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Friday, August 31, 2012

[REC]: Some Thoughts On This Spanish Zombie-Horror Series

I have been keeping up with the Spanish zombie-horror series [REC] over the past few years, but have never written a full review on any of the films.  With the arrival of the latest film in the franchise, [REC]3: Genesis, I figured I could provide some brief thoughts on each film.  For those completely unfamiliar, the [REC] films are 'found footage' features revolving around helpless people being quarantined within a certain area, as a zombie outbreak occurs.  These films have benefited from being creative and scary, given the filmmaking, and a solid reason for people to keep their eyes out for horror/thrillers that are coming out of Spain.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

‘Lawless’ Has Bootleggers, Bloodshed, And The Beef

Lawless:  3 ½ out of 5
Forrest Bondurant:  It is not the violence that sets men apart. It is the distance that he is prepared to go.
Lawless is an enjoyable, Prohibition-era drama with plenty of really strong violent bits.  It has a very good ensemble cast to work with, a director who knows how to make things look good, and plenty of other ingredients to make a solid picture.  I think the film’s biggest problem is that it has the feel of an indie, but still conforms to a lot of generic plot elements.  While getting the film that relishes in having Malick-like qualities, characters with sparse dialogue, and not much restraint regarding the violence, it also settles for having characters making poor choices only for the sake of the story, romantic subplots that bog things down, and a lack of subtlety at times.  These aspects take away from Lawless being a great film, but it still has enough to it, especially due to Tom Hardy and the general look of the film, which makes it an entertaining one.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode: August Free-For-All

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is more or less a Free-for-All.  Basically, given the time period (end of summer doldrums), we decided that not one movie necessarily needed a full episode devoted to it; so instead, we decided to talk about a multitude of flicks, with special guests Mark Hobin, Jordan Grout, and Markus Robinson, to share their thoughts as well.  Aaron, Abe, and the gang, dig into Expendables 2, Premium Rush, Killer Joe, the films of Tony Scott, and much more.  What started out as a simple idea for an episode regarding what we have watched, only went on to become almost a couple hours of good times, fun talks, and bitter arguments.  #Phrasing.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

‘For A Good Time’, Don’t Call…

For A Good Time, Call…:  1 ½ out of 5
Katie:  You go get your fancy pants boring job and I’ll just be here being exciting.
It’s a buddy comedy, a chick flick, and a story of phone sex operators; all rolled into one!  Obviously there have to be plenty of people that found this movie funny.  For a Good Time, Call… was picked up out of Sundance and quickly turned around for a release this year.  I guess the idea is to cash in on women talking dirty, following the success that was had with 2011’s Bridesmaids, except that film had more up its sleeve than just crude dialogue.  For a Good Time, Call… feels like an incredibly lazy sitcom that is stretched out to feature length and attempting to repeatedly cash in on just one joke.  Hearing so many explicit things in the span of a few minutes or as a running gag is fine, but as the only thing a film has going for it, it just becomes tiring and bland.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

‘Killer Joe’ Enjoys KFC And I Enjoyed This Dark And Twisted Movie

Killer Joe:  4 out of 5
Dottie:  I heard you talkin’ about killin’ Mama.  I think it’s a good idea.
The Killer Joe poster describes the film as a “Totally twisted, deep-fried, Texas redneck, trailer park murder story.”  That is entirely correct.  Director William Friedkin reteams with playwright Tracy Letts (they previously made Bug together) for a wild and darkly comedic thriller that resembles something akin to a Coen Brothers film, except Killer Joe is much more explicit.  The film is quite lurid and deals with a very dysfunctional family, but it is also incredibly well acted and put together.  Headed up by Matthew McConaughey, in a performance that sizzles, this is a film that fires on all cylinders, as it moves along without restraint and does not apologize for going to twisted places to become an absurdly entertaining film.

