Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: The Conjuring

                                 'The Conjuring': An Intense Exercise In Paranormal Horror

                     While I do love horror films, if there is any one "sub-genre" that isn't exactly my forte, it's haunted house movies. They always have me asking "Why can't they just get out of that house?", but The Conjuring solves that problem and gives a realistic insight as to why the frightened family can't leave.

                    The Conjuring is based on a true story about real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) whose latest case involves a family that is haunted a malevolent spirit which threatens not only them, but eventually the lives of the Warrens as well.

                     What I Liked About It:
                    Like I said, I liked how the film answers the question of "Why can't that family just get out of that house?". I don't want to give away any further details because I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, so I'll just leave it at that. I also liked the film's use of atmosphere. The house that the family lives in just reeks of dread, as there are decrepit walls, cobwebs in the basement, creaking doors, and an isolated setting, which just add to the creep factor. You can tell that the makers of this film have a love for 70's horror because this movie is like a love letter to horror movies from that time. The film also does something that not all horror films can do, which is scare me within the first few minutes.

                     What I Didn't Like About It:

                    Overall, The Conjuring is a chilling atmospheric exercise in haunted house horror that gives a nostalgic vibe. It's scary from start to finish, has great performances from the cast, especially from Wilson and Farmiga, and despite its R-rating, is hardly gruesome and receives its rating based on its scare factor, which should say a lot about how scary it is.

Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dream Cast: Justice League (2017)

Hello, Bloggers, with the announcement of the upcoming Justice League movie being released in 2017, I figured just for fun, I'd post my picks as to who should play each character. Note, this list is entirely based on my opinion and if you thought of anybody different, feel free to comment and let me know. For my list, I figured I'd cast the seven founding members of the Justice League in case Warner Bros. wanted to go that route. Here we go:

Henry Cavill- Clark Kent/Superman: From the looks of it, Warner Bros. might stick with Henry Cavill because it wouldn't make too much sense to recast as Warner Bros. is looking to try to build up to a Justice League movie the way Marvel built up to the Avengers. So, just to be safe, I'll choose Cavill, even though I honestly haven't seen Man of Steel yet, but I will.

Michael Fassbender- Bruce Wayne/Batman: Here is a casting choice that's been done to death, yet it is hard to stay away from. He may already be playing Magneto, but he would be perfect because he can certainly "brood up" to play the role and like Magneto, Batman is a tormented, vengeful soul so this role could be a walk in the park for Fassbender. Plus, he can really pull off Batman's charismatic alter ego, Bruce Wayne.

Olivia Wilde- Diana Prince/Wonder Woman: Another fan favorite for the role of the Princess of Themyscara, Wilde would be an amazing fit for Wonder Woman because of how she looks like Wonder Woman, has sci-fi and action film cred, and could pull off the character's tough and sensitive sides. Plus, she said that she would love to play Wonder Woman, so that helps. Give her the bracelets and the golden lasso and she's good to go.

John Krasinski- Barry Allen/The Flash: Because The Flash is a comedic hero, I figured it would make sense to cast an actor with comedic talents to play the role, so I went with Office alum John Krasinski. He not only has comedic expertise, but he could easily pull off the character's likability that makes the Flash the League's most easygoing and relatable member. Krasinski also has the right tall physical stature to pull off playing a superhero, so he would do just fine as the Fastest Man Alive.

Bradley Cooper- Hal Jordan/Green Lantern: If there's anybody that is skeptical about Ryan Reynolds returning to play the Emerald Guardian, it's Reynolds himself. So that would leave the role up for grabs, and because Bradley Cooper almost won the role in the Green Lantern film, he could try and nab the role if he's still interested, and he would be great for the role. I know a lot of people have him as the Flash, and I think he would also make a good Flash, but I would prefer to see him play the Green Lantern.
Idris Elba- John Stewart/Green Lantern: If Warner Bros. were looking to add a little color to the group and introduce the John Stewart character and not Hal Jordan, then I would cast Idris Elba. He would be great for the role of John Stewart because he already has connections to Warner Bros. with Pacific Rim, has comic book cred with Thor and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and has experience working with Michael Fassbender in Prometheus, so all three reasons could easily work in his favor.

Alexander Skarsgard- Arthur Curry/Aquaman: We may have seen this character famously lampooned in the past, but I have a feeling that won't stop Warner Bros. from wanting to introduce him on the big screen. Now, Aquaman was a pretty tough role to cast. I wanted to go with someone who could pull off the dramatic acting chops to please the fans, and to be good-looking to possibly draw in a big female crowd since he'll be dripping wet most of the movie. The one actor that I feel fits the criteria is Alexander Skarsgard of True Blood fame, who also has the right tall physical stature to play a superhero and could draw in True Blood fans since that show has a big following.

Doug Jones- J'onn J'onzz/Martian Manhunter: The "forgotten" member of the original Justice League, Martian Manhunter is a character that isn't as well known as the other six members, but is quite powerful, as his powers range from telepathy to shapeshifting and intangibility to invisibility. For Martian Manhunter, I figured I'd go with an actor who has plenty of expertise in being heavily laced in makeup and playing CGI characters because Martian Manhunter is a green alien, so I went with Doug Jones, whom you may have seen in Hellboy as Abe Sapien and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer as the Silver Surfer.

