Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Review – Alien

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm

Year: 1979

Perhaps the most famous horror film and the most famous sci-fi flick at the same time, Alien is less a movie and more a national treasure.  Imagine if it was eliminated from the cinematic vaults, if it had never existed, if it hadn’t laid the groundwork for all future space adventure films.  Now, that’s not to dismiss those that came previously, those classic films and those b-movies that went where no man had gone before and on which much of Alien is based.  But Ridley Scott was able to make a near-perfect horror drama after drawing on those inspirations, and unknowingly start an action franchise that would last 40 years, so far.  Think of all the genres this film touches, think of all the stories that have followed in its wake, and think of how it will still be remembered in another half a century.

The crew of the Nostromo, a commercial spaceship bringing ore back from the far reaches, is awoken from their collective cryogenic sleep when the computer picks up a distress call from a nearby planet.  With orders to investigate, three of the crew, led by Dallas, walk the surface of the stormy planet to an abandoned craft.  There they find their doom, it just takes a little time to kill them.  When Kane is attacked by a parasitic space bug, he’s brought on board the Nostromo with the thing attached to his face.  Two factions form: one against the breaking of quarantine, led by Ripley, and one for the scientific study of the creature, led by Ash.  Ripley’s fears are soon realized as the alien thing does its work, endangers the entire crew, and seems indestructible, putting the lives of every human in the galaxy at fantastic risk.

I read once that modern films are simply doing too much, that Alien is one of the best movies ever made and literally only four things happen.  That made me laugh, but it’s also basically true.  Find a creature, attacked by the creature, and fight the creature, with one stellar curveball thrown in to ignite the imaginations of generations, which led to a franchise that is still alive & well.  The beginning of the film pulls from 2001: A Space Odyssey quite a lot, but in homage, not in theft.  Then, when things go downhill for our heroes, the story is pure horror, with the alien roaming the ship and hunting around every corner.  It’s such a simple and scary concept, one fueled by a quality cast and a good script, nothing else fancy required.  Sure, it may be Weaver’s only good performance other than Aliens and Finding Dory, but she and the rest of the team are enough to help make this movie a classic that will live forever, and deservedly so.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Home Again

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Hallie Meyers-Shyer

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen

Release: September 8th, 2017

I was gonna give this movie the benefit of the doubt going in, but nope, it’s horrible.  Reese, Reese, Reese, what are you doing, you’re so much better than this, things like this are below you now.


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Movie Review – The Circle

Category : Movie Review

Director: James Ponsoldt

Starring: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega

Year: 2017

It’s time to face facts; Emma Watson’s adorable real life presence has masked that she’s not as talented as we want her to be.  We fell in love with her portrayal of Hermione, supported her as she branched out into other films, and have since been dying for her to live up to our expectations.  After all, she’s both beautiful and approachable, a strong role model off-camera, a riveting face on-screen, an actress who seems to be the Anne Hathaway antithesis; someone we’re actually rooting for and would pay to have as a friend.  I’m gushing, I know, I adore Watson, but she has that demeanor, something all Hollywood desires, I just wish it was backed up by spectacular acting.  Stars like Jennifer Lawrence win us over and then leave us hanging, but are always so full of talent that we forgive them for it.  Emma Watson is the wonderful British girl next door, but just doesn’t have the chops to become the next cinema icon; a disappointing realization.

Welcome to the Circle, a company that makes global life better one incredible invention at a time.  When Mae joins the Circle as a costumer service rep, she begins to understand the value of having all information all in one place, having the entire world connected by computers until there’s enough data to solve any problem.  Her father’s health improves because of the Circle’s health research, Mae’s social life takes off because of the Circle’s networking, and all she can see are magical possibilities for a planet run by a single, giant, magnanimous network that works for the betterment of humanity.  But soon, as the Circle’s control grows broader and broader, Mae realizes that individual rights and privacies are disappearing at an alarming rate, that society is on the verge of being completely controlled by social media, and that her own life has spun entirely out of her control.

