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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Chappie

March 14, 2015 1 comment
ChappieDirected by: Neill Blomkamp
Produced by: Simon Kinberg
Screenplay by: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Edited by: Julian Clarke
Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Watkin Tudor Jones (“Ninja”), Yolandi Visser, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman, Brandon Auret
Based on the 2003 short film Tetra Vaal by Neill Blomkamp
Year: 2015

 

Oh man. Chappie… I was so hoping this would be good. I absolutely love District 9 and think it’s still one of the best, most original sci-fi films in recent history, and I was thrilled that it was nominated for Best Picture, regardless of whether it was only because they had expanded the selection size. Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up, Elysium, wasn’t anywhere near as good, and its moralizing was clumsy as hell, but it was definitely an interesting and mostly entertaining film that also looked very nice. Chappie was an opportunity for Blomkamp to look at what worked and didn’t work from both films and deliver something truly special. Blomkamp himself even recognized the fact that Elysium was a step in the wrong direction in a refreshingly candid interview with Uproxx, wherein he points out “it was all resting on a somewhat not totally formed skeletal system, so the script just wasn’t there; the story wasn’t fully there.” That’s awesome, and all, but man… What happened, then, with Chappie?! Read more…

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2014 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 22, 2015 1 comment

The LEGO Movie - Batman and Benny

I saw so many movies this year, I honestly couldn’t pick the best movie. The selection was so wide because I saw so many, I honestly couldn’t pit movies I just enjoyed versus films I admired. So, this year, I’ve decided to do something different — I separated them into genres. it’s not exactly what you might expect – Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t in sci-fi, for instance, because it’s much more of an adventure film in space.

I’ve ordered these based on gut instinct overall, however, and so you’ll be able to see what I (currently) favored over others. That being said, however, all of these movies are fantastic.

I’m tired of explaining things, honestly. The process of doing the year in review this year was a lot longer than I intended. So, yeah. You know the drill. Read below! Read more…

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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

August 29, 2014 2 comments
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Produced by: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Galen Walker, Scott Mednick, Ian Bryce
Written by: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Evan Daugherty
Edited by: Joel Negron, Glen Scantlebury
Cinematography by: Lula Carvalho
Music by: Brian Tyler
Starring: Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Johnny Knoxville, Pete Ploszek, Tony Shalhoub, Danny Woodburn, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Minae Noji, Abby Elliott, Taran Killam, K. Todd Freeman, Paul Fitzgerald, Malina Weissman
Based on the comics by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman
Year: 2014

 

Full disclosure: Of all the nerdy things that I’m into, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was, incredibly, the one thing I never actually got into. I do recall that my first exposure to them was through the old Nintendo game when I was little and my friend brought over his NES sometime before I started kindergarten. I remember that was pretty fun, but I really had no broader understanding of what the franchise really was until I got went to school and made more friends, but I was already at a stage where I looked down on them as being pretty stupid. (The Power Rangers were way better, amiright?) So, by the time that I wised up and realized a silly concept doesn’t automatically negate something as being legitimately entertaining, I was still pretty much just ambivalent about the whole franchise and never cared to catch up to the hype train. That’s right – I’ve never seen anything Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle related beyond the video game and… maybe one or two episodes of the 1990s series. That is, until this past weekend. Read more…

2011 in Review: My 10 Favorite Films, 10 – 8

January 19, 2012 4 comments

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite film of all time, but with a year like 2011, it wasn’t that hard to narrow down my choices for favorite films over the past year.

After making my selections and arranging them, I’ve realized a lot of my choices for 2011 involved some combination of whimsy, science fiction, or fantasy elements. While I love a good realistic film — and indeed, had this blog existed at the beginning of 2011, I would have likely been talking about how much I loved True Grit and The King’s Speech — I always seem to go back to the more whimsical ones the most, and 2011, for all its faults, was full of some wonderful films of this ilk.

I swear, I’ll never write off another Western again, I promise!

I had originally intended to place all ten of my favorite films here in this one article, but around the time I had completed the tenth place film and began writing the entry for the ninth (the rankings of which continued to evolve themselves, so that was its own dilemma for me as I love them all, some more equally than others), I began to realize just how much I had to say about the films I loved this past year. If you read my past articles on the films I didn’t see in 2011, the ones I liked, and the ones I hated, you can see that there wasn’t a huge number of films that I especially wanted to see that was new, so perhaps that is why I ended up feeling so compelled to write so much about these films.

