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Friday, December 27, 2013

Jack Frost:1998

Release date: December 11, 1998 (USA)
Director: Troy Miller
MPAA rating: PG
Music composed by: Trevor Rabin
Budget: 85 million USD

   Oh, Michael Keaton! I can't really put my finger on you. What with your strange mixture of "laid back/don't give a crap" type attitude mixed with your sudden spurts of insanity. I just...well, I just don't know. I also don't know how his acting is going to fare against the whole, "suburban hailing, musically talented but too caught up in his work to spend time with his son, snowman embodying, death defying character he was cast to play, in the film, "Jack Frost" playing a character named, "Jack Frost" and a terribly frightening, terribly unoriginal, Frosty The Snowman...sweet Jesus...This is "Jack Frost".

   And may I address this title misconception? When you name a movie, "Jack Frost" there really should be JACK FROST SOMEWHERE between the opening and closing credits! Y'know...Old Man Winter? That's who he is, right? Like, I'm not going crazy...there is a difference between Jack Flipping Frost, and Frosty the Flipping Snowman!  "But Albert! The movie is called "Jack Frost" because Michael Keaton plays a man named "Jack Frost". Yeah, I know that...why's his name gotta be so stupid?! Uuuugggg...It's a kids movie, Albert...just calm down...

Sigh...

   "Jack Frost" is about father figure and musician Jack Frost (Michael Keaton) and his efforts, or lack there of, to get closer to his son, Charlie (Joseph Cross). Long story short Jack dies and he's reincarnated into a snowman that Charlie had made in his image so that he could make up being such a crappy father figure to his son. That last part is where this film gets a little shaky. Keaton's character doesn't really become a better...anything. Although I guess you could say that just him spending time with his son is enough, but he never cleans up his act, or becomes a different person. Throughout his appearances as a snowman (and we'll get to that) he talks to charlie and teaches him things about hockey, but I always thought that him turning into a snowman was supposed to be symbolic, like it would come to be a visualization of his character arch and transformation into a better human being. Otherwise what was the point of him turning into a snowman? The budget for the film was something like eighty-five million! What was supposed to happen? Nothing happens! Michael Keaton talks to himself and makes jokes about balls! I don't get it! Maybe I'm looking too deeply into this film...but that's what happens man...

  The actors in "Jack Frost" are fine. There's nothing terribly wrong with any of them...accept for Michael Keaton. I love the guy, I really do. But he just doesn't fit in. 
I mean, his style (which I've already mentioned) worked well in "Batman" and it worked well in "Beetle Juice" but if you were to venture too far away from Tim Burton and still give a somewhat similar performance, it's not going to match up.

   Now lets talk about the snowman. Dear lord. Alright, so the majority of the film revolves around the snowman and how many snow related puns Keaton can conjure up. A major scene is when Charlie and Snowman Jack get into a huge snowball fight with a rival gang that had picked on Charlie in the past. The fight transitions to a chase scene between the gang and them as they attempt to escape via sled and ski's. This scene drags on for quite some time and even though it was meant for the audience to see that Charlie and his father are getting closer, we are forced to look away from this idea and more towards the crazy cg antics happening on screen. Although there are other bonding moments, as scarce as they are scattered throughout the film. And that's what perplexes me the most. There are too little of these moments to make up for the amount of neglect Jack had shown Charlie in the past.

   For example, the first half of the film is dedicated to not one but TWO "make the date complexes". You know the kind! The type of plot in every single kid friendly sports film. The father promises to come to his son or daughter's game, but when the time comes he gets tied up at the last moment either with a problem or a solution to his problem. It happens every time and every time it happens I can't stand it! And just when you think the movie's through with classic but tired movie cliche's THEY GO AND DO IT AGAIN! Goodbye, "make the date complex" hello "hide the stranger"! Oh, don't act like you don't know what I mean! It started with "E.T" and ever since KABBLLAMM! Close to every kid movie with an alien thrown in is guilty of falling prey to the "hide the stranger" trope. Where the kid finds the (insert object here) but mom and dad can't find out so he/she has to hide it. they're old, they're gimmicky, and they're just a downright disgrace to the film industry. Just...please be original with your thoughts, writers. On behalf of all cinephiles, I beg of you. No more cliche's.

This movie could have been good. Heck, It may have been pretty funny if they took out every shortcut, every punchline, everything stupid! But no. They managed to make a movie about a talking, moving, hockey-playing snowman...dull. How do you do that? You get the wrong actor to play your lead, you write some bad puns, you cut some corners, you focus more on the comedy what could have otherwise been a pretty decent drama, and you name your movie..."JACK FROST"! ...Sigh...So many things weighed this movie down. So many things! And I really want to be able to look beyond that, and say, "Well, the CG was pretty okay, and they don't over complicate the magic wish that went into creating a talking snowman, and I guess by the end of the film it's pretty heartwarming to think that this once jerk of a father has made amends with his son." But that would give me something to think about, and I hate thinking. After all, I am a film critic. 




   ...wait...what'd this movie have to do about Christmas? Do...do I still have to do a Christmas movie review? I don't think I do. I mean, it's "Jack Frost"! There's snow, and it kind of ends on Christmas. At least I think it does...Oh, well. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, and happy holidays! Until next time. 

