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Friday, February 28, 2014

Oscar-Winning Favorites: Performances And Films

In anticipation of the 86th Academy Awards, on this week's Out Now with Aaron and Abe podcast, we came up with the idea of going through our Top 3 favorite Oscar winners in regards to the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Picture categories.  It was quite the challenge, but also a lot of fun to put together.  While you can listen to what Abe, Mark Hobin, Mark Johson, and myself had to say HERE, I also decided to put together this post, which goes over my picks and adds just a bit of commentary to go with them.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What About ‘Non-Stop’ Though? (Movie Review)



Non-Stop:  3 ½ out of 5

Bill Marks:  I’ve always hated flying.

It is fun to see how much credibility an actor with gravitas can bring to a really silly film.  Liam Neeson has returned to the action/thriller realm once again to star in an airplane-hijacking film, with twists and turns that go way too far in terms of being plausible.  It matters little though, as the film has way too much fun with embracing its ludicrous nature, which manages not to be too much of a fault, as Non-Stop finds a way to keep you guessing, while Neeson once again adds his serious presence to a film that may have once seemed beneath him.  It is not a film that is trying to say anything; it just wants to entertain, with the semblance of some clever ideas, in the midst of its high-octane silliness.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – 2014 Oscar Predictions



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a lead up to exciting times, as the 86th Academy Awards will be airing the Sunday following this episode’s release.  Because of this, Aaron and Abe have brought together guests Mark Hobin and Mark Johnson for their annual Oscar Prediction show, which is always a lot of fun, as the guys are very competitive, when it comes to picking the potential winners.  Additionally, the group has also gone out and picked their top 3 favorite Oscar winners in each acting category, as well as best picture, throughout Oscar history.  It makes for a lot of interesting conversation, but once again shows that these guys do not joke around come Oscar time…well they do, but in the spirit of the ceremony.

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

Jiro Dreams Of Fighter Planes: ‘The Wind Rises’ (Movie Review)



The Wind Rises:  4 ½ out of 5

Hayao Miyazaki: I get inspiration from my everyday life.

The Wind Rises is a wonderful addition to Studio Ghibli’s impressive library of anime features.  With only a hint of fantastical elements, which mainly come in the form of dream sequences, The Wind Rises is really an animated biopic of a man responsible for designing Japanese fighter planes during WWII, but with a fictionalized focus on his personal life.  There are numerous themes that the film attempts to explore, but even while it has a sense of melancholy to go with the main character’s own sense of discovery, it stays back from the messy politics of it all.  Really, this is a story of a man who had dreams of creating an ideal design and how he balanced his goals with the reality of life.

Large-Scale Camp Erupts From ‘Pompeii’ (Movie Review)



Pompeii:  3 out of 5

The Celt:  Can you feel that?

Sometimes it is fine just taking what you can get.  A serviceable film is not necessarily a bad one if you had an overall good time.  I would be curious to revisit my thoughts on Pompeii a week from now or even a couple days from now and figure out what I would do differently in this review, but as of now, I am fine giving a mild recommendation to this disaster epic that aspires to be Gladiator and Titanic combined into a shorter and more streamlined film.  It may lack the ability to be emotionally affecting and there are many elements that are way over-the-top, but at the same time, I knew what I was getting into and was fine with eventually giving in.  Pompeii is not great art, but I cannot say it does not deliver on its goal.  It is just a matter of how far you are willing to go to enjoy a campy B-movie set in the Roman Empire.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 138 – RoboCop


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is the obvious discussion that comes with Valentine’s Day weekend, as the remake of RoboCop hit theaters and needed to be talked about.  Abe and Aaron are joined by Phillip Price and Brandon Peters, as the group goes over whether or not this remake needed to be made.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Brick Mansions).  It is now your movie as to whether or not you want to come with us and talk about the robotic cop that can’t be stopped.

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

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Out Now Commentary - Robocop



President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, is there a Robocop Day?  Okay, that doesn’t matter, but regardless, in honor of the Robocop remake, Aaron is joined by Brandon Peters and Jim Dietz for this bonus episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe, which features an audio commentary for the original Robocop, directed by Paul Verhoeven.  This is a fun conversation that is not about comparing one film to another, but rather an analysis of the original film, Verhoeven as a filmmaker, the way the sense of the times is captured, the state of action movies from this time and how things have changed, and plenty of other random, interesting, and sometimes quite funny topics.  It’s your move to check it out.

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…
 

So…About ‘About Last Night’ (Movie Review)



About Last Night:  4 out of 5

Bernie:  Part of getting in is knowing when to get out.

Something that I notice does not get enough attention regarding comedies is editing.  I am not talking about the pace of a film necessarily, which I see brought up a lot; notably with Judd Apatow-produced comedies lately, which tend to feel a bit shaggy.  When I say editing, I am referring more to the structure of scenes and how to create a sense of rhythm that comes from both the delivery of dialogue and actions from the characters involved and the way shots cut back and forth to best achieve a certain level of spark that makes a film click.  About Last Night does not rely on much that is new in the realm of romantic comedies, but what it has is great editing that really sells the work done in the script and by the actors to show the chemistry on screen and keep things moving with a near screwball level of zaniness at times and an effectively biting tone at others.  As a result, About Last Night has easily earned a high spot for me in terms of mainstream romantic comedies released in recent years.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

‘Robocop’ Fails Its Prime Directive (Movie Review)



Robocop: 1 ½ out of 5

Raymond Sellars:  We’re gonna put a man inside a machine.

