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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Payne Is Back: Max Payne 3 - Video Game Review

Max Payne 3:  4 ½ out of 5
Max Payne:  I now had a hole in my second favorite drinking arm.
I enjoy my fair share of video games.   I have also been incredibly busy for the last month.   Still, I did manage to find time to play and finish Max Payne 3, the latest entry in Rockstar’s hybrid Noir-John Woo infused shooter series.   It has been a long time since I was able to jump into the shoes of the rogue cop with a murdered family, grief to deal with, and unlimited ammo for his dual pistols, but I was happy that unlike the terrible 2008 film adaptation starring Mark Walhberg, this return to the Max Payne universe was well worth it.   As of late, many games I tend to play in installments, with lots of gaps in between me picking up the controller again.   Max Payne 3 fell into the category of games that I could not stop playing, which is a credit to its quality and reason enough for me to put in my two cents about it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 58 – Men In Black 3

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe has the gang discussing the first ‘Big Willie Weekend’ in quite some time.  Will Smith has returned to the summer movie fold with Men in Black 3 and guests Mawell Hadadd, Jose Cordova, and Mark Hobin join Aaron and Abe in talking about their thoughts on the film.  The regular segments are here as well, including “Know Everbody”, “Trailer Talk” (Skyfall and The Great Gatsby), “Movie Callback”, Box Office results, and some games and other fun stuff.  Lots of guests, lots of movie talk, and the episode even has Will Smith theme songs, unlike Men In Black 3.

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

Monday, May 28, 2012

Behold The Outdoor Majesty Of ‘Moonrise Kingdom’

Moonrise Kingdom: 4 out of 5
Sam:  What kind of bird are you?
Just to get it out of the way, I am a big fan of writer/director Wes Anderson’s work (Rushmore, The Royal Tenembaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, etc.) and was already inclined to enjoy his latest film.  The fact that I really enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom does not come from a bias however; it comes from recognizing a well-made feature that is full great things, which includes warmth, whimsy, and affecting moments.  Anderson’s idiosyncratic filmmaking sensibilities have served him well here, providing a film that should play well to more than just the audience that already enjoys his films.  It is the sense of innocence that is wrapped up inside a film that is frequently humorous and always alive with visual details that makes it a film worth seeking out.

Friday, May 25, 2012

‘Men In Black’ In Time

Men In Black 3:  3 ½ out of 5
Agent K:  I promised you the secrets of the universe, nothing more.
Agent J:  Well…what other secrets are there?
Everyone nod you heads, because the black suits have come back.  Still protecting the earth from the scum of the universe, the Men In Black have returned, but most importantly, they have redeemed themselves with an enjoyable third entry that gets better as it goes along.  It has been a while since the last ‘Big Willie Weekend’, but Will Smith and everyone involved have managed to come up with a film that outshines its overblown production troubles.  A lot of the same wit and humor that made the first film so enjoyable is present here, along with the strong makeup/effects work that has been present throughout the series.  While it does take some time to really get going, the strong finish is what truly makes Men In Black 3 a worthwhile summer sci-fi comedy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 57 - Battleship

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe seems like it has been nearly a year in the making.  While I cannot pinpoint the exact moment Aaron, Abe, Jordan Grout, and Alan Aguilera all realized that they were dying to see Battleship, the time has finally arrived for them to review it.  The results are…interesting.  Aside from that, the boys also have fun with all the regular segments, including “Know Everybody”, Trailer Talk (Argo and This is 40), Box Office Talk, “Movie Callback”, and some new games! Which includes one that is entirely not true.  Plenty of other shenanigans ensue throughout this episode, which the boys once named as the spiritual successor to their Transformers 3 episode, so please take a listen.