5.0/10


Watch The Trailer Here
Next Review: Her 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Predator: 1987

Release date: June 12, 1987 (USA)
Director: John McTiernan
Sequel: Predator 2
MPAA rating: R
Screenplay: Jim Thomas, John Thomas

   There are a couple Schwarzenegger movies that I would put above all else. Running Man, The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Commando, Total Recall...Heck, I could keep going forever! It really is difficult when trying to choose a favorite among so many grade-A action titles.  Not many of his films have much in common with one another, besides the fact that most revolve around him, his imperviousness to bullets, and ability to throw one liners faster than you can get to the chopper. John McTiernan's "Predator" is no exception in this case. Schwarzenegger plays Dutch, an ex-commando dropped into the wild and forced to pit himself against an extra-terrestrial, heat visioned, tactical assassin! This is gonna be awesome.
   "Predator"! The classic tale of a muscle bound solider and his friends fighting for their lives against a cloaked...well...predator. To get an idea of how the film plays out, just picture any Friday the 13th film, add a jungle and much better direction, and preheat the oven to fully bake what would otherwise become known as a half baked movie trope. It really does follow this pattern of masked killer/body-count/assassin flick though. And that's not necessarily a bad thing! In fact, I find those movies quite entertaining. However, with the system being recycled so many times one tends to find the same premise rather boring IF all other elements surrounding the system are ALSO stale. This fortunately is not the case. "Predator" stays entertaining until the very end because it attempted to a very interesting combination of two genres of film: action and horror.
   It's great fun when you have two genres that work together so well! James Cameron attempted this in "Aliens", venturing far away from its predecessor and adding a whole new level of craft that continues to amaze me to this day. But I could talk for hours about the "Alien" franchise and I intend to do so...but that will be for another time. Bottom line, "Predator" is able to work on multiple levels, entertaining not only the horror fans with the predator's scary looking face and freaky sounding alien noises, but also the action fans with the great utilization of characters adding suspense, guns, bullets, and most important of all, explosions. 
  But the reason that I like "Predator" the most is because it's an entertaining film. It's really fun to watch, and if you've seen any Shwarzenegger film you should know what to expect. I understand that I have neglected to address any negative aspects about the film, but I have to explain something before I do. You either will like it or you won't. What I mean is, with a movie like "Predator" you have to judge it differently than you might judge "Chinatown" or "Terminator 2". "Predator" is something that shouldn't be taken too seriously, like most Shwarzenegger films. And I am in no way trying to suggest that movies like this are a novelty or expendable or anything like that. It's very good, and besides the dated special effects, I'd say it's pretty @#!*% good! In fact, that may be my only gripe with this film. I suppose the way the predator looks, the cloaking device, the cheesy acting and dialogue are getting in the way of me being able to rate it higher than I want it to. But I don't want that to be the case. Wanna know why? Because That's Why I Like It! 

7.5/10


Watch The Trailer Here
Next Review: Jack Frost 1998

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gravity: 2013


Release date: October 4, 2013 (USA)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Running time: 91 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
Budget: 100 million USD

Cast: Sandra BullockGeorge Clooney

Hello, my name is Colin, and I guess you could call me a reviewer. I barely qualify as a human being so any title given to me should be taken with a grain of salt. Today I’ll be reviewing “Gravity”. I read a lot of reviews, and they often start off with a paragraph description of the movie, followed by the views of the author. I hate to give descriptions. I never am able to accurately sum up the events of the movie in a logical, cohesive, or understandable fashion. Instead of trying to sum up what happened in the hour and a half movie I watched, allow me to give you two sentences of description. Sandra Bullock is in Space. She tries to get back to Earth. At any rate, the story takes a back seat to the acting and the visual feast that is “Gravity”. With that, allow me to continue.
The first thing anyone should notice about the movie is how well executed the cinematography is, and how amazing the visuals are. There is such a strong sense of place that, often, I had to remind myself I was just watching a movie. The first shot looking up at Earth is one of the most dizzying, disorienting, and amazing feelings I have had in Cinema. Dizzying is a word that accurately describes “Gravity”. The scale is most likely the most dizzying aspect of the whole film. While it is impressive to watch, I often had a strong sense of vertigo. If you like, or at least are used to the feeling of having an inner ear infection, then you’ll have no problems with “Gravity”. Otherwise, heed my advice. Every once in a while look down at your feet to remind yourself that you aren't floating, and gravity still applies to you. Drop a pencil or some @#!*% . Just remind yourself that you aren't going to fly the @#!*% off of earth.
I very much enjoy in movies not explicitly spelling out a character’s back story. Cuaron gives you just enough to each of his characters, so that you are satisfied with what you have, but can draw upon that information. Some of my favorite works of fiction have all done this from “Only God Forgives” to “Of Mice and Men” and I can appreciate when it is done well. As for the acting...  Sandra Bullock, or Sad Grandma Bullock, is absolutely amazing in this movie. She gives arguably the best performance in her whole career. It will be a shame if she is not at least nominated for an Academy Award, but I highly doubt she won’t be. The whole movie falls on her shoulders, as George Clooney has all of… maybe thirty lines. This means that Bullock is the only catalyst for the complex emotions and revelations the audience is supposed to feel, and subsequently experience as the character does. She does an amazing job of this, and the one scene that I keep coming back to is one particular one in which Bullock is in a pod floating through space, as she is sung to sleep. In an attempt to not spoil anything else, I’ll leave it at that. It was one of the most emotionally draining parts of the movie, and has haunted me since I left the theater.
Though I did like a majority of the movie there was one thing, other than the dizziness, that I did not. Some of the symbols were so apparently obvious, which to me is distracting, and @#!*% annoying. This is not the case with everyone, but to me it really takes me out of the whole experience if I can automatically tell what the writer was going for (I’m looking at you too “Evil Dead” remake). There was one scene in particular that I felt as if the cinematographer was standing over my shoulder, looking at me intently, asking if I understood. Forty minutes after the movie ended, I understood what the writer was going for, and I haven’t really needed to dissect the story since then. Usually I have to toy with meaning of movies for a while so it’s just unfortunate that the meaning didn't make me think much. Otherwise the movie was great. Every movie has its faults though. They’re made by imperfect creatures, so to expect perfection is ridiculous.
This is a movie for people who love the journey cinema can take you on, both emotionally and physically. It has one of the best performances I have seen from a leading female actress, and fantastic cinematography. It’s just a shame that at points it stumbles with a theme Cuaron couldn't figure out how to fit into the plot. I recommend seeing this movie, especially while it is still in theaters. Flying around the @#!*% earth is going to feel different in your living room with your forty inch plasma, than it would in Imax.


