Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, & Simon Pegg
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Believe it or not, until now I have never seen a Mission Impossible film. While I love action films, the premise just never appealed to me, but when I heard Christopher McQuarrie would be Directing this latest one, I had to see it. McQuarrie, the brains behind Persons Unknown, always tells imaginative stories, that while aren't that believable, are still extremely entertaining. In the fifth installment of Mission Impossible, the franchise is anything but stale as it is every bit as fast paced and extreme as I thought. I was expecting the action and for Tom Cruise to play his usually arrogant self, but what I wasn't expect was just how intense and in depth the story was. There is also the villain to consider, who was so much better than I hoped he'd be. I had always thought of Mission Impossible as sort of a mix between Get Smart and James Bond, and was presently surprised to learn that I was way off base. Rogue Nation is actually a very clever story, that isn't is as comical or as over the top with espionage as I thought it would be. In fact, the only thing that really was what I expected was Tom Cruise. While he's not my favorite actor, he's not a bad one either, I just never liked the fact that every character he plays is just so full of themselves. No matter the situation, Ethan Hunt was always so sure he had all the answers and knew exactly what to do, and even when he was wrong it didn't deter him from getting right back into it. Rogue Nation taught me a lesson I never seem to get, in that you really can't judge a book by it's cover. Certain stories may appear to be one thing, but you can never know for sure unless you sit down and watch them.

Blade Runner

Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, & Sean Young
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Blade Runner is widely considered to be the best Science Fiction movie ever made. It is on almost every top 100 list, and that's why I am reviewing it. To tell you why it is one of the most overrated films of all time. Science Fiction is my favorite genre, and the author of Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick is one of my favorite authors, but Blade Runner is far from his best work. I would go as far as saying that Blade Runner isn't even in his top ten, and if it wasn't for Ridley Scott, it wouldn't have been the first film adaptation of Dick's work. At the time, the special effects were innovative and exciting, but they fail to live up to today's standards. With that being said, all that's left over is a simple story that follows a futuristic police chase and a very cheesy, awkward, love story. In a futuristic Los Angeles, android technology has been perfected. These replicants are used for labor an odd jobs, but occasionally, they become aware and try to run for their freedom. That is when the blade runners are called in to eliminate them. The best Blade Runner around is Deckard (Harrison Ford), a man who doesn't love his job, but always gives one hundred and ten percent. After three replicants escape from the moon, Deckard is called in to track them down and this is the whole premise of the movie. There isn't much of a side story and the rare breaks in the action, rarely prove to be substantive. The film is just you're typical chase with some very weird elements. For example, why does Rutger Hauer take off all his cloths before he fights Harrison Ford, and for that matter, what the hell is he talking about the whole time? How about the talking toys, can you tell me they weren't just a bit creepy and out of character for the rest of the film? Finally, we're in Los Angeles, why is everything Chinese? The story is just a very strange chase through a futuristic nightmare scenario for Los Angeles. Yes, Harrison Ford was terrific, and yes, it must of been the hardest thing Ridley Scott ever had to direct, but the film and story itself are very simplistic and certainly not worthy of legendary status. I love Philip K. Dick and I am obsessed with Science Fiction, but watching Blade Runner for the third time, I was still just as bored and confused as I was the other two times I saw it. How can anything that makes a person feel that way be considered legendary?

