Monthly Archives: June 2015

  • 0

Movie Trailer – Rock the Kasbah

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Barry Levinson

Starring: Bill Murray, Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Bruce Willis

Release: October 23rd, 2015

I’m worried that this film will go the way of Aloha.  It has a ton of the same vibes, same actors, and I’m guessing the same flaws.  And while that was Cameron Crowe’s attempt at renewed success, this is Barry Levinson’s, who hasn’t made a good movie since the mid-90s.  I have a very bad feeling that this will be a complete disaster.  Oh, and by the way, not that this has anything to do with anything, but Kate Hudson’s still got it.


  • 0

Movie Review – Inside Out

Category : Movie Review

Director: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen

Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black

Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias

Year: 2015

And to think that I was worried about how Inside Out would hold up when the inevitable comparisons between it and other Pixar films began.  The initial buzz was that it was as good as Up, perhaps as good as WALL-E, that it was a smash success in every way.  But those films are as near to perfect animation as we’ve seen in recent years; Up with its incredibly stirring beginning, WALL-E with its poignant message.  Just so you know where I’m coming from, I see Up as an 8/10, a solid & excellent movie that starts much better than it finishes.  WALL-E, on the other hand, is a 10/10, delivering genius on every level, from the visuals to the characters, the music to the frighteningly meaningful plot.  So how could Inside Out possibly live up to those expectations?  Well I’m happy to be another loud voice in the chorus of praise for what should easily be the best animated movie of the year.

We all have different attributes to our personality, different moods that make each day, different memories that define who we are.  Inside all of us are emotions that change with each passing hour, affecting how we view the world.  Prepare to go inside the mind of a young girl named Riley to meet the five key feelings that run the control center of her brain.  First there’s Joy, the leader of the group, helping to keep Riley happy through all of life’s ups & downs.  Sadness pops up every now & then, but Joy doesn’t let her do too much.  Then there’s Anger, the hot-head who tends to overreact, right alongside his buddy Fear, who has some dramatics all his own.  Lastly, Disgust, making sure Riley stays cool.  Together this team makes one very special girl, a girl who is loved by her family and confident in herself.  But a sudden move cross-country is about to shake things up, and Riley will have to deal with her emotions in a way she and her crew are not at all prepared for.

insideout2

Sometimes I like to start with the positives and then switch to the negatives, creating a balance and ultimately landing somewhere near to where I’d rate the film.  But with Inside Out, I don’t really have anything bad to say later, to it’ll just have to be applause now and confetti to follow.  I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this movie works in every way, as if the people involved in the project were smart and made all the right decisions.  Funny how simple that sounds, but it seems a rare feat.  Not for Pixar though, as they somehow magically know exactly what we want, children & adults, and continually deliver it to us on a silver platter, or should I say ‘screen’.  The emotion we want is there, the story is perfectly written, the pace is impeccable, the characters are at once stereotypes and wonderfully accurate representations of the real world.  Add in amazing music & stunning animation and you’ve got just another hit that really is as high a quality as we expect and deserve.

My critique can’t get much more simple than this; I enjoyed what I was watching & feeling from beginning to end, and when I left the theatre I was happy.  And I even learned a little about myself, as cheesy as that sounds.  I didn’t like the Sadness character, thought she was messing up the balance for no reason.  And then I was taught a lesson at the end and made to feel pretty silly for my quick judgements.  Any movie that can get me like that deserves my respect.  And so do all the players involved in the production.  Joy was the lead role, and Amy Poehler was perfect.  Richard Kind as Riley’s imaginary friend nearly stole the show, and Lewis Black could not have fit Anger better.  The film even presents the story in a progressive fashion that almost goes unnoticed; a girl who loves hockey, a mom who drives the family car and actually has hips, a dad who loves sports but cares about his family so much more.  These things might seem simple, but how many Disney princess films failed to capture them, and for how many years?  Inside Out doesn’t fail in any fashion, succeeding with its depth, its delight, its honesty, and its heart.  Expect to get a little choked up, perhaps cry, but definitely come away changed, and, oh yeah, expect an Oscar.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

insideout3


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Zootopia

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Byron Howard

Starring: Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin

Release: March 4th, 2016

This trailer isn’t even much of a teaser, it’s more of a teaser for the animation.  So we’ll have to guess the quality by something else, and I’m going with the director:  Howard animated for Pocahontas, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and others.  He directed Bolt and Tangled.  That’s not nothing, and Disney has been pumping out the hits lately, so another movie comes out of that guy & that studio and we take notice.


