Archive | October, 2012

Nikita – Review

31 Oct

Who would have thought that when Luc Besson made this French action thriller in 1990 that it would become a phenomenon spawning an American and Japanese remake along with a television spin off. We can’t forget where it all began, and this is it. It’s an action movie with more heart and soul than one may think, and this may, unfortunately, lead people to believe that Nikita is boring. They couldn’t be more wrong.

After murdering a p0lice officer during a robbery gone awry, drug addict Nikita (Anne Parillaud) has the choice of either death or committing herself to the French government and work for them as a sleeper agent. She trains in a secret facility with her mentor Bob (Tchèky Karyo) and after years of training is released back into the world with a code name: Josephine. She soon sparks a relationship with an unassuming Marco (Jean-Hughes Anglade), but is just a suddenly called for assignment, sending her now stable life careening out of control.

This movie is written and directed by Luc Besson, who I would call a powerhouse of the action genre having directed films such as Leon: The Professional and written The Transporter series, Taken, and From Paris with Love. This is one of his older movies, but it still helped redefine a genre after the macho action films of the 80s. Audiences were treated to a different kind of hero in Nikita, a social misfit turned sleeper agent who is a woman. That’s the big thing. Gun toting women weren’t the norm at this point in time. In this way, Nikita can be seen as inspiration for films like Kill Bill. In that light, much respect has to be given to this film.


Nikita is special, though, for how it handles the story. Instead of the movie being all about Nikita going into various foreign locales and shooting anything that moves, the viewer gets a character study. The character arc is immense. A drug addict becomes an agent who then yearns for a normal life. It was great watching a character as deep as this change and progress as the story went along at it’s relatively slow pace. It gave me a lot to think about when it comes to the actual stress of classified government work, the treatment of these employees, and the ethics behind their missions.

With this impressive character arc comes an impressive performances and memorable action set pieces. Anne Parillaud knocks it out of the park giving, I think, on of the best performances in an action movie. She’s both funny and disturbed, but if you want to talk disturbed, look no further than Jean Reno as Victor the Cleaner. He is brutally violent and doesn’t seem to be affected by it. You’ll see him in a list of best action characters if I’m to ever make one.


The action scenes are great without being crazy. While they aren’t totally down to earth, they do stay in a realm of realism that isn’t very common in modern action movies. There is lots of shooting and some blood, but never is there ridiculous combat and jumping off walls. It gave the film a more realistic tone that worked better with the themes and the characters. But don’t get me wrong. I love over the top action.

Nikita is an action movie that surpasses most. It is intelligent, emotional, and real. Don’t mistake the slow pace as boring. If you look into the characters and invest yourself into the plot, you will have a great time with this movie. If all you want is gunplay and explosions, the look to something else. This is a thinker’s action movie that proves the Luc Besson is this genre’s master story teller.

Moonrise Kingdom – Review

30 Oct

Wes Anderson is one of those film makers that I trust will always make a good movie. His style inspires my own style of writing. I didn’t get a chance to see Moonrise Kingdom in theaters, but I have to say that it was worth the wait. This is the best movie he has made since The Royal Tenenbaums, and one that will stay with you for a long time.


In the summer of 1965, the small New England island of New Penzance is thrown through a loop when two young children in love Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), run away together. Now it’s up to the eccentric townsfolk to find them before the worst storm to ever hit New Penzance hits. Sam and Suzy give them a run for their money showing the adults that love, no matter how young, is still strong.

This is kind of a bad summary because this isn’t a very easy move to explain in just a few sentences. There’s the main plot with the two children running away, but the story of everyone on the island is just as interesting. Each and every character has their own sets of personal problems that make them eccentric and unforgettable. For a Wes Anderson movie, I had very little trouble connecting with these characters and feeling the dysfunction.


Part of me being able to connect with the characters has a lot to do with the performances. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand have the exact brand of awkward chemistry that is needed for a couple growing further and further apart. Bruce Willis and Edward Norton are the scene stealers as the two authority figures who just don’t have the ability to keep everything under control. Finally, in a small but worthwhile role, Jason Schwartzman rounds up the laughs as a Khaki Scout who knows exactly how the system works. It’s a motley of characters that mesh very well. Even Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward do a fine job, if not a bit too deadpan.

