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THEATRICAL REVIEW – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

December 18, 2016 2 comments
Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryDirected by: Gareth Edwards
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Sheamur, Simon Emanuel
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Story by: John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Edited by: John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, Jabez Olssen
Cinematography by: Greig Fraser
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Genevieve O’Reilly, James Earl Jones, Valene Kane
Based on characters and concepts by George Lucas
Year: 2016

 

Disappointment. No, that’s not my reaction to Rogue One. Heck no! But it was the general consensus I gathered from people after they were told that the 2016 Star Wars film was not a follow-up to last year’s The Force Awakens but rather an ominously pre-A New Hope film that was mostly independent from the Skywalker family and friends’ saga. Most of that was just because they were eager to see that story continue, but, for some, there was also an added level of scorn for a film they seemed to consider… illegitimate. Which is unfortunate, as Rogue One, in both style and focus, is a much more important and bolder move forward for Disney and their still nascent new property, signaling a promising future for the franchise that isn’t beholden to repeating itself for the sake of nostalgia and familiarity. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Ghostbusters (2016)

July 19, 2016 2 comments
Ghostbusters (2016)Directed by: Paul Feig
Produced by: Ivan Reitman, Amy Pascal
Written by: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig
Edited by: Melissa Bretherton, Brent White
Cinematography by: Robert Yeoman
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matt Walsh, Neil Casey, Andy Garcia, Cecily Strong
Year: 2016

 

I really don’t know how to start off this review. With the whole ridiculous “controversy” surrounding this movie for its leads being “gender swaps” of the original actors, not to mention the subsequent fears of sounding like a misogynist for not liking the trailers (and misogynists fearing being called out for being one while still giving their misogynist opinions on it), I’m fairly certain that Ghostbusters surpassed even Batman v Superman and the whole Ben Affleck casting in terms of the absurd levels of stigmatization surrounding it. For a reviewer, it’s pretty hard to even begin reviewing this film without addressing it, and if you happen to not like it, I can only imagine it’s even harder to articulate your thoughts without them being twisted, misconstrued, or misworded into something that someone somewhere would take offense at. I know – I’m a man, and I’m reviewing this movie. In fact, every time I thought about how I was going to review this movie, I hated the fact that I felt that I had to work the review around this controversy, even as someone who personally could not have given any damns about the casting because I had absolutely no problems with it nor the particular women that were cast. “God help me,” I thought, “if I don’t end up liking this movie.” Lucky me, I did.

For the most part. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 7, 2015 1 comment
Avengers: Age of UltronDirected by: Joss Whedon
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: Joss Whedon
Edited by: Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Lassek
Cinematography by: Ben Davis
Music by: Brian Tyler, Danny Elfman
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johasson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Linda Cardellini, Claudia Kim, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, Andy Serkis, Julie Delpy, Kerry Condon
Based on the Marvel Comics
Year: 2015

 

I don’t think anything will compare to the anticipation that led up to the release of Marvel’s first Avengers movie. When Samuel L. Jackson showed up at the end of the first Iron Man back in 2008 and basically announced Marvel’s intentions to create a cinematic universe in which pretty much all of their characters would coexist in one massive multimedia project, each subsequent addition to this universe has basically been made with the goal of getting people excited for the next while being fairly to immensely entertaining in its own right. This is something that could have easily imploded on itself, particularly if Marvel screwed it up by either playing it too safe and mucking their characters up in order to cater to audiences who might not be willing to accept them or by getting caught up in their own hype and letting the films coast on brand recognition and not paying attention to quality control. Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 1, 2014 2 comments

Elysium - Sharlto Copley and Alice Braga

I apparently watched a lot more movies in 2013 than I had realized… The films below represent not the worst, not the best, but certainly not always good, but also certainly not always bad movies that I saw in and from 2013. Only films released theatrically were counted, and film festival debuts did not count. Some of these films were truly great, others were truly awful, but none of them were seen fit to be placed in “the worst,” “the best,” nor “my favorite” categories. And so, they go here. Here are some of the films I watched in 2013, in order of release! Read more…

Categories: Lists, Year in Review Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)

January 25, 2014 1 comment

Inside Llewyn Davis - Oscar Isaac

Oscar season! This is when the studios want to release the best films of the year (or so they say). Why? Because they want the films to be fresh in the voters’ minds. Prestige films and the like. Indie dramas, historical period films, war films, controversial films… If it can make you cry, your heartbreak, your spirit lift with joy, make you see things from a new light, this is the season.

