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Friday, May 31, 2013

Don’t Look Too Closely And You’ll Find Fun In ‘Now You See Me’



Now You See Me:  3 out of 5

Dylan Rhodes:  I don’t think I heard you correctly.  Did you just say magicians robbed a bank?

Now You See Me is the kind of movie that is both a lot of fast-paced fun throughout and still annoying due to how clever it thinks it is.  I can see a large audience enjoying this movie quite a bit, as everything is moving so quickly that there is rarely a chance to stop and consider what it took to achieve certain spectacles, if one were to apply logic.  However, the annoying thing is that the movie acknowledges that it knows it doesn’t make too much sense if one were to look closely and encourages its audience to essentially look the other way, much like one does at a magic show.  The pretty magician’s assistant is on one side, while the trick being performed is happening elsewhere, and as long as the viewer stares at the assistant, they should ideally have a fun time watching a story about a team of tricksters illusionists pulling off a series of heists.

‘The East’ Points You Towards Freegan Eco-Terrorists



The East:  3 out of 5

Sarah:  I’m unexpected.  Being unexpected is the only advantage that matters.

The East is a low-budget thriller about espionage and eco-terrorism.  It comes from writer/director Zal Batmanglij and co-writer/star Brit Marling, who previously collaborated together on 2012’s The Sound of My Voice.  With that film, along with 2011’s Another Earth, I have been quite impressed with Marling’s work in features thus far, and The East continues that trend.  Marling is quite good in this film, which has her playing a character living a dual life in order to infiltrate an anarchist collective.  The rest of the film features some solid performances, interesting ideas, and a nice handle of its overall presentation as a sort of counterculture spy thriller.  My only issue is how the film did not quite rise above anything like it.  I can certainly appreciate a young director working with the goodwill he already has to make another original feature, but the film did not fully involve me in the same way the leader of The East was able to obtain full commitment from his crew.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 105 – Fast And Furiou6



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe has all led to this:  A review of Fast and Furious 6.  Guests Jimmy O and Jose Cordova reunite with the A’s to talk about another Dwayne “The Rock, “The ‘D’ Is Silent” Johnson-starring film to discuss the latest entry in this high octane franchise and whether or not audiences deserve this brand of fun in the summer.  All this chatter about cars going boom and there is still plenty of time for segments such as “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, Movie Trailer Talk (Don Jon and Last Vegas), Box Office Results, “Movie Callback”, “Out Now Feedback”, Games, and other fun stuff.  Plenty to go over in this week’s episode, as the gang really hits the NOS and floors it through another fun episode.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fast & Furiou6: The Search For Letty


Fast & Furious 6:  4 out of 5

Letty Ortiz:  You got some serious balls, man.
Dominic Toretto:  So I’ve been told.

This is the year that the Fast & Furious franchise came to play.  While 2011’s wonderfully entertaining (and superior) Fast Five had the safety of an April release date to ensure its spot as a box office smash, Fast & Furiou6 (which is my preferred title for the film) arrives in theaters on Memorial Day weekend and is a true spectacle film that has large scale action sequences, frantic car chases, over-the-top characters, and a true need to fire on all cylinders in order to stand up with the other huge films of the summer.  I have made it no secret that I have a soft spot for this franchise and have been eagerly anticipating the next film in the series, but Fast & Furiou6 really delivers in many of the best ways.  It may not have the same urgency in its plot that the previous film did and if you couldn’t get on board with that film, this one is definitely more of the same, but the effort put in to go really big, while still utilizing what I consider to be strengths of the franchise, is absolutely there.  Vehicular warfare may be on display in full force, but the series has not lost sight of what a fun summer movie should be.

Blue Sky Studio’s Newest Animation Is Epically Average

Epic:  3 out of 5

Mary Katherine: My dad always told me stories about a hidden world. Where brave warriors watch over and protect us.