Reservoir Dogs

Starring: Harvey Kaitel, Tim Roth, & Steve Buscemi
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Reservoir Dogs is the debut film from legendary Director, Quinton Tarantino, and that's why it's taken me such a long time to see it. Most Directors, even the great ones, aren't always successful right out of the gate. In fact, it's a very rare thing to accomplish, but I should have known that if anyone could do it, Tarantino could. In his signature style, Tarantino heavily uses flashbacks to piece together an amazing story of a heist gone bad. The score of a lifetime is at Joe Cabot's fingertips, so he puts together a crew of six of the best criminals his city has to offer. To make sure nothing goes wrong, everyone remains anonymous and is given a nicknames. Right from the start of the film, we know that something has gone terribly wrong, but what happened? That we'll eventually find out in pieces, through flashbacks, in a style that is pure Tarantino. Even in his first film, you can see the style, classic lines, and intriguing that made Tarantino the household name that he is. Aside from flashbacks, the other thing Tarantino is known for, is putting together unlikely casts, that turn out to be perfect for the roles they are in. Harvey Kaitel as Mr. White, may very well be the best of the lot. Kaitel is at the top of his game, and while older and unlikely to be the leader of the group, he turns out to be much more, including the star of this film. Reservoir Dogs is nearly twenty-five years old and it is still as exciting and relevant today as it was then. I never thought anything would ever come close to topping Pulp Fiction as my favorite Tarantino film, but Reservoir Dogs certainly makes a compelling argument for the top spot on that list.

Would You Rather

Starring: Brittany Snow, Jeffrey Combs, & Jonathan Coyne
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A really good independent Horror film is worth it's weight in gold. Finding that diamond in the rough makes the hours of sitting through low budget garbage, well worth it. For me, Would You Rather is that diamond, as it is one of the most imaginative Horror films to come along in years. Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) is an eccentric millionaire, who wants to help people that are down on their luck, except there's a catch. With a large sum of money at stake, Lambrick invites several down on their luck people to his mansion, where they must play a game in order to win, a deviously twisted game. Would you rather stab yourself or a complete stranger? Would you rather take a razor blade to your eyeball or cut off your own finger? These are some of the challenges involved in this game, which sees the winner go home rich and the losers in worse shape then when they started. Jeffrey Combs of Star Trek fame stars and was absolutely the perfect choice to play the sadistic millionaire. In all his roles he has this crazy twisted side, behind the mask of a very likeable guy. In this film he is paired with the beautiful Brittany Snow, who is there to help her sick brother. As it turns out, she is the logical one, who tries to match wits with Lambrick, making for some terrific dialogue. Would You Rather is creepy and graphic, just when you think you have it all figured out, the story takes a twist, and you're back into the satanic paradise. This film is everything I look for in Horror and will definitely be included in my 2015 Halloween Horrorfest, and it should absolutely be considered for yours. 

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Starring: Steve Carrell, Jim Carrey, & Steve Buscemi
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

There is an old saying that says, "too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth". This is an apt metaphor to describe the Incredible Burt Wonderstone. While I'm not crazy about magicians, how could you not be excited for a comedy starting Steve Carrell and Jim Carrey? They are certainly two of the best comedic actors around and I hoped this film would be a can't miss, but it was far from it. In a parallel situation, Carrell and Carrey are trying to one up each other in the same way that Wonderstone and Gray are in the film. This results are a film that is sloppy and a complete waste of time and talent. The story takes place in Las Vegas, where for twenty years Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carrell) has been the only name in magic. One day a newbie appears on the scene, one with a TV show and a high risk element to his act. Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) makes Wonderstone appear old and outdated, inspiring Burt to up his game. This film simply wasn't funny at all, as the producers tried to pit David Copperfield against Criss Angel. It was an interesting idea for a film, just not a comedy, because magic simply isn't funny. Watching these guys share idiotic dialogue, while they perform stupid tricks, that nobody would want to see, isn't funny. There isn't much more to say other than this film was a complete bust, with almost no redeeming qualities what so ever. I am still in a state of shock, that a movie with so many comedic stars could turn out to be this bad, but it really does prove that too many cooks is never a good thing. I'm sure the cast all had their own ideas and all tried to interject their own unique styles into the film, but it simply didn't work.


