Saturday, September 30, 2017

Quick Movie Review

Fences (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Based on the play of the same name, I heard a lot praise from the Academy and it seemed like an interesting movie. I love Viola Davis...and Denzel Washiongton too. Pretty much, I was happy that more African American stories were nominated last year and I would try my best to check most of them out that interested me. I feel like this movie isn't for everyone. It's definitely one of those "Oscar bait" movies in a way as the format feels like a play. In other words, it is very dialogue heavy and the story doesn't really change locations either. The movie is primarily at a house and moves from room to room or outside, much like a play, which is different. The handful of movies I've seen based on plays usually try to expand their location options, but this one doesn't and...I kinda think that's for the best. This is very much a character piece and the focus should be on the characters and how they interact with each other and grow. There are some great performances here and when you pay attention, you'll feel just as emotional attached as the characters do.

Passengers (2016, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

I wasn't super interested in this movie as it seemed kinda generic in ways, but I did plan on seeing it at some point. I like Chris Pratt and I like Jennifer Lawrence and these past couple years or so they have been quite the hype in Hollywood. Seeing them together in a romantic setting is kinda odd. You know that typical Hollywood age gap controversy and all, but yeah... Anyway, the movie. At the beginning, I realized that what I thought would happen from the preview did not happen and we were in for a somewhat different kind of ride. The movie is through Pratt's eyes and we pretty much follow his journey on this ship. At first, he's the only one roaming around and taking advantage of all the awesome technology, then he gets lonely and sees a pretty girl. Enter Lawrence's character. They fortunately get along and form a relationship, some misunderstanding thing happens, and eventually all human life is in their hands. Yeah, lots of generic elements from the romance and sci-fi genres put together. For the most part, I did enjoy it, but it's a movie I probably wouldn't immediately watch again and sing high praises for. It connects all the dots and the pay off is kinda bland and predictable, but the film isn't terrible, just nothing remarkable.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016, USA) | Rating: 4/5

I think it's been some time since there was a good teen/high school movie. I haven't really heard much about it, but the little I did hear from my subscribed reviewers were quite positive. So, I decided to check it out and see if it lived up to the high praise it received. In short, it did. I really enjoyed this realistic, almost cynical teen girl. I kinda can relate to her attitude at my current age. heh It's just really refreshing to see teens act like teens and not little adults. The take on the story is simply refreshing as we follow Nadine dealing with "big" problems in her life and just trying to adjust to almost strained and new relationships. I really liked watching Nadine and Mr. Bruner interact with each other on a somewhat more personal relationship with each other. Kind of like the father she never had type of figure. There's a lot of interesting dimensions involving their relationship, which adds to some great character development. Also, I have to applaud having an Asian love interest of sorts. Although, it isn't blatantly labeled that way; it does naturally become something that's realistic and admirable. Honestly, I think this movie is such a sleeper hit, because it really is quite good movie and a step up from The Duff.

I Am Not Your Negro (2016, USA) | Rating: 4/5

This documentary of sorts kinda flew under my radar, until it hit DVD for pre-order at my job. I read the synopsis and it actually sounded quite interesting. Plus, I've been checking out more movies and documentaries of recent black history exploits. This one is based on the famous writer James Baldwin's unfinished novel, Remember This House and is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. The documentary tells of his relationships with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, along with his childhood and comparison to current racial disputes to the past. Since race and discrimination has been a hot button topic for last few years or so, this movie gives you good comprehension on the struggle back then to now. It doesn't beat you over the head with a specific message, but lets you contemplate on the topic and make connections with the past and present...and perhaps the future of race relations. Definitely give this documentary a watch, especially if you want a different take on black history.

Sing (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I know I made a few jokes about this movie in the After Theater Review of "Don't Breathe", but I heard a few good things about it. In the end, I did end up watching it...obviously. I was mostly skeptical going into this movie, but it defied my expectations. I imagined a typical music based movie where we follow one character in their journey to stardom. They become super famous, but ruin their relationship with their family or friend(s) with their ego and soon learn a lesson in keeping their ego in check and simply showing passion and not greed through music. While elements of this do appear, this doesn't really follow that guideline...thank God. It's also not a poor man's Zootopia either. Instead we follow a group of characters trying to win a singing competition and working through their personal struggles...while we also still have that corrupt character that loses sight of his original purpose in music. The story does a good job balancing out all these different stories and wrapping them up an entertaining package. It also tries to avoid as many cliches as possible, so it was nice to not have my predictions come true for once.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Movie Review: The Strangers

The Strangers

Starring: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman
Directed by: Bryan Bertino
Rating: R
Run time: 86 minutes
Synopsis: A young couple are terrorized by three unknown assailants while staying in an isolated vacation home.

This was certainly a film that left me creeped out. A couple have just returned from a wedding where their relationship hit an uncertain patch. As they get settle in for an uncomfortable night, a strange woman knocks on their door. It's the choice to answer that begins a game of cat and mouse with the couple as unwitting participants.

