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

Review The Ultimate Movie Review!!!

Create your own user feedback survey

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. 

Third Man Out

Starring: Chad Allen, Sebastian Spence, & Jack Wetherall
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Third Man Out is the first of four films and thirteen novels that tell the story of Donald Strachey, a gay private investigator, living in upstate New York. The first film is actually the fourth novel in the series by Richard Lipez, and shows Strachey is an impossible situation. The Detective is hired by John Rutka (Jack Wetherall) a gay extremist, who runs a website that is actually devoted to outing celebrities. Rutka had been receiving death threats, which is nothing new, but when he's shot in his own home, he needs protection and doesn't trust anyone outside of the gay community. Strachey loaths the man and doesn't believe his story, but reluctantly agrees to protect him for a large payday. As Strachey does a half-hearted investigation, he's shocked when he learns that Rutka really was murdered, and even more dismayed, when he sees that the local police department, really doesn't care all that much. I know I'm going to get more than few e-mails about this, but it has to be said. I have no problem with a gay detective working within the gay community, in fact, I think it's a great twist in the classic mystery genre. That being said, the movie features a gay actor, on a gay network, married to a man. There are men kissing, there are male strippers, and there is bigotry all around them, so why is it necessary to constantly refer to the elephant in the room? The film goes out of it's way to mention the word gay and throw in a joke or comment whenever possible, and it was so over the top that it actually takes away from the seriousness of the film. The setting and characters are simply parts of a larger story and the focus should really have been more about the mystery in front of them and less about the sexual orientation of the characters. Third Man Out features a great twist in a classic who-done-it story, the acting is solid, the writing is terrific, and once it gets going, it's a very compelling story. I just wish that they had cut out some of the unnecessary satire, and stuck more to the story. There are three more films out there though, and hopefully filmmakers learned from their mistakes and let the next mystery speak for itself.

The Babe

Starring: John Goodman, Kelly McGillis, & Trini Alvarado
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

As a life long Yankees fan, I have read a lot about, and admired Babe Ruth, since I was very young, but I never saw the film based on his life. I heard nothing but bad things about it, and as it turns out, my fellow critics were correct. The Babe is supposed to be a bio-pic from the birth of Babe Ruth, until his untimely death, however the focus of the film is a problem. Film makers portrayed Ruth as an ignorant man-child, a drunk, and an emotionally abuse husband and father. At times, he may have been all of those things, but they were merely a small part of his overall story. Little, if anything is mentioned about Ruth's infections personality, his generosity, or his activities off the field, besides his drinking. Ruth is portrayed as a man who gained fame, simply because of his ability to hit home runs, in a way that insinuates, he was lucky and didn't deserve all the fame and attention he received. The portrayal of the Babe isn't the only problem with this film, as the timeline and historic accuracy aren't even close to the truth. They show Ruth more with the Red Sox than the Yankees, insist that the majority of his fame came in Boston, and finally, they show his big seasons much later than they actually occured, and even go as far as to insulate, that they were in response to the media saying he was done. John Goodman stars as the Babe and he does a spot on portrayal, from the voice to the mannerisms, he was very very good, but it's overlooked by a film that stretched the truth to the point of being insulting to Ruth fans. The only thing I really enjoyed about this film, besides Goodman's performance, was a series of short films Ruth did with some orphans in the 1920's, that were included on the DVD. These shorts were much better and painted a much more accurate picture of the man, than this film ever did. The Babe is worth seeing for the performance of John Goodman, but be warned, it's a bio-pic that is more fiction than truth.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Prince (2014)

Starring: Jason Patric, Bruce Willis, John Cusack, & 50 Cent
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Paul (Jason Patric) is a mafia hit-man in New Orleans, and with a baby on the way, he wants out. Paul thinks the only way to do that is to kill his boss (Bruce Willis). With a car bomb in place, Paul waits for his boss to leave for the day, but is shocked to see the bosses wife and daughter get into the car instead. After the tragedy, Paul and his family flea and for 18 years, live in peace, but that all changes when his daughter goes down to New Orleans for a weekend getaway and disappears. The dry, emotionless, Jason Patric stars in this film and as it turns out, he's perfect for the role. As The Prince, the heir apparent, Patric has to play both a loving father and a ruthless criminal and does so admirably. While he's listed in the background, he really is the star of the movie, with the other big names making sporadic appearances. It's a shame, because Bruce Willis's boss character seemed to be a really interesting guy, who I'd have loved to see more of and learn more about. The Prince isn't very unique and you can't help but draw parallels to A History of Violence. While not as good, the film still features some intense action and a great story. The one draw back is that the Prince is so focused on this man Paul, and his goals, that they ignore some very compelling side stories. Had I been the writer, I would have utilized flashbacks through out, to show more of the prince and the bosses story, but sadly they didn't. Aside from that I really enjoyed the film, it was a chase, a mystery, and a mafia film rolled into one, with some great cameos, and an unexpected ending. This is the kind of action film I'd love to see more of. It isn't simply about the special effects and the guns, there is a purpose behind all of it, and that makes all the difference.


