Thursday, July 14, 2016

Empire State (2013)

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Emma Roberts, & The Rock
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Chris Potamitis (Liam Hemsworth) has always wanted to be a cop, but as is the case with most recent graduates, he's on a waiting list, so he takes a job as an armored truck guard. Almost as soon as he starts working there, Chris is scared by the amount of money and the lack of security at the place he's working, and stupidly mentions that fact to his best friend, Eddie (Michael Angarano). Eddie immediately plans and executes a robbery, which both the police and Chris's mobbed up bosses thinks he's involved in. Now his life is endangered on three separate fronts and he's not sure where to turn. Empire State is a tremendous thriller based on a true story, written and directed by Dito Montiel, and if you don't know the name, you should. Montiel made a stunning debut, telling his life story in the film, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, in 2006 (On of our Must See Movies). Montiel's career has been all up hill from there. He grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, and all his films are based on real life stories from the neighborhood, that were forgotten a long time ago. With Montiel films you're always guaranteed a few things, a well written story, a tremendous cast, lots of action, and lots of eye candy, and Empire State does not disappoint. This film has everything from the insider angle, to the mob, inside the police investigation, and of course Liam Hemsworth at the center of it all. Big brother Chris may get all the recognition in Hollywood, for being the all-mighty Thor, but baby brother Liam, really does get better and better in every film I see him in. Empire State has a little bit of everything, it is well written, and comes at you from so many different angles. This film was so much fun to watch, it's the kind of thing you want to see more than once, and it's streaming so if you're not doing anything right now, go check it out!

Cyrus: Mind of A Serial Killer

Starring: Brian Krause, Danielle Harris, & Lance Hendriksen
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

It's possible for a film to have a cool title, cover, and even preview, but still be a complete waste of time, enter Cyrus: Mind of A Serial Killer. In a remote Midwestern community, over a hundred women have disappeared over the last twenty years. Not wanting to create a panic, the local authorities have explained away most as accidents and isolated incidents, while they search for the truth. The cover up has worked until a local reported is contacted by a man who claims to not only know the truth, but know who the killer is. The film is laid out in a flashback, as this mysterious man tells the life story of this man, Cyrus, and what created him, what he did, how he did it, and why. Just one problem, it's boring! This film is supposed to be an inside look at a serial killer and what makes him tick, how he operates, but not only does it move as slow as molasses, but you really don't even see much of anything! This is an independent film about a serial killer!? Where's the gore, blood, insanity? It's more like watching a documentary on the History channel. As for the cast, Brian Krause isn't a bad actor, but certainly not someone I would ever think of as a serial killer, he's just very quiet and emotionless throughout, in other words, boring. The old man, Lance Hendriksen, sits in a chair and tells a story the whole time, also boring. The producers of this film built it up to be this huge thing, an inside look at a serial killer the likes of which we've never seen before, and they were right, I've never been so bored watching a horror thriller in my entire life!

Home Alone

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, & Daniel Stern
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

It was my favorite movie as a kid, it featured my very first crush, and while there have been many copycats, there will only ever be one Home Alone. I highly doubt that anyone reading a movie review blog hasn't seen this film by now, but those select few...The film centers on Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) a bratty kid, whose extended family is preparing for Christmas in Paris. During dinner, Kevin starts a fight with his older brother, Buzz, and is sent to sleep alone in the attic. An overnight power failure leaves the family rushing to catch their flight and Kevin gets left home alone. At the same time, a pair of idiotic home invaders working his neighborhood and want to rob his house. Kevin sees himself as the man of the house now and knows its his job to defend it. As his parents rush to get back to him, Kevin prepares for war! Home Alone is the epitome of a family film and is what all family films aspire to be. These films all claim to be fun for the whole family, but lets face it, they're geared toward children. Most of the time you take the family to see them and twenty minutes in you're on your phone or falling asleep, but not here. The chemistry between Joe Pesci and Macaulay Culkin is fantastic. We all know Pesci for his mobster roles, so it's easy to forget that he got his start as a comedic actor, and it is actually what he does best. Paired with a great cast, a legendary director, and a terrific story, this is simply the best family feature film I have ever seen. Home Alone has something for everyone. It will make you laugh, cry, and beg for more, and that's why there are five god awful sequels and a whole bunch of other films trying to duplicate the magic of this film, but as I said earlier there will only ever be one Home Alone and it is an absolute must see movie!

Jamesy Boy

Starring: Spencer Lofranco, Mary-Louise Parker, & Ving Rhames
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I have always been a huge fan of real life drama, because lets face it, some of this stuff you just can't make up. Even the best writers couldn't imagine some of the things these people have had to endure, and it makes for some amazing films. On the otherside of that, there are other stories, which just aren't that unique or interesting, and in my opinion really don't warrent a full length feature film, Jamesy Boy is an example of this. James (Spencer Lofranco) is your typical rebellious kid from a single parent home. He's not poor and has a lot of opportunities, but for whatever reason, he's turned to drugs and crime. He's living the gangsta life on the streets until the inevitable happens, and he winds up in jail. Once there, James witnesses a crime, and meets a man who helps him unlock a talent he never knew he had, but will James turn to the straight and narrow or will his friends pull him back into his old life? This is a true story and newcomer Spencer Lofranco was fantastic, but haven't we seen stories like this done over and over again? To be honest the only reason I kept watching it was to see which path James chose after prison. I wanted to see how his life turned out, but either way, we've seen films like this many times before and Jamesy Boy doesn't stand out in any type of significant way. If you want to do a film that has been done over and over again, true story or not, there has to be something about it that makes it stand out from the pack, and that doesn't happen here. The bottom line, Jamesy Boy is decent and it's fine if you're just looking to kill a couple of hours. It features a pretty good up and coming young talent and some old familiar faces, but beyond that, there's nothing really special about it.