Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Interstate 60

Starring: James Marsden, Amy Smart, & Gary Oldman 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Interstate 60 is one very strange but one very cool movie, that features a man searching for the great mysteries of life on a road that doesn't exist on any map. On Interstate 60, your wildest dreams or worst nightmares can come true, so you have to be careful where you get off. You might find yourself in a town that's full of insane laws, where everyone is a lawyer. On the other hand, you might find yourself in a town dedicated to partying, where every resident is high on drugs 24/7. There are strange drifters, weird road side attractions, and caught in the middle of everything is Neal Oliver (James Marsden), who isn't sure why he's there. At first, I just thought this film was weird and over my head, but as time went by, I started to see the genius of it. How it shows us that taken to the extreme, what we really want isn't what we want at all, and that most of us don't really know what the hell we want. James Marsden is the star and he is fantastic, paired with a non-stop flow of cameos everywhere he stops. This virtually unknown film has appearances by Michael J. Fox, Ann-Margert, Christopher Lloyd, Kurt Russell, and the list goes on and on. How they got all these guys to appear in a direct to video feature is beyond me, but take it from me, this isn't your typical b-movie. This film is one of the most unique stories you will ever see and even if you don't fully understand everything that's happening, you'll keep watching simply to see who and what comes next.

Malcolm In The Middle

Starring: Frankie Muniz, Bryan Cranston, Jane Kaczmarek, Justin Berfield, Erik Per Sullivan, Christopher Masterson, Craig Lamar Traylor, David Anthony Higgins, & Catherine Lloyd Burns

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Many TV historians will tell you that if it wasn't wedged in between the Simpsons and the X-Files on FOX Sunday nights, Malcolm In The Middle never would have lasted seven seasons. The ratings did drop every time Fox tried to move the show, and it did ultimately get cancelled when Family Guy came back and took it's time slot. I think however, it had more to do with the kids growing up than it did with the quality of the show or it's time slot, because Malcolm In The Middle to me, was the first truly hilarious and worthwhile sitcom of the new millennium.

The family with no last name, (yes, in seven seasons, they don't mention their last name a single time) is the dysfunctional family that puts all others to shame! The father, Hal (Bryan Cranston), may be the biggest kid of them all, with absolutely no self-control. The mother, Lois (Jane Kaczmarek), is the boss, the big scary scream machine, who hands out the punishments, and is the boys ultimate rival, making her the most fun to mess with. The oldest son, Francis (Christopher Masterson), is so bad, that he keeps getting sent away to one ridiculous place after another. The next oldest, Reese (Justin Berfield), is the good old fashion school bully. Little brother, Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan) is just as weird as they come (every time he screamed like a girl, especially when he got older, I almost peed myself). Finally, in the middle is Malcolm (Frankie Muniz), who is a genius, trying to make sense of the chaos that is his life. 

To me this show was so ahead of it's time, I mean they cast Bryan Cranston in a leading role, back when Vince Gilligan was still a part-time screen writer on the X-Files. The chemistry between the kids is fantastic and the dynamic between the laid back Hal and the high struck Lois is comedic gold. This isn't just the kind of show you love to watch, but it's also the kind of show you can tell the people involved with loved doing it. When it's more than just a job and the actors really love the characters and fellow cast members, that is when a show can become really special.

The bottom line, most sitcoms are full of corny PG jokes meant for prime time audiences. They're something to tune into when nothing else is on, but once in a while, one of them comes along that is special and breaks the mold, Malcolm In The Middle is that show. No sitcom, with perhaps the exception of Everybody Loves Raymond has ever made me laugh as much as this show has, and trust me that is not an easy task with my weird sense of humor.

Horrible Bosses 2

Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, & Chris Pine
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Okay, I understand that people love sequels and it's usually a guaranteed win at the box office, but did we really need another Horrible Bosses movie? In this unnecessary sequel, the boys have gone into business for themselves, and in common fashion have signed away their invention to an investor for a fraction of what it's worth. Realizing they've been taken, they plan on kidnapping the billionaires son and the ridiculousness begins again. The old bosses and old accomplishes join new face for another adventure that's even more absurd than the first one was. I watched this film because I love Jason Sudeikis, he is one of my favorite comedic actors, however Charlie Day is not. I really don't know how anyone can stand watching It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, with this little guy running around, with his high pitched rabbit voice, always excited like he just did an eight ball before every single scene he shoots. It's honestly one of the most annoying things I can think of. This film was kind of lame and leaned toward the stupid side to begin with, but when you add this little squirrel on crack to the mix, it really becomes nearly unwatchable. The bottom line, sequels make money. Some people want to learn the fate of characters they've seen and gotten to know. Then there are people like me, who went to see the first one and even though they weren't crazy about it, figured I might as well go see the next one. I can only hope at this point they don't decide to make it into a trilogy.

