Category Archives: Movies

2015 Movie Review Roundup

I get free movie tickets so I see movies pretty often which is awesome. But I don’t have time to write reviews about each and every one of them unfortunately.

Well it’s been three weeks since I last wrote a blog and there were a couple really good, a couple really not-so-good movies from 2015 that I didn’t have a chance to address previously, so I’m gonna try to rattle of a couple of these.

2015 has definitely been a year of sequels. Three of the movies on this list are sequels, and one was a reboot of a decades old TV series. Unlike these years long series, I won’t drag out these reviews for too long. Nice n’ short.

Jurassic World

Guardians of the Galaxy was such a huge success and so well liked that Chris Pratt will play a parody of Star Lord for the rest of his acting career. Jurassic Park was pretty much Star Lord going on space sabbatical as a dinosaur trainer after having watched an Indiana Jones marathon.

So as far as the show’s lead goes, it was an awesome movie and truth be told as cool as the effects and the concept were, it would have blown without Pratt leading from the front.

For a sequel that came out 20 years later, I find it weird that the dinosaurs looked less real. I’m glad I saw it and I definitely enjoyed it, but it has nothing on Jurassic Park 1.

Mad Max: Fury Road

I’m not a big fan of movies that just drop you off in the middle of something without any context. Unfortunately this type of storytelling is more common. Shows like Quantico, Hunger Games.

Well Fury Road is guilty of this story telling crime. But, the action was pretty cool and they did it with minimal CGI which is always appreciated. Tom hardy played Bane for the first hour as he had a metal muzzle stuck to his face. And just like in Dark Knight Rises, Hardy’s character was also incomprehensible the entire movie as well.

The movie was plenty entertaining. But honestly, the only thing I remember is…

So shiny… so chrome…

Age of Ultron

I was looking forward to this movie the date after Avengers 1 came out. Who wasn’t? Avengers was the shit and Avengers 2 could only be twice as awesome, right?

I’ll be stoned for this fuck screw it. Age of Ultron sucked. Sucked hard. For the millionth time Tony Stark made an invention that threatened the security of the world. In Iron Man it was his weapons, and in Captain America it was the advanced helicarrier, and in Avengers two it was Skynet- er I mean Ultron.

Oh, and what was Ultron’s objective? Kill all the humans but Quicksilver and his sister weren’t part of his extermination quest?

And what’s with Vision and how did he come about? So Ultron was going all Pinocchio and tried to be a real boy by making a slightly less robotic looking red skinned version of himself, which was also part Jarvis, and powered by an infiniti stone or something? Oh and it was brought to life by Thor going Donkey Kong on it with his hammer? Huh? So what?

There was too much shit going on and the movie frankly sucked. It’s sad when a trailer is better than the movie.

Age of Adaline

AWESOME movie. Not even a rom com, this movie is a straight romance movie but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Basically this chic doesn’t age and she falls in love with this guy and turns out that like 40 years prior she had fallen in love with his father, yada yada.

But the entire movie culminates during a 10 minutes portion of the movie starring Harrison Ford. Stop it Harrison Ford, you’re making me cry!

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

I really wish I had reviewed this one in full when I first saw it. It was a super good movie and it deserves all the praise it can get but it suffered from a small budget. Cahill and Hammer did a fantastic job fleshing out their two characters as a U.S. and Soviet Spy, respectively.

Superman is such a boring character so it was great to see Cahill get aa shot at a role with some personality. His character is a fusion of James Bond, Archer, and Neil Caffrey, and it worked flawlessly. Hammer plays a great, emotionless KGB robot. The movie was smart, action packed, well written, well casted, and it was freaking hilarious to boot! Rounding out almost any movie (except a drama) with comedy always gets an extra point in my book.

Blackmass

After 10 years of playing pale skinned weirdos, Johnny Depp finally got to play an original character. Given he plays a person who is actually real, the role was a different change of pace for Depp. The movie was violent and gritty and had sprinkles of comedy in it. It’s nothing spectacular but it’s a solid watch and one that I’ll probably buy and watch many times over. It earned a place in my DVD collection alongside Departed and The Town.

Sicario

And the most recent movie I’ve seen is Sicario. It had some big name actors, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt, Jon Bernthal, and several others.

This was a true nail biter. You haven’t seen a movie this nerve wracking in years.

Everyone does an amazing job at acting. Del Toro is top notch. Blunt also did an amazing job, unfortunately her character is annoying as hell. Hopefully she doesn’t make it into the sequel.

Brolin as always brings a solid performance.

And again, it’s a crime-dramaesque film that makes its way into the gritty hall of fame alongside Traffic, Street Kings, and Training Day.

So that being said, 2015 was an interesting year. The movies you thought would be great probably made a lot of money, but gave meh performances. The movies no one heard of even four months before they came out were amazing works of art that will be fan favorites for years to come.

We Are Your Friends: Movie Review

Please welcome the first of what I hope are many entertaining posts from one of our new authors, Brett. -Andrew, the editor, Aug 27, 2015.

A couple of nights ago, I was offered pre-screening passes to go check out the new film “We Are Your Friends”. The film is the new Zac Efron feature about a 23-year old guy who is aspiring to be an electronic music producer and DJ. Now, I still am sort of uncertain what genre of movie this film is classified as, but it definitely earns its “R” rating for profanity, drug usage, and topless women. This was actually a movie that I had really been interested in seeing for reasons I’ll explain shortly, so I definitely jumped at the opportunity to get an advanced look at it. As I eagerly waited for the show to start, I pondered the direction of the movie, and what angle it would take with the rising electronic dance music (EDM) DJ/producer scene. Having personal history and involvement with the EDM scene as both fan and DJ/producer, I knew this movie would bring back a ton of memories, and show numerous aspects of the industry that I’d be able to connect with.

