Home » 2015 » August

Monthly Archives: August 2015

THE RESURGENCE OF WILL SMITH TRULY BEGINS WITH ‘CONCUSSION’ (2015) – TRAILER REVIEW

I have been saying all along that Will Smith hasn’t become less of an actor, his choice to be in sucky films has been the real issue here, but now we are treated to a trailer that has him portraying the famed doctor Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who first discovered a neurodegenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The NFL better be on their toes with this one because it looks like it’s going to hit harder the football players themselves.

The film looks crisp and dramatic and that’s what I want from the actors as well. It looks like a surefire winner so long it’s cohesion maintains like this trailer does. Will Smith is one of those guys who, whenever in a role, brings us into his character’s emotions and thoughts and with such a relevant topic in sports, this could be a changing of the guard for the NFL and a resurgence for Will Smith.

I found ‘Focus’ to be extremely entertaining and I am stoked to see him as Deadshot in Suicide Squad, but this is the film that I want Smith to shine in. He has the African accent down to a tee and he looks vulnerable and determined and that’s what I want and what you the fans should want as well.

Christmas Day is shaping to be a day to go to the movies rather than open presents if you ask me.

‘IT FOLLOWS’ (2015), OVERRATED OR GREAT? – MOVIE REVIEW

Horror has branched away from the monsters and excess of blood, but it doesn’t mean the fear has vanished, worse, it’s evolved. The trend of psychological horror doesn’t seem to be everyone’s cup of tea and I get why. Jump scares, torture porn, and silly monsters in caves has been the go-to for horror fans in the last few years, but they don’t kick it up that notch you’d hope for the genre. ‘It Follows’ isn’t nearly as unique as most critics would claim, but it definitely brings a valiant effort to produce quality film making along with atmospheric tension.

Chronicling the sexual venture of teens and young adults alike and the STD like being known as “It” (not the clown) sounds dumb when you try to describe it to someone on the street, but what the film really is for audiences is a salute to the best type of horror from the 80’s. It felt as if I was watching a piece that was inspired by John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ and I mean that in the best way. That is where I disagree with the notion of this being original. Though the mythology of the mysterious entity is intriguing, but vague, it is a slow burn for those expecting a creature of spirit to really show itself.

The film itself is not that scary, but it does garner some weird afterthoughts when you leave the movie theater. Ideas of murderous entities creeping behind you at a snail-like pace is weirder than you’d think, especially when it takes the shape of people you may or may not care about. This is shown perfectly by Maika Monroe who stars as Jay, latest victim of our STD beastie we’ll stick to calling “It”. She was great in the underrated psychological thriller ‘The Guest’ last year and showing at the tender age of 22 that she is somewhat of a new age scream queen.

For me, this was a slow-burn of a film that might get the title of overrated from critics like myself, but it doesn’t mean the film is poorly made. The lighting and shots of the film itself are enough to sell me on it’s quality and the panning to wide shots in most of the scenes is artfully done to give us the unknown vibes throughout the story. I have only a few questions about some of the plot points in the story: 1. Where the heck are the parents in this town? 2. And how does “It” go through people sexually?

At first I assumed this was a metaphor for having safe sex and the vulnerability young guys and gals have when being sexually active, which makes sense, but it doesn’t explain the brutal nature of the entity itself. Nonetheless, the film fairly entertaining, but not as a horror, but a psychological mystery. It has good acting, a haunting atmosphere that resembles horror films of the past, but all while being its own film. I have ‘It Follows’ a B-.

What do you think the film represents and did you enjoy it? Comment below and let me know. – Travis

TOP 10: BEST MARTIN SCORSESE FILMS

“All my life I’ve wanted to be a gangster” will always ring true to most of deep down even when we won’t admit it, but we’ve also wanted to be boxers, cops, and our generation’s version of Howard Hughes and it comes to life for us because of Marty Scorsese. As one of the heads on the Mount Rushmore of directors, he has changed the world of film making while giving us some of the most iconic characters in history.

DISCLAIMER: I am not counting his many documentaries, but rather his feature length films.

