John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Prowl does have surprising twists and turns in it as well as some suspense and terror but in the end it was below par compared to much better horror movies of this type, it's just lost in the shuffle. The acting is surprisingly decent with Courtney Hope giving it her all as a small town, adopted 18 year old girl trying to break free and move to the big city and when a chance phone call for an dream apartment in Chicago her friends decides to take her there but things quickly turn for the worst when their car breaks down and hitches a ride with a truck driver. This is when the suspense and intensity kicks in when they find themselves trapped in a preying ground for bloodsucking beings. There were alot of jump out of your seat moments and some twisted, graphic kills but nothing we haven't seen before and better and when the final twist is revealed the movie loses its steam and becomes more and more repetitive and not as effective and it's a shame because it had so much potential and wasted it pretty quickly. The ending sucked and was very anti climatic like it was setting it up as a franchise or something which I won't mind because I would like to know more about the main female character and the new journey she will take but wouldn't really care if they didn't make one either. I will add though that the After Dark Horrorfest seems to be improving more and more each year but still hasn't come out with an top to bottom great horror film that will be remembered for the right reasons because right now it seems like they are stealing some ideas from other better horror films and trying to make it their own way with their own twists but I give them an A for trying. Overall if you like movies like The Descent, Shuttle, Twilight, The Lost Boys ect. then you might enjoy this one but I can't really recommend it because of the plot holes and flaws covered the film more than its solid elements. More of a 2.5 out of 5 stars.
A slight improvement over the original movie Long Weekend but pretty much this remake is exactly like the previous film. The acting here was strong and the atmosphere was again very creepy and raw and the filming is definitely better looking this time around but it still had that slow build up and not alot of action like the first one that will probably bore some people, I for one still found it mysterious and unsuspecting. I think they could of done a better job with this remake, they could of changed some things and add new and better things to make it more thrilling and terrifying but it ended up being the same exact film just better looking. Overall it wasn't an awful remake it just didn't add anything new or exciting to it, don't bother unless you don't have anything better in your queue.
A favorite movie of mine Into the Mirror, a South Korea horror film that was released in 2003 and was remade in 2008 as the mediocre Mirrors, is the only horror film in recent memory that manages to make everyday mirrors absolutely frightening and was inventive at doing it. When I heard that an American original so called haunted mirror movie was being made, I was absolutely on board and couldn't wait to see it, especially when it was receiving positive feedback from critic's way before its wide release date. When the release date finally came today and I bought my ticket with anticipation of seeing the most refreshing American horror film in years, I was unfortunately let down yet again with all talk and no bite.
The film starts with two siblings Kaylie and Tim Russell sneaking out from their bedroom to escape from their unstable dad who is armed with a gun. The siblings try to make it out the front door but the door seems to be jammed, when they turn around the dad has the gun pointed right at them. The film then flashes forward several years later with Tim being released from St. Aidan's Mental Facility on his twenty-first birthday after being convicted of killing his parents on that sinister night, his sister Kaylie is the one that agrees to pick him up after the facility deems him to be fully rehabilitated. Tim is hopeful at making a fresh start and move on from the events, but Kaylie has other plans, she wants to prove to everyone that her brother is innocent and did not kill his parents. Kaylie, who is now working as an antique dealer and during one of her biddings has finally found the culprit from their childhood horrors and the one responsible for their parent's deaths, the ornate Lasser Glass mirror she believes has been responsible for 45 deaths over the last four centuries. Tim is very skeptical and does not believe that the supernatural phenomenon is responsible for his parent's mental instability and their demises. Is the ancient mirror responsible or is it their subconscious playing tricks on them? Just get rid of the mirror and call it a day!
The domestic disturbance part of the story when the siblings were younger was far more gripping and disturbing than the flash forward part of the film, which nothing much happens and is just a bunch of bickering with no payoffs. The film had so much potential and terrifying directions it could and should have taken especially with a cursed and haunted mirror, and did nothing exciting, inventive and most importantly something truly scary with the premise. I found myself invested in the story and characters but was waiting and waiting for something scary to happen with effective payoffs, but was let down around every disappointing corner.
The performances is the film's stronger suits, with Annalise Basso who plays younger Kaylie, she holds her own and gives a strong and effective performance and becomes the true star of the film, at least in my eyes, and is a young actress to look out for. Karen Gillan who plays older Kaylie and Katee Sackhoff who plays the mother Marie Russell, are also highlights of the film, both give solid performances.
Director and Writer, Mike Flanagan took an intriguing premise and unfortunately didn't run with it or take it to terrifying and refreshingly unknown places with it. The story structure was there and talented actors, but the mythology wasn't deep enough or expanded upon to leave you breathless in horror, there just wasn't any rewards with this viewing experience. His debut horror film Absentia was much better at reeling you in and creating terror with simplicity, Oculus has a harder time and stumbles in the process. There are hints of brilliance and a good eye for originality with this director, but nothing has followed through just yet, he is though a horror director that I will still look out for in the future, as this might lead to better films.
Overall, forget the hype because Oculus is unfortunately not the horror film of the year, and the results are just not that scary at all. There are some fine performances, some unsettling domestic drama and a gripping story that I wish was developed in a more effective and fully deeper way. The supernatural/horror aspect of the film though just didn't work to its full potential and towards the end you might find the results more tedious than a lasting and terrifying impact. Wait for the Redbox release.
The Raid 2 is the best crime saga sequel to grace the silver screen since probably The Godfather: Part 2, yes it's that good!! Every chaotic scene after another is set up so brilliantly and balls to the wall that it will have fans of the genre drooling at the mouth. The characters are lively and put on one heck of a blood drenched show and will have you chanting for more, the film is one hell of crowd pleaser and manages to be even crazier and entertaining than the predecessor.
The Raid 2 hits the target and then some and is definitely worth the price of admission more than any movie out right now if you have the stomach for it and although I enjoyed Captain American: The Winter Soldier, The Raid 2 is far more badass than that flick and has one hell of an leading hero and he doesn't even have superhero powers. People should be lining up to see this film, SEE IT NOW!!!!!