Sinister (2012)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, & James Ransone
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Original ideas in horror are hard to come by given the nature of the genre. The fans all want to be scared, some want blood and gore, and do we ever really want to see a happy ending? The idea behind Sinster was simple, lets give fans a little bit of everything and see how they react. Seeking peace and solitude, real crime writer, Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), moves his family to the country, unaware that the house he's living in has a checkered past. That is until he finds an old movie projector with 8mm films, that will horrify the man to his core. Having children as the perpetrators of these crimes was my favorite part of the film, I love it when horror movies do that, because what could be scarier than an evil child. You take the most innocent thing in the world, turn it evil, and once that happens what can you do about it? Would you be able to shoot a kid? So how do you stop them? The idea is bone chilling. I also liked the fact that they touch on every aspect of the genre they could from ghosts to possession, from gore to jump scares, they really did include a lot. The problem however is that the film focuses on Ethan Hawke, who tries to shield his family from what's happening, while investigating the events on his own, and this makes the time in between events move at a snails pace. With so much going for it, this is a movie that should have a lot going on, not long periods of nothingness. Personally I'd like to see the story focus on a child and watch as he/she transforms into one of the kids in the 8mm films, that would be cool. For what it's worth, this wasn't a bad film, the cast was pretty good, and they did a lot with what they had, but ultimately Sinister just moved a little too slowly for me.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, & Kurt Russell
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The long awaited sequel to the break out hit, Guardians of The Galaxy, is here! In 2014, the Marvel Studios original came out of obscurity to set box office records, introducing fans to a cast of heroes who aren't exactly your typical superheroes. Combining amazing special effects and comedy, the film quickly gained a cult following and critical acclaim, but can they defeat the biggest enemy of all, the curse of the sequel? The Guardians are back doing what they do best, with a new enemy on their tail, when they crash land on an uninhabited planet. Their rescuer comes in a form of a man who seems too good to be true, is he really there to help them or does he have something else in mind? The story in volume two is not as good as the first one, that was to be expected, but luckily it isn't far off. The characters are the same and this time they know each other a whole lot better, meaning the chemistry is better, the humor comes more quickly, and the magic is still there. Once again Chris Pratt is outstanding, it's still hard to believe he went from the annoying jock on Everwood to this charismatic megastar. The rest of the cast is also on it's game and we learn much more about the characters then we did in the first film. While not being as strong story wise, this film certainly hits closer to home, and everything is amped up from the special effects to the humor and even the soundtrack. I love these films and I hope there are a lot more of them, however I'd be remiss in not sharing my thought that something this good, especially with how the story evolves in the second film, is better suited for a weekly TV series than at most a handful of feature films. The Bottom Line, if you liked the first one, you'll love the second one.

Dark Matter (TV Series)

Starring: Marc Bendavid, Melissa O'Neil, Anthony Lemke, Alex Mallari Jr., Jodelle Ferland, Roger Cross, Zoie Palmer, Shaun Sipos, & Melanie Liburd

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Once in a generation, a show comes along that insists you pay attention to it. Nearly fifty years after the debut of Star Trek, Dark Matter is the latest show turning heads in the world of science fiction and it is like nothing you have ever seen before. Blending elements of Star Trek, Lost, and Knight Rider, this new show from the producers of Stargate SG1, will have you talking about it and pining for the next episode.

Orbiting a planet out in deep space on the edges of civilization, six people wake up on a spaceship, with no memory of who they are or how they got there. After pairing up and searching the ship, they discover it's full of weapons. With the help of an android they find on board, the crew discovers they are orbiting a disputed planet and the weapons are likely for the colonists below. The crew quickly becomes attached to the colonists, that is until they learn the horrible truth, that they are mercenaries at the top of the galactic authorities most wanted list. They know they must be there to remove the colonist for one of the big corporations that now run the galaxy, but with the lose of their memories, came something no one could have expected, a conscience. Eventually, the crew of the ship called, The Raza, decide they have to stick together and find out who they are, where they're from, and what happened to them, so begins Dark Matter.

Each episode is another adventure, dealing with the authority, their old enemies, and their old employers. They don't know their friends from their enemies, but after each adventure they get another piece of the puzzle and we get a glimpse into their passed lives. Together with the crew, the audience has the pleasure of trying to figure out who these people were, what happened to them, and debate on where they may be going. 

Much like Star Trek, this show has a virtually unknown cast, and is slowly producing it's own stars. I only recognized a couple of name, but the different skills each cast member present is as incredible and unique as the characters themselves. The women on board have moves that would make Bruce Lee jealous, but not to be overlooked is the cast interactions with each other, which often times are hilarious. The cast is diverse and so are the characters and their backgrounds, in coming together they all play on each others strengths and weaknesses to make this one of the most enjoyable shows on television.

I watch a lot of TV, probably a lot more than is healthy, but in all this time, there have only been a handful of shows that I can honestly say, I could not wait to see the next episode, Dark Matter is one of those shows. Honestly I get home early on the nights it on and put on SyFy fifteen minutes early so that I don't miss a second. The first two seasons are currently streaming, go and watch the pilot and I promise you, weather you love science fiction or not, Dark Matter will have you hooked.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

Starring: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, & Juliette Lewis
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Sometimes the best performance come in a film that just doesn't deserve them. Everyone knows of Gilbert Grape, but not because it is a classic film that deserves to stand the test of time, rather it is the film that launched two of the biggest careers in Hollywood. Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) is barely old enough to drink, yet he is the man of the house, forced to raise his brother and sisters, and care for his obese mother. Gilbert lives in the middle of nowhere, works a terrible job, and his future doesn't look so bright, that is until a girl, traveling cross-country with her grandmother, breaks down in his town. A relationship blossoms and Gilbert finally discovers that life has been passing him by. The story here is simple and at many points extremely slow moving. This film was just meant to be a backwards love story, but has become so much more, because of Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio. The two young stars gave everything they had and more, with so little to work with, that their performances became absolutely legendary. What's Eating Gilbert Grape is not a good film, but you will be hard pressed to find one performance, must less two as good as the ones in this film. The feeling and emotion that come along with their joys and despair is something you just can't teach, either you have it or you don't. Both these actors will make you feel every emotion of their characters and make you take a look inside yourself in a way that few film will ever do. I hated the story, but I recommend this film for nothing else than it's performances. If every performance were as good as these, there wouldn't be a need to rate and review films.