Home » 2014 » December

Monthly Archives: December 2014

MY TOP 10 ANTICIPATED MOVIES IN 2015!

With the ever-expanding list of upcoming projects in film, 2015 has some serious muscle to outdo its previous year, assuming all goes well. This is my personal list on the most anticipated films being released in the year 2015.

  • 10. Silence: Directed by Martin Scorsese, set in 17th century Japan AND it stars Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson?? This might be one of the best films no one knows is being made. A movie about Jesuit priests that is based on a true story and a book that is going to end being dark and most likely controversial because it relates to Christianity? Sign me up. #ScorseseForPresident 
  • 9. Inside Out: Besides some straight to DVD sequels, PIXAR has done no wrong and with the hype surrounding Inside Out saying that this could be their best work….ever, I have to see it! A story about the emotions within a little girl and her parents voiced by great actors and comedians like Lewis Black? Yes please! 
  • 8.  Mad Max: Fury Road: I was never really a fan of the previous Mad Max films with Mel Gibson, not for any reason except they just didn’t click for me, but this? This is going to be a sandy adrenaline ride with acting greats like Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron during a post apocalyptic world of bandits and crazy people and sand for miles! You had my curiosity, now you have my attention. 
  • 7. In the Heart of the Sea: One of my favorite stories of all time has been the tale of Moby Dick and the endless search for an uncatchable prize. Ron Howard seems to have created what is going to be a visually mind-blowing experience with the crewmen of the Whaleship Essex. It doesn’t hurt Chris Helmsworth and a talented ensemble cast is leading the charge in another film…and between you and me, I didn’t enjoy either Thor films. 
  • 6. Pitch Perfect 2: There’s no other reasons I’m excited for this film besides the fact that I adored the first film more than I thought I was would. Oh yeah and Anna Kendrick <3. 
  • 5. Tomorrowland: There is no other reasons I am excited for this movie except for the trailer and the plot surrounding said awesome trailer. George Clooney is hopefully returning to a film that isn’t Monuments Men… Anyway, this film looks highly original and that’s something I can appreciate about a film. 
  • 4. The H8tful Eight: Quentin Tarantino going back to the west after coming off of one my favorite films, maybe ever in Django Unchained, will be directing a classic Tarantino film that has new faces with the likes of Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Anything this guy makes is going to be top-notch in my book and he always has had the knack for writing some of the best groups of people for films e.i. Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained etc.
  • 3. Sea of Trees: No one has been more of a Matthew McConaughey and Ken Wantanabe fan than this guy. Since films like How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days and Reign of Fire being some of the first McConaughey films I saw, I realized his potential. Wantanabe is just one of the actors who does not gain the praise he deserves on the material he has put out, but with a film circling around two men that decide they want to kill themselves in the appropriately named “Suicide Forest” or Sea of Trees, this is going to bring some of the most intense conversations and themes 2015 may have to offer. 
  • 2. (Tie) The Avengers: Age of Ultron/Star Wars: The Force Awakens: I made this a tie because they are equally as epic and the obvious choices to be either one or two, so why not them both two? These are properties we are all familiar with who have churned out some of the most iconic pop culture visuals, quotes etc. in modern-day and released trailers and teasers that made nearly every fan piss their pants with joy, including myself. We can only hope JJ Abrams hits it out of the park with The Force Awakens. As for Joss Wheden, I think film goers and fans don’t have much to be concerned about.     
  • 1. The Revenant: Coming off what I believe to be the best film of the year, if not one of my favorite films in the past five years in Birdman, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will be heling a western thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, and Domhnall Gleeson. DiCaprio’s character is a fur trapper in the 1800’s who gets mauled by a bear, but is also robbed by his companions played by the other stars above. He survives and plans to go out and seek his red hot revenge on the men who left him to die….WHY AREN’T YOU SCREAMING WITH JOY?? This sounds so epic that it hurts and no one knows its even in production. I recently heard about it myself and could not resist the good feelings anymore, this is without a doubt the most intriguing film coming out in 2015. 

THE MOMENT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR, ‘THE INTERVIEW’ – REVIEW

Unless you live under a rock below the Caspian Sea, Sony decided on releasing the highly controversial film The Interview. Starring the buddies that brought us films like Pineapple Express and This Is the End, comes another film that you want to be funny that doesn’t hit the marks.