Gear Up For ‘Premium Rush’ (And Wear A Helmet)

Premium Rush:  3 ½ out of 5
Bobby: If you don't give over that envelope, you have no idea what's coming for you.
Action movies dropping into theaters at the end of summer do not generally inspire a lot of confidence, especially when they are flicks that were moved from the already dead time of year that is January and into the even worse doldrum-like area that is the weeks that hover around Labor Day weekend.  Still, it is always nice to be relieved when a simple, high concept flick ends up delivering the kind of fun you were hoping for.  Premium Rush does not aspire to be anything more than a fun, lighthearted chase thriller and it succeeds in doing just that.  The added plus of properly utilizing its New York location and making me twitch every time a bike got close to crashing only helped the film out further.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 70 - ParaNorman

It is a fun mashup this week as far as participants on Out Now with Aaron and Abe.  Abe and Aaron are joined by Just Seen It’s Liz Manashil and Sean Wright to discuss the stop-animated, zombie flick for all ages, ParaNorman.  The group goes into whether or not this all-ages fright fest is good enough to say “See It” to, as well as have plenty of fun with the regular segments of the show; which includes “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (The Rise of the Guardians and The Last Stand), “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results and Predictions, and a game that is pretty wild and involves team work.  Fun discussion, lots of things covered, we literally put our hearts and souls into it.

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

Saturday, August 18, 2012

‘The Expendables 2’: The Legend Of Van Damme’s Gold

The Expendables 2:  3 out of 5
Lee Christmas: What's the plan?
Barney Ross: Track 'em, find 'em, kill 'em.
The Expendables are back and older than ever, plus Liam Hemsworth!  This action-packed sequel is silly and stupidly entertaining, but at least it delivers on what seemed to be promised in the first film.  I was let down by the first film, due to its intent on striving for a fairly serious tone and boring me with its bland story in between its few action set pieces.  This time around, Stallone and his crew have a much more go-for-broke attitude about things and they have plenty of fun while delving into one explosive action sequence after another.  That said, the movie is all sorts of ugly (CG, locations, the quality in general), even as it pulses with all the energy ridiculous kills and cheesy one-liners have to offer.  Make no mistake; this movie is exactly what it looks like, so take that as you will.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

‘ParaNorman’ Sees Dead People And The Film Delivers A Lively, Good Time

ParaNorman:  4 ½ out of 5
Alvin:  They’re gonna eat our brains!
Norman:  I think you’re gonna be fine.
First and foremost, I should say that I really dug ParaNorman.  The film has quietly stood as one of my most anticipated films of the year, as it fell into the realm of having so many different things that called out to wanting me to like it, and it completely delivered.  A stop-motion animated zombie film that can appeal to all audiences, from the studio behind Coraline, is a film that easily has my interest and the fact that ParaNorman was able to match the kind of high expectations that I don’t like to have for films is quite rewarding.  The film is great to look at, unique in its presentation, fun and exciting, as well as very funny, and not afraid to present some deeper themes and meaning behind a tale that could have simply been a kid’s zombie movie.  Simply put, ParaNorman has all of its parts assembled incredibly well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

‘Ruby Sparks’ A Little Too Much

Ruby Spark:  2 ½ out of 5
Calvin:  I can’t fall in love with a girl I write.
I guess I could have liked this film a little bit more were certain things handled differently.  Falling somewhere in between Stranger Than Fiction and Weird Science, Ruby Sparks is a comedy-drama with a dash of the fantastical that involves a writer literally creating a dream girl out of his own typewritten words.  The concept is fine, but various issues I had with the early portions of this film and its switch to more dramatic territory left me a little unsatisfied with it.  It is a shame, because the film finds decent balance with being too quirky and acceptably charming, especially given the majority of its cast.  Still, I was not quite taken with Calvin and his dream girl from Dayton, Ohio.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 69 – The Bourne Legacy

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe has the gang discussing the new spin-off/sequel/reboot of the Bourne franchise – The Bourne Legacy.  Joining Abe and Aaron are guests Maxwell Haddad and Jose Cordova, and they are both happy to share their thoughts on the film as well as participate in the other regular segments as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Jack Reacher, Zero Dark Thirty), “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results and Predictions, and of course Games.  Plenty is discussed, lots of announcements, including another contest, and of course, movie geekery runs wild.

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

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The ‘Bourne’ Renner

The Bourne Legacy: 2 ½ out of 5
Eric Byer: Jason Bourne was just the tip of the iceberg.
I remember hearing how The Bourne Identity was not an easy movie to make, with various production issues that caused the film to go over budget and be pushed back several months, before finally hitting theaters.  Before that film became a success, it was also stated that a sequel seemed unlikely, due to the difficulty in making the first film, let alone not thinking it would be possible to match it.  Three films later, ‘Bourne’ is a huge action franchise and now it is time to revisit that universe, but with a new lead actor.  Unfortunately, despite the presence of Jeremy Renner and a solid supporting cast, The Bourne Legacy does not fully capitalize on the potential of this series.  It instead finds trouble with balancing its story and action, while trying to keep it all interesting and lead into even more eventual films.  The first Bourne had charm and worked as a standalone film, only to find success in its sequels.  Legacy wants too much too early and suffers because of it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

