Monday, December 30, 2013

Against The Dark


I like it when actors try new things and try a different genre of film. It can change things up and add a fresh and exciting new dynamic to their repertoire. That said the last thing I ever expected or thought I wanted to see was Steven Seagal playing a vampire hunter. That is just what we got in Against The Dark, where Seagal plays the leader of a vampire hunter team clearing out a section of a city and searching for survivors. Was this film as bad as it sounds on paper? Lets find out.


The story was pretty standard fare for an action horror film. It didn't really do anything good or bad, but stuck to the middle of the road. My main issues with the plot was it was all over the place, instead of focusing on one set of characters, it constantly switched between the two. In addition to that the plot was predictable and you could see twists coming a mile away.


The action was alright for what it was, but it had its share of problems too. My big issue with it was that it was shown at a fast pace, too fast to really see what was happening half the time and it hurt the enjoyment of it a little. One thing I will say that I did like was that the action was varied and wasn't repetitive. All in all the action was decent, but nothing outstanding.


The acting in this film was actually pretty good for the most part. The actors gave their characters some degree of personality, but unfortunately didn't really get enough time to develop the characters to the point where you care about them. The actors who played the hunters, except for Seagal, really didn't have any dialog. Even Seagal himself didn't have a ton of lines, and was more of a rarely speaking bad ass and I feel it worked for the role.


Overall this is an okay movie, but it doesn't do anything new or exciting. I feel if it had focused on one group, either the civilian survivors or the hunters, the film would have been better. By focusing on both the movie just feels like a mess. It's not bad if you have no other options, but there are better action horror films out there.

Verdict: Average movie that you can skip and not miss a thing.

Trailer:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My favorite Christmas movies

The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year, it always has been. Naturally being a film lover, there are Christmas films that I love watching every year. There is a little something for everyone here, from young to the young at heart. Here is a list of  my favorite Christmas movies.


TheMuppet Christmas Carol- A Christmas Carol is a classic tale which has been made into a film several times. Of all the various films, the Muppet's take on it is by far my favorite. It was entertaining for the younger crowd and even older viewers can find something they like about it. With Michael Caine, you had a great actor in the starring role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Take that and add the Muppet gang to it with their musical scenes and humor, and you have a wonderful holiday film. 


Ernest Saves Christmas- While it may not be a great film, it is among my favorite to watch during the holidays. The film has a decent story, that is really lifted up by Jim Varney's performance as the infectiously happy and cheer filled Ernest P. Worrell. Sure the jokes are corny and plot is absurd, but its still a great film to watch with the whole family and bring on the Christmas cheer.


A Christmas Story- A cult classic which at times is shown a little too much ( do we really need a 24 hour marathon?) but still a fun film to watch. An easily relateable and timeless tale of a kid on his quest to ask Santa for the perfect present. The obstacles Ralphie faces are many, but he wont let that get between him and his dream of getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. With its cast of interesting characters and a great story, its no wonder this has become a Christmas tradition.

Christmas Vacation- In my opinion, Christmas Vacation is the best of the Vacation series of films. A story about family at Christmas,  and the havoc that ensues while trying to create the perfect Christmas. Always a staple of the holiday season TV schedule, its a film that doesn't get old and still holds up well. Its also easy to relate to for the whole family since we all have a crazy cousin Eddie in our own families.


Scrooged- Another Retelling of a Christmas Carol, this time with a modern twist. The "Scrooge" of this tale is a television executive who has sacrificed spending time with family and loved ones in order to be a success. Over the course of the film he is shown his past, what his friends and family are doing in the present, and his future if he keeps going on this path. It has a great balance of story and humor and is made that much better by Bill Murray's performance.

Jingle All The Way- This movie is a favorite just because of how absurd it is. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a father looking for redemption by getting his son a Turboman action figure. It's played up as the hottest toy of all time and the frenzy over it mirrors the Cabbage Patch kids in the 80's and Tickle Me Elmo in the 90's. Its not a great story and it has plot holes, but overall it is an enjoyable film. In addition to Schwarzenegger this movie has the late Phil Hartman, who has some of the best lines and scenes in the film.


Die Hard- Alright its not a Christmas themed film, but Die Hard does take place during Christmas. It tells the story of  a group of terrorists that take over a building in L.A. only to be thwarted by officer John McClane. It has just enough elements of the holidays to make it on to this list, and it always gets me in the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trailer reactions and thoughts for Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow and 300: Rise of an Empire



Godzilla: 

When I heard there was a new Godzilla movie in production, I got excited. After a moment of excitement, I was then filled with dread as I remembered the horrible American Godzilla film from 1998. Now that I have seen this teaser trailer for the new film, I am once again excited! 

It seems that they learned their lessons from the '98 film and went with a design for Godzilla that closely resembles the classic look.The film looks to be more like Cloverfield and less Pacific Rim, but that might not be a bad thing. This film seems to have a more human element and that alone hints that there is a compelling story which I feel the original Godzilla films from Japan had. All in all, I can't wait for this to hit theaters and this is already one of my most anticipated films of the year.



Edge of Tomorrow:


Tom Cruise in a Sci Fi movie has never really worked for me and this trailer did feel like a bit of a mess, but I am interested in seeing this film since it seems to have an interesting premise. The trailer itself doesn't set up a story or really tell you anything specific about the film aside from it having Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and explosions.

This could be an interesting film, and I am willing to give it a chance past this first trailer. Hopefully they release a second trailer that reveals more of whats going on with the story to get more interest for the film, but as is I see a possible hit film, even if its just the fans of Sci Fi films going to see it and not the general public



300: Rise of An Empire:

When I saw this my first thought was "a little late to capitalize on 300's popularity isn't it?" , but I watched the trailer anyway. I feel that the trailer showed enough of the film to get you hooked without really giving away the story of the film. It has the right mix of action and epic feeling scenes as well as the look that was the signature of the original film, and that alone has me interested. Even though Zack Snyder isn't directing the film himself, this still has the tone of the original film and that is something hard to pull off with a director switch.

On the other hand though, I do feel that this film may not be as big of a hit as it would have been in say 2009 for example. In the years since the original 300 came out we have had Wrath of The Titans, Clash of The Titans, Immortals and the Spartacus TV show along with others, and the epic films or shows set in that era of history and seem to have the same look and feel take away from this a bit and feels overdone in the last few years. Despite that though, I am excited for this film and want see where the story continues from where it left off in 300, one of my favorite films of the last decade.





Friday, December 6, 2013

That's My Boy


When I heard there was a new Adam Sandler film coming out, I wrote it off immediately as crap. Then I heard Andy Samberg was in the movie and I thought there might be a chance, a long shot that this could be the movie that's different from other Sandler films. I then totally forgot about the movie until one day I see it's on Showtime and decided to give it a shot and watch it. Was it the total train wreck that you would expect from not only Adam Sandler, but his Happy Madison film company? I would say yes and no. 


The story itself had potential and for the most part it succeeded and was entertaining. It took the unusual premise for a comedy of having its main character be involved in a student/ teacher affair. It did make light of the idea by using the "guy point of view" where having sex with a teacher is a dream come true and an accomplishment. The rest of the film deals with Sandler and Samberg's  characters dealing with their fractured relationship. I will say the story did have its good moments as well as bad ones but was overall enjoyable. 

The acting really feels like it has in almost every other film Sandler has made in the last few years, where some of the actors barely appear to be trying to put on a good performance. I can't blame the actors so much as the writing of the film, as most of these actors have turned in better performances in other filmsand TV shows. As it turns out,  the actors that have the least amount screen time have the best performances. Actors like James Caan, Tony Orlando and Milo Ventimiglia turned in entertaining performances. One of the biggest curve balls this film threw at me was that Vanilla Ice ( Rob Van Winkle), would steal nearly every scene he was in, was entertaining and looked to be having fun even when he was making fun of himself.


There were two things in the film that really stood out to me that I liked. At the start of the film, Sandler's character bets on an overweight runner in a marathon to come in first place, and its a huge long shot. Over the course of the film, with its many bad jokes, I forgot about the setup for this joke in the first act. Much to my surprise, the joke actually has a payoff in the end and makes for a good ending.  I must also Say that having Eva Amurri Martino and her mother, Susan Sarandon play the younger and older versions of the teacher character involved in the affair was good since it actually looked like a realistic aging of the character as opposed to getting a random actress to play the character at an older age.


While its not the worst film ever, it's also not great. It has its moments where I felt entertained by it, but there were other moments where I didn't think it was really that funny. This is the kind of film where you have to be in a certain mood when you watch it, and I guess I saw it at the right time. Its no where near as bad as what most people or critics say it is, and makes for an okay film to watch if you don't take it too seriously. 


Verdict : A decent film with a few laughs and entertaining moments.

Trailer:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Philadelphia Experiment


The Philadelphia Experiment is a 1984 science fiction film Starring Michael Paré  and  Nancy Allen, that tells the story of a top secret experiment to cloak naval ships from enemy radars. On the day of the experiment in 1943, something goes horribly wrong and two sailors travel through a wormhole and are sent 40 years into the future to 1984. They arrive at the same point in time where a similar experiment is being conducted and it creates a rift which is pulling in energy and causes a town to vanish. Can they find out not only what caused them to go into the future, but also find a way back and set everything back as it was meant to be?


The story behind this films plot is actually interesting as its a huge myth that some people say has happened, and the navy insists that it never did. They took the conspiracy theory and made it work in the interest of good story telling. The fact that they turned the supposed experiment into an interesting science fiction story is great, and it turned out to be an entertaining film. It was smart in that it took something that felt like it was based in reality, which I have always felt makes for the best sci-fi films.



Michael Paré was great in this film, playing the role of a sailor ripped out of his own time and put into the 1980's very well.  The way he acted felt genuine as any one of us would have similar reactions to the things that have changed from what we were used to. He also had a great chemistry with Nancy Allen, and it made the pair enjoyable to watch on screen. The supporting actors such as Bobby Di Cicco and Eric Christmas helped round out the cast and added more substance and personality to the film. 



One thing I really loved in this film was the little details they added. Doing things such as having Herdeg and Parker (Paré and Di Cicco) finding an empty bottle of German beer and a discarded Coke can, and being amazed not knowing what its made out of. Things like that made sense and added more realism to the film as if you were to be ripped from the world you know and sent 40 years forward in time, you would be puzzled by things that changed.



While The Philadelphia Experiment may not be a perfect sci-fi film or really hold up all that well, it is still an entertaining movie.  Sure the effects may look cheesy by today's standards and the jokes are a bit dated, but I wouldn't say that's anything that hurt my enjoyment of the film. It has thrilling moments mixed well with comedy and drama and wraps itself in a fun little package that just might entertain you if you give it the chance. 

Verdict: It may have some elements that are dated, but it's still an entertaining movie.

Trailer:  




Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Quest


Jean-Claude Van Damme stars in "The Quest", a 1996 martial arts film about Christopher Dubois and his journey of self-discovery. The film follows Chris from the streets, barely getting by and taking care of a group kids, to being sold into the seedy world of fighting competition. Chris learns about a fighting tournament and enlists the help of the man that betrayed him to get the tournament's prize: a dragon statue made of solid gold. The film also stars Roger Moore, James Remar, Janet Gunn and Jack McGee.


The film's story was overall a good one, but it did suffer from some pacing issues in my opinion. It felt like there was so much crammed into the  first half hour, then it slows down, then it picks back up only to slow down again. It's never bad enough to where you get a feeling of being bored, but it could have been better. Another issue with the story is...well this is practically "Bloodsport" . Sure there are some changes, but overall I got the feeling that after Van Damme hit his post "Street Fighter" slump, he went back to the film that made him famous. It may sound odd, but I think doing so worked out here and it makes for an enjoyable story.


The acting is where this movie shines, and with so many great actors in the film, how couldn't it?  Jean-Claude Van Damme was entertaining in the film and unlike with "Street Fighter" actually showed some emotion as well as the outstanding action he is known for. Roger Moore as Lord Dobbs was good, as was Jack McGee who played his sidekick Harry Smythe. James Remar as the boxing champ Maxie Devine was a highlight of the film for me as I felt he did a great job with the character and came across as a believable professional fighter and sportsman.


The action was as entertaining as you would expect and it seems like as director, Van Damme wanted authentic looking fights for this film. It never goes to the point where anything looks  unrealistic, and I feel that makes for a better action film. If anything my one complaint about the action is with the use of slow motion and showing the same moves from different angles a second or third time, it gets repetitive after awhile.