After all the issues and scandal revolving around Sony and North Korea hacking their systems, this film was pulled from theaters in threats of terrorist attacks. Since then, the dust began to settle and Sony decided to instead release the film online for all to see… for $5.99 on YouTube. The story is about Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogan), a producer for his friends highly successful TV show “Skylark Tonight”. Skylark (James Franco) feels bad that his producer pal is not satisfied with the stories they are scooping and gets the bright idea to get an interview with the North Korean dick…tator…

You have to ignore the vast levels of controversy this film fermented in to grasp the true mediocrity and bizarre nature it possesses. After coming off seeing This Is the End, I was less than impressed. I did not enjoy nor laugh at all during This Is the End and I felt the same way during The Interview. Franco did nothing more than layer on some really childish humor, which at some points were definitely funnier than others, but after the first 40 minutes or so, it sinks like a rock.

Repetition of corny humor dissolves any fun I was having at all through this movie and felt like I was in the audience for Jimmy Fallon or SNL. It was an awkward delivery for what could have been a potentially side-splitting comedy. Instead, what we got was a sporadic piecing of scenes and story that were thrown into the movie hoping that it panned out, but it just didn’t work.

Rogan’s character did nothing new from his previous characters and Franco was so exceptionally weird in this role, while trying to maintain a satirical way about him, that it almost felt like I was watching Franco mix Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Morgan to make his character what it was.

At the same time, I may not be the best judge of character for comedies seeing most of the comedy films I see either fall flat or are forgettable for me personally. It’s not a good sign when you watch Django Unchained the next day and find that to be funnier than a story about assassinating an evil dick…tator….

Despite the hype over the movie itself and the controversy orbiting its every move, The Interview was a dud. It had moments that some may find funny, but mostly in the first act of the film. It’s bizarre and oddly crafted humor does not exactly come off like a Kevin Hart stand-up like they had hoped and it gets to cheesy for its own good.

I give The Interview a 3/10.

P.S. Save your money and see something else.

 

MY TOP 10 FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2014

I recently made a list of ‘My Top 5 Worst Films of 2014’ and decided that it’s only right to make a favorites list as well, only this time, I doubled the amount of movies for this list simply because this year had that many great and enjoyable films.

This list has no particular pattern nor does it limit films to wide release or what have you. This is simply a list of movies I was able to see this year and how much I enjoyed them along with how much they resonated with me.

My list in order:

10. Chef: This was one of those movies you walk into not knowing what to expect, but exit happier than you were when you went in. It gave me such a happy feeling all throughout and kept me hooked even with all the antics. For whatever reason, people really did not enjoy this movie, but as a fan of Jon Favreau whether as a writer or director, Chef literally takes the cake.

9. The Equalizer: Once again, another film I did not have a good read on. All I knew going in was that I loved the director and the main actor and to be honest, that’s all you needed. It was dramatic, action packed, but most importantly, it knew what it was. My experience watching this movie was what I wish I could have every time I watch a movie.

8. Edge of Tomorrow: I wasn’t lucky enough to see this movie in theaters, but I wish I had. One of the best sci-fi/action movies I may have ever seen with visuals as remarkable as you can get. The story was fun, dramatic, visually snaring, and refreshingly original. The cast hit every point they needed to not make this film a load of trash. It’s an absolute shame this movie didn’t do as well as did.

7. The LEGO Movie: Like most of the movies on my list, I was not expecting this film to be as charming and witty as it was. Animated movies have a special place in my heart and LEGO managed to rekindle the warmth I felt as a kid watching animated films, but with an adults charm and humor. “Everything is awesome!”

6. Fury: This wasn’t a film that necessarily blew me away with anything it did, but I found myself talking about it for weeks. Once I sunk my brain around what I just watched, I realized that it was the direction and character development that hooked me immediately. I am also excited about David Ayer being the director for Suicide Squad after this.

MY TOP 5 FILMS OF 2014

5. Captain America: Winter Soldier: Originally not a fan of Captain America per say, I was coming into this film nonchalantly, but I came out screaming like a 14-year-old at a One Direction concert. Marvel seems to only get better and better and finds great talent to create their films.

4. X-Men: Days of Futures Past: More than a comic book movie, we are given some of the best and most memorable performances from a legendary cast along with storytelling and time travel done correctly, a rare feat for many directors, but it was no concern for Bryan Singer who returned in style with the best X-Men film of the franchise. BRING ON APOCALYPSE!