It would make sense for a guy like myself, who uses Travis Bickle as his more or less mascot, to discuss the best Martin Scorsese films. Of course, all film is subjective and this is a personal list going from ten to number one, starting with:

10. The Color of Money (1986)

Only older generations or raging film fans will know of the 1961 film ‘The Hustler’ starring Paul Newman as a smooth talking, con-artist in the world of pool. Fast forward 25 years with a big haired Tom Cruise and an always suave Paul Newman as the iconic “Fast” Eddie Felson we are treated to one of Scorsese’s most underrated films and arguably one of Tom Cruise’s best acted performances.

9. Hugo (2011)

The confusion and backlash for supposed Martin Scorsese fans was heard loud and clear when it was announced Marty was going to be tackling a PG-Rated book adaptation, but it turns out, Marty really is as great as his resume. What turns out to be an homage to film itself while telling it’s own unique story through film, the cast is astounding, the visuals splendid, and the direction is to a Scorsese standard that people tend to glance over because it lacks the traditional New York setting, gangsters, and F-bombs.

8. Gangs of New York (2002)

I mean this in the best way, but this was nothing short of Scorsese wet-dream. A period piece that may have marinated a tad too long in the mind of Martin Scorsese, it still boasts some of the most impressive performances, and that includes everyone around the film’s A-List stars like DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, and Daniel Day-Lewis. It’s violent, but elegantly shot with a story that wraps up everything Scorsese is known for and that is telling the stories of twisted and troubled characters only for us the audience to be enamored by. Character studies are all too apparent in this nearly 3 hour run-time carries flaws, but compared to any other film, it is still a masterpiece.

7. Cape Fear (1991)

Though a remake from a 1960’s classic, I can’t help but compare Jared Leto’s Joker to what DeNiro sort of was in Cape Fear. The tattoos and psychotic tendencies are creepy enough to warrant such a comparison, but it’s the old school Hitchcockian style of directing that makes this remake so intriguing to watch. This is a healthy reminder that Bob DeNiro can be as good a bone-chilling villain as he can be a likable gangster and it cements his legacy as an acting great no matter the era.

This might not be Scorsese’s best, it might not even be better than the original, but it gives us something special that only Marty can give us, if I can figure out exactly what that is I will gladly tell you.

6. The Aviator (2004)

People don’t really know when DiCaprio began his run as one of the best actors of his time, it’s fair to say it started way back when he was in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, but I think is turn to Hollywood stud to “world class actor” was as the eccentric billionaire turned OCB madman Howard Hughes whose descent to madness is so sad to witness you feel as crazy as he does, and if it weren’t for another brillaint performance that year by one Jamie Foxx (in Ray) the discussion about Leo not having an Oscar would never have been a discussion.

The Aviator, like Gangs of New York before it, is a brilliant step into a period of hyper-specific details of an era with equal levels of brilliance and beauty, but also it’s grim and brutal realities all behind the outer layer. The story is a tad jumbled, but it doesn’t make it any less of a special film for Scorsese and film fans alike.

5. Raging Bull (1980)

This was the film that finally allowed DeNiro to bring home the Best-Actor Oscar and it was nothing shy is perfect. With one of the most iconic intros of all time, shot in black and white, you know that you are in for something never seen before. DeNiro is ripped for most of the film, but is seen gaining nearly 75 lbs by the films end which also leaves an iconic finish. It’s tough for me to even put this at five, but as great as the film is, it is a film that you marvel at rather than pop in for it’s replay value, but that because the subject matter at hand is as heavy handed as the pro boxer the film focuses on.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street

The glorification of a bad person is what Scorsese seems to do best, but we love him all the more for it. As I’ve described it, the Seven Deadly Sins all wrapped up in one of the funniest, most re-watchable visuals on greed, wealth, and addiction. It has Scorsese’s newest muse in DiCaprio once again as Jordan Belfort and a break out role from Margot Robbie and Jonah Hill showing off his acting chops once again while bringing his trademark humor.

3. Taxi Driver (1977) 

A look into the world of loneliness and vigilantism with New York not only as a setting, but as a character who keeps the story going. It’s a visual feast and splendor with the lights of New York streets shining the ironically darkened path the main character takes in his journey of realization and self destruction. It almost hurts to consider that Scorsese himself puts so much into his films, that level of loneliness feels all to real and that’s why this is my number three film.

It is also, unnervingly relatable which is what great films can do, they can make you feel conflicted about how to feel because you know deep down this is the manifestation of what most people are thinking.

