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REVIEW – Solo: A Star Wars Story

Directed by: Ron Howard
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur, Simon Emanuel
Written by: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan
Edited by: Pietro Scalia
Cinematography by: Bradford Young
Music by: John Powell, John Williams (theme)
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Erin Kellyman
Year: 2018

 

So… this movie was probably one of the most troubled of the recent Star Wars movies – if not any of them. Infamously dealt a blow when original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired late in production for problems behind the scenes that have still not been made entirely clear, the buzz surrounding Disney’s second “anthology” film began to turn sour in the minds of many fans anticipating its release, with many of them also taking issue with the fact that Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo just wasn’t going to measure up to the iconic performance we got from Harrison Ford – in the original trilogy and then reminding us how great he was just a couple years ago by also returning to the role in The Force Awakens. The hiring of Ron Howard, an overall reliable director with an old school sensibility and even experience working with Lucasfilm in the past (Willow) did seem to lift some spirits, but right up until Solo’s release (and particularly in the wake of the backlash that the ambitious and apparently heretical The Last Jedi received) it seems like everyone – fans both hardcore and casual – were preparing for this one to be a complete disaster.

Not me, though! I thought it looked damn fun. And, you know what? It really is! Read more…

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REVIEW: Free Birds

November 26, 2014 Leave a comment
Free BirdsDirected by: Jimmy Hayward
Produced by: Scott Mosier
Screenplay by: Jimmy Hayward, Scott Mosier
Story by: David I. Stern, Scott Mosier
Edited by: Chris Cartagena
Music by: Dominic Lewis
Starring: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler, Colm Meaney, Keith David, George Takei
Year: 2013

 

I felt like I should do something for this Thanksgiving, but, to be honest, I have already pretty much exhausted my Thanksgiving movie options after Planes, Trains and Automobiles and, to an extent, Miracle on 34th Street (unless I wanted to review the remake, too…). Luckily, last year brought us a brand new Thanksgiving film to watch just before Turkey Day: Free Birds, a film that will have you shouting at the person who announces they’re about to put it on, “Play ‘Free Bird’!” because you’ll undoubtedly rather hear a great but very long Lynyrd Skynyrd song than see the movie that apparently didn’t even have the sense to license the song for the obvious reference I just made. (It instead plays a cover of CCR’s “Up Around the Bend” as played by Social Distortion over the credits. I guess it is a much more upbeat song, but I’m not too certain lyrical context really matters to a movie like this.) When I told people what I was reviewing out of desperation for another film, they strongly advised that I instead review the Charlie Brown TV special, which… yeah, that probably would’ve been more tolerable, but I felt like I should at least exhaust all theatrical film options, and at least this film was on Netflix streaming, so I wouldn’t have to take up a slot in my DVD queue, either. So, yeah, I watched Free Birds. … Here’s the review. Read more…

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: My Top 15 Worst Films of the Year

February 8, 2014 1 comment
This isn't on this list, you jerks.

Surprise! This isn’t on this list, you jerks.

I ended up seeing a lot of movies in 2013 – more than I had expected. So many, in fact, that when I was attempting to assemble a list of the Top 10 Worst Films of the Year, I managed to assemble a list of 15 candidates that I honestly felt were all very worthy of being placed here on the list. And so I saw fit to revise my previous plans and expand the list from 10… to 15!

Below are some of the worst things that Hollywood produced and released in the year 2013. Obviously, I didn’t see every movie in 2013, and so I couldn’t include some very likely candidates, like The Smurfs 2 or Battle of the Year, or the two rival horror movie spoofs A Haunted House and Scary Movie V. I can only take so much, so that’s why I call this list MY list.

Some of these are almost lengthy enough to be reviews, I admit. I got fairly passionate about the awfulness of some of the movies more than others. Some of the material, I admit, may find itself into an official, separate, and expanded review, as well, just so I can avoid the need to talk about it that much more if I do ever get around to reviewing the actual film. For a couple of them I already did review, and so you’ll see links attached to the titles.

