to be The Light Between Oceans and while it may be starting a new season of films, it still carries a little bit of the stink from Summer with it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Don't Breathe - Review

   A fourth solid major studio horror film in 2016 and it’s not even September, unheard of in horror over the last few years. Yet here we have Don’t Breathe, the home invasion film that’s spun on its head and somehow manages to do almost everything correctly.  Don’t Breathe is the ideal close to a disappointing summer and hopefully a sign of things to come for the rest of 2016.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hands of Stone - Review

   For such a seemingly unpopular sport in America, Boxing continues to see Hollywood releases year after year. It’s understandable, in a sense, as it plays to the underdog story that so many people love. The sheer number of films causes the stories to overlap and become clichéd with each subsequent release. Hands of Stone is not different from this formula and not really unique in any way.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ben-Hur (2016) - Review

   Remakes are inevitable in Hollywood. Classic stories will be retold in different ways from now until the end of time. Even with this knowledge, it doesn’t soften the blow of seeing a classic remade for purely monetary reasons, but the sooner it’s accepted the better everyone will feel. That’s extremely easier said than done and Ben-Hur is the perfect example as to why remakes can be so frustrating.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings - Review

    The often forgotten animation studio of Laika has produced some truly beautiful films over their history such as Coraline and ParaNorman, yet they continually take a backseat to the juggernauts of the animated world. The style of stop-motion animation is a time consuming endeavor, but when done the right way like Laika does, the final product is really something to behold.  The young studios fourth animated feature, Kubo and the Two Strings, continues to develop their reputation for crafting not only beautiful animation, but putting together truly great stories as well.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Pete's Dragon - Review

   As Disney continues their trend of live-action remakes of animated classics, some lesser-known films will get the upgrade. Pete’s Dragon certainly falls into that category where everyone has at least heard of the part live action, part animated film from 1977 but can’t quite remember what it was about. This obscurity allows Disney to play around with things a little and create something that updated not only visually but story wise as well.

Sausage Party - Review

   An R-rated comedy from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is bound to feature particular elements that are the safest bets you could make and they are f-bombs, drugs, and crude humor. The latest release is no different, but with one minor twist; it’s animated. With animation involved, Sausage Party is able to get away with so much more than a typical comedy and they know it. Oh they definitely know it.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Suicide Squad - Review

   The third film in DC and Warner Brother’s attempt at a Cinematic Universe ended up facing a lot more pressure than it ever expected. Suicide Squad has the expectations and hopes of fans and the studio to place this universe back on track and establish Warner Brothers as a force to be reckoned with in the comic book movie era of Hollywood. Well now the film has released and what’s the verdict? Maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board Warner Brothers.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Jason Bourne - Review

   A franchise that began way back in 2002 has returned with the creative minds and lead behind what made the original trilogy so great. A slight misstep in 2012, the Bourne franchise always delivered thrilling action and a storyline worthy of continuing in the correct way and that’s exactly what Jason Bourne (and the inevitable future entries) intends to do. In a summer filled with disappointing blockbusters, will Bourne redeem it?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Nerve - Review

   The age of the social media lifestyle has quickly grown to overtake Hollywood with the slight thriller that is Nerve. The film is rather simplistic with a slight undertone on our society’s love of being loved. The fictional game seems like the pipe dream that some TV or app producer has to capitalize on those who live through a screen rather than actual living. Nerve has an interesting premise for the digital age and it executes it…for the most part.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Star Trek Beyond - Review

   Very rarely does a rebooted series take off and find such financial and critical success that the new Star Trek series has. Back in 2009, J.J. Abrams laid a great foundation for a new world (and a new timeline) where anything could happen to the crew of the Enterprise. The third installment sees the crew finally take to deep space and as the voyages now show no signs of stopping, as it appears Star Trek is here to stay.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lights Out - Review

   In a genre that feeds on using darkness for their scaring needs, it’s a wonder how horror films have never truly utilized darkness as the true horror itself. Lights Out does exactly that and reminds everyone why they kept those night-lights on or ran down a dimly lit hallway when they were younger, feasting on that fear and turning it into a feature length, and quite effective, film.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) - Review

