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.

Early Edition

Starring: Kyle Chandler, Shanesia Davis-Williams, Fisher Stevens, Billie Worley, Kristy Swanson, & Myles Jeffery

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Long before Person of Interest topped the ratings, there was a show with a similar premise. It was nothing as sophisticated as Harold's machine, and was constantly facing cancellation, but it too predicted and tried to prevent future crimes.

Gary Hobson (Kyle Chandler) is an ordinary guy who is down on his luck, when he mysteriously starts receiving a copy of tomorrows newspaper at his door. His best friend, Chuck (Fisher Stevens), wants to use the information to get rich, but Gary has other plans. He wants to use the information to stop crimes from being committed and enters a world he is not at all prepared for.

The show is similar to Person of Interest, but didn't do nearly as well, because the whole thing is hokey. The show is rarely serious and full of very amateurish jokes. Kyle Chandler play a pretty interesting guy, but he's the only believable character. His best friend is an ass, who would be in jail, and his partner is a blind woman. Not to mention there is some weird angle with the stray cat Gary adopts, that doesn't make much sense.

The whole stopping crimes before they happen came about in Minority Report and garnered major success for shows like Person of Interest, but it may have gotten it's start with Early Edition, a show with a terrific premise, that was unfortunately barely watchable.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Remakes & Sequels: 2016

Many moviegoers believe that sequels ruin the original film and that remakes don't do the original films justice, however remakes and sequels are often times the highest money makers of the year. While most aren't recognized by the academy and are panned by the majority of critics, people still flock to the theaters every year to see the characters they know and love.

The Ultimate Movie Review would like to give special thanks to our friends for helping us with this years list!

Upcoming Sequels Expected In Theaters During 2016: 
Alice Through The Looking Glass (Alice In Wonderland)
 Allegiant (Divergent Series)
Amityville: The Awakening
Bad Santa 2
Barber Shop 2: The Next Cut
 Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
 Bridget Jones's Baby
Bourne 5 
Captain America 3: Civil War
The Conjuring 2
 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: Sword of Destiny
Everybody Wants Some (Dazed & Confused)
Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them (Harry Potter Prequel)
Finding Dory
God's Not Dead 2
The Huntsman 2: Winter's War
Ice Age 5: Collision Course 
Independence Day 2: Resurgence
Inferno (The Da Vinci Code)
Ip Man 3
Jack Reacher 2: Never Go Back
John Wick 2
Kung Fu Panda 3
Mechanic 2: Resurrection
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
Now You See Me: The Second Act
Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) 
London Has Fallen (Olympus Has Fallen 2)
Ouija 2
The Purge 3
Ride Along 2
Rings (The Ring 3)
Star Trek: Beyond
The Strangers 2
Super Troopers 2
TMNT 2: Out of The Shadows
Underworld 5
X-Men: Apocalypse
Zoolander 2
Upcoming Remakes Expected In Theaters During 2016
Ben Hur
Cabin Fever
Dad's Army
Going In Style 
The Jungle Book
 The Legend of Tarzan
The Magnificent Seven
Pete's Dragon 
Sleepless Night

Person of Interest

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Chapman, Amy Acker, & Sarah Shahi

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Imagine for a second that there was a show, created by Jonathan Nolan of the Dark Knight Trilogy, Produced by J.J. Abrams, and starring three Emmy award winners, and an Academy Award nominee. Do you think that show would be the number one show on television? In fact, it is, since it's 2011 debut, Person of Interest hasn't finished lower than 25th in the Nielsen Ratings and has won more awards in five years, than other shows have in twenty. 

So, you're the person who hasn't seen it yet? Here's what it's about...

Reclusive billionaire, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), has build a machine, one that sees every camera, listens to every phone call, and reads everything you post of the net. He designed the machine to fight terrorism, but the machine sees everything, including threats to every day people. The government considers these person to person crimes, irrelevant, but how can Harold? Unable to live with the foreknowledge of these crimes, Howard has put together a team of two New York City Detectives and two former CIA operatives to stop the treats against ordinary people.

When the show first started, it was purely episonic, but just like Harold's machine, the show has evolved to take on more complex and continuous story lines. Action superstar, Jim Caviezel, best known for his Academy nominated performance in The Passion stars, and he is honestly better than any other action star I've ever seen on TV. Usually these guys are big and good looking, but not very bright or talented. Caviezel is different though, as he brings together the style of James Bond, with the moves of Jackie Chan, and the wit of Sherlock Holmes, to create the ultimate crime fighter, John Reese.

Caviezel is paired with Michael Emerson, best known as Ben, the leader of the others on Lost. This guy is so mysterious and intense, that it's almost as if he was created in a lab, by J.J. Abrams, just to star in his shows.

Person of Interest gives you something different and something exciting with every episode. The writing is phenomenal, and the characters are as complex as I've ever seen in any TV show. The rumor is that this fantastic cast is getting to be too expensive, and the writers are running out of ideas. For that reason, season five has been cut to just thirteen episodes, and there is speculation that it may end after that. I really hope that is not the case, because this show is a constantly refreshing source of hours of quality entertainment. Every episode is a mystery, a twist, a flashback, and reeks of J.J. Abrams influence, for that I have to label Person of Interest as a must see TV show!