8.6/10


Watch The Trailer Here
Next Analysis: Only God Forgives 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

50/50: 2011

Release Date: September 30, 2011 (USA)
Director: Jonathan Levine
DVD Release Date: January 18, 2012
Cinematography: Terry Stacey
Music: Michael Giacchino


   Most people would hear about a film about cancer and think to themselves "Wow, how could anyone possibly make a comedy about cancer?" Well, I'll tell you. 50/50 uses only realistic situations that can be found in everyday life. If you know anyone with cancer, you know by now that it is a tragic thing and is no laughing matter; however, you may also know that there are funny moments that come along with it. 50/50 is a great example of this and displays the perfect comedy to drama ratio. It keeps you happy and laughing, but not enough to distract you from the tragedy that is cancer.


   When I watched this film for the first time I thought to myself "Hmmm, I really don't know about this. Who names their movie 50/50?" I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. The film has everything a good film needs: great camera work, great story, hilarious and dramatic writing, and of course a great director.  The movie was written by Will Reiser, who actually had cancer himself. When he wrote the screenplay he didn't want this to be a story about himself but about someone that hopefully most people could relate to instead. I personally think he did an amazing job with this. Almost everyone I know that has seen the movie will agree that the writing was superb.


8.5/10


Watch the Trailer
Next Review: Moonrise Kingdom 2012
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Carrie: 2013



   We all know the story about "Carrie" right? Girl get's bullied, girl gets endowed with telekinetic powers, girl gets revenge. It's a horror film classic by Brian De Palma, adapted from the lengthy horror novel by Steven King with the same name. Recently, a shot for shot remake of the same film was released, directed by Kimberly Pierce. This is that movie. I do not know why "Carrie" was remade. When audiences think, "horror film" nowadays, they think "constant, bloody, body count", but with this movie, they've sort of only got the nonstop violence saved up until the last half hour. It did appear that the director was trying to market a horror film from what can only be described as a "teen drama supernatural...movie?" But the film is certainly no horror flick, as the drawn out, comedic-ly forced soft core gore suggests in the climax. And I'm not saying that a horror film has to be exactly that, but if you're trying to warp a film's structure in order to comply with the consensus then you're doing something wrong.

   I also found it hard to believe that Chloe Grace Moretz  was the right person to cast as Carrie White herself, not because of anything wrong with her acting but because she...wouldn't...be...unpopular. Sissy Spacek in the Brian De Palma film looks like this abused, misunderstood, teenage girl, whereas Chloe Grace Moretz looks like someone who might be the one picking on Carrie! However, she does do a good job as Carrie, and Julianne Moore does an even better job as Margret White, Carrie's mother. The only reason that people should watch this version of "Carrie" is when they watch it back to back with the incredibly superior original film. I would not even go as far to say that "Carrie" is a good movie on its own. Truth be told I had very high hopes for this film. I only forgot to stop and ask myself, "Why does there need to be a remake of a timeless film?" 

If your thinking about watching "Carrie", do yourself a favor and stick to the classic.

6.0/10
Watch the Trailer Here
Next Review: Predator 1987


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Carrie: 1976


Release date: November 3, 1976 (USA)
Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, John Travolta


   I know it's November, but I just love horror films so much it's hard to stay away. It's like a drug. This sort of thing just plays with my mind and I can't tell the difference between TV and reality. I'm about to don a Scream outfit and butcher Neve Campbell in a broom closet. But let us venture away from the masked killer genre of horror, but not too far. We will be dealing exclusively with high school. High school drama, boys, girls, gym, prom, revenge, and John Travolta. Those two last one's are the most important parts to a good, old-school, high-school slasher flick. This is Brian De Palma's "Carrie".

   Once upon a time there was a girl named Carrie White, who lived with her psychopathic mother, Margret White in a weird and spooky house that everyone stays away from. Carrie is hated by almost everyone at school, but her luck begins to turn around for once when mostly popular student Tommy Ross asks her to the prom, and when she suddenly is endowed with telekinetic powers from beyond in order to exact her revenge on all the kids who tormented her in the past...MUUUHAHAHAHAHAHA! So, yeah, just your average, ordinary, quirky high school movie. I don't even know why I'm including a synopsis for this review in particular, because almost everyone knows the story about "Carrie". It's classic, and as far as I know, not many directors have borrowed this story-line about unpopular girls gaining powers to exact revenge on others. 

   It's not very simplistic of a story, but it's not so crazy that the audience can't connect to the characters. In fact, Brian De Palma does an exceptional job of revolving a film around high school kids that relates to adults. However this may have a little to do with the fact that most of the "high school students" that were cast are almost all out of high school. I know it is very strange, but it's true! Adults like the kids in "Carrie" more because they're older. If you want to test that, look at the recent remake of "Carrie" starring Hit-Girl I mean Chloe Grace Moretz. But I digress, If I wanted to compare the two films realistically I would probably do a back to back review of both of them...

   I can't really explain the joy that Brian De Palma brings to the horror genre with "Carrie". He can make a scene scary. He can do it very well (I'm looking at you, ending scene)! But there is something that he brings to the table, that I don't think I have ever seen in a horror film so far. There are certain scenes in the  movie that are dedicated to developing character, and it's done in a very subtle and quirky fashion. That might seem like a death sentence for a horror film, but the writing is so flippin' good that it works. Nearing the climax Tommy is dancing with Carrie and the conversation that follows is so good! And for a moment you forget what the entire movie is building up to. Scenes like this, where Tommy and his friends go out to buy tuxedo's and where Ms. Eleanor Snell is teaching gym class, are so well done and contrast from the dark and dismal predicaments and settings Carrie finds herself in. "Carrie" is able to accurately depict life being in High School by placing rather comedic sequences next to horrific and depressing one's



   "Carrie" is both a technically and aesthetically appealing film. The story is incredibly crafted, backed up with stunning performances by both Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie as Carrie and Margret White. It's a wonderful example of a "revenge" movie centering more around the characters and less around the whole "revenge" aspect. Brian De Palma has done an excellent job accurately depicting High School life (for the most part) and centering a simple plot of "prom drama run rampant" around a character that we can connect with and follow through her rise and fall journey.