  • 0

DVD Review – Blood Slaughter Massacre

Category : DVD Review

Director: Manny Serrano

Starring: Matt W. Cody, Mike Roche, Byron M. Howard

Year: 2013

I won’t insult horror aficionados by saying that I am one, because I know how seriously they take the love of their genre.  I’m more of a sci-fi guy myself, though I have watched my fair share of slashers, but I in no way understand the depth of the devotion it takes to be a horror super fan.  I don’t know of any other genre that has the cult following that this one does, the sheer number of obsessed enthusiasts, the collectors of the most obscure memorabilia & lore.  Maybe Star Wars nuts, but that’s something totally separate, a LARPing spectacle that can’t be explained.  No, horror is the most fervently followed of all film, and although I enjoy it from time to time, I’ll never totally get it.  For an audience that enjoys their nostalgia, Blood Slaughter Massacre must be a nice collection of dated ideas brought together for one last thrill ride.  But for those of us who don’t know all the history, it can’t possibly be as meaningful as it was meant to be.

The Movie

bloodslaughter4

I’m not sure anyone really understands the plot of this film, including the people who made it, and that’s probably how it was meant to be, so stay with me while I try to explain a story that, on purpose, makes absolutely no sense.  Ten years ago, a masked killer took out a whole party of townsfolk, including a respected judge.  The first on the scene were a pair of young troopers who survived the encounter, but would remember that fateful day for the rest of their lives.  The killer was out for revenge after the death of his daughter, and his mind was on only one thing; blood.  The town, the police force, the families of those slain; no one would ever be the same, and no one would be safe ever again.

Fast forward to the present to a time where most everyone has forgotten about that terrible night, except for Detective Fincher and his partner Cobb, who are now investigating the murder of a young girl.  Actually, it quickly becomes a string of murders, and Fincher begins to wonder if that old killer is back for more.  As he kills young woman after young women, it becomes apparent that he wants something, something he has lost, and murder is the only way he knows to get it back.  Fincher & Cobb must work to solve the case before more innocents die, including Fincher’s own family.  The descendants of those who were involved in the case pertaining to the dead girl ten years ago are turning up dead, and the masked killer will stop at nothing.

bloodslaughter1

Whew, that was work.  It makes absolutely no sense, and each added piece of information only adds to the confusion.  Something about a man who was abusing a girl, an accident, a case that wasn’t prosecuted, someone that died, and then a whole lot of stabbings & slicings.  I have to imagine that the story was a homage to the nonsensical horror plots of the past, as the entire film was an intentional nod to the 70s & 80s.  Halloween is the most honored, with the masked-killer, the slow walks, the screaming girls, the dead babysitters, the knives, the small-town cops, and the music.  If you’re a fan of the genre, this film shows respect for the slashers that came before and attempts to offer up a blood sacrifice to the horror gods.  It’s not a mockery or a spoof, it’s an honest declaration of love for the style, and from what I’ve seen they hit the nail on the head.

But, like I said, I’m not obsessed with these movies.  I didn’t grow up watching the Friday the 13th films, I don’t know all the reference here, and I won’t forgive anything if enough people are gutted like fish.  The acting in this film was absolutely horrendous.  It was like a high school documentary about the bad choices every single person in a 10-mile radius was making all at once.  It was the worst camera, worse characters, a terrible story, and a pitiful attempt at anything realistic.  But we’re back to the main point; it was all a bit on purpose.  There are two opposites at war here; on one hand we have a film that’s a complete love-fest to the genre, purposefully cheesy & bad, and on the other hand those who can’t appreciate that fact are just left with a product that’s a completely abysmal film, cheesy & bad.

The DVD

bloodslaughter3

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and shot on a Canon 60D camera, the video quality of Blood Slaughter Massacre is even worse than the 70s & 80s films it pays homage to.  The camera work is a cross between shaky hand cam and your mom’s video cassette recorder from 1977.  Again, intentionally so, but that doesn’t help your eyes when nothing is in focus or in good color.  The picture quality feels like something from the era the film is referencing, that’s to its credit, but a little modernization would have been greatly appreciated.

Audio – There are zero audio options on this disc; no language choices or subtitles, formats or surround/stereo options.  The sound quality is whatever, not as noticeable bad as the video, but not much greater than what you’d capture on said mom’s old camera.  And the soundtrack was just so-so, not the 80s spectacle that it could have been.