The performances were all solid and the stunts they do deserve a standing ovation! Iko Uwais, who plays Rama is one hell of an action star and the best of his kind since probably Bruce Lee, he is a force in the action world to be reckoned with and will have you rooting for him every step of the way. Julie Estelle, who plays Hammer Girl is one of the major highlights of the film and has one of the best scenes of the movie and was nice to have woman kick some major ass than just all men, a smart and refreshing move. The other highlights of the film was Very Tri Yulisman as Baseball Bat Man and Yayan Ruhian as Prakoso, they were both brilliantly insane!!!! The list goes on!!!!
Director and Writer, Gareth Evans should be hailed as the new king of action and crime films!!! Bravo man, bravo!!! After his batshit crazy segment Safe Haven in V/H/S/ 2 and now with The Raid saga, the man validates himself as a very bold director that seems to be getting better and better with his craft and deeper with his writing. He is one of my favorite directors now and I can't wait to see what he throws at us next!!
Overall, The Raid 2 is one of the best sequels ever made that will have everything you want, yet still has you begging for more. The story is grimmer, the action more blood dripping sensational and even more crazy characters, and I loved every second of it!!!! Bring on The Raid 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just got back from watching Devil's Due and it was not bad, but not great either, just ok. The lead characters were likable and it's more polished compared to most found footage movies, but it just wasn't that scary and the story was not fresh enough to be completely invested in or thrilled by. The film had its fair share of twisted moments of bloody shocks, but it was more fun and entertaining than anything really terrifying and the ending was weak. For a horror movie released in January though, it could have been a whole lot worse, but nothing all that memorable. 6 out of 10
Big Bad Wolves is one of the most overrated genre films I've seen lately, sure it does a different spin on the revenge thriller, but at the same time the film never takes it to the next level to make it a memorable standout or make it any different from movies of its kind. The twisted black humor though was balanced very well here and some scenes were brutally brilliant, but in the end the film was missing that certain element to make it a powerful and impact experience.
The film starts out quite hauntingly with three young children playing the classic game of hide and go seek. As one of the children, a young boy, counts two young girls finds an abandon cottage like building to hide in. One of the two girls hides in what looks like an old armoire, while the other girl hides outside in a tunnel. What they don't know is that a serial predator is lurking inside the abandon building and when the young boy finds the young girl in the tunnel they go inside the abandon building to the armoire and find the young girl missing with one of her red shoes left behind. I found this opening number quietly chilling and the score powerfully brilliant and I loved the way they revealed the title Big Bad Wolves. This leads to a vigilante cop who will do whatever it takes to bring justice to the victims and their families when he finds the partially nude body of the young girl tied to a chair decapitated. Once he thinks he has found the killer one twisted thing leads to another and he joins forces with the father of the victim and all hell breaks loose when they kidnap the suspect and torture him until he confesses the slaying and tells them where the missing head is. Like Prisoners, but with a darkly humorous undercurrent.
The performances were restrained and somewhat gripping, but no one in this film was that likable or a standout to me, making it hard to root for any certain character through this suppose horrendous ordeal. It was missing that powerful performance like the performances from the recent Prisoners, or even lively enough when it came to the black humor.
Directors Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado, who collaborated on their first film Rabies and soon the upcoming ABCs Of Death 2, are like peanut butter and jelly when it comes to filmmaking. Their filming styles are inspired here and atmospheric and have more personality than the actual characters and story. The musical score and the filming techniques come together perfectly, too bad the script and characters written didn't have as much oomph, to me they need to work on balancing that. They are improving and I am very much looking forward to see what they bring to ABCs Of Death 2.
Overall, Big Bad Wolves is unfortunately not as bold as its title and doesn't have as much of a powerful bite I was expecting. The musical score and the expertly and brilliantly inspired, quietly haunting filming style was the highlight of this film for me. The directors are definitely talented, but so far the writing and characters don't pull me in as much as the other elements they bring to the table. Overrated, but worth at least one watch. 6.5 out of 10
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is the epitome of how to get back up and come back swinging if your film series loses its course, haters can hate all they want, but to me Paranormal Activity is back with a pulsating vengeance!
The Marked Ones may not be as consistently scary as the first two, but I've never been as involved with the story and characters as much as this installment. The film definitely makes up for the disappointing 3rd entry that left me feeling cheated and irritated and makes up for the decent but could have been so much better 4th entry in the series. I was instantly involved and the change of setting from upper middle class to urban grit was a much needed flavor that breathes new life into the series.
The edge of your seat finale blew me away and validated why I'm such an avid fan of these flicks, pure anticipation adrenaline rush and the fear of the unknown, these films are an experience. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is a gift to fans and stands its ground with force that it's here to stay and is not going anywhere anytime soon!
The story begins with Jesse (Andrew Jacobs), who in the opening credits graduates from high school. His best friend Hector (Jorge Diaz) purchases a new digital video camera, and films the two spending the summer like most teenagers, like going to parties, streetwalking and causing a ruckus. All the fun turns to haunting investigations when they start spying on their strange and reclusive downstairs neighbor Anna (Gloria Sandoval), who covers all her windows with newspapers. Their meddling leads to a shocking discovery that Anna has been involved in cult-like rituals behind closed doors. Soon after that she is found brutally murdered, then the clues layer by layer start to unfold and Jesse and everyone close to him are caught in a whirlwind of the mysterious and in the end deadly paranormal activity.
The actors and actresses are again effectively unknowns and the performances and chemistry is the best this series has seen, Andrew Jacobs who plays Jesse is the definite standout performer here, and nails it! Everything was authentic here to me, which made all of the spooky going ons all that more startling.
Director and writer, Christopher Landon who wrote the last three Paranormal Activity films really outdid himself this time, as this is his best effort yet. He furthered the mythology amped up the stakes and took the series to surprising places with this entry. My hat goes off to him as he really went out with a bang and left his mark in the ever growing series, I hope it's not the last we see him within this genre or better yet this franchise.
