Sunday, March 26, 2017

Get Out (2017)

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, & Cathrine Keener
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

It's the new movie everyone is talking about and critics are raving about, as for me, I couldn't wait to get out...of the theater. Guess who's coming to dinner? It's a black man coming home to a rich suburban white families house for the weekend, and despite their black servants, they're extremely nice to their daughters new boyfriend, too nice, something weird is going on. Yes, something weird is going on, only Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is too stupid to realize it! He's so deeply in love with his girlfriend of all of four months, that not only can't he see what's going on right in front of his face, but he doesn't try to talk to her about it, he doesn't try to investigate any of it, he just sort of goes with the flow. People are raving about this noir thriller, when it is one of the most poorly written films I've seen in a while. Major plot holes aside for the moment, there is absolutely no character development, no chemistry between the actors, and worst of all they don't even reveal the main plot until twenty minutes before the thing is over! Yes, it's weird, yes, something is going on, but the writers don't even hint at what that is! They don't even give us a chance to figure out what it could possibly be. At first it was interesting and I was hoping there would be clues to help us figure out what might be going on, that maybe Chris would find evidence or over hear something, but no such luck. Maybe there could have been a scene without him, that gave us some insight, there was absolutely nothing until the very end, when it was all thrust into our faces and even then it really didn't make a whole lot of sense. Without giving anything away, they never answer the fundamental question, why black people? I never liked traditional noir, but at least most of the time the acting is good and you have some idea of what's going on. This film is just one big circle of confusion and to be honest with you, aside from some terrific comic relief, I hated every minute of it.

The State of The Blog Address

I know it has been a very long time since I have updated everyone on what is going on with myself and the blog, and I do apologize for that, so without further a do, let me catch you up...

In May 2016, I finally graduated from college, however getting a job on Long Island has been impossible to date. As a result I have had to go out and do what I've done in my younger years to make money; tutoring, odd jobs, managing & booking local rock bands (, and buying & selling on eBay. While I'm not making much, it has kept me quite busy and hasn't left me as much time to work on the blog. That is why the update schedule has been sporadic and there haven't been weekly updates.

The sponsors have been understanding, but I understand you guys are frustrated. The e-mails and comments have all but stopped here and on the Facebook page. As a result I really have no idea what you guys want in terms of specialty post or what to include or exclude from the reviews. As you may have noticed I have tried recently to add a more personal touch to the reviews, while not the most professional thing in the world, I have noticed that those types of reviews tend to get more likes on IMDB & Amazon and since that's the only feedback I have to go on lately, that's what I've gone with.

I humbly apologize for not having as much time to work on the blog as I used to. I do encourage you all to LIKE "The Ultimate Movie Review" on Facebook. I share all the trailers I like, all the movie and TV news I read, related content that I like, Netflix monthly streaming additions list, and I just added a "LIKED BY THIS PAGE" section which includes some of my favorite movies and TV shows, including stuff I haven't even reviewed yet!

I will try to update on a more regular basis, most likely Sunday mornings or early afternoons, so please stay tuned! Until then...

Current Streaming Recommendations: 

TV Shows:                                               Movies:
Dark Matter                                                          The Giver
The 100                                                                ARQ
Iron Fist                                                                Spotlight
Zoo                                                                       St. Vincent
The People vs. O.J. Simpson                                The Good Neighbor

Blog Notes: 
  •  Current Review Count = 953
  •  Amazon Reviewer Rank = 10,204
  •  Blog Hit Counter = 90,743 


Expedition Unknown

Starring: Josh Gates
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Josh Gates is best known as an archeologist, who for five seasons, hosted Destination Truth on Syfy. On that show, Gates along with a team of investigators went into the wild to try to prove or disprove urban legends such as the Loch Ness monster and big foot. Aside from Gates' unique brand of humor, it was pretty much you're run of the mill paranormal investigation show, and there was always that feeling that Gates could be doing so much more, enter Expedition Unknown. In his new series on Travel Channel, Gates becomes a real life Indiana Jones, as he once again returns to the wild, only this time, he's trying to solve some of histories biggest mysteries. What really happened to Amelia Earhart? What happened to the Incas? Is there a really a Templar treasure and is Nicholas Cage's character Ben Gates based on him? Not only does Gates take us on a real life adventure every week, but he still brings along his unique brand of humor, and this time he includes history lessons for us recent college graduates who made the mistake of majoring in history and still can't find a job. For someone who loves history, mystery, comedy, and real life adventure I couldn't ask for more, as Expedition Unknown defines what a reality tv show should be. Honestly why would anyone sit and watch the Kardashian's talk about who has the bigger ass when they could be tuning in to watch the real life Indiana Jones tackle real life mysteries every week? Think about it...

