Action/Adventure

[Mega Movie Review] Catching Up on 2017

13886469_1267046413328617_7042198926381498825_nBusy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!

Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+

Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A-

Raw – Coming out of the film festivals the press on this was touting how extreme it was and how it was causing audience members to faint or throw up. When the credits rolled I had one question: What kind of p****** were attending these screenings? I can’t fathom anyone watching this and feeling sick. The sound design is effective, but never to the point that I felt even the slightest bit nauseous. The film looks great, the central performance is quite good and the themes are intriguing…but color me disappointed that this is apparently what gets people worked up these days. Rating: C+

The Blackcoat’s Daughter – I have watched this film at least 4 times now. Each viewing has made it grow on me a little more each time. You’ll want to have been a fan of moody slow burns such as It Follows and The Witch for this one to be in your wheelhouse and if it is you’re in for a treat. Oz Perkins has a knack for creating an uneasy tone and depth to story without over explaining and hammering themes down your throat. Horror fans should quickly familiarize themselves with Perkins…that’s the moral of the story. Rating: B+ (inching ever so close to an A-)

The Devil’s Candy – When The Loved Ones FINALLY came out there was little that would convince me that Sean Byrne wasn’t going to be a horror breakout filmmaker and that his next film wouldn’t be my favorite one of the year. Get Out is going to make it tough for anything else to take that title this year, but even then I still don’t think The Devil’s Candy could pull it off. That being said, it is still pretty great. Byrne’s sophomore flick is tense and totally metal, but could have benefited from a more energetic sense of momentum. Rating: B+

Detour – If you don’t know the name Christopher Smith no one–including me–would blame you. If you haven’t seen any of the movies he’s made, shame on you. The director’s name is so plain that remembering it is understandable, but if you’ve seen and love his movies like I do you’d remember. Detour is just another road of twisty mind games to add to the road map of his career that’s also well worth your time–even if I don’t enjoy the acting chops of Tyr Sheridan. Rating: B+

The Girl With All the Gifts – Those clamorong for a The Last of Us film should know that you kind of already have one–and this is it. The storyline is not the same, but the film has so many aspects that mirror the game that it’s sort of surreal. The emotional resonance is lacking, but the thrills and mythology are more than enough to draw you to this one. It seems as if the creative team involved envisioned something even more ambitious, but budget constraints hold it back at times. Rating: B+

XX – The anthology genre over the years has been cluttered with some singularly focused male visions so it was about time we got some fresh female voices a space to shine. Sure, the final product ends up being about as mixed as most other anthologies, but there is some serious talent on display in each segment in some way shape or form and XX should definitely at the very least be on your radar when it’s released on DVD/Bluray May 23rd. Rating: C+

John Wick: Chapter 2 – The fist installment of the John Wick saga came out of nowhere with its weird comic book hitman universe. The sequel just stacks on the crazy around every corner with some clever set pieces and a sh*tload of headshots. If you don’t walk out ready for Chapter 3 then maybe you just really really hate dumb stylish fun. Rating: B+

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – The Resident Evil franchise hasn’t been my thing for quite some time now. Each new film seems less connected to the actual video game than the next and instead opts to force in characters and foes from the game with little to no context. The Final Chapter is more of the same and the best part about it–assuming the title is a promise–is that it’s the last time we’ll have to endure any of it. Rating: D- 

A Dark Song – There are a lot of reasons why I don’t practice in the occult. A Dark Song just added one more pretty big reason–it’s friggin hard. Another reason on top of that–it takes a really long friggin time. A brooding character driven horror film that really swings for the fences during the finale which is as divisive as it is emotionally resonant. This is one that most will love or furiously hate. Somehow I was just on the outskirts of love. Rating: B

The Void – As a movie watcher I gravitate toward the horror genre. It’s a world I feel like I know and am comfortable in–in spite of having quite a few gaps in knowledge in the classics. When it comes to horror I’m a sucker for some crazy gore and awesome practical effects, both of which The Void has in spades. However, that’s about all it has. There’s a solid creepy villain near the end, the cult figures are cool looking and the idea is solid. Yet, there’s something lacking in the overall plot and the characters just feel flat. Still, you should probably check it out–at least once–when it hits Netflix this July (2017). Rating: C