There is a reason why robots, cyborgs, and similar devices have gotten a lot of attention in science fiction over the years.  The idea of man creating a machine and what that could mean for life is an intriguing concept that can play on both the positives and negatives of the scenario.  Taking it further and creating a cyborg who is also a law enforcement officer is one way to emphasize the debate of whether it should be done.  If handled properly, a story can flourish by developing those ideas, building a world around why this concept should happen and what the ramifications could be were it to actually happen.  Along with many other main reasons, Robocop fails to embrace the strong ideas that could make it work, in favor of being a noisy and messy action film.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 137 – The Lego Movie


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is pretty awesome, as the group is all kinds of jazzed to talk about The Lego Movie.  Abe and Aaron are joined by Leah Ducey and Taylor Vaugh and the foursome is quite game for pretty much anything, but do their best to talk movies.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Rio 2, and How To Train Your Dragon 2).  As some may know, it is cool to be part of a team, but it should also be known that when everything is awesome, one can be living out a dream.

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 9 – “After”


In addition to participating on The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I write weekly episode recaps/reviews for each new episode of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

Returning from hibernation, The Walking Dead is back and its mid-season premiere was a good one.  Tightly focused, free of shenanigans with the very dead Governor, and doing a lot with visual storytelling, as opposed to clunky dialogue, this episode represented a lot of what I like most about this series.  With no time spent dealing with everyone else, after the fall of the prison, “After” has a lot of chance to breath, letting the audience simply follow along with the post-battle struggles of Rick, Carl, and Michonne.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

‘Vampire Academy’ Is A School For Losers (Movie Review)



Vampire Academy:  1 ½ out of 5

Rose:  A female - especially one who lives off of blood and magic - is going to have her mood swings.

Vampire Academy seems like it could have been a fun mix of meta-humor surrounding the recent wave of vampire and young adult novel themed-culture and satire dealing with high school drama.  Unfortunately, this new film based on a young adult, paranormal romance book series (which I assume is a best-seller, because they all seem to be, regardless of whether you had ever heard of them before), has very little to offer in terms of wittiness, craftiness, or shrewdness.  The film provides merely one character that has any life to bring to the film, two actors on the adult side to try and ham it up, and a ton of exposition that makes you feel like Vampire Academy will be providing you with a Scantron for the exam that takes place once the film ends.  I can say right now, I didn’t take many notes.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Brief Thoughts: Welcome to the Jungle (Original NBFF Review)


I really enjoy putting my reviews together.  I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can sometimes only deal with movies to a briefer extent than I would prefer.  This is why I write these occasional "Brief Thoughts" posts on movies I have seen, as I want to at least offer some of my own perspective on them.  They may not be as polished, but I can at least get my opinions out there.  This post is a review for Welcome to the Jungle, which I originally reviewed for WhySoBlu.com, during my time covering the 2013 Newport Beach Film Festival.  As it relates to the Film Festival, the review certainly has elements relating to the theme of those posts.  I should also note that the reason I am posting this review is because I liked it enough to give it more mention, now that it is arriving on VOD.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

‘The Monuments Men’ aka The Nerdy Dozen (Movie Review)

The Monuments Men:  2 ½ out of 5

Granger:  You want to go into a warzone and tell our boys what they can and can’t blow up?
Stokes:  That’s the idea.

For all the great things The Monuments Men brought together in an effort to make an exciting war picture, with a good-natured twist, the film certainly felt pretty lifeless and dull.  I tend to make it no secret that I am happy to embrace the marketing of films, in an effort to get me excited for them.  A well cut trailer and a solid list of actors and talent behind the camera is plenty to have me happily anticipating a film.  The Monuments Men had all of that and even after the film switched from its awards-friendly release date in December to February, I was still prepared to give the film the benefit of the doubt that I would at least find it quite enjoyable.  The problem, as it turns out, is that screenwriter/director George Clooney and his co-screenwriter/producer Grant Heslov could not find a way to make this particular WWII story into something with more dramatic weight.  There is a good cause being fought for, which is different than the norm in a war movie, but even with A-list talent, the results felt rather inert.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 136 – That Awkward Moment and Labor Day


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a double episode, with a new guest to boot!  Aaron and Abe are joined by Philip Price to go over the dude-focused rom-com That Awkward Moment and the regular rom-drama Labor Day.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Neighbors and 22 Jump Street).  There were some awkward drops during this episode, but thanks to the magic of editing, we may all have a great Labor Day this year after all.

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

‘The Lego Movie’ Has Been Built Into Something Awesome (Movie Review)


The Lego Movie:  4 ½ out of 5

Wyldstyle:  Come with me if you want to not die.

This is one of those “expectations exceeded” situations.  I was already plenty happy to go into The Lego Movie, given the lively and fun marketing presented for this film, along with my knowledge that it has come from the directors or both Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, films I very much enjoy, but the film did not just settle for being an enjoyable animated adventure, it succeeded at going even further.  Along with the humor and vast amount of creativity on display, The Lego Movie goes a number of steps further to really make it stand as something special.  It has fun with the familiar type of story it is telling and then pushes its own boundaries, adding even deeper levels to a film that features millions of blocks moving around the screen.  The added level of cleverness and heart makes this movie not only a lot of fun, but also quite awesome.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Guest Editorial: Batman Adaptations Roll On With Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor

[The following post is a guest editorial from Danny Webb.  I am happy to try and post new types of entries on this site, so I figured why not proceed with a bit of news-related business for a change, given that this opportunity presented itself.  My own opinions may or may not be represented here, but please enjoy the post regardless.]

If ever a modern film franchise was untouchably perfect, it was Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight franchise. That's not to say there weren't flaws here and there in the films, but the general depth and scope of the series is unmatched in the superhero, or even action/adventure genre in the past decade or two. So, naturally, the whole entertainment industry seems to be plugging ahead with as many spin-offs, adaptations, and new takes as it can muster.

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