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


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

‘Battleship’: The Most Explosive Board Game Of The Year

Battleship:  2 ½ out of 5
Old Navy Guy:  They’re not gonna sink this battleship!
The trickiest thing about writing a review for Battleship, the film based on the popular board game, which now pits Tim Riggins of Mars against a fleet of aliens that challenge the Navy to deadly war games…or something, is capturing why I did not really care for the film as much as I did  other, similar films.  It is a loud, $200 million, alien invasion flick, with lots of stuff that goes boom throughout its 2-hour runtime.  It is perfectly suitable for the summertime, yet I did not have that much fun as I would have liked with it.  Having recently seen New York get toppled (The Avengers), Chicago get blasted (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), and Los Angeles become a blown out war zone (Battle: LA), I think I am just a little tired of this.  Battleship does not attempt to do anything new with this kind of film and aside from having a higher appreciation for the military, director Peter Berg does little to make this film really stand ahead of Michael “Boom Boom” Bay’s alien robot adventures.  Battleship is less a terrible film and more a film that seems to be hitting me at a point where its type fatigues me.

‘The Dictator’ Seizes Comedy, Whether You Like It Or Not

The Dictator:  2 ½ out of 5
Aladeen:  Ahh…America, built by the blacks and ruled by the Chinese.
I am really looking forward to seeing Sacha Baron Cohen tackle more serious and dramatic work.  I saw a hint of it in Hugo and, as is generally the case, comedic actors seem work just as well in a dramatic environment.  I start out this way because I like Sacha Baron Cohen in general, but the movies that involve him trying being as offensive as possible do little for me.  I chuckle at them, sometimes I laugh much harder, but when they finish, I am fine enough with what I saw and have no real desire to watch the film again.  I have seen Borat once; I have seen Bruno once; and now I have seen The Dictator, but I do not really have any real lingering thoughts about any of these films that make me want to reflect on these crazy characters that Cohen has played (with vigorous and committed enthusiasm).  Chances are people will generally enjoy this movie more than Bruno, but I am basically indifferent.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 56 – Dark Shadows

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe takes a step back into the campy direction of a cult classic soap opera.  Adam Gentry (and, briefly, a very special guest) join Aaron and Abe to discuss the new Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film, Dark Shadows, a theatrical remake of the old TV series of the same name.  Is this strangely fitting for a Mother’s Day episode?  Maybe.  Still, the gang does get a chance to go over a couple new trailers (Gangster Squad and The Campaign), as well as participate in the regular segments, including “Know Everybody”, “Movie Callback”, Box Office results, and the return of one of the older games.  Plenty of supernatural goodness this week to enjoy.

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

‘God Bless America’: A Road Trip/Killing Spree Comedy

God Bless America:  3 out of 5

Frank: I wish I was a super-genius inventor and could come up with a way to make a telephone into an explosive device that was triggered by the American Superstarz voting number. The battery could explode and leave a mark on the face, so I could know who to avoid talking to before they even talked.
I have seen and heard a lot of Bobcat Goldthwait lately, as he has been promoting his newest film, God Bless America.  Having retired from stand-up comedy nearly a decade ago, with his eyes set on being a filmmaker, he’s since made some interesting (and quite good) dark comedies; including Sleeping Dogs Lie and World’s Greatest Dad (Robin Williams is great in that movie).  I like Bobcat Goldthwait.  Listening to him now, he is very honest, funny, and brash in a good sort of way.  It is unfortunate that God Bless America is not a better film.  It certainly has a lot on its mind in regards to the state of America’s fascination with reality television, among other things, but the film does not come together as strongly as it could.  There are enough good bits in it overall to make it something worth checking out for a person that wants to enjoy a decent dark comedy/satire, it just could have been more.

Dark Shadows Linger With Mixed Results

Dark Shadows:  2 ½ out of 5
Barnabas Collins: How soon can the horses be ready?
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard: We don't have horses, we have a Chevy.
Dark Shadows is a movie that has everything it needs to be a lot of fun, but ends up being too hit or miss to fully succeed in the end.  The film has a great cast, some very impressive production values (fitting for a Tim Burton film), and an initial setup for a story that could have lead to some interesting places.  The setup is strong, yes, but the film ends up being too messy in regards to handling all of its many subplots and characters.  This would not be all too bad a thing if the film was at least constantly entertaining, but unfortunately, there are also various problems with how well established the characters are and how well the comedy works.  Johnny Depp certainly tries hard, but the film is too messy and unfocused to really amount to much more than a forgettable, gothic jaunt. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – 1st Annual Top Summer Movies Gamble

