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REVIEW – April and the Extraordinary World [Avril et le Monde truqué]

September 10, 2016 Leave a comment
April and the Extraordinary WorldDirected by: Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci
Produced by: Michel Dutheil, Franck Elkinci, Marc Jousset
Screenplay by: Franck Ekinci, Benjamin Legrand
Edited by: Nazim Meslem
Music by: Valentin Hadjadj
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine, Jean Rochefort, Olivier Gourmet, Marc-André Grondin, Bouli Lanners, Anne Coesens, Benoît Brière, Macha Grenon | English: Angela Galuppo, Tony Hale, Tony Robinow, Mark Camacho, Tod Fennell, Paul Giamatti, Susan Sarandon, J.K. Simmons
Inspired by the work of Jacques Tardi
Year: 2015 (France/Belgium), 2016 (U.S.)

 

Just when it seemed like steampunk had died, along comes April and the Extraordinary World to potentially reignite interest in the once unavoidable not-quite-underground subgenre. A French/Belgian/Canadian coproduction featuring a world guided and inspired by renowned French comic artist Jacques Tardi, Avril et le Monde truqué (as it is known in its native language) is a film that’s a throwback to a great number of things: the sci-fi of Jules Verne, the grand adventure of Tintin (as well as sporting a similar ligne claire art style), that period of time in the 2000s and early 2010s when steampunk was seemingly the new black, and also the bygone days when science was universally understood in terms of all the positive changes it could provide the world, rather than obsessing about how it could potentially destroy us all, regardless of benign or malicious intent. That last point, in particular – the responsibility of science as a force for good in this world and for humanity – is primary focus. 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…

REVIEW: Pokémon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back

February 25, 2016 Leave a comment
Pokemon: The First MovieDirected by: Kunihiko Yuyama
Produced by: Choji Yoshikawa, Tomoyuki Igarashi, Takemoto Mori; Norman J. Grossfeld (U.S.)
Written by: Takeshi Shud­o; Norman J. Grossfeld, Michael Haigney, John Touhey (U.S.)
Edited by: Toshio Henmi, Yutaka Ito
Cinematography by: Hisao Shirai
Music by: Shinji Miyazaki; John Loeffler, Ralph Schuckett (U.S.)
Starring: Veronica Taylor, Ikue Otani, Rachael Lillis, Eric Stuart, Ken gates, Philip Bartlett, Megan Hollingshead, Stomi Korogi, Maddie Blaustein, Tara Jayne, Jimmy Zoppi, Ed Paul, Lisa Ortiz, Kayzie Rogers, Ed Paul
Based on the Pokémon series of video games created by Satoshi Tajiri and the Pokémon TV series
Year: 1999

 

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon video games, and so I thought I’d commemorate the event.

I used to be very into the Pokémon games and anime. My sister and I used to recite the Team Rocket motto for fun (I can still do it all from memory, inflections and all, in fact), and I used to own all three versions of the original games released in the U.S., not to mention a whole slew of the trading cards (including the three original legendary birds – Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, which my mom so lovingly sought out by name for my big Christmas present one year – and the Ancient Mew card that came out with early tickets of the second film) and some of the spinoff games. There was also my prized Game Boy Printer, which is yellow and Pikachu-themed and was released only in Japan, where I was living as a very nerdy 10 – 12-year-old when the games initially released. I even had a pair of Pikachu and Togepi boxer shorts, and my first ever email account was pokemonmaster1@hotmail.com – because while plain ol’ “pokemonmaster” was already taken, I didn’t care because I was #1! Read more…

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…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Jurassic World

June 19, 2015 2 comments
Jurassic WorldDirected by: Colin Trevorrow
Produced by: Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley; Steven Spielberg, Thomas Tull (executive producers)
Screenplay by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Story by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Edited by: Kevin Stitt
Cinematography by: John Schwartzman
Music by: Michael Giacchino, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B.D. Wong, Irrfan Khan, Katie McGrath, Jake Johnson, Lauren Lapkus, Judy Greer, Andy Buckley
Year: 2015

 

By now, you probably don’t need for me to review this film, as it seems like the whole world has thrown their money at it. However, I went bonkers a couple years ago when the original film was re-released in theatres in 3D, prompting me to do a complete run through of the entire then-trilogy. As a result, I kind of feel obligated to review the latest one. Besides, some of you might be insane or too “hip” to buy into this dinosaur spectacle “nonsense” but might be thinking of giving it a go on DVD or something in what is, for me, the future, so, yeah, I’m here to help. Read more…

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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2014 IN REVIEW: The Worst Movies of the Year

February 15, 2015 3 comments

The Purge: Anarchy - gangster

This 2014 in Review series is taking me a lot longer than I anticipated, but such is life and work. After this, we’ll be getting to my favorite films of the year, but before I do that, it’s time to pass judgment on some of the worst films released in 2014.

