Month: August 2014

Sin City A Dame to Kill For

Sin City! A Dame to Kill For! The much anticipated sequel to 2005’s Sin City. After years in developmental hell, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller have finally brought us the follow up. What has now developed a cult classic following, Sin City was most of the most visually stunning films put out of all time, A Dame to Kill For had a lot to live up. The anticipation has built for 9 years, nearly a decade. The film reunites us with stars from the original including Mickey Rouke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Powers Boothe, and Jaime King. Michael Clarke Duncan, Clive Owen, and Devon Aoki are replaced this go around by Dennis Haysbert, Josh Brolin, and Jaime Chung respectively. Rounding out the ensemble cast they are joined by Joesph Gordon-Levitt, Marton Csokas, Christopher Lloyd, Julia Garner, Juno Temple, Ray Liotta, Stacy Keach, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Lady Gaga, and Crystal McCahill.

A Dame to kill for follows three stories, the premier story is the title story, which follows Dwight (Brolin), as he is twisted and manipulated by Eva (Green). It is very heavy on Marv (Rouke) as he and Dwight team together to protect Eva while end up being roused into her twisted plot. This sequence in the film serves as a prequel to Sin City, explaining why it is that Dwight is played by Brolin, as opposed to Clive Owen. The other stories are sort of intertwining stories that take place after Sin City, making this part of the film a true sequel. They include “Just another Saturday night” that follows Marv after Sin City as he deals with Nancy(Alba) reuniting with Hartigan(Willis), “The Long Bad Night” that follows Johnny(JGL) as he gambles his way to the top of Sin City, and must deal with Consequences. And finally “Nancys Last Dance” that follows Nancy as she breaks down after the loss of Hartigan and joins Marv in a hunt to take down the man responsible, Senator Roark.

The film is very fun. It you were a fan of the first film, you are definitely going to be a fan of this installment. The visuals are epic and absolutely beautiful. It makes sense that they have taken their time to get this film out. The action sequences are beautifully shot and literally look like they are taken from the graphic novel pages. Frank Miller who we know thanks to The Spirit is a terrible director on his own, but when he teams with Rodriguez, these two can truly bring the fans what it is they want. These films are the best adaptations of graphic novels or comic books out there. Are the actors over acting? Yes, but it works for the film. Is the dialog cheesy? Yes but it feels like it was ripped from the graphic novel. It is what makes this film so much fun.

It’s not all perfect though. There are a few times as the story goes, mostly during A Dame to Kill For, that the film can drag. As well it is truly missing Michael Clark Duncan and Devon Aoki. Understandably having to recast Manute after the passing of Michael Clark Duncan, but Haysbert is just not the fit. And I don’t know why Aoki was recast with Chung, and all though she gives us more action, she doesn’t have the Look that Aoki had. Aki had that stone cold look to her that gave you a respect and fear for her character.

All in all it’s a great film. I scored it a Jeebus Score of 4.1, but then added a .4 bonus for a naked Eva Green, rounding us out to 4.5, a Good time at the theater.

 

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The boys are back in town!

The Iconic action stars of the 80s are back again. And this time they brought along even more fun. 80s, 90s, and even todays stars! The Expendables is a franchise that keeps growing in numbers. They are not known for their story driven cinema, or their Oscar winning performances. Its action. Nonstop, popcorn fun, action. I don’t go to these films expecting to be blown away by the script. Just the fun of seeing the stars I grew up on kicking ass! And that’s what they have delivered. The worry, is that now, The Expendables going into their 3rd film, have gone from a hard R rating, to a PG-13 in an attempt to broaden their audience. A risk if you ask me. I am the demographic for these films, if they try to gain a younger audience, they risk losing the audience they have. So was the risk worth it, well, I’d say yes it was.

This go around the Expendables return, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This go around they are joined by the likes of Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Kellun Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Robert Davi, Mel Gibson, and Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. Once again written by Sylvester Stallone and directed this go around by Patrick Hughes. After the first 2, I love both installments. And actually believe the 2nd is better. The puns are great, the action if awesome. And the 3rd installment doesn’t really disappoint.

The story follows Barney Ross, as he trades in his old brethren for a younger team, in hopes to spare the lives of his Expendables. He goes up against a founding father of the Expendables, Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson) after the extraction of Stonebanks goes wrong, Barney and must once again enlist the back up of his brothers at arms.

Right of the bat, Gibson is the best thing about this film. He tows the line of crazy and psychopath so well, proving himself to still be one of the premier actors in the game. I for one hope this resurrects his career because it was fun seeing him again. There is a scene toward the middle of the film where he explains his motives to Stallone, it is almost chilling to watch Gibson upstage everyone.