2. The Departed (2006)

In my opinion one of Scorsese’s best films, but also one of the best films ever made. A film that fulfills the long run-time of a Scorsese film, but it never feels long. One of the best ensemble casts probably ever constructed for one film and also one of the last great performances we saw from Jack Nicholson.

It showed the Boston gangster lifestyle in a vivid and flashy way while being gifted with a realism that humbles the viewer as much as it entertains. Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and everyone else in between are funny as much as they are intense, and it all comes to a shocking end for more than one character. A modern masterpiece in cinema.

  1. Goodfellas (1990)

    It should come to no surprise that it starts with Goodfellas and it ends with Goodfellas. This is the definitive Scorsese movie and one of the best mobster films of all time. It has since grown in stature as one of the most influential and entertaining films of all time not withstanding just one genre and it gave us some of the most memorable quotes in history.

    It almost feels cliche to put this here, but there’s a reason it feels that way, because it’s obvious. Pesci, Liotta, DeNiro, gangsters, it’s all good.

Honorable Mentions: Shutter Island / The Last Temptation of Christ / Mean Streets / New York, New York / The King of Comedy / Bringing Out the Dead

A JULIUS CAESAR FILM TO BE LIKE ‘300’ AND ‘GAME OF THRONES’?! BRING IT ON!

The name rings like the bells in the Notre Dame Cathedral when you mention, Julius Caesar. Incarnations over the years have brought us the infamous dictator of Rome in his short span of time, but none have been so intriguing as a film that could take on the vibes of a film like 300 and the popular HBO series Game of Thrones.

Adapting the story of Caesar from Conn Iggulden’s novel Emperor: The Gates of Rome telling the story of Caesar and his equally infamous assassin Brutus sounds like cinema gold in a way we haven’t seen in quite awhile. We will get to see the film chronicle the rise and fall of a young Julius Caesar until his death later on and all the facets in between, but the concern should be that this film has been in production hell since 2010.

The goal of Lionsgate and White Horse Productions is to tell the stories that have yet to be seen on film of Julius Caesar with “the sweep of 300″ and “the intrigue of Game of Thrones”, which sounds all too promising.

I know I’m sold on this project, now we just have to see who they will recruit for the direction and casting and we may have a winner on our hands.

BREAKING NEW: FIRST LOOK AT MICHAEL FASSBENDER FOR ‘ASSASSIN’S CREED’!

As soon as I write an article on why video games fail, an epic picture of Michael Fassbender in his Assassin’s Creed gear shows up:

Any movie still has the chance to be really crappy, but if you’re wondering what I mean check out my article on why video game movies are so tough to make.

I’m just happy there is more proof that this film is being made at all! There has been so little on this project except that the director of Macbeth which also stars Fassbender and his co-star Marion Cottiard. Get pumped!

ARE VIDEO GAMES FILMS THE UNTOUCHABLE GENRE?

Video games seem to be plagued with problems as soon as their film adaptations are even attempted. We’ve heard the horror stories of the failed Halo film that originally had Peter Jackson and then Neil Blomkamp, but issue after issue with budgets and Microsoft wanting to be the dictators of the films themselves, but what about the other properties?

Films like Doom, Mortal Kombat. Prince of Persia, and so on were not only flops, but just crap-tastic projects. What I learned from all these films besides the lack of love thrown into them was that they didn’t feel nearly as epic in scale as the games they were inspired by.

Here are my reasons as to why video game movies fail:

The Budget:

You think of the many grand video games out there and they are cinematic in nature nowadays, but its far easier to put such a large world into a video game where there isn’t any big time actors you have to pay nor the high end set pieces. For films, you are looking at films that can range from $80-$150 million just to make these set pieces.

It’s all about finding a balance of what is needed for a grand picture without going overboard with marketing and set pieces. It has been proven that big budgets don’t equate to quality films. Prince of Persia had a massive budget of nearly $185 million and we saw how that turned out.

Not Enough Strong Characters:

There is rich mythology in the characters of video games and yet directors and studios can’t seem to pull out the core of what makes most of these characters so likable. Any good film has likable characters in an enjoyable story, but they always fall flat or come off as cheesy and over the top.

