Thursday, February 18, 2016


Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, & Ed Skrein
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Deadpool is the most anticipated Marvel movie since the Avengers and for good reason. If you are unfamiliar with the character, Deadpool is the outcast of the superhero world. He's got the moves and the abilities, but rarely does or says the right thing, for that matter, he doesn't get along much with anyone either. Ryan Reynolds stars as the not so super hero, and he is literally perfect for the role, it's as if the comic book was written last week with Reynolds specifically in mind, it was that great of a match. There is certainly a ton of hype around the character, the actor, and where it may eventually lead, but the truth is that the story really isn't anything special. I assume the film is meant to be about the character and how funny he is, making the story an after thought, but how can that be in a major motion picture? The film is your typical, guy falls in love, loses his girl because of a bad guy, and then goes looking for revenge, a common theme in every Marvel film. There is nothing different, exciting, or shocking about the story. For the purposes of Deadpool, it's all about the character. He curses, he kills, he makes fun of other Marvel films, and yes he's very funny, but to me, it was also a bit over the top. Since being acquired by Disney, Marvel is trying more and more to appeal to adult audiences and wants to show that its films can be just as bloody and crude as anybody elses, point made. The first time I watched Deadpool, I thought it was a weak story and a little over the top, but the second time I saw it, I thought it was a weak story and really over the top. The bottom line, the character is great, Ryan Reynolds is amazing, there are some great one-liners and laugh out loud moments, but as far as the story goes, it leaves a lot to be desired, as it was predictable, weak, and has been done time and time again.

Dirty Grandpa

Starring: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, & Zoey Deutch
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Upon reading other reviews for this film, I've seen people say things like, "has Robert De Niro lost his mind?" and "you know you're pretty desperate for work when you start ripping off Johnny Knoxville." It is for this reason, that people are staying away from this film, and they are making a big mistake, here's why. At 73, with over one hundred films under his belt, is it really that surprising that Robert De Niro is bored and looking to try something new? In reviewing his credits, he's never been in what one would call a raunchy comedy, and for what it's worth, he was outstanding. De Niro plays a man who has just lost his wife of fifty year, and is looking to reconnect with his Grandson, and of course get laid. After tricking his Grandson into taking him to Florida, the two wind up at Spring Break in South Beach, where the hilarity begins. De Niro's grandson is played by Zac Efron, who took a while to lose the teen idol label and find his niche as the awkward, but lovable guy in these extreme comedies. Their two characters are so different, that just bringing the personalities together is enough to make things funny, but when you throw them into ridiculous situations together the laughter is off the charts. Personally, I am someone who has found some of the most classic comedies of all time to be a waste of time. Humor is something I enjoy, but not something that I understand easily, and I found Dirty Grandpa to be one of the funniest films, I've ever seen. You will not believe just how raunchy it gets or the lengths De Niro is prepared to go to in order to get some good laughs at his age. I too was thinking this film would be "okay" at best, but I was wrong, and so are my fellow critics. Dirty Grandpa is hysterical and those who are avoiding it due to bad reviews and similarities to other films, are really missing out.

The 24th Day

Starring: Scott Speedman & James Marsden
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Tom (Scott Speedman) is a married man and expected father, who has just found out that he is HIV positive. He's not a promiscuous guy, and traces it back to a one night stand, he had years back with a man. Tom's not gay, but like many, he was curious and thanks to too much alcohol, let it go too far. Seething with anger and thinking about revenge, Tom starts scouting local gay bars until he finds Dan (James Marsden). As soon as he sees him, Tom starts flirting and convinces Dan to go home with him, where Tom ties him to a chair and tells him they've met before. After obtaining a blood sample, Tom lets Dan know that when that test comes back, if Dan is positive also, he's going to die. The film is based on an award winning play and I venture to say as a play, this would have been terrific. On the big screen however, the same raw emotion isn't as evident and the story doesn't have much in the way of variety. The 24th Day is very narrowly focused, and after it's initial abduction and reveal, it becomes quite boring, as both the men and the audience prepare for the ending. In transferring this story to film, I feel as though something more should have been added to story. Maybe some flashbacks or an unintended visitor, just something to break up the monotony. Both Scott Speedman and James Marsden are very good in their respect roles and I really enjoyed both the beginning and end of this film, unfortunately the middle is somewhat boring and takes away from an otherwise original and outstanding story.

Revenge For Jolly!

Starring: Brian Petsos, Oscar Issac, Kristen Wiig, & Elijah Wood
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Harry (Brian Petsos) is an alcoholic, a degenerate gambler, and just an overall miserable person, but one thing does make him feel a little better, his chihuahua, Jolly. While Harry is out, a bad man comes looking for him, and when he doesn't find him, he leaves a warning, and hangs Jolly from the ceiling. Upon returning home, Harry finds Jolly and loses it before meeting up with his cousin Cecil (Oscar Issac). Together, they go on an alcohol fueled revenge trip. At first I thought this was supposed to be some kind of farce on Tarentino films, but soon realized it's not sophisticated enough for that. These two guys are drunk the whole film and I suppose their bumbling actions are supposed to be funny, but they are far from it. The Producers must have known this and that's why bigger names have cameos in just about every scene. No one can believe this is all over a dog, what I can't believe is that the two leads weren't re-cast after the first day of filming. I really am at a lose to think of a comedy that was less funny than this. I gave it one star, because of the appearance by Elijah Wood, which was absolutely the only reason anyone should even think about seeing this piece of trash. Other than that, Revenge For Jolly! is just another independent comedy, that falls flat on it's face.

The Hole (2009)

Starring: Chris Massoglia, Nathan Gamble, & Haley Bennett
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Kids get a bad rap in films. It is assumed because of their age and lack of experience, that they are less talented than adult actors. While in many cases this is true, it is not the rule. Some people I spoke to, immediately had no interest in The Hole, because of it's young cast. Right away they were saying this is going to be a rip off of Goosebumps and didn't even give it a chance. The film may not have been the scariest film I've ever seen, but it had a great backstory, a lot of suspense, and some very talented young actors. Those kids play Dane and Lucas, who are forced to move from the city to the country, to hide from an abusive father. The boys are miserable and decide to explore the old house the family has rented. What they find is a giant hole in the basement, with seemingly no bottom. As they continue to be fascinated by the hole, things in this small town, and especially in this old house just continue to get stranger and stranger, leading to a tremendous ending that will teach the boys, that sometimes the only thing you can do is face your fears. The star of this film is Nathan Gamble, who has done a lot for someone so young. I've seen him in a bunch of things and weather he's playing Commissioner Gordon's son in The Dark Knight, or the young activist in Dolphin's Tale, Gamble just has this way of always pulling at the audiences heart strings. Once again he's this cute, innocent kid, who's been traumatized by years of abuse, yet he still manages to face his fears, unleashed by the hole. I've seen plenty of films where kids in this situation just run away and hide, but that's not his style, and that's part of why this movie isn't a Goosebumps story. The bottom line, I think The Hole will appeal to Science Fiction fans more than Horror fans, despite the fact that it's labelled as Horror. The young cast is refreshingly energetic, curious, and eager, all things that will become contagious, and make the Hole, a much better film than you think it's going to be.

Circle (2015)

Starring: Julie Benz, Mercy Malick, & Carter Jenkins
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Science Fiction offers fans the chance to explore new worlds and possibilities, that they couldn't possibly imagine. In most cases, this is a good thing, but in others, viewers are simply left pondering. Pondering why anyone would think of something like this or how a film like this could be made. Circle is one of these films, which simply has no point, other than to frustrate viewers. I say this, because as soon as you start watching, you know that what you are watching is terrible, but you still feel obligated to find out what's going to happen at the very end. The film starts in a dark room, with one hundred people standing in red circles. If they try to move, a beam of light kills them, and every two minutes a beam of light kills someone else. The people figure out, rather quickly, that they are subconsciously deciding who the next one to go is, and then spend ninety minutes debating who should live, who should die, and why they are in a position to decide. The whole thing is really without rhyme or reason. There are literally no special effects or anything besides this little room, so the cast is huge. Everyone has their fifteen minutes of airtime and their own say, but in the end, what really mattered and what was it all about? I'm not going to tell you, but the end result of this twisted games, isn't worth the ninety minutes of your life that you will never get back.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Dumb & Dumber To

Starring: Jim Carrey & Jeff Daniels
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After twenty long years, Harry and Lloyd are back AND... most people didn't care. Despite the success of the first film, the Farrelly's waited far too long to bring the pair back. Everyone who grew up watching the first film are adults now, and the demographic they were going for with a PG-13 rating, has no idea who Harry and Lloyd are, hence the disappointing numbers at the box office. In this long awaited sequel, Harry (Jeff Daniels) is in need of a kidney and finds out that his only living relative is a daughter he never knew about. That's all it take to get Harry and Lloyd back on the road for more antics AND... they tried too hard. The original film was legitimately laugh out loud funny, while it's sequel may lead to a snicker or two. The beauty of the original is that it was so simple and so stupid that you couldn't help but laugh. The new one is full of long running pranks, modern slang the pair don't understand, and just obvious jokes. There's absolutely no spontaneity, like when Harry chucks the salt over his shoulder or Lloyd puts laxative in Harry's tea. That's not the only issue here, as the bad guys are kind of the biggest joke in the movie and Lloyd finally crosses the line from cute to creepy. The bottom line, I loved seeing Carrey and Daniels together again and I enjoyed the parallels to the first film, but aside from a few misunderstandings and a line here or there, this film isn't even close to being the film fans waited twenty years to see.

Born Bad (2011)

Starring: Michael Welch, Meredith Monroe, & Bonnie Dennison
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Since his childhood, I've seen Michael Welch appear in everything from American Son to Z Nation, and all that falls in between. This guy seems to be in everything, but it wasn't until I saw Born Bad, that I realized he's more than just some geeky guy in the background, he's got some real talent, playing every woman's worst nightmare. Brooke (Bonnie Dennison) is a rebellious teen, who is looking for love, and is immediately drawn to the older Denny (Michael Welch). At first he seems like the perfect boyfriend, but little did she know, he's actually a psychopath. To me films like this are scarier than any horror movie, because what's more likely to happen, a zombie apocalypse or coming across someone who isn't what the appear to be? As I said, Michael Welch was scary good in this film, portraying a man with two faces. On the surface, he's this really nice guy, but underneath, he is pure evil. Watching Welch balance the two and try to keep the real him at bay was really something to see. As far as the rest of the film, it's what you would expect, there isn't too much of a story here and little to no surprises, other than Michael Welch, who makes this film more than just something you'd turn off after ten minutes.

Mission: Impossible II

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, & Thandie  Newton
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Well, I just reviewed the first one, so you had to know the second one was sure to follow. That is the draw of these films, every one likes them for different reasons, and as soon as you watch one, you want to see them all. Despite the old line about sequels, personally, I liked this one a lot better than the first. The story line was much closer to what I expected to see from this franchise, and this time, John Woo was Directing. I generally don't care for his writing, but when it comes to Directing action films, he's one of the best. In the second installment of Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is after a former agent, but not quite sure about what he's planning to do. As he follows the trail, Ethan learns the man has developed a deadly virus, and Ethan's mission, should he choose to accept it, is to save the day. Tom Cruise is his usual self and the action sequences are textbook John Woo, so why is this rated 3 1/2 stars you may ask? The answer is the storyline, because in a film like this, where it's all about special effects and hot bodies, the only thing that makes it different from a million other pictures is the story, and this one hits the nail on the head.

Star Trek: Enterprise

Starring: Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Jolene Blalock, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park, & Connor Trinneer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Out of all the Star Trek series and films, Enterprise is easily the most overlooked, and was the only one since the original to be cancelled. This isn't because it wasn't as good as the rest, but simply the way it was marketed. The show is in fact a prequel to Kirk's Enterprise, and does take place before the Federation, but what the show lacks in technology, is more than made up for with realism and some of the best character development in the Star Trek franchise.

100 years after Zefren Cochrane's warp flight, the human race has had enough of Vulcans holding them back, and have created the first warp five star ship in human history. Over the Vulcan's objections, Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the son of the engines designer, has been selected to Captain the ship and explore a galaxy that humans know very little about.

This show is extremely important to the franchise and all Trekkies, as it not only shows humanities first trip out of our solar system and first contact with all the races we've come to know over the years, but the show fills in a lot of the gaps from all the other series and films! Enterprise explores the origins of Data's creator, the Eugenic Wars (which created Khan), the development of many protocols and much of the tech we see on future ships, but most important of all the series shows how the foundation for the Federation and the creation of star fleet all came together.

Enterprise was also unique for it's character development and realism, in that it takes place in the not to distant future. We get to know the crew intimately, from their fears to their families, and we see them doing and discussing things never before seen in Star Trek. The Enterprise crew has a classic movie night, watches sports on TV, has pets, and they even talk about sex. 

The cast is lead by Scott Bakula, which was another great move by producers. Casting a veteran science fiction actor, whose been in long running series, automatically gives him that air of experience and authority that Picard had. He's also a younger man, so with no federation policies in place yet, Archer can be just as much of a risk taker as Kirk was, even more so.

Star Trek Enterprise was extremely enjoyable, and a series people could relate to more than any other in the Star Trek franchise. The show isn't simply about the future and the Federation, it's about what it means to be human and how that compares to other species. It shows what we need to do in order to get along with and understand other cultures, but most of all it fills in so many holes from previous films and episodes, that it truly was the missing link.

Unfortunately for Star Trek fans, the show barely made a hundred episodes, because it was on a dying network, that folded shortly after the show was cancelled, screwing us trekkies out of three more seasons. As with all the previous series, the story has been continued in books, but in this case, the books were written by the main writers of the series, and do encompass everything that would have happened in seasons five, six, and seven.