The movie begins with Cole (Efron) discussing the EDM scene, and all that it takes to become a “super-star DJ”. Immediately after, you get a glimpse of the reality of what it’s like to be an aspiring DJ. As Cole works on a new track he’s creating, you figure out that his close friend and acting agent/manager is on the phone with the local night club to negotiate Cole’s DJ set time and their promoting commissions. The remaining two friends in Cole’s group are introduced, and the four friends head to the nearby university to try and promote the show to girls and other students.

Fast-forward to the night of the show, and Cole heads out with his buddies to the club. Cole was slotted to play the middle set in the patio side room. All of a sudden, the glitz and glam of being a DJ get diminished, and the crew gets a harsh reality of the industry. Cole catches his lucky break near the end of the club night when he ends up befriending the headlining DJ.

Cole’s new DJ friend enables his career to progress to far beyond where he was going on his own. Still, simply DJ’ing alone isn’t funding his friends with enough money to grow their empire, so the crew all suits up and gets commissioned based jobs at a local financial real estate firm. Cole continues to improve and develop his new track with the feedback from his DJ friend, and ends up debuting the song at his festival gig at the end of the film.

False Impressions

After seeing the trailer for this movie a few times, I was sure that this movie was going to be about Cole making it big in the scene and playing major shows and festivals. What I was unsure of though was if there would be an actual story line and if there would be any substance to the content. Being a fairly marketed film with a decent known actor, I was sure I’d be surprised.

I really was not sure what the plot would be about, and how there would be an actual story associated with this kid turning into a DJ. Good thing I was wrong!

There was actually a surprising amount of plot and character development associated with this film. There were surprises that weren’t predictable, and there was definitely a climax to the movie. The movie still encapsulates the heart of EDM, but adds a relatable story to boot.

Connection to EDM Culture

It’s no surprise that this movie is about an EDM DJ. What’s not so obvious is the type of connection that there will be to the low-level every-day fan, as well as the aspiring DJ’s. Being a former club DJ and EDM fan, I found relationships to almost every angle that the movie presented. It was amazing how many accurate portrayals there were of the industry throughout the film.

Let’s start with drugs. Yes, drugs. Since this is a huge association with EDM from outsiders, this seems like an appropriate topic to discuss first. Yes, there are drugs in EDM. Fans take them, musicians take them. I think that goes without saying that every musical genre has had narcotic influence for both fans and artists. One particular drug probably comes to mind though when referring to EDM – Molly/ecstasy. This film definitely has more than enough ‘E’ influence to accommodate the surrounding stereotypes about raves and clubs with the drug.

Another large connection is showing the annoyance of what being a club promoter and local DJ is really like. Having come from a background where I did club promotions and DJ’ing for several years, this is definitely relatable and extremely accurate. It was definitely nice to see the film clearly show all these current aspiring DJ super-stars what the harsh reality of the EDM scene is all about for artists and non-fans.

Along the same lines as the annoyances of actually being a DJ, the movie shows the annoyances of actual music production. However, I will say that the shots of Cole hammering it out behind the computer working on his new jam were a bit excessive. Ok, we get it! He works hours and hours and is SUPER lucky to have a nice studio to work in. Nevertheless, it is a relatable parallel with the reality of the time involved into creating EDM masterpieces.

Are We Better Than This?

This phrase seems to be the subconscious theme throughout this movie. The line does come spoken several times in the movie as well as (*spoiler*) Cole’s track that he plays during his final festival gig. I can’t help but think about all the parallels and subtle connections to this line, as well as what the film is implying about the EDM lifestyle.

Neither Cole nor his friends have graduated college. They maintain the hope that they will hit it big in their musical industry careers, and have heavily banked on that. At the start of the movie, none of them had actual day jobs to pay the bills and such. They lived with one of the friends Dad’s, and drove another friends mom’s station wagon to the club events. Apparently none of the guys even have bank accounts, as there were multiple shots of Cole storing all of his cash in a shoebox underneath his bed (make sure you stick around after the credits and you’ll see why this shoebox becomes relevant).

There seemed to be no future for the guys, and no definite plan. The group gets jobs with a company dealing with “aiding” foreclosed homeowners. Despite the income, Cole questions the integrity of the business, and what it’s doing to the people that it is supposed to be helping. This issue combined with the stagnant EDM lifestyle is what sparks the question from Cole’s friend Squirrel, “Are we better than this?”

Conclusion

Overall I’d rate this movie about 6.5/10 stars. The film definitely kept my attention, and kept me engaged. Surprisingly there was a decent story line. I’m definitely glad that the whole movie was not about Cole being a super DJ and touring around to different shows. It was nice to have the movie be more centered on the challenges and negatives of the industry, vice the fame and fortune as people perceive it.

I may be a bit biased about this movie with my involvement in the EDM industry, but hopefully that’ll help serve to add credibility to my review. I would say though, that this is definitely a movie that you would be just fine seeing on Redbox or Netflix. There was nothing remotely spectacular about seeing it on a big screen. This does not mean I feel as if I wasted my 90 minutes. The movie in itself is very enjoyable and entertaining, but I’m hoping to do you a favor by recommending saving your theatre money and seeing this in your home.

I don’t really anticipate “We Are Your Friends” being a title in my DVD/Blue-Ray collection. I do get surprise gifts sometimes, so if that ends up being the case, then I will definitely watch this movie again. I will most likely watch it again on Netflix regardless, but had I not had screening passes to see this film, I wouldn’t be giving them my money at the box office.

Actors Who Have Played Multiple Comic Book Characters

Comic book movies are all the rage these days. They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there is no denying their commercial success in recent years, especially since the introduction of the MCU in 2008 with Iron Man.

The sheer number of comic book related movies (CBMS) in recent memory is daunting. Numerous franchises have already been rebooted since the current wave of CBMs, with studios not even giving them a decade to cool down.

With so many new CBMS and reboots, and graphic novels being converted to movies, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing some recurring faces on the big screen. Many actors have dawned the spandex multiple times, even as different characters. Here’s a quick list of actors and actresses who have played multiple comic book characters on film and TV.