Small Crimes – Speaking of Netflix, how about all the original content they’ve been churning out this year? Crazy right? When you tell me the director of Cheap Thrills has a sequel that came out via Netflix I couldn’t hit play fast enough. When it was all said and done, I probably could have waited a little bit and not rearranged my whole schedule to watch it. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s actually quite good. Not as good as Cheap Thrills though. The dark humor and sudden bursts of violence would make this a perfect middle movie for a Netflix Triple feature of Shimmer Lake (scroll down for that ‘review’), Small Crimes and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (which is fantastic and there might be a ‘review’ below but as of writing this I haven’t added it to the backlog). Rating: B

Free Fire – After High Rise my stock in Ben Wheatley took a mild dive. Kill List is still a work of bleak art so no one can take that away. Then Free Fire happened. Holy cow, you guys. This movie is a blast. It’s also mostly kind of a one trick pony. It’s a good trick, but the circumstances at which all the mayhem goes down is pretty petty and ultimately uninspired. That doesn’t change the fact that watching things escalate and turn to sh*t wasn’t some of the funnest nonsense I’ve seen this year. Rating: B+

Colossal – I go to the movies to have a good time. Sometimes I go to be moved. Sometimes I go to learn a little about myself. Rarely do I get all three. Colossal isn’t the most profound movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s one of the most unique. I got some chuckles, it has some moving realizations and it more than once made me think about my own actions and words with some reverence. For that it is well worth your time and money, even if it is a little weird for its own good. Rating: B+

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – I was tempted to just link to my review of the first movie and call it a day. Volume 2 is very much just a repackaged version of the original, but with a few more gadgets and upgrades attached. There’s sequences that I could have easily done without near the middle, but the end is enough to tweak everyone with a soft heart in the feels. Also, because it was so much like the original I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t as fresh and surprising. Rating: B

Wonder Woman – Right in front street, Wonder Woman is hands down the best DC movie of the new batch–aka since the Nolan Batman movies. The bad news is that the bar was not very high–even I could limbo under that rotten stick. However, even that is undermining what WW accomplishes. The action is good, Gal Gadot is great as is her chemistry with Chris Pine on screen. The finale is dogsh*t. It’s so bad and unoriginal that it made me wonder if everything before it had tricked me. I don’t think that’s the case so in the end I think what we got was a genuine attempt at righting the ship at DC even if it forgot to drop some of its dead weight. Rating: B

It Comes at Night – Whenever someone asks me about this movie I always say simply this: good movie, sh*t marketing. Except to call out specifics of the marketing could spoil part of the movie for some, even if it would serve to align their expectations. It Comes at Night is a depressing movie. It’s misery porn at its most basic levels. The performances are great, the idea is solid and the director seems to know that less is more when it comes to making us scared and feeling dirty. However, the film shows us so little and tells us nothing that would make enduring the misery all that profound. Rating: C+

Rough Night – Have you seen Very Bad Things? Well, it’s that, but with a cast of women. The case could be argued that Rough Night is considerably less dark than VBT, but let’s face it, were taking about a comedy with a murder at its center. Once there’s a dead body it is tough to pick back up the funny and lets just say the cast tries very hard to do so with mixed to mediocre results. By mixed I mean mixed decent jokes that are still to easy to be considered that clever. All in all you’re money is best spent grabbing a bag of dick straws and having your own party at home. Rating: D

Shimmer Lake – Shimmer Lake, another in the growing line of Netflix Originals, is a weird little flick that for those patient enough to stick it out should feel at least a minicam of appreciation. For those like me, you’ll get a kick out of it. The film is a botched robbery told in reverse and if you are invested enough to not ask why it’s being told in reverse then you, like me, won’t feel like you guessed what was going on from the beginning. It’s certainly not perfect, but I found myself laughing and impressed by a first time filmmakers grasp on reverse storytelling from beginning to end. Rating: B

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore – I know, I’m not a fan of long bizarre titles either. But once you watch this movie you probably couldn’t think of a more appropriate title either. Fantastic performances end to end and a near perfect yarn of normal people in over their heads in a mostly realistic scenario. Macon Blair wow’ed everyone his performance in Blue Ruin, might as well let him do it with his directing chops as well. Rating: A

47 Meters Down – You can thank The Shallows for giving hope to the possible theatrical success of this one. Saved last minute from a direct-to-DVD release at zero hour this Mandy Moore vehicle’s most redeeming aspects come in the form of those who have a fear of being trapped underwater with sharks in nearly pitch black conditions. Bad CGI sharks and questionable twists hinder the movie’s ability to be all that effective, making it similarly pulpy when compared to The Shallows. Rating: C+

[Opinion] 2017 Summer Movie Predictions

You have in front of you the only summer movie prediction post guaranteed to get it all wrong. I’m not a Hollywood analyst out there tracking the interest of movie releases, nor am I an avid follower of the people that actually do that sort of thing. I’m just a dude who writes about beer and movie for fun that likes to swing wildly timely trends from time to time. 