Overall, Paranormal Activity 5 has a lot to live up to, because The Marked Ones is alarmingly solid and story wise it gets the job done in more ways than one. The film might not be the cream of the crop cap off that people are waiting anxiously for, but that's what I like about this series that it makes you coming back for more. If you are a fan of this series since the first one left many people with sleepless nights, than you are in for a thrilling and entertaining treat! Recommended!!!
Gravity was a powerful experience, an intimate thrill ride that will leave you breathless and an inspiring, visual wonder that rebirths the Sci-Fi genre as we know it. I have never seen the use of the 3D format done so effortlessly raw and effective, you feel like you are right there with them, floating into the great unknown. The movie shows how precious life is and that the human spirit is strong and lives on, even through the direst of situations. I would of liked them to explore deeper into space instead of mostly staying in one portion, but through it's 90 minute running time it was consistently gripping, edge of your seat tense, awe inspiring and packs an hell of an emotional punch. Gravity is a brilliant film and a near masterpiece I won't soon forget, bravo to everyone involved!
Sandra Bullock is a revelation as medical engineer Ryan Stone. Sandra delivers her best performance to date and does much deserve at winning an Oscar than The Blind Side. Sandra is the star, heart and spirit of the film and her down to earth persona, raw emotions and big heart transcends her capabilities as an actress, a true breakthrough. Her character Ryan Stone's fight for survival in space has never been as terrifying, gripping and haunting since Ripley in Alien, this film of course doesn't have scary aliens, but this film is even more effective because it could actually happen. George Clooney plays astronaut Matt Kowalski and even though he isn't in the film for most of the time, his presence, charm and natural charisma was like a guiding hand in the film that steered Ryan Stone from danger and made her find her inner strength.
Director, Alfonso Cuarón has really outdone himself this time, as moviegoers will look back at Gravity as the director's greatest triumphant achievements. Alfonso has scratched the surface and I think this is only the beginning of great things to come from the very talented director. He has created a visionary spectacle that has the grandest of human spirit and pure wonder, being lost in space has never looked more real than this and the bar has been raised, which might be unreachable for quite awhile. The writing might be sentimental, sometimes corny and simplistic, but at the same time boldly ambitious, enthralling and powerfully humane. I would have loved for the story to go deeper into space and maybe raise the stakes just a tad further, but writing duo and father and son Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón make a great team. The filmmakers are off to an even more promising start and they connect to the audience's soul and don't let go.
Overall, Gravity is a film rarity and is unlike anything you'll see this year, a pure gem! Sandra's performance is solid gold, and the film is visually breathtaking and has so many wow moments that it will put you in an awe-inspiring trace. The film will leave you on a satisfying high with a big grin on your face, which is the first film to do that to me this year. Gravity is a magnificent film thanks to the talents behind and in front of the camera. The first film of the year that I think should win the best picture, best director and best actress Oscars, hell it'll probably win more than that. A MUST SEE!!!
Chucky is back with a vengeance and goes back to the darker, more suspenseful, menacing tone and pitch dark humor of the first two of this series. Curse Of Chucky is a step in the right direction and was refreshingly and expertly restrained, with a classic build up of characters, story and mystery and a sense of doom throughout. Chucky is for sure creepy again, but not as scary as when I first saw the original as a kid, so the effectiveness of the premise has worn off a bit. Compared to Child's Play 3, Bride Of Chucky and Seed Of Chucky, this wickedly entertaining and violent sequel proves that there is still life in this popular series after all and is the best edition to this franchise in 23 years. I can't fathom why this didn't get a wide release to theaters and the last three sequels did, this one is far more superior and clever and definitely one of the top horror films of the year when it comes to entertainment value.
The performances were surprisingly not half bad and brings back the serious tone of the original. Fiona Dourif who is the daughter of Brad Dourif, the man behind the famed Chucky voice, plays Nica, a wheelchair bound since birth, the young woman lives in an old estate with her mom Sarah. One day they receive a mysterious package from an unknown sender. The two open up the package and it's no other than the red haired, freckled face doll that we all know, Chucky. The mom instantly doesn't like and throws the doll away, unknowingly that it's possessed by the serial killer Charles Lee Ray, known as Chucky, let the sinister doll games begin! Fiona was great in the part and was a standout and I rooted for her to live more than any other character in this film and kicked some major doll ass! The rest of the cast were decent as well, even though their characters are mostly throwaways, but far better acting than most direct to DVD horror flicks. Who can forget the iconic voice talent of Chucky, Brad Dourif is back and his voice of Chucky is better than ever.
Director of Seed Of Chucky and past writer for all of the films in this series, Don Mancini has really stepped it up this go around. The film's location was absolutely perfect and appropriately spooky and Don masterfully reignites the series without losing the touch of its roots. There were some plot holes here and there but the way Don ties in the past sequels with this new story was unsuspecting brilliance and moves the series forward instead of backwards. There were some clichés and silly one-liners, but that was a flaw that all of the films had and this time it wasn't as distracting compared to the last three sequels. I think he finally found the right place and direction where this series needs to be and how it should be.
Overall, Curse Of Chucky didn't necessarily blow me away, but it's the best we've seen from this series in more than two decades. The atmosphere brings us back to the dark roots of the original, along with the suspense and frights. I liked the classic restraint and build up in the beginning that leads us to one bloody finale, and the surprise cameo towards the end was just brilliant. The film doesn't make me fear Chucky again, but I had such a blast watching this twisted sequel, and makes me fall in love with the series all over again. Curse Of Chuck completely makes you forget the lousy 3rd, 4th, and 5th one and wins back your respect and it's about bloody time! More of a 6.9 out of 10
Disconnect is a timely, intimate, tense and raw portrait of stories intertwining about the dangers and convenience of modern technology. The film shows how we as humans in the here and now connect with each other through modern tech such as computers, phones, television and at the same time in this now fast paced world we can easily be disconnected to what really matters the most, family and loved ones. With that powerful and relevant statement the film mostly gets the point across in an emotionally effective way, even though in the end the film wasn't as satisfying as it should have been. It's a mad, mad world we live in that unfortunately we don't have an off or reset button to, but in the end most of us are humane, you just have to slow down and look. Disconnect couldn't have more honest about this subject, making it one of the most penetrating dramas about our modern, materialistic and tech savvy world, which is our convenience and our downfall. The best film of its kind since 2005's Crash.
