Month: April 2017

Movie Review – Independence Day: Resurgence

Category : Movie Review

Director: Roland Emmerich

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Maika Monroe

Year: 2016

Last summer, I prepped for the sequel by revisiting the original and basking in its 90s glory.  It’s an iconic film, something that defined a season, and is equal parts silly & fun.  I expected the second to be the same, even if it was a bit of an obvious ploy to make money off a generation’s childhood.  That I can deal with, it happens, and as long as the movie takes me back to the good ol’ days, I’m happy.  As it turns out, I didn’t watch Resurgence in the theatre, never found a chance to check it out, and so am only now reviewing it, long after it became an official bomb.  I don’t think the negative press had any effect on me though, I was willing to judge it on merit alone, and I would have given it praise had it deserved it.  News flash: it does not.

Two decades after humanity defeated the alien threat, they have returned for revenge.  Earth has prospered in the interim, uniting as one species, using the alien technology to better ourselves.  On the military side, we have also used the time to prepare defenses, to improve our strength, to create a Moon base, and to wait in ready.  But we had no idea just how bad it would be.  A mother ship that stretches the length of the Atlantic ocean has landed on our planet, and our best heroes will have to battle the threat a second time, if we are to survive.  President Whitmore, David Levinson, Captain Hiller’s son; they all return to face the aliens, and they won’t give up until our resolve beats their evil.

This really is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.  It’s Sharknado bad, but with the technology and the backstory to fool audiences into thinking that it might be something better.  It isn’t, it’s complete filth, you can smell it a mile away.  Every line and every interaction seemed written to land flat, every action sequence meant to muddle your mind, every character an idiotic stereotype that we’ve seen a hundred times before.  Emmerich must have been out of his mind if he thought for a second that this movie was on par with the mediocre but tubular films he’s given us before.  Those were entertaining, even if we knew they weren’t that great; this was pure evil.  Hemsworth was dreadful, Goldblum attempted a ridiculous love story, Monroe was miscast, and literally every other actor in the movie sucked.  I felt insulted watching this, knowing that no one cared enough about the fans to create something even passably good, that they could expect us to swallow this shit.

My rating: ☆



Movie Review – Graduation

Category : Movie Review

Director: Cristian Mungiu

Starring: Adrian Titieni, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Vlad Ivanov

Year: 2016

An early candidate for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars is Graduation, a Romanian drama exploring the lengths we go to give our children a better life.  It’s a simple film, about as slow a burn as you are likely to see, with unsettling chunks of action that are all the more desperate for being so out of place.  Those looking for a slow-moving two hours that will ultimately reward you with a keen depth will find that here, but your average audience member will be turned off by the deliberate pace and the lack of dramatic excitement.  So it becomes a polarizing movie perhaps, but one that I think will hold up with critics and will eventually find its way into awards conversation.

On the eve of her end-of-school exams, Eliza is assaulted and robbed.  The plan has always been for her to attend university in England, to move away from her Romanian city, to escape the harsh life that awaits those who stay.  Her grades were always exemplary, and the course seemed set for her to avoid the life of her unhappy parents.  Her father, Romeo, a doctor, gave everything to see her succeed elsewhere, and would let nothing stand in the way of his daughter’s future.  Now, after the attack, and with Eliza reeling, Romeo must face many difficult decisions.  He has spent his life teaching honesty and integrity, but also knows that rules might need to be broken in order to see his only child safely away from this place.

As each step follows another, this imperfect father balances his own morals against his commitment to a better life for his child, and the struggle is incredible to watch.  This character is very complex, as is the situation, and don’t be disappointed if there aren’t clear black & whites at the end of the film.  It’s a story that asks you to question yourself, what you would do, what is the price you would pay, where do you draw the line, the sort of introspection that challenges you long after you turn off the film.  Titieni is great as Romeo, and all the peripheral actors hold up their end, resulting in a movie that’s professionally polished, while still remaining quite realistic.  Look for Graduation this winter, if we haven’t forgotten about it, and I really don’t think we will.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


Movie Trailer – The Survivalist

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Stephen Fingleton

Starring: Martin McCann, Mia Goth, Olwen Fouere

Release: 2017

Whoa.  Post-apocalyptic, woods survival, accents; where do I sign.

Movie Trailer – The Drowning

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Bette Gordon

Starring: Josh Charles, Julia Stiles, Avan Jogia

Release: May 10th, 2017

Thrillers are so cheap, but sometimes cheap thrills are what we’re looking for, I guess.  These movies are a dime a dozen and yet we keep coming back for more, maybe because we always secretly enjoy the close brush with death that we can watch so safely from our living rooms.  I don’t know, there’s something deeper there if you choose to work through it, but I’m pretty sure this movie isn’t worth that.  It looks fine, as far as this genre goes, I like Charles enough, but Julia Stiles peaked in 10 Things.