Given how 2013’s Memorial Day weekend is packed with action and comedy for adults with both Fast & Furiou6 and The Hangover Part III hitting screens everywhere, it is only right to have some counter-programming for kids and family audiences.  I only wish that the film Epic lived up to its title.  As it stands, Epic is perfectly acceptable as a fairly unchallenging film, with some wonderful animation, rousing action sequences, and humor, I just wish it had more to offer.   The film feels like a friendly, but action-heavy take on The Borrowers crossed with FernGully: The Last Rainforest.  It flirts with a few interesting ideas, but overall, Epic is merely an average and fairly traditional animated feature.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

‘Hangover 3’: The Legend Of Chow’s Gold

The Hangover Part III: 1 ½ out of 5

Stu:  I promised myself I would never come back to this place.

The Hangover franchise is one of the best examples of diminishing returns.  The first film in the series was a big success and generally well liked.  Part II presented the same story in a different location, but had enough goodwill to make it a success anyway.  Time has not been kind to Part II, as there are few that really want to stand up for it.  Regardless, we now have Part III and it is awful.  Some may want to commend the film for not rehashing the same plot again, which would be all well and good if this new take on the structure of the plot had something good or intriguing to offer.   That really is not the case here.  The Hangover Part III is a comedy that forgot to have good jokes.  Do these actors and filmmakers with good comedic sensibilities know how to elicit a smile from their audience every so often?  Of course, but it feels more than apparent that no matter how big this film wants to make itself seem, there is no real punch to it.  It just sits there and the worst kind of movie for me is a comedy that isn’t funny.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 104 – Star Trek Into Darkness



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe boldly dives into a discussion about Star Trek Into Darkness.  Abe and Aaron are joined by guests Scott Mendelson and Brenna Smith, as they have a lengthy conversation about this latest Trek feature, complete with a spoiler-filled segment at the very end of the episode.  All this Vulcan fun does not stop there, as there is plenty of time for segments such as “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, Movie Trailer Talk (Riddick and Gravity), Box Office Results, “Movie Callback”, Games, a brand new segment!, and other fun stuff.  Plenty to go over in this week’s episode, as the gang really jumps to warp speed to get all their thoughts out there.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Ladies Of ‘Black Rock’ Fight For Survival



Black Rock:  2 ½ out of 5



Sarah:  It’s gonna be so good guys.  Just the three of us.


Black Rock is an incredibly simplistic thriller, which finds three women fighting for their lives after circumstances lead to them to dealing with some deadly individuals.  The film is not terribly deep, as it is basically an extended period of setup, followed by standard chase thriller plot machinations, but it does reach points of effective, high stakes drama, matched with adequate filmmaking.  Having females working together and playing against certain standards in regards to these types of films is notable as well.  However, there are also many other genre stereotypes at play, along with a lack of logic in some instances.  Given how minimal the story is overall, it works on an overall level of satisfaction, but I have seen other, similar films (The Decent), which make much better use of the ideas on display.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Get Friendly With ‘Mud’



Mud:  4 out of 5

Juniper:  You know you don’t know him, right?

Mud is the latest film from writer/director Jeff Nichols, who previously made Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter.  It is a nice change of pace, as Mud is the Nichols’ film with the most humor so far.  With Mud, Nichols continues to make wildly different films, despite setting them in the same type of locations with the same types of people.  He has a knack for this sort of representation of Americana on film, with these stories set in rural and swampy areas, mainly because he gets great work from the people cast in his films.  Matthew McConaughey is indeed fantastic in Mud, just as the rest of the cast is, given that no one feels out of place.  The title may literally sound dirty, but it is a film that is a big success, given it feels both familiar and unique in the way it presents its story.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift



This special bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe has been long in the making.  Many episodes have gone by where praise was given to possibly the most underrated of the Fast and Furious films, but the time has come for us to provide an audio commentary for the film in its entirety.  Abe joins in after about 30 minutes have gone by, but Aaron begins and continues with guests Brandon Peters (movie guy) and Rodney Kremer (car guy), to provide real insight into the film, the franchise, and of course random tangents.  So feel free to have fun with this film, even if the guys show few signs of affection.