The performances were gripping, tense and heartbreakingly real. The solid cast includes Jason Bateman in a surprising dramatic turn, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Paula Patton, Andrea Riseborough, Alexander Skarsgård and Max Thieriot. Their characters are relatable and their stories are tense, upsetting and confronting and each one of these actors bring the emotional weight that the movie requires.
Director, Henry Alex Rubin makes a memorable debut with Disconnect. His urgency, sincerity with the direction of the characters and story was powerfully affirming and doesn't hold back tough topics. Writer, Andrew Stern makes an impressive start as Disconnect is his first screenplay. Andrew brings a bold, honest, tense and thoroughly gripping and very timely. The film is humane and can connect to any audience. Well done!
Overall, Disconnect isn't as hard hitting as the Oscar winning Crash, but this film is just as timely and powerful and will grip and touch the viewer with its outpouring compassion of what it means to be alive and human, a connection that doesn't mean as much when you're behind modern technology, such as computer screens and cell phones. A film with an important wake up call that everyone should invest in seeing. Recommended!
+1 is visually glimmering, distinctive and a stylish Sci-Fi thriller that's ambitious, sexy and mysterious. The plot device is simple, which mixes young romance with Sci-Fi tropes, as a young man named David, tries to win back his girlfriend Jill after she caught him kissing another girl. This leads to an extravagant house party where every college person that's in town seems to be invited to, including Jill. Unknown to everyone, in the midst of the party an asteroid hits their town messing up the electricity and physics itself, having multiple characters starting to see a clone of themselves. The exciting party soon turns into a frenzied party from the twilight zone, as one by one the characters figure out there is something unworldly at the party. Can David win back Jill before their true versions of themselves get wiped out?
The simple yet chic design of this Sci-Fi thriller may sometimes come off as a glitzy music video, but the way the filmmakers carried out the plot was somewhat brilliant and unique. The mystery surrounding the phenomenon was baffling and thrilling to try to figure it all out with the characters, even though in the puzzling and gnarly end questions still linger. The film had a lot on its mind than just being a typical Sci-Fi endeavor, but didn't quite make a clear statement. As it is though +1 one came off as a refreshing genre effort to me and one that is mesmerizing and boggling.
The stars in this film seem like they stepped right out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue and are one of the best looking cast this year. This was more of a spectacle than performance driven, as most of the characters were underdeveloped, but even at that most of them were appealing. The two that stood out to me though were Rhys Wakefield who plays David and Ashley Hinshaw who plays Jill. Their characters love story seems to be the focus, as their love is put to the test when the Sci-Fi elements are thrown in. Oddly that weird mix seems to mostly work to good balance within the film and makes this genre film stand out. Rhys and Ashley have sweet onscreen chemistry with each other, and because of their likeability factor you root for their characters every step of the way. They are both fresh face talents to look out for.
Director, Dennis Iliadis put himself on the map after the very solid remake of The Last House On The Left. Dennis proves himself again with another spin but this time with the Sci-Fi genre. His filming style is so slick and visually skillful that I'm surprised that this is only his third full-length film, hopefully he won't keep us waiting long for his next effort. The story created by Dennis was unique, mysterious, entertaining, a little creepy and somewhat thought provoking. The ending had a blurred motive of the not from this earth happenings, but it will stay in mind long after its over. +1 could have had a better script with more development with the characters and raised the stakes and peril more, but for his first full-length film, writer Bill Gullo shows potential and it could have been far worse.
Overall, +1 is one of a kind, simplistic yet ambitious and the story keeps your attention the whole way through. It could have had more action and peril with more development for depth. The lead characters were appealing though and the Sci-Fi mystery will enthrall you to the end. +1 is a far better genre effort than most and I recommend you to watch it at least once.
Prisoners is a well-calculated thriller that will have you enthralled by the mystery from beginning to one hell of an ending. I've never been a fan of the torture genre because most of them are empty, senseless with no resolution, but when it's this complex, restrained and has you thinking this hard to figure out the puzzle, Prisoners is a step above the rest. On the downside though it's not a movie you'll want to see ever again and the film is an exhausting and grim watch, to me it's a film that you should wait for DVD and not rush to theaters. Prisoners is shocking and powerful in its conclusion, but the road getting there tests ones patience.
The film starts out very ordinary, with Keller Dover, a husband to Grace Dover and father to Ralph and Anna Dover, teaching his son Ralph how to hunt and shoot a deer. When they come home the family heads over to their neighbors and friends Franklin and Nancy Birch's house for Thanksgiving, who have two kids of their own, Eliza and Joy Birch. One moment, Anna and Joy who are the youngest of the kids, are precociously singing a fractured Christmas carol ("Jingle bells, Batman smells...") in front of their parents, and the next they are gone. Thinking they went back to his house, Keller Dover looks for them there but to no avail. Panic turns to fear as the families worst nightmare becomes a reality when Ralph mentions a strange RV he had stopped the girls from climbing on earlier, but it is now gone. They call the police and it doesn't take long before they locate the RV and arrest the driver who is a mentally handicapped young man Alex Jones. The police do a thorough investigation on the girls' whereabouts, questioning Alex and searching piece by piece from the RV; they come up with no evidence and let him go. Out of desperation Keller Dover takes matters into his own hands and abducts the suspect and forces him in his now abandon old property. Intense questioning soon leads to grisly torture, as Keller Dover will stop at nothing to find answers to his daughter's whereabouts.
