The Gunn Range: Movie Blog

Home » 2015 » April

Monthly Archives: April 2015

IT’S LATE, BUT WORTH IT ‘HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2’ (2014) – REVIEW

If there has ever been a studio that churns out quality animation that wasn’t Disney, you’d have to mention Dreamworks and How to Train Your Dragon 2. This review is a tad late, but hey, better late than never I suppose. Coming off a surprise hit with the first How To Train Your Dragon we are given a sequel that takes place five years after the events of the first film with the resolve and quality to match its predecessor, if not outdoing it in the process. The first film brought us heart and emotion comparable to what Pixar has brought us over the years with their incredible films, but understand, Dreamworks knows they are good and showing why their confidence deserves to grow.

Here we pick up five years after the events of the first film with Hiccup and Toothless trying to realize their purposes in the world and what their futures hold for them. Growing with each other for those years, their bond has grown ever stronger and connects them like a plug to a socket with equally electrifying results.

The voice cast all return to the titular roles which includes the talents of Jay Baruchel as our reluctant here Hiccup, Gerard Butler as his viking father Stoick along with the talents of America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and newcomers to the franchise, Cate Blanchet and Djimon Hounsou. Together, these actors were able to showcase their voice acting in a film that almost feels like it was not meant for kids as the evolution of the story grows heavier with its content, but even with this in mind, the film boasts hilarious voice acting that will break any tension the emotional scenes may have.

How to Train Your Dragon gave us villains in the form of other dragons and evil viking leaders and the sequel is no different. We are treated to a villain voiced by the great Djimon Hounsou as Drago Bloodfist whose ambitions are to take over all the dragons he can to create an army of mind controlled fire-breathing beasts and conquer like most vikings do. On the way, Hiccup and Toothless discover there is more to learn about someone even if you think you are close with them and throughout the film you see them trying to smooth out cracks in how they go about life with each other discovering new lands and new people and new enemies.

There were times in this movie I thought I was not even watching an animated film. I’d compare the emotions I felt to when I was watching Marley and Me and immediately after that I chose to watch Toy Story 3 and let me tell you, I wasn’t confident that I could go on. How To Train Your Dragon 2 is chalk full of human emotions that you expect from great animated films and it confirms how incredible these films are becoming or have already become.

For those unfamiliar with the Japanese monster franchise known as Gamera, I want you all to take a look at the films Gamera: Guardian of the Universe along with it’s sequel Gamera: Attack of Legion and tell me Toothless doesn’t have significant traits of the title monster. For a majority of the film I could see inspiration drawn from some of the fire-breathing monsters of Japan and all for the better!

Doing this review late and having seen Big Hero 6 and The Lego Movie from last year, I’m not convinced I liked Big Hero 6 winning the Oscar from last year. Though Big Hero 6 was quite deserving of the award nonetheless, it really doesn’t compare emotionally and quality wise to HTTD2 like you would have hoped. The animation is other worldly and as captivating as its story and characters and is now free for you all to watch via Netlfix!

Hold your excitement until the end folks…

This is one of the best animated films I have seen in the last half decade and is officially considered underrated in my book simply because of the monster that is indeed Disney Studios and Pixar Animation, but Dreamworks has given us more than its fair share of incredible animated films and this should be on the top of its list next to the original Shrek, The Prince of Egypt, Chicken Run, and the original How To Train Your Dragon. I give How To Train Your Dragon 2 an A+ for every reason possible. It’s fun, emotionally drawing, beautiful from visuals to storytelling, and is worth watching with all audiences.

‘EX MACHINA’ – REVIEW

Ex Machina is written and directed by Alex Garland, writer of respected screenplays like Sunshine, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later and Dredd. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander. Gleeson’s character works for this fictional version of Google called BlueBook where he wins a competition to spend a week with the founder and creator of the company (Oscar Isaac). Shrouded by trees and mountainous landscapes, Isaac’s character Nathan lives as a recluse where he has built an A.I. that resides in that home with him.