So, those are my casting choices for the Justice League line-up and if you have any other casting picks, then feel free to write your thoughts on the comment section. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: Pitch Perfect

                                      A Near-'Perfect' Musical Pic That Hits Each Note Well

                     I have a feeling that some will be surprised that I saw this, but honestly, I am quite glad I did because Pitch Perfect is not only a movie that has fun musical numbers and makes me want to sing in an a capella group, but it also gives a nice meaningful message towards the end.

                    Pitch Perfect is about a college freshman named Beca (Anna Kendrick) who is coerced into joining the school's all-girls a capella group known as the Barden Bellas. When she meets Jesse (Skylar Astin), a male member of her group's rival all-male a capella group known as the Treblemakers, she begins to have a new perspective and tries to breathe new life into the Bellas as they pursue a national title.

                   What I Liked About It:
                  One thing that I liked was the development of the characters and their personalities. You have Beca, the introvert who at first has no interest in college life but slowly comes out of her shell. Then you have the other members of her group; Aubrey, the group's leader who sticks with the same routine and avoids taking risks, Chloe, the group's other leader who is much more civil and despite her "nodes" in her throat, continues to sing, Fat Amy, the group's eccentric "wild card", Stacie, the sexual member of the group, Lilly, who speaks too quietly to be heard, and Cynthia-Rose, the lesbian member of the group with a gambling problem. Plus, there is Bumper, the leader of the Treblemakers who is very arrogant and egocentric, and Jesse, who is much more outgoing and has a love for movies. I loved how the characters were developed because I feel that there is a character that at least one person can relate to.

                  Another thing I liked was the message that the film delivers at the very end, which deals with movies in general, and how they are not necessarily about the ending, but the character's journeys and that is something Beca learns towards the end. I won't give too much away, so I'll just leave it at that.

                What I Didn't Like About It:
                Now, my one problem with this movie was how the dialogue was a little cheesy, because of how people would start off words by saying "Aca", like "aca-awkward" or "aca-cuse me". Other than that, there's nothing I hate about this film.

               Overall, Pitch Perfect is a fun musical romp that very pleasantly surprised me. It's funny, well-acted, has colorful characters and catchy musical numbers. It may not be a perfect movie (pun intended), but it is a great time to sit through.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Topic Of The Day: "Beautiful Creatures" Vs. "Twilight"

After having just seen Beautiful Creatures and remembering how people have made comparisons to both that and Twilight, and having hinted at my frustration of the possibility of Beautiful Creatures not getting a sequel or becoming a franchise and Twilight becoming a franchise, I figured I'd examine why I think Beautiful Creatures worked in the areas that Twilight didn't, and on a new segment called Topic Of The Day, where I discuss a topic or subject regarding film that interests me or I feel the need to state my opinion on. Here we go:

*Note: This article is not meant to offend or criticize Twilight fans.

For this post, I will discuss the main characters and themes of each film:

First off, I'll discuss the two lead characters in each film, starting with Beautiful Creatures. The two lead characters are Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes, who are a couple of teens living in the South and Ethan is a mortal, while Lena is a witch, or "caster" as they are referred to. As I said in my review of Beautiful Creatures, I thought their chemistry was delightful to watch and they are very likable. Ethan is a boy who reads every book banned from his school and thinks about a life outside of his small town by going to college. When he discovers that Lena is a witch who feels that she will be "claimed" for the dark side on her 16th birthday, Ethan still sees goodness in her, no matter how dark she thinks she will become. Lena is somewhat of an outsider who, because of who she is, struggles to understand how it feels to be normal. However, Lena is a character who isn't dependent on a man to get out of a tough situation and can hold her own against her enemies. As Ethan continues to remind Lena that there is good in her and she will be "claimed" for the light side, she begins to persevere and try to take control of her destiny.

Now onto the lead characters in Twilight, Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, who are two teenagers that live up in the rainy town of Forks, Washington. While in Beautiful Creatures, the woman in the couple is the supernatural being, in this, it is the man, who is a vampire. While Ethan thinks about better plans for his future, Bella Swan just imagines a life with Edward, abandoning plans of going to college or anything like that, just so she can get married with and spend forever with her vampire boyfriend, aware that she'll watch her loved ones die while she'll still live. You see, what bugs me about the character of Bella is not just because of how she revolves her life around her boyfriend or because she has no motivation, but because whenever she is in peril, she can't get herself out of peril without a man to help her out. To me, what's confusing is why Edward is even attracted to this girl in the first place, or why he would want to be so possessive of her and practically force her into marriage.

Next, I'll go into the themes of each film. Beautiful Creatures deals with a girl who at first feels that her destiny is already written in the stars for her, but eventually realizes that she controls her own destiny. So, Beautiful Creatures deals with the theme of controlling your own destiny and because the film deals with a relationship between the two leads, it showcases the message of couples giving each other stable emotional support, and that is exactly what Ethan and Lena do. Also, one conflict that is present is how Lena struggles to feel "normal", something that other outcasts can relate to as they tend to feel the same way.  However, Twilight is just about how important it is to have a boyfriend and because of Edward's stalker behavior, it pretty much showcases stalking as romanticism. Like my friend Alexina, who read the books, told me, "If you really look deep into the story, it gets very creepy".

               So that is what bugs me about why Beautiful Creatures, a film that has a better story, more interesting and likable characters, and portrays important conflicts and themes might not get a sequel while Twilight was able to become a franchise and those films have a weak storyline, unlikable characters, and just shows how important it is to have a boyfriend. I'd love to see the witches from Beautiful Creatures use their magic to wipe out the vampires from Twilight.