‘The Campaign’ Is Sturdy Candidate

The Campaign:  3 out of 5
Cam Brady:  Filipino Tilt-A-Whirl operators are this nation’s backbone!
For all the big budget, summer action/sci-fi/fantasy flicks that have recently come out, it is nice to also get the big budget, carefree comedy around this time of year as well.  The Campaign is a silly comedy that revolves around Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as rivals in an election, where both men are in the running for Congressman.  It is a fairly simple setup and the comedy is exclusively about having fun.  I wish there was a little more in the way of political satire, especially since having the R-rating seemed to imply a bit more free reign; however, I got enough entertainment out of seeing these two stars acting as political rivals slinging mud at each other, with more and more ridiculous outcomes.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 68 – Total Recall

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is maybe the end of an era.  Aaron and Abe have enjoyed the presence of guests Jordan Grout and Alan Aguilera on the same episodes, in the past, but this Total Recall-themed episode was almost too ridiculous, questioning whether they can have those two on at the same time ever again.  That said, yes, Total Recall is the main review this week, but there is also plenty of discussion during the other segments as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Skyfall, Killing Them Softly, The Dark Knight Returns Part 1), “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results and Predictions, and of course Games.  It is an in-depth episode, with plenty of shenanigans going on, as well as lots of geeky film discussion.

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

‘The Imposter’ Had Me Convinced

The Imposter:  4 out of 5
Officer on Phone:  We found a kid…about 14, 15 years old…no I.D., no documents on him…he’s very scared.
I am always really thrilled to want to recommend a documentary, when I find that it is truly fascinating and entertaining.  There are some documentaries that I would only recommend to certain people, based on what I know about them, whether it be appreciation for these type of films or the subject matter that it is based around.  The Imposter falls into the realm of other favorite documentaries of mine, such as Man on Wire and The King of Kong, as I think it is a film that can be enjoyed by an assortment of different people, because the story is so wild and takes so many turns throughout that one can help but be engaged.  Given the event that it is based on and the style applied to this documentary, this is just as good as seeing this story adapted into a mainstream studio film.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

‘Total Recall’ Has An Identity Crisis

Total Recall:  2 out of 5
Doug Quaid:  If I’m not me, then who the hell am I?
Get your ass to…London?  It seemed like it would be easy to constantly compare this remake to Paul Verhoven’s excessive, but entertaining Arnold Schwarzeneggar sci-fi/action flick, Total Recall, but the film has lifted so many different elements from an assortment of other action and sci-fi films that comparing it to just one movie would not do enough justice.  The worst thing about this new Total Recall, similarly based on Philip K. Dick’s science fiction short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” is that it drops the most interesting aspect about its story – the idea of whether or not we are supposed to believe what is happening.  The lack of ambiguity, along with the lack of much in the way originality or personality in the filmmaking, make this a very expensive film that has little to offer, beyond some fancy special effects, which will only be blandly recalled after.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For All Step Up Movies In One

It’s another commentary, but a historical one!  The most important thing to note about this episode is that four of us watched all three Step Up movies simultaneously and recorded a commentary that can go along side any of them.  So basically anyone can choose whichever Step Up movie and use this commentary to help supplement it.  This is a first in podcasting and commentary history, I believe, so feel free to embrace it.  Aaron is joined by Alan Aguilera (watching Step Up), Jordan Grout (watching Step Up 2 The Streets), and Ken Noffsinger (watching Step Up 3D with Aaron) to talk about each film, at the same time.  Frankly, this was an amazing idea, very difficult to record, but completely worth it to give anyone the opportunity to watch any of the Step Up movies and have a jokey commentary for it.

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…

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 67 – Step Up Revolution

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is an ease back from the past week that was full of multiple guests and discussions about one of the biggest movies of the year and a switchover to a discussion about the latest in the “World’s biggest dance movie franchise.”  Comedian Christian Spicer guests with Aaron and Abe to discuss Step Up Revolution and provides maybe the most in-depth, movie podcast film review about it.  The other segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Trailer Talk” (Cloud Atlas and Life of Pi), “Movie Call Back”, Box Office Results, and of course Games.  We may be past The Dark Knight Rises (for now), but at least we have kept up our sense of humor.

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


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