Monday, May 20, 2019

Bosch


Starring: Titus Welliver, Jamie Hector, Amy Aquino, Lance Reddick, Madison Lintz, Paul Calderon, & Sarah Clarke

Seasons: 5 (2014 - ) - Network: Amazon Prime - Score: 5 Stars

The best movies and tv shows come from books, and a series based off a series is as good as it gets! Michael Connelly has already published fifteen books about Detective Harry Bosch, meaning there is a ton of material and angles to be used, deep background and personalities on all the characters, and some amazing stories to tell! 

Harry Bosch is a L.A. homicide detective, a special forces veteran of the Iraq war, and a man who takes each case personally. Bosch is the best detective on the force and gets the biggest cases. He goes into extreme detail on every case and rules nothing out. However, his personal involvement in each case leads him to make rash decisions that often leave him under a microscope. 

Titus Welliver stars as Bosch, and I never liked him as an actor. It's not that he isn't talented, it's the fact that he's always playing the bad guy, a role he just doesn't fit. Bosch however is the perfect fit for him, as he fits the role like a glove. His previous experience playing the bad guy, helps him to mask emotion and be the toughest cop in the world when he needs to be. When I watch him I have the feeling that everything in his passed has lead up to this, a career defining role.

Welliver is paired with a couple of veterans from the hit HBO show, The Wire. Jamie Hector and Lance Reddick aren't only award winning actors, but their experience comes in the same vein of the genre as Bosch. After six years on The Wire, they are able to include their own spin on things and correct passed mistakes from the previous show, making for an incredible dynamic.

The final angle that makes this show as good as it is, is Harry's family and childhood. At it's core, this is just another cop show, but what makes it as good as it is, is the story of Harry Bosch's life. Knowing what we know and seeing the extraordinary things he is able to accomplish, with so much going against him, really makes for one compelling story.

Bosch is a cop show, but it's one that is written by an award winning novelist, produced by decades long veterans of the genre, and features a cast of award winners, that are as good as it gets. The casting for this show is terrific and the writing is phenomenal. If you love a good mystery and being part of the investigation every step of the way, you'll love Bosch. Often times these steaming shows aren't great, a lot of them are cancelled or rejected network shows, lacking in many ways. Bosch however isn't in that category, as it is the signature show of Amazon Prime and something that makes the whole cost of subscribing worthwhile.

Betrayed At 17


Starring: Alexandra Paul, Jake Thomas, Katie Gill, & Andy Fischer-Price
Director: Doug Campbell - Rating: TV-14 - Score: 2 1/2 Stars

Carleigh Taylor (Katie Gill) is a High School senior who never garnered much attention from the popular kids. That's why it comes as such a shock when the Captain on the Football team, Greg Nickels (Andy Fischer-Price) asks her on a date. The date is part of an elaborate bet, leading to a sex tape, however something unexpected happens as Greg discovers real feelings for Carleigh. Feelings that will be placed under a microscope, when the tape becomes public and Carleigh ends up dead, leaving her family seeking justice. Betrayed at 17 really comes off like a Lifetime movie of the week. Granted it's a little edgier, but it has all the markings, an elaborate conspiracy, a mother seeking justice, and of course a cast of 90s actors, who people thought were out of the game long ago. The story here happens to be a very good one, but the way it is told, slowly, from every possible angle, and in extreme detail, leaves a lot to be desired. I loved how each character has a unique background and how it all intertwines in the end, but it takes an awfully long time just to get there. The cast wasn't great, but certainly not as bad as it could be in one of these films. It was fun seeing Alexandra Paul without the bathing suit, as well as little Jake Thomas from Lizzy McGuire as a total bad ass. Betrayed at 17 is the kind of film I really want to like, it has all the ingredients, but in the end the cake comes out burnt and uneven.