It’s also a good time for seasonal holiday films. You’ve got your horror films to cover Halloween, your Christmas films for Christmas, and this year we even got an animated Thanksgiving film (though I’m not certain that all you people looking forward to a big piece of juicy turkey are going to love it). Meanwhile, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa get left out, once again. For some reason, this season was also rife with Christian films, from Kirk Cameron, to Miley Cyrus analogs, to Christmas miracles, the industry that claims to represent my faith has got you covered in that area. Woo.

It’s not all your typical films, though. More and more, Hollywood is figuring out that you should spread your action films and your romantic comedies throughout the year, rather than bunching them all into the middle. Consequently, we got a few Sylvester Stallone-involved flicks this season, a sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, as well as the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World.

Nevertheless, as with the first and second entries, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon, since this is the last of the films that I haven’t seen from the year. Enjoy! Read more…

Categories: Lists, Year in Review Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Gravity

November 20, 2013 2 comments
GravityDirected by: Alfonso Cuarón
Produced by: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
Written by: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
Edited by: Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger
Cinematography by: Emmanuel Lubezki
Music by: Steven Price
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen, Paul Sharma, Amy Warren, Basher Savage
Year: 2013

 

I actually got around to seeing this on its opening weekend, but due to the film releasing in October, I never got around to reviewing it because I was so focused on doing Halloween-themed movies. Just this past weekend, however, I decided to go see it again while I still had the chance to see it on the big screen, thanks to some free passes I had received from my birthday – this time in 3D. It also presented the perfect opportunity to reflect on the film again and write a review with a more “fresh from the theatres” perspective, especially now that I had also now seen it in two different formats (once on a massive screen with Dolby Atmos sound system, and then on a smaller screen in 3D). Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Star Trek Into Darkness”

May 18, 2013 3 comments
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Produced by: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Edited by: Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey
Cinematography by: Daniel Mindel
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldaña, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, John Cho, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Peter Weller, Anton Yelchin
Year: 2013

 

After years of anticipation, the sequel to J.J. Abrams’ bold new restart of the Star Trek film franchise is finally here. Though it was the eleventh film in the series, as the first film set in this alternate universe, it was also the franchise’s first step in an attempt to grab at a brighter future after years of the franchise taking a dive in both quality and creativity. With the promise of the series shedding years of expectations and established canon with a bit of time travel, 2009’s Star Trek brilliantly maneuvered the series into a position where it could once again surprise new audiences, Trekkies, and Trekkers alike. Read more…

Review: “Jurassic Park” (IMAX 3D)

April 9, 2013 4 comments
Jurassic ParkDirected by: Steven Spielberg
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Gerald R. Molen
Written by: Michael Crichton, David Koepp (screenplay)
Edited by: Michael Kahn
Cinematography by: Dean Cundey
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, B.D. Wong
Based on the novel by Michael Crichton
Year: 1993 (2013 for IMAX 3D)

 

I know it’s a common sentiment and, therefore, hardly original, but it bears repeating multiple times until that sentiment is driven into the ground about this wondrous, marvelous film: IT’S SO FREAKING AWESOME! Read more…

Grudge Match Review: “Scrooged” vs. “The Muppet Christmas Carol” vs. “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” – Rounds 6 – 10

December 29, 2011 5 comments

<< Part I
Round 6: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Robert Hammond (uncredited), Robert Tygner (performer), and, yes, Jim Carrey as The Ghost of Christmas Future

Easily the ghost most people remember, and also the one where almost nobody seems to deviate from the tradition — not even Scrooged. The cloaked figure known as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (alternately, of Christmas Future) is often seen as the most dramatic of the spirits, revealing to Scrooge how the future could turn out if he doesn’t change his ways. There are differences in how each movie portrays the spirit, of course, but ultimately, the horrific aspect is the same, and it’s only a matter of how horrific and in what way.

