Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Marvel's Jessica Jones

Starring: Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, Rachael Taylor, Carrie-Anne Moss, Eka Darville, Mike Colter, Erin Moriarty, Wil Traval, & Susie Abromeit

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The second character in Marvel's Defenders series is Jessica Jones. A no non-sense private detective with super strength, who helps who she wants, does what she wants, and seems to bring trouble wherever she goes. 

Krysten Ritter stars as Jessica Jones, and from an entertainment stand point she does a terrific job with the character, the problem is how likeable is Jessica Jones? This was my issue with this series all along. There is no doubt that in the last decade, Marvel has made leaps and bounds in both it's writing and character development. I even believe that the Defenders will challenge the Avengers in both content and popularity, still I just don't like Jessica Jones.

It's hard to give specific reasons without spoilers, but when I think Jessica Jones the one word that comes to mind is bitch. She's supposed to be the good guy, the one you root for, but she always has this attitude and everything is an issue with her. She's a mess, the people she spends her time with are a mess, and she seems like easy picking for the villain who chose to pray on her mind. 

The whole point of a superhero is to help people and to have people behind you and your brand of vigilante justice, but she seems to hurt more people than she helps, just look at what she did to Luke Cage (Mike Colter). Maybe others will feel differently, but I don't like the main character and therefore don't approve of the show. I love Luke Cage and I really like the idea of having a self-narrating private investigator, but there is this whole negative energy that surrounds her and everything she does, that I just can't get passed. 

I do love Daredevil and Luke Cage, I'll probably check out Iron Fist and I definitely will be watching the Defenders, so I guess I kind of have to watch season 2 of Jessica Jones, but fans of the show have a long wait ahead of them, as Netflix has confirmed that it won't be released until sometime in 2018, after season 1 of The Defenders.

The Son of No One

Starring: Channing Tatum, Tracy Morgan, Al Pacino, & Katie Holmes
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

In 2006, Dito Montiel made a name for himself by writing/directing the story of his youth in Brooklyn, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints. In that film and in several others that have since followed, Montiel has shown an amazing ability to take little known stories from his neighborhood, and in amazing detail, tells those stories from multiple angles, introducing the world to complex and amazing stories that to the world, were nothing but a blurbs in the newspaper decades ago. The Son of No One is one of such story, and while it is an amazing one, with an outstanding cast, it's Montiel's attention to detail that ultimately comes back to bite him. Jonathan White (Channing Tatum) has become a New York City Police Officer and he has done so at a somewhat older age than most other people do. There is a bit of a learning curve, but White seems to be catching on quickly, but his education comes to a quick halt when he and his family start receiving messages claiming to know that White killed two people in cold blood. The story here was terrific and unbelievably true, not to mention the cast was impeccable, so what's with the low rating? As I said, Motiel's films are always very detail oriented and focus on all the angles, The Son of No One is no different, however, in this case, they spend to much time on the back story in flashbacks. There isn't enough focus on the events taking place in present day, and when Channing Tatum is on screen, he's usually doing nothing that relates to the case, i.e. arguing with his wife, talking to his partner, learning to be a cop. By the time we get the end, it seems to jump out of nowhere, as if forty-five minutes of the film is just missing somehow. Not to mention the flashbacks are also out of order, further confusing the story. I understand artistic license, but this isn't Pulp Fiction and I was confused for much of this film. That being said, the cast is still terrific and Dito Montiel is one of the most underrated writer/directors in Hollywood. The Son of No One is a miss, but don't let that turn you off to the rest of amazing body of work.

Fangs (2002)

Starring: Tracy Nelson, Whip Hubley, & Corbin Bernsen
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to horror, either you get it or you don't. Those who don't, think it's all about blood, monsters, and scaring people, but in fact there are actually five distinct forms of horror. Films like Fangs are bad, and they are that way on purpose. There are franchises and even entire production companies that are dedicated to making films like this, where the story is insane, the effects are terrible, the acting is ridiculous, and it's all done on purpose, because it's supposed to make laugh just as much, if not more than it's supposed to make you cringe, that's the point! Fangs is somewhat different in two ways, first it was produced by a major film company and second the film wasn't all that bad. Basically some bats at a university escape in the lab and get into some chemicals they shouldn't have. As a result, they become super aggressive and wreak havoc on a small town. From there, the story follows a local veterinarian and the town sheriff, who try to track the bats and put an end to their reign of terror before more innocent lives are lost. As with many similar films, the dialogue is quite comical and there are lots of cheesy jokes and obnoxious characters you just can't wait to see get attacked, but for what it was, the effects weren't all that bad and the science behind it seemed somewhat plausible. This isn't the kind of film that makes you run to amazon to buy it. Fangs isn't going to win any awards, it doesn't feature any outstanding performances, and it probably isn't even the kind of film you'd want to see twice. However, if you're in one of those moods, where you just want to see something simple and stupid, that's going to make you laugh a few times, then Fangs is absolutely perfect for that. 