Important Note:  This commentary features both juvenile uses of language and jokes that may be considered un-PC.  We of course are just trying to have a fun time…

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…


Friday, May 17, 2013

(Attempted) Brief Thoughts: Star Trek Into Darkness




Star Trek Into Darkness: “It’s fine” out of 5, which is like a 3, I guess

[Note: This is more for the sake of having some thoughts on the film collected somewhere and to appease a few folks, but I know there is more insightful writing about Star Trek Into Darkness elsewhere]

[2nd Note:  Upon finishing this piece, it is way more detailed than I intended, but I wasn’t exactly going to throw it all away. I can only hope that people appreciate my perspective in some manner.]

Christopher Pike:  Do you know what a pain you are?  You think the rules don't apply to you. There's greatness in you, but there's not an ounce of humility.  You think that you can't make mistakes, but there's going to come a moment when you realize you're wrong about that, and you're going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed.

I have honestly not tried to make a big deal out of this more publicly, but my interest in Star Trek as a franchise is almost non-existent.  Do I respect what it has brought to the world?  Sure.  Do I enjoy the work of many involved in the making of this newest entry?  Of course.  Do I begrudge anyone for liking this series?  Of course not.  My relationship to Star Trek is similar to food I don’t like, because of the taste.  It may not be bad for me and others may enjoy it, but it just isn’t my thing.  Do I need to be as clichéd as possible to state that I’m a Star Wars guy?  I would not think so, but it is true, and even my father informed me that ever since I was very young that was the case, after I rejected a Starship Enterprise toy, because it wasn’t something Star Wars.  So with this ridiculous disclaimer out of the way, my assessment of Star Trek Into Darkness is pretty simple – it’s fine.  If you like what J.J. Abrams did with the 2009 reboot, than I would say that ‘Into Darkness’ offers a lot more of the same, except bigger.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe - Episode 103: The Great Gatsby



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a lavish celebration of the 20s in theme, as Aaron is joined by guests Laremy Legal and Jonathon Van Dyke to discuss Baz Luhrmann’s take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  That’s right, the guys have practiced their Lindy Hop and put on quite the show in this episode…okay, so that’s not entirely true, but the group does discuss the film, along with other movie-related talk.  Plus, there is still time for all the regular segments, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Callback”, Trailer Talk (Ender’s Game and The World’s End/This is the End), games, and other fun stuff.  With all of that said, there is another spoiler talk at the end of the episode with Abe, so stay tuned for that and enjoy all of the other fun that comes with this week’s Gatsby-fest.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Monday, May 13, 2013

‘Frances Ha’ The Impetuous Dancer (Movie Review)


Frances Ha:  4 out of 5

Frances:  We’re going to take over the world.

Frances Ha is the latest feature from Noah Baumbach, who is a filmmaker that I sometimes really enjoy and other times find to be hard to not be frustrated by.  His films always tend to have very strong and natural performances, but as strong as the writing may be, the tone always tends to be more on the sorrowful side, with a lot of meanness seeped in for good measure.  Frances Ha is a nice change in pace.  Along with his co-writer and star Greta Gerwig, Baumbach has made a film that has a lot of old-fashioned screwball energy, with a healthy dose of sensibilities akin to the films of a 70s Woody Allen (shooting in black & white is the most obvious nod in that regard).  As a result, while the characters can still be frustrating to watch, the film has a bouncy energy that seems to effectively reflect the lives of bewildered twentysomethings living in New York.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – 2nd Annual Top Summer Movies Gamble

Summer Movie Season has returned!  It’s time for another Bonus Round with Aaron and Abe.  This special episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is the second time the gauntlet has been thrown down.  Aaron, Abe, and guests Alan Aguilera, Mark Hobin, and Maxwell Haddad are tasked with making a big wager.  This is the 2nd Annual Top Summer Movies Gamble, where everyone has made a list of what they think will be the top ten biggest films of the summer (in regards to domestic box office).  So each participant has created their own list (and added a few dark horses as well) and the podcast lays out the rules and has each guest read off their list of the top summer movies.  Additionally, the guys bicker as to why they think they are in the right.  Hilarious hijinks, of course, ensue.


So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Great Production Values Highlight ‘The Great Gatsby’



The Great Gatsby:  3 ½ out of 5

Nick Carraway: Who is this Gatsby?