Rob The Mob

Starring: Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Ray Romano, & Andy Garcia
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

1992, small time thugs Thomas and Rosie Uva are tired of knocking over convience stores for peanuts, so one night they come up with an idea, a crazy idea. While scouting locations, Thomas accidentally stumbled upon a mafia owned bar and realized, there's a whole lot of money there and not much protection. For the next year, the duo ripped off the mob without consequence, until they took something that made them both the biggest targets in New York. This is another unbelievably true story, that has been brought to the big screen and the public eye, because of our on-going fascination with organized crime. Mafia movies do so well at the box office, that writers are scrambling to find any story they can turn into a film and it's the audience that has benefited the most. Some people say these movies glorify crime, and maybe they do, but to me, anything Mafia related is just fascinating. Watching these films and hearing these stories, you think how could that have happened? Then you go to Wikipedia and find out it's all true! Rob The Mob is the latest in a bunch of these little known Mafia stories to hit the big screen and it does not disappoint. Who plays a Mafia don better than Andy Garcia? Add to that the intense, Michael Pitt, straight off a successful run in Boardwalk Empire, and you have the makings of a terrific cast. The bottom line, Rob The Mob isn't Goodfellas, but it's a hell of a story, with a cast that's experienced in these types of films. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a Mafia movie, but if your like me, that doesn't matter much, it's the story and personalities that you're really interested in.

Hot Fuzz

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, & Paddy Considine
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The comedic duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are changing the way people view British comedy. For decades, the Brits have been far behind us, featuring the dry, the peculiar, the tedious, and worst of all, Monty Python. Ten years ago, I wouldn't see a British comedy if you paid me, but now, all I need is to see this duo involved and I'm there! Hot Fuzz was the duos follow up to the wildly successful Shaun of The Dead, and while it doesn't compare to that film, it is still a really funny movie. The film features Simon Pegg as London's toughest cop, who is unwillingly transferred to a small town in the country. Paired with an idiot, he's about to die of boredom, and starts looking into the towns history of mysterious accidents, only to discover a pattern. Once Pegg has the scent, he's on the trail of a long running town secret, one that is ridiculous yet hilarious. Unlike Shaun of The Dead, the story here isn't as cut and dry. It requires some background and does take quite a while to get going. Unlike any of their other films, previously or since, the duo decided to pack all the fun into the last half hour of the film. Hot Fuzz certainly has it's moments, but it's the last half hour that makes it a classic. Simon Pegg plays the serious one for a change, leaving much of the laughs up to Nick Frost who certainly doesn't disappoint. Personally, I prefer Pegg over Frost and would have liked to see his character loosen up a little bit, but it doesn't really take anything away from the story. The first half hour of this film, you're going to think I'm crazy, but by the last half hour, you'll be thanking me for recommending you see this film. It is a must for fans of buddy comedies and it just might force you to watch Shaun of The Dead again.

Time Lapse (2015)

Starring: Matthew O'Leary, Danielle Panabaker, & George Finn
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

How well do you really know your neighbors? When Callie and Finn's elderly neighbor passes away, they are left to clean out his apartment and what they find is more than a little disturbing. Next to some strange device is a wall with thousands of pictures of them! At first they think the man was just a pervert, until the next day when they realize the machine is a camera that is taking a picture of their apartment, 24 hours into the future. With the help of their friend, Jasper, the couple decides to use the technology to get rich, but it doesn't take long for the local criminal element to realize what's going on, and try to take a piece of it. Most writer/directors don't hit a homerun their first time out, but in this case, with the help of a young up and coming cast, that's exactly what Bradley King did. This film is very engaging and has you on the edge of your seat, combined with an utterly shocking ending, this is the kind of film that you will still be thinking about days later. It's amazing to me that something of this quality was never released in theaters, but it is just as good, if not better than any thing you'll see on the big screen. The one drawback is that it does take a little while to get moving, hence the bad reviews from people who can't give a film more than twenty minutes, but once it gets started, Time Lapse quickly grabs hold and never lets go. It is refreshingly original and has a young cast that is every bit as intense as the film itself.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Seconds Apart

Starring: Edmund Entin, Gary Entin, & Orlando Jones
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

After Dark Originals are known for being extreme horror films for the true horror aficionado. Most of these films have been as advertised, but no one has a hundred percent success rate. Seconds Apart follows Seth and Jonah, two nerdy twins, with extreme twin powers, mainly telepathy. They have fun pulling pranks and using it against the people they perceive to have wronged them, leaving them in a world all their own, but that all changes when a girl gets in the middle of things. The inherit problem with this film, is that these twins aren't creepy at all. Casting decided to go with looks over horror and these two look like they should be on magazines, like they would never have problems with bullies or girls, and as for psychotic killers with superpowers go, these two are so mild-mannered, that it made the story completely unbelievable. When you add to that the fact that Orlando Jones is the investigating detective at this upscale religious school, cracking jokes that no one gets, the film itself becomes the horror show. The story itself wasn't terrible, but the problem here is one we see all too often, the casting. These twins may be good for the Disney channel, but they aren't cut out to be psychopaths. I just found the whole film to be full of cliche's and very poorly done.

