Saturday, April 18, 2020

Freaks (2019)

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Lexy Kolker, & Amanda Crew
Director: Zack Lipovsky - Rating: R - Score: 2 Stars

In the not so distant future, human evolution takes the next step. Certain people start to develop superhero like powers and are referred to as freaks. They are easy to spot, as often times, after using their powers, they bleed from the eyes. As with anything they don't understand, the government sees these people as a threat and has started to hunt them down. One such family, having recently lost a wife/mother has gone on lock down in a suburban neighborhood, this is their story. After seeing the trailer for this movie I was intrigued, until I realized it was just a rip-off of the X-Men, without the special effects. Basically they promote this thing like it's the next big thing in Science Fiction, when it's just a very old idea that's been done to death. As for the film itself, it takes forever to get going and even longer for you to realize just what the hell is going on. This crazed father is babbling on making no sense and keeping this little girl locked in this house. All she seems to care about is ice cream, more so than the life of her father or her personal safety, the whole thing was just so bizarre. As for the cast, there really wasn't any chemistry, Emile Hirsch was just awful, playing this paranoid babbling idiot. He's paired with Bruce Dern, who is far too old to really do much of anything, and then there's Chole (Lexy Kolker), the little girl stuck in the middle of all it. The bottom line, Freaks is an idea that has been done and done again, with a cast that so vastly different, that really doesn't click on any level. Worst of all it takes so long to get going and explain what's going on. By the time you finally get it, you've really stopped caring. Freaks looked cooled and has a trailer that will suck you in, but ultimately it's a disappointment. 

Angel Has Fallen

Starring: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Nick Nolte, & Jada Pinkett Smith
Director: Ric Roman Waugh - Rating: R - Score: 5 Stars

When we think of iconic action heroes, the names that come to mind are John McLain, Rambo, or Jack Bauer, but what about Mike Banning? For a third time, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has proven himself to be the only thing standing between the U.S. President and assassination, only this time, he's also a target. In the third installment of the fallen series, Mike Banning saves the president from a drone attack, only to wake up in the hospital to find himself under arrest, accused of planning the whole thing. Now Banning must escape and find out who set him up, before they get to him and finish the job they tried to pin on him. Unlike most trilogies, every single one of these films is terrific, and despite different writers and directors, it has never lost it's edge. In choosing a favorite however, I picked this one, because it was so much different than the rest. Not only is Banning on the other side and in the position of trying to save himself as well as the President, but they bring his family into the story. We finally meet his estranged father, played masterfully by Nick Nolte. A paranoid former veteran living in the woods, the elder Banning is an absolute riot and brings much needed levity to a series that already given us so much. People will look at this and say it's just another action movie, just another attempt by Hollywood to continue to cash in on a successful movie, and normally I'd agree, but not this time. Angel Has Fallen not only features the new face of action films, but it also offers edge of your seat action, a compelling and dramatic story, as well as a little bit of humor, all things that you're normally hard pressed to find in just another action film. That's why we're labeling this one a must see movie! 

The School (2018)

Starring: Megan Drury, Will McDonald, Jack Ruwald, & Texas Watterston
Director: Storm Ashwood - Rating: NR - Score: 3 1/2 Stars

Lord of The Flies meets The House On Haunted Hill in the Australian psychological horror thriller, The School. Dr. Amy Wintercraig (Megan Drury) works in a hospital, on the spot where a hundred years ago a school once stood. The school however was burnt down by a trouble child and a lot of people died. As she cares for her comatose son, Dr. Wintercraig dreams of the school and the dead that walk it's decaying hallways, but is she dreaming or is she traveling through purgatory itself? This is one of those indie horror flicks that I felt could have gone either way. The beginning was kind of confusing and the hospital scenes were painfully slow. Things really don't get going until you meet Zac (Will McDonald), who literally makes this movie! McDonald is devilishly good as the charismatic lead of the "bad" kids and really puts on an unbelievable performance. Once Zac and his minions go after the adult intruder, the film becomes a chase through one scary area of the school after another, with surprises and secrets around every corner. A lot of writers would have settled for the secrets of this mysterious haunted school or for the warring groups of children, but the culmination of the two make for a unique paradigm, that will leave you on the edge of your seat. The School definitely takes a while to get going, but once it does, it is one thoroughly enjoyable ride.