From that point the pace gets a little sluggish and the torturing was very hard to watch. Even though you understand Keller Dover's motivation behind torturing the suspect to quickly get answers before it's too late, the character becomes quite the monster himself and comes off pretty cold from the get go, making you think Keller had something to do with the girls disappearance. That's the thing with this movie, the story is well put together but the characters were not developed enough to make them interesting, relatable or likable, making you think everyone was a suspect, maybe that was their intention to have you guessing.
Hugh Jackman steals the show in this one and gives his very best performance of his career as Keller Dover. His Oscar worthy performance was powerful, gripping and terrifyingly raw, Hugh went to pretty dark places with this role and will be hard to forget. Maria Bello gives an expert performance as grieving mom Grace Dover, and you felt her pain and sorrow, but her character didn't have much screen time as Hugh's and didn't have as much of an impact. Jake Gyllenhaal was quite stellar in his performance as detective Loki and is one of the more solid characters in this film, you were on the edge with him in solving this case, Jake should get nominated for this performance. The rest of the cast were solid as well, including Terrence Howard and Viola Davis as Franklin and Nancy Birch, and an almost unrecognizable Melissa Leo as Holly Jones the so called guardian of Alex Jones played by Paul Dano in a shattering performance. None of them came close to Hugh Jackman's performance though.
Director, Denis Villeneuve makes a pretty impressive American debut with Prisoners after his 2010 Oscar nominated foreign film Incendies made waves. Denis has potential, but his filming style here bored me to tears. I know this is a grim movie and should look grim but at least make it stand out than having it look like Nebraska during winter; it just was dull in its restraint and very TV. Drama like. Other than that the direction it took made it suspenseful throughout thanks to the guide from the twisted and powerful story written by Aaron Guzikowski, who wrote 2012's Contraband. Aaron is a great new writer to watch out for, as he already seems like an expert in this type of genre. The twists and turns he took us through, were edge of your seat brilliant and I can't wait to see what twisted story he comes up with next, just work on the characters.
Overall, Prisoners was tense, gloomy, dread filled, with a well written twisted story and powerful performances. The pace though was sluggish and tests ones patience, with torture scenes that are not for the faint of heart. I do think the movie is slightly overrated because it's no masterpiece and there are far more satisfying and thrilling kidnapping mysteries out there such as 1997's Intensity, which is based on a Dean R. Koontz novel. The haunting conclusion and the twists and emotional complexity of the story in this film makes up for its flaws and creates an absorbing and disturbing watch. Prisoners is a hard movie to recommend, because once you've seen it you'll probably won't want to watch again due to the dark and depressing subject matter. Not a must see but will make a pretty exceptional rental.
42 is a heartfelt if not so deep biopic about the period on which the great Jackie Robinson was drafted to the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey and his against all odds history making lead and win that broke down barriers and lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to victory. This movie shows how inspirational Jackie was and if you have a soul it will pull at your heartstrings and will have you fighting back tears because it's so moving. Of course any movie that deals with racism is a hard viewing and even though 42 plays it kind of safe and doesn't dig deeper into that dark period, the movie still shows how far we've come and that it only take one extraordinary individual to make a change and break down walls and that certain type of person was Jackie Robinson.
The performances were solid all around, but the two that stood out to me were newcomer Chadwick Boseman who was the perfect choice to play Jackie Robinson and gives a committed, subtle and exceptional performance and can see him becoming a big star in the future. Harrison Ford gives a stellar and commanding performance as Branch Rickey the team's executive who puts his foot down and helps pave a way so to speak for other people like Jackie and was an entertaining and quite brilliant showcase.
Director and writer Brian Helgeland has another crowd pleasing movie to add to his solid resume and seems to put passion into his craft and is responsible for writing great films like two of my all time favorites L.A. Confidential and Man On Fire and now he has another hit, 42! He's really great when dealing with historical period pieces and can't wait until his next effort; apparently he might do a Cleopatra film and all I can say it's in good hands. He dealt with the Robinson story in a delicate and heartfelt way that might seem safe and by the numbers in parts and didn't dig deep enough into the core of the story, but it still moved me and pulled emotions out of me that it gets the message across.
Overall, it's probably not the Jackie Robinson movie everyone has been waiting for but the film is hard not to love and be inspired by. 42 is the best historical sports movie I've seen in a long time and the warrants a recommendation! An important watch.
The Spectacular Now is an emotionally honest and powerful coming of age story that might drain you towards the end, but the raw romantic chemistry between it's two leads is the best yet this year. Most of the film is quite predictable and the filming style quite ordinary, but the simplicity, natural bonds between characters and their enriching back stories was a powerfully connecting, viewing experience that will grip your heart and soul. The film's plot might be your typical Some Kind Of Wonderful like teen flick fashion, but it mostly dodges most clichés from that genre and holds it's own and the sensitive, poignant and maturity of the film's direction is a rarity from this genre. The Spectacular Now is a much welcomed if not so memorable gem that comes along far too sporadically.
The performances truly make this film worthwhile, and a real star emerges. The star is Miles Teller in a true breakthrough and emotionally layered performance as Sutter, a life of the party, outgoing and big hearted high schooler who's values change once he meets Aimee, who isn't the type of girl he is used to dating. Miles was truly great in this role and has so much star charisma that it will be a shame if he doesn't get noticed during awards season. Aimee is played by Shailene Woodley, who was nominated for an Oscar for The Descendents and proves once again that she is a natural born actress and gives a charming and moving performance that might not get as much nominations this time around but she is one of the best actresses in her age group and beyond. Another gifted and upcoming actress is the magnetic Brie Larson, who plays Sutter's on again off again ex-girlfriend Cassidy. Cassidy truly wanted a future with Sutter but thought he didn't take life very seriously or cared about his future, which is an understandable reason to break up with someone. That's one of the things I liked about this film is its honest, raw portrayals and hurdles life throws at you and to forgive and forget even if the answers are hard to digest. The filmmakers truly cared about their characters and their stories and caress them in a real satisfying direction. The other standout was Kyle Chandler who gives a gripping performance as Sutter's estranged, deadbeat, booze binging father Tommy. You wanted to hate this character for his very poor choices, but you in the end you kind of felt sorry him as he was the one that screwed up his life and left a wonderful wife and family behind. The rest of the supporting were also pretty solid including Jennifer Jason Leigh as Sutter's mom Sara and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Sutter's sister Holly. A pretty impressive cast.