7.7/10


Watch The Trailer Here
Next Review: Carrie 2013     

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Captain Phillips: 2013

Screenplay: Billy Ray
Director: Paul Greengrass                                  
Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd 


 So I lied to all of you guys... I said I'd review "Rush" next, but I changed my mind. Instead I'll be reviewing the new movie "Captain Phillips" which is directed by Paul Greengrass. (kind of a sketchy name if you ask me)

   "Captain Phillips" tells the semi-true story of Captain Richard Phillips and his Maersk Alabama cargo ship, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in over two hundred years. The real Captain Phillips is supposedly not the brightest or nicest guy in the world, and apparently the movie's storyline doesn't quite match up with the real story. I'm sure that the reason for this was so that Captain Phillips' character  could be molded into something more courageous. All of this aside, "Captain Phillips" had a pretty decent storyline. There were no obvious flaws in the story because it's really quite simple, there isn't a whole lot going on at once.  The story starts to slow down towards the middle of the film because like a real hostage scenario, there isn't much happening when the hostage is being held in captivity. Just A LOT of waiting.

   With "Forrest Gump" as one of my favorite movies as a kid, I can't exactly agree with the people that think "Captain Phillips" is "Tom Hanks's best work yet." I do think that he was quite good in this film, and there was one point in the film where Phillips is supposed to be in shock, and Tom Hanks looks exactly like what I picture someone in shock to look like. That scene made me like the movie a lot more and really displayed Tom Hanks's acting ability.



   Okay, lets get technical. The film was shot mainly with very closeup, shaky-cam shots of scenes and characters. The shaky-cam is a cool effect to have for some portions of the movie, but I started to get really tired of seeing the same shaky, tight, and uncomfortable shot over and over again. Many of the interior shots of the lifeboat almost made me feel claustrophobic, although I'm sure that was their purpose.  I'm sure the handheld look won't bother most people, but I felt that it was overused and kind of distracting from what was happening. If "Captain Phillips" were re-shot minus the shaky stuff, I think I would have really enjoyed the movie. "Captain Phillips" was by no means "a bad movie" but I really wished that it was shot differently.

7.8/10

Watch The Trailer Here

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Conjuring: 2013

Release date: July 19, 2013 (USA)
Director: James Wan
Running time: 112 minutes
MPAA rating: R
Cast: Mackenzie Foy

   James Wan, director of the acclaimed "Saw" series, has attempted to give the haunted house/possession genre of horror a new paint job with his latest (and not to mention greatest) film yet. This director had audiences saying, "ehhh, it was okay" with his previous film entitled, "Insidious." It dealt with a small child who fall into a comatose state of sorts, and becomes trapped in a place known as the further. His father is apparently the only one who can save him. I was really happy to find that I didn't hate "Insidious". In my experience, modern day horror films are more focused on torture porn than the situation or story. And it's quite ironic that the man behind the most beloved torture porn series of films is the very same man to direct one of the most impressive horror films to date. Yes, I said it. This is, "The Conjuring." 

   Our story follows a couple who specialize in ridding places and objects of those that possess them. They come across a very interesting case in the Warren household, where the mother of the family is has fallen prey to demonic possession, and the rest of the family is haunted by similar supernatural occurrences that plague their home. And...that's it. I'm surprised that such a recent release from a seemingly renowned horror film director is so simple. Granted this sort of thing has been done before, and the genre of horror that is demonic possession has recently become popular with general audiences. However, it's "The Conjuring" that takes this idea (or actually "Insidious") and does everything mostly well. The key word here is mostly.   

  James Wan is very good at making very effective horror films (for the most part). However, it's the third and final act that falls short. Throughout "The Conjuring" there are many subtly moments that are very effective and VERY scary. He's very good at making a house seem claustrophobic, and inescapable (even though the character probably could have left the house at any time...) However, the main problem that arises during the film is...well...let me explain something first. In a horror movie...or at least in any GOOD horror movie you have the horror aspect of the film which can be implemented at virtually any point as long as it is done well, and the characters that interact with the situation at hand. Sometimes the characters in the story can be the cause or BE the horror aspect and we not only learn more from each character but also the horror related plot device. Long story short the characters in the movie need to bounce off of the plot in a clear, and concise way. That is how it works. And to be perfectly frank, the dialogue in "The Conjuring" is abysmal. I just. I can't! Why in almost every single James Wan movie is the dialogue so...JUST OH MY GOD! I just can't! It's so hard to focus on the good aspects in his movies when I'm constantly being taken away by realllllyyyy badddd writing! But I'm just a stupid critic. What do I know?

   Despite the film's lack of engaging dialogue, I did actually find this film very scary. There were many moments where I saw great use in set design and ambiance. "The Conjuring" is in no way a perfect movie. I thought that James Wan had missed an opportunity when casting so many Warren children, but not really using that number to make an excessive body count. But I suppose that isn't necessarily what the movie wanted to have accomplished at the end. "The Conjuring" is no body count film, like "Friday The 13th" or "Halloween" and I'm thankful for that. I encourage a deviation from trendiness from time to time, and I know that soon every genre and type of horror film will be done to death and I'll have to find something new to waste my time with. It's just nice to see that, for the most part, someone did something right.

7.0/10


Watch the Trailer
Next Review: Carrie 1976

   

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Trainspotting: 1996

Director: Danny Boyle
Release Date: July 19, 1996
Producer: Andrew MacDonald

Who here likes Danny Boyle? I know I do. With such renowned movies under his belt, like "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 hours", you have to appreciate his filmmaking ability.

