Thursday, March 6, 2014

Netflix Recommendations (March 6th 2014)

Welcome to the first installment of Netflix Recommendations, where I pick movies available on Netflix streaming that I feel are worth watching. Today we have a little of everything from comedy, action, horror and science fiction. In the future I may do some genre specific posts, but for now enjoy these great films!

Comedy: Hit and Run

 Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell star in Hit and Run, which surprisingly went under my radar when it first came out. The films plot centers around Charles Bronson, a man who ignores the fact that he is in witness protection in order to get his Fiance to L.A. for a huge job opportunity. Along the way all hell breaks loose and the chase is on with not only the feds, but also Bronson's old running buddies. It's a fun movie and it was apparent to me that Dax not only had fun making this movie but that it was a labor of love for him. With a great cast and a ton of laughs and action, I'd say this is worth a watch.

Action: Bounty Killer:

Bounty killer is one of those movies which at first glance looks like a waste of time, but it was actually an entertaining action film. The film takes place in a post apocalyptic world  where business tycoons are brought to justice by bounty killers, since the rich were seen as the cause of the collapse of civilization. I won't ruin the plot since there was a good story to the film, but Bounty Killer is one of the most fun action films I've seen in some time. It's got a little bit of everything: comedy, drama , action and a bit of romance just like every great form of entertainment does.

Horror: Night of The Living Dead (1990)

This 1990 remake of the classic zombie film is notable for two reasons. First its a damn good remake, it's also a film which can stand on its own. This is a tale about a group of survivors in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania, trying to stay alive as the dead rise from the grave. While its similar to the original in many ways, there were enough plot and character tweaks to make it feel fresh. I would actually say that this film is superior to the original in many ways. With great effects and story telling you might want to check this out, especially if you're a fan of zombie films or even just horror films in general.

Sci Fi / Fantasy: Dredd

To say I loved Dredd, would be an understatement. This movie was great, not just as  a comic book film but as an action movie in general. The plot of the film is simple, but its the kind of story you would see in the Judge Dredd comics and it's simply Judge Dredd vs. The Ma-Ma clan: a group of vicious thugs and drug dealers.  It has great acting from a cast including Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey. Most people didn't give this movie a chance because of the 1995 Judge Dredd movie, but I feel it's worth a look. If you're looking for an excellent action sci fi film, give Dredd a shot and you wont be disappointed.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

RIP Harold Ramis

I was deeply saddened to hear the news that Harold Ramis passed away on Monday. He was a massive part of my childhood and teen years and he is part of the reason that I really fell in love with movies. He is one of the few actors/ directors/ writers who I can honestly say that I enjoyed their entire body of work, Harold also really helped shape my taste in comedy and humor

It didn't matter if he was in front or behind of the camera, Mr. Ramis always added his own special touch to any project he was a part of. His works are among many peoples favorite films, from Animal House and Ghostbusters to Vacation and Groundhog Day, people loved his films. That's one thing I have noticed about the films he acted, directed or wrote, they seemed to connect with people on several levels.

To me personally, the first time I was introduced to his work was from his role as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters. His performance was outstanding as the genius / mad scientist of the group and I loved every second of it. Growing up, I became more familiar with his other works suck as National Lampoon's Vacation and Stripes and it seemed like as I got older, I just seemed to appreciate his work more and more. Even to this day I still consider him one of the best comic actors / writers of the last 50 years. My condolences go out to Harold Ramis's family and friends.

"Life doesn't care about your vision. You just gotta roll with it."- Harold Ramis (as Ben's father in Knocked Up)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thoughts on the Guardians Of The Galaxy Trailer

Now that the first trailer for Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy has been released, I have to say I'm a little more optimistic about this film. Let me start by saying that while I am a comic book fan and have been since a young age, until last summer I had no idea that these characters even existed. Now that the trailer has been released though, my curiosity has made me look into them more after their brief introductions from what was shown and they seem like they have the potential for a great movie/ story.

Now one thing that I think has to be said about this film going in from the trailer is that this is the biggest gamble that Marvel has taken yet on a franchise. I would even go as far as to say this is the biggest gamble on comic book films are concerned since the early 90's when "The Phantom" and "The Shadow" films were released. I am hoping that the Marvel machine can make these characters more mainstream and get the interest of the general public the way the Iron Man and Thor movies have done for those characters.

As for the trailer itself, I think it showed us just enough of the world of the film and had a great blend of action and humor. The way that they made fun of the obscurity of the characters was also hilarious, and they did a good job of giving us a little introduction to the characters and their backgrounds even with how brief it was. I know personally it made me go to the Marvel Wiki's and look into these characters more.

In conclusion this is the best possible trailer that this film could have had.  It had just enough material to get your interest, but not enough to reveal anything about the plot. I for one can say that I am definitely looking forward to this film now and can't wait to see future trailers and how they compare to this one and add to it. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get Blue Swede's "Hooked on a feeling" out of my head.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Zombie Night

Anthony Michael Hall and Daryl Hannah star in Zombie Night, a film that tells the story of two families trying to survive a horrific night where the dead rise from the grave. Yes, another film in the currently overly bloated field of zombie movies. Is there anything that sets this one apart from the rest of the pack? Is this one worth your time, or can you skip it and  not miss a thing?

Plot: As night falls in a small California town, the dead rise from their graves and go looking to feast on the flesh of the living. Two families band together to face a long night of terror, fighting to survive until sunrise.

The story of the film is pretty thin, so thin that those two sentences sum up the entire plot. That said, I did enjoy the plot for what it was and liked that it didn't try to go with an overly complex story. Too many zombie films these days feel the need to have some huge plot with a twist at the end, and I tend to dislike that. It was really a breath of fresh air to have a back to basics zombie story that was just about survival.

The performances by the actors was a lot better than I had expected them to be. At first the thought of Anthony Michael Hall and Daryl Hannah in a zombie movie triggered my WTF alarm, but in the end it  worked. In some cases actors trying a different genre doesn't turn out that great, but here it did and it was actually entertaining. Even the supporting cast really did a good job with what they had to work with and it made for an enjoyable viewing experience.

There were a few things that I really liked about this film. The first and thing I liked the most about it was that it followed the "Romero Rules" of zombies. They were slow moving, easily avoidable in  low numbers and were able to be killed with a good hit to the head. This movie also had great character interaction in my opinion and it really helped flesh out film and make the characters seem more real. The final thing that I really liked was that the characters weren't too heavily stereotyped in the movie, as opposed to almost every other zombie film that seems to have all the same character types.

While there wasn't a whole lot that I didn't like about the movie, there were still a few things that did bother me about it. Some of the characters really come off as annoying, specifically my least favorite character in the film " Nana" played by Shirley Jones.  Shirley Jones is a great actress, but to be perfectly honest her character could have been cut and I really think it would have improved the film. There were also points in the film where a lot of the story and the things the characters do make no sense. For instance there's a point in the film where two of the kids are put in a coffin for their "protection" and then the coffin is put in a mausoleum. Sure they may be safer than they were, but they're going to run out of air eventually and also not going to be able to get out on their own.

Zombie Night may not be a perfect film, but even with it's faults I found it to be a fun movie to watch. In 5 or 10 years it likely won't be regarded as one of the better entries into the genre, but I think it will be a fun film that is looked at as a throwback to the classic zombie movies.

Verdict: Enjoyable for what it is, just don't expect too much from it.