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Saturday, March 29, 2014

‘Sabotage’ Has Been Breached (Movie Review)



Sabotage:  1 ½ out of 5

Sugar:  Some of us are getting paid, the rest of us are just getting dead.

Sabotage is a nasty little thriller from writer/director David Ayer (Training Day, End of Watch), which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger in another leading action movie role, following his term as Governor.  The film is getting its share of notice for having a plot that feels akin to an Agatha Christie-styled whodunit, as it revolves around Arnold’s team of DEA agents being murdered one by one.  It is just too bad that this whodunit has all the intelligence of the script for I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.  Sabotage is a big waste of talent, resources, and time.

Friday, March 28, 2014

‘The Raid 2’ Puts Rama Back In Crazy Action (Movie Review)



The Raid 2: Berandal:  4 out of 5

Rama:  It will be a few months.  You can’t know where I am.  And I can’t be seen anywhere near you.

When The Raid: Redemption hit theaters in America back in 2011, I was ecstatic over what it gave me.  Having looked forward to it for months, I felt like I was rewarded with a film that was one of the more visceral experiences I have ever had in a theater, complete with a great audience to experience it with.  It presented a ton of action, which included various fights, choreography, and filmmaking that I frankly had not seen presented in that manner before.  The story is not all that innovative, but it was immensely satisfying for me as far as what it was trying to do.  It was enough to earn a spot on my top 10 list that year.  Now we have the Raid 2: Berandal, which attempts to extend that visceral experience into something much grander, given the blown out nature of the plot, expansion of characters, and general chaotic feel of the action on display.  The result was another bloody good time at the theater.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Aronofsky Throws Everything Into His Ark For ‘Noah’ (Movie Review)



Noah:  4 out of 5

Naameh:  What did He say?
Noah:  He’s going to destroy the Earth.

It is fitting that many of the struggles surrounding Noah, a big-budget studio epic that retells the story of Biblical hero Noah and his giant ark, is based around men with power.  This story of course deals with how power has basically corrupted man and Noah is tasked with assisting in helping the world start anew and while I would not suggest that needs to happen again (I am not too fond of endless floods), the fact that one of the men with the power over this film is acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) makes things very interesting.  The curiosity of those on the outside will either be how “religious” this film ends up seeming or whether or not it has more up its sleeve than being a slick update of a production fit for Cecil B. DeMille.  One thing is certain:  Noah is both unlike anything Aronofsky has attempted before and exactly the kind of film he would make, based on this story.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 142 – Divergent



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe gets heavy on dividing the guys up into factions, as they discuss Divergent with guest Courtney Howard.  It is all worth it though, as we find out what faction everyone truly belongs in.  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 (The Maze Runner and The Giver).  Plenty is dissected as far as this book-turned-movie goes, but that does not stop the guys from speculating on what else could go down in this world of factions and divergents.

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Brief Thoughts: March 2014 VOD Round-Up

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 "Brief Thoughts" post is a round up of films I watched on VOD during March 2014, which includes Art of the Steel, Cheap Thrills, and Grand Piano.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Divergent And The Prisoner Of Dauntless (Movie Review)




Divergent:  2 ½ out of 5

Tris:  Don’t try and define me.

Divergent is the first sci-fi/action/coming-of-age film adapted from a young adult novel to be released this year.  For those keeping track, we still have The Giver, The Maze Runner, and The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay - Part 1 to look forward to in 2014.  I say this because these types of films have formed their own sub-genre at this point, akin to the big-budget superhero films of recent years.  Not all of these book-to-film adaptations have been super successful in the way Marvel and DC superhero films have (but you should check out Beautiful Creatures, because it is solid), but some of these tend to still feel like the next big thing.  I am not sure what future lies ahead of Divergent and the other potential films adapted from Veronica Roth’s book series, but this first film seems to at least be satisfying for fans of the book who will see it no matter what and could be enjoyable for those who are not tired of this sub-genre or are diving into it for the first time.

The Taking of ‘Muppets’ 123 (Movie Review)



Muppets Most Wanted:  3 ½ out of 5

Animal:  Sequel! Sequel!