Starring: Joe Anderson, Dawn Oliveri, & Danny Glover
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Some stories are so far fetched, that they couldn't possibly be anything but a true story. Supremacy is one of those films that is ripped from the headlines, telling the incredible true story of Garrett Tully, a white supremacist who was out of jail for less than twenty-four hours. Tully (Joe Anderson) was released on parole, after spending most of his life behind bars. He was on his way back to the white supremacist strong hold he called home, when he and his girlfriend are stopped by a policeman, a black policeman. It doesn't take long for Tully to jump out of the car and kill the officer, before going on the run. The pair makes their way to a suburban area, where they break into a house and take a black family hostage. Aside from the obvious tension of a hostage situation, there is also extreme racial tension, that makes the whole situation that much harder for the people involved. As events play out, something miraculous starts to occur as Tully, starts to sympathize with his hostages. Danny Glover stars as The homeowner, Mr. Walker, and was beyond phenomenal. Glover excels in films that involve race, because he has this quiet simple way about getting his message across. He's never over the top or in your face about it, he's just a simple man who states the truth, something most people easily relate to. Aside from Glover's performance and the obvious question about what's going to happen, this film was a dud. There is a lot of waiting around, racial slurs, and arguing before we get any answers we seek. Supremacy is basically a film you start to watch, and would like to turn off, but you can't until you find out what happens. My advice, Danny Glover has plenty of other similar significant roles under his belt, and you'd save a lot of time and frustration by simply googling Garrett Tully. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015


Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, & Evangeline Lilly
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

As the Marvel franchise has grown to epic proportions with it's unique and compelling take on superhero movies, some of the lesser known characters are starting to emerge and gain popularity, with Ant-Man possibly being the most unique of them all. I don't know how the story in the comic was, but I can tell you this, Ant-Man is the perfect character for the big screen. The special effects are nothing short of magic and take the concepts of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids to a whole other level. Scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) created a new technology, one that was so dangerous, he buried the research deep in his company archives, but when his successor comes across it years later, he develops it, despite warning from Pym. In order to stop this from getting out, Pym recruits an unlikely hero to help him, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Lang is one of the best burglars around and Pym hopes to use these unique skills to get back his work. The only thing is the company's lab is impenetrable to all, except bugs. Using his prototype, Lang becomes Ant-Man and that is when this film really gets fun. Paul Rudd is absolutely terrific in this movie, as a small, nerdy, awkward guy, he can be hysterical under the right circumstances and this was just the perfect role for his personality. Rudd is paired with Michael Douglas, who 10 years ago wouldn't have even considered doing a film like this, showing just how powerful and influential the Marvel brand has become. Out of all the Marvel films to date this is perhaps the most interesting one. The cast is amazing, the special effects are outstanding, and I may never see Thomas The Train in the same way again. If you're like me, and not crazy about superheroes, don't let that stop you from seeing this film. Ant-Man has a little bit of everything and goes way beyond anything I would have ever expected to see in film based on a comic book.

REVIEW #800!!!

Joe (2013)

Starring: Nicholas Cage & Tye Sheridan
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In this remake of a 1970 film by the same name, Nicholas Cage plays Joe, an ex-con and unlikely hero to a fifteen year old boy. The story is called Joe, and you'll figure out why by the end, but to be honest, I saw this film more as a coming of age story, with the majority of the focus on Gary (Tye Sheridan). Gary's family is difficult to say the least, both his parents are drug addicts, and it's up to him to earn a living to support his sister. One day while out in the woods, he comes across Joe, a man who owns a lumber company and persuades him to give him a job. Gary is a hard worker who comes to see his boss as more of a father figure than his own father, and when things get bad, he's turns to Joe for help. Joe is no saint though, as he has his own criminal past and is reluctant to get involved. This is one of these really dark, slow moving dramas, where everything may or may not be important to the story. The real action is spaced out, but when something happens, the intensity is off the charts. This film is very similar to, Winter's Bone, which also had a young lead trying to save her siblings. While Tye Sheridan is not Jennifer Lawrence, his more quiet demeanor makes him more likable in the eyes of the viewer. Sheridan is a kid who came out of nowhere to star in the independent film, Mud, and since then has become known for making these super dark, intense films, where he plays a quiet, reserved character that one can't help but root for. Nicholas Cage is equally as good in a role that is more dramatic than most of things he's done lately. That being said, Cage still has it and together with Sheridan make for one of the most interesting and unique films I've seen all year. The story and even the trailer seem to be a little dull, most people will look at this film and see it as too slow and dramatic, and at first, I thought so too, but as the film progresses it just gets better and better, ascending to the level of a must see movie.