So, I have vented my feelings about both films onto this article and I will discuss another topic soon. Not sure when, but until then, thanks for reading!

Review: Red 2

                           A Sequel That Doesn't Make Me Angry And Start Seeing 'Red'

              Whenever a sequel is made, it either surpasses the original or shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as the original. But Red 2 leans more towards the former rather than the latter as there is still a healthy mix of action and humor.

              Red 2 follows Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and merry band that includes his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), Marvin (John Malkovich), and Victoria (Helen Mirren) as they travel across the globe to track down a dangerous nuclear device. Along the way, Frank runs into an old flame (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who wants him back.

              What I Liked About It:
             Like the first one, I loved the actors and how they play off each other. But the two actors that really stood out this time around in my opinion are John Malkovich and Mary Louise-Parker. Mary Louise-Parker really shows off her comedic chops and proves that she can not only do dramatic roles, but she is also great at comedy. Some of the funniest scenes were the ones where she and Catherine Zeta-Jones fight for Bruce Willis' affections. With his performance in this, John Malkovich proves why he is one of the best character actors in the business as he effortlessly steals the show.

             I also liked how this film features the same harmonic balance of action and comedy that the first one did. The action may have been amped up a bit, but it definitely didn't hurt the film, and the comedy used definitely shows that not all action films have to be serious.

              What I Didn't Like About It:
            Honestly, the one thing that bugged me was the pacing. Towards the end, I felt that it was getting a bit slow despite the well-done action scenes, but that's more of a nitpick than anything else.

            Overall, Red 2 is a solid follow-up to the well-done original. It's got plenty of cool action mixed with gut-busting humor and makes for a good time for those who see it.

Rating: 3.5/5

Trailer Talk #9: Ender's Game, Escape Plan, Rush, Saving Mr. Banks, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Only God Forgives

Hello Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Trailer Talk. I had just seen Red 2, which I will do a review of later, and I have four previews that I saw when I went to go see it and two that I have watched online. As always, I will start with the films I saw in theaters. Let's get started:

Ender's Game: First up is the trailer for Ender's Game, the upcoming adaptation of a YA book series starring Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, and Ben Kingsley. Now before I heard of this film, I hadn't even heard of the books that this film is based on, but despite the outstanding special effects shown in the trailer, I wasn't too enthralled, surprisingly. Who knows why, but this movie just seems "whatever". I mean it's got a great cast, but it's not something I'd rush and see in theaters.

Escape Plan: Next up is the trailer for the action pic Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This looks to be another action film that has a simple plot and blow-em-up action scenes, and will probably feature Schwarzenegger shouting one-liners. But to be fair, it's not meant to make anyone's Oscar list, it just looks like a simple "turn your brain off" action flick and nothing more. I still won't see it.

Rush: Next is the trailer for Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde, and is directed by Ron Howard. Now, what's weird about seeing this trailer was that it's look intriguing yet it doesn't seem like something I would see in theaters. Because it's about race car driving, I'm sure the race car driving scenes will be intense, but I'll probably catch it when it comes out on TV or DVD if I decide not to see it in theaters.

Saving Mr. Banks: Next up is the trailer for Saving Mr. Banks, starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. Now, on my Oscar predictions, I said that this film might make people's Oscar list and looking at the trailer makes me believe it will. It's got the amazing Emma Thompson and everything Tom Hanks touches turns to gold, so I will try and see this when it comes out in theaters. Tom Hanks also has Captain Phillips, but I honestly would rather see this.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Normally, I would review one trailer per film but Catching Fire gets a pass because it claims the title of my most anticipated movie this year. Now, watching the newest trailer gets me even more excited than I already am and I think this might be better than the first one. Mainly because the special effects look better and the sets are more lavish and colorful. Plus, the fact that Catching Fire is my favorite book in the trilogy helps. Seeing it in theaters and possibly getting my ticket early before it comes out.

Only God Forgives: Lastly, is the trailer for Only God Forgives starring Ryan Gosling and Kirstin Scott Thomas. When I watched the trailer for this, I loved its lavish use of color and with its use, I feel that the director, Nicolas Winding Refn, is probably going for the "mise en scene" technique with his direction. *Note: For those of you who don't know, "mise en scene" means to use visuals (color, sets, lighting, acting, etc.) to tell a film's story. It's weird how a film's use of color makes we want to see it, but it does and I hope to see it, whether it comes out in theaters or on DVD.

So, that was episode #9 of Trailer Talk, and I will do another episode soon, whether I see more trailers online or go to the movies and see some trailers. Until then, thanks for reading!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Retro Review: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

                        A Graphic Yet Powerful Masterpiece About The Horrors Of War

                 We have seen many war movies over the years, but in my opinion, what makes Saving Private Ryan stands out is how the film's graphic scenes of violence represents war's harsh realities and how it deals with such themes as sacrifice and the powerful bonds of brotherhood.

                Saving Private Ryan is set in WWII and is about Cpt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) who, along with his team, is sent to find a missing soldier known as Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon), whose three brothers died in combat, and bring him home in order to spare his mother from experiencing any further grief.

                What I Liked About It:
               The thing that I loved the most about this film was how it reminds us that war is hell, but nothing is sugarcoated. Every place that the main characters go to which has broken down buildings and scattered debris, as well as each battlefield shown, gives a sense of danger. Plus, the scenes of violence and carnage are very intense and bloody, especially the film's famous opening 27 minutes. It feels like you are actually there when you watch it, maintaining the film's grim realism, and I applaud the phenomenal direction from Mr. Steven Spielberg for that.

