Month: December 2014

Maryl Streep as The Witch in Disney's "Into the Woods."

Into the Woods it’s time to go!

Into the Woods holds a fond place in my heart. In grade school I played the The Wolf in our production of Part 1. So all though I am probably not the target audience, I was very excited for the motion picture adaption of the Broadway play. I remembered my entire solo, and was very pleased with Johnny Depp’s portrayal of The Wolf made famous by me.

Into the Woods stars an ensemble cast of Meryl Street, Emily Blunt, James Cordon, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Johnny Depp, Lilla Crawford, Daniel Huttlestone, and Mackenzie Mauzy. It tells the tale of multiple classic Grimm Fairy Tales with a twist that brings them all together. When a Baker (Cordon) and his wife (Blunt) are told by a witch (Streep) that to lift the curse on their family they must travel into the woods to retrieve the items she needs. While on their journey they come across Little Red Riding Hood (Crawford) Jack (Huttlestone) and his cow, and Cinderella (Kendrick) who is on the run from her Prince (Pine).

I really enjoyed the film. While I’m not one for musicals, I think my small historic connection to the film drew me to it. The cast is phenomenal. There are a few I don’t know, like Cordon, Crawford, and Huttlestone, but they are wonderful. Especially Crawford who plays Little Red. She was so fun to watch on screen and such delight. Chris Pine was a surprise, I wasn’t aware he could sing. All though not the best by any means, he was still really good. Depp plays a small part as The Wolf, but he does it well, and very creepy. Meryl Streep, well she’s Meryl Streep. She is always incredible. However, with the talk of Oscar buzz for her I have to say, this was not an Oscar performance. Just a very good performance.

The story is fun, and it’s cool to see these characters of my childhood intertwine and mix together. The music is as catchy as I remember and draws you into the story. The problem of the film lies in the second act. I always wondered why my school only did the first act, and now I know. The film seems to wrap up perfectly around the 90 minute mark and you think happily ever after has arrived, then all of a sudden it takes a left turn into act II and goes a little off the deep end for another 45 minutes. The characters seem to lose something that made them all special, and even one storyline involving Rapunzel and her Prince is left leaving the audience confused. It is as if they expected us to not really care about them.

The score and sound is of the charts. This is a film you probably want to see in the theater for the sound quality alone. There’s a thunderous effect they add anytime the Witch appears or disappears from screen and it is booming. And the cinematography is beautiful. It is not the top of the game as far as effects go, but it just beautiful to see on screen.

So all in all Into the Woods is a very fun film, and worth your money to see in theaters. I gave it a 4.2 with of .3 for having Johnny Depp play a role made famous by myself, giving Into the Woods a Jeebus score of 4.5, a Good time at the theater.

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The Interview

The Interview, Because ‘Murica!

The movie that has nearly started World War III, The Interview. There was a pretty big question on whether or not this film would even be released. After a terroristic threat, most theaters had decided not to show the film. Then Sony decided not to release it. Less than 48 hours later. The internet broke with both outrage and support for Sony’s decision. Days later it was announced that a few theaters would get the film to run on Christmas Day. A day later, it was released that the film would be released XBOX Live, YouTube, and a few other OnDemand Medias. I for one was excited. Had it not been released on OnDemand I would have been at the closest theater on Christmas Day to watch, however I chose to BUY not RENT, bought it on XBOX One, I support America. I chose XBOX over going to the theater because this is an option, while I have a few other films to see I figured it’s smartest to get this one done at home so I can see something else to review for all of my loyal readers. Both of you. But enough of that’s, let’s get into it!

The Interview! The newest outing of James Franco and Seth Rogen is here and it is one that I have been excited for. I watched the first initial trailer, and chose not to watch anymore after because of my excitement. The film is directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and stars Rogen, James Franco, Randall Park, and Lizzy Caplan. It follows celebrity gossip journalist Dave Skylark (Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapopart (Rogen). Tired of being the lowest level of journalism Rapopart secure an interview with the supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un (Park). Excited for their career they are approached by the C.I.A. to take out Kim Jung-un during their interview.