   Never has a film received so much scrutiny, and some hatred, before the actual film has been released than the newest Hollywood reboot, Ghostbusters. Ultimately, the outrage isn’t shocking in the age of so many lackluster reboots recently, and the horrible marketing campaign certainly didn’t help, but the logic behind the hate was faulty through and through. Now that the newest entry in the comedy franchise is out, what’s the final verdict?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates - Review

   The raunchy comedy is a frequent endeavor for Hollywood these days, placing characters into any awkward situation they can conjure up.  They have a very small window to succeed without crossing the line into eye-rolling territory and ultimately becoming unfunny. While Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates features a large number of comedic and truly funny moments, it toes that line of raunchy comedies.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets - Review

   The fifth feature film from Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures comes to the world in the form of The Secret Life of Pets. With about a fifty percent success rate, Illumination looks to venture out of the Despicable Me world into the realm of talking animals. The approach, not unlike their other films, aims at the younger aged demographic whole-heartedly rather than leave some clever moments for the adults like other animation studios. The attempt is valiant by the young animation studio, but does the film reach it's potential for greatness?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan - Review

  Tarzan of the Apes is one of the longest running heroes in books and film, making his debut back in 1914. There have been so many different portrayals of the character of the years including a Disney animated film, so it’s highly unlikely that someone doesn’t know Tarzan in some form or another. But the story this time around goes beyond the classic tale, to Tarzan’s years after the jungle and his time going by John Clayton. Though it may be another Tarzan iteration, it’s with a different perspective for a new era.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Purge: Election Year - Review

   If anyone would’ve said that a concept such as The Purge would make it to three films back when the original came out, no one would’ve believed you. Yet here we are at the third entry in the franchise, and they’ll likely be more as the years go by. The first two differed so much in tone, but the third follows in the second’s footsteps, following the on-street tension throughout the runtime.

The BFG - Review

   Very rarely are there directors that produce a consistent line of products like Steven Spielberg has over the years. Covering everything from aliens to dinosaurs to sharks, the 69-year-old director has graced the screen with classics big and small. It should come as no surprise that whenever his name is attached to a film, the anticipation skyrockets. This film was no different, as a beloved children’s book set in a magical world in his hands sounds like the recipe for success.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence - Review

   The nostalgic sequels are all the rage these days. Some are good with hits like Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens while others fall way off from the past success of the franchise like Terminator Genisys or Zoolander 2. Independence Day: Resurgence gets to join the latter as it falls completely off the rails from its predecessor.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Shallows - Review

   Any film is inevitably going to be compared to a film of the past with similar themes or within the same genre. Unfortunately for The Shallows, the best film that it can be compared just so happens to one of the first major blockbusters and a cinematic classic, Jaws. Those are some big shoes to fill, but thankfully The Shallows doesn’t try to measure up to that legacy, crafting it’s own intense and entertaining tale.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Warcraft - Review

   The Video Game movie is such a rare occurrence that a GOOD video game movie is almost non-existent. But with the release of Warcraft, the potential is there for video games to break through to Hollywood in a big way. The video game renaissance has to begin somewhere and maybe it will start here, in Azeroth.

The Conjuring 2 - Review

   There is no bigger name in the horror genre right now than James Wan. He has given the world the only good Saw film (the first one), two great little horror films with Insidious, and arguably the best film from the genre in recent years, The Conjuring. The follow-up comes to us three years after the first and looks continue the winning streak Wan has been on.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping - Review

   The Lonely Island has finally made it to Hollywood! The comedy trio is making their film debut with their mocumentary look into the life of a popstar. And while the group’s comedy may not be for everyone, the continued success of their music and their brilliant digital shorts on SNL have shown that they’re here to stay. But the question remains, can they take that success to the film industry?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse - Review

   There are very few franchises that have had the continuous success of the X-Men universe. Bumps in the road have occurred along the way with films like X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but for the most part the mutant universe has entertained the world for the better part of a decade and a half. But when the children of the atom are tasked with their biggest threat yet, does the film measure up?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - Review

   Comedy sequels have been historically bad. Everyone knows this and yet they are still released on an almost yearly basis. The comedy becomes, most of the time, repetitive and often feels stale, using the same or similar comedic beats to the first. Luckily there may be another film to add to the list of good comedies and that is Neighbors 2.