For starters, the setting for this film is like out of a nature documentary. The shots captured for this film are exquisite and suck you in right as you see some of the first scenes, an impressive skill for a first time director. Even with this being the first time behind the camera for Garland, you are shown his natural skills and talent for creating a captivating setting with even more captivating characters and it’s the characters that drive this film to the finish line and the execution of the film plays as the vehicle.

With only three main characters for the whole film, we are given an intense character study between Isaac’s eccentric, rich genius type with Gleeson’s innocent, brilliant, humble type, all while set in motion by Nathan’s (Isaac) artificial intelligence known as Ava. Ava is played by Alicia Vikander and is done so almost flawlessly. Even with this being a “smaller” budget film the CGI for Vikander’s Ava is nothing to laugh at and with every motion and blink you are not looking at an actress playing an android, but rather an android with an actress’ face.

Although the plot’s main premise falls towards the levels of cliche’s–figure that out on your own–it still is incredibly original and it’s because of the execution of the film along with the actors who were able to hook your attention with nothing more than conversation. It is this artfully done usage of witty and intelligent dialogue that fills the theater with smiles and bulging eyes. It’s comparative to seeing Steve Jobs having a conversation with Mark Zuckerberg and it’s in that very moment you realize that hearing smart people talk about topics in vigorous detail can be an enjoyable thing.

As the plot begins to slowly manifest itself, you are treated to a score that makes you fall off the edge of your seat in anticipation for the next sequence of events, but remember, this isn’t a horror film, this is a sci-fi/thriller and it stays true to its genres. The minimalistic usage of imagery and colors and music are what make this a great thriller and have you wondering what the heck is going on from beginning, middle, and end. Once you think it is going somewhere you’d expect, it flips the coin back up its sleeve leaving you holding your chin with a question mark over your head.

It’s hard to explain a film like this without spoiling any of the important details, but even if I did do a spoilers review, I’m not quite sure I’d be able to give the film justice. It has such well established concepts, but even so, it is a film you will need to go back and watch a few times before you ever grasp the depths of complexity it spits at you.

This film is not lacking in great writing, great directing, or great acting and with those three in mind it’s tough to argue it not being a great movie. It may come as a slow burn for the less patient movie fans, but also has enough unexpected humor to make any hardhearted viewer smile and giggle.

Ex Machina is currently out in select theaters near you. We will also see Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac in a little film know as Star Wars come Christmas Day and we can also see Alicia Vikander in that dreadful film known as Seventh Son… I give Ex Machina an A- for simply a well crafted film from top to bottom as it harks on social topics relevant to our society and people in general.

CINDERELLA (2015) – REVIEW

In a world where it seems like your only glimpse of hope and happiness comes from your glass slipper, we realize how enchanted our world can truly be when you vow to always have courage and to be kind. Kenneth Branagh excels at bringing his background in Shakespearean adaptations into the beloved story of a girl who goes from riches to rags to riches once more in the live-action adaptation of Cinderella (2015).

We all know the story of Cinderella and you wouldn’t think there is much left to show, but with subtle fixes from the original Disney animated film (1950) we are given a thespian worthy spectacle with magic and writing that works as a defibrillator for the hesitant viewers. I included, did not have any real interest in seeing this film simply because I am not the target audience for a princess film…or am I?

This is not the brooding twist on Cinderella like we’ve seen with Snow White and the Huntsman or Maleficent, but it does give us the back-story of the main characters and how they came to be which is inclusive for a live-action telling of any story. Kenneth Branagh is not the best adapter of Shakespeare for nothing and his talents suit the film as well the famed slipper within the story itself.

With the occasionally zany characters acting almost like their cartoon counterparts, it does not drop the movies the quality and it coexists well the quick-witted humor later on through the film. The characters in particular I’m hinting at are the step-sisters and Cate Blanchet’s evil Stepmother and their animated style of acting in this case, but when in a kids film, there is no need to go all There Will Be Blood with the characters. Lily Collins who plays Cinderella is a surprise hit for me because of her believable performance in what is a generally melodramatically told story. She harnesses the essence of our pure of heart leading lady with grace and elegance of a real princess.