Brandon Routh

Roles:

  • Clark Kent / Superman (Superman Returns, 2006)
  • Ray Palmer / The Atom (Arrow, TV)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson

It seems like every actor from Kick-Ass has at one point been in another CMB. Aaron Taylor-Johnson started his comic book fame in the small cult-classic flick Kick-Ass (and it’s sequel) as a wannabe super hero. A couple years later he would emerge as a bona fide superhero with super-speed in the Marvel hit Avengers: Age of Ultron. With the Kick-Ass franchise over, and his MCU character killed off, his CBM future looks bleak.

Roles:

  • Dave Lizewski / Kick-Ass (Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2)
  • Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Evan Peters

Interestingly, Evan Peters and fellow Kick-Ass co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson both played different versions of Quicksilver in separate franchises. Quicksilver was killed off in Age of Ultron, but expect to see Evan Peters reprising his super speedy role again in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse.

Roles:

  • Todd / Ass Kicker (Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2)
  • Peter / Quicksilver (X-Men: Days of Future Past)

Nicholas Cage

Ghost Rider was a failure of a movie, but I feel like Cage got an ounce of redemption in Kick-Ass when he played the cop-framed-as-a-criminal turned crime-fighting-Batman-lookalike. You have to admit, this scene is bad ass.

Roles:

Rebecca Romjin

Another Punisher cast member, Rebecca Romjin, is perhaps better known by starring as X-Men franchise regular Mystique, the blue, shape shifting, femme fatale.

Bluuooobbbbs. -Honest Trailers

Roles:

Ray Stevenson

This is the first actor on our list to play three comic book roles.

stevenson

Roles:

  • Frank Castle / Punisher (Punisher: War Zone, 2008)
  • Volstagg (Thor, Thor: The Dark World)
  • Firefly (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, 2013)

 

Vinnie Jones

Despite being one of the lesser known, and less acclaimed actors on this list, Jones actually sported two very cool comic book roles. The first was the unstoppable Juggernaut in X-Men 3, where he actually had some decent fight scenes against the likes of Wolverine and the X-Men. Almost a decade later he finally returned to the realm of comic books and starred as another villain opposite Green Arrow on the small screen as criminal overlord Danny Brickwell. Again, Vinnie Jones delivers a level of physicality to his role, which comes from his background as a professional footballer.

vinnie-jones

Roles:

  • Cain Marko / Juggernaut (X-Men: The Last Stand, 2006)
  • Danny Brickwell (Arrow, TV)

Ron Perlman

You may know Ron Perlman was Hellboy, but you may have forgotten he starred opposite Wesley Snipes in Blade II as Reinhardt.

Even more impressive is how many comic book characters he’s voiced over the years. Perlman has a rough, unmistakable voice that makes him well suited to voice a wide range or characters, especially villains. Other smaller acting and voicing roles and projects include Jax-Ur (Superman, TV), Clayface and Orion (Justice League, TV), Static Shock (TV), Emil Blonsky / Abomination (The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Game), Slade Wilson /Deathstroke (Teen Titans, TV), Killer Croc and Bane (The Batman, TV), Sinestro (Green Lantern: The Animated Series, TV). He’s even voiced Batman in a Justice League video game.

perlman

Roles:

  • Reinhardt (Blade II, 2002)
  • Hellboy (Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army)

Ryan Reynolds

Like Stevenson, he’s the only other actor in this list to play three comic book characters, but they were all very important characters in their respective stories. He’s snagged some great roles, unfortunately under the leadership of some shitty directors. He might also be one of only a handful of actors to ever play the same character twice, under two different continuities.

In my opinion, Reynolds is the first heavy hitter on this list. Cage and Perlman certainly had their time in the sun, but Reynolds has had some memorable roles in the last decade or so, and he’s popular. He’s also had some total flops. Green lantern bombed at the box office, and is the shame of the CBM crowd. I will still always remember Reynolds as Van Wilder, and Monty from Waiting.

Luckily, his cinematic future is bright. Reynolds career will kick into 6th gear when he stars as Wade Wilson / Deadpool in 2016.

Roles:

  • Hannibal King (Blade: Trinity, 2004)
  • Wade Wilson (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2009)
  • Hal Jordan / Green Lantern (Green Lantern, 2011)
  • Wade Wilson / Deadpool [different continuity] (Deadpool, 2016)

Chris Evans

Now we’re really moving into the big leagues. Evan’s first CMB role as Johnny Storm was good, not great, but put his foot in the door for the comic genre. Thought Fantastic Four was a memorable movie that has since been relaunched, it won’t be the movie Chris Evans is known for decades from now. His role as Captain America however, is already at legendary status alongside Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man.

His role as the Human Torch couldn’t be more different than his current role as Captain America. Johnny Storm was a young, arrogant, loud mouth, womanizer, and Steve Rogers is an old, humble, and reserved, and possible a 95 year old virgin.

Roles:

Ben Affleck

Rounding out the list is Ben Affleck who has starred as two very important characters from DC and Marvel.

Many claim that paying Daredevil was basically a warm up to play Batman. The two characters actually have a lot in common, both in regards to their character and their origins. While Bruce Wayne dresses like a bat, Daredevil is blind as a bat. Both patrol their cities, almost exclusively at night, and cover their face to protect their secret identities. Both characters are considered to be among the best male martial artists in their respective universes.

Frank Miller played a pivotal role in both of these characters current success. In 1986 Frank Miller injected a new level of blood, grit, and darkness into the Daredevil comic book series, Daredevil: Born Again. Miller took this same story telling recipe and used it to rejuvenate the Batman comic book series, which up until the late 80’s had always been campy and goofy. Frank Miller’s reboots of both characters in the late 80’s is now considered to be the definitive story in each series.

Another interesting factoid, is Affleck will be playing Batman in not just one, but TWO movies in 2016, which might be a first.

Roles

Why Current YA Movies Suck

Oh yeah, I’m going there.

It is time to stir the pot. I’ve been doing reviews about specific movies, and the occasional TV show, and I’m usually pretty polite. What’s the saying again? If you ain’t got nothin’ nice to say then don’t say nothin’? As Eminem put it, fuck that shit.