The film is pretty fun and entertaining. Is it a great film, no, is it funny yes. Rogen and Franco have such great comedic timing and chemistry, they are always fun to watch. Franco is on his game, especially during the beginning of the film. Arguably his best work. While it is the same roles for Rogen and Franco, they continue to work so well, because I like I said before, the chemistry. Honestly the entire cast is really good. Where you know what you are getting from Rogen and Franco, Park as Kim Jung-un is a lot fun to watch, definitely the shining star of the film. Caplan is also very well cast in her smaller role.

The laughs are there but they can be few and far in between. A lot of cliché humor is used, and the average fart jokes. Not as much of their normal weed crazy jokes. The laugh factor is definitely not as high as their This is the End or Pineapple Express, yet still better than some of the comedies this year. The story could have used a little less on the focus of Kim Jung-un and more on the spy aspect of Rogen and Franco. The Un storyline with his relationship with Franco is funny, but not as funny as it could’ve been.

All in all, all though World War III may come out it, The Interview is worth your time, if not for the laughs, then for the support of America. The support that we don’t bow to anyone, and we will watch whatever parody or satire film we want. I’m scoring this one 4.2 with a .5 bonus because ‘Murica, and Eminem, giving us a JEEBUS score of 4.7, a Good time at theater, er on XBOX.

Martin Freeman, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

One more time to Middle Earth.

So I will preface this by saying I was not a fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. That’s right I said it. I was not a fan. And because of my lack of fan ship after seeing the three films, I chose not to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey or The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. When Smaug was released on DVD I finally took to time to watch An Unexpected Journey and Desolation of Smaug. I felt first film was a little childish and cheesy, but I decided to carry on and watch the second. Which I loved. That said I never watched either again until right before going to see The Hobbit: There and Back Again The Battle of Five Armies. My feelings toward the 2 remained the same, and as for the third and final adventure in Middle Earth? That thing is AWESOME!

So it’s time to return Middle Earth for one last adventure. And Peter Jackson has pulled out all the stops. Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, and Lee Pace, among others, all return for the final battle, and a battle it is. We pick up literally immediately where Desolation of Smaug leaves off and Smaug (Cumberbatch) is ravaging the town. Bard (Evans) stands up to Smaug and the standoff is nothing short of Epic. We now have Thorin (Armitage) and Crew back in control of Lonely Mountain. As Bard and The Elves come to claim what the feel is owed to them, The Orc army attacks, and the battle begins.

I loved this film. Where the first film is basically all story, and the second is a good mixture of story and action, this film is nearly all action. The battle literally takes up 90 minutes (maybe more) of the films 144 minute run time is an all-out war. And not that he would be reading this, but Michael Bay, take a little note. This is how you do a war! Not a single minute of the battle is wasted or feels forced. It is shot beautifully, and the CGI, though at times is noticeable, is still pretty crisp. The film takes place nearly all in one setting, right outside of the Lonely Mountain, so you don’t get a lot of Middle Earth, but you still feel like you are in this world still.

The story, though not heavily focused on is still well done. I never read the book, so I don’t know how close to the source material they stayed. I know Legolas was not in the book, but he is a great edition to the film. Bloom plays the character so seamlessly that you forget that that is Orlando Bloom, you just see the character. And he is so Bad A! Probably the most kick butt character in this film. The story arches between the characters are tied up and done perfectly, especially the relationship between Bilbo and Thorin. The film serves as a seamless link between Lord of the Rings trilogy and this Hobbit trilogy.

That said I had a few problems. There is some “Stormtrooper” logic to some of the Orcs during the battle that can take you out of the film, but those are the most easy to overlook. There is a character played by Ryan Gage named Alfrid, who had a small role in Smaug, and he is kind of the “Slimy Smee like comic relief” and the character gets about 20-25 minutes of screen time and I could have done with them killing him after 3 minutes. The character is cartoony and he completely takes you out of the film every time he is involved in a scene. Also, an aspect I liked in Smaug was the relationship between Tauriel and Kili. However in this film it feels very forced, and unnecessary. In no way does it suck you in, and you just don’t care about the relationship.