Starring: Al Pacino, John Randolph, & Jack Kehoe
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

More than forty years after it was made, the name Serpico is still synonymous with heroism. The multiple award winner features arguably one of the most successful actors and directors to ever grace the silver screen, but was Frank Serpico really a hero? Frank Serpico (Al Pacino) wanted nothing more than to be a police officer in New York, but once he gets there, he finds that things aren't as he'd hoped. The department is full of corrupt cops, but Serpico wants no part of it. He has no intention of turning them in, but when he won't take the money, everyone just assumes he already did, making Frank a target that has to act in order to save his own life. At first this film seems like just another police tale, that's been blown way out of portion by Hollywood, so why is it considered one of the top 100 films ever made? The combination of Al Pacino's infectious personality and Sidney Lumet's methodical and innovative story telling. At the time Serpico was made, Al Pacino was the brightest star in Hollywood and for good reason, he just has a way of getting people behind whatever character and project he's associated with. As for Lumet, he is known as an innovative director for simply trying things that everyone had available to them. Lumet uses different angles and close ups to make things more intense and exciting, as well as methodically going deeper into the story. It's this combination that made Serpico much more than simply another cop movie and a film that should be seen by all movie lovers. 

Shameless (U.S.)

Starring: William H. Macy, Emily Rossum, Justin Chatwin, Cameron Monaghan, Jeremy White, Sanola Hampton, Steve Howey, Ethan Cutkosky, Emma Kenney, Laura Wiggins, Joan Cusack, & Noel Fisher

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Most of time, when people try to remake British television shows in the U.S., they don't work because of all the cultural difference. This has always been the case with two exceptions, The Office and Shameless. For those who think that Seinfeld is the only show about nothing, they've never seen Shameless. That show followed the day to day antics of four friends in New York City. This show follows the day to day antics of a deranged family living in Chicago.

In a Emmy winning role, William H. Macy stars as Frank Gallagher, an alcoholic man with six kids, who will do absolutely anything to get money without having to work for it. Frank's antics are really something to see, but as with most of the shows story lines, there is an underlying sadness to the whole thing. Deep down Frank cares deeply for his family and wants to change, but every time he appears to turn a corner, things just seem to get screwed up.

Frank's opposite is his daughter Fiona, played admirably by Emily Rossum. This being a comedy show and her not being very funny, has cost her the acclaim that Macy has received, but she is every bit as important to the story, as she's the one whose put her life on hold to raise her brothers and sisters.

The other stand out in the show is Cameron Monaghan, who on top of being part of a dysfunctional family, is also dealing with being a gay teenager in a traditional Irish family. He too has his funny moments, but is also the character, that most people can relate to on the show, not because he's gay, but rather he's in a place that he feels he doesn't really belong. He knows for as much as he loved, he will always be seen as different.

The lack of a solid story line most certainly effects the show, as most developments only last a couple of episode, but even after five seasons, the antics and scheming of the Gallagher family hasn't gotten old. For me one of the best parts about Shameless is seeing the characters develop and change over the years. When the show started, most of the cast were just kids, trying to find their way without any adult role models. They learn and grow as they go and to me that's more interesting and important than all the odd ball schemes and dirty words. 

Shameless is unique in that the focus, direction, and characters are always changing. This is great for fans who are into the show, but it also makes it very difficult for people who are trying to get into the story. With so many things happening in such a short period of time to nearly a dozen characters, it is almost impossible, to figure out what lead up to what your watching, if you haven't seen it from the beginning.

Overall this show is hilarious, but has an underlying sadness to it. Everyone can related to at least one character, and we all know at least one family that's forced to live this way. We feel for them, but at the same time we are laughing voraciously and are thoroughly entertained by the antics of the entire Gallagher family.