The Maze Runner series really appealed to me and long before it was a… MoreThe Maze Runner series really appealed to me and long before it was a movie, I read all four books. I was hoping that like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner would be a page for page telling of the story, but it wasn't and in fact several important elements crucial to the sequels were left out. The story begins with a boy named Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) waking up in an elevator, surrounded by dozens of other boys. Thomas has no memory other than his name and quickly learns that none of the other boys do either. They are all trapped in the middle of a maze with no idea why or how to escape. This film was done well, but compared to the book, it is like a seventh graders book report. All the players are the same and the events are relatively the same, but all those little things that made this series so special and unique were left out. The film is just a simple story with some terrific special effects, but the book was really extraordinary and non-readers will never have any idea of just how good this movie could have been. Teen Wolf's Dylan O'Brien stars and really was the perfect choice to play Thomas. Unlike some of the other casting choices, O'Brien really seems to jump right from the pages to the screen in a defining role that almost seemed made for him. Thomas was the same in the movie as he was in the book, but he was the only one. It's very hard to be objective about this, because if I hadn't read the book, I still would have enjoyed the film, but realizing just how much of the story is missing really bothers me and skewed my review of the film. The story is unique, the special effects are great, and their some very good young actors here, I still highly recommend The Maze Runner, but if you are a reader and you enjoy Science Fiction, by all means read the book first.
There is nothing more fun to watch than a good mystery and the truth… MoreThere is nothing more fun to watch than a good mystery and the truth is that I loved every minute of the film, Endure, but it did have a critical flaw. Similar to what you see on TV, the film tells us who the bad guy is almost right away, making the film about the investigation rather than the mystery. A fatal car accident on a desolate highway has led to a shocking discovery. Inside the car, police find evidence that a woman has been abducted. Now the clock is on to find her and to see if in fact the man was working alone or had help. The cast pairing in this film appealed to me before I'd even seen the film, as in 2010, you have an investigative team made of an 80s teen idol and a 90s teen heartthrob. Right away, I knew there would be an interesting dynamic, but it was far an above what I expected. 80s party animal, Judd Nelson, stars and this time he's the seriously uptight, by the book guy that he despised and challenged for a decade. Nelson is paired with Devon Sawa, a favorite actor of mine, who long ago proved that he had a lot more going for him then just his looks. Together the pair are complete opposites, and go about things in completely different ways in order to achieve the same goal. As horrible as it sounds, this film was just a lot fun to watch. The material may have been dark and serious, but watching each man do his own thing and then try to work together was fantastic. I am just really bothered by the fact that we know the whole story twenty minutes into the film. That's fine for an episode of Law & Order, but in a film with such a unique dynamic, I would have loved to have seen a surprise ending. All that aside, Endure has a great cast and really does stand out from the dozens of other films produced every year about simple police investigation.
Often times sports can bring out the best and the worst in people, but… MoreOften times sports can bring out the best and the worst in people, but the majority of those stories take place on the field of play. Everything that happens is centered around the game, and rightfully so, that's where the cameras are focused, but once in a while, a story comes along that takes the focus off the field, Chasing 3000 is one such story. In the summer of 1972, Roberto Clemente is 6 hits away from reaching 3000 hits, but brothers Mickey and Roger are stuck in Southern California. Roger's (Rory Culkin) muscular dystrophy has forced the family to relocate, leaving the boys 3000 miles away from their favorite baseball player, but Mickey (Trevor Morgan) has no intention of it preventing him from witnessing history. One weekend when their mother goes away on business, the boys decide to steal her car and make the journey back home, to Pittsburgh. Despite this being a true story, with the cast they have, I feared that this movie would be some lame farce, but it surprised me by being genuine and heartwarming. The truth is that Mickey seemed to always resent his brother, until they went on the trip, and he realized just how a like they really are. Trevor Morgan stars and while I usually don't like the roles he chooses, but he is a very solid young lead. Morgan was good, but it's Rory Culkin who steals the show, playing the hopelessly ill younger brother, who at heart is every bit the wild teenager that his brother is. Along the way, the boys meet a whole cast of unusual characters portrayed in cameos by some people you'd never expect to see in an independent film. As I've said a million times, depth of cast always helps a film along, especially an independent drama. A lot of people will be turned off by the fact that this film centers around a historic sports achievement, but this is by no means a film about sports, and should appeal to large audiences.