This is going to be my first of many blog entries in my new Haterade Series. Look for the Haterade tag in future posts.

YA is short for young adult. Not teen, not tween, but young adult. Which at this point is pretty much a blanket term for teens and tweens… and people with poor taste in movies. Can you believe someone actually thought “young adult” – a whooping 11 characters – was so long that it needed to be turned it into an acronym? That’s lazier than condensing “do you know what I mean?” into “na’mean?”

But seriously, these YA movie suck. Balls. Big balls. Here we go.

Dystopian Futures that Make No Sense

Not no sense in the fact that they are fantastical, like Avengers or Harry Potter. No sense in how could such communities ever come to exist at all? Harry Potter, despite its magic actually seems plausible. We’re magical, we need a place to stay since humans are assholes, so let’s make a VIP magical land and oh, let’s put a boarding school there to teach kids about magic. Even Twilight for all of its Kristen Stewart shortcomings had a decent premise, just a horrible story… act acting… and staring.

Divergent Plot

But take a look at Divergent. Teens are categorized into factions based on personality traits, except for that one little caveat, oh yeah… they are ultimately allowed to choose which faction they join. So now it’s optionally compulsory? Who designed this system, the Obamacare team?

Despite the fact that you can be suited for one faction, but choose another, if you actually exhibit traits of multiple factions, they kill you. Oh, and if you don’t exhibit any traits of the five factions, you become a hobo and starve to death in the streets. They really got this perfect totalitarian utopia thing locked down tight, don’t they?

I mean seriously, I’m a libertarian and communism makes more sense than this system. I can see Stalin sitting down, mustache n’ all, and pitching communism. “Comrades, dees is our plan. Everyone gets equal pay. Agreed?” But I would love to sit in on the sales pitch for Divergatopia.

“So guys, check this shit out, we’re gonna like…. split everyone into like… five groups, one for every finger. Oh, and like, all the losers go farm and hand out blankets n’ stuff. And then like all the nerds go read sciency stuff. And like, maybe someone should make laws or something? Oh, and the rest of us will just run around and do parkour and jump off buildings. EXTREMMMMEEEEE!!!!”

Or as Leo Sun put it,

“In Divergent, dystopia is simply replaced by a bloodier version of high school drama.”

It’s basically the less racist version of public school where different cliques of kids are easily identifiable. Or was that just my high school?

Maze Runner Plot

I think the Honest Trailer sums it up about right. So a meteor crashes into Earth and turns people into zombies and the world becomes a desert, and in order to save humanity from the desert zombie apocalypse, evil adults maroon a bunch of teenage boys in what I can only imagine is a 300 foot tall booby-trapped maze the size of Australia, with a bunch of man-eating monster robot spiders that then kill the teenage boys. They built alllll this, instead of, ya know… trying to like find a cure for zombism, or maybe investing in drip irrigation?

Oh, and then they drop one girl in a group of like 20 horny guys to get gang raped. Sounds legit.

Hunger Games Plot

Okay, they can literally make fire, and weather, and trees, and killer animals out of thin air. And they can’t make food? And then Katniss goes to war with a recurve bow? Not even a fucking compound bow? And what’s up with the people in the Capitol dressing up like Johnny Depp knock offs?

idiots
Who wore it better????

Stupid Vernacular

You know what I’m talking about.

So in Divergent, the factions are called what now? Dauntless, Amity, Erudite, Candor… Abne-what now? Abnegation? 4 ½ words you never used or even heard of before this movie.

Where’d the author find these words? The deleted scenes of Mary Poppins? Supercandorfragilisticexpiabnegation! Come on, erudite sounds like a gem you’ll hear about on the jewelry channel at 3 a.m.

jewelry channel
And Becky here we have an astonishing 13 carat Erudite necklace adorned with matching blood diamonds.

Oh and Maze Runner. I’ll just rattle ‘em off:

  • griever,
  • glader,
  • med-jacks,
  • shank,
  • klunk,
  • schuck,
  • slim it,
  • slinthead,
  • good that,
  • jacked,
  • and like 10 more.

You’d think I bashed my head against the key board and made this up, but no joke. Look this up. It’s called glader slang.

Stupid Weapons and Gear

I can get reinventing systems of government or society. But if you’re going to have guns and body armor, why go through the trouble of reinventing the wheel?

You gotta love the Hunger Games sperm suits, complete with rib cage chest armor ribbed for her pleasure. This is almost as bad as putting nipples on the Batsuit.

bat-nipples

Remember that movie Host by the Twilight author, where aliens took over earth by inhabiting human’s bodies, and the aliens also randomly decided to hire Xzibit to paint all the cars silver?

Yo dawg! I heard you like silver helicopters while taking over the world!
Yo dawg! I heard you like silver helicopters while taking over the world!

And what’s up with Katniss going to war with a bow and arrow? She can carry about 30 arrows total, and that’s it. It’s not like anyone else is using them so once she’s out, she’s out for good. Bows and arrows are all fun n’ games… til’ someone Chris Kyle’s your ass from 1,900 yards away.

And then of course these YA movies always have to reinvent weapons, because we don’t have enough existing weapons to choose from apparently. Check out these guns from Divergent? It literally looks like someone superglued a super soaker to a pogo stick and spray painted it silver. What, the future doesn’t have Glocks and AR15s? Are those LEDs?

divergent-guns
Don’t make me shoot you with this flashlight!

God, I can’t wait for the next season of Game of Thrones.

Alright, I’m done for now, but I’ll be back with another episode of Haterade here shortly. Thanks for reading and letting me vent.

No Escape: Movie Review

So I’m a little rusty on my movie reviewing, so bear with me. I think I saw a trailer for this movie a couple months ago, not really sure. Anywho I went and saw an early showing of No Escape last night up in Mira Mesa, and had no idea what to expect, which is a good thing.

Here’s the spoiler-free run down of the movie: Owen Wilson is an American family man who relocates his wife and two daughters to an unnamed Southeast Asian country (we know because it borders Vietnam) for a new job after his previous employer went belly up. Times are tough, tough enough to move to a third world nation in pursuit of a job.