"Trainspotting" tells the story of Edinburgh scum Mark Renton. Renton is a avid heroin user who lives a trashy life. Everything he does is for the dope. Through a course of events Mark begins to come off of junk, but like coming clean from any serious addiction, it's easier said than done.

Okay, so let's break this down. For a movie about the struggles of heroin addiction "Trainspotting" does a surprisingly good job of keeping its audience happy and not feeling like they want to slit their wrists. *cough* requiem for a dream *cough* Even if the character interactions are not as realistic as some people may prefer, Boyle is able to achieve a semi-realistic, yet comically balanced scene.

As the film progresses, you get a firm sense of the time that has elapsed since its beginning. If I were to call "Trainspotting" a "coming of age" story, many people would probably go into it expecting the wrong thing. It is however, in its most basic definition, a coming of age story: boy is troubled, boy comes clean, boy struggles, boy comes clean. Is that any different from the intended messages of "Stand by Me?" People love being retold the story of the screw up kid who is finally able to come through and beat his original faults, it makes us feel good. (and it usually makes for a helluva movie)



The more technical viewer may note that the film exhibits an awesome array of cinematography. Brian Tufano, the man in charge of the camera was able to achieve a wide variety of shots. Small, enclosed scenes show the darkness that is heroin addiction, while wide angle landscape shots illustrate the feeling of cleanness experienced by a junkie who has just overcome heroin. 

"Trainspotting" has definitely secured a spot in my top 25 movies list and I hope to see more of Danny Boyle's films in the near future. I also look forward to the newly announced 2016 release of "Trainspotting 2: Revenge of Renton." Okay it's not actually called that, but Danny Boyle has actually announced that there will be a "Trainspotting" sequel. Some might be skeptical of the sequel's quality, but I'll stay optimistic until a trailer is released. 

9.1/10
Watch the Trailer!
Next Review: Rush 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Man of Steel: 2013


 Release dateJune 14, 2013 (USA)
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenplay: David S. Goyer
Music composed by: Hans Zimmer
Producers: Deborah Snyder, Emma Thomas, Charles Roven,Christopher Nolan


   "The Man of Steel" is the brand spanking new super hero title to cash in on our famed red and blue marvel from beyond, Superman. At the get go, I figured the film would have been taken over by Christopher Nolan, director of the highly grossing Dark Knight trilogy. However, this time Zack Snyder would be bringing the superhero blockbuster back...or would he? 

   Our film follows the last son on Krypton, Kal-El, and his struggle to find his place on the planet Earth. There are some movie trilogies out there, where I kept thinking to myself, "They could have just made these into one really long movie." "The Man of Steel" is the opposite of that. There are many parts in the film where they could have just stopped and enhanced everything through description and plot. Instead it felt more like Snyder was going through the motions of making a dark superhero film.  When you have almost every line of dialog specifically made to be in a trailer, I'm not really listening to whats being said. I could tell you that the dialog sounded nice, because trailer exposition sounds really nice, but I'm not really listening to what's being said because we've all heard this same thing a bazillion times! "You were meant for great things, Kal-El." "You can help the humans, Kal-El. But they're not ready for you yet." "You will give the human's an idea to strive toward. They will look to you as a god." I didn't even have to think about those to write them, because they're already there! Snyder knows it! We all know it!

   I mentioned earlier that I believed that "The Man of Steel" was filmed to be dark and edgy mostly due to Christopher Nolan's insight. Therein lies the problem for me. Or at least the main problem. If you really thing about it, there were two ways that Superman spoke to people. As a comic book every-man  and as an idea for the American way. These are the two main ways that Superman could be geared both to children and to adults. He's a guy who can do anything, and wears red and blue spandex while doing it! He saves the girl, and gets the girl. These are very primitive ideas, and when you try to build more on a primitive foundation, and take the most super of all superhero's and try to make him normal, he falls apart (as well as the movie). There's nothing there anymore. The one thing that made Superman work and seem plausible, was the simplicity of his story. You could wrap your head around the idea that there's a guy who can fly and shoot lasers and everything was okay. If you take a movie like Batman Begins, you have a guy who dresses up like a bat and solves crime...and that's it. They translated it to an adult audience well, and that's why it works. 

   I suppose I had better talk about what I liked about "The Man of Steel". I thought that Henry Cavel as Superman and Michael Shannon as General Zod, were wonderful choices for casting their characters. They both played their parts the way they were supposed to. Michael Shannon was extraordinarily campy during some scenes, and I found myself enjoying those moments more than the entire movie. Maybe I'm just the wrong person for this movie, but with that said is there really anyone I can market this film to? I don't think anyone would like this movie. Well, maybe if you've never seen or heard about Superman, but what are the chances of that? The action was sort of WAYYYYY too much. Where is the film going to go from this? They blew the entire budget on the final scene containing 50,000 7-11 and IHOP product placements (so I guess I'm contradicting myself). I actually would have liked it if they made up a superhero, and used him for the film instead of Superman. It still would have been BAD, but at least kids could keep the man of steel as a children's superhero. Batman and Superman no longer exist in the eyes of a child...and that kind of makes me sad. 

   Can directors and audiences never have that connection again? Where you would go to see a superhero movie or an action/adventure movie, where everything's whimsical and campy? Special effects nowadays are only used to enhance the intensity of everything (unless it's for a kids film, where everything is a special effect). And if we've all left that behind us, then alright. Fine. I'll take it. But you have to stay away from making movies like this! People have to realize that you can't take a character from one side of popular culture, and adapt it to the complete opposite side of the spectrum. You don't make a modern romantic comedy starring Wilma and Fred Flinstone. You can't get away with making a drug/crime film starring Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura. It just won't work. But hey, in twenty years, who knows?