And of course, there’s no way I can talk about any Wes Anderson movie and not talk about the impeccable composition of the shots. Every shot is so symmetrical. Even if a character is placed at the left side of the screen, the use of empty space is experimented with so well that nothing seems uneven. Along with the composition are the colors and costume design. This all fits into the idiosyncratic style of Wes Anderson that makes all of his movies special.


I’m not quite sure if I can call Moonrise Kingdom Wes Anderson’s best movie, but it definitely ranks in the top tier. It’s a surprisingly hopeful movie amongst all the melancholy, which is a bit of a change for this director. It’s a great conglomeration of characters, stories, and messages that are both funny and tragic. I don’t just like Moonrise Kingdom, I love Moonrise Kingdom.

Hellraiser Series – Review Part 2

30 Oct

Now that we’ve gone through all of the theatrical releases of the Hellraiser series, be it good or bad, now we have the direct to video and DVD. To most people, that is the sign that these movies should be avoided. Well, that’s why I’m here. Some of these definitely should, but others are worth a chance…for cheap. Let’s start this with Hellraiser: Inferno.

Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer) is a good cop with bad morals. His shady dealings soon leads him to finding the Lament Configuration and he begins being stalked by faceless cenobites who begin to psychologically torture him. Thorne believe that a mysterious criminal that goes by the name the “Engineer” is behind all of this. As his investigation progresses, Thorne begins to realize that the forces at work are more powerful and evil than he could have possibly imagined.

It may be worth noting that all of the Hellraiser movies at this point in time were being held by Miramax as completely different scripts. They would later add in the plot concerning the Lament Configuration and Pinhead so it would save them money. For any Hellraiser or self respecting movie buff, that’s a load of shit, and in turn this movie is a load of shit. Don’t get me wrong, the performances are just fine, but I rarely felt like I was watching a Hellraiser movie, and Pinhead did jack shit until the last couple minutes.


Hellraiser: Inferno is a major disappointment and one of the worst of the series. It’s long, boring, and hardly can call itself a member of this series. The make up and acting were fine, but everything else was pointless. This is not a good introduction to the video and DVD releases, so I was definitely hoping that Hellraiser: Hellseeker would pick up the mess of its predecessor.


Kirsty Cotton (Ahsley Laurance) seems to finally be living a normal life with her husband, Trevor (Dean Winters). Everything is twist turned when a fatal car accident kills Kirsty and leaves Trevor with a head injury that prevents him from remembering what happened. He is also in possession of our favorite puzzle box. He is also the prime suspect in what is now a murder mystery, and also begins having the worst hallucinations and pains of his life.

This is a weird movie to explain because it really is a head trip. It seems like Pinhead went back to school at the Freddy Krueger School of Horror with all of the psychological head play going on. At this point, the viewer has to understand that the chains are only seen at the very end and very briefly. Wasn’t the point of this series all about pain and pleasure? What happened to that?


To be honest, I did like this movie. It was a huge step up from Inferno and it was a pretty entertaining movie on its own. Sure, it’s definitely not what the series was intended to be and there weren’t too many cenobites or hardly any Pinhead, but it was still an ok movie and I was legitimately creeped out in some scenes. I would recommend this one on the grounds that Ashley Laurance is back and the story has some pretty cool twists.

The next movie to look at is Hellraiser: Deader.


Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer) is a journalist sent to Bucharest to investigate a group of cultists called Deaders. While she is there, she finds the Lament Configuration in the hands of a dead member. Out of her strong journalistic curiosity, she opens the box and releases the cenobites and their evil leader, Pinhead (Doug Bradley). Confusion and visions begin to haunt her mind as she descends deeper into this dark underworld of the paranormal only to discover that Pinhead and the cult leader Winter (Paul Rhys) have a long standing feud that has to be ended.