Kill The Irishman

Starring: Ray Stevenson, Vincent D'Onofrio, & Val Kilmer
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

With the popularity and success of mafia films, lesser known, true stories have to come to light, and I tend to enjoy them the most. Everybody knows about Gotti, Capone, and Bulger, but how many people know about Danny Greene? Greene was a simple factory worker in Cleveland, Ohio, who was upset by how mob corruption had taken over every major industry in the city. Greene wanted to fight back, but no one successfully takes on the mob, so Greene decided to hit them where it hurt. Greene started his own crew and slowly started to take over their businesses. For nearly a decade, the mob tried and failed to assassinate Greene, making him a modern day Bravehart in the hearts and minds of the citizens of Cleveland. Ray Stevenson, always "that other guy", stars in this film, and he was truly outstanding. People who knew Greene say Stevenson's performance was spot on and that really adds to the excitement surrounding this film. Kill The Irishman isn't without it's problems however, as with most mafia related films, it moves incredibly fast. It's hard to keep track of the timeline and as always, people come and go so quickly, that it's hard to keep track of who is who. Beyond that, this film focuses on the violence and assassination attempts surrounding Greene, rather than simply telling his story. The bottom line, Kill The Irishman is certainly not Goodfellas, but it was still extremely entertaining, and offers viewers a story about the mafia, that most wise guys would prefer to forget.

The Philadelphia Experiment (2012)

Starring: Nicolas Lea, Emily Ullerup, & Malcolm McDowell
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Some films just shouldn't be re-made, however Hollywood seldom agrees with that statement. In the case of the Philadelphia Experiment, there was oddly a consensus not to remake it. For almost a decade, people tried and failed to get it done. After almost every star and major film company rejected them, the re-make came out in 2012, as a direct-to-video feature, with a much smaller budget and a cast that just left people scratching their heads. For those unfamiliar with the story, The Philadelphia Experiment was a military operation, intended to transport matter, much in the same way as they do on Star Trek. It was first attempted in the 1940s and failed, as a ship was lost with all hands on board. In 1984, a private contractor attempts to revive the project and the ship, with one surviving crewman, miraculously returned. I always found this to be a clever story and I enjoyed the original, but to do a b-movie remake of the film was just ridiculous. For starters, the special effects in this film were worse than the ones they had in 1984, and they couldn't get anyone to star in this thing. Aside from Malcolm McDowell, who I'm convinced will do anything for a check, the cast is nothing more than a bunch of TV show extras, literally. Nicolas Lea, surprisingly does a very good job with the lead role, but what's one good performance, when combined with an inexperienced cast and no budget? For what it was, the re-make of the Philadelphia Experiment wasn't as bad as it could have been, mainly due to Nicolas Lea, but it certainly fails to live up to the original in every way possible.

The Fall

Starring: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, Laura Donnelly, Bronagh Waugh, Ben Peel, Michael McElhatton, Frank McCusker, Niamh McGrady, John Lynch, & Archie Panjabi

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

For all the amazing new programming Netflix originals has brought us, it has also strung along a whole list of shows that weren't good enough to be picked up by cable, The Fall is one such show. It may sound ridiculous to say that a six episode season felt too long, but when it came to this show, that was certainly the case.

In Belfast, there has been a string of murders that the police are unequipped to handle, so they called in one of Scotland Yards top investigators to help solve the crime. The description of the show could lead one to assume that this would be a great murder mystery series, and it might have been, if not for the fact that the show parallels the investigation with the killers life. There is no mystery here, other than how something like this was turned into a series. The Fall has maybe enough content for a movie, and even then it wouldn't be a very good one.

X-Files star Gillian Anderson stars in a role that is completely unbelievable for her. First we are to believe, that because she has red hair and freckles, that she is from Ireland, when her ridiculous attempt at an accent says otherwise. Beyond that, she plays this icy cold, promiscuous woman, who makes a hell of a lot of mistakes for a woman whose supposed to be the best Scotland Yard has too offer.  

As for the first season, it's only six episodes, but it felt more like six days, as it moves at a snails pace. British Dramas are almost always dry, but this series takes the cake, not only is it as slow as can be, but there is very little action and absolutely no attempts at humor to break up the monotony. 

The Fall is painfully straight-forward, slow moving, and it leaves nothing to the imagination. Unfortunately, once you start the series, it's like a car crash, it's horrible, but hard to look away. I wanted to like this show, so I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing does, it just builds to a anti-climatic cliffhanger, that leads us into season two, which I wanted absolutely no part of.

The name Gillian Anderson may peak the interest of my fellow science fiction aficionados, and if you ask Netflix, they'll tell you it's the greatest mystery of all time, but the only mystery to me, is why I continued to watch this show after the first episode.