6.9/10


Trailer

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Moonrise Kingdom: 2012


Director: Wes Anderson
Screenplay: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Released: June 29, 2012

I'm happy to announce my return to film critiquing due to a recent opportunity at school. I haven't reviewed any movies for quite some time, so please bear with me while I work out some kinks.

The classic coming of age story has been done over and over. Film gurus, from Rob Reiner to Peter Weir, have taken on the challenge to illustrate the perfect coming of age story. Many people will argue that they have succeeded in their attempts.

"Moonrise Kingdom" tells the story of 12 year old Sam Shakusky, an unhappy Khaki Scout who escapes the wrath of his troop with his newfound love Suzy Bishop. Together, Sam and Suzy evade the factions of the town that have begun to search for them. At first, the film is a very plain and realistic depiction of life but as the film progresses, it gains a certain whimsical feeling.

Upon watching this movie for the first time, it is easy to not become emotionally attached to the characters as you would for another movie. Many people would stop right there and say "Well I'm not going to waste my time watching a movie whose characters I can't relate to." Is that what a good movie really requires though? "Moonrise Kingdom" is its own character that you become attached to. The film itself almost has its own personality. This is what sets "Moonrise Kingdom" apart from most films. This is mainly due to the genius of Wes Anderson's visual technique. Anderson's use of completely symmetric, wide-angle shots and one point perspective has given the film an outstanding aesthetic value.  It seems that each and every scene was meticulously sorted out. Many viewers can relate to the obsessive compulsive tendencies of Anderson.


Many of Anderson's visual styles have been derived from such film giants as Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is undoubtedly the king of one point perspective, just watch any of his films. From "A Clockwork Orange" to "Full Metal Jacket", they all contain wide angle shots of highly symmetrical places. Anderson has been highly successful in his adoption of these techniques, which make "Moonrise Kingdom" that much better.

With a renowned cast of actors (Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, etc.) "Moonrise Kingdom" has exceeded my expectations. I look forward to future (and previous) Wes Anderson films.

8.8/10

Watch the trailer!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness: 2013


   
   I haven’t written a review in several months because my blogger account is acting up once more, more violently this time around. And I am very frustrated because it’s summer time here in the beautifully muggy and buggy Los Angeles, and I haven’t been able to write for a very long time...so I haven’t had anything to do in a very long time amidst the last minute grade boosters the teachers have thrown at us in preparation for our long awaited but meager restitution. So, in the meantime I plan to write as much as I can throughout the remainder of my vacation, and in doing so I hope to meet my previous quota of thirty reviews by August 13thAnd with SUMMER VACATION in mind, I plan on going to the movies much more frequently and reviewing all the movies I go to see (with my family). 


Three films I have in mind to review are, “Monsters University,” “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” and “Man of Steel.” When I started writing for CCT I regularly avoided “current” films because…the blog is called Cult Classic Theater. But since then my film preferences have deviated so drastically from what kind of film the title of my blog suggests I review, that I have decided to keep the title…but throw its meaning “out the window and soaring clumsily into the night. So let’s see how that goes and hope that, whilst reviewing more current films, I won’t be hated so much in the comment’s (like last time.)

“Star Trek: Into Reboot” is the highly anticipated sequel to “Star Trek: The Exposition.” This new film in the Star Trek franchise attempts to explore Captain Kirk’s struggles as a captain, once again, and Spock’s struggle to control his emotions, once again, and Ahoora’s struggle to maintain a relationship with Spock, once again. The story is generally the same as the first film, just written differently. Some people could argue that the last sentence just described how most sequels work, and they would be right, if the way to write a sequel was to do it with minimal effort. This isn't really a good sign, especially if you want people to come to the third installment of the franchise. And “Star Trek: Into Darkness” couldn't hide the amount of recycling it had done with the first film no matter how hard Benedict Cumberbatch frowned. However, there was no other film that “Star Trek: The Lost World” had stolen from than “Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn.” I don’t know what J.J Abrams was thinking when he chose to place so many parallels to these two films. And if you’re one of those fans who likes to chronologically organize every single Star Trek film, than please explain how this film AND Wrath of Kahn can both exist at the same time! One speculation of mine as to why Abrams had this happen was for the massive fan service! Why else would the second film have Kahn as the villain? But hold on a second. Let’s talk about Kahn.

 Now, it may not seem like it, but I don’t watch Star Trek all too often. However, I have seen the first episode that Kahn first appears in, and when Abrams tries to create it, he leaves one (among other things) astray. In the show Kahn and the rest of his people are classified as “augmented humans,” which means that they are much stronger and faster and smarter; essentially better in every way. However, the superior race that Kahn shows off in the show and movie, are insulted by the more current film’s interpretation of the character. In “Star Trek: Into Darkness” the only advantage to human beings that Kahn exploits is being PHYSICALLY better than Kirk and the rest of his crew. The only threatening aspect about Cumberbatch’s character was the fact that he could crush Spock’s skull if he wanted to. If you want to pay homage to a popular character in a franchise, don’t dumb down his character so that it’s better recognized by others otherwise unfamiliar to it. You give that character new challenges to face, and if it’s a villain we’re talking about (which we are) you need to have the hero’s learn new complex strategies to “dupe” the antagonist in the end.
   “Star Trek: Into Reference” was a poor attempt at creating a sequel to follow an otherwise well made first film. I will say that J.J Abrams can make things look pretty, and I will also say that he knows how to make a movie. And with that said, it has become very clear at this point that he did not care as much as he did. There are numerous plot holes, and the Enterprise’s concept of “cold fusion” leaves something to be desired…seriously, did anyone catch that? Cold fusion doesn't reduce temperature; it actually increases it…but whatever. I liked the acting, and I think that every actor had a somewhat solid performance, with the exception of Kirk, who was all over the place with this one. Cumberbatch’s performance was actually really good, and I think because of that he should be in more upcoming movies besides this one. The movie looked really good, like the first one, and I would have liked to see much more planetary exploration from a Star Trek movie instead of for just one scene, although, it is my sad prediction that we will not be seeing anything Star Trek related for a very long time.

