I find that the best thrillers come from films that are based on real… MoreI find that the best thrillers come from films that are based on real life events. Some of these stories are just so twisted and crazy, that even the best writer wouldn't be able to imagine them on their own. The story told in the film The Frozen Ground, is one such story, telling the world about serial killer, Robert Hansen. From the 1970s until 1983, Hansen was one of the nations most prolific serial killers. What makes Hansen's story unique is that he was able to do all this, without the police even connecting the cases, because of where he lived. Hansen's story begins in Anchorage Alaska, where he began preying on prostitutes. After torturing and killing them, he would dump the bodies in remote, unpopulated areas of Alaska, where they were ravaged by the weather and wild animals. This made finding the cause of death or even identifying the victims nearly impossible. Hansen would probably still be active today, if it wasn't for Cindy Paulson, the only victim in 12 years, to escape the madman, and that's where our film begins. Nicholas Cage stars as Jack Halcombe, a state police detective who comes up with a wild theory that all these missing people and strange deaths, could be connected. Halcombe has a tough time convincing anyone of this, especially since his only witness is a drug abusing prostitute. Nicolas Cage excels in movies like this and is again terrific. Cage was born to play a cop and in my opinion does it better than anyone else out there. In this film, he's paired with Zac Efron's ex, Vanessa Hudgens, who wasn't great, but was much better than I expected. It's difficult to make the transition from Disney cover girl to a legitimate movie star, but I'd say that Hudgens is well on her way. Finally, John Cusack rounds out this all-star cast, playing Robert Hansen. After all the films I've seen Cusack in, I really couldn't imagine him as the bad guy, but his performance is what really helps this movie stand out, and hopefully will lead him to other similar roles. The Frozen Ground is a little slow, but it is supposedly very accurate, and tells an interesting story that most people know nothing about. It's the kind of film that I really go for and hopefully you will too.
After making a name for himself in the Hunger Games, teen heartthrob,… MoreAfter making a name for himself in the Hunger Games, teen heartthrob, Liam Hemsworth got his first leading role in the corporate thriller, Paranoia. This film has a somewhat complicated plot to explain without spoilers, but I will attempt to do so. Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) is a low level employee at one of the worlds largest tech company. His boss has learned that their main competition, his former employer, is about to unveil a revolutionary piece of new technology, that can change everything. Fearing for his companies future, Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) decides to give Cassidy the opportunity of a lifetime, that is if he's willing to break a few dozen laws or so. Liam Hemsworth was terrific, giving a performance similar to the one Bradly Cooper gives in Limitless, as a guy with an important job that's in way over his head. Hollywood finds these good looking guys and the truth is that a lot of them have nothing to offer, but Hemsworth proves that he has the talent it takes to star on the big screen. In the film he's supported by a real all-star cast, that includes Harrison Ford, Richard Dryfuss, and Gary Oldman, all of whom do what they've been doing for half a century, making great films even better. The only reason this film isn't getting 5 stars, is the same reason it didn't do as well as it should have in the box office. Paranoia is about corporate espionage and at times, the business aspect is confusing and makes us feel as overwhelmed as Hemsworth's character does. Other than that, I can't find a thing wrong with this film, it is absolutely one of the best edge of your seat thrillers I've seen all year and easily earns the right to be called one of our must see movies!
When it was announced that WWE was staring a film company, like most,… MoreWhen it was announced that WWE was staring a film company, like most, I thought it was a joke. After some success with films like the Marine and 12 Rounds, the company earned some legitimacy and with it comes bigger talent and better Directors. The Call is the first WWE film that doesn't star a wrestler, and it was every bit as good as any Hollywood thriller that was released last year. Halle Berry stars as a 911 operator, whose worse nightmare is realized, when a kidnapping victim calls in from the trunk of a serial killers car. From there, the Call becomes 90 minutes of pure, non-stop intensity. It's hard to imagine a film that features a girl in a trunk and a woman in a call center, being as entertaining as it was, but that's where the experienced Hollywood talent comes into play. Halle Berry is not someone I consider to be a terrific actress, but she surprised me, by playing a character who had to overcome emotion and think on her feet. It quickly becomes evident that going by the book will lead to this girls death, and the operator comes up with some pretty novel ideas about how to deal with the situation. The supporting cast, which does feature an active WWE superstar, is also very good in assisting with the statewide manhunt. This film was really on pace to be one of my favorite films of the year until the ending. It was very strange, but the film gets to a certain point and then just ends. There may not have been much more of the story to tell, but the way it ended made me feel like I left the theater a few minutes early to answer an important phone call or something. It maybe a small thing to some, but to me, it really took a lot away from an otherwise terrific film. The Call is not that original, outside of the particular situation, it's a type of film you've seen many times over. It is however intense, fast paced, very entertaining, and most definitely worth the price of admission.
The formula for Horror is very simple. Outrageous characters, creepy… MoreThe formula for Horror is very simple. Outrageous characters, creepy music, blood, and lots of beautiful people, but Cruel World is one of those rare Horror films that actually has a story worth telling. After being scorned on a reality dating show, Philip Markham (Edward Furlong) has decided to create his own show. A fear factor type competition with a one million dollar reward. The only problem is when you lose the game, you lose your life, a stipulation the contestants weren't previously aware of. This was a fun film for me, because not only is it original, but it has a cast full of seldom seen 90s teen idols. My regular readers know by now that I consider Edward Furlong to be one of the hardest working, most under appreciated actors in all of Hollywood, but to be honest, he wasn't anything special in this film. Furlong's character is one of those evil geniuses that really seems to be all bark and no bite. The true stars of this film are the lesser known contestants like, Andrew Keegan and Sanoe Lake. The contestants are all oblivious and watching them trying to figure things out under the guise of winning a competition was really clever. The contestants and the competitions are really what helps to distinguish this film from all the other slash films. While including the four elements, and finding a lot of reasons for the pretty people to take their cloths off, there is actually a better than average story here and an experienced cast. The combination of the two make this film much more entertaining than the slasher films you've become accustom to. While I was disappointed in the fact that Edward Furlong couldn't carry this film in the way I've become accustom to seeing, there were still plenty of great performances and exciting moments. If you're a big Horror fan like I am, and you're looking for something a little bit different, give Cruel World a try.
This film really surprised me, because I usually hate these found… MoreThis film really surprised me, because I usually hate these found footage films. Aside from the nausea, caused by the constant movement of the camera, I find that these films not only lack a budget, but also a decent story and cast. Undocumented was different though, as it was a novel idea with some fairly stable camera work. The story focuses on a group of college kids, making a documentary about illegal aliens, and how they cross into the United States. The group join a coyote for a run across the boarder when they are unexpectedly capture. Unfortunately for them, their captors aren't the police, but rather a group of self-proclaimed patriots, who abuse the illegal immigrants for their sick pleasure. We see a lot of films about how and why people cross the boarder and even a lot about what the police and government are doing about it, but I can't ever remember seeing a film about these vigilante groups, that do exist, and pray on illegals. Prison Break's Pete Stormare stars as Z, the leader of the rebel group and he basically makes the movie. This guy usually plays a gangster or inmate in the background of some random film or TV show, but he's never really the star, and it's a shame because he makes this movie. Z is such a deep character, who is brilliant yet deranged at the same time, a man who is as compassionate as he is brutal, it was really something to see. He's paired with a young cast of teen actors, who have been around for years, and who do a terrific job in support of his performance. This film isn't listed as a horror film, but it is pretty brutal and bloody, meaning you shouldn't watch it if you have a weak stomach. For me, it was an interesting take on an aspect of immigration that is rarely seen or talked about. The performances were impressive, the characters were deep, and the film never stops moving. I enjoyed the fact that this unique film really didn't have any big named stars in it and even though it had a shoe-string budget, the producers really made it work.
Ryan Gosling stars in what many consider to be his breakout role,… MoreRyan Gosling stars in what many consider to be his breakout role, playing a modern day Holden Caufield, who has committed a heinous crime. While the story has some tremendous performances, it really lacks any substance, rehashing the events of the past week, over and over again. We know right from the beginning of the film, that Leland killed a retard boy, what we don't know is why. The focus of the film is discovering what lead this highly intelligent, son of a celebrity, to commit such an act. The film has a huge cast of celebrities, that include Don Cheadle, Kevin Spacey, Chris Klein, and Michelle Williams, all of whom are as good as you would expect. What the film has in talent, it lacks in substance, as it's really just a whole lot of Leland talking in code. The writers go out of their way to show Leland as this deep, emotionless kid, that's been trapped inside his own mind his entire life. As the film goes on, the more Leland opens up. The writers paint the portrait of this kid and show you ever aspect of his life, in the hopes that you will figure out his true motivation before it comes out. The result is a slow moving film that causes the audience to gradually lose interest as time goes on. There is no doubt the Ryan Gosling was spectacular and deserves every good thing said about his performance, but the story seems to move slowly and in circles. The writers made it much more in depth than it had to be and most audiences will be turned off by it.
Love Ranch is a fictionalized bio-pic, loosely based on the true story… MoreLove Ranch is a fictionalized bio-pic, loosely based on the true story of Joe & Sally Conforte. The Conforte's were the first people to open a legalized brothel in the state of Nevada and for a while, became local celebrities, until it all came crashing down. It was an interesting story, following the lives of two people, that most of us don't know anything about. As for the film, while it over-dramatized a lot of the events, it really fails to make much of an impact. There are scenes that make these two look like gangsters, others that make them look like royalty, and several that just makes them look like trailer trash. The truth is that it was hard to really decipher the true character of these people and figure out what they were really like. I was mildly interested in the story, but what I really wanted to see was the return of Joe Pesci. Since retiring in 1999, Pesci had a cameo in one film, but this is was his first leading role since Lethal Weapon 4. For the living legend, it was as if he had never stopped, giving a terrific performance. The only disappointing thing was that they kept Pesci's classic, profanity laced tirades to a minimum, but other than that, he was really terrific. Helen Mirren on the other hands kind of annoyed me in this film. She's always been an amazing actress, but her performance was really all over the place. I guess it has to do with the emotional state of the woman she was playing, but to be honest I was very unimpressed by what I saw from her. While it was great to see Joe Pesci back on the big screen, the Love Ranch was really just a mass of confusion that was all over the place. It was nearly impossible to separate the truth from the Hollywood bull shit, when personalities and situations are changing so rapidly. If you love Joe Pesci, you won't want to miss his comeback, but the film that brought him out of retirement, really isn't anything special.
When I watch films like this, I am looking for three things. I hope to… MoreWhen I watch films like this, I am looking for three things. I hope to find some young talent, before anyone else knows who they are, a unique story, and a funny scene or two. Unfortunately, the story here is quite disgusting and there weren't any stand out performances, but there was a really funny scene, where the nerdy kid gets caught playing dance dance revolution. The story begins when a new kid named Billy (Luke Benward) moves to town. The other kids immediately try to intimidate him, by replacing his lunch with a bag of worms. To their surprise, in defiance, Billy eats the worms and gains their respect. One thing leads to another and eventually a very disgusting competition is born. The film is based on a very popular children's book and that's really who this film was intended for. Occasionally, you get some surprises out of a film like this, but as I said earlier, there really wasn't any stand out talent here. I didn't find any young actors/actresses that I could start following from the beginning of their career, but the kids weren't bad either. They seemed to have a lot of fun with the strange story and ultimately I think kids will probably really enjoy it. As for us adults, there really isn't anything here for us to watch and I may never eat gummy worms ever again.
In the 1970's, Mel Brooks and Monty Python made spoof films a fixture… MoreIn the 1970's, Mel Brooks and Monty Python made spoof films a fixture in American movie theaters. In the years that have followed, we've even seen franchises like, Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Superhero Movie, but when was the last time you saw a spoof that was actually any good? Because of my love of the Hunger Games, I actually gave it's spoof a chance and I'm sorry I did. There were a lot of things here that could have been made fun of, but they weren't. The film gets so desperate that they actually turn to Avatar, The Avengers, and the action star of the Expendables, to make the thing long enough to be a full length film. I understand that the purpose behind spoof films is to be so ridiculous, that people laugh at how stupid it is, but there is a point where it is so beyond stupid and childish, that no one finds it funny anymore. The Starving Games quickly crosses this line and doesn't go back. It's a comedy making fun of one of my favorite series of all-time, a series I know like the back of my hand, and I hardly laughed. The only thing this film does well is cast actors who closely resemble the cast of the Hunger Games franchise. Beyond that, the acting is terrible, the jokes wouldn't even make children laugh, and the story is so out there, that eventually you're not even sure what they are doing. While spoofing big movies has become big business, this one does nothing but annoy everyone who was dumb enough to watch it.
The Ender franchise has turned into such a global phenomena that now,… MoreThe Ender franchise has turned into such a global phenomena that now, most kids are required to read it in High School. I was one of those kids and I absolutely loved the story. In fact I continued on with the books and they became unbearably strange. How they got almost 20 novels out of it is beyond me. While I was really excited to finally see Ender's Game on the big screen, I knew the chances of it continuing past one film would be slim at best. It all has to do with the ending, which is bizarre and really shouldn't have been continued. For those who don't know the story, in the future, Earth is at war with an alien species known as the Formics. The Humans have taken heavy losses and in desperation have started a recruitment program, that focuses on children. Knowing that kids think in a different way than adults do, they are hoping to find that one genius who has the key to defeating the Formics. That child turns out to be Ender Wiggin, a child who under Earth's new Government, shouldn't have even been born. Seeing the story I read so many years ago, come to life on the big screen, was magical for me. Finally I was able to understand the parts that were just too confusing to see in my head and get the complete picture. Ender is played by Asa Butterfield, who somewhat miraculously, at the age of 15, has had the starring role in every film he's been in. After watching Ender's game it's not hard to see why, he was to this film, what Ender was to the Human's in the story. The producers surrounded him and his young crew with a cast of Academy Award winners including Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Viola Davis, which ultimately strengthen the movie and must of really inspired this kid to give the performance he gave. While the film simply broken even at the box office, (killing any chance of a franchise developing out of it) it was very well done and closely mirrored the book. They did a near perfect job of deciding what parts should stay and what should be eliminated, giving us a film that was just as good as the book, if not better.