Thursday, August 20, 2015

Vacation (2015)

Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Steele Stebbins, & Skyler Gisondo
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I'm not the biggest comedy fan and I never liked Chevy Chase, but the new Vacation movie peaked my interested because of it's star, Ed Helms. Helms is one of the funniest men in Hollywood today and never really gets the recognition he deserves, always being a member of the pack, but he truly shines in one of his few stand alone roles. Twenty years after the original Vacation, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) wants to relive his vacation to Wally World with his own family, and as expected, nothing seems to go as planned. Helms was truly hysterical and in my opinion easily outshines Chevy's performance in the original film, but Helms isn't the only star of note in this film. 11 year old Steele Steebins almost steals the show as Kevin Griswold. From beating on his older brother to his perfectly timed one liners, this kid was absolutely hysterical, and has a bright future ahead of him. Together with Helms and a classic story this movie had me laughing so hard, there were tears in my eyes. Often times when companies decide to remake classic films, they are little more than a farce of the original, but in the case of Vacation, the remake overtakes the original by leaps and bounds. Simply put this is the funniest movie I have seen in a couple of years. I thought it would be good, but it went far beyond all expectations, and is now our latest must see movie!

Home Movie

Starring: Adrian Pasdar, Cady McClain, & Austin Williams
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

The scariest horror movies are the ones that feature a story that can actually happen, and what's more terrifying than psychotic children? Like adults, kids can absolutely be crazed killers, and if they were, you'd never suspect it or see it coming. Even if you did, what could be done about a child under 12 whose obsessed with murder? This is a theme explored in the film Home Movie, which had all the makings of a classic and all the talent of a middle school play. I was disappointed right from the start, as this is yet another camcorder film. I understand they are the result of a small budget, but I hate these types of films, simply because it's nearly impossible to watch them without getting nauseous from the constant movement. The story isn't much better, as the film turns out to be nothing more than an experiment. Clare (Cady McClain) is a child psychologist, who just happens to have two psychotic children. Instead of getting them the help they need, she decides to observe them through a cameras lenses and record the findings for a purpose that is never known. Most of the time, the kids are quiet, angry, and bored, but occasionally they find something horrific that peaks their interest, and mom just lets them do it and films it for our benefit. This film is beyond slow, the story is absolutely pointless, and the parents, not to mention the actors portraying them are beyond stupid. Anyone who would read a script like this and agree to do a film like this must be hard up for work, because it was an absolute stinker!

Fire With Fire (2012)

Starring: Josh Duhamel, Rosario Dawson, & Bruce Willis
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Sometimes films can be entertaining, but for one reason or another are utterly forgettable. In the case of Fire With Fire, I enjoyed the film, but even a few weeks later, I had a difficult time remembering the plot. This is because once again we have an action film that is completely average in every way possible. It's a common story, with a lot of bullets, f words, and bodies, featuring a cast that was far from superb. Jeremy Coleman (Josh Duhamel) is a firefighter who witness a horrible crime. As a result, Coleman is put into the Witness Protection Program, which according to Hollywood is completely inept. Once found, Coleman and his significant other are forced to go on the run and ultimately decide to take the fight to their pursuers, with mixed results. This film was completely predictable and lacked any originality what so ever. Josh Duhamel stars and while he is a good looking, gigantic man, he's not much of an action star. He's lanky, awkward, and simply doesn't have the moves or personality to be believable as an action star. The Director tries to correct this by surrounding him with veteran action stars like Bruce Willis and Vincent D'Onofrio, but it is still painfully obvious that Duhamel got the role simply to be eye candy, further proven by the amount of times he unnecessarily takes his shirt off. As with all action films, Fire With Fire has it's moments, and Vincent D'Onofrio is always an entertaining villain, but aside from that, this film is good for nothing more than a 90 minute distraction, that you probably won't even remember it a few days later.