m not one for early cinema, as I find most films prior to 1970 to be… Morem not one for early cinema, as I find most films prior to 1970 to be way over the top. The Ox-Bow had it's fair share of over the top cliche, but it also vividly illustrates a time in American history we don't learn much about. American history is often about the wars and the personalities, simple things like the wild west are left to films known as Westerns. The vast majority of these films tend to tell stories of historic figures, or focus on shoot outs and war, but Ox-bow stands apart, as it shows just how wild the frontier was. Taking place in 1885, the Ox-Bow incident follows the residents of a small town, who decide to take justice into their own hands following the murder of one of their own. Despite warnings from the local judge and sheriff, the towns people form a posse, and search for the men responsible, and they find them in an area known as the Ox-Bow. Once these men are found, the posse is divided and must decide which is the proper method of justice. I don't like Westerns, but I enjoyed the Ox-Bow, because it is just so radically different from every other film of this type and despite the cliches, it gives a real depiction of the problems the government faced when trying to tame the west. The legendary Henry Fonda stars in an era when it was very easy to tell a good actor from a bad one. He was level headed and didn't do things completely over the top, but the same can't be said for the rest of the cast. Perhaps the most interesting thing to see just how much Fonda style stood out and how it still resonates today in the performances of people like George Clooney. The other styles of acting portrayed have long since gone to the waste side, but Fonda's endures, showing that he was good enough to stand the test of time. The Ox-Bow isn't the most exciting film you'll ever see, in fact, many thing just don't make sense, but it still remains one of the defining accounts of the ordinary citizens of the wild west. People are still talking about it 70 years later and I suspect they'll still be talking about 70 years from now as it has to be included in any discussion of early American cinema.
As a long time fan of James Patterson's Alex Cross novels, I thought… MoreAs a long time fan of James Patterson's Alex Cross novels, I thought Morgan Freeman was the perfect choice to play Cross, and I loved Kiss The Girls. I was weary of a remake, especially one done by Tyler Perry, but to my surprise he was much better than expected, unfortunately, the film was not. Alex Cross has always been about beating criminals with his mind. The forensic psychologist is best known for his ability to out think rather than over power his opponents, but you'd never know it by watching this film. Alex Cross and his team are called in on a triple homicide, but the suspect had more on his mind then just his targets, and sets his sights on Cross and the team. There is a heavy focus right from the beginning on the bad guy, who we immediately see is Matthew Fox. To me this took all the mystery right out of the story, and instead of being a who done it, the film was about how to catch the bad guy. The writers didn't do that right either, as Alex Cross is blinded by rage and goes out guns blazing to fight and kill the assailant. While this may make for an exciting action film, it's not who or what Alex Cross is all about, and despite all the novels I've read, I felt like I didn't know the characters at all. Tyler Perry stars as Cross and shows that he's more than just a comedian dressed as an old woman. Perry was very intense and likeable, under different circumstances I would have really enjoyed his performance, but again, he wasn't playing the Alex Cross I know. He's paired with Lost's Matthew Fox, who has played the bad guy before. I love Fox as an actor, but he just doesn't have the look or temperament of a killer and wasn't very believable here. Alex Cross is one of my all time favorite characters, and the first time they put him on film, they did it right. The second time, wasn't one of Patterson's better stories, but still very well done. This time, Alex Cross has turned into John McLean, and while some people will love it, to me it just emphasized everything that is wrong with Hollywood today.
Much like the Punisher, Hellboy was created for the older comic book… MoreMuch like the Punisher, Hellboy was created for the older comic book fans. The character was designed to be an anti-hero, less refined than Batman or Superman, someone who would hate being labeled a superhero. While the comics weren't as popular as others, the film gave life to the franchise and created a cult following. The story is meant to introduce us to the character of Hellboy, a cat loving, cigar smoking, red guy, with a bad attitude, who secretly works for the government protecting The United States from paranormal threats. Everyone knows by now that I hate superheroes, so the idea of the anti-hero really appealed to me. I could have easily become one of the cult followers and fallen for Hellboy, the way all the comic-con kids did, if it wasn't for the uncertain direction of the film. Guillermo Del Toro struggled back and fourth with whether or not this film should be geared for kids or adults, and went the PG-13 route. It worked in terms of getting a larger audience, but it also took away from the original intent of the character. Throughout the film we keep hearing about how tough and dangerous Hellboy is, but he's really wasn't that much of a bad ass. If Hellboy is so unlike any hero, why is he working for government instead of breaking the law, and why is it that he doesn't utter a single curse word? The character was far too toned down for my liking, but the flip-side to that was how nasty and creepy some of the bad guys were. Broom is one of the best comic villains I've ever seen and given his Nazi background, he most certainly was not intended for kids. Overall, I enjoyed parts of the film, I loved Ron Perlman, and as with any film by Guillermo Del Toro, the special effects were amazing. However, the lack of direction makes the film somewhat unfulfilling and anti-climatic. Hopefully that will all change when I get up to Hellboy II.
I saw this movie 4 years ago when it was called Ca$h, but that was a… MoreI saw this movie 4 years ago when it was called Ca$h, but that was a comedy and this was a thriller, still it's amazing just how similar the two films are. Good People and Ca$h are so much alike, that I don't know how the producers of this film didn't get sued! Good People takes place in London and focuses on another young couple down on their luck. They're about to lose everything when their downstairs tenet dies and they find a bag of cash in the ceiling. Much like the couple in Ca$h, they face the dilemma of keeping the money or turning it into the police. Of course they have to keep the money for there to be a film, but shortly after, the rightful owners show up and want their cash, leaving the couple on the run. James Franco and Kate Hudson play the young couple and to my surprise, despite their very different styles, they had great chemistry, but that's really all this film had. It's very hard to review a film that is so similar to another, because I find myself unimpressed by the second film and wonder, if I hadn't seen the first, would I have enjoyed the second? As far as thrillers go, it wasn't much different or better than you'd expect it to be, despite the big names in the cast. Ultimately, Good People isn't a bad film, but I preferred the story in a more comedic form with Sean Bean playing a foul mouthed, wise cracking gangster. If you're a fan of any of the cast members, you should see this film, because it definitely wasn't boring, but it really wasn't anything special.
I'm not one for romantic comedies, but I was a huge fan of That 70s… MoreI'm not one for romantic comedies, but I was a huge fan of That 70s show, and wanted to see if Topher Grace's movie roles were really worth leaving the show for, and needless to say, I was unimpressed. The film centers around three friends working in the grocery store of a small town. They are big movie fans and the girls love Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel), the hottest new star in Hollywood. Hamilton has the looks, but his reputation isn't so good. To fix this, his people come up with the idea of a contest, where the winner get a date with Hamilton and hence the name of the film. Josh Duhamel stars and really shouldn't do comedy. He may have been terrific in the show Las Vegas, but he just isn't believable in a comedic role. As for Topher Grace, he plays this whiny, love struck, jealous friend of Kate Bosworth, and he wasn't really that funny either. Win A Date With Tad Hamilton seemed like someones attempt at making a Woody Allen film and ultimately they failed. This film just tries too hard and gets to a point where it isn't funny. It lacks all the subtle, intelligent humor of a Woody Allen film, not to mention the plot is kind of cheesy. There is a lot to look at in this movie for both men and women, but beyond that, it's really not worth your time.