Their flight lands, and we enter the culture shock sequence for the family as they don’t speak the language, and the nicest hotel in town doesn’t have working television, internet, or phones, and all the other first world luxuries we take for granted. But, the family meets a boisterous, western expat, Pierce Brosnan, who helps point them in the right direction. Yay, a fellow white person! This place isn’t too scary anymore. No, but seriously, right?

The foreplay is short. Maybe 12 minutes into the movie shit hits the fan. As Owen Wilson is roaming the area trying to find a newspaper, he inadvertently ends up in the middle of a violent confrontation between riot police and an angry mob armed with machetes, bats, and AKs. Think Hotel Rwanda, but in Asia, and way fucking scarier.

Wilson darts and dashes his way through the city trying to find his way back to his hotel and family, while also avoiding the mobs. He reunites with his family, and parental instincts kick in as mom and dad struggle to safely navigate their way through the perilous city, with kids in tow.

What to know what happens next? Go see for yourself.

No Escape will have you on the edge of your seat and cringing from start to finish. The movie was definitely action packed but not in the typical Liam-Neeson-throat-smashing way we’ve grown used to in the past couple years. Remember, our protagonist isn’t Jason Bourne, he’s a family man, and on top of that he’s got his wife and two little girls with him, and they have no idea where the hell they are. So there is no bare chested ammo bandolier action hero. Just a dude doing the best he can to keep his family alive when all hell breaks loose in a foreign land.

The closest movie I can think of in terms of setting and that feeling of anxiety this movie brings, is The Purge: Anarchy, which came out almost a year ago, except No Escape has a much more realistic plot. Everyone in the Purge had 364 days to batten down the hatches and arm themselves to the teeth in preparation. This family isn’t even sure where to get their free continental breakfast and then bam, political uprising.

I don’t want to give away too much as far as the story goes, so I’ll leave it at that. The movie is very good. I was very surprised.

When watching movies like this, I always find myself thinking “I would do this, I would do that!” But then again I also watch a ton of zombie movies and like a weirdo I have actually invested a fair amount of thought into how I would survive an oh-shit situation. Most people don’t, including our main characters, which made this movie, and everyone’s acting very believable.

We haven’t seen Owen Wilson in too many movies lately so who knew what to expect here. We do know that we loved him in Wedding Crashers and a bunch of other comedies so this was a little off course for him, but let’s not forget he also knocked Behind Enemy Lines out of the park way back in 2001, which was also about an American dude running for his life from foreigners who want to kill him. Wilson did an amazing job wearing a lot of hats; husband, father, survivor, and if need be, killer.

Lake Bell, who plays the wife/mom, also does an amazing job in her role. She was reluctant to move overseas in the first place, and you can feel a little bit of that tension between mommy and daddy from the onset of the movie without rubbing your nose in it. Even in the midst of chaos the parents can still have tiffs, for better or worse.

Even the little girls did an amazing job, portraying believable pains in the ass. You just wanted to yell “I’m trying to save your life now for the love of Christ shut up and don’t make any noise or they’ll find us and kill us!”

Oh, and Pierce Brosnan was there too. He really didn’t have a huge role, but I enjoyed his 10 minutes of screen time and social commentary.

It’s difficult to summarize this movie because it’s not that kind of a movie, where it’s told like an epic story, with compartmentalized events. So here’s my conclusive list of bullet points on the film:

  • Owen Wilson killed it.
  • Actually, all the actors did an amazing job, and made it feel so real and believable.
  • The story is interesting and realistic, and it doesn’t stumble.
  • There is no central villain, or a bad guy with an eye patch. The antagonist is human nature.
  • You’re on edge the entire time. The movie steals your attention and won’t let it go. Not even for a second. Trust me, you won’t zone out in the second act.
  • You’ll have plenty to talk about in the drive home after the movies.
  • It was an unexpected, pleasant rush of adrenaline at the tail end of an already action packed summer movie season.
  • The story was different, and something you aren’t used to seeing.
  • There was a thin veneer of social commentary about (illegal) immigration, corporatism, and western interventionism, but it wasn’t dragged out, and it didn’t overshadow the fact that the characters are literally being chased by people who want to kill them.
  • The movie was actually too short.

All said and done, No Escape was a very good movie, and I highly recommend you go out and see it. I give it an A-, and that’s only because I thought the movie was too short, and I could have gone for a few more rounds, maybe 20-30 minutes more longer would have been nice.

Go see this movie!

Trainwreck: Movie Review

It’s about fucking time! Trainwreck is the raunchy, inappropriate, horrible, tasteless, repulsive, guilty-pleasure, gut-busting comedy I have been waiting all my life for.

I’ve written quite a few movie reviews recently about all types of movies; action, horror, comedy, drama, satire, crime thriller, sci-fi, and cult classic. Sometimes you get movies you thought would be great, but greatly disappointed *cough* Ultron *cough*. But other times you get movies you thought would be a train wreck, and instead you get Trainwreck. Despite the title, this movie is anything but.

No duh, I thought the movie would be funny. A comedy movie starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, how could it not be funny? But I didn’t expect it to be the funniest movie I have seen in years. I dare to say it’s the funniest movie of the decade, maybe this century.

The combination of Judd Apatow directing and Amy Schumer writing as well as starring in the movie is amazing. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time! The entire movie is over the top funny from the get-go, but somehow never crosses that line into campy territory. Trainwreck walks that fine line of as funny as you can possibly get without being stupid.

The entire cast pulls their weight in this movie and I was blown away by the sheer number of cameos and guest appearances.

