[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+

TGoF Hangover: Fantasia Film Festival (Final Round)

anotherevil_posterThe last batch of Fantasia Reviews is a doozy, so why don’t we just hop right in, shall we?

Another Evil

As a huge fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley I was extremely intrigued to check out one of the show’s sporadic writers, Carson Mell’s, directorial debut. Another Evil explores the uncomfortable world of bringing in an emotionally fragile individual into your vacation home to exorcise ghosts that are cramping your style–we’ve all been there, am I right?

The film is bolstered by a uniquely unsettling performance from Mark Proksch as Os, the socially challenged exorcist on the verge of divorce and a potential midlife crisis. In many ways his work calls to mind the great Mark Duplass and his performance in Creep, except…ya know, there are demons. As the audience we know there’s something supernatural afoot so Os’ intentions at first seem on the level, but after a while it’s unclear if he really has a gift or if he’s a lunatic with a glove that emits radio static. It all culminates with a troubling finale that drives home the ultra dark comedy by transforming into an even darker horror/thriller–with a touch of drama. (more…)

Movie Review: The Overnight

theovernight_posterPatrick Brice is enjoying what is likely a busy year right at the beginning of his career- a career which in my opinion has loads of potential. Speaking of loads, The Overnight (Brice’s second feature), is a sex comedy that employs a lot of the same character tricks of Creep. However, unlike Creep the tricks don’t quite leave the same lasting impressions in spite of the film’s undeniable sense of chemistry and mystery.

Los Angeles newbies Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) looking to get the lay of the land with their young son have a chance meeting in the park with Kurt (Jason Schwartzman). Out of the interaction Kurt invites the family to his house house for a play date that night so that he and his wife can give them the 411 on the area. The night starts harmless enough, but as the night extends into the wee hours of the night things get progressively weirder as Alex and Emily begin to suspect there’s something a little naughty afoot. (more…)

Movie Review: Horns

horns_poster“Love hurts like hell.” That’s one tagline of Alexandre Aja’s latest flick HORNS. If it wasn’t so true I might have laughed off a lot of this adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel- which I have not read. In fact, much of HORNS feels like a huge departure from Aja’s sensibilities- though he did toy with some cheesy comedy in PIRANHA 3D. However, this Daniel Radcliffe headliner flirts with a little bit of everything from black comedy all the way to tragic romance. The unfortunate thing being that Aja’s film does not excel at any of the genres it touches.

The film begins with Ig (Radcliffe) and Merrin (Juno Temple) a couple obviously in love. Almost instantly things are literally flipped upside down as we find Ig in the throes of depression with an empty bottle of liquor next to him. As he heads outside he’s greeted by press asking him what it’s like to get away with murder and protestors saying he should burn in Hell. As it turns out Merrin has been murdered and everyone with the exception of Ig’s brother Terry (Joe Anderson) and best friend/lawyer Lee (Max Minghella) thinks he did it. With everyone painting him as a devil Ig awakes from a drunken fling with horns growing out of his head. The image is enough to spook just about any man except that no one seems to be thrown off by the phenomenon. To make things weirder people keep confessing their darkest desires to him as if part of regular conversation. Ig starts to use the power to his advantage in efforts to dig up the truth behind what happened to Merrin.


2013 Year in Review


Another year of movies is in the books and as always it was filled with ups and downs. Breaking from the normal top ten list of the last few years I decided to try something a bit different. In one post I will wrap up the year of movies starting with the best in a paragraph that briefly mentions my favorite movies of the year in no particular order in genres. From there I will briefly discuss some of the years middling efforts that weren’t particular bad, but not particularly good either or just weren’t as good as I hoped. Lastly I will wrap up with some of my choices for the year’s worst efforts.

As always, I don’t always have a chance to see every single movie released on a year by year basis so if you don’t see something don’t worry, it may be because I didn’t see it or that it just didn’t crack my list of movies I really wanted to mention. Feel free to discuss some of your favorites in the comments if you feel your favorite wasn’t given justice! (more…)

Brew & View: Super Troopers


Today’s Brew & View features the Broken Lizard gang’s cop comedy SUPER TROOPERS. The film first released back in 2002 and was the second feature from Jay Chandrasekhar follows the shenanigans of a group of Vermont state troopers as they attempt to uncover a huge drug smuggling scheme to prove their worth to the mayor before they are shut down for good.