If Gibson is the best part of this film, Banderas is a close second. As a nearly comic relief character, he channels his Desperado days and adds immense amount of humor and fun. You don’t know whether you want to kill this guy or die of laughing yourself. Rousey was used perfectly. Think Gina Carano in Fast 6. Snipes looked great, and makes me hope for a Blade 4. Harrison Ford takes over for Bruce Willis in this role, and actually doesn’t phone it in like Willis’ Church character in the past.

The PG-13 rating doesn’t necessarily hurt the film. Yes there are times when you wish there was terribly fake blood spatter. But they don’t skimp on the action! however if you watch closely you kind of see that there was probably blood in the original cut and makes you think there will be a director’s cut DVD.

There is an actual bit of character development in this film. The 2nd act of the film spends most its time developing the newbies, and Banderas. Problem is, that’s not why we are there. I want random explosions. I don’t necessarily need the details. It almost drags a bit in the film, but then the 3rd act hits and we back to what we want from these films.

In the end, if you want deep story, logic, and believability, then yes you are going to whine and cry about this movie. But if you can sit back, and enjoy the stars we grew up and some new faces, doing what they do best, then you are going to have a Good time at the theater. That’s right, thanks to a .2 bonus for a throwback Arnold “Get to tha choppa” line, I’m giving Expendables 3 a Jeebus score of 4.1.

Get On Up

One of the most influential musicians of all time, master of the Funk, James Brown! This has been one I have been looking forward to for quite some time, because I love the music. There is not a bit of music today that doesn’t take influence from the great James Brown. And his story is one I looked forward to hearing about and see unfold in theaters. The film follows the life of James Brown from his childhood to his final tour. His ups, his downs, the fame, the hardships.

Get on Up has an ensemble cast that includes, Chadwick Boseman in the lead as James Brown, Nelsen Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Keith Robinson, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott, Craig Robinson, and Brandon Mychal Smith. Written by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, Produced by Mick Jagger, and directed by Tate Taylor.

James Brown, on the most iconic entertainers of all time, has a very intense story. And it is very entertaining to watch it unfold. You see him grow up and become this larger than life character. Maybe to the point that he believes his own hype too much. It is interesting to see everything fall apart around him, yet watch James Brown stand up to it all.

The music is incredible, and they don’t skimp on the hits. You see him perform and play nearly everything you want. I was looking forward to Living in America, which is not in the film. I had hopped some kind of Rocky IV or even Blues Brothers reference. But that’s just me. You see his band come and go. You see him hurt and hide these feelings of being alone. Yet always come thru, because of a love of the music.

Get on up is filmed a little weird for my take. There is a lot of jumping around from time to time rather than the normal lineal story telling. I understand what they were going for, but it didn’t really work for me. It happens more in the beginning, so it wasn’t enough to really bother me. One thing that really did take me out of the film, was randomly, towards the end James Brown begins to break the 4th wall and talk to us the audience, narrating. It really felt out of place, but thankfully it is only for 1 or 2 scenes. Which again, is a little off.

The cast is phenomenal. Everyone fits the bill and plays their parts incredibly. Especially Chadwick Boseman. Boseman becomes this legend. No one can every mimic or replace the amazing voice of James Brown, but Boseman does great job. You almost feel like James Brown is back with us and you are watching him on screen! If the Oscars were being held today, this guy would be a serious contender!

I really enjoyed Get on Up and I think you will too. That’s why I gave the film a Jeebus Score of 4.3, a Good time at the theater.

Let’s be Cops

So I think back in 2007 someone watched Superbad, and had a lot of fun watching Seth Rogen and Bill Hader. I think they probably woke up the next morning and say, man that would be fun to be Cops like those guys. We should be Cops. Or better yet, let’s make a movie about guys trying to be cops! And so, let’s be Cops was written.

Let’s be Cops stars the son of Damien Wayans, Damien Wayans Jr. Jake Johnson, Nina Dobrev, Andy Garcia, Rob Riggle, and James D’Arcy. The film was written, produced, and directed by Luke Greenfield. The story follows to best friends (Wayans Jr and Johnson) as two average Joes who end up pretending to be cops due to a lack of excitement in their lives. Hey end up in too deep when they get wrapped up in a dirty cop conspiracy involving a truly dangerous arms dealer.

The film is mildly predictable yet pretty funny. It is definitely not the funniest of the year, but it is still a good film. As with most comedies, I was sitting in the film for the first half hour chuckling, but in my head saying “well that was on the trailer, that was on the trailer, so was that” but then, in the 2nd act of the film, something happened. The trailer ended. And it became a film with new laughs I haven’t seen! It is extremely enjoyable after that. It is nice to see a comedy that actually didn’t give away 90% of the film in the trailer.