Director, James Ponsoldt has delivered another emotionally hard hitting independent film that will definitely get the attention of critics again. He is a pro when it comes to creating a authentic atmosphere and getting genuine and emotionally raw performances out of his actors, just like he did in his last and overlooked film Smashed, also starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead. This may or may not be his breakthrough film as a director, but I'm pretty certain there are even better films to come from James Ponsoldt in the future. The screenplay was smart, passionate and probably loyal adaptation of Tim Tharp's novel, thanks to the collaborating inspiration of writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber worked together on (500) Days Of Summer, which was also honest and very charming and entertaining. They are both in their elements when it comes to these types of films and I can't wait to see their next adaptation, The Fault In Our Stars, which also will star Shailene Woodley.
Overall, The Spectacular Now is necessarily the most spectacular coming of age film I've seen in years, because it isn't, but it's a rare and special breed from that genre. The performance from Miles Teller is memorable and star making, and the chemistry between Miles and Shailene Woodley was strong and believable. This film might not have a rewatchability quality about it but this genre needs more films with as much flare, honesty, maturity and hard-hitting emotion as it. If you enjoyed The Perks Of Being A Wallflower than this movie is right up your alley.
Kon-Tiki is a well-crafted true story of one of the world's greatest explorers Thor Heyerdal, and the daring expedition he embarked with five brave men. With help they handcrafted a balsa wood raft and together set sail thousands of miles across the pacific in an attempt to prove a theory. The film was beautifully filmed from beginning to end with reminiscent of the film Life Of Pi. The journey they went through was an intense and harrowing one, with shark attacks, powerful storms and battling their demons and fears. I was on the edge of my seat with suspense at some points and inspired by their courage and determination the next, Kon-Tiki is a film that is hard not to admire and even though the writing and direction of the story took an old-fashioned route, Kon-Tiki is one of the better and fascinating films I've seen this year. An intriguing slice of history I didn't know much about until now and hopefully not the last historical gem to come out of the woodwork.
The performances were all pretty solid and it helped a ton that all of the characters and the actors that played them has this rare, authentic bond and chemistry that we don't see much of in the movies anymore. Pål Sverre Hagen plays Thor Heyerdal and gives an inspired and charismatic performance and does the character justice, he is a talented actor to watch out for and carries the whole film effortlessly. The rest of the cast was exceptional but were not as developed as the Thor character but it was nice to see where their character's ended up in their lives during the end credits. A likable and talented group of actors you may not know of. I would have liked for the film to dig a little deeper with the story and was a tad too short of a running time for such an epic journey but the filmmakers accomplished enough for an impact and impression.
Directors, Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg are a very talented filmmaking duo that might not have a long list of great films under their names so far, but after this film that is likely to change very soon. They created a stunning atmosphere with this motion picture and their attention to detail and natural substance over style and overload of special effects makes the effectiveness of the true story come to life on screen and some of it is a sight to behold. The script isn't as bold as the direction and image of the film but writers Petter Skavlan and Allan Scott seemed to be pretty faithful to the story even though they could of taken it a step further and raised the stakes instead of being too by the book. I didn't want the journey to end and wanted the filmmakers to dig just a little deeper into the source material to make the film have an even more powerful and impact punch.
Overall, Kon-Tiki wasn't the great and powerful film I wanted it to be, but the solid performances, exciting and thrilling journey, gorgeously raw filming style, a true story that will inspire most and a brisk pace, that is more than what most wide released films brought this year so far. Recommended! 7.5 out of 10
We're The Millers was a laugh out loud, comedy surprise of the summer next to The Heat. The plot may not be completely original but man was it consistently hysterical, that numerous of times it had me almost falling over from my chair with laughter. Then on the downside there were some jokes that didn't work at all and were eye rollers, with predictability from beginning to an all too lovey dovey of a ending. With that being said I had a much better time with We're The Millers than I thought I was going to and the film is hands down one of the funniest comedies of 2013 that I've seen.
The cast was great together and had great comedic edge and chemistry together. Jason Sudeikis seems to be playing the same type of character in most of his films but he is great at it and always quite funny. Jason plays the role of David Clark, a pot dealer who is down on his luck until he comes up with this elaborate plan of creating a fake family, who is on a fake RV trip in order to successfully sneak a huge shipment of weed into the U.S.A. from Mexico. Jennifer Aniston is at her comedic best here and on top of that has one sexy strip tease scene that will make you drool. Jennifer plays the role of Rose O'Reilly, who is a stripper in desperate need of extra cash and although hesitant at first, is more than willing to go along with the plan of being the fake wife of David and smuggling weed and getting paid for it. Then comes the fake kids of David, Emma Stone seems more comfortable with this type of character and genre and is witty in her own right. Emma plays the role of Casey Mathis, a runaway who bounces to one house to another; David approaches her with the plan and accepts the deal only if she get a fair cut of the money. Will Poulter is more of a standout than Emma and has more memorable scenes, including one with a nasty spider bite that is right out of something like There's Something About Mary. Will plays the role of Kenny Rossmore, a very naive teen boy who is left alone by his no good mom and wants to go along for the ride and plan, even though he is clueless of what he is getting himself into. This cast of players were quite hysterical yet random, but that was part of the charm.
