sequel

[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+

[Movie Review] ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ is Heavy on Cheese and Light on Kink

fiftyshadesdarker_postertgofLet’s be honest with one another–the Fifty Shades series is an easy target for snarky critics. There’s not much of a challenge in sitting down and pinpointing every illogical turn the movie takes and every laughable line of dialogue uttered by actors who seem as tickled about what they are saying as we are hearing it. It’s hard to take a breath, collect oneself and approach a movie like Fifty Shades Darker and pick out why you should see it–and trust me, no one involved has made it easy.

For every one thing good you can say about James Foley’s film there are a handful more pushing into the spotlight to ruining it for the rest of us. Yet we march on–Fifty Shades Darker picks up shortly after the first film as Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) continues to creepily pine for the plain Jane, Anastasia (Dakota Johnson). After a half-hearted attempt to brush him off, Anastasia agrees to meet with Christian to renegotiate the terms of their “arrangement”. As they embark on their new relationship Christian’s past and Anastasia’s vanilla sex appeal proves to be a little more complicated than they anticipated.  (more…)

Movie Review: Blair Witch

blairwitch_posterTurbulent, clever and frightening. Those are just a few of the most important takeaways from Adam Wingard’s, Blair Witch. Enthusiastic reviewers all over the internet like to throw around some lofty and hyperbolic quotes such as “game changer” or “one of the scariest movies ever made,” with the best of intentions. While the enthusiasm is catchy, Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch doesn’t fully embody either of those aforementioned descriptors.

Folks just can’t stay out of the Black Hills Woods as James (James Allen McCune) discovers a video online recovered from the outskirts of the woods that he believes shows his sister, Heather. Convinced she’s still alive James corrals three of his closest friends to venture into the Black Hills to figure out what happened to her.

Screenwriter Simon Barrett and director Wingard obviously use the original film as the basic bone structure for their unique take. The duo deviate from what we know about The Blair Witch Project simply to extrapolate a mythology of their own based on aspects of what we’ve already seen or suspected. This results in some of the film’s most interesting aspects, without innovating within the genre itself. (more…)

Movie Review: The Conjuring 2

img_0277With each movie there’s one thing that never changes about James Wan- the auteur is a genius with the camera. His vision tells a story all its own in addition to what’s going on with the characters carefully framed on screen. It’s a good thing too, because every so often the screenplay isn’t nearly as strong as the director’s visual style. Such is the case of The Conjuring 2- a film that replicates a lot of the chilly atmosphere of the first, but at times hulks into something more bombast.

Wan’s subject matter this time is the Enfield poltergeist- an entity/event that’s undergone a couple treatments including a BBC mockumentary by the name of Ghostwatch as well as a television series. The event as well as the film surrounds a family suffering a possible haunting with the majority of the negative energy being focused on Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe). The film touches on skepticism but it is important to remember that this is a movie and liberties will be taken- many of which come in the form of jarring special effects, and perhaps even the involvement of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). (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…)

Brew & View: The Buzz Awakens

The Movie (No Spoilers)

img_8405To celebrate the long awaited release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it seemed long overdue to bring back a favorite feature of mine, Brew & View. It’s been a long long time–and in a galaxy far away if you will–since we last saw the likes of a Brew & View. Even still, this will not be your typical Brew & View–let’s call it, View & Brew to be a bit more accurate. The following will be a spoiler free review of The Force Awakens, followed by the beer pairing for the film. The beer in question, Toppling Goliath’s Light Speed Pale Ale.

First things first though. It was only a few years ago that J.J. Abrams rejuvenated a series that this reviewer previously had no allegiance to. Abrams successfully injected a sense of enthusiasm and fandom into me that was previously void, so the monumental wait for the filmmaker to tackle a franchise where enthusiasm and fandom already existed was almost unbearable. J.J. tackled the unenviable task of reviving a series that was nearly destroyed by its creator with an uncommon poise and emerged on the other end having given the franchise a much needed infusion of modern tastes that brings Star Wars into a new generation with extreme spectacle.