The best part of the film is obviously Wayans Jr. and Johnson’s chemistry. The two work together on Fox’s New Girl, so they already have the history together. You see these two on film and they just fit. You feel the best friendship between the two. Nina Dobrev plays the love interest to Wayans Jr’s character, and she is very good in the film. And extremely hot I must say. The big surprise is Andy Garcia. I didn’t even realize he was in this film! Not something I would expect to see him in, but at the same time, he was incredible as always.

Let’s Be Cops does have its problems. The script is very choppy, and the pace can be a little off. There are times when the jokes don’t hit as often as you would like. And obviously, as it seems to be basically believable, there are a few moments when you say to yourself “This could never happen”. But for the most part it is a very fun film.

All in all the film is fun. It is one that you can check out in the afternoon if you don’t have anything going on and walk out entertained. The young cast look to have bright futures. Nina Dobrev, and Jake Johnson are a lot of fun to watch. Johnsons’ rather dry humor is entertaining, and I look forward to his career going forward. And Dobrev, she can be a major Hollywood babe. Just takes a few good roles. I am a huge fan of Damien Wayans, and Jr is a splitting image of him. He has very good comedic timing. Just like his father. I’m giving Let’s be Cops a 3.6 on the Jeebus Score, Check out the Matinee.

Go Ninja Go Ninja Go!

After numerous animated series’, and a very successful film series from the 90’s the Turtles are back on the big screen! I have been looking forward to this film for a while. Unlike most people, I am a Michael Bay fan. However I also realized, unlike most people, this was a Bay film in Production only! He was not the director. TMNT is directed by Jonathan Lieberman, and stars the likes of Megan Fox, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, Will Arnett, and William Fichtner allegedly as Shredder. This movie had a lot to overcome. The stink of Bay’s most recent Transformers installment, the rumors of the changes to the back story, and the fact that Fichtner was playing Shredder. Serially. A white guy as Shredder, the ancient Japanese Samurai. What the hell. However. I wanted to give it a shot. And hope for the best. So lets dissect it a little bit.

First off, minor spoiler, so skip the next few sentences if you haven’t read the actually casting list. Fichtner, is not the Shredder. So rest assured. Shredder, is played by Tohosu Masamune. And he is decent enough. The problem isn’t the actors. The problem lies in the script. There are some pretty bad problems with the script. From dialog set up choppy, to just flat-out dumb direction. There’s a scene where Megan Fox’s April O’Neil is sneaking around hiding behind pillars glaring out like a 1st grader playing hide and seek. It’s just cheesy. As well Shredder is given no substance. Fichtner was given no substance. They are basically mustache twirling bad guys, who are nada because, movies need bad guys. Arnett who I am a fan off, and I am going to steal this from Kristian Harloff over at SchmoesKnow.com, did nothing more than a bad Michael Keaton impersonation the entire film. The role wasn’t horrible, and he made for some fun times to watch. But again, a real lack of substance

Another problem I had been a few of the voices. Splinter was voiced by Tony Shalhoub. And there are times that you a definitely aware that you are listening to Monk be an Asian Master Rat. It is a little off. As well I was deafeningly aware that the Jackass himself Johnny Knoxville playing leader of the gang. And it can honestly take you out of the film sometimes. I am not one of those people who only see the big star when the star shows up. But these voices just didn’t fit for me.

As well the finale scene, is kind of a TASM2 rip off. Plus, damn, how many movies are going to make New York look dumb as hell. When a building is falling, bystanders shouldn’t be standing around watching. GET OUT! But then from the tower falling to the New Yorker’s, its bluntly a Spider-Man Rip off.

But it is not all bad. There are great things to it. Starting with Megan Fox. I know, everyone always wants to hate on Fox. But other then some stupid direction, and dumb plot points, she isn’t horrible in it. She’s actually fun to watch. And in the one major Bayism in the film, where it focuses on the humans not the Turtles, Fox’s April O’Neil is a good character to focus on. She’s fun, she’s functional, and she’s not the damsel n distress. As well Mike, Donnie, and Ralph are great. You don’t get enough interaction between them, but when you do, man o man is it fun. They did a good job in mixing the feel and fun of Turtles that we know, with the original dark intent that the writers had for the Turtles.

A plus, that I almost gave the film a bonus for was the character of Splinter. While the voice was off for me, there is apart of me, and probably all of us, I have wanted to see Splinter go off and kick some serious foot. And we get that, this Splinter is a focused and talented ninja. And it is awesome. When I came around to scoring it , while I had fun, I couldn’t quite in all good faith get it to a Good Time, so I’m going 3.7, Check out the Matinee.