Out of all the direct to DVD sequels, Deader is my favorite. This one, despite being written as something totally different, actually felt like a Hellraiser movie. There were cults, rituals, and lots of deathly images that worked very well. Pinhead isn’t in it too much once again, but when he is I definitely enjoyed it. Kari Wuhrer is a great leading lady and one of the best heroes of the entire series.


Hellraiser: Deader was another pretty good entry in the series. It improved on all the problems of the previous two films to make one that was pretty solid. Like I said, it actually felt like I was watching a Hellraiser movie when it was originally written as something totally different.

Now we’re really going down the drain with the final two movies in the series. Let’s begin our trip into the depths of terrible horror movies with Hellraiser: Hellworld.


Hellworld is a popular MMORPG based on the Hellraiser series where players explore different mythology. A group of players with a dark past are selected to go to a massive party at a mansion to celebrate the game. While they are there, they get to live their passion when cenobites led by Pinhead (Doug Bradley) begin to pick them off one at a time.

This entire movie is a load of garbage. Since when is Pinhead and his cenobite minions average slasher villains? I’m pretty sure that they are masters of pain and suffering, so seeing them decapitate someone in a matter of seconds is just unbelievable. Think of this movie as the Hellraiser equivalent to Friday the 13th Part 5. You go in expecting classic horror that is promised by the series, and leave with an ending that makes you scratch your head and say, “Why did I even watch this?”



I thought that this would be the bottom of the barrel for this series. It has every ingredient to make it the worst, but I had no idea that I would be subjected to a movie that is so bad, I didn’t want to believe it actually existed. This is Hellraiser: Revelations.


When two best friends go on a trip to Mexico, they come across the Lament Configuration and once again release Pinhead (Stephen Smith Collins) upon the earth. The only proof of their deaths are in a video camera that was used to record their trip, and soon Pinhead is back to haunt the rest of the family.

This is one of THE WORST movies that I have ever seen, and I almost considered not reviewing it. For one, where is Doug Bradley? The Pinhead in this movie is not Pinhead. I refuse to believe it. Second of all, the entire look of the movie looks like something that was made as a student project. The acting, the sets, and the entire story are all annoying and forced. Bottom line, this movie is unwatchable and was a waste of a movie. Don’t just skip this, destroy any copy you come across.


If you want my advice, stop after the fourth film. There isn’t much of a need to see Inferno through Revelations. If you feel the need to see all of them, Hellseeker and Deader are the only ones that are somewhat enjoyable. This just goes to show how a company can ruin an excellent series. Happy Halloween, everyone! Hope you enjoyed.

Hellraiser Series – Review Part 1

29 Oct

The next two reviews of mine are going to be on the longer side since I’m going to be reviewing the Hellraiser series in bulk, you could say. There are nine films in this series with four of them getting theatrical releases, and the rest being direct to video and DVD releases. This is also a perfect example of the studio system making a mess of a story with so much potential and relevance and turning it into a load of derivative drivel. What better place to start than with the original 1987 film, Hellraiser.

When an antique puzzle box is stumbled upon by a scumbag, Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman), a portal to hell is opened releasing the masters of pain and pleasure, the Cenobites, to bring you into a world of torture and suffering that has never been experienced before. When Frank’s extended family move into the house that was used as the portal, Frank is brought back to life. Now relying on his former lover and wife to his brother, Julia (Clare Higgens) to bring back humans for feast on an regenerate, his niece Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) once agains opens the puzzle box. The Cenobites want her, but after learning her uncle’s secret, Kirsty is prepared to make a deal with the Lead Cenobite (Doug Bradley).

This is a unique horror movie that blends psychosexuality, gore, and pure terror into a narrative filled with its own interesting mythology. The first time we see the Cenobites pulls us into the story in one of the best prologues to a film I have ever seen and when we hear more and more about them, the interest grows and gets the viewer excited for the sequel, but we’re not there yet.

I really don’t have any complaints about this movie other than the acting at times. Doug Bradley and Clare Higgens knock their roles out of the park, but the rest of the cast is less than stellar. One other noteworthy performance is Oliver Smith, who plays Frank when he comes back to life and is nothing but muscle and bone. Everything else is excellent and has marked Clive Barker as one of the masters of the horror genre whose name should be synonymous with Wes Craven and John Carpenter.