3. Gone Girl: Even I am surprised I am listing this so high. Maybe it’s my bias towards David Fincher and Ben Affleck or maybe it’s because it was excellently crafted storytelling. Even with the movie being as lengthy as it was, I was finally able to see what everyone whispered about. Gone Girl and its performances kept me awake and aware unlike many of the films of its caliber.

2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: This was the one movie that gave me the high that rarely comes once a year. It gives you that feeling of honesty, entertainment, drama, and reality, but in a fantasy dystopian way… Andy Serkis officially has my soul and my money whenever he is in a film and has yet to make a film where he does not steal the show. (As the Schmoes say; “APES ON HORSES!”)

1. BIRDMAN: There aren’t enough words to relay my feelings for this film. I went into this movie thinking it was going to be another heavy drama art-house film, but with a stellar cast. I’ve been wrong before. Birdman truly redefined what film and acting is. Making a statement in the most complex, yet simple (oxymoronic I know) ways with a direction unlike anything I have ever seen, Birdman deserves to be on many of your lists as the number one movie of the year. The performers are all Oscar worthy as is the director who also served as the writer.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS INCLUDE:

Interstellar, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Raid 2, The Hobbit 3, John Wick, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Babadook, Godzilla, Big Hero 6, and many more, but sadly I haven’t gotten the chance to see films like Whiplash, Nightcrawler, Big Eyes, Wild, and How to Train Your Dragon 2. 

I’m not happy about not leaving all these movies off the list, but movies are expensive and I’m doing my best. Please forgive me.

MY TOP 5 WORST MOVIES OF 2014

Unfortunately, the world of movies falls victim to their own creations while churning out projects that resemble turds in a bucket. Most of the time, we fans have high hopes for these movies, praying we didn’t just waste twelve dollars and two hours of our lives, but that’s the chance we take.

Before I jot down my list I want to give a DISCLAIMER telling you all that I do not have anything against horror nor do I have a vendetta to diss all the horror films that come out, but that is what you are most likely going to see this time around. Some “Dishonorable Mentions” are:

The Pyramid, Ouija, Annabelle, etc. They just were not quality films. Most of the horror films I did see this year all followed the same washed up generic formula that makes the horror genre such a hit and miss. Beyond that, a few other “Dishonorable Mentions” would be films like Devil’s Due and A Haunted House 2 which was complete and utter garbage.

Here is my list of films that I found were the WORST films of the year:

5. Into the Storm: Another disaster movie done poorly. In my opinion, disaster movies never seem to pan out, this film was no different. Found footage style filming lost its luster faster than milk in the sun and spoiled just a fast. For whatever reason, film makers want to continue trying these found footage films and bring realness to their films, but it all falls quicker than souffle.

4. (Both) Hercules films: I never understood why film companies release the same film a year thinking they’ll rival one or the other, especially when they both are terrible movies. They were both unbelievably cheesy and hard to watch without being hooked to hospital meds and an IV and the dialogue and lack of entertainment I had during both these films was unrivaled. Granted, the one with the Rock was better, but not by much.

3. Pompeii: Just from the trailers and the title, I had no interest seeing this movie. Not even because I know how it ends, but because it was going to center around a couple and be a “tragic” love story. No thank you! It was mellow dramatic and boring and one of the best cures for insomnia. Did we learn nothing from Pearl Harbor approach to making romance combine with disaster? Clearly not.

2. Transcendence: We all know Johnny Depp has the chops as a great actor and without him in eyeliner and Helena Bonham Carter’s wardrobe I thought he’d be returning the quality films he did previous, but damn dude! This was the film that was supposed to showcase Christopher Nolan’s Robin in Wally Pfister and give him he mantle of a worthy Batman…he didn’t even get to Nightwing with this one, I digress. This was just total crap with nothing much good about it. The story wasn’t cohesive enough for me and the forced ambiguity just did not “transcend” onto the screens.

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction: You want to know what this movie was? It was a mash-up of Bud Light commercials, scenes from the old Transformers movies, and underage models from Justice. I don’t want to hate on Michael Bay too much, but this was bad. It took me nearly four tries to get through the whole thing. It was nothing more than product placement out the wazoo and classic Michael Bay clichés e.i. explosions, scantily clad young women, and a human centered film that avoids the characters the movie is named after. It was almost funny, but then you realize that he suckered us for the third time into seeing one of these god awful Transformers movies. I remember seeing it with a lady friend of mine for the sake of some laughs and she walked out….yeah.