These are the movies that bored me, that angered me, that were so bad they left me bewildered as to how they even got released in the state they’re in. For your reference, this year I have also included the Rotten Tomatoes score for each movie. While I cannot say that the order I’ve placed them in is definitive, even for me, they are arranged roughly from worse to worst, ending with my pick for the #1 worst film of the year. I have more picks for 2014 than I ever have in the past, but it was a pretty easy and obvious pick, though some of you might be thinking of the movie I put in the #2 slot. I have my reasons why it went there and not at the top, but you’ll just have to read to find out.

Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 16, 2014 1 comment

Rush - Chris Hemsworth

FINALLY! The moment I’ve been building up to for far too long! It’s been a busy month… and a half… for me, but I’m finally done, and this is my last of my 2013 in Review articles! (Consequently, while none of these are exactly final reviews, many of them may as well be and portions of what is stated here may show up in a future review. For the sake of my sanity and my time, however, I’ve decided to present what I felt the need to write without very many edits!)

The format I’ve chosen for my annual Year in Review articles is a bit insane, I know, but while it’s time consuming, its also quite fun, and it’s just as much about sharing all the films released in the last year (or at least most, as I probably missed some in the sections where I went over films I didn’t get around to seeing) as it is about me locating films that you and I have both overlooked, which is also why a lot of the films I didn’t see this year made repeat appearances, as I couldn’t resist the urge to watch them, and it’s not like I’d be able to do another year in review for them, too, you know? This year, one of those movies I didn’t see at first but did during my writing these articles even made it onto this list, My Top Films of the Year!

The Wolf of Wall Street - Jonah Hill, Marching Band

So why don’t I call it “The Best Films of the Year”? It’s simple, really – it’s subjective, yes, but it’s also because even I switch around the order at times. I guarantee you that at some point in the past and future, I might have ordered these films differently. It took some time and thought, and this is ultimately what I felt comfortable enough with to publish, but I’ll tell you that this was a hard process, particularly in the top 10.

All of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees are on this list. Seriously – I’ve even decided to mark the Oscar nominations this year. They were all very good and justifiably nominated, and while I might have my preferences as to who should win, they’re all remarkable, worthwhile films if you should ever consider watching them. Some of the other movies on this list, however, are also quite awesome, some of which I like better than the films that were nominated, and one of which I’m still very annoyed didn’t at least get the tenth vacant slot in their nominees list, just out of principle for how awesome it was. (I’m just going to tell you now, that movie is Inside Llewyn Davis.) How annoying!

The World's End - Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan - beer

So what of the rankings? Lists like these tend to demand them, so I include them, and I do think they are helpful in making priorities in our very busy lives as to what to see first and give preference to. Since the rankings are so subjective and sometimes even arbitrary, my main rule is to go with my gut on these things. Seriously. That’s what it boils down to. It’s a mixture of favoritism, enjoyment, entertainment, and, yes, the actual skill behind the scenes and within them. As such, films that were without a doubt brilliant masterpieces that will go on to receive tons of accolades and be remembered forever may be outranked by flash-in-the-pan popcorn films that have very little to say except, “Hey, look at this awesome thing we did!” but were also very skilled at doing so and are films that I will revisit time and time again whenever I want to be entertained. It’s hard to rank films of these sorts against one another, and if I felt that I could be that much more objective about these things and take out the entertainment factor, I would probably top load this list with all the heavyweight dramas and such. But I don’t think I can, so I don’t put up any airs of being able to do so.

But, you know, I think that’s alright. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and to say that dramas should be exalted at all times above the comedies and action films is, I think, false doctrine when it comes to film criticism and lessens the true value of joy and wonderment that isn’t always found in those serious dramas – so long as that joy and wonderment is done very well, of course.

So, with that all in mind, I feel I’ve prepared you for this eclectic list of my picks for not just the best films of the year, but also the ones that are my favorites, the ones I find most enjoyable, and the ones that blew me away with their spectacle. Read more…

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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…

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REVIEW: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

October 16, 2013 2 comments
The Rocky Horror Picture ShowDirected by: Jim Sharman
Produced by: Michael White
Written by: Jim Sharman, Richard O’Brien (screenplay)
Edited by: Graeme Clifford
Cinematography by: Peter Suschitzky
Music by: Richard O’Brien, Richard Hartley
Starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Jonathan Adams, Peter Hinwood, Charles Gray, Meat Loaf
Based on the play The Rocky Horror Show by Richard O’Brien
Year: 1975

 

Fans of this cult classic, I’m going to right here and now preemptively keep you from committing some kind of serious crime while also saving my own neck: If you unconditionally, unabashedly love this movie, do not read any further than this paragraph. I know there are fans out there who just absolutely adore this movie, and, to that I say, “Good for you.” I’m not going to begrudge your relationship and affection for the film. That being said, if you’re the kind of person who sends death threats and such to people you disagree with, do us both a favor and please stop reading now. Read more…

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