Sports – 2017 NFL Draft

Category : Sports

Football is almost here!  It’s just a matter of time before the season begins.  The first step was Free Agency, the second was the Schedule.  And now the Draft!  This Thursday @ 8:00 pm the 1st Round of the Draft will be on in prime time and I’ll be glued to the television.  This is a very interesting draft class and it’s hard to predict who each team will pick, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun trying.  So, based on the opinions of experts and my own uneducated musings (and barring any draft spot trades) here it is, Olie’s 2017 Mock Draft:

1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE Texas A&M

2. San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, DE Stanford

3. Chicago Bears – Marshon Lattimore, CB OSU

4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB LSU

5. Tennessee Titans – Mike Williams, WR Clemson

6. New York Jets – Jamal Adams, S LSU

7. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Hooker, S OSU

8. Carolina Panthers – Christian McCaffrey, RB Stanford

9. Cincinnati Bengals – Jonathan Allen, DE Alabama

10. Buffalo Bills – O.J. Howard, TE Alabama

11. New Orleans Saints – Derek Barnett, DE Tennessee

12. Cleveland Browns – Mitchell Trubisky, QB UNC

13. Arizona Cardinals – Corey Davis, WR Western Michigan

14. Philadelphia Eagles – Tre’Davious White, CB LSU

15. Indianapolis Colts – Takkarist McKinley, DE UCLA

16. Baltimore Ravens – Reuben Foster, LB Alabama

17. Washington Redskins – Haason Riddick, LB Temple

18. Tennessee Titans – Marlon Humphrey, CB Alabama

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dalvin Cook, RB FSU

20. Denver Broncos – Ryan Ramczyk, OT Wisconsin

21. Detroit Lions – Jarrad Davis, LB Florida

22. Miami Dolphins – Jabrill Peppers, S Michigan

23. New York Giants – Cam Robinson, OT Alabama

24. Oakland Raiders – Zach Cunningham, LB Vanderbilt

25. Houston Texans – Patrick Mahomes, QB Texas Tech

26. Seattle Seahawks – Taco Charlton, DE Michigan


27. Kansas City Chiefs – Alvin Kamara, RB Tennessee

28. Dallas Cowboys – Adoree Jackson, CB USC

29. Green Bay Packers – Quincy Wilson, CB Florida

30. Pittsburgh Steelers – T.J. Watt, LB Wisconsin

31. Atlanta Falcons – Forrest Lamp, OG Western Kentucky

32. New Orleans Saints – Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson

Notes: 1) The Rams, the Vikings, and the Patriots have no 1st Round picks, having given them to the Titans, the Browns (via the Eagles), and the Saints, respectively.  Those latter teams now have two 1st Round picks each.  2) If the Browns select Trubisky instead of Garrett with the 1st overall pick, all bets are off for the rest of the Draft.











Movie Trailer – Enter the Warriors Gate

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Matthias Hoene

Starring: Uriah Shelton, Ni Ni, Dave Bautista

Release: May 5th, 2017

Too silly for words.

Movie Trailer – The Exception

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: David Leveaux

Starring: Jai Courtney, Lily James, Christopher Plummer

Release: June 2nd, 2017

I will watch most anything from this time period, and I’ve learned to watch most anything starring Lily James, but this might be pushing the limits.  Jai Courtney is bad, and I don’t want to sit through his butchering of an accent for an hour & forty-five minutes.  Is the plot cool enough to watch?  Given the era, perhaps, but I’m worried about the execution.

Movie Trailer – Once Upon a Time in Venice

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Mark & Robb Cullen

Starring: Bruce Willis, John Goodman, Jason Momoa

Release: June 16th, 2017

I’m not sure, but I think this is supposed to be a spoof on …something.  Maybe it’s a farce directed at multiple genres, I don’t know, but I do think they’re trying to be pointedly funny.  Let’s assume that’s the reason this looks like the worst movie ever, that it was intentional, because, otherwise.