I love Muppets.  2011 gave me a big bowl of smiles in the form of The Muppets; seemingly a return of the classic characters to the big screen in the form of what could have been an emotional farewell to them.  It happened to also be a hysterical (and Oscar-winning) comedy suitable for everyone, but it definitely wanted to deliver on sentiment as well.  Muppets Most Wanted is more “business as usual” as far as Muppets movies go, as it does much less work from an emotional standpoint, with focus placed well into the madcap adventure category this go around.  As a result, the film feels less significant (which it is happy to point out from the outset), but it is still a chance to have a whole lot of fun with the Muppets, which I have no problem doing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 141 – Need For Speed



This week’s speedy episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe puts its focus on video game movies, as Aaron and Abe are joined by Jeff Cannata and Christian Spicer from the DLC video game podcast to discuss Need For Speed.  The guys also engage in a discussion about video game movies in general.  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 (Sabotage and Tammy).  It is an episode featuring guys that definitely do not have spectacular cars, but they surely have plenty to say about movies, video games, and video game movies.

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

Brief Thoughts: The Face of Love (Movie 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 of the film The Face of Love, starring Annette Bening, Ed Harris, and Robin Williams.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Out Now Kommentary – Mortal Kombat




Here’s a fun bonus episode, handled in the same vain as our previous Street Fighter commentary, dealing with the original Mortal Kombat.  Arguably the best video game movie ever, Abe and Aaron combine forces with Corey and Jeff from the NSFW Gamer Podcast to deliver a joint commentary episode, which is featured both on Out Now and at NSFW Gamer.  It is a rowdier commentary track than normal, given that Aaron, Corey, and Jeff were all in the same room together, but that doesn’t stop the track from going into a lot of good discussion regarding the topic of video game movies, Mortal Kombat trivia, and of course plenty of random fun as well.  Take a listen and be sure to dig the techno soundtrack afterward!

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…

The ‘Veronica Mars’ Some People Used To Know Is Back (Movie Review)



Veronica Mars:  3 out of 5

Logan:  I need your help Veronica.
Veronica:  I don’t really do that anymore…

I guess if I had to consider my attachment to the original Veronica Mars series and how it came into play with the viewing of this film, I would say I was in a fairly decent position to review the film, without caving into the pressures of being a fan and alienating those unfamiliar with the show.  Sure, I am a fan of the TV series, which I caught on Netflix, years after it was off the air.  That said, I have not revisited the series since.  This does not mean I did not have affection for the show, as I think Veronica Mars was a great series at its best, with fine performances from a large portion of its cast, which had a number of interesting characters and relationships, on top of a format that could balance comedy, drama, and mystery all in one.  Having a new movie to experience, my best hope was that it could continue in that tradition, without feeling like it was pandering exclusively to those who loved it all those years ago.  I never really thought it could stay away from that completely, but fortunately the film has enough sharp writing, aided by some nice lead performances, to make it worthwhile.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bateman’s ‘Bad Words’ Is Funny (Movie Review)



Bad Words:  3 ½ out of 5

Jenny:  Why, at age 40, have you decided to annoy educators, parents, and children by forcing your way into a kid’s spelling bee?

Bad Words has a good logline:  A middle-aged man competes in a national spelling bee.  It helps that the film is quite funny.  The humor is certainly of the pitch-black variety, with a good dose of raunchiness thrown in as well, but having the spirit of an indie at least lends Bad Words some distinct credibility.  It is not as sitcom-y as something like Bad Teacher, but it does not reach the anti-commercial chaos that was the hilarious Bad Santa either.  Still, Jason Bateman does a fine job in front of and behind the camera, in an effort to make this dirty little film enjoyable; even if he does spell out the themes a bit too plainly.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Much Need Was There For ‘Need For Speed’? (Movie Review)



Need For Speed:  2 out of 5

Tobey Marshall:  They took everything from me.

Need for Speed is a lot like a shady used car salesman.  The film presents the viewer with the shininess of something new; in this case a video game movie that relies on a heavy use of practical effects to show off fancy cars driving fast.  However, beneath this kinetic frosting are a lot of old and out of date parts that make for a bumpy ride overall.  Sure, it may not have cost a whole lot and the short-lived thrills may allow one to look past the shortcomings, but wouldn’t it be nicer to go home with a better vehicle for Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul to star in?  Regardless of the type of film it is, there are racing-action movies that certainly fill the void with more substance that goes along with the obvious style.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 140 – 300: Rise of an Empire



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe finds the guys back in business as usual.  They may not be in the same location, but they are having plenty of fun talking with guests Jimmy O and Jason Coleman about 300: Rise of An Empire.  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 (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Guardians of the Galaxy).  It is a busy episode, but definitely a joyful one, as the guys cover a lot of topics.