Extra – There are a ton of special features on the DVD.  The film can be watched with commentary by writer/director Manny Serrano, writer Louie Cortes, and producer Lindsay Serrano.  There are four deleted/extended scenes: Answering a Noise Complaint, Fincher’s Depression, At the Video Store, What Does Danielle Do?  There are 14 minutes of Behind the Scenes and Outtakes.  The original Blood Slaughter Massacre trailers are available to view.  ‘Demons of the Night’ is a music video by Midnight Flashback.  And lastly, there’s a trailer for The Attack of the Brain People.

Final Thoughts

bloodslaughter5

Rent It.  Here’s what this movie is: slasher appreciation, boobs galore, fake intestines, and a general nod to the fantastically awful films of the past.  Here’s what this movie isn’t; It Follows.  That may be what it was shooting for or it may not, but that film was a success because it took the old style, made it cool again, and reminded us what’s really scary.  Blood Slaughter Massacre is more farcical, just say its name aloud, but I could have done with more of an effort to make something that wasn’t just for horror fans.  As it is, you’d better love the genre to love this movie, otherwise it’s just another mean serial killer in a mask sticking his knives into people’s bellies for fun.  As someone who has at least some appreciation for the style, I get what’s going on, but I can’t force myself to stand up & cheer.  The video quality of the film is terrible, the audio almost as bad, but there are a lot of extras if you’re thirsty for more.  Decide which camp you pitch your tent with before you sit down to watch this movie; it’s not one that most people will rate somewhere in the middle.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Z for Zachariah

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Craig Zobel

Starring: Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine

Release: August 21st, 2015

I have absolutely no doubt that Ejiofor & Pine will astound us with their roles in this film.  I’m also fairly certain that the end-of-the-world plot will actually be a great backdrop for what amounts to a thriller/romance.  But the one thing I worry about is Miss Margot.  She was cool & sexy in About Time.  She was cooler & sexier in The Wolf of Wall Street.  But she was so fake cool & so fake sexy in Focus that I lost a lot of faith in her acting ability.  This film might just show us whether she’s a Hollywood hottie or a deeply talented actress.  And either way, I guess that’s something I’d like to see.


  • 0

DVD Review – Dinosaur Island

Category : DVD Review

Director: Matt Drummond

Starring: Darius Williams, Kate Rasmussen

Year: 2014

Don’t look up images of this movie with your kids, unless you want them to see some nude women with fake boobs either bathing seductively or being sacrificed to a T-Rex.  I know, strange way to open up a review of a children’s adventure movie, but I thought I’d warn you just in case; there’s another film by the same name that isn’t what your family is looking to rent on a Friday night.  It came out in 1994, and, randomly, I have seen it, so you can read its review here if you like.  It’s a late-night comedy filled with beasts, breasts, and bad acting, as someone once eloquently said.  It’s a film that’s only good at 3am when you’d laugh at pretty much anything, especially a cast & crew who know they’re making something ridiculous and don’t care a bit.  What does all this have to do with Dinosaur Island, other than the shared title?  It helps put this film into perspective, setting it up to be the exact opposite in every way, a kid’s movie that tries way too hard and fails at every level in the process.

The Movie

dinoisland3

Lucas Winton is about to have his world turned upside down.  On a flight unaccompanied by an adult, a crystal that he recently found & brought with him sends this 13-year-old boy’s plane through some sort of time/space portal.  When Lucas awakens from his “crash”, he finds himself alone on a mist-shrouded island filled with odd radio noises and ghost ships.  But that’s not the worst of it, nor is he completely alone.  The island is inhabited by dinosaurs.  And not just a few nice herbivores, but a whole teeming jungle full of deadly species after deadly species of dino life & plant life that seem tailor made to kill small boys.  Surviving the night will be tough, and getting back home again seems like an unobtainable dream.  Poor kid.

But there’s a small ray of hope, and it comes in the form of a wonderfully bright girl named Kathryn.  She’s been on the island for years, arriving in a fashion similar to what befell Lucas, and has been studying the local wildlife ever since.  She has a house, a pet, knows where to get supplies, and also knows how to stay away from the more dangerous occupants of the island.  But Lucas doesn’t want to stay and do research, he wants to get home, something that he’ll need Kathryn’s help doing.  Incidentally, his home isn’t her home, as they seem to come from different times, something that’s all wound up with Lucas’ crystal, some volcanoes, the mist, and who knows what else.  Good luck making it back, guys, and god speed.

dinoisland5

This is a children’s movie, and can only possibly be appreciated as such and by such.  I’d say 12 might be the prime age to enjoy it; a little humor, some scary scenes, cool dinosaurs, an adventure, kids to imagine yourself as.  It’s a film that could be looked at as a magical Jurassic Park made for a younger audience, a story that’s mysterious and frightening but not gruesome or terrifying.  It was written, directed, and produced by Matt Drummond, a mad who specializes in the visual effects of television documentaries and series, mostly relating to prehistory or posthistory.  He was able to make the film visually appealing, a bit of a colorful land-before-time theme park ride, but with characters.  And so if what you’re looking for is an exciting, slightly accurate dinosaur movie for your tween to enjoy, you’ve come to the right place.