DVD Review – The Daughter

Category : DVD Review

Director: Simon Stone

Starring: Paul Schneider, Ewen Leslie, Odessa Young

Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Miranda Otto, Anna Torv

Year: 2015

Simon Stone’s first attempt at either writing or directing a feature film was a complete success.  Well, in directing more than writing perhaps, but taken as whole, The Daughter is a movie that works, and the first wave of credit should go to its director.  Stone is an Aussie actor and stage director who tries his hand at cinema for the first time here, and someone we ought to be seeing more from in the near future.  He’s got the touch, and what’s even more important, he seems to know when to let his actors do the work for him, something that I’m sure is invaluable in the world of theatre.  What ultimately makes this film a success is that, when the director gave the reins to his cast, they handled them with admirable expertise, resulting in 90 minutes of high-quality dramatics.

The Movie

In a small, backwoods town in Australia, life revolves around the timber mill run by Henry, the local land baron.  When the mill loses its last contract, Henry announces its closure, which means the end of employment (and probably life) in the area for a large portion of working-class men.  Henry might feel badly, the company has been in his family for decades, but there’s nothing much to do, and he’ll have to accept the ire of the local people.  His own plans march on though, as he has a wedding coming up, a marriage to his much-younger housekeeper Anna, a beautiful woman who wants a powerful man.  Flying in for the ceremony is Christian, Henry’s estranged son, and a catalyst for what will happen next.

Christian reunites with his high school and college buddy Oliver, a regular townie who will be looking for a new job as well, with the mill closing.  He lives with his wife Charlotte, his aging father Walter, and his brilliant daughter Hedvig, a simple yet happy family.  Christian can’t boast the same, with a difficult childhood and frequent moves defining his growing up, with a marriage on the rocks haunting his current life.  But for the moment, the two friends enjoy their reunion, and prepare for a few days spent together.  This peace will be broken by a long-held secret that can’t stay hidden any more, a skeleton in the closet that will effect the lives of every member of both families.

Stone’s direction is pretty impressive for an amateur, although his stage experience should be taken into account and absolutely aided him in making this film.  He was able to commit to a style in a very specific way and in a manner that was impressive for a beginner.  At first, I wondered at the gimmick, but when he refused to sway from it or apologize for using it throughout the film, I began to appreciate that he had chosen a way for which his characters to interact, a sort of delayed conversation and partial voice over that just felt smart.  It was almost as if he didn’t care whether you liked it or not, or perhaps more accurately, he felt confident that you eventually would.

Like I said, a director can only take a project so far, an intelligent director eventually hands the story off to his cast, and luckily for Simon, this cast was more than up to the task.  Schneider may have been the lead, and he’s a recognizable face for American audiences, but Leslie was just as important to the plot, and delivered just as strong a performance.  The vets of the movie, Rush and Neill, were perfection, playing their respective pater familias parts just the way you imagine they would.  The revelation here is the title actress, Odessa Young, who made her big screen debut with The Daughter, but who we’ll be seeing a whole lot more from very soon.  She’s special in that Joey King sort of way, something that can’t be ignored, and something that can literally make a movie.  She didn’t have to though, the cast and crew all held their own, joining together to make a surprisingly wonderful and pleasantly shocking film.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (1920x1080p), the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is very nice but rather unnecessary.  This is an emotional drama, and never needs the clarity of the Blu-ray medium or the ceiling to be stretched at all.  The visuals are strong, the cinematography excellent, but the potential of the picture is never realized since the director focused on content rather than technicalities.

Audio – With a choice between DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or 2.0, the audio quality is solid.  Without frills perhaps, like the video, but solid nonetheless.  Subtitles can be engaged in English SDH; no other language options are available.  The best part about the sound is the neverending supply of background music, an overarcing theme that helped sweep us into the story.

Extras – The only bonus feature is a trailer for the film.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  There are powerful emotions at play in this film, taking us to places that not every audience member will want to go.  But if you’re willing to travel there, the rewards might be worth it.  Stone weaves a complicated plot more deftly than I would have thought likely, and his cast takes up any slack, delivering a moving drama about family and pain that I won’t quickly forget.  The daughter at the center of the story is a shockingly pivotal figure, forcing us as parents to take a look at ourselves, whether what we see in the mirror pleases us or not.  And the acting throughout the film, minus a bit of overreaching at the end, forces the plot home.  As far as the disc goes, the video is adequate, the audio strong, but you won’t be impressed by the extras, so perhaps look elsewhere for stunning technical feats.  Watch this film for a refreshing look at a new director and new actress, as well as an excitingly intriguing story that won’t leave you alone.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay











Movie Trailer – The B-Side

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Errol Morris

Starring: Elsa Dorfman

Release: June 2nd, 2017

This has got to be the most boring documentary ever filmed.  Who is this lady and why should I care about what she has to say?  I know they’ll try to tell me over the course of 70 minutes, but I also know that I don’t care.