Starring: Jim Caviezel, Elisabeth Rohm, & Sterling Knight
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

After a successful bank heist, four criminals are trapped in a rest stop. Surrounded by road blocks, all they can do is stash the loot, and what better place than on top of a family mini-van, on it's way to a camping trip. With the police behind them, the race is on to get their money, before the family discovers what's on top of their car. Jim Caviezel stars, and while he will always be remembered for his role in The Passion, he is actually a pretty successful actor. He's terrific in his hit TV show, Person of Interest, and has done a ton of independent films like this one. As the father, trying to escape a dark past, Caviezel is amazing as the simple father, turned action star, once his family is threatened. Also of note is his older son, played by Sterling Knight. Knight is a blond haired, blue eyed, Disney star known best for his role in 17 Again. To see this tween idol playing a angst filled teen, smoking pot, dropping F bombs, and shooting shot guns, really did give me quite a good laugh. Transit is your typical action chase film, with two exceptions, one, a very interesting back story, and two a top star, who seems to enjoy staying below the grid in Hollywood. It's not much different from all the other Action films you've seen, but it has it's moments, and it was definitely fun to watch.

Faster (2010)

Starring: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson & Billy Bob Thornton
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Revenge thrillers are my favorite type of action film. They are intense, fast pace, and have you rooting for the bad guy, who may not be so bad after all. My favorite revenge thriller is Payback with Mel Gibson, but Faster may be a close second. The Rock stars in a role that is absolutely perfect for him. The unnamed man was set-up for a crime his brother committed, a crime, that saw his partners turn on him and kill him. Now after nearly a decade in jail, The Rock is out and seeking revenge. With his size, intimidation, and weird eye brows, The Rock finds out who his brother was working with and goes on the hunt. Realizing this, the man who set everything up, hires a hit-man to stop him, and the chase is on. I do believe that wrestlers can be great action stars, but The Rock never really did anything for me until now. This cold, calculating man, out for revenge is by far better than any character he's ever played. If The Rock was alone in this film, it wouldn't have been as great as it was. He is paired with Billy Bob Thornton, playing a washed up, alcoholic cop, who is days away from retirement. He really doesn't need or want this case, but winds up stuck in the middle with some pretty funny moments. Thornton is one of those guys who is good in anything and always brings his unique and dry brand of humor to every role. The pairing of the two, in an intense, fast paced, story make this film an absolutely must see movie that shouldn't be missed.

Along Came A Spider

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, & Anton Yelchin
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Long before Tyler Perry turned Alex Cross into an action star, the all-star detective was portrayed correctly by the legendary Morgan Freeman. While the first film, Kiss The Girls, was a huge success, it's sequel, Along Came A Spider was a bust, once again due to the fact that the strengths of the character were not utilized properly. The character of Alex Cross was created by Author, James Patterson, and has been responsible for over 20 best selling novels, because he's unlike any other cop in any other mystery series. Cross is a psychologist first, who gets inside the heads of killers. Once he knows what they're thinking and why they're acting the way they are, Cross is usually able to capture them. These stories make for terrific novels, but when transferred to the screen, producers felt that they lack the action movie goers crave. Despite a successful first appearance on screen, the producers felt that with more action and bullets, the sequel would do even better, they were wrong. When a Senator's daughter is abducted from an upscale private school, detectives are at a loss, but call Cross in when evidence and a ransom demand turn up at his house. Cross believes the criminal is using his admiration to cover up the real motives for this crime, and he needs to play into that role, in order to determine what those motives are. This was a terrific novel, but wasn't right for the screen, so much of the story was cut and replaced by the manhunt and police chases. These elements make for a more intense film, but don't do justice to the story. Alex Cross and his abilities are the story and are what make the series unique. Morgan Freeman returned hesitantly to do the sequel and he was right when he said he shouldn't have done it, mainly because it takes away from the brilliance of the first film. The producers of this movie even managed to screw up a terrific surprise ending and that really says it all. Along Came A Spider is not a bad film, it certainly has it's movements and a legendary star, but if you're a fan of the Alex Cross novels, expect to be disappointed.