              The actors also do a fine job as well, and I especially loved how the film gears its focus on all the main characters and not just one in particular. Tom Hanks delivers a fine performance as Cpt. Miller, who normally focuses on the missions rather than the men, but when the mission IS a man, he becomes emotionally conflicted yet he tries to hide it from his comrades. Another actor that really stood out in my opinion was Jeremy Davies, who plays Cpl. Upham, a skeptical soldier who is very timid and horrified by what he experiences in the war. Edward Burns, Giovanni Ribisi, Barry Pepper, Paul Giamatti, and Matt Damon also give amazing supporting performances as well.

              What I Didn't Like About It:

              Consensus:             Overall, Saving Private Ryan is an epic masterful interpretation of the sheer terror of war. It's phenomenally directed, has powerhouse acting and a powerful thematic story. It is a very important film that earns its title of not just the best war movie I've seen, but one of the greatest movies I've ever seen.

Rating: 5/5

Review: Beautiful Creatures

                                                A Rather 'Beautiful' Supernatural Love Story

                With the Twilight series over (thankfully), there comes the release of another supernatural love story known as Beautiful Creatures. However, while I found Beautiful Creatures to be surprisingly great, I find it pretty sad how this film might not get a sequel, but Twilight, which I thought was very lackluster, got to have sequels. *Note: I will draw comparisons between Beautiful Creatures and Twilight in a later article.

              Beautiful Creatures is set in a small Southern town known as Gatlin where a lonely high school boy named Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) falls for the mysterious new girl named Lena (Alice Englert) who happens to be a witch, or "caster". Lena is approaching her sixteenth birthday and must choose to become "claimed" as either light or dark. Her decision is being influenced by her protective uncle Macon (Jeremy Irons) and her evil mother Serafina (Emma Thompson) who are both fighting for control over her.

              What I Liked About It:
           One thing that I absolutely loved about this film was the delightful chemistry between Alden Ehernreich and Alice Englert, and I especially loved their performances. Alden Ehrenreich gives a very earnest performance that has you really rooting for his good-natured character who despite the obstacles he goes through that are trying to keep him apart from his loved one, still goes after her and makes for a more sympathetic character than Edward Cullen. Alice Englert also gives a solid performance as Lena, who is very conflicted yet fierce and is a character that is among the likes of Katniss from The Hunger Games and Hermione from Harry Potter in terms of her ferocity. The supporting actors also do a fine job and looked like they were having fun in their respective performances. Emma Thompson does a fine job as the film's villain Serafina and Jeremy Irons does a very good job as well. Emmy Rossum, who plays Lena's evil cousin Ridley, delivers a comically evil performance and stole every scene she was in.

            Another thing I liked was the special effects and how they weren't overused yet they weren't underused. Plus, the story was very full-fledged and wasn't too confusing.

           What I Didn't Like About It:
           Honestly, nothing.

          Overall, Beautiful Creatures is a very solid supernatural pic that I surprisingly loved. The story was impressive, the chemistry between the two lead actors was fun to watch, the acting was solid, and the special effects were a visual treat. It saddens me how this film will more than likely not get a sequel as I really enjoyed it and Twilight, which I despise, did get sequels, but as I said, I'll vent my feelings about that in a future post.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: The Iron Lady

                              Modest Tale Of A Woman Who Ruled A Country With An 'Iron' Fist

              Now, before I heard of this movie, I actually never heard of Margaret Thatcher. But from my understanding, she was a very controversial figure, and this film provides an insight as to why and does a marginally good attempt at it.

            The Iron Lady is about Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) as she talks to the ghost of her deceased husband Denis (Jim Broadbent) and tries to get over her grief for his death while scenes of her past life and rise to power are shown.

              What I Liked About It:
            Now, first and foremost, the thing that I loved the most about this film was Meryl Streep's performance. When you watch this film, you don't feel that you are watching an actress, you feel like you are watching Margaret Thatcher as she completely transforms herself in the role, both physically and mentally. She really saves the film and is its high point.

              What I Didn't Like About It:
            While I loved Meryl Streep's performance and thought it was the film's saving grace, there were things that I didn't like about this film. I thought the film was too jumpy, when it was going back and forth between the past and present scenes, and while the scenes with the elderly Margaret Thatcher talking to the ghost of her husband were touchingly sad, I didn't feel they were overly necessary. I feel that if they were to portray this chronologically it would've worked much better.

            Overall, The Iron Lady is an adequate biopic that works thanks to the fantastic performance from the chameleonic Meryl Streep. Without her, the film could've easily been slightly below average, so I thank her for that.

Rating: 2.5/5

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Retro Reviews: The English Patient (1996)

                                   You'll Need A Lot of 'Patience' To Sit Through This

                 Recently, I've watched a bit of the episode of Seinfeld called "The English Patient" where Elaine is forced to sit through this movie, and she found it to be so torturous that she had to yell at the screen and I wanted to watch this movie to see if it really was as bad as she said it was. While I don't feel the same way about this movie as Elaine does, I still found it to be pretty torturous and Boring with a capital B.

               The English Patient is set at the end of WWII and a nurse named Hana (Juliette Binoche) is assigned to tend to a burn victim (Ralph Fiennes) who recalls a love affair he had with a married woman (Kirstin Scott Thomas) while on his death bed.