It goes without saying that Amy Schumer was amazing. If you like her comedy skits and her television show then you’ll go crazy over Trainwreck, which is Amy Schumer x 10, her magnum opus. Amy Schumer essentially plays a parody of her cinematic self, named Amy, naturally. As a young kid her father (perfectly played by Colin Quinn) warned her and her sister about the dangers of monogamy after a failed marriage with his wife/Amy’s mother. The young Amy took her father’s advice to heart and heeded his warnings well into adulthood, purposefully avoiding lasting relationships. Her shameless romp through New York comes to a screeching halt when she falls in love with Aaron (Bill Hader), a nice guy doctor who is the centerpiece for her latest work assignment at a sleazy tabloid company. The story follows Amy as she struggles to find a meaningful relationship while still heeding her father’s warning.

Most movies feel like the Breakfast Club, where you have the jock, the princess, the nerd, the bad boy, the outcast, etc. What I appreciate about Judd Apatow is his ability to craft a well-rounded ensemble of characters without resorting to caricature archetypes.

Bill Hader brings a solid performance. Hader looks like a normal guy and maybe he is, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be funny, charming, smart, sincere, emotionally intelligent, and occasionally score a shot on LeBron James. The onscreen chemistry between Hader and Shumer is awesome, and it feels fun and natural to see them spar and dance on screen.

When I said there were a lot of cameos, I meant it. The movie features Colin Quinn, LeBron James, John Cena, Dave Attell, Tilda Swinton (who looks nothing like Tilda Swinton), Randall Park, Daniel Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei, Method Man, Tim Meadows, Matthew Broderick, Marv Albert, and Chris Evert. And every single of one of them killed it!

Colin Quinn plays an aging, philandering, swearing, drunk Irishman marvelously.

LeBron James might not be Oscar material but despite playing himself he’s still 10x the actor Kristin Stewart will ever be, and had some of the funniest lines in the entire movie and somehow managed them without so much as a smirk.

(Call me an asshole but) This is the first time I’ve seen a movie where I would say Tilda Swinton looked bangin’ hot. She too fabulously plays her role as a bitchy New York columnist.

John Cena, John Cena. Where do I even begin with John Cena… Mad props to Cena for taking on this role as he’ll be the butt of his friend’s jokes for years to come. If you’ve ever seen the movie, think Eminem in the opening scene of The Interview.

They couldn’t have picked a better title for the movie. Trainwreck describes the movie and Amy perfectly, as her life careens out of control from one disaster of a relationship to the next. And just like a train wreck, the movie is horrible but you just can’t help but look on. The movie really is horrible. By that I mean that the acting is great, the directing is great, the story is great, but the humor is devious and I’m probably going to hell for enjoying it.

The movie is so hilariously offensive to everyone, but so innocently portrayed that you can’t help but love it, like Cartman. Men, women, straights and gays, kids and the elderly, blacks, whites, Puerto Ricans, Asians, effeminate men, millionaires and street beggars, no one was spared and no mercy was given. The movie was a parade of profanity, stereotypes, and other things mere mortals dare not whisper in public, like Voldemort. Trainwreck is everything that’s wrong in the world but throughout the entire movie I was busting up laughing begging for more, MORE!!!! You do get more, plenty of it. In fact it’s also super long for a comedy, stretching just over two hours. I usually relegate comedies to movies I only watch when they are at Redbox or rerunning on TV, but this movie is the exception. This movie is officially on my list of guilty pleasures, but as Billy Joel once said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.”

Despite the outlandishness of it all, the movie comes together amazingly well. The weight of real life doesn’t get lost in the story, and the characters all deal with very real problems that the audience can relate to. In true Apatow fashion the movie delves into the inner sanctum of modern life such as arguments with your loved one over trivial things that won’t matter in a couple hours, kids, step kids, marriage, death, pregnancy, family, parenting, careers, friendship, and occasionally snorting lines of adderall off peoples foreheads.

I want – nay – I must see Trainwreck again. It was just that good! In fact, I might even buy it when it comes out on DVD. Mom and dad if you’re reading this, Christmas is just around the corner. Can you say stocking stuffer?

I give it a solid 9/10.

Mission Valley AMC Theater, Tuesday Matinee, just $6.49 per adult!
Mission Valley AMC Theater, Tuesday Matinee, just $6.49 per adult!

Southpaw: Movie Review

Two movie reviews in a week? Say whaaaattt?

I just got home from seeing an early showing for Southpaw, written by Kurt Sutter and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and I am thoroughly impressed.

I’ll put it out there that I have pretty much disliked every movie with Jake Gyllenhaal I have ever seen. Bubble Boy, The Day After Tomorrow, Brokeback Mountain, Brothers, pass, pass, pass, pass. He always seemed like a really good actor I just couldn’t stand any of his roles, I couldn’t relate to or root for any of his characters in the slightest. But I feel like Gyllenhaal was made for this movie. He plays the role amazingly.

Basically, it’s a rags to riches story after the riches. Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) and his wife were orphans raised in the system without a dime to their name, they meet, fall in love, get married, and have a kid. He becomes a champion boxer, provides an amazing life for his family. Sounds good, the end. And it would have been except for a series of crappy events that befalls him and his family.

Instead of rags to riches, this is actually a story of redemption. I often hear about fighting, that what matters most is getting back up on your feet when you’ve been knocked down. Billy Hope doesn’t just get knocked down in the ring, but he gets utterly knocked down in life, and has to learn how to piece it back together and fight his way back, physically, emotionally, and figuratively.

Kurt Sutter’s penchant for gritty dramas really translates well from the TV set to the big screen. I’m not sure how much experience he has away from television series like Sons of Anarchy and The Shield, but he did a phenomenal job writing the story for Southpaw. In true Sutter fashion, Kurt took your favorite characters life and turned it on its head, though Sutter is not quite as merciless with main characters as say, George R.R. Martin.

Director Antoine Fuqua is no stranger to action and drama, making such movies as Training Day, Shooter, and The Equalizer. He did an amazing job squeezing every inch of talent of his cast. Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachael McAdams, and Forest Whitaker are all seasoned actors so the bar was pretty high, and they soared right past it. Even Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) who only moonlights as an actor carried his weight on screen.