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

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Wes Anderson’s Style Adorns ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (Movie Review)

The Grand Budapest Hotel:  4 ½ out of 5

Gustave:  Get your hands off my lobby boy!

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film not only packed with characters, sets, costumes, and all the things that tend to typify writer/director Wes Anderson’s style, it is also packed with story.  It is becoming more and more clear to me how much Anderson enjoys having films that are about stories being told to an audience.  There are frequent themes that have been present in Anderson’s other films, namely family, which is clearly seen in The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, Fantastic Mr. Fox and all of his other films as well, which is all well and good, but The Grand Budapest Hotel really goes out of its way to show us that it is a story within a story that is being told to another person.  The result is a film that finds a way to present something that will be entirely familiar to everyone who recognizes Anderson’s style, but ends up feeling like a comment on storytelling itself.  The film combines multiple genres in a rather go-for-broke fashion, while still finding the time to be thoughtful in regards to its key characters, and does not let narrative constraint get in the way.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

7 Years Later, Witness ‘300’ Rise Again (Movie Review)



300: Rise Of An Empire:  4 out of 5

Queen Gorgo:  It begins as a whisper... a promise... the lightest of breezes dances above the death cries of 300 men. That breeze became a wind. A wind that my brothers have sacrificed. A wind of freedom... a wind of justice... a wind of vengeance.

300 is not a film many would have watched in its original release and thought it could use a sequel.  Back in March of 2007, director Zack Snyder impressed audiences with his stylized cinematic vision of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, which was a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae.  300 was fairly straightforward, but its visual aesthetic paved the way for other films and television series like it.  Having been a large fan of 300, the idea of a sequel, especially one that took its time in getting to theaters, was not exactly a film piquing my interest.  Despite the elements of history that could be creatively portrayed within this same graphic novel universe, I was not sure what a studio was willing to do with a follow up inspired by profits form the first.  To my surprise, 300: Rise of an Empire manages to deliver the familiar spectacle, while adding a more complicated story and an excitingly ferocious villain as well.

A Duo From Way Back, ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ Has Been Reimagined (Movie Review)



Mr. Peabody & Sherman:  3 out of 5

Mr. Peterson:  So he’s literally a dog.
Mr. Peabody:  I prefer the term “literate” dog.

While I was never a big fan of The Smurfs, among other older cartoons that have since been turned into animated features, Peabody’s Improbable History, which was a part of The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, was a series of skits that I always found entertaining.  I haven’t watched Peabody in years, but seeing this new 3D CG version of the concept brought memories flooding back into my mind, once the animated, bow-tied beagle started delivering puns so cringe-worthy they would then become kind of hysterical.  It is not often that I consciously take nostalgia into account, but Mr. Peabody & Sherman won me over by not only providing a fast-paced, time traveling adventure comedy with humor for all ages, but also jogging my memory with thoughts of an old cartoon that I enjoyed a bit more than expected.

The 86th Academy Awards On An Alternate Timeline



[Note:  I just felt like having some fun]

What a wacky awards show that was!  While the Academy Awards has always been a fairly stuffy event, with the occasional bit of humor coming in the form of humorous hosts, presenters with gusto, and the occasional flub, the awards themselves are rarely exciting if one has been following the race to Oscar.  This is why the events of last Sunday were such a surprise, as all bets seemed to be off, once the awards got underway and some true surprises emerged.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 139 – Non-Stop (And An Oscar Wrap Up)


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is one of those rare ones that was recorded with Abe and Aaron in the same room together, along with their guests Jordan Grout and Phil Vogel.  The group goes over the Oscar results quickly, before jumping over to their thoughts of the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop.  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 (Godzilla and A Million Ways To Die In The West).  It is a rowdy episode, but lots of laughs are had for sure.

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

Saturday, March 1, 2014

86th Academy Awards Predictions and Picks



 
So here we are.  It’s Oscar weekend and it is an exciting one for the first time in a while, as there could be some actual surprises, which stems from some of the big categories not quite having a clear frontrunner.  Sure, I have my own list of favorites, but I am a fan of all of the films up for awards in these major categories and it is nice to actually see some drama in the awards this year.  Will Gravity sweep?  Will 12 Years A Slave gets its due?  Will American Hustle make due on its large number of noms?  How great will Fassbender and Nyong’o look at the ceremony?  These are all questions on my mind, but for now, here is the list of potential winners and what I think should win at the 86th Academy Awards.  Also feel free to check out the Out Now with Aaron and Abe episode covering the Oscars HERE and my picks for best Oscar winners of all time HERE.

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