Monday, February 1, 2016

Dumb & Dumber To

Starring: Jim Carrey & Jeff Daniels
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After twenty long years, Harry and Lloyd are back AND... most people didn't care. Despite the success of the first film, the Farrelly's waited far too long to bring the pair back. Everyone who grew up watching the first film are adults now, and the demographic they were going for with a PG-13 rating, has no idea who Harry and Lloyd are, hence the disappointing numbers at the box office. In this long awaited sequel, Harry (Jeff Daniels) is in need of a kidney and finds out that his only living relative is a daughter he never knew about. That's all it take to get Harry and Lloyd back on the road for more antics AND... they tried too hard. The original film was legitimately laugh out loud funny, while it's sequel may lead to a snicker or two. The beauty of the original is that it was so simple and so stupid that you couldn't help but laugh. The new one is full of long running pranks, modern slang the pair don't understand, and just obvious jokes. There's absolutely no spontaneity, like when Harry chucks the salt over his shoulder or Lloyd puts laxative in Harry's tea. That's not the only issue here, as the bad guys are kind of the biggest joke in the movie and Lloyd finally crosses the line from cute to creepy. The bottom line, I loved seeing Carrey and Daniels together again and I enjoyed the parallels to the first film, but aside from a few misunderstandings and a line here or there, this film isn't even close to being the film fans waited twenty years to see.

Born Bad (2011)

Starring: Michael Welch, Meredith Monroe, & Bonnie Dennison
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Since his childhood, I've seen Michael Welch appear in everything from American Son to Z Nation, and all that falls in between. This guy seems to be in everything, but it wasn't until I saw Born Bad, that I realized he's more than just some geeky guy in the background, he's got some real talent, playing every woman's worst nightmare. Brooke (Bonnie Dennison) is a rebellious teen, who is looking for love, and is immediately drawn to the older Denny (Michael Welch). At first he seems like the perfect boyfriend, but little did she know, he's actually a psychopath. To me films like this are scarier than any horror movie, because what's more likely to happen, a zombie apocalypse or coming across someone who isn't what the appear to be? As I said, Michael Welch was scary good in this film, portraying a man with two faces. On the surface, he's this really nice guy, but underneath, he is pure evil. Watching Welch balance the two and try to keep the real him at bay was really something to see. As far as the rest of the film, it's what you would expect, there isn't too much of a story here and little to no surprises, other than Michael Welch, who makes this film more than just something you'd turn off after ten minutes.

Mission: Impossible II

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, & Thandie  Newton
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Well, I just reviewed the first one, so you had to know the second one was sure to follow. That is the draw of these films, every one likes them for different reasons, and as soon as you watch one, you want to see them all. Despite the old line about sequels, personally, I liked this one a lot better than the first. The story line was much closer to what I expected to see from this franchise, and this time, John Woo was Directing. I generally don't care for his writing, but when it comes to Directing action films, he's one of the best. In the second installment of Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is after a former agent, but not quite sure about what he's planning to do. As he follows the trail, Ethan learns the man has developed a deadly virus, and Ethan's mission, should he choose to accept it, is to save the day. Tom Cruise is his usual self and the action sequences are textbook John Woo, so why is this rated 3 1/2 stars you may ask? The answer is the storyline, because in a film like this, where it's all about special effects and hot bodies, the only thing that makes it different from a million other pictures is the story, and this one hits the nail on the head.

Star Trek: Enterprise

Starring: Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Jolene Blalock, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park, & Connor Trinneer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Out of all the Star Trek series and films, Enterprise is easily the most overlooked, and was the only one since the original to be cancelled. This isn't because it wasn't as good as the rest, but simply the way it was marketed. The show is in fact a prequel to Kirk's Enterprise, and does take place before the Federation, but what the show lacks in technology, is more than made up for with realism and some of the best character development in the Star Trek franchise.

100 years after Zefren Cochrane's warp flight, the human race has had enough of Vulcans holding them back, and have created the first warp five star ship in human history. Over the Vulcan's objections, Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the son of the engines designer, has been selected to Captain the ship and explore a galaxy that humans know very little about.

This show is extremely important to the franchise and all Trekkies, as it not only shows humanities first trip out of our solar system and first contact with all the races we've come to know over the years, but the show fills in a lot of the gaps from all the other series and films! Enterprise explores the origins of Data's creator, the Eugenic Wars (which created Khan), the development of many protocols and much of the tech we see on future ships, but most important of all the series shows how the foundation for the Federation and the creation of star fleet all came together.