The Colony, Regression, Beauty and the Beast, and now The Circle; how many more chances are we going to give her?  These are the films that were supposed to cement Watson as an independent talent, someone who could break away from the Harry Potter mold.  And what makes things worse is that we want her to, we want her to succeed, we want to find her dazzling in every single role.  But instead, in film after film, she graces the screen with her adorable nature but fails to also deliver the caliber of talent necessary to take the next step.  And it’s not like the opportunities aren’t there, it’s not like she’s waiting for her shot, these movies are quite respectable, especially the last two, she’s just not capable of a transcendent performance.  Now, she’s still better than 99.9% of us, she’s still a star, please don’t think that I’m saying that she should abandon acting because she’s only as good as a high schooler playing in Godspell.  What I’m saying is that we need to lower the bar, we need to understand that she’s not going to take a film to the Oscars, which then may aid in our enjoyment of her characters.  And if she ever does knock our socks off, we’ll be more than ready to give a standing ovation.

You know who isn’t a better actor than the vast majority of Americans?  Ellar Coltrane.  I will defend Boyhood, I loved it, I thought it was one of the very best films of its year.  But I don’t think the kid is a natural actor, and sadly that shows in this movie.  He’s definitely the worst, but he also isn’t alone, as most of the cast (minus Tom Hanks) joins him in generally sucking.  Karen Gillan, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt; they may not have been helped by what was one of the worst screenplays ever written, but they also didn’t step up.  I like Dave Eggers, I enjoyed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but this script was terrible, and I would be embarrassed were I he or James Ponsoldt.  You could give them credit for steering away from the easy, thriller road the film could have gone down, but don’t be too generous, the resulting plot was basically devoid of action, intrigue, or drama.  The Circle is both shockingly boring and terribly done, a combination of bad acting and bad production that leaves you wishing you could get your money back.  I don’t think I’ll trust Watson any more until she proves me wrong, something for which I’ll be hoping but not holding my breath.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 

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Movie Trailer – Vincent N Roxxy

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Gary Michael Schultz

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Zoe Kravitz, Emory Cohen

Release: 2017

I’m intrigued but not swayed.  I like Hirsch, he’s solid, but there’s a lot he’d have to put on his shoulders in order to make this movie a success, and it doesn’t look like he’s allowed that freedom.  It looks like the film got away from the director, and that’s judging by an edited trailer, I have to imagine that the film itself will be even more OOC.


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Movie Trailer – Woodshock

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kate & Laura Mulleavy

Starring: Kirsten Dunst

Release: 2017

I think Dunst has proven herself to be mediocre at best, having built her career on good-but-not-great roles.  Why should we trust her in something like this, a trippy indie flick that would require the world’s best performance to make it palatable to most audiences?  I don’t want to see her struggle in boring scene after boring scene, that doesn’t sound like my idea of quality cinema.


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Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Category : Movie Review

Director: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel

Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Kurt Russell

Year: 2017

Before we start, I think we should agree that Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the best comic book movies ever made, and that it was enjoyable on too many levels to count, a film that came as near to a perfect balance between style, substance, entertainment, and quality as you are likely to see.  Even skeptics going in like me came out blown away, as GotG gave the genre the exact thrust it needed in the exact right direction, setting the stage for a Marvel Universe explosion that everyone and their brother wanted to watch.  Iron Man flipped the switch, Captain America plotted the course, but Guardians fired the boosters, and for that it will always be independently epic.  So let’s agree that it was great before be move on to the second, that way we’ll all be on the same page.  Loving this storyline, I was more than ready to adore its sequel, and enjoy it I did, if not quite as strongly as the first.  Vol. 2 is a wild ride from beginning to end, an emotion journey as well, and won’t be forgotten or underappreciated when the dust settles.

The saviors of the universe are still flying around doing what they do best; beating the bad guy, overcoming the odds, working as a team, and generally being the badasses of known space.  On their most recent mission, the team saves precious batteries from being eaten by an intergalactic monster, helping out a race known as the Sovereign, a touchy people who believe themselves superior to all others.  This doesn’t sit well with Rocket, so he steals some of the batteries and high tails it out of there.  With the Sovereign in pursuit, the crew of the Milano look to be in trouble, until they are rescued by a strange, all-powerful man named Ego.  Claiming to be Peter Quill’s long-lost father, Ego takes a segment of the Guardians to his home planet while the others stay to repair the ship.  But Ego’s story is more complicated than Peter wants to believe, and the Sovereign haven’t given up hunting the do-gooders, so absolutely no one is as safe as they imagine.