The story is pretty straight forward and we’ve seen it dressed up differently with other movies like The Fighter, Warrior, and Rocky, so there’s really no surprise or award for originality, but Southpaw is still a very enjoyable movie and worth seeing. It’s probably the biggest fight movie we’ll see for a while until the Rocky spinoff movie Creed hits theaters later in 2015, so if you’ve got the itch to see guys kick the crap out of each other, go catch Southpaw.

Overall, I give Southpaw an 7/10, and a 9/10 for nail biting experience.

Southpaw Promo
Me sparring with the Southpaw promo, about to get my ass kicked.

Ant-Man: Movie Review

After the complete let down that was Avengers: Age of Ultron, my inner-Marvel-self was riding low. After Iron Man 3 I didn’t think I could ever be so disappointed in a Marvel movie, but Age of Ultron proved me wrong, so admittedly the bar was low going in to Ant-Man.

Who the hell is Ant-Man? How does it play into the grand scheme of things? Can Marvel succeed with a no-name franchise?

But alas, Marvel also managed to pull Guardians of the Galaxy out of the deepest, darkest corner of the comic book archives and turn it into a massive success. I was hopeful.

If you too are humming and hawing about seeing Ant-Man, don’t. It’s a good movie and you’ll enjoy yourself. Here is what made Ant-Man a great movie.

Piece of the Puzzle

Ant-Man isn’t some random Marvel movie orbiting around the Avengers in the far off distance – like Guardians. It fits snuggly into the MCU where it rightfully belongs, and it keeps reminding you throughout the entire film.

Like any intriguing story, Ant-Man starts with a prelude – taking place decades before the events of the movie itself. It methodically weaves itself into the other franchises such as Iron Man, Captain America, and Agent Carter. You start to realize that Ant-Man has been a part of the story all along, you just didn’t know it.

The bald guy is always the villain.

We get some fun guest appearances from an aging Peggy Carter, and a still-kicking Howard Stark (played by the same actor from Iron Man 2, John Slattery). At one point in the movie that was featured in the trailer, Paul Rudd even says “I think we should call the Avengers”, putting all the cards on the table.

Running with the Big Dogs

I often find myself thinking Marvel = Avengers and Avengers = Marvel, and anything else is secondary and can’t possibly live up to the hype. But Guardians of the Galaxy and the Daredevil series on Netflix both proved me wrong, and Agents of Shield and Agent Carter aren’t too shabby either.

Ant-Man definitely exceeded my expectations. It was a well written movie, with great casting, and it had that special Marvel recipe of the perfect blend of action and humor that has made the franchise so successful.

What’s this? An Avenger in the flesh? Gasp you should.

It’s clear that Ant-Man and his allies will play an important role in the story to come, and I think it’s safe to say that as a movie series it will be a successful money maker and an audience pleaser. Ant-Man might not have the same wow factor as Iron Man or Captain America, but it’s no slouch either. Whereas Iron Man started out with a bang and then fizzled out into the butt of the series, I think Ant-Man will follow in the footsteps of Captain America, starting off small and really gaining some traction and popularity in its second installment like Cap did with Winter Soldier.

Paul Rudd Kills It

I’ve always liked Paul Rudd. From Clueless, to 40 Year Old Virgin, to Role Models, Paul Rudd always did a fantastic job of playing a very relatable character. He’s likeable, but that’s an understatement. Molly Young from NY times described Rudd best when she said “You can add Rudd to any movie, and the movie will taste better. He is the MSG of actors.”

He’s not Schwarrzenegger, he’s not Jason Stathom, he’s not Liam Nesson, and he’s not Daniel Craig. He’s the Joe Schmoe of action heroes. Rudd is completely out of his element, both as a hero, as the lead role, and especially as the titular character, and perhaps that’s what makes him such a good match for Scott Lang.

Yes, an actual scene from the movie of Paul Rudd working at Baskin Robbins.

 

He’s not buff like Thor, holier than thou like Captain America, self-loathing like Bruce Banner, or self-important like Tony Stark. He’s cool and mellow and inviting and most of all humble, both as a character and as an actor.

You can tell Paul Rudd is counting his blessings to be counted among the Marvel roster, and he brings that charm and appeal to his role. You can’t help but root for the guy.

Unburdened

Part of what annoyed me about Age of Ultron is that there was just too much shit going on. We had Avengers, and mutants (but don’t tell Fox), and Hydra, and killer robots. Infinity stones, flash backs, a ton of new characters and a story that quite frankly made no sense. First they’re fighting Hydra, then they’re all fighting themselves, then they’re fighting bad robots, then they team up with a good robot. What the hell was Avengers 2 even about?

Ant-Man started off with a clean slate. It lets you focus on and enjoy the movie without worrying your pretty little head about the nuances of the MCU or an overly complicated story. There were some direct references to the other movies, but they were in passing.

There also weren’t 85 characters fighting for screen time. You have Scott Lang, Hank Pym, Hank Pym’s his hot daughter, a villain, and a Stan Lee cameo. That’s it. No kale, no acai, no quinoa, no gluten-free dietary restrictions. Ant-Man is the burger, fries, and a coke of Marvel movies you’ve been waiting for, and it’s fucking delicious.

Conclusion

Long story short, Ant-Man was a very fun and entertaining movie. Despite the fact that it can stand on its own two feet, it still makes itself integral to the MCU moving forward and laid some fun Easter Eggs *cough* Spiderman *cough* in the process.

The story was interesting. The characters were fun. The dialogue was snappy. The CGI was believable. The villain was a recycled Obadiah Stane from Iron Man 1. There was plenty of action and humor, and the swear words sprinkled in there will go right over children heads, so feel free to bring them along for the ride.

Ant-Man will definitely make it to my DVD/Blu-Ray collection when it comes out on video. If you need something to feed your nerd addiction until next summer, Ant-Man should fill you up just fine. I highly recommend Ant-Man for all audiences, you won’t be disappointed!

The Gallows: Movie Review

Yesterday we got last minute free tickets to see The Gallows last night at the Regal theater in downtown San Diego. We were there, along with every person from Comic Con, apparently.