Ultimately, I am my own editor, and I know I can be quite wordy, but it is my hope that, in writing these analyses on my favorite films of 2011, I can impress upon you what it is about these films that I love so much and maybe compel you to love them similarly and, if not, defend your position, retort with your own, and perhaps feel compelled to introduce others, including me, to something they had never considered seeing before. That being said, this is a perfect jumping off point for the first entry on my list, so here they are, Entries 10 – 8 of My 10 Favorite Films of 2011: Read more…

2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, October – December 2011

January 10, 2012 5 comments

<< Part 1 – January – April 2011

<< Part 2 – May – September 2011

Here it is — the final chapter of films I didn’t see in (or from) 2011. This time of year is usually considered the “Oscar season.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t some blockbuster hits still spilling out of the summer months, avoiding much bigger blockbuster hits in favor of taking on films more serious and, presumably, meant for a different audience.

After all, October is Halloween month, and so we usually get a spat of horror films which have a reputation, justified or not, for being generally awful but widely seen films. Since the Saw franchise presumably ended last year with Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, making 2011 the first year without a theatrical Saw release since 2003, perhaps many would consider it refreshing that we got two horror film prequels this year with The Thing and Paranormal Activity 3, with The Human Centipede 2 inexplicably filling in the gap for necessary sequels. Strangely enough, no remakes of horror films. Just a remake of Footloose, which, depending on your perspective, might be scary enough. Zing!

Personally, this was also the time of year where I didn’t really go see any films in theatres at all, having to save up to go see family for Christmas and, thus, get by without pay for work by the end of the year. And Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol nearly made this list, had I not gone and seen it at a 9AM showing this past Sunday, which, technically was seeing the film in 2012, but it’s still a 2011 film and I wanted to have it on my favorite list, as I was certain it would be on there. I spent most of this time engrossing myself with films rented and streamed, as evidenced by my focus on getting to know more established horror films I hadn’t seen before in October and my Christmas movie reviews in December (with a lone Thanksgiving film, for good measure) as well as getting more familiar with my own personal, neglected movie collection once again. (I forgot how good most of the films I own are!)

Closing out the year, we seemed to have gotten a lot of Oscar bait that wasn’t necessarily as promising as previous years. No Black Swans. No True Grits. Even the usually reliable Clint Eastwood, having directed Oscar gold for so many years, was having a tough time this year. Like a second coming of summer, the films of fall/winter 2011 were largely big name releases seemingly missed the summer window in production. Not all of them were bad, and some were even brilliant, but ultimately this felt like a season where there were very few worthy contenders for Oscar gold. Luckily, this might just mean that the types of films being released are just being spread across the year now instead of being concentrated all at once. Ticket sales are supposedly dropping, and the studios are possibly experimenting with timing, but only time will tell if the coming years prove whether this theory of mine that I admit I just came up with holds any water. Read more…

2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, January – April 2011

January 5, 2012 157 comments

A lot of people will say that 2011 was a dull year for film. Unlike previous years, there haven’t been very many huge Oscar-worthy films this year that I, personally can think of. Though The King’s Speech saw its wide release in 2011 (and I even saw it in theatres this past year), it was ultimately a film from 2010 and had, by this year’s Oscars, already won several Oscars and other accolades in the year prior, so it was no longer a contender for this spot.

Of course, 2011 had its share of noteworthy films, such as Moneyball and The Tree of  Life, both fo which I still have yet to see but hear fantastic things about. And there’s Hugo, which is a wonderful family film from Martin Scorsese and my top pick for the year. But 2011 was largely a year of recycling. Sequels aplenty, some great, some good, and some completely awful, with plenty of expected and unexpected revivals of old franchises, many of which were completely unnecessary and, yes, unwanted.  (Yes, I’m thinking of The Smurfs.)

2011 also saw the end of a few eras in film history, as well. The final Harry Potter released this year to high critical acclaim. For the time being, we’ve also gotten what is intended to be the final film in the Transformers trilogy (until Michael Bay decides he wants to have more money and toss in Jason Statham, who has been rumored to be taking over the lead human role for quite a while now). And we also saw Pixar release their first widely derided film ever in the admittedly-watchable-but-ultimately-thoroughly-mediocre Cars 2.

I went to the theaters plenty of times this year. Most of the films I did see were quite good, if at least enjoyable. A couple were quite bad. But there were still plenty of notable films that were released throughout the year that I didn’t see, neither in theatres nor in my own home. Before I tell you what were my least and most favorite of the year, I thought I’d go through the daunting task of a quick rundown of each notable film released in 2011 that I, for one reason or another, for better or for worse, did not see in theatres or get around to watching on home release. 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…

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