Part 2 picks up from exactly where Part 1 left off, both in content and in fierce style, doing the story arch justice while thrilling audiences with a whole new movie filled with all the treats we want.  Rocket and his wisecracks, the super-cute Baby Groot, Drax’s insane sense of humor, Peter and Gamora’s unspoken attraction, a galactic threat, a battle to save the world; what more could we ask for.  From the start, the film is high action coupled with high drama, and the result is a plot that you can’t possibly look away from.  We learn more about Quill’s origin, each character develops in their own way, and a few new pieces are added to the puzzle just for fun.  Then there’s the action, the cinematography, the imagination, the creatures; there’s no end to where this franchise can go, and I think I can speak for the majority of audiences in saying that we’ll be willing travelers.

I do have to point out a few problems I had with the film in general though, as much as it pains me to do so, since I really did have a great time from the opening sequence to the multiple end credit bonus scenes.  First, I thought they relied too heavily on juvenile jokes that they then just could not let go.  I get that this is a movie for all audiences, not just 30-somethings who like comics, but I tired of the Taserface joke almost immediately, and I thought that Yondu’s crew was entirely too ridiculous.  I just didn’t laugh as much as I thought I would, or as much as I did the first time, and I wonder if others found the same to be true.  Also, there were far too many emotional pairings all being worked through at the exact same time.  Peter and Ego, Gamora and Nebula, Rocket and Yondu, Drax and Mantis; there was either a battle or one of these couples was talking about their feelings.  Again, just a bit overplayed, like the jokes, done a bit heavy because, really, why would anyone tell Gunn to stop doing what he was doing, it worked so well the first time through.  That’s really all I have against the film and it isn’t much, the rest was wonderful and the music behind the movie was delightful once more, making the positives largely outweigh the negatives and keeping GotG as a franchise that we can proud to love.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

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Movie Trailer – Game Over, Man!

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kyle Newacheck

Starring: Adam Devine, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson

Release: April 20th, 2018

What?


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Movie Trailer – 2:22

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Paul Currie

Starring: Michiel Huisman, Teresa Palmer

Release: 2017

I almost want everyone in the world to watch this trailer and then this film, since it’s obviously the worst movie ever made and maybe we could all learn something from it, like how to not be abysmal.


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Movie Review – American Pastoral

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ewan McGregor

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning

Year: 2016

American Pastoral is an insanely frustrating case of base, talent, and marketing coming together perfectly to create something horrible instead of the magic that should have been the result.  To say that this film fails to live up to its expectations is an insult to expectations; it never came anywhere close, regardless of how wonderful is seemed from the outset.  A Philip Roth book, the incredible Ewan McGregor at the helm trying out his directoral chops, one of the more compelling trailers you will ever see, and Oscar buzz for months; the stage was set for a darkly dramatic dream, but what appeared when we pulled back the curtains was rather hideous.

‘Swede’ Levov, the high school all-American, the envy of the entire Garden State.  When he married Miss New Jersey and had a beautiful daughter, Merry, his life seemed even more perfect, even more blessed, and definitely headed toward a future that would rival Camelot.  But you can’t choose the path of those around you, and often their choices will haunt your days.  Merry, enraged by the Vietnam War, became part of a terrorist organization, going underground after the death of a local man in a bombing.  The Swede, the starting quarterback, the progressive Democrat, the employer of 80% negro workers, was also the father of an insane child who wanted to burn the world, and that became what defined him.

My first criticism is pointed at McGregor, who was in way over his head.  He made the film solely about himself, forgetting the important topics swirling around his character, directing the action to showcase what would ultimately be one of his poorest performances.  Connelly, who is usually perfect playing tortured and sexualized (Inventing the Abbotts, Requiem for a Dream, Shelter) wasn’t allowed to shine, and Fanning was almost completely shoved aside, although perhaps that was for the best.  So the movie was mishandled, but that’s still an understatement, there was much more going wrong.  The point was completely forgotten, the book was butchered, Roth’s voice was lost (watch Indignation with confidence), the direction was atrocious, and about 30 minutes in you could tell things were never going to get any better.  There is a story to tell here, there is groundwork, but unfortunately it fell into the wrong hands and became a complete disappointment, one for the record books.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – It (2017) #2

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Andres Muschietti

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Nicholas Hamilton

Release: September 8th, 2017

The young talent on display in this film is phenomenal; we’re going to look back on this movie as a marker to when these fine actors were kids.  Lieberher alone is a rising star and should be talented enough to carry this story.  Then there’s the Stranger Things vibe, with Wolfhard knowing exactly what to do with that.  And we haven’t even touched on the fact the Stephen King is a god and we should all trust him explicitly.