Monday, May 16, 2016

Pride & Glory

Starring: Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, & Jon Voight
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Ray Tierney (Edward Norton) comes from a family of cops, and was the best of the lot until an accident in the line of duty cut his career short. One night, after multiple officers are shot and killed, it becomes clear that there is a large corruption ring at work within the NYPD, and the brass turn to Ray to find out the truth, a truth that could lead him right back home. Edward Norton is truly a chameleon in that he can play absolutely any role and be believable. It doesn't matter if he's some computer geek or a tough as nails cop, he always does a great job and no matter what he's in, the film is always going to have an air of credibility for it. The rest of the cast, as well as the story are also pretty good, but this film isn't without it's problems. As with other films that have complex stories and large casts, the story moves so quickly and characters are introduced so fast, that it's difficult to keep track of what's going on and nearly impossible to remember who is who. The story is great and the main characters are well written, but there is so much going on, that it is very easy to get lost in all the side stories. The bottom line is that Pride and Glory would be better suited as a TV series than a movie, but then you wouldn't have the big named cast, and it probably wouldn't last four episodes. The actions scenes are great, the main characters are intense, and the story was terrific if not a bit more complicated than it needed to be.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., & Tom Holland
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

As someone who isn't crazy about superhero movies, I can't help but be impressed by Marvel, and just how far their stories and characters have progressed in such a short time. Arguably the best of those characters is Captain America, simply because he's the one character people are most likely to relate to. The Captain isn't a billionaire or a king, and he doesn't have super abilities from another planet, he's just this wholesome, level headed guy, who you can't help but like. In his third feature film, Captain America (Chris Evans) comes into conflict with other members of the Avengers, as following a tragedy, the world governments decide the Avengers shouldn't be free to do whatever they want anymore. Some of them agree, some of them don't, and that's where the split occurs, leading to one of the best fight scenes I have ever seen. When I saw the previews for this film, I couldn't understand why the story wasn't used for an Avengers film. Even while watching it, I noticed that much of the focus isn't solely on Captain America, and I became even more convinced. This film was not a true stand alone like we've seen in the past, and that's because I think it was more of a transitional project than anything else. Clearly it seems as though Marvel is putting Captain America on the shelf for a while and trying to draw our attention to the new Spider-man series, starring Tom Holland. I must admit, I have never really liked Spider-man. I always saw him as bland and weak compared to the rest of the Marvel universe, but Tom Holland changed my mind in this film. He was all personality, in a way that Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield couldn't even imagine. The charisma this good looking young actor puts out there should be enough to get anyone excited for the new series. As far as this film goes, the story was a bit complicated, and in my opinion there are far too many characters involved for this to be titled Captain America. In that sense I was disappointed, because I love the character, and was looking forward to another feature film about him. On the other hand, amazing new characters were added, a major story line was introduced into the Avengers genre, and I got to see the best action sequence I've ever seen, so while it wasn't what I expected, I still highly recommend seeing this film.


Ladies & Gentleman,

I must apologize for not being around much the last couple of months. I was suffering from a minor medical issue and then it was time for finals, but I finally finished! On May 6, 2016, I graduated with honors from LIU Post!

Which brings us back to business, I have been watching movies in my free time, and I've got a huge list of films I'm going to be reviewing in the foreseeable future. If I should ever be away again, the best place to go is our Facebook page.

The Ultimate Movie Review on Facebook has trailers, movie and television news, actor news & interviews, plus a whole lot more. No matter what I'm doing I always manage to share interesting content on the page at the link below.

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This week (5/9 - 5/15) on our Facebook page, I will be doing a Q & A! Simply like the page, inbox me any questions you have on any relevant topic, and I'll answer them in a post.

The following week (5/16 - 5/22) I'll be doing something I haven't done in two years and that's SEVEN reviews in SEVEN days, so you'll have a lot of new films to add to your queue.

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Criminal (2016)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, & Gary Oldman
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Twenty years ago, a similar film called Face Off debuted, and while the story seemed ridiculous, somehow it worked. Criminal is in the same boat, as audiences have been kept away by the complicated plot, which also seems to work quite well. The film starts with the brutal murder of a CIA agent, who has a secret vital to national security in his head. Out of desperation, the CIA turns to a doctor and an experimental procedure, which will allow the agents memories to be transferred into someone else's mind. The only problem is that the procedure requires a certain type of mind, the mind of a psychopath. Against his will, Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) is transferred to CIA headwaters and given the agents memories, but will he become the good agent and help save the world, or will he return to his murderous ways? Kevin Costner stars and reminds us all of what a terrific actor he truly is. It's hard to remember, considering that for the passed two decades he's done mostly romantic garbage, that you couldn't pay me to sit through. Costner returns to action as if he'd never been gone and does an amazing job playing this deeply conflicted, flawed man. Paired with an all-star cast, that features a ton of cameos, Criminal never slows down and will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. It's not really the CIA crisis or the science fiction that keeps your interest throughout, it's the conflict growing in Jericho Stewart's brain, as he has essential turned into a person that is both good and evil. Yes, the story is a bit complicated, but it is fairly easy to follow, and Kevin Costner gives his best performance in at least a decade, making Criminal well worth the price of admission.

