shawn ashmore

Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

xmendaysoffuturepast_posterThere’s usually one or two things I don’t ever expect from superhero movies. One being that I don’t expect my IQ to grow even slightly and two being I don’t expect to feel any type of emotional connection. There’s a few superhero movies that surprised by making me feel the latter- X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was one of those special few. It was so surprising to me that I would feel so connected to the relationship between Magneto and Professor X that it almost felt silly. Regardless of the shame I feel on the front of having any emotional connection to a character nicknamed Magneto, it really made me love that movie. So here we are with X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and I’m left wondering what happened to that magic?

This film blends the old cast and new cast by showing a future where mutants face extinction by an unbeatable foe, the Sentinals. To combat the threat Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and the gang come up with a plan to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) into the past to the point in history where the threat began. When he awakes in his younger body Wolverine/Logan must do the impossible and unite Charles (James McAvoy) and Eric (Michael Fassbender) at a time they were bitter enemies. Together they all have to track down Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) before she unintentionally gives the war on mutants exactly what it needs to defeat them. (more…)

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Movie Review: Mother’s Day (2011)

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I hate feeling like I’ve somehow missed something when I’m finished watching a movie and these seemingly meaningless questions linger in my head. MOTHER’S DAY is the most recent culprit not once but twice- the one plaguing me the most has to do with the title. MOTHER’S DAY does indeed have a mother and the events take place over the course of a day, but it doesn’t- to my knowledge- have any connection to the universally recognized holiday. Does it hint that the mother owns the day? I digress; the title of the film really isn’t the point because Darren Lynn Bousman’s MOTHER’S DAY is a decent if somewhat forgettable home invasion thriller.

In MOTHER’S DAY a couple decide to host a party at the same time inclement weather threatens to produce a massive tornado. The couple then finds themselves at the mercy of three men on the run from the law that break in to the couple’s recently acquired house because they last knew it to be the house their mother (Rebecca De Mornay) owned. The three fugitives hold the couple and their guests hostage and when their mother shows up to attempt to clean up the mess her sons have created and to reclaim money that she believes has been being sent to her even after the house had been foreclosed.

The second lingering question that doesn’t really affect my overall feelings is why such a big deal was made of the impending tornado? It couldn’t just be a stormy night? I ask only because- Spoiler Alert: there is no tornado. Again though, not really a spoiler because it has absolutely nothing to do with the overall events of the film- it does however create an interesting dynamic and conflict for the characters to deal with throughout. I do wish though that they had done a little more with that plot element though, because it does add a little extra danger into the proceedings and essentially it just becomes little more than a minor nuisance.

The three main fugitives have three unique personalities- ones been shot and is in severe pain and whined throughout, one is a degenerate and borderline psychotic and the third is somewhat levelheaded until pushed and then he turns into a borderline psychotic. Once Mother shows up though they all quiver with fear at her presence, which teased that she’s some kind of overwhelming evil force- which I don’t feel is ever really backed up. To be fair De Mornay has moments of brilliance and has a creepy calmness to her, but overall the performances from the villains ranges from decent to way over-the-top. Cheesy performances in a cheesy movie can make for a delightfully fun watch- the problem though is that Bousman’s MOTHER’S DAY takes this material darkly serious.

Bousman is a veteran if the SAW franchise so the gore and violence is all done very well and the brutality makes the home invasion aspect of the film extremely tense- the score aids in that department as well. The more irritating thing about the film though is a reliance on twists that feel manipulative to an unnecessary extent. The main twist tries to tug at the heartstrings to make you feel pity for the characters and at that point pity wasn’t really an option for a group of characters that really couldn’t meet their maker fast enough.

The performances for the most part are decent. Shawn Ashmore appears as one of the hostages at the party and a doctor, but seems way too young to even be friends with this group of people. Frank Grillo, who I loved recently in THE GREY, seemed a bit weak here, though he does have a couple good scenes. De Mornay is obviously the star and she’s decent, but there really isn’t anything special or memorable about her performance or anyone else’s.
Subtract some of the well paced tension from the final act of MOTHER’S DAY and a few select moments of character work then what you’d have here is an average and instantly forgettable thriller. As it is, while a far cry from anything original and unforgettable, it is still a well shot and tense home invasion flick. I couldn’t help but feel that Bousman at some point put his direction on auto-pilot and coaster through several stretches while his hand felt extremely present during the film’s more tense moments and more violent shots. MOTHER’S DAY is a remake that’s better than most, but a bit too unfocused and average at times for it to ever be labeled as a classic. It is however a classic case of a film that’s easily consumed, easy to recommend to genre buffs and stuffed in the back of the memory bank for a rainy day.

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: Frozen (2010)

Frozen is the latest film from Adam Green, and is a very different monster from his popular gore fest Hatchet. Frozen is far more character driven and carries a more serious tone. Though it boasts moments of graphic images during the peril and some slow dialogue driven moments, Frozen is a well shot and very engaging experience.

The film begins with a trio of 20 somthings bribing their way onto a ski lift to enjoy a day of skiing. Lynch (Shawn Ashmore) is noticeably bitter his best friend Dan (Kevin Zegers) has brought along his girlfriend of a year Parker (Emma Bell) on their skiing ritual. As it gets late Lynch and Dan want to get one last run in and convince the lift operator to let them go before he shuts it down. After the bribed operator gets drug away from the controls, his ill-informed replacement shuts the lift off with our trio halfway up. Panic sets in quick as they realize they have been left on the lift and the resort closing for the week, they are forced to make life and death decisions in order to make it through the ordeal alive.

Getting the bad out of the way early, there’s not a lot here that I did not enjoy, but if I had to choose something I’d say much of the buildup to the characters getting stuck took a little too long. I felt I wanted more time with them debating what to do to get out of the situation. That aside I was fully invested in the experience as it was.

The movie looks great. There are some very nice shots of the mountain, and it was shot on location with no green screen or CGI which adds much to the authenticity of what’s happening on screen in each scene. Aside from one effect shot later in the film much of the makeup effects and violence looks and feels incredibly real and not too over the top. It was easy for me to feel for the characters during moments of panic and the fear that would set in; and while the decisions they make seem implausible, as I let myself into the situation more and more I could understand why people would react they way they do. The less you try to analyze each decision and critique each fault in the character’s logic, the more authentic this world feels. I didn’t agree with a few decisions they make, but realizing what my thought process goes through during moments of panic the more I said I would have done the same thing, or at least try the same things.

The cast is comprised of mostly unknowns, with the exception of Shawn Ashmore. Ashmore is known for his roles as Iceman in the X-Men series and an overlooked role in an underrated horror film The Ruins. While I enjoyed all of the three core performances, I found Ashmore’s to be my favorite. The three actors play off each other very well and each of their characters show many different layers to their performances as we progress through the casual joking at the beginning, to nervous laughs right after they are stuck, to the arguing and then into panic and fear. Emma Bell also deserves a shout out nearly beating out Ashmore’s performance with her powerful and almost heartbreaking turn as Dan’s girlfriend. Kevin Zegers can’t be left out as his performance is also very strong, but doesn’t quite reach the level the other two get to.

Overall, Frozen is a very tense and engaging film that is at certain times I felt had a very heavy emotional significance to it. It portrays a truly terrifying experience almost perfectly. The setting mixed with the powerful performances adds to a very exceptional viewing experience. Not everyone will be able to suspend their disbelief deep enough to love the film as much as me, but those that do will not walk away disappointed.