The Purge: Anarchy

Starring: Frank Grillo, Zach Gilford, & Kiele Sanchez
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When I saw the trailer for the first Purge movie, I thought it was a wildly innovative idea and I absolutely loved it! I was so excited to see the film, unfortunately it amounted to little more than a slasher movie. The story had all the potential in the world, but they really didn't go into it, they just wanted to show off the violence and hatred people had towards one another. I was hoping they would correct this in the sequel and boy did they ever! Anarchy isn't about some family hunkered down in their home, fighting off attackers. In the second installment of the Purge, we learn a lot more about it. The pro and anti-purge factions that exist, the professional companies that make a fortune off that one night, the way the rich purge, and the main story which centers around what happens on the streets when two families are trapped outside on purge night. Two families are easy pickings until they find Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), a man on a mission that he can only complete on Purge night. Barnes however is a man of conscience and won't complete his mission until he begrudgingly gets the families to safety, which means a wild trek through the city. The Purge: Anarchy is a wild ride through a city of ordinary people turned into killers, with home made weapons, booby-traps, and pure anarchy, just as the title promises. If you're looking for action and violence, there are a million places to turn, that's not what the appeal of this movie is. It's the idea, that crime virtually is nonexistent, except for this one night, where society turns on each other. Where almost everyone's craziest fantasy becomes reality and just how some people react. What will each character turn into when they are allowed to do whatever they want? How does society feel about this law and is the benefit worth the cost? This story has just so many directions it can go in, that why I'm not surprised to hear they're working on a fourth film. The Purge series may just be a series of action/slasher films, but this one idea puts a whole new spin on them and makes you see things through a whole different set of eyes and I for one think it's ingenious.

J. Edgar

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, & Josh Lucas
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Clint Eastwood's films are extremely historically accurate. The academy and critics love his work and especially the way he manages to get the best out of his leading roles. That being said, his films also tend to be extremely long and very dry, J. Edgar was no different. J. Edgar Hoover was the man who started the FBI. He is the man solely responsible for creating a fingerprint database, cataloging and investigating forensic evidence at crime scenes, and he was also completely paranoid and spied on just about everyone he could. It was sad to see just how lonely, narrow minded, and repressed this man was his whole life. He was so narrowly focused his entire life, that he didn't seem to ever enjoy anything besides his work. As for the film, Leonardo DiCaprio gives another stunning performance, one that rivals all his other work. People who worked with Hoover, in his later years, say that DiCaprio was so good that it was like seeing Hoover himself back in charge. When he was first starting out, people thought DiCaprio was just another pretty face, who would do films like the Beach his entire career, but they couldn't be more wrong. He has emerged as one of the best leading men in all of Hollywood and J. Edgar is a prime example of this. You can't have a DiCaprio greatest hits compilation without including this performance, it really was that good. I learned a lot from this film and the performances were truly fantastic in every sense of the word. How DiCaprio's performance didn't get nominated for an Academy Awards is beyond me and does lend some credence to the theory that the Academy is bias towards him. As for the rest of the film, it's long, very long and parts of it just don't move at all. You'll learn a lot and from a historic stand point, I think this is one of those film everyone should see, but at times it's not easy to sit through. Don't expect much in the way of action, comic relief, or deviation. It's just a lot of vintage Eastwood, DiCaprio, and criminal justice history.