Enterprise was also unique for it's character development and realism, in that it takes place in the not to distant future. We get to know the crew intimately, from their fears to their families, and we see them doing and discussing things never before seen in Star Trek. The Enterprise crew has a classic movie night, watches sports on TV, has pets, and they even talk about sex. 

The cast is lead by Scott Bakula, which was another great move by producers. Casting a veteran science fiction actor, whose been in long running series, automatically gives him that air of experience and authority that Picard had. He's also a younger man, so with no federation policies in place yet, Archer can be just as much of a risk taker as Kirk was, even more so.

Star Trek Enterprise was extremely enjoyable, and a series people could relate to more than any other in the Star Trek franchise. The show isn't simply about the future and the Federation, it's about what it means to be human and how that compares to other species. It shows what we need to do in order to get along with and understand other cultures, but most of all it fills in so many holes from previous films and episodes, that it truly was the missing link.

Unfortunately for Star Trek fans, the show barely made a hundred episodes, because it was on a dying network, that folded shortly after the show was cancelled, screwing us trekkies out of three more seasons. As with all the previous series, the story has been continued in books, but in this case, the books were written by the main writers of the series, and do encompass everything that would have happened in seasons five, six, and seven. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

White Rabbit

Starring: Nick Krause, Britt Robertson, & Ryan Lee
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Coming of Age films are among my favorite types of movies, but if you're a fan of the genre, you know there are often a lot of strange stories out there, perhaps none stranger than White Rabbit. This film follows Harlon Mckay (Nick Krause), who is a very strange kid, one that is often bullied. Harlon is very easily influenced by other people, as is evident by the scenes with his co-stars. When he's with his best friend, whose immature, they do kid things, and when he meets a bad girl, who doesn't stay in on place very long, Harlon gets into some trouble himself. There's no doubt that Harlon is strange, but so are the circumstances surrounding him. Newcomer Nick Krause plays the troubled lead and he really was terrific. In ninety minutes, this kid must of changed personalities a dozen times, and all of them were tremendous. White Rabbit is very weird, a little creepy, and nothing special until a shocking ending changes everything. Sometimes how you see a film can be changed by an ending that just blows the mind and answers a million questions at once. That is what happens here, and that is the only reason I recommend watching this film. As I've been saying, it's really strange and some parts are hard to sit through, but in the end, you'll be left thinking about what you just saw and wondering about each and every scene. Honestly, it's the kind of film you really need to see more than once if you're hoping to catch everything.

Mission: Impossible

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, & Emmanuelle Beart
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Many will be surprised that I am reviewing this film, especially twenty years after it was released, but it was Directed by the legendary, Brian De Palma, making it a must see for me. In general, I find these huge franchise films to be fun, some are better than others, but that's usually based on the writing and the cast. In watching the first of the Mission: Impossible films, my expectations were very high, and while Tom Cruise didn't disappoint, Brian De Palma certainly did. The king of mystery could have developed a better story than this. The action sequences were impressive and the special effects were way over the top, but I still felt the story could have been developed a lot more. Maybe being the first film in an eventual franchise, producers wanted to give the series as much action and explosions as possible. If that was the case, they should have called Michael Bay, this film has all the makings of one of his films, not a De Palma film. That being said, the bottom line is that first mission is exactly what you'd expect it to be. Student replacing teacher, in a film that's one chase and fire fight after another. It was entertaining, but not something that requires a whole lot of thinking.

Zero Day

Starring: Calvin Robertson & Andre Keuck
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Generally speaking, I hate films that are shot on camcorder, but they do make things more realistic. This was a necessity for the film, Zero Day, which gives an in depth look at the psyche of two school shooters. The story isn't unexpected or anything you haven't seen before, but what makes this film unique is how the producers went about casting this film. The entire cast is made up of ordinary kids, with no previous acting experience, to that end, the entire immediate family of the shooters are also used in the film. Given that these kids weren't actors at the time, a lot of scenes also remain unscripted. The kids were told to just talk about things that make being a teenager tough, expressing dark, innermost feelings of rage and hatred of society. It was then that the writers wrote dialogue that corresponded with what these kids were saying. The result of this is one of the most realistic films I've ever seen. It was like actually being able to watch the video diaries of the Columbine shooters, expressing their feelings, and explaining their actions, prior to that tragic day. Both boys featured in the film are terrific and the way the Director just let the story flow, based on what these two kids had to say, was absolutely ingenious. I think this film was an amazing insight into the minds of troubled teenagers and I think it's a must see for anyone in the field of education.