There's something to be said about watching Liv Tyler be stalked by a sadistic group of killers. She's sweet, innocent and charming; the ultimate pretty girl next door. Scott Speedman does well as her boyfriend, convincing in the anguish that he feels over the events of earlier in the night. The couple is mostly unaware of what's happening, but as the viewer we see these people stalking them.

For me, the most unsettling part was the watching and waiting. I wanted to scream at them to run and hide. Being attacked in my own home is something that I've always worried about. I double lock my doors. A knock in the middle of the night makes me jump. It could be a group of killers like these...looking for their next victims.

Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, September 8, 2017

Movie Review: The Purge

The Purge

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey
Directed by: James DeMonaco
Rating: R
Run time: 85 minutes
Synopsis: In the future, a wealthy family is held hostage for harboring the target of a murderous syndicate during the Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized.

I saw this film after a recommendation from a good friend. The plot seemed very interesting for a thriller. What would happen if all crime was legalized for 12 hours a year? It’s certainly thought provoking. Would you lock your family away? Would you get out your aggression on the people who’ve slighted you? Those questions were foremost in my mind as I started watching.

During this 12 hour period, all emergency services are suspended. James Sandin has locked down his family with a security system that he invented. He hopes that this will protect his family from the people participating in the purge. Sadly, that doesn’t go as he planned. His son, Charlie, disarms the system to allow a man into the house to protect him from the masked people chasing him. The Sadlins are given a choice to hand him over or be murdered along with him. It’s rather suspenseful as the characters try to hide and protect themselves.

There have been other movies that have amped up that suspenseful feel with similar themes of home invasion. The strength of this film lies in the performances. Ethan Hawke does a standup job as the concerned, protective father. Lena Headey is as always quite the force of nature to watch. She does quite well in the role of the strong, determined mother. Rhyes Wakefield was quite creepy as the leader of the masked group.

The film does have its flaws and issues. There aren’t many films that are without them. There were some unintentionally amusing things (like the son’s charred baby spy tank). Those things don’t really take away from the overall enjoyment of the movie. I thought it was well done for what it was. Go into it with your popcorn and enjoy.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Movie Review: Poltergeist (2015)

Poltergeist (2015)

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris, Kennedi Clements
Directed by: Gil Kenan
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 93 minutes
Synopsis: A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive.

For the record, I hate clowns. Why did I see the Poltergeist remake then? I suppose it was a nostalgic moment. The original movie scared me as a kid with the creepy child actor, clown and the medium lady. Thankfully, the remake doesn't attempt to recreate the original exactly. The names, location and time period have all been updated.

I was unsettled by the multiple clowns in this. I also enjoyed the actors better than the original. Sam Rockwell is probably better known as Zaphod Beeblebrox from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He plays the down on his luck, frightened father quite believably. Jared Harris plays in yet another horror film as Carrigan Burke, the psychic medium brought in to find the missing daughter. He's a welcomed addition in exchange for the creepy lady from the original.

Of course, no remake will ever top a successful original. Many have stated that Poltergeist didn't need a remake at all. While I can agree, I do believe that this movie will be successful with the younger generation. What we found scary back then isn't what today's horror fans find frightening. This is the era of jump scares and found footage. Overall, I would suggest not comparing this to 1982's Poltergeist. Think of it as its own entry into the horror genre.

Rating: 2.5/5

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Movie Review: Nurse 3D

Nurse 3D

Starring: Paz de la Huerta, Katrina Bowden, Judd Nelson
Directed by: Douglas Aarniokoski
Rating: R
Run time: 84 minutes
Synopsis: By day, Abby Russell is a dedicated nurse, but by night, she lures cheating men to their brutal deaths and exposes them for who they really are.

Don't go into this one hoping for a deep, insightful plot. You won't find one. Paz de la Huerta stars as Abby Russell, a nurse who moonlights as a femme fatale. Her choice of victim are the men who cheat on their wives and partners. Abby takes great joy in ending the lives of these men by luring them in with her sexuality.  All of this information is made clear in the voiceover narration.


In her day job, she has been mentoring a new nurse named Danni. It's quickly obvious that she's very attracted to the young nurse as more than a friend. However, things are complicated by Danni's boyfriend. This attraction turns into obsession in record time with Abby doing whatever it takes to get Danni...or get revenge for being rejected.

My biggest problems with this movie aside from the watery plot is that Abby is so transparent. She's played very bewilderingly over the top. It's pretty hard to believe that none of the other characters ever figured out that something wasn't right with her. Hell, someone should have at least noticed how odd her speech patterns were.

Aside from character issues, most of the movie's budget was spent on bad CGI and 3D effects. Perhaps, if more time and effort had been spent on practical effects, character development and plot thickening, it would have been a better movie overall. Watch this one if you have a love of bad B movies or wish to hear Paz mumble through her lines while nude from the waist down.

Rating: 1/5