 

WHY DO I LOVE MOVIES AND WHEN DID IT START? – AN INSIGHT

Admiring my vast collection of DVD’s spanning in the hundreds, I thought to myself, “Wow, no wonder you’re single. You should probably get out more” and so I called up a buddy and we hung out so I didn’t feel so pathetic on a Friday afternoon….

I’m joking guys! I am beyond proud of my movie collection and I have plenty of friends, so have no fear!

What I really want to do for you the readers is tell you why I love movies as much as I do. As the title proclaims, I want to give an insight into what makes film such a magical hobby for myself and many more. Why do so many of us “waste” time watching hours worth of films a year without batting an eye. Well guess what, time you were spending doing something you love is NEVER time wasted.

Ever since I was a kid, I was blessed to have had an enormous stack of VHS tapes whether they were Disney or what have you. My parents always described to me the exhaustion they felt after having to watch The Lion King and the rest of the Disney collection I had ten times a day and how I never seemed to get sick of them, to their dismay. But what it did for me was exactly what movies have done since the early 1900’s, it brought me into a world that I could escape in for a few hours. For those few hours a day, I was allowed to just sit back and forget the world around me. Granted, I was not in a financial depression nearly as much as those poor folks during the 1940’s, but the concept is still the same.

As kids, we tend to believe in the things that just do not normally happen. Movies were able to capture that imagery and imagination in a colorful visual brought our ideas to life. Cowboys and the people they killed for no reason (<–that’s politically correct for American Indians), aliens, monsters, talking animals and so on, there was finally a medium that could showcase our want for visual satisfaction. It’s like walking out of a tunnel on Friday night, getting a promotion at, or smoking crack….maybe not that, but you get my point. It gives you that natural high, that injection of relaxation and escape. Some feel this way through art, sports, business, or what have you, me, I have my movies.

Tough times blew my way in a hurricane-like fashion when I was younger. Overwhelmed by situations I could not control, I would sit in my room silently unaware of my next plan of action. One thing I was always able to count on was the overwhelming serenity I gained from sliding in one of my VHS’s and just being hypnotized for 100 minutes. That was all I needed. It would be all the better when my mom or dad was out and about or taking a nap and the house was just silent, nothing but the television and the one mesmerized child in front of it.

Movies don’t just work wonders for me, they’re influential, whether that’s a positive or negative is up to the viewers. Films have been significant since regular people first got a chance to see them in 1920. A perplexing revolution in the world of entertainment and media, movies have the power to move mountains and the people who watch them. They have been praised and they have been hated. Like people, they come in all different shapes and sizes and genres and styles which continue to evolve like the humans that create them.

With art constantly imitating life, you could look at films as people and people as films. The stories captured on film portray the lightest and the darkest of fantasies we envision in a way that doesn’t (normally) pour out negative energy and influence. I mean, I used to say that, but ever since…

*Cough cough* The Interview *cough cough*

…and the lack of thicker skin, people are gaining more power to censor the art that is film making. Will the original ideas stop flowing? Of course not. Film is like music in that regard. Just because something isn’t out in the open doesn’t mean it’s not good.

Movies are to me what water is to fish, vital. They orbit me and I am pulled just as much to them. Why do I love movies so much? Well, why do you like sports (mind you I LOVE sports too) or grilled cheese or sex? It’s because they make you feel good, they make you happy. Will you get a burnt grilled cheese once in a while? Duh, who doesn’t turn the burner on too high and take a piss and forget at least once and year and have to buy a new pan….

Oh just me…

Well there you go folks, the shortened version of why and when I began my love for movies.

Why do you love movies? When did you first get into movies? What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear some of your answer!

THE EQUALIZER – REVIEW

Denzel, Denzel, Denzel! If you haven’t figured it out, Denzel stars in the newest film by rising director Antoine Fuqua (Shooter, Training Day) and recruits his famed actor for another great combination of the two films above.

Washington plays the lovable nice guy with a particular set of skills, no relation to that Liam Neeson guy. He is an employee at a movie version of Home Depot or ACE Hardware and all his coworkers adore and respect him. He lives a methodical, almost obsessive compulsive lifestyle in occasional isolation. Denzel gives his standard Denzel bad-assery like he always does and I think that is what makes this film not as lame as it could be.