For the rest of us, I’d recommend visiting an island elsewhere.  First, there are basically only two actors in the film, Lucas & Kathryn, and they’re barely actors.  That’s not an insult; neither of them has ever been in anything else.  We’ve all got to start somewhere I guess, but it’s obvious that these aren’t the world’s next great dramatists, and their lack of practice shows in a terrible way.  For an adult, I don’t see how their characters can be forgiven, and even some kids will find problems with the acting from these two leads.  Place them in a jungle with CGI monsters & have them run around attempting to unravel the secret of the island and you’ve got yourself 80 minutes of what amounts to a very bad skit with very good effects.  The story only makes a little sense, no one involved has the talent to help it along, and I think Drummond ought to stick solely to special effects from now on.

The DVD

dinoisland1

Video – With an aspect ratio of 16×9 Widescreen, there’s nothing special about the visual.  The film was shot using a Panasonic AG-DVX100 camera, and only boasts OK video quality.  The effects are the best part of the film, dinosaurs painstakingly & colorfully crafted to come to life on the island.  I could see these images in a Six Flags IMAX movie, but paring them with a weak everything else only succeeded in making the picture quality stand out as poor.

Audio – The disc was done in English 5.1 Surround, with an option of English Stereo 2.0.  There are also two subtitle choices: English SDH or Spanish.  The audio quality of the film is absolutely fine, but nothing to write home about.  The music might be he highlight of the audio, with a pretty nice background track that adds to the intensity of what must be a fairly fun story for a pre-teen.

Extras – The only extras on the DVD are four previews: Dinosaur Island, James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge, When Calls the Heart, Khumba.

Final Thoughts

dinoisland2

Skip It.  I’m not 11, I don’t have an 11-year-old child, and I didn’t particularly want to spend over an hour watching two kids attempt to act while riding pretend dinosaurs.  So I can’t say that I enjoyed Dinosaur Island, and I think I would have chosen to watch the 1994 film again over watching this one once.  It’s a badly made film; can’t be more blunt than that.  It’s actors who don’t act, a director who doesn’t direct, all attempting to make a ridiculous story fit in with some computer generated dino images that someone must be very proud of.  I won’t go so far as to say that this is the worst movie ever, but please don’t try to enjoy it unless you’re young or have a young person in your life that you can be happy for when they’re happy.  The video was nothing special, the audio lackluster, and there weren’t any great special features on the DVD.  So, watch something else; this isn’t one of those kid’s movies that adults can get into as well.  It’s something else entirely; a film made around the visual effects with the movie part taking a backseat to the CGI.  And by ‘backseat’ I mean that everything else but the CGI is terrible.  You’ve been warned.

☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Macbeth

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Justin Kurzel

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Sean Harris

Release: October 2nd, 2015

I claim Braveheart as my second favorite movie of all time.  I know it has its critics, but I saw the film when I was 13 and since then I’ve not seen a story that has all the pieces put together in such a perfect way.  History, drama, romance, death, war, comedy, music; it’s a complete package, one that will never meet its equal.  But, Macbeth just might stab it right in the back.  This looks like Braveheart for critical adults, a dark & complex story woven into a Hollywood film, one that could be the epic we’ve been waiting for since 1995.

 


  • 0

Movie Review – Life of Crime

Category : Movie Review

Director: Daniel Schechter

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, Tim Robbins

Yaslin Bey, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone Junior

Year: 2013

The first thing you need to know is that this is an Elmore Leonard movie.  If you don’t know much about him, he’s the author of many a twisted, funny, fast-paced, crime tale and Hollywood just loves making his books into films.  Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, The Big Bounce, Be Cool, 3:10 to Yuma; all Leonard stories turned into movies and all pretty well known.  Jackie Brown is probably the most famous, thanks to killer direction from Quentin Tarantino, but they all have a lot in common and when you hear Elmore Leonard’s name you should know what you’re about to get.  Life of Crime is the latest, and it shares more with The Big Bounce than it does with Jackie Brown, becoming more of a light-hearted romp than a case of cold killers, entertaining for 90 minutes without making a ton of impact.