7.0/10


Next Review: Moonrise Kingdom 2012




Saturday, April 27, 2013

John Dies At The End: 2012


Release date: January 25, 2013 (USA)
Director: Don Coscarelli
Screenplay: Don Coscarelli
Story by: David Wong
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Comedy

   When you see a poster that advertises, "From the director of Phantasm, and Buba Ho-Tep" You might think, "Oh boy, 'Phantasm', but oh...oh yeah...'Buba Ho-Tep." I'm not saying that "Buba Ho-Tep" was a bad movie. It was very silly, and very strange, and if you don't like that sort of thing, you may find it very stupid. And I feel very sad to admit that "John Dies At The End" doesn't really work in most areas of the horror-comedy film genre. In fact, the film would continue to surprise me with strange occurrences one after the other...and it would never stop.

   Do I recommend "Phantasm" lovers...no. Actually, I don't recommend this film in general, and I don't think I can really compare this to any other film I know. Our film takes place mostly in a Chinese restaurant over an interview that explains the effects of a new street drug called "soy sauce." The drug itself...is not soy sauce, but it has the ability to send the user across time and space, sometimes landing in other dimensions. There's a catch however. At any moment the drug can turn you into a freaky alien from another dimension...so there are moderate side affects at best. To friends use this ability to do their job...which is killing inter-dimensional beings that have infested choice homes. It's like "Ghostbusters" with no dignity and less humor. And it is a stupid movie, and I really didn't want it to be. But what was I really expecting from the guys who are well known for the stupidly strange. 

   The camerawork is done well, and I like the surrealism of the real world mixed with other dimensions. Even the acting is done well, and great performances come out of the majority of the cast. Almost everything about the film in general is...good. It is, and I don't have too many complaints, with the exception of a few upcoming complaints. I did not like the story, or at least its execution. And, I'm not saying that I don't like the story because it's bad, but because it's just waayyyyy too strange for me. But, then again, what was I expecting from the director of "Phantasm"? Of course it's going to be strange, and If you like strange, this might be for you...? But I don't know! I can't tell these things. It was kinda just too weird for me...and this is kind of hitting the same level of weird as "Dr. Tarr's Tourture Dungeon," just more awkward. The only other thing that I didn't really like about the film was the CG, and I know that if you've read my review of "Star Trek" then you know my feelings for it's overabundance in current films. But, you may be surprised to find out that the reason I didn't like the CG in "John Dies At The End" was because the developers of the film clearly didn't have the budget to render much of anything. And that's very sad to me because I wonder if I would have liked it better if the CG was better, but I'm not sure.


   Well, I think I'm going to end things here. I know that this review was very short and I apologies for that, or at least to anyone that cares. Do I recommend this film, no. Go watch something better, because there are many things in this movie that could have been improved upon and have been improved upon in several other films. And I really don't like having to say that, because I was excited for this film. But when finally watching it, I didn't like the humor because it didn't work with the story. Well, at least for me it didn't. It was so strange! So if you really want to, go and watch it, and if you already have I'm sorry but I can't refund you eight dollars. 

6.0/10


Watch the trailer
Next Review: Star Trek - Into Darkness 2013


Friday, March 22, 2013

Scream: 1996


Release date: December 20, 1996 (USA)
Director: Wes Craven
MPAA rating: R
Screenplay: Kevin Williamson
  
   In the mid 90's and most recently, last year, a series of films have been released that attempted to satirize and cash in on the slasher craze. These "slashers," include "Halloween," "Nightmare on Elm Street" "Friday the 13th," and the list goes on. All of these films began very small, some of them being very low budget, such as the first "Halloween", directed by John Carpenter.   But, humility can only last so long. Scream, like the films before it, transformed into bloated, corporate monsters, with films being systematically released annually in order to line their suits with greenbacks. Wes Craven, the director of this line of films, as well as the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, tries to tell the audience what horror films are doing wrong, and will constantly make fourth wall winks whenever he can. Let's talk about that. This, is "Scream."

   For a movie that satirizes the slasher category of the horror genre, It does a good job of becoming exactly that. A slasher flick. And a good slasher flick I might add. Director Wes Craven, who has dabbled in the horror genre quite a bit, has decided to completely destroy the slasher genre by blurring the lines between film, and reality. In fact, one of the main controversies this film brings up, is the connection between film violence and actual violence. Personally, I do believe that in certain cases films can inspire violent outbursts, but these would only happen to people who should not be watching the movies in the first place. Film is reserved for entertainment purposes only, and should almost never be replicated. Its why we have actors, and stunt doubles, and controlled explosions, and computers. Movies aren't real. End of story. 

   Now that that's out of the way, lets get to the plot. A group of teenagers is stalked and executed one by one by an unidentified costumed killer until he or she or they are caught. Now, I'm not going to give anything away, because it is actually a very good movie. The surreal nature of the characters in the film constantly knocking at the fourth wall doesn't get too annoying. It's quite enjoyable. But when the third and fourth movie come around things begin to get stale. But that's what happens when you milk a franchise for too long. You get more money, but you also get sloppy, and you get less respect. John Carpenter, stop it! Sean Cunningham, stop it! Wes Craven, stop it! Here's another notoriously terrible analogy for you. lets pretend your drinking your favorite juice, and you pour yourself the very last cup of whatever it was you were drinking. You drink some, but not all of it. Instead, you take whatever was left of the juice in the glass and you refill it with water. And you leave the juice in, so that the water will mix with it and retain it's flavor for a bit longer. Then you rinse and repeat three more times. Now all you have is water. No more juice, no more  flavor, and no more of what you originally enjoyed to begin with. Did you get that? Good. 