                What I Liked About It:
              Now, this section is going to be pretty short because I didn't enjoy this movie, but I thought the scenery in the desert was pretty cool. Plus, Willem Dafoe gives a nice supporting turn as David, a thief on the run. The good stuff ends there.

                What I Didn't Like About It:
              Where do I begin? Well, first off, the movie was WAY too long, with a runtime of 2 hrs. and 46 minutes and they have a few subplots thrown in, one involving Hana going into a romance, which don't add to the story. Because the movie deals with a love affair, it seems to glorify adultery, which has been pretty evident to be a bad thing. If you were to take away the "epicness" of the film (war setting, moving musical score, excessive running time), then it's a simple love story and nothing else. So, it's pretty much an overglorified love story.

              Overall, The English Patient is an overhyped, overlong, boring mess that didn't deserve any of the praise that it received. It's just a glorified love story that adds nothing new or special to the table. If you really like love stories, then what the heck, give it a shot, you might like it more than I did, but if you're not a fan or you hate love stories, don't even bother. This movie could work as a cure for insomnia.

Rating: 1.5/5

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Retro Review: Primal Fear (1996)

                              Plenty To 'Fear' In This Psychological Courtroom Drama

               To me, it is very rare when we see courtroom dramas on the big screen, and usually, they don't intrigue me a whole lot, but Primal Fear is a rarity as it is a courtroom drama that also works as a psychological chiller that really keeps you guessing.

             Primal Fear is about a Chicago-based lawyer named Martin Vail (Richard Gere) who always looks to jab the juiciest court case and make headlines. Now, it seems that he has hit the jackpot as he lands a case involving the murder a beloved archbishop and one of his altar boys named Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton) who may or may not be innocent.

               What I Liked About It:
            Aside from the acting, which I will get to later, what I really loved about this film is that hardly anybody in this film is good or evil, and you don't know whose side are you on. You have Martin, the vainy attention-loving lawyer who looks to save Aaron from the death penalty, yet tries to manipulate the prosecutor Janet, who is also his ex-lover, into losing the case. Then there is Aaron, who appears innocent and has a stuttering problem, yet may or not have a darker, split personality named "Roy". Also, there is Janet, who is very snarky and cynical yet you understand why.

           The actors in this film all do an outstanding job. Richard Gere gives a superb and dynamic performance as Martin. Laura Linney, who plays Janet, delivers a terrific performance that really made me hate her character so much. Frances McDormand is also in this movie and while she has a small supporting role, she certainly shines. But the actor who truly steals the show is Mr. Edward Norton. This was his debut performance and for his first film, he really knocks it out of the ballpark and I can see why he got nominated for an Oscar for his performance.

           What I Didn't Like About It:
          Honestly, nothing.

          Overall, Primal Fear is an effective psychological courtroom drama that really keeps you wondering throughout the entire film. It's well-acted, engaging, and has rich and complex character development. A thriller that I highly recommend.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Requested Review #2: South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999)

                                    'South Park': Bigger, Longer, and Hilarious

Hello, Bloggers, here is another requested review and another from my buddy Chris. This one is a mix of both a Requested Review and a Retro Review, and that is for South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut.

           Now, South Park is one of favorite shows on television, and while I was a fan of the show before I saw South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, after I saw South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, my interest in South Park really started to increase and I still watch it to this day.

         South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut is about the show's four main characters: Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, and how they deal with the town's parents and the United States raging war against Canada after the four of them have been exposed to an R-rated movie.

            What I Liked About It:
       First off, because I am a huge South Park fan, I love how this movie gives the fans of the show what they would expect, which includes offbeat and often grossout humor and plenty of cussing. It even throws in several musical numbers that'll even get laughs out of people that don't like musicals. Plus, like all the episodes the of the TV show, the film's plot is satirical, except the plot for this movie deals with children being exposed to vulgarity in R-rated films. It's movies like this that really help me understand the sarcastic nature of satire.

            What I Didn't Like About It:

         Overall, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is a hilarious film adaptation of one of my favorite shows and delivers everything that South Park fans would expect and it may even entertain people that haven't even watched the show, but love the special brand of humor that the show has.

Rating: 4/5


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Cinematic Psychopaths

These are the type of folks whose bad side we don't want to get on. Hello Bloggers, and here is a list of the top ten scariest cinematic psychopaths. Just to narrow it down, I've omitted any supernatural killers, which I will discuss on a future top ten list, and I've went with psychopaths that are much more realistic and people could more easily run to. Here we go:

#10. Patrick Bateman, American Psycho: Bateman is a yuppie Wall Street stockbroker who enjoys his own particular brand of hobbies like picking up prostitutes, snorting cocaine, and even murder. Bateman is a psychopath that is so detached from reality that (*Possible Spoiler Alert*) the killings that are portrayed in the film may or not be imagined. But if he happens to hang with you, be sure to run whenever he talks about music. You'll have to watch the film to find out why.

#9. Tommy DeVito, Goodfellas: Tommy DeVito is a Mafia member who is a bit of a hothead, yet is very unpredictable. Whenever he has a snap, you can never tell whether he is kidding or if he really is going to come at you and that's what makes him so intimidating. The scene that best displays his psychopathic nature is without a doubt, the film's famous "Funny How?" scene.