Tron: Legacy

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, & Olivia Wilde
Director: Joseph Kosinski - Rating: PG - Score: 3 1/2 Stars

Do you have to completely understand a film to completely enjoy it? It is a question I had to ask myself after watching Tron: Legacy. Despite being released twenty-eight years after the first film, the sequel only offers a brief recap of the original film, and doesn't really provide enough information for those of us who haven't seen the first movie. That being said, what I gathered was that Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) created the most popular video game of it's time, which launched a billion dollar company, but it was more than just a game. There was also a virtual world where life and death battles took place and control of the real world was at stake. Somehow Flynn was trapped by his alter-ego, Clu, and stuck there, until his son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), receives a message all these years later, and discovers his fathers secret world and also becomes trapped inside. Granted I don't really understand why this world was created in the first place, how "the bad guys" were created, or even who Tron actually is. Never the less, I still enjoyed the action the film has to offer, as well as the incredible special effects. The truth is that for a PG Disney movie, this was an incredibly complicated story, and the real appeal here was the special effects, which were revolutionary ten years ago. As for the cast, I really liked Garrett Hedlund, I thought he had a big future ahead of him, after Four Brothers, but for some reason he doesn't do many films like this and I don't run into him too often. Jeff Bridges on the other hand seemed very disinterested in reprising his role, almost as if he was doing it for a big pay day. Not to mention, the digitized younger alter-ego, Clu, was more than somewhat creepy. Overall, I really didn't get the point of the film, but it was entertaining enough and it killed a few hours, exactly what I was in the mood for at the time I watched it.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Thank You!

We would like to give a big shout out and thank you to Feedspot, for naming The Ultimate Movie Review! #49 on it's most recent list of The Top 100 Movie Review Blogs & Websites On The Web!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Savages (2012)

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Blake Lively, & Selma Hayek
Director: Oliver Stone - Rating: R - Score: 3 1/2 Stars
We've all seen our share of epic films that are based on the Italian Mafia, but few have done one that is based on the Mexican cartels. Additionally, this story is told from the prospected of a group outside the organization, bullied into working with the cartel. It's no secret that Ben & Chon (Kitsch/Taylor-Johnson) make the best weed in California. Everyone knows that their stuff is the stuff you want, including the Baja Cartel. The cartel go to the pair and make them a very profitable offer, but weary of getting into business with the ruthless organization, Ben & Chon turn them down, but when has the Cartel ever taken no for an answer? I very much dislike Oliver Stone. His films, especially his historical ones, are filled with conspiracy theory and inaccuracies, that people take as fact, and contribute to the ignorance of society. I gave Savages a shot however, because it is based on a novel, and we all know that films that were originally books are the best. Savages is every bit as ruthless and action packed as you'd expect it to be and beyond that it is loaded with star power. As for the story, it is what you'd come to expect from an Oliver Stone film, filled with unexpected twists and turns, but finally in a way that doesn't confuse the audience! Typically Stone's films go over the top and back around again, until no one knows what's going on, but this time, (perhaps the novels influence) the story is never hard to follow, just unpredictable, which is what you want! The filmmakers also so how manage to avoid the problem of too many cooks in the kitchen, despite the enormous cast, something I very much appreciated. The bottom line, Savages isn't Goodfellas or Casino, it isn't even close, but is a rare look inside the business of the cartels. I love how it's told from an outside perspective and that the main star power actually takes a step back for newcomers like Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Some parts of this film are brutal and it is quite long, especially the unrated version, but in my opinion, well worth your time.

Kids In America

Starring: Gregory Smith, Nicole Ritchie, Julie Bowen, & Stephanie Sherrin
Director: Josh Stolberg - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 3 1/2 Stars

Kids In America is more than just another teen movie, it's has a message to spread and came together in a very unique way. Principal Weller (Julie Bowen) is running for state superintendent and she wants her school to be perfect. All the troublemakers have been expelled and every little infraction means a long suspension. No one is happy about it, particularly the students, so they do the only thing they can, fight back! This film is based on a culmination of news stories from around the county, that feature students who were suspended for doing nothing more than expressing their first amendment rights. These stories are incorporated into the film and make up the basis for Weller's suspensions. As for the students, their ring leader is Holden Donovan (Gregory Smith), an honor student, and the last person you'd expect to be leading a student rebellion. I've long been a fan of Gregory Smith and this role was a detour from his normal routine. Smith always plays the sweet, lovable characters like Efram in Everwood or Dove in Rookie Blue, he's not known for comedy or for being the rebel. It was an interesting diversion that he pulls off quite well. The film is further supported by Julie Bowen and Nicole Ritchie, who are also playing roles that are out of their comfort zone. Kids In America is unique in that it's a comedy for teens that actually has a positive message. It also features a cast that is playing characters that they don't usually play, making for an even more enjoyable watch. Don't get me wrong I love comedies like Super Bad and 21 & Over, but it was a nice change of pace to see these kids acting out and getting into trouble for a cause, especially one that's near and dear to my heart.