It’s complicated, so try to keep up.  Mickey is married to Frank, an asshole real estate guy who’s rich, dishonest, and usually drunk.  He’s having an affair with Melanie down in the Bahamas where he does all his sneaky business.  Mickey is considering an affair with Marshall, a nice guy who isn’t too bright.  But watching from the outside are Louis, Ordell, & Richard, a trio of bungling criminals and would-be kidnappers.  They abduct Mickey from her home, knock out Marshall in the process, and blackmail Frank with inside knowledge of his back dealings, and, oh yeah, they have his wife.  But unluckily for the crooks, Frank wants a divorce, so what does he care if they snip off a couple pretty fingers if they don’t get his money?  Nothing goes according to plan, of course, and no one really knows what they or anyone else is doing.

While Jackie Brown was a little darker, Life of Crime has a lot of the same attributes; the retro setting, the crime caper, tons of characters, and even one named Ordell Robbie, who I can only assume is the same dude.  Samuel L. Jackson played him before, Mos Def plays him here, and I’ve got to say, he might have stolen the show.  Although, each actor really gave everything they had to their extremely odd characters, which is what ultimately made the movie work.  It was funny, weird, easy to watch, short, never confusing, and always ridiculously inept, creating a cast that you root for regardless of how screwed up they are.  This is a film that takes no effort on your part, entertains throughout, and ends quickly.  Watch with confidence, but expect a little off-beat humor, similar to the Coen Brothers, but without any real darkness or violence.  If you’ve seen The Big Bounce, this one is a little more serious, a little stronger developed, and a good deal better.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Everest

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Starring: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley

Emily Watson, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright

Release: September 25th, 2015

Why is Jake Gyllenhaal barely featured in this trailer?  Does he die at the beginning or something?  That’d suck, he’s a great actor, and could really help this cast out.  Although, the rest of the team look like they might be able to hold their own.  Jason Clarke impressed me in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and he must be good if a director is willing to put him in front of all these other fine actors.  And speaking of, it’s a who’s who of Hollywood, a rare sight, especially for an action film.  The true story element will perhaps take it above the adventure genre, and I expect gritty performances, so I’m all in.


  • 0

Sports – NFL Offseason Outlook

Category : Sports

ESPN recently put out a series of videos & articles grading each NFL team’s offseason, specifically how it will effect their year going forward.  Looking at their best offseason moves, their riskiest gambles, and their training camp outlook, teams were given a letter grade and we as fans are given a sense of how our favorite clubs will do with the season starts in September.  Take a look at each team, the one you root for, scan the grades below, or click the links for the full articles.

chibearsChicago Bears

C+

 

 

detlionsDetroit Lions

B

 

 

gbpackersGreen Bay Packers

A

 

 

minvikingsMinnesota Vikings

A-

 

 

atlfalconsAtlanta Falcons

B

 

 

carpanthersCarolina Panthers

B

 

 

nosaintsNew Orleans Saints

B-

 

 

tbbuccaneersTampa Bay Buccaneers

A-

 

 

aricardinalsArizona Cardinals

B

 

 

stlramsSt. Louis Rams

B-

 

 

sf49ersSan Francisco 49ers

C-

 

 

seaseahawksSeattle Seahawks

B

 

 

dalcowboysDallas Cowboys

B

 

 

nygiantsNew York Giants

C+

 

 

phieaglesPhiladelphia Eagles

C

 

 

wasredskinsWashington Redskins

A-

 

 

balravensBaltimore Ravens

B

 

 

clebrownsCleveland Browns

C-

 

 

cinbengalsCincinnati Bengals

A-

 

 

pitsteelersPittsburgh Steelers

B+

 

 

houtexansHouston Texans

B

 

 

indcoltsIndianapolis Colts

B

 

 

jaxjaguarsJacksonville Jaguars

B+

 

 

tentitansTennessee Titans

B

 

 

denbroncosDenver Broncos

B

 

 

kcchiefsKansas City Chiefs

B

 

 

oakraidersOakland Raiders

B

 

 

sdchargersSan Diego Chargers

B

 

 

bufbillsBuffalo Bills

B

 

 

miadolphinsMiami Dolphins

A-

 

 

nepatriotsNew England Patriots

C

 

 

nyjetsNew York Jets

A-