The Zodiac

Starring: Justin Chambers, Robin Tunney, & Rory Culkin
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

As a culture we are obsessed with serial killers. While some writers choose to glorify these monsters, others simply want to show the truth behind their crimes and the investigation that followed. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, the real story is no where near as interesting as Hollywood makes it out to be, that's where the based on a true story comes in. The case of the infamous Zodiac Killer was a fascinating case, of a man who not only killed at random, but who also taunted the police, by publishing cryptic ciphers in the newspaper, claiming if they cracked the ciphers, they'd know who he was. The man behind the crimes was certainly an interesting case, but the long investigation into finding out who the person might have been, was not. As a film, The Zodiac is said to be a fairly accurate portrayal of the crimes, the investigation, the paranoia than gripped the city, and the political pressure everyone faced as a result. The film makers didn't want to take liberties with the story, glorify the crimes, or present unproven theories from any one of the a number of books written about the Zodiac Killer. That being said, what happened was interesting, but also fairly slow moving and more than somewhat dry. For those people who are unfamiliar with the story of the Zodiac, they may enjoy learning about this case, but for those of us who know it, watching this film was like seeing a very long episode of the First 48. It's interest, the acting is suitable, and it passes the time, but if you're looking for a real entertaining, Hollywood version of the Zodiac story, you'll be much happier with the film simply titled, Zodiac, from 2007, starring Robert Downey Jr. That film is based on one of the more populist theories of the crime, and features more edge of your seat action than it's predecessor.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Remakes & Sequels: 2017

Many moviegoers believe that sequels ruin the original film and that remakes don't do the original films justice, however remakes and sequels are often times the highest money makers of the year. While most aren't recognized by the academy and are panned by the majority of critics, people still flock to the theaters every year to see the characters they know and love.

The Ultimate Movie Review would like to give special thanks to our friends for helping us with this years list!

Upcoming Sequels Expected In Theaters During 2017: 
 Alien: Covenant
Amityville: The Awakening 
Annabelle 2
A Bad Moms Christmas
Blade Runner 2049
Cars 3 
Cloverfield 2017 
Creed 2
Despicable Me 3
Diary of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
The Fate of The Furious (Fast & Furious 8)
Fifty Shades Darker 
Guardians of The Galaxy 2
Insidious: Chapter 4
John Wick: Chapter 2 
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Logan (Wolverine 3)
Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature 
Paddington 2
Pirates of The Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales 
Pitch Perfect 3
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Saw: Legacy
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Spider-Man: Homecoming 
Star Wars: Episode VIII
Super Troopers 2
T2: Trainspotting
Thor: Ragnarok
Transformers: The Last Knight
War For The Planet of The Apes
World War Z 2
XxX 3: The Return of Xander Cage
Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions

 Upcoming Remakes Expected In Theaters During 2017:
Beauty & The Beast
Friday The 13th
Ghost In The Shell
King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Mummy
Murder On The Orient Express
Power Rangers
The Six Billion Dollar Man
Stephen King's It
Wonder Woman

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, & Mads Mikkelsen
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The purpose of Rogue one was simple, to fix a plot hole that had bothered Star Wars fans for nearly forty years. How did the rebels get a hold of the plans for the death star and why was it so easy to destroy? 

At a young age, Jyn Erso's (Felicity Jones), father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) was taken by the empire, to help develop the death star. Jyn was protected by the rebels before fleeing and living on her own, until one day, the rebels receive a message from Galen, saying that his daughter is the key to everything, and if they help get her to him, he can stop the empire. 

What I love about Rogue one, is the fact that for this film the franchise took a step back. If you ask anybody what their favorite Star Wars movie is, inevitably you will hear A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back, but why? It's because these films didn't have massive budgets, big name movie stars, the top directors in Hollywood, complex story lines, special characters thrown in for the kids, simply put they were the greatest space adventures of all-time. Rogue one leaves in the special effects, but the actors are not very well known, the director has only two films under his belt, the story is easy to follow, the characters are extremely likeable, (much more so than the new ones in the Force Awakens), and most import of all the story is more narrowly focused and much easier to follow. There aren't a million different things going on here, there is one objective and it is being attempted by characters you can actually get behind. 

Jyn Erso, very much has the Katniss Everdeen tough girl thing going for her and she is paired with Cassian (Diego Luna), who has all the charisma of a young Harrison Ford, together the pair is infectious and you can't help but like them. I didn't feel any of that with Rey and Finn, in fact, I barely remembered their names. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the scenery and special effects in the film, unlike in recent films, we see a multitude of planets, it isn't just all sand and sun. The planet in the final scene with the beaches and the energy shield in particular was just amazing. 

Finally there is the ending, I won't give anything away if you haven't seen it yet, but I will say this. While controversial, in my opinion, more perfect it could not have been. Rogue One is the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy and I hope J.J. Abrams took notice. This is what the future of the franchise should be. Just because you have the largest film budget in history, doesn't mean your film has to have dozens of plots, and all these random characters we don't care about. Use that money on special effects, more amazing ships, weapons, and planets, and just make Star Wars fun again in a way that Rogue One reminded us it could be.

Passengers (2016)

Starring: Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

...and the award for the most disappointing film of 2016 goes to Passengers! I can't tell you how long I waited for this movie to come out, it was at the top of my must see list for months, and I was more excited to see this than almost any other film this year. For those unfamiliar with the story, five thousand passengers are in suspended animation for one hundred and twenty years, as they prepare to start a new life on a brand new planet. Thirty years into the journey, there is a malfunction and two of the sleeping pods open, awakening two of the passengers ninety years early. Everything I read and saw made this look like THE film to see this year, but the truth is it was beyond boring. This malfunction that awoke them, was part of a cascade failure, meaning small failure got worse over time, years in fact, and nothing serious actually happens until the last twenty minutes of the film. Until then, it's a lot of talking, romance, sadness about how they'll waste their lives alone on this ship for nothing. This had to be why the studio paid two of the best young actors in Hollywood a ton of money to be in this thing, because they knew no matter how boring the story or bad the reviews got, people would still go to see Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Congratulations Columbia Pictures, it worked, you made your money on this one and yes the special effect were cool, but how many people were actually entertained by this film? I for one was not, this film come in at just under two hours long and I felt like I was sitting in the theater for a week, that right there says it all.