Enter Nowhere

Starring: Scott Eastwood, Sara Paxton, & Kathrine Waterston
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Some films, especially independant ones, seem to have good ideas, but they move so slowly, that one may be tempted to turn it off before it's over. If you did that while watching this film, you missed out on one hell of an ending, that just brought everything together in a way that made the slow start a simple afterthought. One chilly morning, Samantha (Kathrine Waterston) wakes up in her disabled car, on a deserted dirt road. As she goes to find help, she discovers a small cabin, and meets Tom (Scott Eastwood) a man who also became stranded in the woods. Eventually the pair is joined by a third person, who is lost in the woods, and after figuring out how they were going to survive, they decide to go for help, only to learn that every direction leads them right back to the cabin. The conversations about their situation and the search for supplies take up much of the film and are quite boring, but in the end you'll see that they were a necessary set-up to an unbelievably good ending. Scott Eastwood stars and makes a strong case for the theory that performance skills may in fact be hereditary. In this low budget thriller, he is paired with two very experienced indie actresses, who show that they are more than capable of starring in bigger and better things, in particular, Kathrine Waterston, who played the calm and reserved Samantha. Enter Nowhere is honestly hard to sit through, as for a long time it seems to be going nowhere. If you're a patient person, who loves a good story, the ending of this film, makes it all worth while, but if you're not the most patient person, you probably won't make it through this one.

Bad Turn Worse

Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Logan Huffman, & Jeremy Allan White
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

They say that the friends you make in school will be your friends for life. The film Bad Turn Worse explores these bonds and shows just how tight they can be. B.J. (Logan Huffman) is your typical Texas High School senior, who is more concerned with meeting the right people, and getting a good job, then he is about going to college, which present a problem in regards to his best friend and girlfriend, who are both headed towards university. B.J. wants to leave his friends on a high note, and decides in order to accomplish this, he needs to "borrow" some money from his shady boss. What B.J. doesn't know is just how connected his boss really is, and once it's discovered that he took the money, his life, and the lives of his two closest friends end up being in jeopardy. Logan Huffman stars and fails to follow up on the success he had in his debut film, Underdogs. In that film, Huffman looked like he would be the next big thing in Hollywood, but playing a dim-witted character in a somewhat anti-climatic story didn't do him any favors. He is paired with Jeremy Allan White, better known as Lip, in the hit series Shameless. I was hoping to see him open up and show some range with this role, but the truth is he was just playing the same character, a highly intelligent young adult who makes poor choices. As far as the story goes, it was pretty interesting, but there are too many breaks in the main story, which distract you from the big picture. There is a lot of discussion and strains on the groups friendship, which pop up at the absolute worse times and pretty much stop the film dead in it's tracks. Bad Turn Worse really did feature a pretty good story, with a ton of up and coming young Hollywood talent. It's very appealing in many ways, but also disappointing in others. 

Drive (2011)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, & Bryan Cranston
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

I was really excited when I saw the preview for this film, an action thriller with a terrific cast is right up my ally, unfortunately, the three minutes of action in the trailer, showed the only decent action in the entire film. Ryan Gosling plays a Hollywood stunt man, who moonlights as a getaway driver, in a story that is both eerily similar to and nothing like The Transporter. The driver in this film is just as picky and OCD as Jason Statham's character in the Transporter, but that's where the similarities end. After a nice opening, this film quickly turns into some noir love story, that really focuses more on the conflicted driver, than on anything else, making this one boring film. How can a film company be allowed to put out an action fueled trailer for a film like this, which is anything but exciting. The clever advertising devils got me again, but facts are facts, and no trailer or good looking star can hide the fact that this movie was terrible.

The Judge (2014)

Starring: Robert Duvall & Robert Downey Jr.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

John Grisham, the former lawyer turned novelist, has become known for his action packed, courtroom conspiracies. These films are always full of twists and unlikely heroes, but in his latest film, The Judge, Grisham takes a step back. The lawyers he creates have always been young and smart, but inexperienced and in over their heads, this time, it's just the opposite. Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) has left his small town upbringing behind and has become one of the biggest criminal defense attorneys in the country. Law has always been in his family, as his father, Joseph (Robert Duvall) has been a judge in that small town for nearly fifty years. Hank is home for a rare visit, when he starts to notice his father is deteriorating, but does little about it. One night, The Judge goes out to the store and hits someone with his car, his son contends, it was a simple accident, but the district attorney thinks it's something more, due to the Judge's former connection with the victim. Despite them never seeing eye to eye, and despite the Judge's stubbornness, he sees no choice but to let his big shot son defend him. Both actors in this film are terrific, few are as good as Robert Duvall, but the chemistry in this film is a bit of a problem. Robert Duvall is always this humble soft spoken guy, that pulls at the heart strings, but Robert Downey Jr. has a personality that's bigger than life itself. While Duvall was amazing, Downey Jr. always seemed to overpower him in their scenes together. The combination made for a few good laughs, but overall, Downey's personality overshadows the empathy the crowd had for Duvall. The bottom line, The Judge may not be John Grisham's most thrilling work, but it does pose some interesting questions of law and explores the necessity of a father/son relationship, even when the two parties don't really get along.