Unaccompanied Minors

Starring: Dyllan Christopher, Quinn Shephard, & Lewis Black
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

For decades, A Christmas Carol and It's A Wonderful Life have been the standard templates for holiday films, until a third choice came along in 1990. Ever since, there have been a whole slew of films that have tried to be the next Home Alone. None have come close to being as good, but perhaps the best attempt came from Unaccompanied Minors. The Davenport kids are flying to seeing their father for the holidays when they are stuck in Cleveland by a massive snow storm. When they get there, they discover they are just two of dozens of kids who are stuck at the same airport, trapped in a conference room under the watchful eye of the airports ruthless administrator, (Lewis Black) who's not all that fond of children. Together with some of the more unique personalities, the Davenports stage an escape and wreck havoc on the airport, determined to have fun during the holidays, even if it is in a snowed in airport. Yes, this is a kids movie with all the cheesy jokes and kid stuff that comes along with it, but what makes it unique is all the different personalities. The six kids are from all different parts of the country and are all from different family structures and different socioeconomic backgrounds, meaning they all had very different lives and very different ideas on what the definition of fun is. The culmination of the different personalities and how they all come together is what makes this film unique and quite frankly pretty special. The young cast is pretty talented as well, featuring Brett Kelly from Bad Santa as well as Tyler Williams from Everybody Hates Chris. The young cast also gets help from veteran comedians Lewis Black, Wilmer Valderrama, and Rob Corddry. The combination of young comedians and veteran comedians adds another dynamic similar to the one set up by the characters in the film. As well as the mixing of characters personalities, you're also getting a wide variety of comedic styles in the film. The bottom line, Unaccompanied Minors may be a kids Christmas movie, but there is a whole lot to like about it, from the writing, to the in depth character development, the mixing of different comedic styles, and even the unique settings. It's not quite Home Alone, but as close as anyone's come since 1990.

Terminus (2015)

Starring: Jai Koutrae, Kendra Appleton, & Todd Lasance
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

In the world of science fiction, a ridiculous plot is a bold and risky move. Audiences will generally see it in one of two ways, either as unique and innovative or ridiculous and stupid. While I general advise deciding for yourself, in the case of Terminus, I think the answer is pretty clear. David Chamberlain (Jai Koutrae) is a depressed alcoholic who lives with his daughter. One night he's driving home drunk and is involved in a wreck that should have killed him, except for the fact that he encounters a rock from outer space, that not only heals him, but starts giving him visions. Chamberlain starts seeing visions of the end of the world and sets out on a mission to build something remarkable, in the back of a stolen cement truck. The whole premise here is kind of stupid, however if the casting was better this actually could have worked. The main character here is a guy in his late forties, a factory worker with no skills, no education and general someone everyone already thinks is crazy. In my opinion he just doesn't fit what the story calls for. This would have been a much better film if the main character was a late teen or twenty something guy, who saw the incident as his life being spared for a higher purpose. Instead, Terminus is just really one big mess of sub-par acting, plot holes, and badly developed characters you really don't care about. If you don't care about the characters and what happens to them, and if you can't follow the story too well, then really, what's the point?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Logan (2017)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, & Dafne Keen
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Many people have asked why the name Wolverine isn't in the title of the latest X-Men movie. The reason is that this film is not for children. Logan is violent, vulgar, and disturbing, this film will give your kids nightmares. Logan is supposedly the last time Hugh Jackman will play Wolverine, it might also very well end the current X-Men film franchise, that has produced nine feature films and brought in billions of dollars. That being said, I expected an epic conclusion, the likes of which Marvel had never done before, and what I got was somewhat of a disappointment. It takes place in the future and yes, Logan is older, but he's still the Wolverine, so I was expecting a fair bit of fighting and chases, but it seems that was pretty much all this film has to offer. A deteriorating Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) claims that even though a new mutant hasn't been born in decades, he is speaking to one that needs help, and as it turns out he was right. Logan and Prof. X go to rescue the child and bring her to safety, while the government tries to stop that from happening. I get that this is the future and there isn't time to fill us in on everything, but there are some major plot holes with the story that are never explained. This may be a Wolverine movie, but it is also the conclusion of the X-Men, so what happened to everyone and everything else? The stories narrow focus is on these three and getting to their destination, with chase after chase and fight after fight. The film certainly has it's moments and more than it's fair share of F bombs, but where was the whole conclusion element to it? The epic end to one of the biggest franchises in the history of film just isn't there. The big draw seems to be that they finally went for the R rating and showed Logan's true personality and yes, they made the film much more realistic than any other X-Men film, but I didn't have that satisfied feeling when it was all said and done. As for Hugh Jackman, this was easily his best performance as Wolverine. You see his real personality and all that comes with it, and if this wasn't the type of film that it was, released when it was, I truly believe people would be talking about an Academy Award, he was really that good. The harsh reality is that X-Men as we know it, with the cast that we know is probably over, but the way they ended it leaves us with too many unanswered questions and a feeling of unfulfilled promise.