Kick-Ass 2


Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, & Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Director: Jeff Wadlow - Rating: R - Score: 3 1/2 Stars

Most people will agree that sequels are almost never as good as the original. This is because writers take the characters we know and throw them into different situations, ones that often time don't fit with anything we know of them. This however was not the case with Kick-Ass. Despite the fact that this film was released three years after the original, it is a straight up continuation of the story. Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is out for revenge and forms a whole army to go after Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Kick-Ass knows he and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) won't be enough to stop him and go to recruit new superheroes, but the heroes they find aren't so super. This is the ending to the story started in the first film, and we all know that the ending is usually the best part. This film also gets a major boost from Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz having three more years of experience under their belts. Taylor-Johnson isn't this scrawny awkward kid anymore, and his personality really comes out and shines in this film. To be honest, the first one reeked of inexperience and needed people like Nicholas Cage and Evan Peters to even things out, but Kick-Ass 2 is able to stand on it's own, with the stars it started to develop in the first film. The second installment of Kick-Ass has better action scenes, the comedy is a lot funnier, and the story is most certainly taken to the next level. This was the film I was hoping for when I saw the original, and despite the R rating it's still a film that the whole family will enjoy.

Being Charlie


Starring: Nick Robinson, Morgan Saylor, Devon Bostick, & Common
Director: Rob Reiner - Rating: R - Score: 2 1/2 Stars

When legendary Director, Rob Reiner, decided to direct this independent film, it was supposed to be a unique, inside look at what young people face on the road to recovery. Charlie Mills (Nick Robinson) is a young drug addict, who is going into rehab for the first time. Like most young people, he thinks it's a joke, until he meets the other people are hears their stories. Ultimately Charlie decides to be strong for his new friends and love interest, but being Charlie isn't so easy when temptation is everywhere. You can see from the beginning of the film that this is supposed to be some kind of a wake up call to addicts, but as someone whose had very close people in his life who suffer from the disease, I can tell you that much of this film was inaccurate. Rehab is portrayed as this wonderful place, that looks like a hotel, and has people with hearts of gold. They all have their own sad stories, but they are all good people now, just looking to get better. This is far from the way it is. As the story progressed, it basically went from a story of addiction into a love story, with addiction being an after thought, until the very end. Nick Robinson stars and he's the reason I made it through the whole film. This kid is absolutely terrific, especially in these types of roles. Kings of Summer was his breakout performance and a tremendous film. Being Charlie was an equally great performance, however it was a film that's lacking direction and almost misses the point. I liked what they were going for in the film and the cast was top notch, but the problem was that it wasn't realistic enough and couldn't decide weather or not it wanted to be a film about recovery, a love story, or simply a deep look into Charlie's life. The bottom line, it was a great performance wasted in a slow moving, unrealistic story.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Pet Sematary (2019)


Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, & John Lithgow
Director: Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer - Rating: R - Score: 4 Stars

For me, one of the hardest things to do is to write a review for a remake, when I've already seen the original film. How is it that you can review it or even watch it, without making immediate comparisons to the original? For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Dr. Louis Creed and his family move to a small town in the woods of Maine. They buy a huge property, which in the back has an old pet cemetery, but beyond that lies something far more sinister, an ancient Indian burial ground, where it is said, those buried there, can return. Pet Sematary was a great film and an even better book, but it's the kind of story where there isn't much you can leave out, and there isn't a whole lot you can change. That being said, the majority of the film is almost a shot for shot remake of the original, begging the question, what's the point? The ending is where they change things up a bit and does it make the story better? That's for you to decide. Personally, I always loved this film and had no problem with it being modernized a bit. The cast wasn't bad, but certainly not as good as the original. The only upgrade in that respect was John Lithgow playing the role of the next door neighbor, Jud, a definite improvement over Fred Gwynne. If you've never seen the original film, go see this one, it's more modern and like it's predecessor, it does an excellent job of bringing book to screen. If you have seen the original, you may or may not think of it as an upgrade. It all comes down to the ending, which I did enjoy, still I can't decide if it's better than what was originally written.