Hooked on a feeling! A review of Guardians of the Galaxy

For a pretty long time now, my most anticipated film of the year has been Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel’s final film in Phase II before we head into The Avengers Age of Ultron. This film looks to be Marvel’s biggest gamble to date. The characters are by far the most obscure, well until the post credit scene, but for the most part, some of the most obscure in all of the Marvel library. The hope was that now that we are 12 films in, that Marvel has gained a track record that gives the viewer a trust that’ll send them out to take a chance on the film. I for one hope that you all do take the leap of faith, you will not be disappointed.

Guardians of the Galaxy! The next big Marvel adventure. The film stars an amazing cast that includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Directed James Gunn, the film tells the story of 5 unlikely heroes that find themselves in the middle of a galaxy threatening crises and must come together to save the lives of billions upon billions of people.

The film is a lot of fun to watch. Chris Pratt who plays the main character Peter Quill, AKA Star Lord, is a thief who becomes the de facto leader of the group. He is joined by the assassin adopted daughter of the war lord Thanos, Gamora (Saldana). Along with two bounty hunters, Rocket Raccoon (Cooper) and Groot (Diesel) and a maniac named Drax the Destroyer (Bautista) who is on the hunt for Ronin the Accuser (Pace) for murdering his family. Ronin is joined by Gamora’s adopted sister Nebula (Gillan) in his quest to destroy the planet Xandar and the Nova Corps.

Guardians gets the blockbuster fun done right. You are entertained the entire film. There’s not really a moment in the film that it drags or gets boring. The graphics are also epic. As I watched the movie I kept get the feeling I was watching Star Wars, until I’d get a feeling that it was a Star Trek film. Finally I came to a conclusion that’s really the perfect mix between Star Wars, Star Trek, and a Marvel Film. The soundtrack was awesome as well. Every song takes you back, and flows within the film perfectly. They each give a sense of who Peter Quill is and where he comes from

While the movie is Peter Quill’s story, the show is definitely stolen by a trio of characters. Yes the superstar is obviously Bradley Cooper as Rocket. He brings such personality to the character that you don’t even hear Cooper’s voice. You believe this is the talking Raccoon Marvel has given us. Groot was special case. How was Vin Diesel going to give us substance with only 3 words, “I am Groot”? Well he does it. Not just as comedy relief, but he emotionally connects with us as well. And Bautista as Drax is amazingly a break out star. He’s not a world class thespian be any means, but he is still able to steal the scenes when on camera.

It’s not all perfect though. While the story remains as Peter Quill’s story, he is the most developed character in the film. These characters all have such rich back stories. Most of which we as fans wouldn’t know off the top of our heads. I for one had to look them all up when I heard of the movie. After doing my research I became very excited, yet the film doesn’t give us much on most them. You get some dialog about where they come from, but no real sense of who they are. Gamora especially I would love to see more about. Speaking of, I was amped up all film for the eventual fight between her sister Nebula and her, yet when you finally get it, it’s not all that great. And as for the fights, and action sequences, while the space battles all look phenomenal and are awesome, a lot of fights felt a little too choreographed.

I’m going to give this film a Jeebus score of 4.9 with a bonus of .3 for Rocket, Groot, and Drax. Rounding us out to 5.2, Multiple Viewings Required! Now I’m not going to spoil it, but I am going to go into a little bit about how I felt about the post credit scene. So if you don’t want any information, or anything that could be considered a SPOILER, please skip the rest of this article.

POSSIBLE SPOILER ZONE: Ok, in 2008 Samuel L. Jackson walked out of the shadows after the credits of Iron Man and spoke about the Avengers Initiative. This changed the landscape of the Superhero Genre. Hell the landscape of the all of cinema. The Shared Universe concept was born. After The Incredible Hulk Tony Stark walked into a bar and spoke to General Ross. In 2010 Agent Coulson found a Hammer after the credits. In 2011 Loki controlled Erik Selvig. And at the end of Captain America, Sam Jackson once again walked out of the shadows and told Steve Rogers he needed him to save the world. Then we got a montage of scenes for The Avengers. But then something changed. After the Avengers we got 2 scenes. One including Shawarma. While funny, it was the Thanos one we wanted. We loved it and were ok with Shawarma. But then, Tony Stark had a conversation with Bruce Banner, and we got nothing. And now, we again, get a cheap nothing scene! We know there is Age of Ultron Footage out there, you couldn’t give us anything? No you give us one post credit scene that gives us nothing to look forward to for the next 273 days leading up to Age of Ultron! Nothing to further this amazing universe you have created!? For this, while I originally gave a .5 for a bonus, I am taking away .2! DAMN YOU JAMES GUNN AND KEVIN FIEGE! DAMN YOU!