In 1988, a sequel was released. This was Hellbound: Hellraiser II.


Soon after the events of the first film, Kirsty wakes up in the Channard Mental Institute led by the mysterious Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham). Unbeknownst to everyone, Channard has a strange obsession with the puzzle box called the Lament Configuration, which was used to summon the Cenobites before. He soon opens the portal to hell allowing himself, a resurrected Julia, Kirsty, and patient Tiffany (Imogen Boorman) to enter the twisted underworld of ultimate pain and ultimate pleasure.

While Clive Barker still acts as a producer for this film, it is a lot different than its predecessor. First off, one can’t help but notice the implementation of a bigger budget. Stepping into hell does cost money after all, but I can’t help but miss the impressive simplicity  of the original Hellraiser. The audience is still treated to more pools of blood and gallons of gore, which is always great.


In many sense, Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a step up from the first, but in other ways it isn’t quite the same experience as the first. It gets bogged down in special effects and I don’t really get the feeling of a strong cohesive story, rather it seems more episodic. Still this is a worthy entry into this series, and certainly better than the train wreck of a movie that is Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.


After the events of the second film, “Pinhead” (Doug Bradley) finds himself trapped in the Pillar of Souls with his only escape being to absorb the souls of others. Enter reporter Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell), who is tracking the activities of the Lament Configuration. Once enough souls have been collected, Pinhead is released and begins to wreak havoc on earth, recruiting other cenobites in the process.

This is the worst movie of the series. It is truly a disaster in every respect. First of all, the acting is beyond awful, causing me to laugh at the most inappropriate of times. Second of all, Pinhead acts like Carrie when he gets out, just killing everyone in the room. This is very out of character, and doesn’t work at all. Finally, the movie turns into a joke in the third act. The cenobites are a bunch of wise cracking assholes with what seem like super powers. What happened to the chains? I guess it just wasn’t cool enough. This is the movie where Pinhead gets his name, and Clive Barker has come out and said he hates the nickname.


This is an immature excuse for a horror movie that doesn’t hold a candle to the previous films, or even most of the other films in the series. It’s a chore to watch, and it’s unfortunate that to understand everything in the next installment, you need to see this one. Luckily, redemption can be found in Hellraiser: Bloodline.


Past, present, and future blend in Hellraiser: Bloodline. The history of the Lament Configuration is explained with its creator being a toymaker in the 18th century, and then follows this lineage to the year 1996. John Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) is the descendent of the toymaker and is targeted by the demon Angelique (Valentina Vargas) and Pinhead (Doug Bradley). Finally, in 2127 on the Space Station Minos, the final descendent has a one on one battle with Pinhead while the rest of the crew have to deal with the hellish cenobites.

This was a very enjoyable entry for me. I had a great time seeing the progression of the Lament Configuration from its beginnings to humanity’s last stand against the cenobites. This felt like a pleasant return to the Hellraiser series. Pinhead gets a much larger role, and arguably has some of the best lines (“I AM PAIN!”). The cenobites also look a lot better and certainly not the joke they were in the third.


After the first film, I think Hellraiser: Bloodline is my favorite. There’s a lot going on forcing the plot to keep moving, and the whole story in space doesn’t feel cheesy or forced. This is what the Hellraiser series is about and I strongly recommend it.

This is all of the Hellraiser films that were released in theaters. My next review will be for the direct to video and DVD films in the series, and trust me, I have a lot to say about them. Keep a look out for it.

Safe – Review

26 Oct

I know that I just reviewed a Jason Statham movie a couple of weeks ago, but I just watched Safe in its entirety, so it’s only fair that I give it a review. By this point in time, we all know what to expect going into a Statham movie. There’s going to be a lot of ass kicking, gun shooting, car chasing action from beginning to end. Can that be tedious? Absolutely. Especially since we have seen it a hundred times before. Safe is very familiar, but there are just enough properly executed elements that saved this film from falling into the realm of mediocrity.