Is "The Quest" a great martial arts film? Not really, but it is an enjoyable film to watch. It has its faults such as plot points that make no sense and a strong resemblance to "Bloodsport" but it makes up for it with great action and exciting moments.With outstanding actors and action you might want to check out this film, especially if you're a fan of Van Damme.

Verdict: May not be entertaining for everyone, but enjoyable for fans of the genre/ JCVD.

Trailer:


Thursday, November 14, 2013

World War Z


Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that zombies are all the rage these days. With the popularity of the genre coming back and the success of The Walking Dead, it was only a matter of time before some big screen films were made. So when I heard that there was going to be a film adaptation of the outstanding book "World War Z", I was ecstatic. So was this the outstanding big budget Zombie film we've been waiting for, or was it just garbage?




The plot, to be perfectly honest was the weakest point of this film for me. Now it wasn't just the story itself, but the way they handled the main character: Gerry Lane. I guess no one on the writing team got the memo, but in order to get invested in a character they need to be interesting and in a zombie film they need to be in some kind of danger. That wasn't the case here, where the character survives event after event and walks away. Aside from that its a decent story, despite having almost nothing to do with the source material. It was a smart story which is rare for a film in the genre, and still had the thrills you would expect. 


The acting was extremely solid and I was surprised by Brad Pitt. He turned in a great performance and I would go so far as to say it is one of his best. The supporting actors such as Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertez and Peter Capaldi as a W.H.O. doctor....yes the next star of Doctor Who was a W.H.O. doctor, they were all great. Even the background characters did an alright job, but its hard to really pinpoint specific characters since they are only on screen for a few moments. 


The action and thrills of the film were entertaining, though some of the effects did look a bit cheesy. For instance when there is a massive horde of zombies moving around, it really didn't look all that impressive to me. On the plus side though, the makeup effects for the zombies during closeups looked outstanding and meshed well with the "normal" human characters.


Overall its not as bad as I was expecting after hearing peoples views on it. While I would have liked something that was closer to the book written by Max Brooks, I think they did alright considering all of the issues they had during production. While its not a perfect movie, I think its pretty damn good.

Verdict: Worth giving it a watch at least once

Trailer:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Masters of The Universe


What happens when a cartoon is popular? It gets a film adaptation! What happens when that film is made by Canon films? You get a film adaptation that is mid to low budget and is loosely tied to its source material. Such is the case with Masters of The Universe, a 1987 film starring Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella. It took the popular He-Man and The Masters of The Universe property and took it to Hollywood. Was the resulting film an action filled adventure film? Yes, but was it a good or bad movie?


The film stars Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, the defender of Eternia and arch-nemesis of Skeletor. Skeletor has trapped the sorceress of Grayskull and wants to gain all of her power when the great eye of the galaxy opens. Our heroes He-Man, Man at Arms and Teela are forced to escape to earth and regroup for another assault only to have lost their way home, the cosmic key. Can they find the key before Skeletor's forces do and get back to Eternia in time to stop him?


The plot is pretty standard fare for a fantasy film, but it was still entertaining. Even though I'm not  really familiar with the story of the cartoon, I didn't find it was necessary to know the full story to enjoy the movie for what it is. The overall story was good, but the weak point of the movie is the time spent on Earth. It felt like the epic world and story on Eternia was the bookend to the mediocre one on earth wedged in the middle. Had some of the original plot points, such as He-Man's mother being from Earth been included, it might have made the Earth Segments more interesting.


The acting is where most of the criticism on this film lands. I think Dolph Lundgren was good in the role as He-Man, especially for it being early on in his career, though no doubt he was cast due to him looking the part. Frank Langella as Skeletor is without a doubt the highlight of the movie, he nailed being an over the top villain and his performance was perfect. James Tolkan was great as Detective Lubic and had outstanding reactions to what was happening and great delivery of one liners. The supporting cast was good as well, my only complaint was with Courtney Cox who didn't seem to be playing a character so much as playing herself.


The music of the movie was fantastic, and really helped boost up the epic feeling of the film. Bill Conti's main theme for the movie was an amazing mix of everything I love about John Williams' work with both Star Wars and Superman and mixes together and makes for a great musical score. It has a nice mix of both heroic segments and also more dramatic sounds and just pushes the epic feeling of the movie to 10.


While popular opinion is that this movie was horrible, I really have to disagree. Taking into consideration the time the movie was made in and its technological and budget restrictions, I think it was a decent movie. It may not have been the "Star Wars of the 80's" that Canon proclaimed it to be, but they were known for over hyping things. What it is though is a great action adventure movie that is fun to watch and not take too seriously.

Verdict: Nostalgic cheese at its finest and great throwback to 80's fantasy films.

Trailer:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

More fun Halloween movies!

Last year I did 2 posts on fun movies to watch on Halloween, so I decided to make it a tradition. Last year I focused more on horror films and decided this year would add a few more family friendly movies into the mix. There is something for everyone, so lets get started with this years list!



Ernest Scared Stupid - It may be a horror comedy geared more towards kids, but Ernest Scared Stupid has some qualities that appeal to the young and the old. The jokes are corny, the monsters are laughable and the lead actor is a goofball that looks like he had fun making this movie.


The Witches - Based on the book by Roald Dahl, this film scared me as a kid due to its character design of the witches natural forms. Since it was brought to us by Jim Henson studios, that's no surprise. Now though I can appreciate this film for its story telling and visual style and its great in both aspects. Its visuals may scare some of the younger kiddies, but with great storytelling and acting, its a good film for the family to watch.




 The Addams Family- A film based on a TV show that gets most of its source material right? The Addams Family was just that for me. It had great actors and memorable moments and an energy to it that kept it going. The story itself might not be the best and it does have some plot holes, but its still an entertaining film for Halloween, and all year round.


Warlock- A little known horror film from the late 80's, Warlock has a great story and some decent acting. Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant have great chemistry together as the evil warlock and the hunter. It has a spooky vibe to it and while some of the effects are dated now, it still holds up decently.


The Frighteners- Michael J Fox is a paranormal investigator in a town that seems to attract death. Aided by the ghosts in town, he runs a scam to keep himself in business. That is until a real ghost problem hits the town. Its a bit dark, but still has comedy bits and some great special effects.


Tucker and Dale Vs.Evil - 2 lovable rednecks get mistaken for maniac killers in this horror comedy starring Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine. It has laughs, scares and some shock moments to it, as well as a hell of a twist. Its funny to see the two goofballs going about fixing up their "vacation home" as the teenagers try to stop them, only to kill themselves in the process. Great movie with a good story and actors that put effort into their roles.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Slither


When an alien crash lands in a small town and starts turning the locals into zombies and mutants, its up to Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks to stop them. Slither is a black horror comedy and parody / tribute to old 50's and 60's science fiction and horror films brought to us by writer and director James Gunn. The film also stars Michael Rooker, Tania Saulnier and Gregg Henry.


The plot to this movie is really as simple as it gets, but the fact that it was a mix of a parody and tribute to classic alien invasion films made it work. It may have its slow bits at times, but it wasn't anything that brings the movie to a complete stop. Despite its pacing issues, overall it was an entertaining story for what it was and was fun to see the story unfold. 


The acting in the film was great all around in my opinion. I always love Nathan Fillion in pretty much any role, and he was outstanding here as Bill Pardy. His style of acting worked well here in this setting and he delivered a believable performance. Elizabeth Banks was good in her role as Starla Grant, wife of Grant Grant, the infected host of the alien at the center of the story. Grant Grant was played by Michael Rooker who was tremendous in this film and acted out being infected and his transformation over time very well.


The makeup and special effects of the film were great. From the small slug like creatures that attack people, to the effects of a transformed person it was all believable.The makeup on a fully transformed Michael Rooker was amazing to see, and it looked organic to me as opposed to a costume.  They could have easily looked cheesy and comical, but it looked like there was a lot of work put into it and it makes the film better due to it.

Is slither a scary horror film? No, in fact I wouldn't even say its a serious one. What it is, in my opinion at least, is a fun tribute to b movie horror films of the 50's and 60's. The pacing may be off in spots, but considering this was James Gunn's first film as director I would say it turned out well. It has scares, laughs and dramatic moments, and it is entertaining the whole way through.

Verdict: Fun horror film to kill a few hours with

Trailer:





Warcraft: The Beginning (2016) Review

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