Director, Rawson Marshall Thurber has made his most entertaining film since Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, which was almost 10 years ago, where has he been? This type of raunchy comedy seems to be his strong suit and hopefully we don't have to wait as long until his next comedy. The writing team, Bob Fisher, Steve Faber, Sean Anders and John Morris are at their wittiest here and even though it wasn't consistently even, they still know their material, as they are responsible for such hysterical hits as Wedding Crashers, The Hot Tub Time Machine, She's Out Of My League and Sex Drive. This may not be their most satisfying comedy to date, but they are on a role.
Overall, We're the Millers was a laugh riot but a very predictable, not so original and uneven one at that. The great comedic cast, witty and edgy script and a director who is knowledgeable of the comedic material mostly make up for those flaws. With the lack of truly funny comedies that I've seen this year We're the Millers is welcomed in my books. 6.9 out of 10
A Haunted House to my surprise is one of the better horror spoofs I've seen since the first Scary Movie, and unless you have no sense of humor and a stick up your ass, then you'll probably find some humor in this film. I'm a pretty big fan of the Wayans brothers works and maybe that's why I'm one of the very few that actually had a fun time with this raunchy spoof and I think that there are far more worse films out there than this one. A Haunted House may not be a very clever spoof but most of the jokes were pretty hilarious if you like Reno 911! type of off the wall humor. It's a prime example that just because a movie has horrible reviews from just about every critic out there, doesn't necessarily mean that you won't enjoy it, because in the end that's all that matters. Bring on the sequel, because I could care less about the haters opinions.
Marlon Wayans has made some pretty downright horrible films in the past like Dance Flick, Norbit, Dungeons and Dragons, and Marmaduke. This film though is one of his better comedic efforts at pure spoofing and his main and clear target is the Paranormal Activity series and he mostly gets the job done. He is an unapologetic and fearless comedic actor, who is willing to do anything for a laugh and I'm surprise that he hasn't hosted Saturday Night Live yet. Essence Atkins has great comedic timing and has great chemistry with Marlon Wayons and she makes a great comedic duo with him. The rest of the cast brought their game as well and were hilarious, including David Koechner as Dan the security man, Dave Sheridan as Bob his assistant, Nick Swardson as Chip the gay Psychic and Cedric the Entertainer as Father Williams, the list goes on.
Director, Michael Tiddes makes his major film debut with A Haunted House, and though it's nowhere near an impressive one, it's not a horrible one either. He could of made more daring turns, but for a first time spoof he definitely picked the right guy to team up with. The writing, though far from clever, was consistently funny for the majority of the film and got the job done of making me laugh, thanks to writing team Marlon Wayons and Rick Alvarez.
Overall, it was obvious that the filmmakers weren't going for a solid film, but they all seem to be having a blast spoofing the Paranormal Activity films and for that alone got the job done. Sure spoofs are getting old and should of been obsolete, but A Haunted House made me find the guilty pleasure in them all over again. For a film with so many bad reviews, I surprisingly had a pretty hysterical time watching A Haunted House and might actually watch its sequel in theaters.
The Lords of Salem is an atmospheric, unpleasant, hypnotic and nightmarish film on the outside, but if you dig beneath the surface there is nothing to really grasp on to give a damn about. The film was creepy and unsettling in parts but there is nothing remotely effective or scary about the proceedings.
The filmmaker went for a bold and artistic view, but wasn't relevant and was blurred in explanation and meaning, the plot is bonkers and not in a good way. Rob Zombie missed the mark here big time, he knows how to create atmosphere like a master, but with the lack of a coherent plot, true effective scares and with overshadowing tasteless images that are disturbing in a bad way, I couldn't take this film seriously at all. Rob had so much potential with this concept but went about it in a lifeless, artsy fartsy, and disappointingly non-scary way. Rob is definitely maturing as a director but this is a far cry from The Devil's Rejects, which I still think is his best film. Huge disappointment!
The performances were lackluster and quite silly, but it was nice to see Sheri Moon Zombie in the title role of Heidi Hawthorne. Heidi is a radio Dj, who on one night is sent a box containing a record -- a "gift from the Lords." When the radio station plays this spooky tune she experiences vivid flashbacks containing depictions of her town's sinister past. Heidi slowly goes on a downward spiral into insanity, not knowing what's real or in her head. That plot point really goes nowhere interesting or terrifying and was just idiotic and strange. Sheri does her best but the messy script blocks her from a breakthrough performance, because I do think she is growing along with her husband as an artist.
Overall, The Lords of Salem is definitely not for all tastes, sure the atmosphere was pretty gnarly and trippy, but nothing about this viewing has any entertainment value. The movie wasn't satisfying and left you wanting more and something better and made me constantly think of better ways they could have done with the premise. The film is like a gothic music video, with a series of random, trippy and disturbing images that have no logic behind them and is pretty much a waste of time. Avoid this film!
Riddick is a slight step in the right direction compared to the bad taste the last sequel gave me. The film's first half begins with Riddick left for dead under fragments of boulders, only to wake up injured, but stronger than ever and all alone on a deadly and deserted planet. This is where the film shines the most, with a one man, badass showcase of the bonafide action star, Vin Diesel as Riddick. One of my all-time favorite Sci-Fi flicks Pitch Black made Vin Diesel a star and it was so exciting to see him back to playing his best character, even though this film wasn't nearly as effective and thrilling as the original. The one-man show in the beginning and the fight for survival in the mysterious and nightmarish lands with grotesque creatures was great popcorn entertainment. From that standpoint the film gave you hope that this film might succeed in surpassing the original, but it was short lived. Riddick soon realizes that this planet has a massive alien race that's hungry for blood, and will be another struggle to stay alive. Riddick has no choice but to activate an emergency beacon to alert ships before it becomes pitch black. When the new batch of slightly entertaining, but disposable characters land on the planet to capture Riddick is where the film goes downhill into pure mediocrity.
The performances were mostly sub par with most of the characters underdeveloped, idiotic and unlikable. The bickering between characters was entertaining to watch to a certain extent but there was no one to root for other than Riddick. Vin Diesel though is at his best when he plays the role of Riddick, a character that never gets old watching, but still deserves a better film treatment than this uneven effort.