Luke Wright (Jason Statham) is about as down on his luck as one can possibly get. He lost his wife, job, and practically his entire life, forcing him to spend his nights at homeless shelters. He’s about to end it all when he see a little girl, Mei (Catherine Chan), being chased by Russian gangsters. He saves her, and makes it his mission to protect her from not only the Russians, but the Chinese mafia and the police who all want the number that she has memorized.

Pretty straightforward stuff here. Statham is a good guy who has to protect an innocent person from a lot of bad guys. What I love here is that there are SO many people to worry about. Three different factions blocking these two characters in the city and closing in on them, all while at war against each other, makes for some high octane action that doesn’t let up. Once the ass kicking starts, it doesn’t quickly end. Not only is there a lot of action, but it’s memorable and, thankfully, not so shaky that I have no idea what’s happening. It has enough aesthetic effects to make it intense and still watchable.


Another star of this movie was the outstanding sound design. The gun shots, the car chases, and the fight scenes all had a “pop” that really made them more immersive. Sound is a very important aspect of an action film. Are you really going to have a good time with muted gunfire and punches that don’t even sound like they’re landing? Of course not. Action is meant to thrill, and sound is part of the equation. In this, Safe, easily blows a lot of other films in this genre out of the water.

Pretty much what I’m saying is that this film had a lot of surprises. Statham’s performance goes beyond what he usually gives with scenes of genuine emotion that actually do tug at the heart strings. Catherine Chan unfortunately doesn’t hold up too well all of the time, but that’s pretty understandable considering she’s a young girl in an off the wall crazy action movie. One more surprise is the excellent implementation of zooms and camera tricks. It isn’t too often that a movie of this kind properly uses these techniques without going overboard (ahem, Bad Boys II). There were times where I would think to myself, “Wow, this  scene looks fantastic.”


Safe is one of those movies where you don’t really expect much, but end up getting a lot more. It isn’t derivative, stupid, or unoriginal. Sure, we may have seen some of these plot points before, but this film pushed to make them into something new. Thankfully, it succeeds. I want to like every Statham movie that I watch, but this isn’t always the case. I can say that Safe is one of his best films to date.

Punisher: War Zone – Review

18 Oct

Who was the guy that the Avengers didn’t want in their group? Who is the antihero who has no qualms with killing any villain who gets in his way? Of course it’s the Punisher, aka Frank Castle. He’s a a controversial character who has had a few movie attempts before this one, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Punisher: War Zone is Castle’s best outing on film.

After Frank Castle’s (Ray Stevenson) family was murdered by gangsters after witnessing an execution, all hope of the American justice system is abandoned as he takes the law into his own hands. One particular excursion into the criminal underworld ends with Castle accidentally killing an undercover FBI agent and him  wounding the gangster Billy Russoti’s (Dominic West) face beyond repair. Russoti, who now goes by the name Jigsaw, uses his new features to strike fear into the hearts of the city. Now the Punisher has to work overtime keeping the FBI off his back and make sure Jigsaw receives “proper justice.”

I didn’t really have high hopes for this movie going into it. I pretty much had it in my head that the 2004 version of The Punisher was good enough and we didn’t need another one. Then I actually watched this one and couldn’t believe how much fun I had. THIS is the Punisher. It sticks close enough to the original story that it should please fans of the comic books a lot more than the previous films.


There is a whole lot of over the top violence and action in this that, to me, makes it impossible not to love. Watching the Punisher mow down villains like they were nothing is absolutely satisfying. In the 2004 version, I didn’t really get a whole lot of this. In War Zone, it truly is all out war with the Punisher against Jigsaw and his entire army of criminals. No problem, and it makes for great entertainment.

To be clear, this is not a sequel to the film from 2004. This is a much needed reboot I think. For one, Ray Stevenson is a better Frank Castle. Thomas Jane did a great job with the acting, but Stevenson has a much rougher edge and a much more intimidating demeanor. This guy looks huge, especially when he’s wearing the kevlar protection. What bad guy wouldn’t be frightened of this guy? The only problem is that his acting seems a little stale at times. Dominic West is so into his role as Jigsaw. He walks across the screen like he owns the place, filled with murderous rage. The makeup looks great and I think every scene Jigsaw was in, he’s the scene stealer.