Today, it’s ranking this summer’s (2017 for all you futuristic hobos slummin it on the net) movie releases in order of how well I think they’ll do at the box office–just the top ten though. If you read last year’s you already know how comically misinformed this is about it get. Now that we know the game though, let’s just get this over with so I can get back to my case of beer, shall we? 

(1) Spider-Man: Homecoming – With a trio of superhero tinged releases to pick from I am hedging my bets that people losing their sh*t at Spidey’s appearance in Civil War translates to big bucks this year. Or by the end of summer I’ll just go along ignoring how painfully wrong I always am and that’s why I don’t get paid the big bucks. I flip flopped this and number two around several times and I came down to putting this at the top as my Hail Mary. 

(2) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – This could go either way really with my top 2. Personally, I’d rather see this rake up at the box office (I’ve seen it and it’s very good). In the end, it’s my fondness for Chris Pratt and the first flick driving my good will seeing as how this flick is basically everything you loved about the first one except more of it. Plus….baby Groot.  

(3) Despicable Me 3 – I don’t like the Despicable Me movies. I don’t like the minions. Yet, if there’s one thing I know it’s that audiences don’t care what I like and that’s why I think this is gonna make some nice cash. And since I don’t win or lose anything for being wrong, man do I hope it tanks…so we can end this sh*t once and for all. Unless my daughter loves it, in which case I’ll throw my hat into the ring to write the next one which will be rejected for being too depressing and violent. 

(4) Transformers: The Last Knight – Another movie franchise I hate that’s bound for a massive payday. Let’s forget that I have positively reviewed more than one Transformers flick–memory is a nasty thing–these movies are terrible. They are pretty to look at, despite how incomprehensible the action is, but pretty nonetheless. Please, for the love of God can we get anyone besides Bay to direct one of these?!

(5) Wonder Woman – Batman V Superman was so freaking disappointing that I hope Wonder Woman slays critically–but part of me knows it won’t. All the signs point to it being another ho hum DC adaptation that has its cheerleaders, but will fail to impress at Marvel levels. Of course that doesn’t mean it won’t make money–Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad taught us that much. I just don’t think this will do AS well. 

(6) War For the Planet of the Apes – Let’s call this one wishful thinking. I love the new ‘of the Apes’ movies so much that I want this to wreck the box office and prove me wrong by being #1. However, I fear that even at #6 I’m being cautiously optimistic by a long shot. I definitely want a kick ass movie first, but success would be the cherry on top. 

(7) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – It’s been a while so maybe it’s been long enough for the demand for these movies to creep back up. That’s what I’m betting on here at least. If the newest Alice in Wonderland taught us anything it’s that Depp isn’t the draw he once was even doing his annoying dress up schtick. This one could be a bit of a risk as I could see this flopping real hard even if it is well reviewed. 

(8) Cars 3 – Cars 2 was such a dud I’m shocked to even be talking about this. However, this is Pixar and they know how to make money, so it’d be even more shocking to not see this make the top 10. Hell this might even be a case where I’m not being generous enough. 

(9) Baywatch – This one is a real reach for me. I have no idea what kind of cultural pull Baywatch has. It is also going to be a test to see what kind of draw Dwayne Johnson is outside of the Fast & Furious movies (Moana excluded). We know Zac Efron can’t quite do it (Bad Grandpa) so the success of this is going to hinge on how strong the jokes are which should drive the word of mouth combined with The Rock’s star power. 

(10) Dunkirk – The Chris Nolan fanboy in me not only wants this to rake in money, but be of stellar quality. Interstellar didn’t really do it for me, so I’m hoping for a return to Inception and The Dark Knight form. However, being a period piece and not quite of the typical summer blockbuster brand this could fall well outside the top 10. Plus, it’s a late summer flick that won’t have much time to compete with the real heavy hitters. 

**** Wild Cards ****

The Emoji Movie – Let’s face it, we all use them. Some begrungingly, some out of necessity–but we use them. There has to be a curiosity to see how this translates to film and being an animated kids flick it’s going to make money–how much is real tough to tell. Plus, who doesn’t want to see how the poop emoji is handled? If this one lands in the top 10, it’ll be near the middle of the pack and not be as successful as Despicable Me or Cars. 