The Force Awakens picks up some time after the events of Return of the Jedi, wherein Luke has disappeared following a failed attempt to train a group of Jedis. In that time a new threat, the First Order, has risen from the ashes of the Empire, but the Resistance is seeking to ensure that they do not succeed. Both are searching for Luke knowing that he could be the key to stopping the First Order. (more…)

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

mockingjay2_posterThe revolution continues in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. At this point in the series there is seemingly no need for introduction, but Katniss finds herself in the final stages of a face-off with her natural enemy President Snow as she and the rebels of District 13 prepare for war with the Capitol.

Once again Jennifer Lawrence continues her masterful portrayal of Katniss Everdeen, but in a series that in it’s final incarnation seems to be treading water. The transition from Part 1 to Part 2 certainly seems to justify being split into two films, but simultaneously feels a bit long winded. Additionally, director Francis Lawrence has made some questionable choices in terms of story details that serve only to bloat the runtime, and short changes certain characters to the point that their impact on the film’s conclusion leaves much to be desired. In the director’s defense though, his source material does much of the same. (more…)

Movie Review: Jurassic World

jurassicworld_posterIt’s been over 20 years since Steven Spielberg wowed us with his dino extravaganza Jurassic Park. Since then Joe Johnston and Spielberg himself couldn’t quite catch the same feeling of wonderment in their respective sequels. Now, 14 years after Jurassic Park III Colin Trevorrow has taken the unenviable task of taking audiences back to Isla Nublar for more dinosaur shenanigans in Jurassic World. Fortunatly, Trevorrow managed to find a way to breathe new life into the franchise even if he does stumble a bit out of the gate.

Jurassic World takes place 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park. The park has since evolved and enjoyed a decades of success, however, audiences are getting bored with the attractions and want bigger, better, and scarier reasons to attend. The park’s administrator, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) had the scientists cook up a new dino called the Indominus Rex that’s bigger and faster than the T-Rex. Claire enlists Owen (Chris Pratt), the park’s resident dino expert, to check the enclosure that houses the Indominus Rex to ensure it’s up to snuff. Somehow the Indominus Rex escapes its confinement and begins making its way around the island and toward the crowd killing everything and everyone in its path.  (more…)

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2

pitchperfect2_posterEveryone has that song that they hear on the radio that they hate, but once it claws its way into your brain it’s almost impossible to forget for hours- Pitch Perfect was the cinematic version of that for this reviewer. At the time, the flick was a surprise hit due in large part to the surprisingly likable cast, catchy A Cappella covers from chart topping tunes, and a surprising level of effective comedy. Unsurprisingly, the sequel hums the same tune, but in a slightly different key.

Elizabeth Banks steps in to make her directorial debut and picks up with the Barden Bellas in the midst of their senior year. After an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction while performing for the president the Bellas are suspended from competing at A Cappella functions- with the exception of the World Championships. Becca (Anna Kendrick) and the gang strike a deal that if they win the World Championship they can be reinstated, but standing in their way is the uber talented European team. With a new recruit, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), the Bellas get to work to restore their former glory.

There’s a pretty disappointing trend happening among sequels to ultra popular first films- the urge to recycle the same formula. We saw it happen to a exaggerated degree with The Hangover: Part II and Pitch Perfect 2 falls into a similar vein. Unlike something like The Hangover: Part II this sequel is not a carbon copy of the first film, but it does hit similar notes. (more…)

Movie Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

ageofultron_posterCan you ever really have too much of a good thing? Joss Whedon is back with everyone’s favorite group of heroes, more crowd pleasing comic humor, and even more expensive looking special effects. Avengers: Age of Ultron loses none of the momentum built up from previous Marvel movies, but isn’t nearly as polished as Whedon’s previous superhero team-up.

Avengers: Age of Ultron finds Cap, Tony, and the rest of the gang fighting an enemy of their own making- or at least Tony and Dr. Banner’s making. After a raid of a still standing Hydra headquarters Tony finds himself in possession of the missing piece of a peace keeping artificially intelligent program that he and Banner have been working on. Initial tests prove unsuccessful, but while the team is enjoying some R&R the program- named Ultron- becomes self aware and begins to construct himself from spare parts in Tony’s workshop. Using the internet to come to the conclusion that humanity is doomed and in need of extinction Ultron (voiced by James Spader) constructs an army of robots to carry out his plan.  (more…)