Chicago P.D.

Starring: Jason Beghe, Sophia Bush, Patrick Flueger, LaRoyce Hawkins, Jon Seda, Elias Koteas, Jesse Lee Soffer, Marina Squerciati, Amy Morton, Brian Geraghty, & Archie Kao

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Law & Order creator Dick Wolf, made his Chicago series because he wanted to give viewers a separate look at the heroes who make a city run, but beyond that, he wanted to make it as realistic as possible. These shows feel a lot like one of my favorite all-time TV shows, Third Watch, but in that case they were all together in one show. Chicago P.D. focuses on major crimes detectives and shows that unlike Law & Order, the police aren't above reproach and always in control.

The unit is run by Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), who while having a soft spot for victims, also runs on pure emotion. If Voight can't get the bad guy legally, he'll get them another way. He's also not the most honest cop around and has a checkered past filled with abuses of power, as seen in his debut on Chicago Fire. 

Voight's unit includes his best friend and uncover specialist Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas), who is more honest than Voight, but always has his back. Olinsky is a master of disguise, and is in charge of training a rookie and possibly his eventual replacement played by Patrick Flueger. Also joining Voight is Erin Lindsey (Sophia Bush) a runaway that Voight rescued and raised as his own, who is partnered with another hot head, who while reminding her of Voight, also has romantic feelings for her.  Finally rounding out the squad is Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda), the brother of a paramedic on Chicago Fire and the man who originally tried to put Voight in jail. He's one of Voight's best detectives, but can he be trusted? 

As you can see from the character descriptions, threes a lot going on here, not to mention a uniform patrol division we see on a semi-regular basis. The show isn't narrowly focused on particular types of crimes and frequently has crossover with both the other Chicago shows and Law & Order SVU. 

The Bottom Line, Chicago P.D. hits the bulls eye as the most realistic cop drama since Southland. They dive deeply into the characters background, families, and personalities, it's a lot of fun to watch. The way they go about doing their job is unlike any other cop show on TV and the whole Third Watch feel to the way it's filmed has me in cop heaven. I can not wait for this show to stream so I can binge away!

Interstellar (2014)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, & Anne Hathaway
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Christopher Nolan is the smartest writer/director in Hollywood, so smart that a lot of people claim his films are over their heads. The master of twists and deception made Batman real, showed us how dreams work in Inception, and brought us inside the dangerous world of magic in the Presitige. In his latest film, Interstellar, Nolan tackles the concept of time and how different it is from what we perceive. This film does have a great twist in the end and some terrific special effects, but beyond that it is one of the longest and slowest moving films I've seen in years. Once again, Humans have finally destroyed Earth and have gone looking for a new home, but outside our solar system, things are much different than they appear. Time and gravity are different concepts in different regions of space, and the effects on the crew, who had hoped to one day see their families again, diminish with each passing day. Matthew McConaughey stars and as is the case with most of his films, he's terrific. Based on some of the poor choices he made in his younger years, he has a bad rep among critics, but the fact is that he's always fun to watch, and is one of the most intense actors out there today. As for the rest of the film, it's usually Nolan's genius that makes the film unique and special, but in this instance he was too smart for his own good. The story moves very slowly and at times is more than somewhat confusing, not to mention at nearly three hours long, it's a challenge to sit through to even reach his famous twist at the end. Nolan films are something I always look forward to, as they are different and both entertain me and make me think, but in this case, I was just beyond bored and fed up with the whole thing. I guess sometimes even genius takes a holiday.

Iron Man 3

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, & Don Cheadle
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I know, I'm a bit behind on my Marvel films, but to be honest, after Iron Man 2, I really wasn't looking forward to seeing another one. There's no doubt that Marvel films have gone from simple stories about superheroes to epic adventures with the best writers and actors in Hollywood, but the fact is Iron Man 2 was your typical disappointing sequel. In the third installment of the Iron Man adventure though, the franchise bounces back in a huge way, as we get a story that not only rivals the original, but in my opinion knocks it on it's ass! Iron Man 3 finally answers the question does the suit make the man or does the man make the suit, as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces his toughest enemy yet, the one with the greatest reach, that no one sees coming. With his team and gear in ruins, Stark is left to lamb it in the middle of nowhere, and in a sense start over and find himself all over again. After playing Tony Stark for so long and appearing in just about every film Marvel has made in the last decade, Robert Downey Jr. knows everything there is to know about the character, and it has never been more apparently than it is here. Writers utilize cannon from various comics, graphic novels, previous movies, and really delve deeply into the character like never before. I also like the fact that it wasn't just another film with Stark in his lab full of toys. This time he's stranded in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by new people, having to start from scratch, it gave the whole thing a much more realistic feel to it, and finally there's the villain. While I loved every second of the Avengers, the truth is that the bad guys are aliens and aren't all that realistic. The Mandarin is a really bad guy and he's as real as the rest of us, needless to say I loved it. If you're not the huge fan I am and you only decide to see one of the Iron Man films, I'd choose this one. Rarely do I ever suggest seeing anything but the original, where it all started, but in this case, the effects are better, Downey's knowledge of the character is better, the writing is much better, and it's not the same old tagline you tend to get with introductory films.

Cold In July

Starring: Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, & Don Johnson
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

For lack of better terminology, these dark, southern, noirish, dramas have become all the rage in Hollywood. Films like Winter's Bone, Joe, and Mud have been highly critically acclaimed and have come to define the 2010 decade in film, but where there is success, there are bound to be copycats, enter Cold In July. Whoever thought that Don Johnson would have any kind of chemistry with Dexter what so ever, must have been out of there mind, as right from the beginning, this film was doomed. A simple man kills a home invader and is stalked by the father of the man he killed. Obsessed with taking a life and wanting to know more about what led to this man become the person he's become, Dane (Michael C. Hall) and his team of misfits, stalk the family right back and uncover an even bigger mystery. While this story had potential, the writers thought it was too dark and decided to have some fun with it. Isn't that nice of them, to combine misplaced comic relief with actors who have no chemistry at all? Cold In July doesn't only lack chemistry but it also lacks focus. At times this film is as dark and serious as it gets, then just as quickly everyone is drunk and paling around, it just doesn't fit and it doesn't work. The whole genre of these films is dark, disparaging, and sometime disturbing. If their is any humor or positivity to be had, it typically occurs at the very end. Michael C. Hall pretty much has the same dry personality as Dexter, except with a family and a conscious, while Don Johnson is the psychopath who wants to hurt people and thinks it's funny. The bottom line is this film is just a mess of actors who don't belong with each other, characters who should never have gotten along, jumping between scenes that are the complete polar opposites of one another. I liked the story and there are a few interesting moments, but it's just isn't enough to carry the film. 

The Mortician

Starring: Method Man, E.J. Bonilla, & Judy Marte
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Mortician (Method Man) is a lonely man with a scarred past, the kind of guy who keeps his mind occupied by throwing everything he is into his work. That all changes one night on the way home from work, when he witnesses a crime eerily similar to the one that made him the way he is. The Mortician is content to try to ignore what he saw, until he comes to realize it directly involves the young man he is mentoring and that inaction could destroy another family. This film was a bit of a surprise to me, in that it wasn't the horror film I was expecting. The preview made this film seem like it was horror, as do the title and cover art, not to mention it's on Lionsgate, which has become synonymous with B-movie horror in recent years. Perhaps the even bigger surprise was the star of the film, Method Man. Every single time I have seen him in a film, he's playing some thug or gang banger, so I figured that he was just another one of these rappers that Hollywood uses when they need to fill that type of role, but I was wrong. Despite the ridiculousness of a man who is nearly fifty years old still calling himself, Method Man, he can legitimately act. In fact, this film is quite dark and slow moving, even boring at times, but Method Man and the unique traits of his character, were the most interesting aspect of this film. Maybe I'm rating the film a bit higher than I should be, then again, my expectations were extremely low. The Mortician isn't a horror film and it doesn't move at a quick enough pace to even be labeled a thriller. The story is a decent one, albeit one that takes forever to get going, and the acting is much better than I would have expect from this cast. The Mortician wouldn't be my first choice by any means, but if you have the opportunity, I wouldn't skip it either.