Alien: Covenant – I just don’t know, man. Prometheus is still a much debated flick to the point that analyzing Alien’s popularity still seems to be “of a type”. Horror buffs are gonna be there with bells on and deal with the love or disappoint on a case by case basis. The masses just might not give a sh*t anymore. If and I mean this is a big if this sneaks into the top 10 it’ll be near the bottom knocking off Dunkirk but be slightly more successful than Baywatch. 

The Mummy – This movie looks awful. I’m not even behind the idea of a this new Universal monster universe reboot as action horror flicks. Maybe I’ll be wrong and it’ll be a fun little popcorn flick–in fact I hope that’s what it is–but simply having Tom Cruise attached does not guarentee box office gold. If this makes it on the list I again believe it’ll at or near the bottom of te lake. 

What do you think will be 2017’s box office winner?

[Movie Review] ‘Logan’ Infuses Heart and Violence into a Potent Cocktail

logan_poster-tgofWhile superhero fatigue still has me in its icy grip, along comes Logan to warm that chill–at least temporarily. Perhaps it’s the, at times, overwhelming violence or the emotional vulnerability of being a new dad that makes the arc Wolverine’s final chapter that much more effective. Whatever way you look at it, Hugh Jackman’s curtain call as the claw wielding potty-mouth is a fitting and emotional bow that might rely a little too much on its R rating and hero cliches.

Picking up in 2029 where mutant residency has since passed, Logan spends his days driving a limo for drunk brides and frat boys chanting ‘Merica near the US/Mexico border. South of the border Logan lives with Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and an aged Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart with his most powerful portrayal as Professor X to date) suffering dementia and the occasional population crippling seizure. With his health steadily declining and his body unwilling to heal like it used to Logan begrudgingly accepts to transport a young mutant, Laura (Dafne Keen), with powers strikingly similar to his own, North across the Canadian border and hopefully to safety away from the research facility tracking her down. (more…)

[Movie Review] ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ is the Hilarious and Heartfelt Hero We Deserve

In 2016 we saw Batman twice in theaters and for most of us, we left those two encounters less than enthusiastic. With Warner Bros. flailing wildly in need of a hit, in steps some tiny plastic toys to save the day. Even with as good as The LEGO Batman Movie is, it also amplifies how inept Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were at the most fundamental level–being entertaining. In a way, the latest in the Batman universe acts as a sincere apology for the aforementioned disappointments.

To be fair The LEGO Batman Movie has the benefit of irreverent humor that leans heavily in meta territory. The film exists in a world where Gotham City and its citizens are kind of tired of Batman’s shenanigans. Years of fighting bad guys and yet crime rates are as high as ever. Even Batman’s greatest enemy, Joker, has decided that he must concoct a new scheme to get the Caped Crusader in touch with his emotions. With the help of a recently adopted orphan, Dick Grayson, and the city’s new commissioner, Barbara Gordon, Batman embarks on a mission to save his tarnished reputation and the city.  (more…)

[Best of 2016] TGoF’s Picks for the Best Movies of 2016

It was a fairly quiet year of moviegoing here at TGoF. Lots of adjusting to life with a baby along with other typical life happenings that eat into one’s time and energy. The result made it difficult to fit in some of what many would consider the best movies of the year and being a genre lover I always make time for those pesky horror movies–which is why my lists tend to befuddle the more refined movie snobs. However, in review of the movies I saw this year and not being satisfied with the options for a top ten the executive decision was made to this year do a top five instead. Condensing down hopefully just accentuates how great I felt the top choices were as opposed to how weak (yet still highly rated) my overall top ten would have been.

Over the course of the next few weeks it’s possible I’ll make it out to cinema darlings like La La Land and and Moonlight, but for now hopefully you’re eyes will find my choices for what I did see in 2016 acceptable enough. As always thanks for checking out my ramblings and I look forward to getting back in the saddle more and more on 2017! (more…)

[Movie Review] ‘Rogue One’ Delivers Star Wars Fun With a Darker Flair

img_2146There are a great deal of Star Wars fans that will never know what it was like seeing the originally trilogy on the big screen during its original run. Sure, we can go to re-releases and restorations in hopes of capturing the same feeling that our parents and grandparents were treated to, but it will never truly be the same experience. I believe Rogue One has come the closest to achieving that feeling than any previous sequel or prequel has all the while blending new visuals and techniques with a twist on the old aesthetic of A New Hope.