So all in all, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is an epic end to Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth. So good in fact that it has made me make the decision to go back for the first time since I saw them in theaters and rewatch The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And for a film to do that, because I hated them, I’m giving it a full .5 bonus to go with my score of 5.1, giving us a Jeebus Score of 5.6, Multiple Viewings Required.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Ridley Scott has been very hit or miss for me lately. Mostly miss with his last 3, but I have been looking forward to this one, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Despite the rather oddly pale looking Egyptians, the talent is staked. Joel Edgerton, Christian Bale, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley. It is written by a compilation of Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, and Steven Zaillian. And I have got to say, this probably Ridley Scott’s best film since American Gangster.

The story follows the biblical epic of Moses (Bale). It chronicles his relationship with Ramesses II (Edgerton) as it deteriorates and leads to the discovery of his past. Ramesses wanting to spare Moses’ life, exiles him from Egypt. While on his journeys Moses finds God and must return to Egypt to free his people.

The film is really good. Early on I had my reservations with the cast. Not so much with Christian Bale, but Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver being cast as Egyptians. They were the whitest looking Egyptians I had ever seen. Not to mention the make up in the early trailers looked off. I assume the effects and editing hadn’t been done, because as more trailers came out, they looked better. And the actors can kind of take you out of the film, but when you get past it, they give incredible performances. Edgerton, who I am a huge fan of thanks to Warrior, plays a great Ramesses. Bale as always is incredible, and plays Mosses with such heart, and really give one of best performances.

The effects in the film are amazing. When it comes time for God to send his Ten Plagues. The CGI is seamless, and beautifully shot. It almost makes me wish I had seen it in X D or even 3D. There was a moment during a scene toward the end that I could tell the green screen was behind them, but only a moment, other than that it is incredible. Scott does a phenomenal job telling this age old story, and really delivers on the feel of an Epic type of film. There is a training montage there in the middle that kind of even feels like Scott is trying to say “Sorry about Robin Hood, I swear I could have done it better”. The film is 150 minutes, and you feel the weight, but it does not drag. Honestly could of stood for, and wanted another half hour of this epic story.

A lot of people have been worried about how many liberties would be taken with the story of Exodus. Now I am no expert on the Bible, but I think Scott and his writing team did a very good job of bringing this story to life without straying too far from its source material. Unlike Noah there are no Rock Monsters, or a creator, it is God, and he is speaking to Moses. And they do a great job not making the relationship between Moses and God cheesy. Or giving you a weak God. God is pissed, God is Old Testament God. He is ready for his people to be free.

My list of negatives is rather nitpicky I think. When I said I could have stood for another half hour, it’s because I would’ve liked a little more character development in certain places. The jump from Moses of Egypt, to Moses of the Hebrews comes rather quickly. 15 or 20 more minutes showing us the relationship between Moses and Ramesses would have made me care more about the Ramesses turn. When the film starts they are already grown, and close to one another. More time with the two would have been golden. Something else missing is the development of Ramesses. He goes from a fair and just General, to a tyrant of a Pharaoh at the snap of a finger. And while they take time to develop Moses on his own, Ramesses is left with no development, and just a subtle scene that shows you “hey, he’s a big dick now”. Toward the end there is an opportunity for a fight between Moses and Ramesses, and they build up through the film really warranted a showdown between the two and you don’t really get that. As well there is very little story of Moses retrieving the 10 Commandments. The film kind of hits a point and goes “ok let’s wrap up”. A few more minutes could have helped with this.

All in all, Exodus: Gods and Kings is a great film. A film that really only suffers from needed a little more character development. I’m giving it a 4.7, with a .3 bonus for the incredibly awesome water into blood plague, giving us a Jeebus Score of 5.0, Multiple Viewings Required.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler: Not an X-Men SPinoff

So when I first heard of Nightcrawler I was really excited for the X-Men Spinoff and wondered if Alan Cumming would be making his return to play the iconic comic book character. Sadly I realized the film was not about the teleporting mutant, but it was in deed a dramatic film starring Jake Gyllenhaal. At the time I was not a fan of Gyllenhaal. However by the end of this film I have been converted. I saw him in Prisoners and he began to grow on me, and then a friend showed me Brothers and I began to think maybe I had him wrong all these years. And this film set me straight. The guy is talented. So talented that I couldn’t even see him in the film. All I saw was the character, you completely lose him in the performance.

Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, and Bill Paxton. It is written and directed by Dan Gilroy in his directorial debut. It tells the story of driven but troubled young man named Louis Bloom, who finds his way into a career of shooting footage of newsworthy accidents and crimes, and then sells them to the local news. As he begins to get increasingly better at it he begins to become obsessed with not just filming the news, but making the news.

The film is creepy as all hell. You walk away completely creeped out to think that this is how we get our news. I believe it is pretty accurate. I’ve wondered how news channels get this footage and it’s crazy to think this goes on. The story is so in depth and is a very slow build. Not slow in the film drags, you spend the entire movie engulfed in this story. The film is shot beautifully, giving its L.A. setting the tough gritty feel you expect from the city.

The cast is perfect. Each of them giving noteworthy performances. Rene Russo as the Morning News Director does a wonderful job towing the line between a respectable business woman, and a sleazy news director. You don’t want to dislike her though you know she is doing things who otherwise wouldn’t approve up. Is it morally wrong? Yes but it’s what is demanded of her position. Bill Paxton plays a sort of rival to Gyllenhaal, and as always is shining star. I have always loved Paxton and ever project he is involved in. Riz Ahmed plays an out of luck intern that Gyllenhaal takes in. He has problems with Gyllenhaal and his methods, however is no position to turn down a job. He is really the most redeeming character in the film. I found him to be the only one I really wanted to root for. And like I said Gyllenhaal is firing on all cylinders this film. He loses himself in the character and it’s not Gyllenhaal you see, not Gyllenhaal you follow, but Louise Bloom, the creepy cameraman.

So I implore you to go out and catch Nightcrawler. It is a riveting, creepy masterpiece of a film. Not only do I expect an Oscar for the film, but I expect Gyllenhaal to get the nom for Best Actor. I scored Nightcrawler 5.5, with a .5 bonus for not only Gyllenhaal’s performance but the overall tone and creepiness of this film. That rounds us out at a smooth 6.0, JEEBUS-TACULAR!

Horrible bosses 2

Horrible Bosses 2

I had not seen the first Horrible Bosses before the day I was going to see Horrible Bosses 2. Every time I would sit down to watch it, it’d either be late and I’d pass out 20 minutes in, or something would come up 20 minutes and I’d have to stop watching. I literally saw the beginning at least 15 times. So I made it a point to finally sit and watch it right before I planned to go to see the second. I enjoyed it as I thought I would, and was ready for the sequel. The Sequel brings back the cast of Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, and Jamie Fox, and adds in Christopher Waltz and Chris Pine. The film is directed his go around by Sean Anders.

I really enjoyed this film. I found it freaking hilarious. I actually liked it more than the first. This go around the Nick (Bateman), Dale (Day), and Kurt (Sudeikis) have decided they want to be their own bosses, they no longer want to deal with horrible bosses in the world. They have invented their own product and look to go into business for themselves. When a business tycoon (Waltz) screws them out of their own product they take it among themselves to kidnap his business partner and son (Pine) and hold him ransom.

The story is basic yet different from the first. They don’t suffer from what I call the “Hangover Part II”. They took this opportunity to take the characters and put them in a different situation rather than just rehash the same plot from the first. All the returning characters are great. While in the first film they were dumb but pretty grounded, this movie dials them up to 10. It can seem a little over the top, but it’s pretty hilarious. The new additions, Waltz and Pine, are incredible. Christopher Waltz does what we love to see him do and be the slimy, evil, bad guy. While his son Pine, pulls off an amazing role as just the douchebag millionaire son.

I literally found myself cracking up laughing nearly the entire film. A lot of the jokes hit right on cue and leave you chuckling until the next one hits. The situations, the punchlines, everything. It is incredibly funny. While the first one had some hit and miss comedy, this one really hit a home run for me. I won’t call it the best comedy of the year, it is definitely in the competition.

My only complaint about the film is that while during the second act there are few scenes that maybe drag on a little bit. It probably could have benefited from taking another pass or 2 in the editing room. Maybe trim it down from 108 minutes to 95-100 zone. However, that said, I think if you enjoyed the first, you’re really going to enjoy this one. It’s funny, well-acted, and entertaining all the way through, I’m going a to score it a 4.3 with a .2 bonus for Jennifer Aniston, cause my lord she is hot. Giving Horrible Bosses 2 a Jeebus score of 4.5, a good time at the theater.