For now, however, these are just considered summaries, ranking from least worst to worst worst. These represent the most boring, lazy, stupid, inept, and awful movies I saw this past year, and so all I can say is that I’m happy I made it out alive to warn you against seeing them. There were too many fun, enjoyable, and awesome movies released in 2013 for too many of us to spend our hard earned money on these films without at least wanting to see a bad movie. So… yeah. You’re welcome. Read more…

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REVIEW: Zombieland

October 3, 2013 2 comments
ZombielandDirected by: Ruben Fleischer
Produced by: Gavin Polone
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Edited by: Peter Amundson, Alan Baumgarten
Cinematography by: Michael Bonvillain
Music by: David Sardy
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, [redacted]
Year: 2009

 

As a sort of American counterpart to the immortal and Halloween annual favorite of mine, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland is surprisingly not very derivative of its then-5-year-old cousin from across the Atlantic and managed to carve out its own little niche of fandom (though there are undoubtedly overlaps between the two films). Whereas Shaun (now possibly the most referenced title on this blog) sought to contrast everyday life and troubles amidst the interruption of a zombie apocalypse, Zombieland is rather more about the adaptation to a new way of life post-apocalypse. Rather than take a bleak outlook, however, the film acknowledges that, much like in real life, the horrors and tragedies of the world are often offset by the little things that, more or less, make up for all the crap. Read more…

2012 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See: September – December

January 28, 2013 1 comment

1134604 - Zero Dark Thirty

My apologies for the slightly longer delay in getting this part out. I kinda got stricken with the flu for a few days, and didn’t exactly feel like writing. But, here it is, the final third of the films I didn’t see in the year 2012. This is the period of time where the summer movies begin to trickle out before coming to a complete stop and where film studios begin their flood of Oscar-baiting dramas and such.

That’s not to say that there are never any good action films released during this time. That also isn’t to say that none of these Oscar-baiting films are any good, too. Far from it. 2012 saw the release of Oscar-worthy greats as Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty releasing in the same time period as cash-grabbing features like the final Twilight film, The Hobbit, and Wreck-it Ralph, all with varying degrees of success. It’s actually a fairly ripe time to watch all sorts of movies, come to think of it. Possibly better than even summer!

Django Unchained - Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx

Still, it’s not like I’m going to see every film released during this time. If anything, I ran out of time and risked going out of budget for all the films that I did want to see, but didn’t always have time to. Then there were also films that, quite frankly, I could just do without seeing. But, for the purposes of this article, I’ve gone through and examined all these, both enticing and repugnant, some being granted my attention possibly for the last time ever, and have collected my thoughts and impressions below. As mentioned previously in parts 1 and 2, this isn’t my final say on these films, and some of the commentary below is based pretty much on plot synopses, other reviews, skimmings, and a heavy use of Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes. I watched the trailers where I could and didn’t for those films that I just basically didn’t care. Which ones are those? Read, and you may just find out! Read more…

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2012 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See: January – April

January 12, 2013 5 comments

Wreck-It Ralph - Bad-Anon meeting

2012 was a surprisingly satisfying year for movies, whether you wanted serious dramas or escapist fantasies, but it’s pretty much impossible to for any one person to see all the movies that come out within the span of one year, and I’m no different.

While I tried my best to see most of the big movies and the movies that came out in 2012 and all the movies that I was interested in, whether in theatres or on home video, there were many that I admittedly never got around to, didn’t care to getting around to, or had never even heard of to get around to them.

Though 2013’s just getting started, I’m going take some time to look back on the past year over the next couple weeks, starting with the films that I didn’t’ see. As with last year, the commentary below is not necessarily going to match up with my final impression of any given movie once I do actually come around to seeing them (if at all), and is solely meant to express why I never got around to it and, possibly, whether or not I intend to see it all. This is all based on plot synopses, Rotten Tomatoes scores, Wikipedia entries, a few external reviews, and, of course, the films’ trailers, and, once again, are not necessarily reflective of a final opinion of a film.

The Dark Knight Rises - Batman

I start, of course, at the very beginning for this first part. Lots of films released during this traditional dumping ground period were smaller films, films that were released in foreign countries or film festivals back in 2011, or were just outright given their timeslot because the studio just had very little faith in the film’s performance at the box office. Sometimes films fall into all three categories. You’ve possibly even forgotten about them or haven’t even heard about them, or maybe you forgot you heard about them and only vaguely remember the name, maybe a few clips from the trailers you saw some time long ago. I know that was the case for me.

But that shouldn’t discourage you from seeing some of these films. Many of them actually look quite promising, and I’ve even added several to my various media queues, too. Hopefully you’ll find some films among the rotting corpses of the genuinely awful ones that were exiled to the early year winter and feel compelled to give these films a second (or third) glance once you remember what they are. Read more…

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