Of course Rogue One picks up before the introduction of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewy with The Death Star just wrapping up its creation and a devastating weapons test on the horizon. The rebellion tasks a pair of rebels to track down and kill the lead scientist in charge of designing and overseeing the construction of the massive weapon. However, once a fraction of the Star’s destructive power is unleashed the rebellion loses hope and it’s up to a rogue collective to devise a plan to steal the ship’s plans to study and reveal its weaknesses.  (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Suicide Squad & Bad Moms

On this edition of TGoF Hangover we examine two movies. One I was super pumped for and refused to believe it was anything less than amazing and the other a flick I couldn’t have cared less about before being dragged to it. The result is a dramatic switcharoo that I could never have predicted.

Suicide Squad

Well, here we are. The dust has somewhat settled and comic book nerds and movie critica are poised across from each other ready to have at it in an epic battle. Rotten Tomatoes continues to be an increasingly misunderstood tool in today’s society while the general public refuses to accept not everyone agrees on every movie. So much so that they become so angry and contradict themselves by saying everyone else is wrong and only positive stances are right. Batman Vs. Superman Dawn of Justice lit that fire earlier this year and Suicide Squad doused that dwindling flame in gasoline.

As someone who understands there are two sides to cinematic enjoyment and is not a die hard comic nerd I’m here to say that I can see where people will like Suicide Squad, but for my money it is not a good movie. David Ayer had all the right pieces to make the movie that everyone was hyped for in the trailers, but there seems to be a disconnect as to what the finished puzzle was supposed to be. The result is a jumbled mess with bits and pieces right where they are supposed to be.  (more…)

Movie Review: Hell or High Water

hellorhighwater_poster_tgofSmall town USA is rarely captured with the authenticity represented in David Mackenzie’s latest, Hell or High Water. Taylor Sheridan’s masterfully written screenplay certainly drives it all home and spot on performances from Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges are just icing on the dusty cake.

A western in the time of conceal carries, iPhones, and security cameras. Hell or High Water’s contagious aesthetic lends to the timely economic message at the center of the film. Pine stars as Toby a poor rancher with a plan to rob a branch of banks, with the help of his brother Tanner (Foster), before the bank can foreclose on his ranch and seize control. Standing in their way is a grizzled Texas Ranger, Marcus (Jeff Bridges), hot on their trail.

There’s more to the story, but it behooves oneself to let Mackenzie and Sheridan settle you in and experience their story with as few details as possible. If it helps, picture Hell or High Water as the west Texas cousin of Ben Affleck’s, The Town. A handful of small town bank robberies low on gunplay and casualties allow the tension to slowly build. With the help of a wicked sense of humor the last act hits like a ton of bricks. (more…)

Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

ghostbusters2016_posterSomewhere between the exhausting back-and-forth will it or will it not happen of the Ghostbuster reboot and the official announcement, combined with the vehement nerd outrage, nerds lost sight of something very important. That a second version of something you love to exist is not the end of the world and that women don’t have cooties. Now there’s something even more dangerous for those anti-lady geeks to wrap their heads around–that the second version of that thing they love is actually pretty damn good and that those ghost busting ladies are perhaps the best thing about it.

I don’t say this often, but let’s just forget about the plot- the plot is not THAT different from the original Ghostbusters aside from some slight tweaks and some updated tech. The four new leads don’t quite have the same chemistry as Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis or Hudson, but they have chemistry all their own. This can be attributed to a lack of quality writing and forces the actors to ad lib their way around clunky dialogue. There isn’t a line as great as “If someone asks you you’re a god…you say YES!” There isn’t even as effective a big baddie as Zuul taking shape as the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man to hang your hat on. There are attempts at those things, but they are the “rebooted” aspects that drag the film down the most. Does that make it a bad move? Not even close.  (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Warcraft, Angry Birds, Captain America: Civil War, Neighbors 2, TMNT 2, and More!

It’s been a while and there are plenty of movies in my rear view so to conserve some space you can check out my reviews of some recently released flicks all in one place- as well as beer recommendations to go with. Read on to check out some reviews for the following: Warcraft, Angry Birds, Captain America: Civil War, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Manson’s Lost Girls, and The Ones Below!

Warcraft

Zero. That is exactly the amount of not hours, not minutes, but seconds I’ve spent playing World of Warcraft. So what business have I to attempt to review a film that is so obvious in its attempts to please its fans? Technically none. As a fan of cinema and someone who tries to see anything and everything that I possibly can it behooves oneself to have a voice amongst those who are like me, but maybe are on the fence about spending money to see it.  (more…)