The movie’s cinematographer, Steve Gainer, looks like he got a lot of inspiration from Stephen Goldblatt, who was the director of photography for Batman Forever. The neon lights against the dirt of the back alleys and seedy buildings of New York look great and contrast wonderfully. It also gives the movie a comic book like style that I think works better than the realistic version of the Punisher.

Punisher: War Zone is the definition of a pleasant surprise. I didn’t just like this movie, I actually loved this movie. It’s filled with action, gore, and dark comedy making this the perfect Punisher adaptation. It has developed a cult following over the few years that it has been released, even though it should have a much wider following.

Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters 2 – Review

16 Oct

We all know who to call if something strange ever happens in your neighborhood, thank goodness. The Ghostbusters movies are iconic when it comes to comedy, and for good reason, too. They are a perfect blend of quick humor and special effects driven story telling. Is one better than the other? Absolutely right, but make no mistake, you can’t go wrong with either one.


Doctors Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Akroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are scientists working in the parapsychology department at Columbia University. After their funding is cut, they decide to go freelance as the Ghostbusters. Their job is to hunt down specters who are giving people a hard time, trap them, and detain them.  When cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourny Weaver) finds out that her fridge is also a portal used by an inter dimensional demigod called Zuul, it is up to the Ghostbusters to stop Zuul and the god Gozer from entering our world and destroying it.

Something that is really great about this movie is that, yes, it is a comedy but it also takes itself very seriously as a supernatural movie. The plot line behind Gozer, Zuul, and the portal in Barrett’s fridge is actually very well written and has cool mythology behind it. I would have no problem sitting down with someone and talking about Gozerians. I would have just as much fun talking about that as I would talking about Middle Earth.


Murray, I think, steals the show when it comes to the performances. His whip sharp delivery and dry speaking voice will steal laughter from the coldest of souls. Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd, who also wrote the screenplay, have great chemistry as the true believers of this science and it’s so much fun to listen to them talk in their paranormal jargon. Another performance I’d like to mention is Slavitza Jovan’s as Gozer. She’s only in it for a very short amount of time, but she looks menacing as hell and her androgynous appearance makes her a villain to be remembered.

The original Ghostbusters can easily be put on anyone’s best comedies list. The story and dialogue are equally strong, while the special effects look great but never get in the way of the story. I’ve loved this movie for as long as I can remember, and it’s clearly present why I do. Missing this movie is a crime.

In 1989, Ghostbusters 2 was released with all of the major casts returning to reprise their beloved roles from the first film. What could go wrong? Evidently a fair amount of things, but this is still a good movie.


Five years after the events of the first film, the Ghostbusters have long since been put out of business. Venkman runs a show about psychics, Egon is a scientist at Columbia once again, Stantz owns a paranormal shop, and Winston (Ernie Hudson)  works with Stantz appearing as an act at parties. The group has to once again reassemble when the spirit of a seventeenth century Carpathian tyrant, Lord Vigo, haunts a painting at the Manhattan Museum of Art. On top of that there is a river of slime flowing through the depths of the city and Dana Barrett’s baby is in danger of possession by Lord Vigo.

The movie starts off strong with a paranormal occurrence involving Dana’s baby, and the disbanding of the Ghostbusters makes us even more excited to see them get back together. When they do, they come out with proton packs blazing and as exciting as ever. Still, I felt like something was missing from this installment. The plot with Gozer was interesting, while I wasn’t too involved with Vigo. The slime under the city is much more interesting as it feeds off the positive and negative moods that New York City radiates. That’s cool.


The comedy is definitely not as sharp as it was in the original. My favorite part was when the Ghostbusters are imitating New York City construction workers. That was an excellent lampoon that makes me laugh every time. Bill Murray isn’t as sarcastic in this one and the other guys don’t really get many funny lines. They all seem to be more focused on Murray, which sort of makes sense, but I’d rather see everyone get big laughs.

There are some parts of this movie that seem like they’re jut rehashing the same things they did in the first one. The Statue of Liberty is pretty much the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Strangely enough, this film has also aged much worse than the first. The classic theme song has been replaced with a rap remix that just screams 80s cheese. Stick to the normal song, please.