I remember having some pretty high hopes for this the first time I watched it after I’d seen a preview in a lot of DVDs at the time. My initial reaction when it finally landed in theaters near me briefly was a bit mixed. I remember it not being quite as funny as I’d hope, but that it had a lot of really good jokes and it was infinitely quotable, at least during a few key sequences. I still watch this one on occasion especially if I’m flipping through channels and catch it, but I wouldn’t say that it is my favorite of the Broken Lizard film’s- not that that any of them rank among my favorite comedies of all time.


Beer Pairing: Rogue Ales Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

This suggestion came to me from my wife and as soon as she mentioned it I kicked myself for not thinking of it myself. As soon as she mentioned it the obvious connections hit me like a brick. There’s the obvious cops like doughnuts stereotype, the reference to cops being pigs which connects with the bacon half of the beers ingredients and lastly the maple comes into play as there is a scene in the beginning where the cops are having a syrup chugging contest. I immediately made note of the pairing. After getting the obvious connections sorted out I started comparing my enjoyment of the beer with my enjoyment of the film.

The taste of Rogue’s Bacon Maple Ale is almost that of overwhelming smoky bacon with a maple syrup taste that comes through on the back end. The beer has quite the bite and was enjoyable enough after the first few sips, but as it warms and as the taste starts to wear on you it doesn’t finish of quite as well. The same can be said for my enjoyment of SUPER TROOPERS- it starts off unique enough as a comedy of quirky cops and there’s something to enjoy about Broken Lizard’s sense of humor, but it got kind of stale for me towards the end.

If you need a morning wake up (so long as you’re not planning on driving anywhere) then Rogue’s unique Voodoo Doughnut teamup is comparable to a liquid breakfast- if all you have for breakfast is lots of bacon. You could also join in when the characters engage in the syrup chugging by doing the same with the Bacon Maple Ale and you might be treated to an even better experience by riding the rest of the film on a nice buzz. Neither the film nor the beer is perfect on their own, but together I think they make for quite the handsome couple.

Blast From The Past Movie Review: Porky’s


Raunchy teen comedies are not quite what they used to be- they also are not as dramatically different as I would have expected. What never changes ate teenagers obsession with talking and pursuing radical sex escapades and the sexually charged jokes. However, nowadays rather than a teen being caught peeking through the women’s shower pipes during shower time they’d be more apt to be caught rigging a spy cam somewhere in the locker room. For me PORKY’S was the more apt source for a young generation of kids being exposed to sexually related topics and starting point for teens obsession with sex.

The basic premise of PORKY’S is almost identical to most modern teen comedies- a group of high school students that really want to get laid. There has never been a need for a more complicated plot when it cones to teen comedies because when it comes down to it, that’s what more than half of high school students are out to accomplish. The guys in PORKY’S exhaust a couple different avenues- one leaves them running naked through the woods thinking they’re about to be killed and the other leads them to an eventual revenge scheme against the despicable club owner Porky.

Upon rewatching PORKY’S I was reminded of the simple fact that while the film ages it remains a very funny and beloved in my eyes. The movie never fails to make me laugh no matter how many times I see Pee Wee screaming through the shower pipes or Ballbricker yanking Tommy’s no-no parts through the pipe and the resulting mole search conversation between Ballbricker, the coaches and the principal. Many of the actual gags in the film remain very funny while other aspects have not aged quite as well.

While I still find a lot of PORKY’S entertaining, I cannot look past how much most of the aspects have aged. Visually the film is very dated and that goes for sound as well- this could all be fixed with a Blu-Ray conversion possibly but on DVD it remains grainy and the sound suffers at time. This however has little effect on the comedy and the overall enjoyment as it is a comedy after all and it is an 80’s movie so slick overproduced visuals are not a must in this case.

Overall I feel like PORKY’S is still a very worthwhile R rated raunchy teen comedy. I remember rumblings about a remake a long way back but I don’t know if one would improve much on the premise since just about every teen comedy these days has a been there done that feel. The jokes remain just as funny to me as they were when I was younger and it still holds strong as one of my favorite comedies.