   I love classic "who done it" films, where you have to constantly sleuth around the film to figure out who the killer is. Is it the garbage man? The file clerk? William Shatner? You have to watch the movie all the way through to find out. In this way, this style of horror is a bit gimmicky, but I like it (as long as it's done correctly, of course). Think of it more as "And Then There Were None," instead of "Clue." This movie is spectacular in that sense. It keeps you guessing and on your toes until the very end, and when you finally know who it is...BAM! The killer is about to bleed twenty five gallons of blood, and come back to life at least three more times. But whoever said these films were meant to be taken seriously. Of course, I may have enjoyed these confrontations a bit more if Wes Craven HAD made the decision to film these scenes more realistically. However, one downside to that is that one good blow to the head with a tire iron will do any psychopathic teenager in for good, and that just isn't too much fun. There is a certain charm to the simplicity of the "Scream" films, but as for the best one of the franchise, I would recommend the first one. It's fresh and hadn't gotten to the point were a scenario like this one had been done to death, which is essentially the biggest problem with the rest of the "Scream" films. Sadly, this was the end of the Slasher genre of horror films for me, that is until every 80's horror character was renovated, modernized, and brought back from the grave once more to bomb at the box office. I wouldn't review those films if you held a gun to my head, but next up is...an interesting one...

7.2/10


Watch The Trailer Here:
Next Review: John Dies At The End 2012

   

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kangaroo Jack: 2003


Release date: January 17, 2003 (USA)
Director: David McNally
MPAA rating: PG
DVD release date: June 24, 2003
Sequel: Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.!

   Before you even ask, let me just say that it's a movie, and probably shouldn't be taken seriously. And before you also ask why I would even think to review this, let me tell you. The reason that I sometimes review the crap stains on cinema, is because I like to have closure. Many of the films from my past have been just terrible, and now that I'm a bit older I can experience them in a more mature way...which ruins the movie entirely. But I do this to remind myself that I didn't know what I was doing then, and that my parents didn't know what they were doing when they bought this movie for me.

   However, what I didn't realize at the time of watching "Kangaroo Jack", was that I was in way over my head. First, let me fill you in on the plot of the movie. Best friends Charlie Carbone (Jerry O' Connell)  and Louis Booker (Anthony Anderson) are given the task to deliver a package to Mr. Smith (Marton Csokas) in Australia, by Charlie's mafioso step-father, Sal Maggio (Christopher Walken). On the plane Louis' curiosity overtakes him and opens the package to find $50,000. After sweet talking their way through security, they go to track down Mr. Smith, in a place called "Coober Pety". While jammin' out to some toons, our two hero's manage to run over a kangaroo. It is here that our movie begins to plummet into oblivion. When Charlie realizes that he had killed the national icon of the outback, he tries to pull the kangaroo off the road. But Booker stops him to...take pictures of it. Uncomfortable yet? What if I said that they posed the kangaroo in the back of their Jeep, and dressed him in a jacket and sunglasses? Would you be uncomfortable then? Halfway through their photo-shoot, the kangaroo...comes back to life, and escapes. The problem with this, is that in the jacket's pocket was the $50,000. Silly, over the top hi-jinks ensue as our quirky best buds try to take back the package, and get back from the outback. 

   Where do I begin? Well, for starters, the MPAA rating for this film is PG. *Ahem*... A MOVIE WITH THE MAFIA, MOB MONEY, EXECUTIONS, WOMANIZING, RACISM, SEXUALITY, AND INFANT AND ANIMAL ABUSE IS RATED PG?!  Why? Why would you do that to an eight year old? Why would you do that to me?! Who knows how many times I watched this movie! And you can't blame me! Eight year old boys don't have taste in film, or really anything! They play with Lego's and watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Babe" five times in a row in the same day! Of course, that wasn't to say that "Kangaroo Jack" pandered to children during the film, because it did. Because the two kinds of jokes that appear in this movie are the offensive kind, and jokes for the kiddies. The problem, is that adults who aren't into the "...movie" ("disaster movie", "scary movie", and more recently "A Haunted House," type of film, won't really get too much out of "Kangaroo Jack," because it doesn't know what it wants to be. Sometimes it feels like they were going for a light-hearted comedy, sometimes a mob flick, and other times a fun adventure film. Because it tries to be everything, it ceases to become anything in the mind of the audience. I have said many times before that when a film tries to appeal to everyone, the final product will blow up in everyone's face.

   If there was anything redeeming about this film, It would probably have to be that the CG kangaroo looks good in some of the shots. But I think they may have been a bit too confident with their design of the CG kangaroo, because they added him in with other live kangaroos as though the two would seamlessly blend together...they do not. But that isn't to say that he looks bad, because for 2003, it's pretty decent and looks like they put a little bit of time into it. However, this slowly starts to not matter when you realize that the kangaroo hardly appears in the movie. Before the ending credits role, there is a short scene where "Kangaroo Jack" actually talks. He says during this scene, "Wait a minuet! The movie's called 'Kangaroo Jack!' It should end with me!" I have a hunch that this is director, David McNally's way of telling us, "Yes, we tricked your kids into watching a movie that had a kangaroo on the poster, but not in the movie! Thank you for giving us your money to watch a movie that was written in one weekend." In 2003 "Kangaroo Jack" stole a little over sixteen and a half million dollars from unsuspecting consumers during its three day opening weekend. And I'm sad that all of you, including myself, have been played for a chump

   "Kangaroo Jack" is a distasteful, detached, un-funny, and an utterly unmitigated disaster. It fails to be funny, and instead comes off as very offensive. Not to mention there being too many plot holes to count. I cringe when I watch this movie, and I have had to more times than I would like to say. Everyone knows by now that this movie wasn't worth anyone's time, especially for small children. And I know I've said this about many movies, but the most depressing part about this, is that "Kangaroo Jack" will never go away. It's part of film culture now, it's there to stay, and the people have accepted it by proof the box office. Think about that for awhile.

4/10


Watch the trailer...if you dare! 
Next Review: Scream 1996