#8, Annie Wilkes, Misery: When author Paul Sheldon gets in a car accident in a snowstorm, he is rescued by Annie Wilkes, who appears to be a kind-hearted woman and just happens to be his #1 fan. At first it seems like Paul's care is in good hands, but the only problem is she won't ever let him leave. She even bludgeons his ankles to make sure of it.

#7, Alex DeLarge, A Clockwork Orange: Alex DeLarge and his band of "droogs" are frightening because of how careless they are. No matter how cruel the acts they commit are, they get pure joy out of it, whether it is an act of rape, murder, or a home invasion. If this guy can take a lovely tune like "Singin' In The Rain" and incorporate it into a brutal rape scene, then there is definitely something wrong with this guy.

#6, The Joker, The Dark Knight: We have seen many portrayals of Batman's archnemesis over the years, but to me, the best thus far is Heath Ledger's portrayal in The Dark Knight. From his stories about how he got his scars making his past more mysterious to his love for deadly magic pencil tracks and just wanting to see anarchy in Gotham City, The Joker has never been scarier nor deadlier. I swear, nowadays I get the willies whenever I think of his sinister laugh.

#5, Alex Forrest, Fatal Attraction: Alex Forrest is pretty much "Exhibit A" on why you never cheat on your spouse. After Dan Gallagher has one harmless fling with her, things don't become much harmless afterwards as she goes through deadly attempts just to cling to him, even going as far as  cutting her wrists and boiling his pet bunny. To quote Alex, she just "won't be ignored".

#4, John Doe, Seven: John Doe to me is quite terrifying because of his stillness and how calm he is. Despite the gruesome murders that he commits which pertain to the Seven Deadly Sins, he sees no shame or wrong in those murders as he tries to justify them, saying he turned the sin against the sinner, and he talks in a normal tone of voice without going too crazy. I swear, the second time I saw this movie, in the scene in the police car after he is caught, I felt like he was working his way inside my head as he kept talking.

#3, Jack Torrance, The Shining: What's worse, being cooped up in an isolated hotel for the entire winter or being cooped up in an isolated hotel for the entire winter with a man who suffers from such sever cabin fever that it makes him go crazy and try to kill his own family? I would say the latter rather than the former. As Jack Torrance is staying at the Overlook Hotel with his wife and son, the isolation takes its toll on him as he hallucinates and sees the ghost of the former caretaker who killed his own family who tells Jack to do the same thing. Afterwards, Jack looks for a little "REDRUM".

#2, Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs: While the other psychopaths on the list are ones that we wouldn't want to side with, Hannibal Lector is a psychopath that ironically, one would want on their side as he is a killer that helps Clarice, the film's main protagonist, catch a killer. When you watch the film, he even gets you to forget the fact that he is a cannibal. However, if you do get on his bad side, he'll have no problem having you for dinner, even with a Chianti and some flava beans.

#1, Norman Bates, Psycho: While John Doe is scary because of his calmness and The Joker is frightening because of his adulation for chaos and anarchy, Norman Bates, in my opinion, is the scariest cinematic psychopath because of how on the outside, he is the innocent "boy next door" but underneath that lies a monster. He reminds me of Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and even Ed Gein, who was the inspiration for Norman Bates, whereas they were serial killers that seemed like everyday nice human beings, but behind their smiles, there lies a psychopathic monster. In my opinion, those are the scariest type of human monsters.

So, that was my top ten list of the scariest cinematic psychopaths, and if there is anybody else you would add to the list or any choices you disagree with, feel free to comment. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Trailer Talk #8: Thanks For Sharing, The Counselor, Fruitvale Station, The Wolverine, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Adore

Hello, Bloggers, here is another episode of Trailer Talk. It's been a little while since I did an episode so that's why I figured I'd reflect on a few trailers that I've viewed and do another one. Here we go:

Thanks For Sharing: First up is the trailer for the upcoming indie flick Thanks For Sharing starring Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow. Now when I first heard about this film, I knew Ruffalo and Paltrow were starring in it but I didn't know much about the plot until the trailer came out. But I have to say, after watching the trailer for this film, it really makes we want to see it. Plus, it's got an eclectic group of supporting actors, including Tim Robbins, Alecia "Pink" Moore, Carol Kane, and Patrick Fugit from Almost Famous. Hopefully it plays in the indie theater nearest me because I would love to see this.

The Counselor: Next up is the teaser trailer for my second most anticipated movie this year right behind The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and that is The Counselor. Honestly, right before the trailer for this movie came out, my anticipation for the trailer to come out was almost aching because it's got an amazing cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz, and it has an intriguing plot. Plus, this movie is getting plenty of awards hype, so that doesn't hurt. No doubt I am seeing this in theaters.

Fruitvale Station: Next is the trailer for the Sundance hit Fruitvale Station. Because this film was picked up by the Weinstein brothers, I can honestly say that those two have good taste in films, as they have picked up films like Silver Linings Playbook and The Master in the past, and this film shows a lot of promise and like The Counselor, this film is already getting plenty of awards hype. It comes out next Friday and is a limited release, but hopefully I'll get the chance to see it.

