You will be hard pressed to find a more disturbing thriller this year.… MoreYou will be hard pressed to find a more disturbing thriller this year. Compliance is a harrowing experience, made all the more stressful when you see the terrible way these characters behave thinking the law is on their side.
The film is ultimately a testament not just to our inability to question authority but our unwillingness to. We the audience sit helplessly as we watch a young woman humiliated by people who are supposed to be her friends, all in the name of compliance to what they think is a police officer.
This film explores the dark side of humanity in a way that few films have. It does it with minimal locations and a phone. When the credits rolled I couldn't believe this was based on a true story. Then I looked up the actual case this film was based on. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the events happened exactly as they were told in the film, and how unsettling it is to know that it happened 70 different times and that the perpetrator was acquitted.
The story of Hercules has graced us many times in numerous… MoreThe story of Hercules has graced us many times in numerous incarnations. Renny Harlin's latest turkey, The Legend of Hercules, is the myth told in the most lifeless and uninteresting way possible.
Sets look cheap. Costumes look put together from discount surplus attire. Actors don't act; they yell; all the time; every line - it's like high school kids performing bad Shakespeare without microphones. Granted, their performances are clearly the fault of the director.
Everything in this movie is a cliché, from the opening "prophecy" to the final siege in the middle of a thunderstorm set to booming Hans Zimmer-esque music. I don't understand why anyone bothered trying to make this movie and I can't fathom anyone being remotely interested in seeing it.
Rian Johnson's Looper is astonishing. It creates a unique time travel… MoreRian Johnson's Looper is astonishing. It creates a unique time travel scenario, and is mostly consistent with the rules it lays out for itself. The action is great; the suspense is gripping, and all the actors do amazing jobs at playing lonely, grief-stricken characters. One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is how it questions notions of predestination and fate. Can someone really be held countable for crimes they have not yet committed, or could they become different people given a change of circumstance? Looper isn't shy about getting you to think. It's primed to blow your mind visually and logically.
Sin City is a gorgeous and cartoonishly violent mix of old school film… MoreSin City is a gorgeous and cartoonishly violent mix of old school film noir style and new school digital technology. Robert Rodriguez has brought Frank Miller's graphic novel to life on the screen almost panel to panel. The results are fascinating. Each story has dark, brooding, yet interesting protagonists. Their villains are equally menacing. The all star cast is clearly having fun getting in touch with their inner Humphrey Bogart.
Fully embracing its pulp roots, Sin City depicts reluctant anti-heroes trying to exist in a city overwhelmed with corruption and despair. It's the ultimate in hard boiled fiction.
Afflicted is not just a near perfect horror movie (or movie in… MoreAfflicted is not just a near perfect horror movie (or movie in general), it's an inspiration to all of us that no matter how tired a genre is (in this case vampires and found footage), creative filmmakers can find a way to reinvent it. A genuinely scary, exciting new masterpiece to the greatest genre ever.
It's unfortunate that the film has to tread territory that is all too familiar to the audience. But sometimes, it's not about the story you tell; it's how well you tell it. Afflicted uses the cliches of the horror genre and injects the cool back into them (which is why they became cliches in the first place).
Clif Prowse and Derek Lee show real ingenuity with creating special effects, staging action, and building mystery. With $300,000 they were able to make a better film than any $300 million Hollywood studio production to come out in over a decade.
You will go into The Purge intrigued by its premise and you will leave… MoreYou will go into The Purge intrigued by its premise and you will leave very disappointed.
In a futuristic America, the new government (called the Founding Fathers) has managed to eliminate murder and unemployment by making all crime legal for one night each year. The logic is that this night of "purging" allows us to let loose our animalistic nature as well as letting the poor, less contributing members of society kill each other off.
The film does not expand on these concepts, leaving much to be desired. It'll be too easy for critics to expose all of its flaws as a plausible system. Instead, the plot devolves into a standard home invasion movie that is predictable and populated with really, really stupid characters.
The Purge is an example of taking a cool set up and turning it into cliche, forgettable crap.
Need for Speed seems to have all the ingredients to be the start of a… MoreNeed for Speed seems to have all the ingredients to be the start of a cool film franchise - great leading man, cool supporting cast, beautiful cars, and the budget to make it all happen.
But it's like this movie went out of its way to be disappointingly stupid. Things like one character always showing up in different helicopters kept having me think - how are you plausibly doing this? Or how Aaron Paul is established to be the best driver ever and the car he drives the fastest car ever, yet even a truck can catch up to him. Not to mention Michael Keaton's really annoying commentary throughout the final race, and the insanely awkward dialogue throughout the entire film.
It seems movies made from video games are a lost cause. Need for Speed does not make the case that this trend will change any time soon.
2014 has been a year of awesome movies, and it's only half done! In… More2014 has been a year of awesome movies, and it's only half done! In the pantheon of all this awesomeness comes Richard Linklater's Boyhood, one of the best films I have ever seen.
The gimmick is that it was filmed over 12 years, capturing changes in our physical appearance, society, technology, and clothes better than if the producers had attempted to recreate them on set. But we've seen evolutions of time in several (brilliant) 2.45 minute You Tube videos; Boyhood is 2.45 hours long. To be of interest, it has to be about more. And it is.
Boyhood shows how experiences shape our view of the world. How the people who come and go in our lives affect who we will become. It captures our fears about getting older, living a life unfulfilled, and becoming lost. It also celebrates growing up, and how life isn't about seizing the moment, but how the moment seizes us.
It's rare to see a film that you know will still be watched 60 years from now. Boyhood is that film and Richard Linklater has become the cinematic voice of not only our generation, but every generation.
VERDICT: BARELY WATCHABLE -
Transcendence starts with a bang but ends… MoreVERDICT: BARELY WATCHABLE -
Transcendence starts with a bang but ends up a mess of bad science and bad execution. It wants you to think about the relationship between humans and computers; namely, if a computer can manipulate nano-technology to make people stronger but ultimately place them under its control at will, is this a good thing or a bad thing? The problem is once you start thinking about it, nothing will make any sort of sense.
The script is underwhelming, with so many potentially key moments being glossed over to cram in other ideas. And the director, Wally Pfister (Chris Nolan's cinematographer of choice) does not have the experience or the ability to bring all these ideas together. The film looks great, but it was clearly brought into production less than half thought out.
VERDICT: MIDNIGHT SCREENING WORTHY -
The Raid 2 is one of the… MoreVERDICT: MIDNIGHT SCREENING WORTHY -
The Raid 2 is one of the greatest action movies I have ever seen. Gareth Evans is a true talent behind the camera. Where The Raid: Redemption was a kinetic, fight-a-minute thrill ride, its sequel is built around a story. You won't feel its 150 minute run time because you will be engulfed in its gritty tale about family, loyalty, betrayal, and identity. Three crime families ultimately end up at war with each other with Rama being caught in the middle as an undercover cop exposing corruption. Amidst the drama are incredibly choreographed, expertly staged, and graphically violent fight scenes. Weapons, hand-to-hand, gunfights, car chases, The Raid 2 has it all and it doesn't let up!