For me, this was the first of the multiple live-action [Disney] remakes I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. It adds even more validity to the timeless animated classic without having to try too hard to be something entirely different. Without trying to fit in with standard comedies or standard fantasy films, it becomes an organic amalgamation of the two with high success.

To the dads and moms sinking in their seats at the idea of seeing a Cinderella film with their kids, have no fear. Cinderella brings enough adult emotion and charm worthy enough for a prince to keep you enticed for its 105 minute run time, with much fun ahead of you.

I give this rendition of Cinderella a B+ for its overall quality and sheer entertainment value for a tale as old as time…oh wait…anyway, it’s a pleasantly entertaining film with loads of heart and magic to keep you feeling you’re royalty and worth loving, even if it’s only for one night.

TALK ABOUT A KILLING JOKE(R)! FIRST IMAGES OF JARED LETO AS THE CLOWN PRINCE OF CRIME!

Remember him?

He’s a pretty handsome guy with an Oscar in his hand, so that must mean something right? Well it should because that’s our new Joker! Don’t believe me? Well you will…

Suicide Squad has been shaping up to be the most intriguing comic-book film to be released in the next few years. With bold, and yet, wise casting decisions by the studios and David Ayer, writer and director of the film, we get a first legitimate look at what Jared Leto’s Joker is going to look like and he is no laughing matter.

Understandably so, people who aren’t familiar with other reincarnations of the Joker will only have the films to compare him too, but we all know that we can’t stay soaking in our human ignorance too long or we prune. It was only appropriate that David Ayer released this photo on the eve the Joker’s 75th Anniversary and with being around for so long, you are bound to change as a character in between that time.

It’s long been speculated that this version of the Joker would have inspiration drawn from storylines like The Killing Joke, one of the Joker’s most disturbing and unsettling stories readers have ever seen, and then the Dark Knight Returns where he is even more of a sociopath than Heath Ledger’s rendition…yeah, I know.

When Leto was cast as the Joker, I assumed his look would be more on the lines of this:

I wasn’t too far off now was I?

The cause of concern I’ve seen in the few minute this has been up is the fact he has tattoos and is shirtless, well…

I’m not sure what else you want me to do to prove to you that this isn’t just some random idea Ayer decided to do to piss you all off, but what else should we expect? People get mad at the castings of every single actor/actress when the role is a well known character or property. We did it with Heath Ledger, it’s been done with Bond about a zillion and one times, and Ben Affleck as Batman has been a more current discussion. And let us not forget something very important here, this is just a photo. We have yet to see any real footage of this film at all. Don’t expect him to be shirtless the whole time either because Ayer isn’t that dumb. This is a man who respects and has been studying this world for months and months to make sure it all becomes a cohesive world.

Do not expect this Joker to be anything like the one we all adore and love from The Dark Knight. Do not expect this to be tied into anything that relates to The Dark Knight. Want to know why? Because these are completely separate universes. With everything moving forward with Batman and The Joker and so on, forget that you ever saw Christopher Nolan’s trilogy because we are now faced with a brand new set of characters with differences beyond compare.

Finally, what do I think about the Joker? I think he looks absolutely terrifying. He looks like he rips his own face off for fun to scare dogs and grown men, all while he is chuckling at the fact he beat Robin to death. He fits comparatively well with the universe Zack Snyder has been trying to helm for DC/WB, especially after seeing the visuals from the Batman v Superman trailer, it only makes sense that a Batman like Ben Affleck’s, needs a villain equally as terrifying.

As a whole, I give the Leto Joker image a B+, he’s scary, slightly modernized and worth getting anxious for once Suicide Squad opens in theaters in 2016.

M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN HAS A MOVIE COMING OUT… ‘THE VISIT’ – TRAILER REVIEW

This man ruined my favorite show of all time… here’s the trailer.

