Saturday, June 20, 2015

"Seventh Son" Review

It was around two years ago when I first heard of the film "Seventh Son". At the time I had no idea what the hell it could be about, especially with a name like that. Over time I actually forgot about the film and then late last year it popped back up on my radar. While I didn't get the chance to see it in theaters, I finally managed to see it now that it has been released on DVD and Blu ray, so here's my take on it.

Plot: Centuries ago, a supernatural champion named Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) defeated Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), a malevolent witch. Now, she has escaped imprisonment and thirsts for vengeance. She summons her followers and prepares to unleash her wrath on humanity. Only one thing stands in her way: Master Gregory. Gregory takes Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) as his new apprentice, but he has only until the next full moon to teach Tom what usually takes years: how to prevail against dark magic.

The film seems like a standard fantasy story of revenge and destiny...and it is. Now that's not a bad thing in some cases, but here I think it could have used a little more drive behind the story and without ruining some aspects of the tale I will say that some bits felt really under developed. It was overall an enjoyable story, but it felt bland at points leaving me with a feeling of "that's it?"  

The acting in the film, unlike the story was spot on. Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore were outstanding in their performances. I love when actors take roles that you aren't used to seeing them in and with Bridges doing more fantasy and science fiction films earlier in his career this felt like him getting back to his roots. Ben Barnes is actually an actor I hadn't heard of until this point, but for a first impression I think he did pretty well. He seems to be able to handle a wide array of styles from comedy, to drama and action.

Speaking of action The fight scenes in the film were good, but suffer from the frequent Hollywood issue of being a little too fast paced. You can't see what’s going on and in a film like this I feel it hurts the enjoyment a little.  This wasn't the case with every fight, but it was still there. 

Overall I thought this movie was an enjoyable distraction, but it did have its glaring faults.  The most obvious area was the final half of the film. Things felt so rushed that most of it didn't seem to even be fully developed.  Had the film been just a little longer to allow more time for a more satisfying ending, I think this would have helped it greatly.

Final Verdict: A decent film with so much untapped potential.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


To say I have a fear of spiders would be an understatement. Unlike some though my fear isn't paralyzing, I just want to see the little things dead. So needless to say when I saw that Arachnophobia was on Netflix, I was a little hesitant to give it a watch. I have seen bits and pieces of the film before, but never the entire thing in one sitting. I decided to give it a go and see how far I could make it.

Plot: A large spider from the jungles of South America is accidentally transported in a crate with a dead body to America where it mates with a local spider. Soon after, the residents of a small California town begin to die as the result of spider bites from the deadly spider offspring. It's up to a couple of doctors with the help of an insect exterminator to annihilate these eight legged freaks before they take over the entire town.

The plot is as ridiculous as it sounds, but its so over the top that it works. In the same way that “Jaws” made us afraid to go into the ocean, Arachnophobia taps into the common fear of spiders for its scares. While the film is more in the vein of “Gremlins”, with its thrills being mixed with humor, it's still a scary tale at heart. I can honestly say though, while this film did feature spiders, they are featured in a way that really doesn't make them all that terrifying. It's a classic man vs nature story that was done well in the early 90's, before it became the common route to go with B movies

The acting here is the real bright spot of the film. Not only do you have the always outstanding Jeff Daniels, but you also have the consistently great John Goodman. Both men were perfect for their roles, and brought more life into the film. My only gripe with Goodman's performance was that he seemed to be channeling Bill Murray's character from “Caddyshack” a little too much. Other actors in this film include the underrated Julian Sands, Harley Jane Kozak and Stuart Pankin.

So you may say “how could someone with a fear of spiders watch a movie about spiders? “ well that's one of the funny things about this movie. It has jump scares and plenty of scary scenes, but the acting and comedy offsets it to the point where the spiders aren't so frightening. As I said, this film is in the same vein as Gremlins, where it's supposed to be scary but because of how its pulled off it's more fun than frightening. It's a rare thing when you can see something you don't like being the central focus of a film, but due to the nature of the film find yourself not even being bothered by it.

So all in all, I can say that I found this film to be enjoyable. Sure it dealt with a creepy crawly antagonist, but it was done in such a way that it more makes you feel glad to be alive at the end. Really, isn't that why we watch horror films in the first place? The rush of adrenaline from the danger and then the ultimate feeling of being alive at the end is what makes these films fun.

Verdict: 4 spider jump scares out of 5

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pulp Fiction

Alright, I'll admit it, until this past weekend I had never seen Pulp Fiction. It was on my list of movies to watch, but I never got around to it. I had heard so much about the film in discussions with friends and others on the internet that I finally decided to set aside a few hours and watch it. Was it as groundbreaking of a film to me in 2015 as it was to cinema viewers in 1994? Lets take a look.