The creatures were just not as scary this time around than they were in Pitch Black, maybe the lack of scares, suspense and intensity weakened their effectiveness, this one had more laughs if anything. Some of the kills were pretty brutal but the execution of them was more for entertainment value than to startle the viewer.
Director and writer, David Twohy's forte seems to be B-movie mayhem, with people always on the run from someone or something. The filming was grim and stylish but kind of empty though and the effects were pretty gnarly, so it was pretty atmospheric but the feeling of dread and fear was gone. The other writing contributors Jim and Ken Wheat, Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell created a pretty unfocused story and didn't bring anything fresh to the series, that stopped the film from moving forward. I still liked the concept though and was a fun and entertaining, grindhouse feature.
Overall, Riddick was disappointing and repetitive, but I still love the character, which Vin Diesel always plays with gusto. The rest of the characters in this sequel were just in the way of a potentially better film, which the first half hinted at. The character Riddick is gripping enough that the film doesn't need all of these throwaway characters that are foolish in comparison, at least bring new characters that are worthy to stand beside him. If you still have an interest in this character and if you enjoyed the Pitch Black, then you might get a kick out of this. The series as a whole though has tons of room for improvement.
Insidious: Chapter 2 is the best possible follow up that I could hope for and I'm so happy that the critics are so wrong, to me this sequel is an improvement over the unbalanced original! The continuity of the ghost story saga was constructed in a clever way and filled all of the holes left behind from the original, the film makes you warm up to all of these characters all over again. The film is filled with gloriously spooky atmosphere and playful scares that sometimes will chill you to the bone. Don't listen to the surprisingly harsh and negative reviews because Insidious: Chapter 2 is the first theatrical released horror film this year that I walked away with a grin than with disappointment. Underrated horror film of the year!
The use of shadows, shades of lighting, sounds and music was well arranged and almost flawless, validating that writer and director James Wan has proved himself as a talented and signature horror filmmaker. That's what I've been wanting from him and that's what I got here and James Wan to me is at the top of his game here and this is his most accomplished effort yet, what a more than decent way to leave a genre, which I hope he isn't. I still think though that James Wan has much more in him as a new horror master and that the horror films that he has made are mere solid experiments to open doors to bigger and better things in the genre. Writer and long time collaborator of James, Leigh Whannell who also plays the character Specs in these films, wraps up Insidious's story in a satisfying way in more than I expected. Leigh has a decent list of films under his belt and I can't wait for him to collaborate with James Wan again, hopefully this isn't the last.
The performances are even better this time around and the actors delivered above and beyond their scripts. Patrick Wilson has a much more riveting and effective screen time than the somewhat stiff portrayals in the first Insidious and The Conjuring, kind of like the director's wink at The Shining's Jack Torrance. Patrick continues his role as Josh Lambert, a devoted husband and father of three who holds a dark secret of communicating with evil spirits. As the film begins we learn more about the back-story of his character and how it all came to be, leading up to the events of the original and to this sequel. When Josh comes back from the chilling place between the living and the dead known as The Further in the original film, he saves his son from the evil induced coma. Everything seems to be happy and normal but what the family soon realizes is that this horrifying battle with evil spirits is far from over. The always reliable and charming Rose Byrne continues her role as a normal and down to earth mother and wife Renai Lambert, Renai struggles to move on from the horrifying events of the original and while they investigate the poltergeist and the murder of paranormal investigator Elise Rainier, the family moves in with Josh's mom Lorraine Lambert, but unfortunately for them that's where it all started and the haunting becomes more active and more vindictive. Rose Byrne delivers a solid and convincing performance and had the most emotional weight in the film even though her character isn't as rich or intriguing as the others. Barbara Hershey is back as Josh's mom Lorraine Lambert and has more to do in this film than the last one and even has her own back-story. At 65 Barbara still looks great and in all of these years the actress still picks solid films to be in and gives another solid performance here, I'll always remember her best though from The Entity.
The child actors Ty Simpkins and Andrew Astor, who play the sons Dalton and Foster Lambert, were decent but they didn't have much to do other than take a backseat to this haunted funhouse ride compared to the adults, but they are more likable than most child stars and they did have their fair share of creepy and startling moments with the spirits.
The paranormal investigators were the comic relief of this series again and even though the humor doesn't quite work still and is not really needed, it wasn't out of place this time and wasn't a distraction this time and flows better than holding the film back. It was great to see Lin Shaye back as paranormal investigator Elise Rainier, but in spirit this time and is committed as ever in this role and is the heart and charm of this film. Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson, who play the goofy but passionate paranormal team Specs and Tucker, they are the entertaining cherry on top of the film and are at better use here than in the original, even though their scenes add a Scooby-Doo vibe, but that does adds to the fun charm of the film. Steve Coulter plays Carl, a paranormal investigator from Josh's childhood who use to work with the now deceased but gone Elise Rainier. Carl is the last hope the family has to get rid of these spirits and close this chapter. Steve Coulter gives a focused and believable performance and his character Carl could open doors for more sequels to come. It was nice to see the underused actress Jocelin Donahue from the disturbing The House Of The Devil fame on the big screen, even though she has a very small part as the young Lorraine Lambert, she is still mesmerizing to watch. Jocelin deserves more lead roles, especially in the horror genre! You could tell the filmmakers care about these characters and want you to do the same and it worked.
Overall, Insidious: Chapter 2 won't blow you away, won't win any new fans and doesn't completely break new ground, but as a sequel it does its job well and in some ways improves upon the original. The performances were solid and the filmmakers' raises the stakes and takes and furthers the mythology of the story in a more effective way than last time. I had much more fun with this sequel than with the original and had no silly ending this time and The Further had much better use here than the original! I don't understand all of the bad reviews for this film; I for one enjoyed it more than The Conjuring. I walked away with a grin than with disappointment. Bring on Chapter 3! 7.2 out of 10