M. Night is a conundrum to us all and he has brought us more twists than a tornado in Kansas (you like that?) and not always for the better. His misfires on the last half-dozen films he’s written and directed have flopped more than a fish out of water and his credibility died with it. This was the man who was supposed to be “the next great thing” in Hollywood after he made The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and then the drop off came with Signs. 

Thankfully for M. Night and the studio, this is clearly not an expensive movie to make and the loss of cash from the film won’t destroy the studio and if it is good and enough word of mouth orbits the film going audience, then at least it will earn its share of green stuff.

Going back to his roots with the supernatural/horror style film-making alongside the production company that gave us the smash hit Paranormal Activity series along with Insidious, The Purge, and the surprisingly entertaining Unfriended. With this in mind, we can only hope we are given a look into what was once M. Night Shyalaman.

As far as the story and premise, we don’t know much else besides the kids are scared of their grandparents who are clearly doing everything, but going to bingo and baking cookies. It’s hard to speculate on what the story-line will be with the consistent spin on the plots of M. Night’s films. To sum up my thoughts and opinion, we should be cautiously optimistic, with a dash of complacency.

The Visit is set for release this year on September 11th.

COULD JOHNNY DEPP BE BACK IN FORM AS WHITEY BULGER IN ‘BLACK MASS’?! – TRAILER REVIEW

Johnny Depp is wonderful…when he wants to be, but if there is an actor we are all getting fatigued by it would have to be Depp. I can argue he is not usually the issue of the films he has chosen, but how can you enjoy the actor when he’s in terrible films? Well, hopefully Black Mass can be as good as its trailer because… damn.

Well, he’s still wearing a bunch of make-up, but in this case, this may not be a bad thing. Biopics are always that branch of film where you get to see actors shine. They have to dig deep into the archives of the characters they are portraying and give us almost a reincarnated version of the person they portray.

Whitey Bulger is infamous for loads of reasons and once he gets to be seen on film I’m sure we will understand why. Depp is more than capable of doing this character justice, but this is where his hall passes have all but run-out. Depp should be in films that are greater than what he’s chosen and fans alike have been chanting their voodoo spells to get him back into good drama pieces and not Public Enemies and just from the opening dialogue there is a level of tension we need to see in a gangster film like this.

We have been blessed with some of the greatest gangster films over the years (thank you Scorsese and the countless others) and we have been fooled by the Loki’s of Hollywood with films like Public Enemies and that stinker Gangster Squad.

Womp womp…

As a whole, this gives me a glimmer of hope for the film especially with a director like Scott Cooper who helped pull out some astonishing performances from Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) and from Christian Bale and Casey Affleck in Out of the Furnace. Oh yeah and did I mention that Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Sienna Miller, and Dakota Johnson in there too?

Well…it does…

Black Mass is set for release this year on September 18th.

THIS INTERVIEWER IS A PRICK! – Robert Downey Jr. Interview (2015)

You have the chance to interview one of the most popular actors for what is likely to be one of the most popular films of 2015 and you talk about his drug use and his father? Not only that, but he condescends Downy Jr. pretty much the whole entire interview and for what? This dipstick interviewer has done this before and yet he still has a job? Come on now, we can do better than this.

I would strongly debate with those who disagree with RDJ’s actions in this case, but it’s a relief to see no one has taken that side of the argument. What else is there to say besides get this man off television. Clearly he had no interest in discussing what RDJ was actually there for and what’s so sad is that you can tell from the beginning this isn’t going to be an easy view.

To RDJ’s credit, he left the interview like a class act and proved everyone of his critics including this prick of an interviewer that he has clearly grown through his experiences and is not Tony Stark off screen. For that, I salute you RDJ, stay classy.

Maybe this is just me, but I had to pause the footage and watch it in incriminates so I wouldn’t slam my computer shut….

That’s all, I just figured I share this if anyone hadn’t seen it. What did you think about the interview? Do you have a different way of viewing how this all went down (you shouldn’t)? If so, let me tell you why you’re wrong in the comments below!

%d bloggers like this: