Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, & Mark Ruffalo
Director: Taika Waititi - Rating: PG-13 - Rating: 4 Stars

One thing I love about the Marvel Universe is that it is always trying to evolve. No matter how big the last box office or how good the last movie, with each film it is is always trying to get bigger, better, and even re-invent itself. With that however there is always a danger of going too far, and when it comes to their latest film, Thor: Ragnarok they came close. In his third installment Thor learns he must face his greatest foe of all, his long lost sister, who had been locked away millennia ago. She is said to be stronger than even Odin himself and casts Thor and Loki out of Asgard, where they wind up on a strange world, where Thor is forced to compete in a battle royal against an old friend. Thor has always featured arguably the best special effects in the Marvel film franchise, and at least to me, has always been more Science Fiction and therefore the least realistic of any of their modern characters. In an attempt to humanize him more and make him a little more friendly to general audiences, Marvel added a ton of humor to the character in Ragnarok. While I agree, Thor was a little dry, he always had his own wit to him, and by adding all the humor to the character I felt as though it took away from his mystique. Marvel is also using a lot more crossover material in the individual films than they have before. While the followers of the universe love it and call for more, this tends to confuse general audiences, who don't necessarily go to see all the Marvel films. It's a fine line that has to be drawn between pleasing the fans of the universe and the general audience, in order to keep the enormous box office. This time, they managed to tow the line, but the direction suggests that next time they may not be so lucky. As for the cast, again Marvel proves that when it comes to casting for their characters, there is no one better in the business as even Jeff Goldblum fit his role like a glove. Their was a little too much humor for my taste, Thor isn't Deadpool or a Guardian of The Galaxy, but by and large it was still a very enjoyable film. Truth be told, I was far more interested in the after credits scene then I was by the collaboration of Hulk and Thor or the resurgence of Hera.

The Returned (U.S. Version)

Starring: India Ennenga, Mark Pellegrino, Tandi Wright, Sophie Lowe, Dylan Kingwell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Mat Vairo, Kevin Alejandro, Sandrine Holt, Agnes Bruckner, Jeremy Sisto, Carl Lumbly, Leah Gibson, & Rhys Ward
Network: A&E - Seasons: 1 (2015) - Score: 2 Stars

Today there are more networks and streaming services offering original programming than ever before. It is an amazing time for TV lovers and it seems that anyone can get pretty much anything on the air. With all these new shows debuting all over the place, this does unfortunately leave the networks at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to original ideas. Out of desperation, many networks have turned to re-booting old shows, bringing back cancelled ideas that didin't work, and even Americanizing overseas television shows, The Returned is an example of the later.

I understand why A&E chose to take a show from overseas, Americanize it, and market it as their next big hit, but why the Returned? This idea has been done to death, both in movies and on TV, and while the show is critically acclaimed, the ratings for the overseas version were terrible, the show was cancelled after it's second season. If no one is watching it over there, why did they think anyone would watch it over here?

The returned takes place in a small Northwestern town, where one day, out of the blue, people who have been dead, some for decades, start showing up back at home with no memory of being gone at all. Each episode is broken up into sections that follow specific individuals and their interactions with their loved ones and society. There is also of course the police and investigative angle to the whole thing, and an unsolved crime thrown into the mix, in order to try and keep viewers coming back each week.

Funny thing is, I wasn't all that crazy about this episode of the Twilight Zone. It was a little better when The X-Files did it. The 4400 added beings from the future and turned it into a series that quickly ran out of storyline and fizzled out, and now we have The Returned. This isn't an original idea, far from it, and the fact that it takes place in the same location as the 4400 is completely laughable.

The cast has a few standouts that made the show a bit less tiresome, Mark Pellegrino is always fun to watch, as you never can figure out if he's a good guy or a bad one. We're also introduced to a new young actor in the form of Dylan Kingwell. He doesn't say much, but his character is honestly one of the most fascinating mysteries of the whole show.

The bottom line is that this show is a complete rip off of other ideas and there is really very little here to keep the viewers interested. The boys story turned out to be really cool, The murder investigation was interesting but under utilized, and there were a few cast members I enjoyed. Otherwise the writing was terrible and parts of this show were just painfully slow. There are some terrific overseas shows that no one has even mentioned bringing over here, why they chose this one, I'll never know.


Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, & Rachel McAdams
Director: Thomas McCarthy - Rating: R - Score: 5 Stars

The truth is always stranger than fiction and that's why it makes for the best movies. Spotlight is the 2016 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture and it was well deserved. This star studded cast comes together to tell the true story of how the Boston Globe was finally able to breakthrough the decades long wall of silence, and expose the Catholic Church's child molestation scandal. Michael Keaton headlines this all-star cast and shows that while he's been out of the spotlight (pun intended) for some time now, he hasn't lost a beat. As the enigmatic leader of the newspaper's Spotlight section, Walter Robinson (Keaton) will not give up the fight for the truth, no matter the personal cost. Even when his own bosses tell him the story is dead and to give up, he refuses to let it go and he shows that one man with a mission really can change the world. This film doesn't simply shine a light on the Catholic Church in a way it would rather nobody ever had, but it also gives views an in depth, inside look at all the intricacies that go into investigative journalism. With all the reports of fake news and all of us who simply get our news from staring at a screen, it's hard to think about all the effort that goes into getting that information from real life to print and I personally found the process fascinating. This film has a lot going for it, from an inside look at a long forgotten industry to the mysteries behind a long hidden secret. It features some terrific writing and more than one outstanding performance. You don't get six Oscar nominations by accident. This is a great film and a great addition to our list of can't miss movies!

The Silent Thief

Starring: Toby Hemingway, Cody Longo, John Billingsly, & Frances Fisher
Director: Jennifer Cleary - Rating: NR - Score: 2 Stars

Here we have yet another example of a terrific performance wasted in an absolutely terrible film. I don't understand why certain actors continue to under value themselves and take on roles like this one. Toby Hemingway gives a tremendous performance as Brennan, a drifter who rents a room in the Henderson household. At first he seems like a normal young guy, looking for a place to stay, until it become apparent that he is obsessed with their son, Mike (Cody Longo). That's when this film turns into some strange homoerotic version of Cape Fear, but not really, because the catch is, Mike is away at college and while he's there, Brennan is hanging out with his best friend and hooking up with his little sister. Is Brennan actually gay? Does he want Mike? His life? His family? No one knows because nothing is explained! All we ever see in this film are Brennan's current actions and out of context they make absolutely no sense. This isn't one of these films where it all comes together in the end either, it just keeps getting more bizarre, but at the center of it all is Toby Hemingway. He seems to always show up to take his cloths off in bad movies, but the fact is that he's more than that guy. The part of Brennan required a wide range of emotions to be believable and Hemingway pulled it off. The only reason I even made it to the end of this awful movie was because I enjoyed his performance and was curious to see where he'd go next. It's honestly a shame that it was wasted though on just another badly written story that I guess made sense to someone.

Cheap Thrills

Starring: Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton, & David Koechner
Director: E.L. Katz - Rating: NR - Score: 3 Stars

Craig Daniels (Pat Healy) is having a hell of a day. He's been fired on the very same day he's recieved an eviction notice on his front door. Content to drink his troubles away, Craig runs into an old friend from High School. Together they start catching up and run into a unique couple, a couple who starts offering them money simply for doing oddball things for their amusement. The duo agrees and even goes back to the couples house with them, and that's when things really start to get bizarre. I feel like I've seen something similar and far more serious before, but I can't place my finger on it. What I really liked about this film was that despite it's B-movie status, and obvious lack of quality writing, what goes down isn't as expected as you would think. A lot of it really was surprising and they do spare us the pain and torture of doing what is obvious. I also enjoyed Pat Healy as Craig, he's not the kind of character you'd expect to see in a movie like this, and he added an interesting dynamic to a cast that was otherwise pretty droll. Cheap Trills has a few funny and unexpected moments in it, and to be honest it was better than I thought it would be. It still however very much deserves it's B-movie status and reeks of inexperience.


Thank you for hanging in with us these past four months! Unfortunately we fell short of our goal and were unable to pay for the new web design I'd had in mind. As I said, I refused to start a Gofundme or ask for cash donations, because there are far worthier causes to donate your money to. I asked for donations of unwanted CDs, DVDs, books, and games to sell on eBay, in order raise the money myself, and I'd like to give a very special thank you to all of you who donated!

We did fall short of our goal, but we did raise enough money to get a new custom skin and give us some much needed breathing room! Over the next few weeks I'll be updating our links, supporting sites, Facebook page, YouTube, & Twitter, as well as writing a whole bunch of new reviews!!!

As you will notice our new custom page gives you SEVEN different options, so you can choose how you would like to view The Ultimate Movie Review! We have also greatly improved our search feature. Now, it is far more accurate and you can search by title, actor, genre, rating, and even keyword.

It looked like the end, but we are just starting a new era, where everything is going to be bigger and better! Please continue to follow us on Facebook, share our reviews, and if you'd like to donate unwanted items, please contact Todd, through the Facebook page! Thank you for your continued support!