We got rid of our TV provider about a year ago. Needless to say, I can feel a bit like a hermit sometimes. I had not heard about this movie even once 24 hours before seeing it. Not a single commercial on TV, or radio, or the web or social media. Nada. Zilch. As we sat in the seats waiting for the movie to start, I leaned over and asked “So what’s this movie about?”

Horror movie buffs are the worst. I mean really. They are so jaded by horror movies that they aren’t even scared of them anymore, which makes me wonder why they even watch them, or why they proclaim to enjoy them. Their goal is to dominate horror movies by not being afraid – not to enjoy them. For this reason, a horror movie buff is a horrible person to get reviews from about horror movies.

Quick confession… when it comes to horror movies, I’m a big baby. Like no joke. So that makes me the absolute best person to write a horror movie review because they still make me shit my pants. If I’m not afraid of a horror movie then you know it sucks.

I don’t know if this is a spoiler, because I said I haven’t seen a single trailer for this show. So just in case, EARMUFFS. The story is about a high school play. 20 some years ago a student actor died in a school play called The Gallows when a part of the set malfunctioned. Then fast forward to today, and the same school is setting out to finally re-do the play, but hopefully, ya know, without a student dying this time.

The jock who is set to play the lead role gets cold feet the day before the performance, so he and two friends break into the school at night to sabotage the set, so that the play is forced to be cancelled.

Long story short, they get stuck in the school, scary shit happens, there’s screaming and panicking, and naturally every electronic device the teens have with them has a battery life of 20 minutes. Side note: Who the hell breaks into a pitch black facility without a flashlight? My battery dies after 10 minutes of plants vs. zombies. This could have been a horror movie. Or it could have been a documentary about the failures of the American school system for producing such idiots.

Either way, I thought the movie was really freakin scary. The movie doesn’t blow its load in the first 20 minutes, which I liked. It lets you settle into your seat and laugh and joke and forget you’re in a horror movie, and then it slowly gets darker and creepier, adding to the experience.

There were a couple scenes where the entire audience screamed in synch.

And, there were a few times when I was the only one who screamed, and was totally shamefaced.

The cast was great. They actually looked the part. I am glad we’re out of the 90’s where high schoolers looked like 30 year olds with boob jobs and steroid abuse problems. Oh, and we got to meet the cast before the screening which was pretty cool too.

My typical “would I watch it again” or “would I buy it” metric doesn’t work with horror movies because I have never purchased a horror movie or watched one voluntarily. But I can say that The Gallows was definitely a good scare, and it would for sure scare me again if I ever grew the balls to watch it again.

That being said, I give The Gallows a 9/10 for scariness, and I think you and a group of friends would have a blast seeing it together.

Spy: Movie Review

Yesterday evening I was able to catch an early showing of the new 20th Century Fox comedy, Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, and Jason Statham.

I live in San Diego greater, so it was a little bit of a hike up to Edwards Mira Mesa Stadium 18, but well worth the drive.

The movie sucker punched me, so I’m going to do the same thing to you. Go see Spy. Not kidding, if you love to laugh, go see this movie. If you haven’t been to the movies in a while, go see this movie. If you have a stick wedged firmly up your rear and need some good humor to dislodge it, go see this movie.

What I love about Spy the most is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. From watching the trailers you get the idea this is a B comedy movie with a star studded cast. This movie is the hot girl who doesn’t know she’s hot – the Laney Boggs from She’s All That. It’s actually an A movie wrapped in a B movie advertising campaign. Underneath the veneer, this is an awesome movie that is jam packed with humor and action while still maintaining a decent enough of a plot to watch without blushing.

Spy is a parody of the spy genre in all regards, but it does it with gusto so it doesn’t seem cheesy. Likewise all the characters are parodies of themselves, or at least parodies of the roles the actors normally play, which makes it hilarious.

Most entertaining of the movie is Melissa McCarthy who plays CIA analyst Susan Cooper along with a dozen other secret aliases. When the undercover identity of all the CIA’s top operatives is exposed, Susan Cooper – an inexperienced and unlikely option – is sent in to retrieve critical information. Susan Cooper surprisingly ends up being more than a match for the task, and Melissa McCarthy is more than a match for the role, and plays it excellently.

Jude Law plays James Bond, on crack. His character Bradley Fine is a well-spoken, well-dressed, highly dangerous flirtatious Englishman. Jude Law could have used his star power to get away with mediocre acting and to gloss over the finer points, but he didn’t. Law seemed to have a lot of fun playing the role and spared no expense on screen making the character likeable and digestible. It was also cool to see him not taking himself too seriously in the role.

Jason Statham plays Jason Statham, on meth. Imagine throwing all of Jason Statham’ previous roles into a blender, and mixing in some meth and 12 cans of Red Bull. That was Jason Statham’s role as Rick Ford, the ultra-macho tough guy anvil jawed Brit who will wrestle a grizzly bear while jumping out of an air plane and then land in the ocean and strangle a great white. But he’s also an idiot. Unlike the others, Rick Ford does take himself too seriously, and it’s hilarious.

Second only to the lead star, is Rose Byrne. Having just watch Byrne in Neighbors with Seth Rogen, it was a complete 180 seeing her again as sexy super villain Rayna Boyanov. The casting director must have told her the role was to play the biggest bitch imaginable, and she hit the nail on the head. I imagine her character as a sort of Elektra King (The World Is Not Enough) dressed as Melissa McCarthy put it, a slutty dolphin trainer. Most impressive was how she spit out her one liners without busting up on camera or even so much as cracking a grin out of the corner of her mouth. The bloopers to this movie will be just as entertaining as the movie.

There was also a fun B line, including the dorky best friend from the CIA, an HR nightmare Italian Spy Perv, the unflappable and snarky CIA director, and of course, 50 Cent.

The commercials make this movie look like it is PG13. It’s not. It’s rated R and between the language, violence, and overt sexual content you should definitely leave the kids at home.

You came for a comedy and you got one, and the cook was nice and gave you a side dish of Grade A action to go along with it. Not only would I see Spy again, I will watch Spy 2 if they ever make it.