Time for another Bonus Round with Aaron and Abe.  This special episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is the first where the gauntlet has been thrown down and Aaron, Abe, and guests Alan Aguilera, Mark Hobin, and Adam Gentry are tasked with making a big wager.  This is the 1st 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 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 how scoring will work when they reconvene for a follow up show in September at some point.  And then the guys go over there list and 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…

Friday, May 11, 2012

‘Sleepless Night’ Rests For No One

Sleepless Night: 4 out of 5
Marciano:  Is that all?
Vincent:  The rest is in a safe place. 
Remember what happened to action movies after Die Hard came out?  A lot of action films were made that basically amounted to things like “It’s Die Hard on a boat” or “It’s Die Hard on a train” to varied levels of success, but one thing was for sure, Die Hard changed how a lot of people and studios wanted to make action films.  That has somewhat subsided in favor of other types of action cinema, ranging from the slow-mo escapades of John Woo-like films to the bombastic extravaganzas of Michael Bay features, or the shakiness inspired by Paul Greengrass’s work on the Bourne series.  Sleepless Night is a French thriller that feels like a call back to the Die Hard days, placing an ordinary man in incredibly tense, violent, and stressful situations within a nightclub.  It is well made from an impressively complex level rather than a stylish one and features action bits that feel very natural.  Some minor plot flaws aside, the film is solid.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 55 – The Avengers

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is an assembly of several voices who have come together in an effort to talk about one of the biggest movie events of the year, The Avengers.  Aaron and Abe are joined by Why So Blu’s Brian White and Sean Ferguson, as well as Fast Film Review’s Mark Hobin, and this entire group does in fact go into a lengthy discussion about this Superhero Cinematic Opus.  There are of course the regular segments as well; including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Expendables 2 and The Dark Knight Rises), “Box Office Results”, “Movie Call-Back”, and then some spoiler talk at the very end of the episode.  This is certainly one super-powered episode.

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

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 54 – The Pirates! A Band of Misfits and The Raven

This week’s double movie review episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe features the arrival of our newest guest, Matt Goodman.  Matt joins Aaron and Abe in talk about just how much endearing fun The Pirates! A Band of Misfits has to offer, before Aaron and Abe then settle in to discuss how bland and bad The Raven is.  The regular segments are back this week as well, including “Know Everybody”, Trailer Talk (The House at the End of the Street and Magic Mike), “Movie Call Back”, box office results and predictions, and of course games.  We also announce the contest winner for our Cabin in the Woods T-shirt Contest and that the very end of the episode, Abe wrestles a bear!

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

‘The Avengers’ Assemble For A Comic Book Fever Dream Of Fun

The Avengers: 4 ½ out of 5
Nick Fury: There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, so when we needed them, they could fight the battles that we never could...
I love it when a plan comes together.  In one of the most ambitious film proposals in recent memory, The Avengers has finally arrived and paid off greatly.  Setting itself up back in 2008 with Iron Man and adding on layers through the other four Marvel Comic films that have come since, the massive gamble of bringing in multiple actors, directors, studios, and comic properties has led to what is basically the ultimate Marvel superhero film.  Frankly, this film should not even exist.  It seems unwieldy to think about combining so many elements into one feature and not have it topple due to the lack of fair balance or the lack of a cohesive and unifying story, but writer/director/comic geek Joss Whedon has managed to pull it off and deliver a ridiculously satisfying experience.  The massive roster of superheroes are all given their fair amount of time, the action is incredibly satisfying, and the film has a ton of fun and wit to spare in its screenplay.  Minor bumps along the way and the lack of deeper themes beyond “teamwork helps us triumph” notwithstanding, The Avengers is still a huge success assembled from a lot of great pieces coming together to form a fantastic comic book film in many of the best possible ways.


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