Last Vegas

Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, & Kevin Kline
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When you take the plots of two successful movie franchises, and blend them into one, often the results are mixed, but this time, thanks to an all-star cast, The Hangover meets Grumpy Old Men in Last Vegas, and the results are hilarious. Billy (Michael Douglas) is 70 years old and about to marry a college student. While he seems content with his new life, he desires one last vacation with his three best friends from the old neighborhood. Reluctantly putting aside old quarrels, the men meet in Las Vegas for Billy's bachelor party, and once things get going, these guys prove that they are anything but over the hill. It's hard to go wrong with a cast of Academy Award winners that have literally hundreds of films under their belts, but a film like Last Vegas really does come down to the writing. If it's not hilarious, in the eyes of the audience, the cast will seem as over the hill as their characters. Thankfully, that wasn't the case, as simply the chemistry between these guys leads to some hilarious moments, that I'd be willing to bet were completely unscripted. Each actor brings their own unique style and brand of humor to the part and when they finally come together in Las Vegas, this film takes off. It isn't an exaggeration to say that this is one of the funniest films I've seen all year. Just the guys reaction to the things associated with modern day Las Vegas, like the technology, thugs, rap music, and strippers is absolutely priceless. The ancient cast and a PG-13 rating turned a lot of people off to this film, but the cast is a complete throw back trapped in a modern party town, leading to some epic scenes. Last Vegas is an absolute comedy gem, that somehow fell under most peoples radars, but it is every bit as good as the Hangover was, and maybe even more so, thanks to the experience of the cast and their tremendous chemistry.

Monday, August 17, 2015

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Guardians of The Galaxy

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, & Bradley Cooper
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Marvel films has made me rethink the way I look at superheroes and comic books. Science Fiction is my favorite genre, but I've never been a fan of superheroes, and in fact, ten years ago I would never have even considered seeing a film like Guardians of The Galaxy. On the surface, this looks like a kids movie, but thanks to some fantastic writing and Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), as interesting a character as you will ever meet, Guardians of The Galaxy is Science Fiction at it's best. Quill is a thief, nothing more, nothing less. He is hired to steal something and does it the same way he's done hundreds of times before, only this time, there are a bunch of other people trying to take it from him. Quill will come to learn that the item is so very valuable because it is a nearly unstoppable weapon, that the worst men in the universe will stop at nothing to possess. Together with the other renegades, Quill decides the best thing to do is to stop these men and make sure the item is never able to be taken again. Chris Pratt stars and gives the performance of a lifetime. I remember first seeing Pratt in the show Everwood, and thinking that this guy has no personality, amazing how things have changed. Finally able to be himself, Pratt shows that his personality is larger than life itself, and twice now in his young career, he has turned that gift into two of the best characters I've seen in years. Paired with some of Hollywood's brightest young stars, an incredible team of writers, and special effects that are out of this world, Guardians of The Galaxy had all the tools it needed to become the companies biggest earner. This is a film that a lot of people are never going to think of as anything more than a comic book turned into a film for children, but it is so much more than that. From the music to the storyline, to the stars themselves, this film has something for everyone, it was my top film pick of 2014, a must see movie, and something that any true fan of cinema shouldn't miss.

The Score

Starring: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Marlon Brando, & Angela Bassitt
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In what was widely considered to be a passing of the torch, three generations of Hollywood superstars, joined forces for a thriller known as The Score. I found this to be a very strange film, as it features both moments of high intensity and moments that are painfully slow. Robert De Niro stars as Nick Wells, the best safe cracker you could find, but as he's getting older and seeking more stability in his life. Considering retirement, Wells is asked to be part of one last big score, that will have him, and his fence, set for life. Wells reluctantly agrees, before finding out there is a catch, he'll be working with his possible replacement, an arrogant and cocky young man, who could wind up getting them all caught. As far as acting goes, you may never see a better trio of leading men, De Niro, Marlon Brando, and especially Edward Norton were absolutely terrific in their roles. The film however doesn't really take off until the crime actually begins. For over an hour they are in the planning stage, painstakingly going over every detail, and it really is as bad as it sounds, in fact, I almost turned it off, until the wheels were set in motion. From that point, the film really is terrific, with an ending that will leave your jaw on the floor! I was very happy with the last forty minutes of the film, and all three actors were fantastic, but so much of this film moves at a snails pact that I really couldn't give it a higher rating. This is a two hour film, that could have easily been shortened to an hour and a half, without losing any of it's integrity. All the detailed plans and unnecessary back and fourth make the first hour of this film painful, but if you can stick with it, the second hour is certainly worth it.