Shazam! (2019)


Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, & Jack Dylan Glazer
Director: David F. Sandberg - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 3 Stars

Despite the fact that Shazam! is a DC Film, I had high hopes for it, after all the previews were terrific, it's a somewhat unique story, and it features two of the most popular young actors in all of Hollywood, however as is often the case with DC Films, I was disappointed. After participating in an act of selfless kindness, teenager Billy Bates (Asher Angel), is whisked away to another place. In this strange place, he meets a man claiming to be a high priest, who guards very special powers that can defeat all the evil in the world, powers he must relinquish. To receive these powers, all Billy has to do is say the mans name, Shazam, and just like that, Billy is a superhero. As expected, the young cast members Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Glazer had terrific chemistry and were the source of the majority of the funny moments that took place. Zachary Levi is also very good, but as DC tends to do, they gave away this entire film in the previews. Everything that looked funny, interesting, or unique about Shazam, is right in the preview. As for the rest of the film, the story is okay at best, with plenty of parts that were completely unnecessary, leading to a film that was over two hours long. Shazam was in fact about forty-five minutes longer than it needed to be, and not only was that obvious, but the filmmakers seem to know this as well, filling in a lot of scenes with boring shit that took a lot away from something with real potential. The film goes around in circle for a while, before we get to the ending and as is common for DC, the ending is a disaster. I would have to spoil too much of the film to explain to you exactly why that is, but if I'm to be honest, the ending really killed the whole film for me. I enjoyed the humor, I liked the fact that were some elements not often seen in the superhero genre, and I liked the interactions between young cast members. What I didn't appreciate was how the plot is constantly re-capped for us and I hated seeing similar scenes multiple times, especially when they don't move the story forward. I would say I'd recommend this film more towards children than adults, but the truth is, the kids in the theater with me were all restless around the ninety minute mark. The bottom line, Shazam! isn't a stinker and it drew enough interest in theaters to probably get a sequel, but in my opinion once again DC dropped the ball on a great idea and spoiled the whole thing in the trailer.

Sleeping Giant (2015)


Starring: Jackson Martin, Nick Serino, & Reece Moffett
Director: Andrew Cividino - Rating: NR - Score: 2 1/2 Stars

Coming-of-age films are amongst my favorite types of films, but they are often tricky to make. A good film, should give you feelings of nostalgia and form a bond between yourself and at least one of the characters, while a bad one can seem to be nothing more than an episode of Jackass. This film has a bit of both. Sleeping Giants is the story of three teenage boys, spending the summer with their families on Lake Superior and as you might expect, circumstances bring them together. There are some funny moments, trouble to be had, and of course a girl who gets in the middle of everything. What this film has going for it, is that the cast was actually teens, ones whom have very limited acting experience. That being said, it seems as though, the writers also have somewhat limited experience, as this film is your very standard, text book, run of the mill story. What you'd expect to happen in this situation is exactly what happens, and while I like the fact that the story features real teens and new faces, the truth is that nobody really stands up or shows anything more than just kids hanging out. That could honestly be the title of this film, kids hanging out. Sleeping Giants isn't bad in any way, but it's nothing special either, an all-around forgettable experience.

On The Inside (2011)


Starring: Nick Stahl, Olivia Wilde, Dash Mihok, & Pruitt Taylor Vince
Director: D.W. Brown - Rating: R - Score: 2 Stars

Allen Meneric (Nick Stahl) is sent to a hospital for the criminally insane, to be evaluated after he brutally murders his girlfriend’s alleged rapist. As he is introduced to his new surroundings, Allen quickly realizes this isn't a place where he belongs. This particular asylum is filled with evil psychologist, careless guards, and a whole variety of characters who are not as they seem. This was a strange film for me to rate and review, because of how up and down it was. The film, is itself very much like the characters portrayed in it. There are some parts that are absolutely phenomenal, while others very clearly should have been left on the cutting room floor. Going from one extreme to the other left the film, unbalanced, and certainly difficult to watch. Nick Stahl stars and to be honest, he's an actor I've never really cared much about. I've always found a lot of what he does and what he offers to be very bland. However, On The Inside he gives a great performance, and for what this film was, the whole cast was terrific. I imagine it would be challenging for anyone to play the kind of crazy these people were supposed to be. If I have one thing to say about this film, it's this. Had they taken the time to get feedback from the outside before the released it, they may have seen the flaws in it and corrected them. On The Inside had tremendous potential to really be something, but as it stands, it's just a metaphor for bipolarity.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Aquaman (2018)


Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, & Patrick Wilson
Director: James Wan - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 4 Stars

In a shocking turn of events, DC Comics made a great movie that isn't about Batman! Finally, with Aquaman, fans get the type of movie they've always wanted from DC, and I see big things for the future of this franchise. Arthur (Jason Momoa) is the son of the Queen of Atlantis and a mortal man. He was born with extraordinary abilities, but not with the motivation to use them. After his mother was exiled and presumably killed by Atlantis, Arthur wants nothing to do with his people, until a world wide threat forces him to take action. The story here is the same as your basic comic themed film, saving the world while trying to get the girl, but what makes Aquaman really stand out is it's incredible special effects. Seeing as many films as I do, it's difficult to impress me with a little bit of CGI, but this film had some of the best effects I have ever seen! Even if this was a silent film the sheer beauty and magic of this underwater world would still be breath-taking. Jason Momoa stars in his biggest role to date and this guy absolutely killed it. My biggest fear going into this film was that it would be too cartoonish and led by a newcomer, not a great combination, but Momoa is terrific both his personality and in his ability to put on one hell of a fight scene. As for the cartoonish part, there is a little bit of that and it was a turn off, but you do need to pander to the young crowd a film like this is likely to draw. For my money, this is the best DC Comics film since the Dark Knight. I'm not the biggest Superhero fan and I absolutely loved this movie from beginning to end. The two and half hours literally flew by and in the end I was still craving more. I can't wait to see what's next for Aquaman.

Gotti (2018)


Starring: John Travolta, Kelly Preston, & Spencer LoFranco
Director: Kevin Connolly - Rating: R - Score: 1 1/2 Stars

Gotti, a highly anticipated new mafia movie centered around the Dapper Don, has been nominated for Worst Movie of the Year and unfortunately, I have to agree. For starters, this film was all over the place! Was this film about John Gotti or his son? ...and who really cares about his actual family, there was a shitty reality show about that, what we really care about is his other family, and not the business side either. For a mafia film about one of it's biggest names in history, there is a distinct lack of violence or for that matter anything substantive. Everyone wanted to see the story of the man, not the story behind the man, and especially in a format of flash-forwards and flashbacks. As for John Travolta, I really don't know what he was thinking with this film. The only thing he has in common with John Gotti is the same first name, and watching him try to play John Gotti was as bad as watching Ben Affleck try to play Batman. The bottom line here is that this film was boring, just a lot of talk in a really bad accent. If you're looking for a good film on the Dapper Don, I suggest you go with another film named Gotti, produced in the mid-90s, starring Armand Assante. That film was great and told the story we wanted to hear. This film is nothing more than an bad autobiography brought to the screen by a man, who thinks he can play any role he wants.

Downsizing (2017)


Starring: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, & Hong Chau
Director: Alexander Payne - Rating: R - Score: 3 Stars