Plot Summary:  Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega are two hitmen who are out to retrieve a suitcase stolen from their employer, mob boss Marsellus Wallace. Wallace has also asked Vincent to take his wife Mia out a few days later when Wallace himself will be out of town. Butch Coolidge is an aging boxer who is paid by Wallace to lose his next fight. The lives of these seemingly unrelated people are woven together comprising of a series of funny, bizarre and uncalled-for incidents. 

When I read the summary, I thought I knew what to expect. What I got was not only some of the best storytelling I've seen in a movie, but also took me on a roller coaster of laughs, shocking moments and wondering what the hell was going on. This is the kind of story that has loosely connected segments in that you could have all of the scenes be separate shorts and still work, but are woven together so neatly that it enhances the enjoyment when viewed in the film.

The acting here is great all around. I'm usually not a fan of John Travolta, but here he worked well, especially with Samuel L Jackson. The other actors in the film include Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and even the films director Quentin Tarantino. I can safely say that I enjoyed every performance, and it didn't matter if the actor was on screen for one minute or 30, they all delivered. This is one of the few films that I have seen that had no wasted screen time with the performances.

One of my favorite parts about watching this film is that while it has very grim situations, it's never too dark. It's the kind of movie you can put on after a long day and have it lift your spirits. It has situations where they are so tense, but seconds later you cant help but laugh.

Overall I can say this is a great film, one that makes me feel sad that I didn't watch it sooner. This is a film that has so many moments that standout and too many quotable lines to count. Everything about this film was enjoyable, from the scenery, the actions on screen and even the conversations between characters.

Verdict: Must see movie.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thoughts on the all female Ghostbusters reboot

Over the past few months, there has been one topic that comes up from time to time that I've had more than a few debates on and that's the possibility of an all female Ghostbusters reboot. It's a subject that has divided fans of the first 2 films as well as movie fans in general. I'm sure you've seen or heard about it somewhere, but I just wanted to share my thoughts.

First I want to say that I'm not against the idea of rebooting the series and doing a gender swap on the characters. Hell over the course of time there were female Ghostbusters on "The Real Ghostbusters" and "Extreme Ghostbusters", so this is nothing new. Doing this isn't going to somehow ruin my enjoyment of the original film or its sequel.

  What I am against is that they are ignoring those movies and just doing a straight reboot instead of a continuation with a different story. Doing so makes it feel like this is some kind of stunt simply to appeal to the ladies and say "hey! look! we made the ghostbusters all women!" in order to draw them to theaters.

My second concern is getting a cast of females that can click and work well together. If the reported casting lineup is true, them I am mostly optimistic.
Kristen Wiig is funny in almost all of her roles, she has a personality that suits her perfectly for comedy. Two of the actresses, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, I've never heard or seen until now since I haven't watched a episode of SNL in some time. I did however find some clips on youtube and will say I think they can do an alright job with it.

My main issue with the casting though is Melissa McCarthy. While she has had some funny moments in movies, most of her comedy feels forced to me. Unless she has someone strong backing her up, like a Jason Bateman, Sandra Bullock or her on screen husband from "Mike and Molly" Billy Gardell, she just doesn't come across as funny to me.

While I'm still questioning if I would watch this in theaters or not, I'm going to hold off answering until I see a trailer at the very least. I may be in the minority in that I'm not screaming and yelling about how this is ruining my childhood, but I'm far from backing this idea 100%. Who knows, the whole thing may fall apart as it has with other movies in the early stages of production. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Netflix Recommendations (January 16th 2014)

Looking for something to watch this weekend? Heres a few things that I've enjoyed watching recently on Netflix!

The Rocketeer - Pilot Cliff Secord finds a jet pack stashed in his plane, and decides to use it to make some money in a stunt show. Cliff doesn't know that there are people looking for it with more sinister plans in mind. A fun action adventure film from the early 90's which had everything you look for in an exciting movie: thrills, drama and a great story. Adapted from the comics of the same name, it was released to modest success but only recently has it attained classic status. Definitely a film well worth the time spent watching it.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure- When high school underachievers Bill and Ted are told they will either ace their year end presentation or flunk out, they are given the aid of a time traveling phone booth. While the 80's had already given us "Back To The Future", this film stands apart for not being too serious. It has laughs as well as it's share of stupid moments, but it's entertaining all the way through.

The Wolf of Wallstreet- The story of the rise and fall of stock broker Jordan Belfort and his company Stratton Oakmont over the course of the late 80's and early 90's. It's a story thats been done before many times, but Leonardo DiCaprio brings a ton of charm and humor to his character that makes this one fun to watch. It may not be for everyone, but if you want something like a cross between "Wallstreet" and "American Psycho" you may want to check this out.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker- Often referred to as the father of the "X Files", this series follows reporter Carl Kolchak as he investigates many supernatural and mysterious crimes involving everything from zombies to Jack The Ripper. It's an unusual series that despite only lasting one season, has had a ton of impact and staying power.

The Living Daylights- Timothy Dalton stars as James Bond in a film where Bond must protect a defecting Soviet general from a beautiful sniper. This was one of the first Bond film's I saw and it's also my favorite. It took a tired out old series that had become joke and revitalized it for a new generation. With great performances and thrills, The Living Daylights delivers on all levels.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Netflix Recommendations (12-15-14)

Knights Of Badassdom (2013) - an odd little movie that had its release date pushed back a few times to the point where most people never expected it to see the light of day, Knights Of Badassdom was quite the surprise for me. It's a movie about a group of friends who are live action role players, who soon find themselves fighting for their lives when they summon a demon. Sure some of the jokes did feel a little too cheesy, but really it fit the film. It's a great film to watch if you're looking for something off the wall and fun

Olympus Has Fallen (2013) - A disgraced secret service agent must come to the rescue when Korean terrorists descend on the White House and take the president hostage. I wont lie, this movie is exactly what it appears to be: Die Hard with Gerard Butler, but in reality thats all it needed to be. With great acting from Butler and fun action sequences, you may want to check out Olympus Has Fallen if you want a little excitement.

Lilyhammer- After turning state's evidence against a powerful Mafia boss, former gangster Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano trades the mean streets of New York for the icy fjords of Norway. The relative calm suits him at first. But it's not long before Frank's ruthless methods resurface, stirring the suspicions of his next-door neighbor, the chief of police.  It's a quirky little show with great actors and a good story. With the newest season just recently released, it's a great time to check out Lilyhammer.

Galaxy Quest(1999)- Decades after the success of a sci-fi series, the show's washed-up stars are recruited by actual aliens to pull off an intergalactic rescue mission. One of the films that I rarely hear people mention, Galaxy Quest is a fun sci fi comedy that pokes fun at not only the actors of cult tv shows, but the fans as well. The story is predictable, but still entertaining. The cast works like a well oiled machine and they play off one another really well, especially Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver. If you're looking for a hilarious adventure, check out Galaxy Quest.

Red Dawn (1984)- Made towards the end of the Cold War, Red Dawn is a film about a group of teenagers who survive Soviet and Cuban paratroopers descending on their small Colorado town and systematically setting off World War III. It stars then up and coming stars Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and Jennifer Grey. The story may seem ridiculous now, and the effects may be dated, but if you're looking for some action, you can do a lot worse than Red Dawn.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fright Night (1985)

Fright Night
Released: 1985
Director: Tom Holland
Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowall

Plot (taken from IMDB):  For young Charlie Brewster, nothing could be better than an old horror movie late at night. Two men move in next door, and for Charlie with his horror movie experience, there can be no doubt that their strange behavior is explained by the fact that they are a vampire and his undead day guardian. The only one who can help him hunt them down is a washed-up actor, Peter Vincent, who hosts Charlie's favorite TV show, Fright Night. Vincent doesn't really believe that vampires exist, but does it for the money... 

Story wise, Fright Night is damn near perfect. It came out at a time when, as the Peter Vincent character put it, people "prefer a movie where a masked loony kills virgins". At the time this was true, with movies like "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" dominating the box office. This story knew what it had to be, and it capitalized on its strengths. It has a good story flow as well, there were no dull points, and there was always something happening on screen. 

The cast of the film is as great as its plot. An actor like Chris Sarandon playing a vampire was perfect. He could be charming one minute, and intimidating the next. William Ragsdale did a great job as teenager Charley Brewster and Roddy McDowall brought an old school Hollywood feel to the Peter Vincent character, which made it feel authentic and added quite a bit to the film. My one complaint with the cast was Amanda Bearse, at times her performance felt forced and it hurt a few scenes in my opinion.

For its time, Fright Night also had some great effects. They didn't look too cheesy and were well done. Also it's interesting to note that the prosthetics used for Amy's vampire form were originally going to be used for the library ghost in Ghostbusters, but was decided against as it wouldn't fit the tone of the film. 

Fright Night is my favorite vampire film of all time. I would go so far as to say that it's the best vampire film of the 80's, with  "The Lost Boys" coming in at a close second. It's the best kind of horror film, because it's fun even when its scary. If you haven't seen it, check it out. 

Final Verdict: king of 80's vampire films