Scrooged, for instance, keeps with the thematics, with the ghost having a heavy, ghoulish cloak with blue streaks and a TV screen for a face that flashes static and images from Frank’s life. Inside his cloak are hellish ghouls, moaning in agony. The visions of the future he shows Frank are abstract and look completely unlike anything else in the film, showing a bleak and sterile future, free from passion and compassion.

The Muppets keep it grim and faithful, but they are sure to make sure that families who show this to their children will not have tears by the end of the film. And, ultimately, that’s okay. It doesn’t break out into song, it doesn’t speak, and it certainly isn’t the most joyful spirit in the world, but we do need a Christmas Carol adaptation that is faithful without being both syrupy sweet and cheaply made. This spirit didn’t make that much of an impact on me as a viewer, but I get that I’m not necessarily the intended audience here.

Of course, it’s remarkably clear that Disney and Zemeckis were aiming for a much older audience with their collaboration on A Christmas Carol, as the ghost maintains his scary nature, multiplied by ten, with only Jim Carrey’s performance to keep things a bit lighter. Not nearly concerned with being grim and more concentrated with being terrifying, this ghost is seemingly the byproduct of merging the Ghost of Christmas Past and the Headless Horseman, with a hint of shrink ray. It seems as though the filmmakers were concerned that they didn’t have a big finale for the talky climax, and so the final spirit, who first appears as a living shadow, gains a red-eyed horse and a chariot of nightmares, shrinking Scrooge and chasing him the horrors of Christmas Yet to Come — and also the horrors of sewers and being the size of a rat. I guess that’s symbolism? Read more…

Grudge Match Review: “Scrooged” vs. “The Muppet Christmas Carol” vs. “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” – Rounds 1 – 5

December 18, 2011 8 comments

There are so many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, it would be impossible for me to review them all, not to mention the fact that I’m sure many of you who read this would be bored by the endless barrage of adaptations of the same tale. As luck would have it, though, I’ve already watched three drastically different adaptations of the story this month, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, and each very unique. Rather than split these up into three separate reviews, however, I decided to do something different for this review: a grudge match! After all, what is the Christmas season without a little conflict, right?

The three adaptations for this review are, as I said, drastically different in tone, style, medium, and even decade.

Scrooged is the least literal of the translations and also the earliest film in this grudge match. Starring Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Alfre Woodard, and several other big actors and celebrities from the 80s, it is also the most “adult” of the three adaptations.

Next is The Muppet Christmas Carol, which, as you may have guessed, is a Muppetized adaptation. What is surprising about this adaptation, the first Disney-produced Muppet production and the first film released son after Jim Henson’s death, is that it doesn’t strictly star any of the recently revived puppets in the lead role. Rather, Ebenezer Scrooge is instead portrayed by a rather famous human actor, Michael Caine, with the Muppets instead taking on roles as the supporting cast.

Finally, we have what is currently the most recent theatrical release version of the film and the only one to bear the original Dickens name, A Christmas Carol, another Disney production and their first to star Jim Carrey. Director Robert Zemeckis used the same motion capture techniques he used in his first Christmas adaptation/motion capture production, The Polar Express. The film also features the captured performances of Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, and Robin Wright Penn. Coincidentally, despite its high tech trappings, big Hollywood names, and Disney’s involvement, this is also the most serious and literal adaptation of the three films.

What I want to do here, though, is to breakdown the various aspects of the basic Christmas Carol story, from the roles and the actors, the presentation of the ghosts, the artistic styling, the music, the overall effect of each of the films’ presentation of the Christmas Carol message, that all time classic one about charity and compassion for others, and, of course, the overall quality of each film as a whole. Instead of addressing each film on its own, I will pit each of these films against each other in the various categories, and each category will have a definite winner. The final reviews, however, do not necessarily reflect an average of each category’s results, and are to be considered my final score for each film overall — effectively determining the winner, you might say!

I must add this disclaimer: I’ve committed the sacrilege of having never read the original story, so I apologize for my ignorance on this likely crucial bit of research on my part. Hehe… *ahem* Read more…

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