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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Fantastic Four (2015)

August 8, 2015 2 comments
Fantastic Four (2015)Directed by: Josh Trank
Produced by: Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Robert Kulzar, Hutch Parker, Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank
Edited by: Elliot Greenberg, Stephen E. Rivkin
Cinematography by: Matthew Jensen
Music by: Marco Beltrami, Philip Glass
Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Castellaneta
Based Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Year: 2015

 

This review contains spoilers.

 

So this must be how it feels to be one of the Man of Steel haters… Read more…

GRUDGE MATCH REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old Fashioned

July 2, 2015 1 comment
Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old FashionedFIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Unrated)
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Produced by: Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, E.L. James
Screenplay by: Kelly Marcel
Edited by: Anne V. Coates, Lisa Gunning, Debra Neil-Fisher
Cinematography by: Seamus McGarvey
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie, Andrew Airlie, Dylan Neal, Anthony Konechny, Emily Fonda, Rachel Skarsten
Based on the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Year: 2015

 

OLD FASHIONED
Directed by: Rik Swartzwelder
Produced by: Nathan Nazario, Dave DeBorde, Nini Hadjis, Rik Swartzwelder
Written by: Rik Swartzwelder
Edited by: Jonathan Olive, Phillips Sherwood, Robin Katz
Cinematography by: David George
Music by: Kazimir Boyle
Starring: Elizabeth Ann Roberts, Rik Swartzwelder, LeJon Woods, Tyler Hollinger, Nini Hadjis, Maryann Nagel, Lindsay Heath, Joseph Bonamico, Dorothy Silver, Ange’le Perez, Anne Marie Nestor
Year: 2015

 

This review contains spoilers, including the movies’ endings.

 

Alright, everyone, listen up! Things are about to get ugly in here! I’m going to be fanning the flames of a culture war, and it’s bound to make some people kind of angry!

In one corner, we have the inexplicably popular, smutty to a fault movie adaptation of a book that was itself originally an online Twilight fan fiction, written by someone who didn’t seem to catch on to that franchise’s coded abstinence message: Fifty Shades of Grey! In the other corner, we have that film’s chaste, Christian-targeting, message-laden morality tale counterpart, meant to provide a more wholesome alternative for anyone who proudly proclaims that they’ve kissed dating goodbye: Old Fashioned!

… Okay, I can’t keep up that boxing announcer façade. …

Anyway, I’m reviving a very old (and once-used) feature on this blog that I really didn’t enjoy doing the first time around but recently figured would be kind of interesting to try again. (It’s something I’d been meaning to try for a while, anyway, back when I thought about doing it for the original King Kong and its remakes.) The concept behind this grudge match review works pretty much like you’d expect. There will be a series of rounds in which I compare the two movies to one another, and there will be a winner for each round based on which movie succeeds more in that area. What will make this a bit more interesting, however, is the fact these two films aren’t remakes or adaptations of the same source material, but rather polar opposites! The marketing for Old Fashioned proclaimed “Chivalry makes a comeback,” while the BDSM-themed, sex-and-nudity laden Fifty Shades demanded audiences “Lose Control.” As if its obvious opposition weren’t enough, the films were only released one week apart, with Old Fashioned beating Fifty Shades to the punch in an effort to overtake it and likely to encourage people to not give in to the smut.

I’m of the opinion, however, that too often Christian films try to take on too much of a counterculture stance, to the point where they’re not even willing to study the very thing they’re opposed to or portray it in a fair light. As I’ve pointed out countless times before, I am a Christian, and yet I am more often than not finding myself at odds with the image the Christian pop culture industry and the people who consume it propagate for themselves, and flaunting it in non-Christians’ faces (and even the faces of Christians they disagree with), prideful in their willful ignorance. So, I am trying to do something different and see it from all sides in comparing the two movies. It’s actually kind of funny how they actually have some things in common! To be quite honest, though, I’m also trying to have a bit of fun at their expense, too. I mean… neither one of these movies is really any good, so I’m really not going to take this too seriously. I’m also just here to let you know which one is better than the other, too – or, in this case, which one is the least bad.

Read more…

REVIEW: Thomas and the Magic Railroad

November 9, 2013 2 comments
Thomas and the Magic RailroadDirected by: Britt Allcroft
Produced by: Britt Allcroft, Phil Fehrle
Written by: Britt Allcroft
Edited by: Ron Wiseman
Cinematography by: Paul Ryan
Music by: Hummie Mann, Mike O’Donnell
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Peter Fonda, Mara Wilson, Cody McMains, Michael E. Rodgers, Eddie Glen, Neil Crone, Didi Conn, Russell Means, Kevin Frank, Susan Roman, Colm Feore, Britt Allcroft
Based on the TV series Shining Time Station and the books by Reverend Wilbert Awdry
Year: 2000

 

Pardon me, as I have been absent from writing for over a week. Much of that was because I had had a pretty busy and/or stressful few weeks, and, on Halloween, I celebrated my 27th birthday, which meant that, on top of working, I was churning out a final Halloween 2013 review of Alien and then also getting my apartment in presentable condition for my family to come celebrate, so I took it upon myself to take a week off and enjoy a couple days of no obligations other than work. I did decide to work on this review sooner, but then my birthday present to myself arrived – a shiny new Nexus 7 – and I got a bit carried away with playing around with it. But, I’m back and writing again, and I figured what better way to pick up again than with a completely offbeat, unexpected, and completely unrelated-to-Halloween movie?