This isn’t a bad movie. Don’t get me wrong. It could’ve just been better. There wasn’t enough ghost busting and things seemed recycled. Rick Moranis, who plays my favorite character, gets some more screen time and a potential relationship that could have been played out more. This is still a worthwhile movie if you’re a fan of the first and is still part of the films’ narrative canon.

In summation, you got to love the Ghostbusters. These movies are classic comedy films that have, for the most part, stood the test of time. If you haven’t seen these movies, check them out. They can be enjoyed by kids, teens, and adults. They’re a lot of fun and I can’t wait for Ghostbusters 3.

The Master – Review

14 Oct

One statement I don’t think I’m ever going to have to say is, “That new Paul Thomas Anderson movie sucked.” I just don’t think he has it in his genes to make anything less than spectacular. I guess you guys all know where this review is headed now. Yes. The Master was a great movie and definitely a contender for multiple Academy Awards, hopefully even to win Best Picture.


Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) has survived World War II, but not entirely. During the war, he became an alcoholic, and even went so far as mixing poisonous chemicals into his drinks. With the war over, he can’t seem to find a job due to his violent outbursts and manic  tendencies. After scuttling a yacht during a party, he meets Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the leader of a group called The Cause. Dodd immediately sees potential for experimentation with Quell and aides him in beating his addictions and behavior. But is he helping Quell or himself? Does he really mean what he says?

First things first. If Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t win an Oscar for his performance, I will get out of town, jump in a lake, and swim myself into oblivion. Wow, that’s weird, but that’s the equivalent of how I’d feel. I never got the feeling that I was watching Joaquin Phoenix. I felt like I was watching the life of Freddie Quell unfold before my very eyes. He was absolutely fantastic. I’d say it’s not just the best performances of the year, but one of the best performances of all time.


The genius of this movie is the way the story presents itself. There isn’t a huge dramatic climax that completely changes the direction of the story. Besides a couple scenes, many of the dramatic beats are very subtle and down to earth. That’s the best way to describe the movie. Down to earth. As a viewer, I felt like I wasn’t watching a conventional narrative, but more just a chronicling of a point in this man’s life. It’s never hard to believe or far fetched, which goes hand in hand with the subtlety of the entire thing. This proves that a movie doesn’t have to be loud or in your face to be intense.

Speaking of, this was a very intense film. Hoffman and Amy Adams play their roles to the best of their abilities and it shows. Hoffman seems like he could start a real movement if he wanted to, and Adams is a quiet storm of boiling anger. The set design and costuming are also very authentic without being extravagant. To top it all off, Johnny Greenwood’s soundtrack thumps and screeches in the background like a lurking malevolent force. Anyone who has seen There Will be Blood knows that Greenwood has this strange way of making off tempo music work perfectly in a scene.


The Master is a phenomenal work of artistic fiction that I think is destined to become a classic that’s studied for years to come. It is packed with controversial thematic material that is bound to spark heated discussion. It’s intense, expertly made, and at the risk of being corny, proves that Paul Thomas Anderson is a master at his craft.

Blitz – Review

14 Oct

If Jason Statham is in a movie, you know there is going to be a certain degree of ass kicking. It’s pretty much a given, and Blitz is no exception. This is still a mixed bag for me with more positives than negatives. Still, it’s frustrating to see a movie that has the potential to be great, but falls short, nonetheless.

Detective Sergeant Tom Brant (Jason Statham) is causing a bit of controversy for the police force due to his violent tendencies. His position on the force appears to be jeopardy until a maniacal serial killer, who goes by the name Blitz (Aidan Gillen), begins targeting cops. Now they could use a cop like Brant, and with the help of Sgt. Porter Nash (Paddy Considine), a manhunt through the darkest corners of London begins with deadly consequences.

I want to start with the positives. First of all, Aidan Gillen gives a phenomenal performance as the killer. He doesn’t even have to say anything. Just his facial expressions and body language are enough to understand what he is thinking. The whole psychology behind him is so well crafted that I couldn’t help but love to hate this guy. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about any of the other characters, including Statham’s. It’s weird to have a movie where the main character isn’t anything memorable. It makes you almost not care about the outcome. Thankfully, Gillen supports the entire cast and makes the viewer care.


The compositions of the the shots in this film are surprisingly well done. Not very often do I see an action thriller of this caliber with style so above average. The use of negative space is utilized to the best degree that really gives the feeling of being exposed. No one is safe in this movie and there is nowhere to hide. This could have been a very bland looking movie. The gray London streets without anything really interesting to look at. But, the film makers recognized this and made it much more elaborate.

As far as the story goes, it’s nothing I haven’t really seen before. Sure, it’s original in its own way, but the formula remains the same. A tough cop who’s been through hell and back uses whatever means necessary to bring a villain to justice, even if it compromises the integrity of the station. Basically, it’s your textbook “tough as nails cop who doesn’t play by the rules.” I don’t want to say that the movie had stretches where it bored the shit out of me, but it had stretches where it bored the shit out of me. Statham has been in movies that are thrilling and not very violent. He can kick ass or act in a plot driven story like The Bank Job and ChaosThese are two fine examples. This one was close, but wasn’t as original as the other two I mentioned.


Blitz is saved from the hell of sub par action thrillers, and sits comfortably in the upper realms of the land of mediocrity. Jason Statham has been in many awesome action and thriller films, and even a couple bad ones. This one is closer to being good than bad, but is still just ok. Aidan Gillen’s performance supports the entire movie, and the style that is present adds a little bit more.Too bad the story and the rest of the characters have all been seen before in one form or another. If you’re a Jason Statham fan, then I don’t see why you should skip this. It isn’t bad, but isn’t too good. Still, give it a chance and see what you think. It definitely has potential.

Kill the Irishman – Review

11 Oct

The Mafia is not a group of people you want to have pissed off at you. We see the Mafia get pissed in the best gangster movies, and subsequently see them kill whomever they need to without error. What I have recently found out is that it’s equally as entertaining to see them fail over and over and over again. This is the backbone of the story seen in Kill the Irishman.


In the mid 1970s, Cleveland became a war zone as over 30 bombs went off in a gang war that almost engulfed the city. Who was the target? Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson). Danny Greene is the man who pissed off the Italian mafia more than they have ever been before and is partly responsible for the decline of organized crime in Cleveland, and more importantly, throughout America.

This was a very interesting and entertaining gangster flick, that was made all the better by it being a true story. The film makers made good use of its history by putting in actual news reports about Danny Greene and all of the trouble he was causing throughout the movie. To me, this really helped me concentrate on the history of the story and was a good reminder that this may be fictionalized, but it was true. It’s a pretty incredible story.



I’ve seen a lot of negativity surrounding this movie because of its low budget and some of the poor effects. Yes, this movie was made on a low budget so they couldn’t afford to actually blow everything up and some of the fire is fake. I agree that it looks pretty bad and might be kind of distracting when you first notice it, but should that get in the way of you enjoying the story and the characters? Everything else about this film is good. The acting is exactly what it should be and the as I’ve already said, I love the story.

I did have a bit of an issue with the lighting in some scenes, so I guess not everything was great. It’s not that it was particularly bad, it just wasn’t very interesting. Some of the scenes looked pretty flat. This doesn’t have to do with the low key lighting, which this film definitely was shot in, but the separation. If you don’t separate the characters from the background then the whole scene looks two dimensional. I got that feeling at certain points during the movie.


Despite these problems, I was completely invested in Kill the Irishman. I love the way it was told and I loved the characters. The cast was great with people like Christopher Walken, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Val Kilmer to name a few. All of the actors were completely into their characters which made the story flow a lot nicer.

I do have a bit of a soft spot for rise and fall movies, and this one is no exception. Even though it wasn’t filmed with the best equipment, had the biggest stars, or had the grandest budget, I still loved it all the same. The characters and the story are captivating and make you want to keep watching. A warning to the jaded Hollywood worshipers, some of the effects look pretty bad, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the history lesson that is Kill the Irishman.