A smart, slam-bang thriller that engages its audience from its… MoreA smart, slam-bang thriller that engages its audience from its mysterious opening shot all the way to its open-ended conclusion, featuring a team of scientists (led by Noomi Rapace) who journey to a distant planet in the year 2093 in hopes of uncovering hidden secrets regarding mankind's beginning and the meaning of life. Ridley Scott's visual scope is impeccable right from its opening tracking shot of the hills of Scotland, and the way he packs his film with atmosphere, tension, and absolute horror is a welcome surprise to the banal horror films (with exception to "The Cabin in the Woods", namely) we have received lately.
Sure, the film is not a mastery in how to develop characters (but neither were "Alien" or "Aliens", two films that are considered to be all-time greats by many, many people, including me), but it is an old-school lesson in how to properly freak out your audience, all while inputting a philosophical spin that is completely arresting. Although the film could have expanded on its "faith vs. science" battle, and there are some notable, inexcusable plot holes, it still works due to its cast. Everyone involved gives fantastic performances (Noomi Rapace, aka the original "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is outstanding, as is Michael Fassbender as the android David), there are tons of scares, all concluded with an ending straight out of Hell. Flawed, absolutely, but still an engaging, arresting, beautifully shot philosophical blast of a film whose ambiguity is frustrating and ballsy at the same time.
A flawed though ambitious adaptation of the story of Moses (Christian… MoreA flawed though ambitious adaptation of the story of Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton), and how they begun as basically brothers, but how God's will propels one to fight for the freedom of his people, and the other for the survival of his kingdom. While far from director Ridley Scott's best work (that belongs to "Alien" and "Black Hawk Down"), this is certainly a respectable admission into his filmography. Sure, there are some gaps in the storyline (to be fair, it is a tough one to fit in under a three hour frame) and the middle section is slow-paced given the nature of the development of the story, but ultimately this movie is a success thanks to strong performances from Bale and Edgerton, as well as stunning visuals and special effects that always keep this film arresting. This is a much better realized version of a Biblical story than "Noah" was, and even though the film has problems (God being portrayed as a little boy is a big error), the mere scope and look of the picture and the time it takes place is fascinating.
A somewhat entertaining though very derivative superhero saga… MoreA somewhat entertaining though very derivative superhero saga concerning four unlikely candidates (led by Chris Pratt) and how they are tasked with rescuing the galaxy from some really bad guys. While it tries badly to have a heart and sense of humor, including a vibrant soundtrack, its video game-esque looking action sequences really take away from the overall impact it hopes to have. The acting from the lead characters is fine, but the inability for this story to offer a memorable villain is a big mis-step as well. It means well and obviously it is geared for a younger demographic, but overall I just found it to be an okay but very forgettable entry into the Marvel series.
An interesting though problematic slice of Texas drama concerning a… MoreAn interesting though problematic slice of Texas drama concerning a family man (Michael C. Hall) who shoots an intruder who comes into his house one night, only to have the criminal's father (Sam Shepard) seek vengeance on killing his son. However, when the two discover that there may be more to the case than originally thought, they both enter into a new world full of deception and uncertainty. The writing and directing are both very ambitious, and the acting is wonderful (all three main actors crush it), which makes this movie entertaining and unpredictable. However, there are quite a number of plot holes and twists that are a bit of a stretch, which threatens to tear apart the entire movie before it ends hanging by a thread. Overall, not bad at all considering the way it starts and finishes, I just wish they could have put together a better middle-section to complete this okay movie.
A memorable, sharp-edged satire about the television industry… MoreA memorable, sharp-edged satire about the television industry concerning a mysterious figure (Jake Gyllenhaal) who muscles his way into the Los Angeles night scene to capture some of the most horrific murders and accidents he can on film, so that he can sell them to a local television station and start his career as a professional "nightcrawler". The driving force behind this movie's success is Gyllenhaal's electric performance as someone who does not seem human, who instead seems to thrive and live off the pain and suffering of others so it can advance his hopes and dreams for his future. This is a scathing look at news and media and the lack of morality involved when it comes to death and getting the best "shot" possible, while not showing a genuine care whatsoever for the people involved in these sad events. There are a few Hollywood gimmicks thrown in to drive the story forward that seem a little forced, but otherwise this is a pretty biting, darkly funny take on a well-tread upon subject. This is a movie that is definitely worth a view.
An unforgettable near-masterpiece from the always reliable Bennett… MoreAn unforgettable near-masterpiece from the always reliable Bennett Miller concerning the story of John du Pont (Steve Carell) and his recruitment of Olympic wrestlers Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), as he hopes to lead the Olympic wrestling team back to glory in the 1988 Seoul Games even though du Pont shows clear signs of paranoia and insanity that threatens not only his vision, but his wrestlers' personal safety as well. Carell, in a career-changing performance, embodies a truly creepy, lonely, pathetic human being whose downward spiral is not that surprising considering his upbringing. Tatum finally proves his movie-star status with the best performance of his career as an insecure, hulking figure who has lived in his brother's shadow, while Ruffalo nearly steals the show as his much more friendly, compassionate older sibling. It is a slow-paced film and not for everyone, but Miller's firm grasp on the subject material, as well as his ability to make you feel for all the characters involved, makes this film truly memorable, with a haunting final sequence that will not leave one quickly.
An admirable film from the legendary Martin Scorsese about a troubled… MoreAn admirable film from the legendary Martin Scorsese about a troubled detective (Leonardo DiCaprio) who takes on a case at a psych ward on a remote island, before he starts to lose his grip on his sanity and what reality is anymore. This is a consistently interesting, thought-provoking, and ultimately soul-crushing movie that, while slowly paced, remains interesting throughout. It is no where near perfect or one of Scorsese's best films, but it is still a good one that deserves to be seen mainly because of DiCaprio's performance.
A consistently funny story concerning a backup quarterback (Warren… MoreA consistently funny story concerning a backup quarterback (Warren Beatty) for the St. Louis Rams who finally gets his chance to start for the team before he is killed in a car accident. However, when he arrives at Heaven's gates he is told that he was killed by accident, and is instead given a new body of an older rich man where he is still determined to get his old job with the Rams back. While there are plenty of plot holes if you look at it closely, this movie aims to be a comedy and it accomplishes just that. Beatty's character is likeable and easy to root for and there are enough interesting characters and situations that arise that make this film worthwhile.
An average though completely predictable comedy concerning a couple… MoreAn average though completely predictable comedy concerning a couple (Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne) attempting to leave their youth behind and start adulthood with a new child, only to have their lives disrupted when a noisy fraternity led by a charismatic leader (Zac Efron) move in next door to them. It has a few good laughs, especially Rogen who delivers some good one-liners that he probably came up with on the spot, but the movie basically runs its course after the first hour. It is nothing bad, but it is definitely derivative of the 'Jump Street" films in terms of its style, as Nicholas Stoller tries to harness that crazy creative energy and put together his own uniquely constructed comedy. He almost pulls it off, but if it's between seeing this or the 'Jump Street' films, I would probably take the latter.
A worthy addition to the X-Men franchise which successfully mixes in… MoreA worthy addition to the X-Men franchise which successfully mixes in time travel into its plot in an attempt to link the old X-Men movies to the current ones, something it pulls off marvelously. The heart of the characters, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) returns here as the last hope for the mutants to maintain their existence, a feat that involves him going back to the 1970's and changing the past in order to improve the future for his kind. The special effects are fantastic, and the story remains entertaining and beautifully links the old with the new so well. The cast (notably Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and James McAvoy) holds the story together well, and if you are a fan of the comics you can't miss this movie.