Funny enough, though, was that, when I was soliciting some suggestions for Halloween movies, one of my friends – the one who had suggested Oscar – jokingly suggested Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Apparently, while the world had almost immediately forgotten that this movie existed, his little brother would go on Magic Railroad binges on a regular basis, so I can kind of understand why such a suggestion would creep up on him with my request, even in jest. I agreed that, while I wouldn’t actually do it for Halloween, however, I’d be more than happy to review his oddball suggestion afterward. Read more…

Review: “Red Tails”

August 1, 2012 3 comments
Directed by: Anthony Hemingway, George Lucas (uncredited re-shoots)
Produced by: Rick McCallum, Chas. Floyd Johnson, Ales Komárek (co-producer), George Lucas (executive producer)
Written by: John Ridley, Aaron McGruder (screenplay), John Ridley (story)
Cinematography by: John Aaronson
Music by: Terence Blanchard
Starring: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Tristan Wilds, Kevin Phillips, Marcus T. Paulk, Michael B. Jordan, Daniela Ruah, Bryan Cranston, Ryan Early, Lars van Riesen, Method Man
Year: 2012

 

I’m going to preface this review with a disclaimer: I know very little about the actual history behind this film’s story and setting. I blame it on my education. (Doesn’t everyone?) I had heard about the Tuskegee Airmen before, of course, but most of the time, they were a footnote or, at best, one of those little side panels in my history books, sidelined with a photo or two and a few facts listed, undoubtedly being an answer to a question that nobody would remember. Even in college, where we were expected to be more enlightened, we glossed over the subject entirely, with maybe a one-sentence mention thrown in for good measure. Read more…

Special Review: “Batman & Robin” – Joel Schumacher and the Inevitable Taco Bell Analogy

April 20, 2012 11 comments
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Produced by: Peter MacGregor-Scott
Written by: Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Therman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Jeep Swensen, Pat Hingle, Elle Macpherson
Music by: Elliot Goldenthal
Year: 1997

 

Let’s get one thing out of the way, right off the bat (so to speak): There was no way that Joel Schumacher was aiming to be anywhere near a serious tone for Batman & Robin. If you’re one of those people who constantly complains that Batman & Robin wasn’t serious enough, then, well, I’m just going to have to roll my eyes at you and unleash a really loud “Duuuuuh!” straight into your face.

With Batman Forever, Schumacher seemed to be experimenting with placing style over substance, something he did the opposite of with the absolutely mind-numbing A Time to Kill, but he achieved less than admirable results. With Batman & Robin, however, Schumacher didn’t even have a chance, as he found himself at the mercy of the studio, and he was clearly aiming to act out in his lack of say in the film’s production. Read more…

Awful Movie Review: “Batman Forever”

April 13, 2012 9 comments
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Produced by: Tim Burton, Peter MacGregor-Scott, Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslan
Written by: Lee Batchler, Janet Scott-Batchler, Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Lee Batchler, Janet Scott-Batchler (story)
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Drew Barrymore, Debi Mazar
Music by: Elliot Goldenthal
Year: 1995

 

You know what? This movie gets too much of a free pass. I get that, compared to its sequel, it’s almost competently plotted out, but this in no way implies that this is a good movie. Make no mistake about this: Batman Forever is one of the worst superhero films out there, and it even lacks much of the so-bad-it’s-good qualities that its more ridiculous sequel possesses, making this almost more unbearable  than that infamous stain of a film. To say that Batman Forever fails where its predecessors succeeded is to undermine the severity of the film’s existence. To put it simply, Batman Forever not only undid much of the goodwill gained by critics and audiences with the releases of Batman and Batman Returns, it very nearly laid the groundwork for the death of the genre as we know it. Read more…

Awful Movie Review: “Larry Crowne”

March 20, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Tom Hanks
Produced by: Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks
Written by: Tom Hanks, Nia Vardalos
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Bryan Cranston, Pam Grier, George Takei
Music by: James Newton Howard
Year: 2011

 

There was nothing drawing me into this movie. Any affection I may have had towards the film’s star, Tom Hanks, was weighed unfavorably against the fact that the film was co-written by his My Big Fat Greek Wedding muse Nia Vardalos. But I dove in headfirst and nearly blind to Larry Crowne, thanks in large part to the fact that a good friend of mine recommended the film as being “not so bad.” By the time I reached the halfway point, however, I was already checking out and asking her, “Why did you recommend this?” Her answer? She was jet-lagged, awake for 24-hours, and on Vicodin. And suddenly it all came into focus, ’cause no sober, well-rested person would ever recommend Larry Crowne for entertainment purposes.

Read more…

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