Billed as a comedy, Downsizing didn't last long in theaters, but looking at it from the perspective of Science Fiction and taking into account it's message about environmental protection, this film ends up having a lot more depth than the lame duck comedy it was advertised as. In the near future, a scientist comes up with a way to stop the problem of overpopulation by shrinking people to five inches tall. At first the world is shocked, but when the financial benefits come to light, ordinary people are rushing to have a life of luxury. One such person is Paul Safranek (Matt Damon), who is at risk of losing his home and marriage. He and his wife decide to undergo the procedure, but when Paul awakens, he learns that his wife couldn't go through with it, and he's left to navigate this brave new world on his own. The logistic and social changes brought upon by this simple transition are amazing! I really got into the whole thing from the process to the luxury world they live in, and to the discovery that poverty can still exist even in paradise. I really don't know why the studio would bill and advertise this film as a comedy, because really it's more sad than it is funny. In fact, aside from a few lines here and there, nothing about this film or the situation Paul gets into are really funny. Matt Damon stars and as has become common place with him lately, he seems to just be going through the motions. His lack of emotion made his a hard character to like. Thankfully he is paired with newcomer Hong Chau who really steals the show. Downsizing is a film with a terrific idea, with every last detail executed to perfection, however once characters get involved, the story becomes much less interesting. Once you put aside the setting, this film can be broken down to a simple love story, which doesn't do the rest of the film justice. 

The Legend of Hercules


Starring: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, & Roxanne McKee
Director: Renny Harlin - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 2 Stars

I was a History major and as such I find these types of films difficult to watch. They are so inaccurate and give people the wrong perception of history, then again, The Legend of Hercules was directed by Renny Harlin, and he wouldn't put his name on any old thing. After praying to Zeus for guidance, Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) is picked to carry the son of God. The King however knows that Hercules (Kellan Lutz) isn't his and commits an act of betrayal that separates Hercules from the woman he loves. When I think of the mighty Hercules, Kellan Lutz isn't the first name that comes to mind, but he does a pretty solid job with the role. The rest of the cast also performed equally well, and for once the cast wasn't the problem. A film like this has a story to tell and that story can't be told in an hour and half. I enjoyed the narrative, but the best parts of the film were so rushed, that I felt slighted. The whole Egyptian angle should have been a major theme, but it only lasts about ten minutes, and before you know it, Herc is fighting for his life is arenas around the world, scenes that were also rushed. The film is very straight forward and far too predictable for a story like this. There are Kings and Gods, legends from thousands of years ago, but no twists or turns? No surprises thrown in for dramatic effect at least? Overall, the film is somewhat entertaining and as I said the cast was good, but The Legend of Hercules flies by at the speed of light, which makes the film difficult to really get behind.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

2019 - Remakes & Sequels


Many moviegoers believe the sequels ruin the original film and that remakes don't do the original justice, however remakes and sequels are often times the highest money makes or the year. While most aren't recognized by the Academy, and are panned by the critics, people still flock to the theaters every year to see the characters they know and love.


The Ultimate Movie Review would like to give special thanks to our friends for helping us with this years list!

Upcoming Sequels Expected In Theaters During 2019:
Angel Has Fallen
The Angry Birds Movie 2
Annabelle 3
The Avengers 4: Endgame
A Dog's Way Home
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
47 Meters Down: Uncaged
Frozen 2
Glass (Unbreakable 2)
Godzilla: King of The Monsters
Happy Death Day 2U
How To Train Your Dragon: Hidden World
It: Chapter 2
John Wick: Chapter 3
Jumanji 3
Kingsman 3: The Great Game
The Lego Movie 2
A Madea Family Funeral 
Men In Black: International
The Other Side of Heaven: Fire of Faith
Rambo 5: Last Blood
The Secret Life of Pets 2
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Star Wars: Episode XI
Terminator 6
3 From Hell (The Devil's Rejects)
Toy Story 4
Wonder Woman: 1984
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Zombieland 2

Upcoming Remakes Expected In Theaters In 2019:
The Addams Family
Aladdin
Charlie's Angels
Child's Play
Doom
Dumbo
The Grudge
Hellboy
Jacob's Ladder
The Lion King
Masters of The Universe
Miss Bala
Pet Semetary
Pokemon
Shaft
What Men Want

Upcoming Marvel Films Expected In Theaters In 2019:
The Avengers: Endgame
Captain Marvel
Kingsman 3: The Great Game
The New Mutants
Spider-Man: Far From Home
X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Upcoming DC Films Expected In Theaters In 2019:
Joker
Shazam
Wonder Woman: 1984