Robert McCall (Denzel) befriends a sex slave/prostitute played by Chloe Grace Moretz who is ensnared in the sex trafficking world of the Russian Mob and you know from there, blood is going to be spilled for the sake of this girl. Brought out of his slumber like the dragon Smaug, he unleashes a fire that burns down anyone that stands in his way of justice! With the S on his chest Clark Kent begins too—

Oh whoops, I forgot we were talking about The Equalizer… They’re just so similar!

I digress. This movie knows what it is and that’s what makes it fun and entertaining to watch. It is not trying to be the next great action film or win any Oscars, it wants to show you a character that you would never want to mess with and it does it with style and charm only so many actors can get away with.

Denzel is the perfect man for the job with this one because you believe Denzel could actually do this stuff if he wanted to. He is just a cool guy and he is cool on-screen with every scene he is in. The action he is a part of is highly aggressive, but controlled and entertaining and goes with his methodical character and that watch of his… You’ll understand if you see the movie.

The issue with this movie is that it follows almost an exact formula of other movies before it. Examples would be the aforementioned Taken, starring Liam Neeson, and Fuqua’s other action effort in Shooter. Thankfully for Fuqua and his audience, all these movies mentioned were insanely enjoyable and directed well or this may have been another corny action movie with a good actor in it. For me, it has worked so far, so why change it too much?

At some points I thought the film dragged on and on and seemed overly clichéd even though this film in of itself is a bit of a cliché on the action genre, but it’s all forgivable and you continue to watch Denzel kick Russian mobsters butts with ease without losing much sleep.

I really enjoyed watching this film and thought it was visually striking for a standard action film and loved the protagonist, but it was unclear at the end on who or what he truly was, but to be fair, it doesn’t really matter. Go into this movie knowing that it is an action film with Denzel Washington being awesome and do not over think the clichés and this will be an enjoyable movie for you to watch on a Friday night with your buds or you spouse…sort of.

It’s fun and snaring entertainment with respectable performances by most of the cast that won’t make you cringe like some action films will. It has a surprising amount of heart and emotion that you almost feel like you are in a David Fincher film during scenes in the diner. This brings a more human side to the superhuman character that is Robert McCall.

I give The Equalizer a 7.5/10 for the raw and bone shattering action and another quality performance by Denzel Washington and Chloe Grace Moretz, even with her limited on-screen time. Let the clichés be clichés and all will be forgiven when the movie is over.

ANNIE (2014) – REVIEW

With the classic musical of Little Orphan Annie being portrayed in a new light in a more updated remake with a cast like Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz and Quvenzhané Wallis, I figured I would give this film a chance.

The trailers hadn’t exactly sold me on the project, but in the back of my mind I was hoping for the best, instead I was given the worst. Annie was such a tough film to watch at nearly every point, through every scene. Whether it was the atrocious lip singing for all the characters to the overall cheese factor that came with this remake to the forced additions of color. This movie stinks.

When I go to see any musical, whether animated or live action, I expect the music to be good. You do not cast actors who can not sing for a musical. The whole time I felt I was watching a drunken karaoke night in Chinatown. The voices barely matched up with the actors themselves and it took away from what is still a timeless classic. To make it worse, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, and Quvenzhané Wallis can actually sing well, but it was just not translated well on the big screen this time around.

There are films and remakes that try to make concepts or songs their own or put their own unique twist and spin on the story and they usually turn out well. What Annie did was allow the spinning to go on so much that the director got dizzy and forgot how to adequately pull off non generic material. It was embarrassing and heartbreaking to see such a fair amount of talent be wasted like this. It almost reminds me of Ridley Scott’s The Counselor  where there was A-List talent that can carry a film, but the direction and technical aspects sank the film faster than the Titanic.

As much as I feel the movie was a complete disaster from a technical and remake standpoint, the idea of it all was good. This wave of wanted/needed diversity in films is coming closer and closer to the public eye and I respect the producers and director for going with a non traditional Annie and having an incredibly great talent like Quvenzhané Wallis. I don’t disagree with the casting choice at all for Annie and the updated Daddy Warbucks character, but it all falls flat from mediocre decisions on the directors part and what he wanted the characters to be like.

I am giving Annie a 3/10. The film saved itself ever so slightly at times with the songs, but that is because I already knew them. Otherwise, the movie falls flat on all accounts, whether it be the bad lip singing or awkward delivery of it all. This movie stinks and the sun should have stayed down this day.

%d bloggers like this: