Taken 3 is Hollywood at its absolute worst. It begins with a lazy… MoreTaken 3 is Hollywood at its absolute worst. It begins with a lazy script. It continues with some of the most sliced and diced editing I have ever seen in a film. It's hampered by terrible acting on all accounts. The icing on the cake is the preposterous script. I cannot believe Luc Besson saw any positives going into this when he's given us primed action movies like Lucy, The Fifth Element or The Professional. He was only a writer, so not all of it falls in his lap, but it's the whole "fool me once" stigma at play.
Let's talk about Liam Neeson. The man turned his career on its head when the first Taken was released. Since then, you'd be hard pressed to see him in a role where he's not kicking butt and taking names at his age. Clearly, this was done for the money. There is absolutely no other logical reason for him to make this film.
Forrest Whitaker mailed in another quirky cop performance and Maggie Grace appeared to do the same thing, however, I actually think that's just how she acts normally. Whoever played the bad Russian was a goofball and belonged in Austin Powers.
The flow of the films from one to three got so out of hand and unbelievable, I suppose it made sense for everyone to push (hopefully) the last one in the series beyond outer space and any relevant stratosphere of anything sensical.
Bradley Cooper shines as a clear Oscar candidate in "American Sniper".… MoreBradley Cooper shines as a clear Oscar candidate in "American Sniper". The man has evolved through his career, and this role is his bread and butter. His transformation was outstanding from a buck eighty to about 230 pounds. Under Clint Eastwood's direction, the absolute echelon of manliness in on the silver screen, you knew Cooper would put forth an accurate portrayal of Chris Kyle.
Secondly, Sienna Miller was also wonderful as his wife. In the book, considering it's from the POV of Kyle, we don't understand much from her POV, but I hope Eastwood used her to help collaborate in the movie making process like I read he did with the SEALS.
Which takes us into the actual portrayal of war after 9/11. The four tours were well done chronologically with nice breaking points of Kyle going home to soften the intensity. However, I felt like because we jumped from the war to back home and back again so many times, I was a little let down we didn't get to know some of his buddies like we did in the book. The book also didn't hit as hard on his PTSD as the movie did.
I was also upset they used a fake plastic baby in one of the scenes. How on Earth does that even happen in Hollywood?
It was a nice Hollywood touch though to give the movie a good vs evil film (considering they didn't have to try very hard) with the other sniper.
I've seen better war movies, (Fury and Lone Survivor) but I haven't seen a better one-man show that Cooper put on in a movie that does just about as good as any other in showing just how intense and upsetting war can be for someone in the long run.
'Wetlands' signals the breakthrough for actor Carla Juri. She is… More'Wetlands' signals the breakthrough for actor Carla Juri. She is incredible as 18-year-old Helen running around wreaking havoc, causing trouble, and finding new and inventive ways to go against the grain of society. In many ways, this is one of the most screwed up family dramas I've seen. Or is it a tale of tested friendship? Or is it a young girl's maturation and finding one's self? Or is it a love story?
Whatever it is, it's told in a very unconventional way. Sure it's a gross-out movie on the surface, and believe me there are a few cringe-worthy moments, but that all just seems more like an excuse to get people to watch what is otherwise still a good story underneath.
I swear at times Juri reminded me of a young Meg Ryan, though German. She went through tons of emotions in this film from seduction to sadness and euphoria to intrigue. Near the end when her character starts taking drastic measures for attention, or is it a depression she's fallen into suddenly because of her reoccurring dream, Juri brings it across the screen with aplomb.
The sexual content and lack of hygiene in a majority of the scenes may turn off many of the viewers, but Juri's strong performance should keep you tuned in the entirety of the way. The soundtrack is sweet and the visuals are engrossing. Maybe wash your hands afterward.
Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain give palpable performances in "A Most… MoreOscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain give palpable performances in "A Most Violent Year", but the pace of the film trudges in the oil (figuratively), which is what the focus is all about.
Set in the early 80's and centered around oil and fuel, Isaac's character is an honest, or is he, businessman trying to create an empire the right way. He preaches trust, loyalty, and honesty with his moral compass pointed in the direction opposite of a gangster. However, Chastain's character tugs at those strings with her connections to her father, who you never see on screen but gather was corrupt. They are great opposing forces as Isaac's character tries to keep his head without falling into violence while Chastain's always wants the quick fix to show strength.
The difficulty here is the movie felt billed as a gangster/crime drama whereas it ends up being just a simple drama. It didn't quite carry the punch of the title with very limited violence and true gangster activity. I enjoyed the story though because it stuck you right in the middle of a fictional, yet believable, time period of how things were progressing back then.
On an odd note, they had a shot of the city (it was set in NY) and it being the 1980's, they didn't have the twin towers in the cityscape shot.
It feels like another case where the acting carries the movie from point A to B to C more-so than both the story and acting cohesively working together at the same time to get you to a fulfilling ending.
I don't know much about the source material, but P.T. Anderson seems… MoreI don't know much about the source material, but P.T. Anderson seems to have thrown Joaquin Phoenix into a big cloud of hazy smoke for two and a half hours. That also double as a metaphor for the plot.
There is lots of wandering. There is lots of confusion. This is a definite stoner/hippie conglomerate of crime, kidnapping and comedy. Phoenix pulls off a pretty spectacular PI detective who's always on some type of drug as he tries to comb through a handful of detective threads that all seem connected to one big storyline. Some of them don't really get finished. It's mostly because you're left wondering who some of these characters really are after their brief introductions or little five-minute cameos. I was actually surprised at the number of non-traditional actors used in this (Belladonna the porn star and Keith Jardine the MMA fighter) who got ample screen time with legit dialogue.
It wasn't necessarily as out of this world as a "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" stoner flick or as funny as a "Pineapple Express", but there were definitely some scoffs and chuckles at the absurdity of some of the things that took pace.
If you've got a few hours to sit through a premier filmmaker's romp through the end of the drug age, albeit somewhat boring through the first hour, there's no reason to not appreciate another transfer of book to screen take.
While Marky Mark certainly gives it his all acting wise over the two… MoreWhile Marky Mark certainly gives it his all acting wise over the two hours or so of 'The Gambler', unfortunately, there's too little payoff at the end to fully appreciate the amount of trouble he was in the length of the movie.
The entire time, his character is consistently making bad choices and taking stakes for money from the wrong people, but you really don't feel the weight of just how bad his position is even when it all comes to a head about an hour in to the film.
Brie Larson doesn't get enough screen time and really seems more fodder than a meaningful narrative device while John Goodman spends 75% of his screen time with his shirt off. It ain't pretty. Jessica Lang was barely visible. michael Kenneth Williams is stepping up his visibility, though, but still remains in the type-cast role of gangster.
As soon as the movie was over, I felt I could list three or four others in this genre that outperformed 'The Gambler'. While the pacing was adequate and the soundtrack was innovative, the direction was clunky. At times I was lost on how the money was coming and going when Wahlberg's character started pulling from all his sources.
While Wahlberg might not fit the role of a professor even though he slimmed down a bit for the role, I would have been more enveloped with this film had the stakes been higher (no pun intended) with a real threat to his life for not paying out. If his character doesn't take it seriously, why should the audience ever believe he's in any real danger?
Let's tip our hat to some great acting from the three leading men:… MoreLet's tip our hat to some great acting from the three leading men: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum. The transformations they went through were very well done. The make-up was crazy good on Carell especially. Bennett Miller has some great movies out, and while this offered him the chance at a true-crime drama (although subtle in the crime department), he hits his mark again for 3/4ths of the film.
The pacing was great for the first 90 minutes or so. I really appreciated the slow-moving and lingering shots to really give some weight to how dark this entire story is. The only you reason you chuckle at anything is because of how absurd Carell's character acts.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the final 30 minutes. They rushed through the Olympics in 1988 and through the final scenes with so much speed. It was difficult to know when everything was happening, and it felt like it was a sequence one after the other when in fact years had progressed between some of the major events. The climax didn't feel at all like one.
What you really tune in for is the acting from the three men. Some real intensity in a shift for Carell mostly from his comedic roots and Tatum from his last few roles. Not sure the awards will flow from this one, but something to hang their hats on.
I'm going to go against the grain here; I didn't care for 'Top Five'.… MoreI'm going to go against the grain here; I didn't care for 'Top Five'. Contrary to all the rave reviews for how funny it was and how deep and soulful the plot turned out to be, it just never clicked with me bar a few smirks and half-cracked smiles. I can absolutely say all the funny stuff were in the previews.
The funniest parts of the movie were when Rock's character was actually removed from all the typical plot devices these movies fall into. The small 5 minutes we got of his standup in the famed Comedy Cellar in New York were some of the funnest takes of the entire film. For me, it never felt like there was a beginning or end to this either. We jump right into him already on the interview with Dawson's character from the start and finish with everything pretty much left up in the air. Sure the implication is there for how it's probably going to end all happily ever after, but I felt like the audience deserved to see it happen on screen.
The bouncing back and forth from flashbacks to the present had me all disjointed. Some of the cameos were positive. Most of them were negative. Negative as in boring and unfunny and wasteful.
Rock has never been the best in front of the camera. You could probably assume some of the things that happened in the movie are a small hyperbole for his real life, but even when things started to get serious, it seemed campy. The entire premise of the top five held no substance.
Ever since Mads Mikkelsen burst onto my radar in "Casino Royale", I've… MoreEver since Mads Mikkelsen burst onto my radar in "Casino Royale", I've become a big fan of his work. He has a great presence on camera. With "The Salvation", he gets a chance to be the silent-killer one-man wrecking crew. This time, he invites a fellow countryman Mikael Persrandt for a brief role in this Western that was shot in South Africa. The other excellent cast members include small roles for Jonathan Pryce, Eva Green and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Green's was perhaps the most perplexing seeing as how she didn't say one word the entire time.
The style and filters and cinematography really stand out beyond the actual story. Long, stoic shots that are left to linger with the score of the film really playing a larger role than the actual dialogue between characters. Without much time to get a good background on the time or the town, everything feels very isolated to this one moment of revenge.
With all the evil eyes and long camera shots and sense of foreboding, there's actually a really good tale here to tell about one man's desire to kill the men and all those associated with him for taking his family from him.
From one half of the guys who brought you Flight of the Concords,… MoreFrom one half of the guys who brought you Flight of the Concords, Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi wrote and directed this wonderfully campy, and for the most part hilarious, take on vampires.
In an age where vampire stories like Twilight and True Blood have overrun television and movies with terrible stories about love and betrayal and death compounded by bad acting, "What We Do in the Shadows" thankfully strays very far in the opposite direction with comedy. It's a simple day in the life kind of mockumentary for these small group in a flat in New Zealand.
While the takes on vampires isn't necessarily fresh...I'm talking about partying at night and avoiding the cliches we've come to know...everything comes out as a joke. The closest film I can relate this to is Four Brothers.
Flight of the Concords worked so well on a platform of music and sketches, so this comes off as a drawn out television show with a bunch of different events that would have worked well in short spurts.
At only 80 minutes long, this offers every cheap and hearty laugh you'd expect from a group of guys who do well at their craft.