A Baz Luhrmann-directed adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s acclaimed novel “The Great Gatsby” is either the summer blockbuster for everyone else or the obscure one that joins the fold of all the others.  Everyone that has gotten their fill of superheroes, disaster films, alien invasions, and other high concept ideas, now has the option of seeing the big budget drama that is filled with lavish production values and emotions that sit right on the surface of the characters.  Instead of actions sequences, there are extravagant party scenes, with an aggressively modern soundtrack.  Instead of tough one-liners, there are flippant asides.  Instead of the destruction of city blocks, there are explosions of champagne bottles amidst the CG rendered New York of the 1920s.  All of this can be exciting to the right viewer.  Luhrmann has attempted to make the ultimate film version of ‘Gatsby’, but for all the style and excess, it still has the core romantic drama that takes hold in the second half and ends the more frenzied excitement that propels the first half.  It is fortunate, however, that this is perhaps the most entertaining adaptation of the story overall, given the less successful attempts from the past.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe - Episode 102: Iron Man 3


This week’s Out Now with Aaron and Abe features a few different models of movie buffs, who are happy to discuss the first of many summer blockbusters coming in 2013, Iron Man 3.  For a majority of the podcast, Aaron is unfortunately without his Abe, but he does get to talk with Germain Lussier and Brandon Peters about the kickoff film of Marvel’s Phase 2.  Plus, there is still time for all the regular segments, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Callback”, Trailer Talk (R.I.P.D. and Thor: The Dark World), games, and other fun stuff.  With all of that said, there is a spoiler talk at the end of the episode, so stay tuned for that and enjoy all of the other fun that comes with this week’s Starkfest.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Arthur Newman Creates A New Identity, But Not Much Of A Story



Arthur Newman:  2 out of 5

Mike:  You really think you’re the only person with someone else’s ID?

Arthur Newman is the story of a man with a past that is slowly revealed and the quirky girl that follows along with him on a road trip.  It has all the elements of a feel good drama that could be interesting to watch for its story and more engaging due to the actors involved.  Unfortunately, that is not true in this case.  Arthur Newman has its moments and features a few strong performances, but ultimately does not go anywhere, despite being a film that is mainly depicting characters driving around the country.  What appears to be confidence in the filmmakers’ eyes, regarding what transpires in the film, felt more like a film that was literally and figuratively spinning its wheels, as it hit the required beats to fill out its story.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Latest ‘Iron Man’ Is Back With Black

Iron Man 3:  3 ½ out of 5

Tony Stark: You know, it's times like these when I realize what a superhero I am.

Following the fever dream of comic geekery meets worldwide appeal that was 2012’s The Avengers, Marvel Studios is now back to producing a standalone feature for the star that kicked it all off – Iron Man.  Taking a step away from his super friends, Iron Man 3 is refreshing in how it does not need to try and work in a grander plot in order to set up films down the line, in the way that made Iron Man 2 suffer.  Instead, this is a story that tests all of Tony Stark’s abilities, beyond just having a protective suit of armor.  It certainly works as a grand summer spectacle and the re-teaming of Robert Downey Jr. and writer/director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) certainly makes for a highly entertaining experience.  The real question is whether or not this third entry is really able to balance all that it tries to throw at the audience.  For now, I would say that it at least does it better than many other third entries in superhero film franchises, but this time around does feel a lot like having a new and improved model of the Iron Man suit on the same sort of material.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe - Episode 101: Pain & Gain



In this latest episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe, which marks a new century for the podcast (referred to, of course, as a new Willenium), the guys are joined by Maxwell Haddad and Jose Cordova to discuss the merits and demerits of the latest Michael Bay feature to not include Giant F’ing Robots – Pain & Gain.  Both the career of the man who brought us The Rock and The Rock factor heavily into this conversation.  Plus, there is still time for all the regular segments, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Callback”, Trailer Talk (2 Guns and The Bling Ring), games, and other fun stuff.  We’re still in the midst of some minor changes going on, but none of the fun has stopped, so enjoy!

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

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