The Wolverine: Next up is the trailer for the upcoming blockbuster The Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman as the titular character. Now, I am a huge X-Men fan and I have always loved Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Wolverine. But for some reason, this film isn't drawing me in as much as I thought it would. Maybe it's because I'm more excited for X-Men: Days of Future Past coming out next year or because I wasn't too crazy about X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Who knows if I'll have a change of heart and see it in theaters by the time this film comes out, but if I don't, I'll still watch it when it comes out on TV or rent it.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: Next up, we have the trailer for another film based on another young adult book franchise, and that is The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Now, in recent years, we have seen a trend in Hollywood where they decide to adapt young adult book series' and turn them into movie franchises. Some end up like Twilight and The Hunger Games and have the franchise continue after the first film is a success, or they end up like Beautiful Creatures and Eragon, whereas their chances of spawning sequels fall flat, and who knows how this or the upcoming adaptation Divergent will play out. Now this film has some pretty slick-looking special effects, but what's making me skeptical about seeing it is the fact that it seems to be another supernatural love story, and we've seen that before. I'm not dead set on seeing this in theaters, but if I don't, I won't be crushed.

Adore: Lastly, is the trailer for the upcoming indie pic Adore (originally titled Two Lovers) starring Naomi Watts and Robin Wright. Now, when I first heard about this film, it made its premiere at Sundance, and when I saw what it was about, I thought it was interesting as it deals with two life-long best friends who have affairs with each other's sons. While I'm not much of a love story guy, I don't mind love stories that break the mold so to speak and go beyond showcasing two young good-looking people who just happen to fall in love, so this one has me intrigued. I'm not sure how big of a release this film will get, so who knows if I'll see it in theaters.

So, that was episode #8 of Trailer Talk, and episode #9 will come once I either see my next film or if I watch some new trailers online, but until then, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin

                                 I'll 'Be Talking About' How Amazing This Movie Is

                  We've seen many "creepy child" films over the years, such as The Good Son, The Omen, Orphan, and The Bad Seed, but hardly any of them are made quite like this film. While the aforementioned films deal with the horrific acts that the children commit, We Need To Talk About Kevin focuses more on the mother's guilt and struggling with the aftermath of a gruesome act that her child commits and shows what happens when parents really distance themselves from their children.

                 We Need To Talk About Kevin is about a former travel writer named Eva Katchadourian (Tilda Swinton) who has difficulty loving her child Kevin as he grows older. She tries to convince her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) that their child is going off the deep end but he quickly dismisses her claims.

                 What I Liked About It:
                One thing that I did like about the film was the actors. In particular, two of them. Tilda Swinton gives a terrific performance that is the most dynamic. At first her character is a distressed housewife whose son disputes her cheap attempts at showing affection, and towards the end, she becomes an introverted, frigidly scared woman who is isolated from those around her. Another actor that I thought was outstanding was Ezra Miller, who plays the older version of Kevin. What makes his performance so great is how manipulative he is. He manipulates his father into thinking he is a normal teenager, shows little interest in his mother's attempts to bond with him, but what his parents don't know is the monster underneath.

               Another thing that I liked was the direction from Lynne Ramsey. Throughout the film, Ramsey incorporates the color red and uses it as a symbol of danger and even guilt. Like in the scenes of the aftermath of Kevin's gruesome act where Eva lives alone, her house is splattered with red and she tries to wipe it off, which to me is a metaphor for "wiping the red" or the horrors from her past.

               What I Didn't Like About It:
             While I did enjoy the film, at first I thought how the film was very jumpy was kind of distracting but then I eventually didn't mind it. Other than that, there is nothing else I hate about this movie.

              Overall, We Need To Talk About Kevin is a smoothly-paced, yet atmospheric and chilling drama. It is a film that may not specifically be categorized as a horror film, but it certainly feels like one as, like with the "creepy child" movies that came before it, it shows that it's not just adults that can be scary.

Rating: 4/5


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Requested Review #1: World War Z

                               Proof That We Still Live In A 'World' Of Good Movies

Hello Bloggers, I have just came up with a new segment of reviews known as Requested Reviews, which are of course reviews of films that whatever people request me to review, so if any of you have any requests, I am willing to take them. So, for my first Requested Review, I will do a film that my buddy Chris asked me to see, and that is World War Z starring Brad Pitt.

             World War Z is about a man named Gerry Lane (Pitt) who formerly worked for the U.N. and is called back to work for them when Earth is hit with a zombie apocalypse. In order for his family to stay in a U.S. Navy vessel for shelter, Gerry must go around the world to try and find a vaccine for the zombie virus.

                  What I Liked About It:
             One thing that I absolutely loved about the film was how it was a nice blend of both action and horror. The action scenes in this film are absolutely thrilling and the scary scenes are actually very scary. To me, the scariest scene was when Gerry is in Jerusalem and a lot of the people that are singing and clapping attract the zombies that start climbing on the wall that separates the city from the outside world. Plus, the fact that the zombies were fast adds to the scare factor, and even though the movie is PG-13 and it's rare when we see a serious zombie film that is PG-13 nowadays because their is usually scenes of bloody carnage and graphic violence, the rating of this film definitely doesn't take away anything from the film.

            I thought Brad Pitt was really good as always, and quite honestly, I'm glad that he did a movie like this because many stars as big as he is usually don't enter this type of film territory, so I'm glad he decided to do this. But one actress that I'd like to talk about is Daniella Kertesz, who plays Segen, an Israeli military soldier that Gerry meets in Jerusalem. Even though she had a small supporting role, hardly had any dialogue, and (SPOILER ALERT) her character's arm gets cut off, she still acts badass and leaves a big impression. Additionally, I liked the opening theme song by the band Muse. That was pretty neat.