A video game like God of War in particular has a character that not only is a  great antihero, but also a layered and developed protagonist in his respective stories and would serve well with proper story telling, the same goes for characters like Agent 47 or Prince Daston (Prince of Persia) where they were nothing short of campy and underdeveloped.

No Proven Storytellers as Directors:

The reason so many of us are holding onto hope for this World of Warcraft film is because of who the studio recruited as it’s director. Duncan Jones has given us films like Moon in the past that have proven his skill behind the camera, but also his ability to establish worlds and the characters that live in them.

Great directors are storytellers in all different forms and there have not been enough quality names to give the genre a jump start like it needs to. If Peter Jackson had done his Halo movie I’m convinced things would be different, but alas, they are not.

They Aren’t Treating the Adaptations like Movies:

There is so much underlying pressure on making a great video game film that people are forgetting to just make great films. The comic book genre has become successful because people realized they weren’t just watching superhero movies, but just good movies. The same mentality needs to be established when making a video game film.

Video Game Companies Are Not Leasing Their Properties:

This is slowly beginning to change with Nintendo being at the forefront of shelling out their games for movie rights, but it was far from the case after that awful Super Mario Brothers movie in the 90’s. Game companies understand that films have not been kind to video games and they don’t want to risk tainting their brands.

So there you have it, a few reasons as to why video game movies aren’t any good…yet. For the sake of great movies, I hope this trend breaks soon because we are dying for live-action installments of these games and they’d be feasts for everyone’s eyes and good for the world of movies if you ask me.

Check out my list of video games that deserve great movies here and tell me what you want from video game adapted films or which games in particular.

HORROR SEQUELS RETURN TO SUCKING IN ‘SINISTER 2’ (2015) – MOVIE REVIEW

I am not a fan of being scared and I am not sure why people like to be scared in the first place, but there are occasional horror films I tend to enjoy and that was definitely not this movie. Though the original film was a surprise to me and the rest of its audience for how scary it was and giving us an organic story of fear and paranoia, but like most horror sequels, it feels like a rehashing of the original which then faults the film as a whole.

The film is about a wife who is fighting for the custody of her children from her abusive husband and the fiendish Bughuul, an evil spirit who recruits children to kill their loved ones. We later get creepy farm homes, ghostly stalking, and a sequel that does what sequels do best, be forgettable.

I will openly admit being scared is not an emotion I have trouble emitting when I am viewing horror films, but this was one of those moments that being scared didn’t feel all that necessary. The film reproduced the idea of violent and horrific tapes to a young boy whose parents are going through a rough divorce, you would hope it would capitalize on the themes at hand, but it feels like a cash grab like must horror sequels giving us more gore than the original film and not focusing on the story at hand.

What makes a great horror movie is not the jump scares or the amount of blood and guts you see, but what you do not see, and I felt there was a loss of suspense and terror even when you saw what was being viewed on some of those creepy tapes. Of course, if you like that sort of thing this may be right up your alley, but I know like most passionate fans, horror junkies will not be nearly as impressed with this as they were with the original.

With a returning character played by James Ransone as the officer looking into the cases of Bughuul (the “sinister” creature of the first film) is nothing special in my eyes. He wasn’t terrible but what he was as a neutral character who gets thrown in with the other poor acting. In horror films, the flaws and falseness of acting can be hard to endure not including whomever the woman is playing the mother in the film whom I found to be very good.

While the acting isn’t great, but not unbearable, the plot in general is like looking at Swiss cheese, meaning that it stinks and there are bunch of holes in it. It’s almost like the film writers either felt they were capable of creating an equally scary film by copying the same damn types of themes from the first or they actually didn’t even see the first one, but the sad truth is that they are the same writers!

It may not be fair for a non-horror fan to critique most of the horror genre’s films out there, but I think we can all agree that horror sequels are usually nothing more than cash grabs and poor follow ups or prequels to their originals and that’s sad because there is so much rich mythology in this stories monster alone, but we can only wonder what the heck the Bughuul is doing through half the film. If he is so bad, why doesn’t he do more bad stuff? He just lurks for the sake of being creepy and that is lame.

I have to give Sinister 2 C-. I didn’t dislike the film as my review would suggest, but it didn’t think it did what the Insidious trilogy was able to accomplish and give us scares in three quality films. Eh well, at least we have M. Night Shyamalan’s new film The Visit to look forward to… yippee!

%d bloggers like this: