Arrival — A Movie Review

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Dec 072016
 

arrivalmovieposterWhen mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team – led by expert linguist Louise Banks – is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Ted Chiang (based on the short story “Story of Your Life” written by)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Forest Whitaker

Runtime: 116 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi; Released: 11 Nov 2016

Veteran’s Day was a holiday for me, but not Lay, so I went to watch this movie. It was well worth the ticket price. 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 – Ex Machini

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Jun 062015
 

Ex Machini Movie PosterCaleb, a 26 year old coder at the world’s largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world’s first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.

Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Corey Johnson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Runtime: 108 min, Rated: R, Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Released: 24 Apr 2015

Me and Lay saw this at AMC at Westshore Mall about two weeks ago. It was kind of a last minute decision, but was well worth watching. We both found the movie intriguing and thought-provoking. 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 »

Gravity – A Movie Review

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Oct 182013
 

Gravity Movie PosterDr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone – tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness.

In Theaters: October 4, 2013; MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.); Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thriller

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Writers: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón

Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen, Paul Sharma, Amy Warren

Let me start by saying we did not see this in 3D, so I include that disclaimer. I am certain it had an impact on my feelings about this movie, as one can clearly see there are aspects of the cinematography that were designed to be enhanced by the 3D and IMAX capabilities. The effects and cinematography are outstanding, but I’m always a sucker for space visuals. On the whole though, Gravity lacked gravitas…to be more blunt, it sucked. Continue reading »

World War Z-A Movie Review

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Jul 292013
 

World War Z PosterOn an ordinary day, Gerry Lane and his family find their quiet drive interrupted by urban gridlock. An ex-United Nations investigator, Lane senses that this is no ordinary traffic jam. As police helicopters buzz the sky and motorcycle cops careen wildly below, the city erupts into chaos. Something is causing hordes of people to viciously attack each other – a lethal virus that is spread through a single bite, turning healthy humans into something unrecognizable, unthinking and feral. Neighbor turns on neighbor; a helpful stranger suddenly becomes a dangerous enemy. The origins of the virus are unknown, and the number of infected grows exponentially larger each day, quickly becoming a global pandemic. As the infected overwhelm the world’s armies and rapidly topple its governments, Lane is forced to return to his dangerous former life to insure the safety of his family, leading a desperate worldwide search for the source of the epidemic and a means to stop its relentless spread.

Release Date:   June 21, 2013;  MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images); Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Adaptation; Run Time: 1 hour 55 minutes; Distributors: Paramount Pictures

Director: Marc Forster

Actors: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Anthony Mackie, Julia Levy-Boeken, Elyes Gabel, David Morse, Sterling Jerins

Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan-Screenplay; Max Brooks-Source Material Continue reading »

May 172009
 

startrek_smalltheatricalThe fate of the galaxy rests in the hands of bitter rivals. One, James Kirk, is a delinquent, thrill-seeking Iowa farm boy. The other, Spock, was raised in a logic-based society that rejects all emotion. As fiery instinct clashes with calm reason, their unlikely but powerful partnership is the only thing capable of leading their crew through unimaginable danger, boldly going where no one has gone before.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Adaptation and Sequel; Running Time: 2 hr. 7 min.; Release Date: May 7th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence and brief sexual content.

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

I have tons of time off available from work, and in fact, have to take some of it or loose it. So I took some time off Friday afternoon and went to see Star Trek. Lay didn’t want to see it. This is certainly one of the better movies.

Let me start off by saying that I suppose I might qualify as a trekkie. I don’t own any memorabilia, I can’t speak Klingon, and I’ve never attended a convention. However, I did love the TV show as a child, and I’ve seem all the movies. I’ve been disappointed with a number of those.

I thought the overall theme and general spirit of of this movie was consistent with that of the original series. I did have a little trouble with the opening scenes, as they seemed a little bit too much like “today” for something taking place 300 years into the future.

Otherwise, I liked the movie. I could see all the younger versions of these characters turning out as they did in the TV Series. The cinematography was good, and the music was a good fit, including the original TV theme. The writing in this film is fantastic. Though some standard science fiction plot devices are used, what they say about this film is true. It can appeal to Trekies and non-Trekies alike, even though being one does help you understand the nuances of the characters, especially Kirk and Spock. The main accomplishment of the writers is their simplicity. Sure, the plot may look familiar, but it is fluidly and BELIEVABLY executed. Keeping Trekkie-level complexity out of the plot not only expands the viewer base, but also allowed the writers to focus on delightfully placed humor and character development that is consistent in the eyes of Trekies, and intriguing in the eyes of newcomers.

I loved how Leonard Nimoy was brought in for a small part, and I thought Scottie was introduced in a fun way. I would recommend seeing this movie.

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The Happening – A Movie Review

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Jun 152008
 

The HappeningA family is on the run from an inexplicable and unstoppable event that threatens not only humankind–but the most basic human instinct of them all: survival.

Genres: Action/Adventure, ThrillerRelease Date: June 13th, 2008 (wide)
MPAA Rating: R for violent and disturbing images.

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Spencer Breslin, Ashlyn Sanchez

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

I thought the Sixth Sense was a good movie with a great plot twist. Shyamalan’s movie Signs was a true horror sci-fi classic, but I’d change the title of this movie “The Not Happening.” I view this as a complete loss of 90 plus minutes of my life.

I’ve even come to like Mark Wahlberg, and he and the other actors did the best they could with the material they had, but there was nothing here. The scariest part of movie involved their interactions with an old lady living alone, and that was only a minor part of the story.

The main message I’d leave you with is, DO NOT see this movie. Don’t even bother to rent it once it comes out on DVD. This movie gets a single star only because you can’t give it a zero.

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Nov 182007
 

28 Weeks LaterSix months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.

Director:
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Genre:
Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Cast:
Catherine McCormack, Robert Carlyle, Amanda Walker, Shahid Ahmed, Garfield Morgan, Emily Beecham, Beans El-Balawi, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Rose Byrne, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton, Meghan Popiel, Idris Elba

Lay and I watched this on DVD last night. We were both disappointed. Zombie movies have never been my thing, but I actually thought 28 days later was a very good horror movie, which had seemingly real characters respond as anyone might in an almost believable situation.

28 Weeks later starts out OK, but devolves pretty quickly. It just goes way to much off course to unbelievability. And the camera and direction just go completely awry. I got the impression sometimes that the script was written merely to create scenes the director wanted to film. An example is when the kids and an Army doctor are moving down a dark escalater with the doctor using the night scope on a sniper’s rifle to watch the kids and try to direct them down the steps around a bunch of dead and decaying bodies. It gave the director the chance to shoot the kids wide-eyed in fear through a circular filter using the shaky cam technique. It quickly began to look like a knock off of the Blaire Witch Project.

I guess if I hadn’t seen the first movie, I’d like this one better, but as is often the case, the sequel just didn’t live up to the standards of the original. It wasn’t a complete waste of time, but it wasn’t nearly so good as the first movie.

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Transformers

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Oct 312007
 

TransformersHigh-school student Sam Witwicky buys his first car, who is actually the Autobot Bumblebee. Bumblebee defends Sam and his girlfriend Mikaela Banes from the Decepticon Barricade, before the other Autobots arrive on Earth. They are searching for the Allspark, and the war on Earth heats up as the Decepticons attack a United States military base in Qatar. Sam and Mikaela are taken by the top-secret agency Sector 7 to help stop the Decepticons, but when they learn the agency also intends to destroy the Autobots, they formulate their own plan to save the world.

Director:
Michael Bay

Genre:
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Cast:
Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, John Turturro, Michael O’Neill, Kevin Dunn, Peter Cullen, Julie White, Amaury Nolasco, Mark Ryan, Zack Ward

Despite the advancements in today’s special effects, it being inspired from the highly popular 1980’s Hasbro toys and cartoon, with Steven Spielberg overseeing the production as an Executive producer, Michael Bay and his writers were still guilty of making this a disappointment of a movie.

The story was about a teenager name Sam (Shia LaBeouf) who purchases a car that happens to be a robot in disguise from another world. Sam is then caught in the middle of an ancient battle between two groups of these alien robots, the heroic Autobots and the Evil Decepticons. Both are seeking a mysterious cube known as the “Allspark” that contains their “life source.” This central plot intertwines with the story of a special ops team being attacked by one of the Decepticons in the beginning, the pentagon enlisting teams of computer hackers to decode a signal they detected that ultimately came from the Decepticons and a hokey love story between Sam and Mikaela, the gorgeous bombshell in his class.

As intriguing as all of this may sound, besides the many battle scenes, car chases, attempts on Sam’s life and Decepticon attacks, nothing happens to move the story along. Whatever layers of stories that were suppose to be happening beneath the unimpressive action sequences were uneventful and slow. So, all you’re left with is the action, which by the end was boring and tedious to watch. I was really wanting to see this movie, and I never watched the cartoon, so I came with no baggage…but it just didn’t make the grade for me.

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X-Men: The Last Stand

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May 302006
 

tt0376994.jpgWhen a cure is found to treat mutations, lines are drawn amongst the X-Men, led by Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart), and the Brotherhood, a band of powerful mutants organized under Xavier’s former ally, Magneto (McKellen).

Directed by
Brett Ratner

Genres
Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Cast
Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Patrick Stewart, Ben Foster, Dania Ramirez, Ellen Page

Lay and I took two of his nephews to see this movie Saturday.

Director Brett Ratner was desperately trying to cram in so many characters , effects, and try to get emotional depth and character driven scenes, he failed at getting the balance right. He took on too much it seems and in a hurry, so this could be released before Superman Returns. Interesting plot developments sprung up then quickly disappeared without going anywhere. As an X men fan,it annoys me to think I could have directed it better- and I’ve never directed before.

Sir Ian, Patrick Picard, Hugh Wolverine were all excellent as expected. The young mutant boy with the ‘cure’ was great for the part too, and should have featured more. I was genuinely moved when Prof X was killed(and in a very impressive way) much like I was when Data died in the last Star Trek film. But emotional catalysts were few and far between and this is partly why it scored low with me.

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