Star Wars: The Force Awakens–A Movie Review

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Jun 042016
 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Movie PosterA scavenger (Daisy Ridley) and a renegade stormtrooper (John Boyega) enlist the help of legendary smugglers/freedom fighters Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca to transport a droid carrying information regarding the whereabouts of long-lost Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to General Leia Organa of the Resistance before it falls into the hands of Kylo Ren and the First Order.

Director: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt

Cast: Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, and Daisy Ridley

Lay was working today, Saturday, so I finally watched this on Amazon. Continue reading »

The Martian – A Movie Review

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Feb 292016
 

The_Martian_PosterDuring a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crew-mates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard (screenplay), Andy Weir (book)
Stars: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Vincent Kapoor, Benedict Wong
Runtime: 144 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi; Released: 02 Oct 2015

We watched this Saturday evening. I’d been wanting to see it for a while. Overall impressions, it was OK at best, but not nearly as good as I expected. Lay didn’t like it at all, but he’s never very keen on sci-fi. Continue reading »

Movie Review – Mad Max: Fury Road

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Jun 072015
 

Mad Max: Fury Road Movie PosterAn apocalyptic story set in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is fighting for the necessities of life, especially water. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.

Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntingon-Whiteley
Runtime: 120 min; Rated: R; Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi; Released: 15 May 2015

We watched this at Britton Plaza Theater a couple of weeks ago. I was surprised at how much I actually liked it. I was set for the disappointment that sequels usually bring. However, Mad Max: Fury Road is a visually stunning masterpiece by George Miller. It’s been 30 years since Miller’s last project: the last of the original Mad Max films, starring Mel Gibson. It delivered exactly what it promised. Continue reading »

Movie Review – Interstellar

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Jun 062015
 

InterstellarIn the near future, Earth has been devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen its lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history as they embark on an interstellar voyage into the unknown. Coop, the pilot of the Endurance, must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Matthew McConaughey, Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow, Matt Daymon, Anne Hathaway, Topher Grace
Runtime: 169 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi; Released: 07 Nov 2014

I watched this one afternoon a few weeks ago on Amazon Streaming. (Yes, I am way behind on my reviews.) I would like to have seen it in iMax. It was a very good movie, and I enjoyed it, but thought the story could have been told just a little more concisely. Continue reading »

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire-A Movie Review

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May 312014
 

Wow, I am way behind getting my movies reviewed, but we also haven’t been to see as many lately. I also haven’t been writing much here, as I’ve been writing for hours every day for work, so there’s little enthusiasm left at the end of the day, to keep writing. But, I want to do better, so here I am trying to catch up some.

Hunger Games:Catching Fire Movie PosterA year after winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and her partner, Peeta Mellark must go on what is known as the Victor’s Tour wherein they visit all the districts. But before leaving, Katniss is visited by President Snow who fears that Katniss defied him a year ago during the games when she chose to die with Peta. With both Katniss and Peeta declared the winners, it is fueling a possible uprising. He tells Katniss that while on tour she better try to make sure that she puts out the flames or else everyone she cares about will be in danger. But unfortunately she fails to do that. So Snow decides to enact what is known as the Quarter Quell, the right to make a change to the Hunger Games, which he is allowed to do every 25 years. He decides to hold an edition of the Hunger Games wherein previous winners will compete again. Their mentor Haymitch thinks their best chance to survive is form an alliance with some of the others. They decide to align themselves with Finnick and his partner, Mags. But Snow is secretly hoping Katniss will be killed.

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writers: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Michael Arndt (screenplay), Suzanne Collins (Novel)

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Jack Quaid, Taylor St. Clair, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Bruce Bundy, Nelson Ascencio, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci

Run Time: 46 min Category: Adventure, Sci-Fi Relase Date: 22 November 2013

I never expected to like either of the Hunger Games movies, but me and Lay liked both. He liked this one slightly less, but I thought it a was very good sequel. We always find people in the games to root for, and of course, they always die. Continue reading »

The Bourne Legacy – A Movie Review

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Sep 062012
 
The Bourne Legacy Poster

Watch the trailer

An expansion of the universe from Robert Ludlum’s novels, centered on a new hero whose stakes have been triggered by the events of the previous three films. To become an elite government operative, a man hands himself over to the same agency that birthed the likes of Jason Bourne, but he’s eventually forced to go on the run.

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sequel/Thriller; Running Time: 135mins; MPAA Rating: PG-13

Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton

I am kind of trying to take some time off this week, but did have some work to do Tuesday. Lay was off. Once I was done, we went to the Britton 8 to watch The Bourne Legacy.

We weren’t rushing to see this one, as the reviews have been mixed and a little on the low side. I felt it kept to the spirit Of the Bourne series and kept me interested. It ended kind of abruptly after an unnecessarily long chase scene, but I am still glad I went to see it. If you’re a Bourne fan enjoy, you’ll most likely find it acceptable. Continue reading »

Expendables, The – A Movie Review

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Sep 122010
 

A group of mercenaries is hired to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator. Once the mission begins, the men realize things aren’t quite as they appear, finding themselves caught in a dangerous web of deceit and betrayal. With their mission thwarted and an innocent life in danger, the men struggle with an even tougher challenge — one that threatens to destroy this band of brothers. Barney Ross is a man with nothing to lose. Fearless and void of emotion, he is the leader, the sage and the strategist of this tight-knit band of men who live on the fringe. His only attachment is to his pickup truck, his seaplane and his team of loyal modern-day warriors. His is a true cynic who describes what he does as “removing those hard to get at stains.” The team behind him is made up of Lee Christmas, former SAS and a savant with anything that has a blade; Yin Yang, a master at close-quarter combat; Hale Caesar, who has known Barney for ten years and is a long-barrel weapons specialist; Toll Road, a skilled demolitions expert and considered the intellect of the group; and Gunnar Jensen, a combat veteran and an expert in precision sniping who struggles with his own demons. When the mysterious Church offers Barney a job no one else would take, Barney and his team embark on what appears to be a routine mission: overthrow General Gaza, the murderous dictator of the small island country of Vilena and end the years of death and destruction inflicted on its people. On a reconnaissance mission to Vilena, Barney and Christmas meet their contact Sandra, a local freedom-fighter with a dark secret. They also come to learn who their true enemy is: rogue ex-CIA operative James Monroe and his henchman Paine. When things go terribly wrong, Barney and Christmas are forced to leave Sandra behind, essentially giving her a death sentence. Haunted by this failure, Barney convinces the team to return to Vilena to rescue the hostage and finish the job he started. And to perhaps save a soul: his own.

Genres: Action/Adventure and Crime/Gangster; Running Time: 1 hr. 43 min.; Release Date: August 13th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language.

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone

I tried to take the past week off. One of the things I like to do when I take time off is go see a movie in the afternoon. Somehow it’s a great feeling of playing hooky. It definitely makes me feel like I’m off. I elected to go see The Expendables, as Lay wasn’t interested. That would make him the smarter of the two of us.

It is a typical action film. If you’re expecting any sort of Oscar Award performances or screenplay, you will be disappointed. If you want to see typical and predictable action, this film offers about as much as any.

Barney Ross (Stallone) leads the his mercenary group ‘The Expendables’ across the globe, taking care of hostage situations, government reorganizations and all manner of dubious military undertakings. His right hand man, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), helps run the crew and has an ongoing debate with Barney regarding Lee’s penchant for knives vs. Barney’s love of guns. To round out the crew there is the martial arts specialist who is constantly (and inexplicably) asking for more money, Ying Yang (Jet Li), Toll Road (Randy Couture), the automatic shotgun toting Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), the possible junkie giant, Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and the retired patriarch,Tool (Mickey Rourke). They are going up against General Garza (David Zayas) who is backed by the mysterious James Monroe (Eric Roberts) and his hulking bodyguard, Paine (THE Stone Cold Steve Austin). Usually I wouldn’t go through the entire cast, but so much of the little enjoyment in the film is realizing ‘HEY, I know that actor from before, in my childhood!’

The film is nothing if not violent, with bodies exploding, cars riddled with bullets and many, many throats getting knifed. Unfortunately, for a film that is so manically driven, none of the action seems fresh. The martial arts feel redundant, the Mexican stand-offs predictable in their lunacy, the explosions so commonplace they become yawn inducing. Even the ‘casual banter in a high tension situation because they are so professional’ gimmick wears painfully thin.

So, it’s probably best to wait until you can get it at a Redbox, and don’t have any high expectations, and it could be fun to watch.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 4.00 out of 10)
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Jonah Hex – A Movie Review

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Jul 042010
 

Jonah Hex is a scarred drifter and bounty hunter of last resort, a tough and stoic gunslinger who can track down anyone… and anything. Having survived death, Jonah’s violent history is steeped in myth and legend, and has left him with one foot in the natural world and one on the “other side.” His only human connection is with Lila, whose life in a brothel has left her with scars of her own. Jonah’s past is about to catch up with him when the U.S. military makes him an offer he can’t refuse: in exchange for his freedom from the warrants on his head, he must track down and stop the dangerous terrorist Quentin Turnbull. But Turnbull, who is gathering an army and preparing to unleash Hell, is also Jonah’s oldest enemy and will stop at nothing until Jonah is dead.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Western and Adaptation; Running Time: 84 min.; Release Date: June 18th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and sexual content.

Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Micheal Shannon

Directed By: Jimmy Hayward

Lay was most interested in seeing this movie, so we went last weekend.

If you’re prone to make jokes that you lose interest in a movie if something isn’t blown up in the first five minutes of whatever they’re watching?, Well, you have any problems with the opening of Jonah Hex. There are two huge explosions, a shootout, and a robbery in the first fifteen minutes of the film.

Before I go any further, let me be the first to point out that I didn’t read the Jonah Hex comics. So this is purely from a moviegoer’s standpoint. Jonah Hex is so focused on getting revenge for his family that he’s really kind of boring other than the occasional wise remark . He can apparently talk to dead people, which is kind of interesting. Animals tend to have a thing for him, too; horses, dogs, a huge murder of crows.

Megan Fox brings mostly eye candy to her role as a promiscuous woman who has a soft spot for Jonah Hex and has a decent action scene towards the end of the film, but adds little to her repertoire as far as acting goes. John Malkovich as the main villain supports that theory, but his character is also pretty dull. He lost the thing he loved most in this world thanks to Jonah Hex and the military, so he’s decided to kill innocent bystanders and destroy the United States.

If you ever saw (and enjoyed) the old Wild West TV show or movie, you’ll probably like Jonah Hex. They sure seemed to have a lot of really neat technology back in those days. I enjoyed the movie. It’s not going to be up for for any Oscars, but it’s worth renting.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
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Robin Hood – A Movie Review

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May 172010
 

In 13th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power. And whether thief or hero, one man from humble beginnings will become an eternal symbol of freedom for his people.

“Robin Hood” chronicles the life of an expert archer, previously interested only in self-preservation, from his service in King Richard’s army against the French. Upon Richard’s death, Robin travels to Nottingham, a town suffering from the corruption of a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation, where he falls for the spirited widow Lady Marion, a woman skeptical of the identity and motivations of this crusader from the forest. Hoping to earn the hand of Maid Marion and salvage the village, Robin assembles a gang whose lethal mercenary skills are matched only by its appetite for life. Together, they begin preying on the indulgent upper class to correct injustices under the sheriff.

With their country weakened from decades of war, embattled from the ineffective rule of the new king and vulnerable to insurgencies from within and threats from afar, Robin and his men heed a call to ever greater adventure. This unlikeliest of heroes and his allies set off to protect their country from slipping into bloody civil war and return glory to England once more.

Genres: Action/Adventure and Drama; Running Time: 2 hrs. 11 min.; Release Date: May 14th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content.

Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, William Marshall, Mark Strong, Mark Addy, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Eileen Atkins, Kevin Durand, Max von Sydow

Directed By: Ridley Scott

We went to see this film at an earlier showing Friday evening to avoid some of the crowds. The film is no Gladiator, maybe one of the best films, but it is a decent movie. I got my money’s worth.

One of the problems with the film is a sense of urgency. Instead of sometimes lingering to develop the story, it often charges ahead and can seem somewhat aimless. Also, often the music overpowers the dialog. Combined with the accents, it can be hard to understand.

Crowe and Scott reunite again and Crowe gives a solid performance as a rougher and tougher Robin. Blanchett too is solid as an older Maiden, showing she is a tough woman who also willing to fight: a woman that properly would not have existed in this period. Strong shows once again that he is an excellent villain, having stared in Sherlock Holmes and Kick-Ass, a man who thinks about his own self-interest. Strong has been making a good career as villain for hire and he was the strongest actor in the film. The American in this English set film did well, William Hurt was very strong as the wronged advice in the King’s court, whilst Huston seemed to be having a blast as Richard I and obviously shows he is not as noble he seems.

This film felt like an origins story, a start to a new film series. This is Robin Hood that has not been seen on-screen like this before. I actually hope there is a sequel and the Merry Band get more film time.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
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Clash of The Titans – A Movie Review

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May 052010
 

The ultimate struggle for power pits men against kings and kings against gods. But the war between the gods themselves could destroy the world. Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus is helpless to save his family from Hades, vengeful god of the underworld. With nothing left to lose, Perseus volunteers to lead a dangerous mission to defeat Hades before he can seize power from Zeus and unleash hell on earth. Leading a daring band of warriors, Perseus sets off on a perilous journey deep into forbidden worlds. Battling unholy demons and fearsome beasts, he will only survive if he can accept his power as a god, defy his fate and create his own destiny.

Genres:     Action/Adventure and Remake; Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.; Release Date: April 2nd, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality.

Actors: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, Alexa Davalos, Mads Mikkelsen, Izabella Miko, Liam Cunningham, Hans Matheson, Ashraf Barhom, Ian Whyte

Directed by: Louis Leterrier

We watched this at the theater a couple of weeks go. Let me direct. Skip this movie and watch the 1981 Harry Hausen version of the movie. It’s much better.

Remakes tend to be very good, or be epic failures, and this was an epic failure. This film tears to shreds the “Perseus vs. Medusa” myth and replaces it with mindless power chord progressions, endless action sequences, and a trivialized view of the Greek gods. If you believe this film, the Gods simply stand around on pedastals watching the world below.

Sam Worthington has proved himself to be a competent actor recently, but his performance is just nauseating with his embarrassed delivery of wooden dialogue. The script is awful, and the overblown spectacle of the entire thing is so self-indulgent that I was bored within the first 15 minutes. They spent no time setting up the story. The actions sequences were not that great, and there is absolutely no reason to watch this movie in 3D.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
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Avatar – A Movie Review

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Jan 202010
 

Avatar Movie PosterAVATAR takes us to a spectacular world beyond imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on an epic adventure, ultimately fighting to save the alien world he has learned to call home.

We enter the alien world through the eyes of Jake Sully, a former Marine confined to a wheelchair. But despite his broken body, Jake is still a warrior at heart. He is recruited to travel light years to the human outpost on Pandora, where corporations are mining a rare mineral that is the key to solving Earth’s energy crisis. Because the atmosphere of Pandora is toxic, they have created the Avatar Program, in which human “drivers” have their consciousness linked to an avatar, a remotely-controlled biological body that can survive in the lethal air. These avatars are genetically engineered hybrids of human DNA mixed with DNA from the natives of Pandora… the Na’vi.

Reborn in his avatar form, Jake can walk again. He is given a mission to infiltrate the Na’vi, who have become a major obstacle to mining the precious ore. But a beautiful Na’vi female, Neytiri, saves Jake’s life, and this changes everything. Jake is taken in by her clan, and learns to become one of them, which involves many tests and adventures. As Jake’s relationship with his reluctant teacher Neytiri deepens, he learns to respect the Na’vi way and finally takes his place among them. Soon he will face the ultimate test as he leads them in an epic battle that will decide nothing less than the fate of an entire world.

Genres: Action/Adventure and Science Fiction/Fantasy; Running Time: 160 min.; Release Date: December 18, 2009; MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking

Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang and Michelle Rodriguez.

Directed by: James Cameron

I am skipping ahead a little by writing this review, as I’m behind on a couple of other movies I’ve seen recently. I went to see this Monday. It was a holiday, Lay was working and didn’t want to see this, so it was a good time to go. I saw it at Westshore Mall, and the theater was nearly  full.

There is no doubt this is a visually beautiful film. Cameron, with WETA Workshop and ILM, have truly outdone themselves. They have created a very real seeming alien world, and made it a work of art besides. I saw the 3D version after some debate (I don’t generally like 3D), and suggest that is the only way to see it. I appreciated the fact they used the 3D effect merely to help immerse you into this world, and not using it as “device” merely for the sake of the effect (no scary creatures jumping out of the screen at you).

The actors played their parts well, and the characters came through as realistic and believable. It was a good screenplay, but frankly could have easily been 30 minutes shorter. It was also a bit predictable and clichéd. I read a comment somewhere that it was like “Dances With Wolves” meets “Star Wars”, and I can certainly see how that was an apt comparison…in nearly every detail.

I can see why some neocons and others of the believers in “American Exceptionalism” would be unhappy with this movie. It is clearly an indictment of colonialism, and points out how Americans (and everyone in this movie from earth appears to be at least english speaking) abuse natural resources and have a sense of entitlement about it. Also, it clearly portrays our own sense that “our way” must always be better. So, yes Virginia, there is a political message here, and it comes through loud and clear. Maybe some people will take it to heart.

This would normally be a film I’d recommend seeing, but suggest waiting to see it on DVD. However, because of the stunning visuals in the film resulting from the colorful world Cameron has created, and the 3D effect, I have to suggest watching it in the theater on a big screen.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (2 votes, average: 6.00 out of 10)
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