                What I Didn't Liked About It:
            While I did enjoy the film as a whole, the story is a little formulaic and the ending was inventive yet somewhat predictable,  but I can easily get past that as the film is made for pure entertainment and is not a movie where you really have to analyze the story's meanings or anything like that.

           World War Z is an action-packed, yet intensely scary film that will leave you on the edge of your seat. It may be something we've seen before, but it shouldn't turn you away from seeing it as it's serves its purpose of being a fun summer ride.

Rating: 4.5/5

Review: Another Earth

                                        Not Just 'Another' Sci-Fi Movie

                Usually, whenever a sci-fi film is made and released, it is supposed to have spectacular action and special effects, or Will Smith fighting aliens and robots. While Another Earth is a sci-fi film that doesn't have blow-em-up action sequences or Will Smith fighting aliens and robots, it is a sci-fi film that people can easily relate to.

               Another Earth is about a girl named Rhoda (Brit Marling) who had just gotten into MIT to study astrophysics, but destroys her potential when she causes a tragic accident that kills a composer's wife and son, and lands her in jail for a few years. Before the accident, she hears talk about there being another earth up in the sky and after she gets out of jail, she meets the man whose wife and son she killed named John Burroughs (William Mapother) and they end up fixing each other's lives.

               What I Liked About It:
             To me, this film was shot beautifully. I loved the blue color scheme that is used to reflect Rhoda's depressive mood throughout the film, and the scenes that were shot at the beach were pretty captivating. I also loved how the film showed that even though it is a sci-fi film, it doesn't need heavy use special effects to captivate the audience as the film focuses on deep meaning rather than external  in-your-face action, so if that is what you're expecting because of its categorization as a sci-fi film, then this film isn't for you. It is slowly paced but because it is focused on its storytelling and themes, which deal with forgiveness and wanting to start anew.

              Another thing that I liked was the acting from the two leads, William Mapother and Brit Marling. Their characters have such a heavy dynamic relationship and it is transitioned smoothly without being too dramatic or too light-hearted. This is Brit Marling's feature film debut and I must say, she is outstanding and I look forward to her future work. William Mapother is outstanding as well.

            Plus, the movie was filmed and set in Connecticut, my home state, so that's an added bonus.

             What I Didn't Like About It:

          Overall, Another Earth is a highly inventive sci-fi film that relies heavily on quality rather than quantity. If you are looking for a sci-fi film that has originality and thought and doesn't rely heavily on in-your-face special effects, then this I highly recommend.

Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, July 1, 2013

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Hello, Bloggers, as I said when I did my predictions for who I think will be nominated for Best Supporting Actress, I would do my predictions for Best Supporting Actor and who could be dark horse contenders, and here they are:

Javier Bardem, The Counselor: While Cameron Diaz is said to have the meatiest role in The Counselor, Bardem is said to have a strong supporting turn with his performance as well, and it seems that he will be up for an Oscar nomination for playing another villain. One thing that I noticed is that whenever Bardem plays a villain, it seems he's obligated to have some kind of funky hairdo, like in No Country For Old Men and Skyfall. In The Counselor, his hair makes him look like a member of the "Jersey Shore" crew. (No insult intended)

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle: Bradley Cooper just scored his first Oscar nomination for Silver Linings Playbook and it seems possible that he could score another nomination for another David O. Russell film. Because Christian Bale is pretty much the lead in American Hustle, Cooper will most likely be up for Best Supporting Actor if there is any buzz surrounding his performance.

Michael Fassbender, Twelve Years A Slave: Fassbender is one of those actors that I hope receives at least an Oscar nomination one day, and while he wasn't nominated for Shame, which I haven't seen yet, I feel that the "powers that be" are holding out for something better and might nominate him twice in the same year: for Best Actor for The Counselor and Best Supporting Actor for Twelve Years A Slave. Both movies I am anticipating highly.

Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks: Another actor who could potentially receive two nominations next year, Hanks could be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Saving Mr. Banks for one particular reason: He's playing Walt Disney. Not only will playing a real-life person, which is one type of performance that the Academy fawns over, highly favor Hanks, but playing one of the most influential people in Hollywood will certainly help. From what I hear, he has a small part, but as I said when I talked about the likeliness of Vanessa Redgrave getting nominated for Foxcatcher, length has nothing to do with the performance.

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher: While Steve Carell is potentially going up for Best Actor for his performance in Foxcatcher, we could see Mark Ruffalo going up for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the same movie. For those of you who don't know, Foxcatcher is based on a true story about a paranoid schizophrenic millionaire named Jon Du Pont, played by Carell, who shot and killed his best friend Olympian wrestler Dave Schultz, played by Ruffalo. Since the film seems to revolve on Du Pont's story, Ruffalo will most likely be up for Best Supporting Actor and try to receive his second Oscar nomination and in the same category, as he was nominated a few years ago for The Kids Are All Right.

Now, here are the dark horse contenders that could "trot" their way into the Final Five:

Josh Brolin (Labor Day)
Matthew McConaughey (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Matt Damon (The Monuments Men)
Will Forte (Nebraska)
Brad Pitt (The Counselor)
John Goodman (The Monuments Men)
Alec Baldwin (Blue Jasmine)
Jeremy Renner (American Hustle)
Jared Leto (The Dallas Buyers Club)

So, those were my predictions of who I think will be nominated for Best Supporting Actor and who I think are potential dark horse contenders and next I will discuss the "crème de la crème" award: Best Picture. Until then, thanks for reading!