Sunday, October 26, 2014

Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron- Official Teaser Trailer (2015) (NR)

While I go change my shorts, go check out the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer. When your done, vote on my first poll and feel free to watch it again. I did.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Godzilla (2014) (PG-13)

Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Wantanabe
Rated: PG-13

Alright kids, this time around I am going toe to toe with the King of all Monsters himself, Godzilla. Now I’ll wait for that slight pause as you wonder if it’s the shiny new reboot or the Matthew Broderick iguana movie from the 90’s… if you’re still not sure then you didn’t read the year at the top of the screen before you began this journey, shame on you… Oh, I’m sorry. I just can’t stay mad at you. Now back to our movie.

This is a difficult film to review without giving away a slew of spoiler info but I’ll do my damnedest to not ruin it. Here goes, a massive accident at a Japanese nuclear power plant causes the quarantine of both the plant and the neighboring community. Joe Brody (played by verbosely well by Bryan Cranston), a supervisor at the plant, loses his wife when the reactor blows (It’s in the trailer so I’m going to call ‘no spoiler’ on this one). Obsessed with this possibly being more than a mere meltdown, he spends the next fifteen years uncovering what he can about the quarantine zone and what the government is hiding there.

After being arrested for trespassing in the quarantine zone, he is bailed out by his son Ford, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Fed up with his father’s quest for the truth he decides to head back home to San Francisco to be with his wife (Elizabeth Olen) and son. During a layover in Hawaii, Ford comes face to face with what his father feared most… now see, a spoiler would be great right about now but I’m not going to do it. Let’s just say the ball starts rolling and this movie introduces the Godzilla element we all remember from the rubber-suited monster flicks of yester year.

I’m going to stop there because, let’s face it, you know what happens next if you know anything about Godzilla. Now, I have to give it to the filmmaker Gareth Edwards, who made his mark with another giant monster movie, 2010’s Monsters. Creating the CGI himself on his debut film shows his skill at making an old trope seem fresh. The film looks slick and big. Well directed and put together. The back-story of the how the monster is created is original and well thought out. However, I will say the film falls into the trap of only showing you so much. I’m having trouble remembering if I every saw Godzilla filmed at night before, which is a majority of his time on screen in this one. Given that the big bad is dark green, maybe shooting the bulk of his scenes during the evening wasn’t the wisest of choices.

You get your destruction, your mayhem, your super breath complete with glowing scales, but unfortunately you get poorly written humans as well. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass 2010) really fell short for me with his wooden mannerisms. Elizabeth Olsen was doing what she could with what little she had to do. Throw in the creepy four-year-old son, who just stares off at nothing for most of it and you have your weakest characters. Now, Bryan Cranston being way over the top is amazing. His rage moments are where he shines the most. And Ken Wantanabe gives one of the best deliveries of the name “Godzilla” that I have seen in a long time. But a good Godzilla movie this does not make.


The action is excellent, when they actually show it. The use of debris and darkness to cover up the rampaging must have saved the studio a bundle on special effects. I will give them one thing; they leave you wanting more. Even with the blatant corner cutting in the monster budget, the CGI truly was top notch (top notch? I did just say that? Ew.).  But again, some more full body action shots of Godzilla in the daylight would have been nice. Next time, I hope. Now there are some big surprises that arise and bring the viewer back to what we want from a Godzilla picture, but perhaps I’ve said too much.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. It could have been a train wreck (which I believe does happen in the movie), but they did what they could with a story that has been told so many times before.  In summation, it’s a 50/50. There is so much to love about the movie as well as enough to complain about. Go in with moderate expectations and I think you’ll be fine. If anything, it will wash that 90’s version of Godzilla out of your mind. Which is nice.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Movie 43 (2013) (R)

Director(s): Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffen Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, Will Graham, James Gunn, Brett Ratner, Jonathan van Tulleken, Bob Odenkirk
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, (pretty much everyone in Hollywood)
Rated: R

I'm going to admit that today is a lazy day and after watching the film up for discussion I have decided to make this one short and sweet. O.K.? O.K. Fine.

For a while now, I have been hearing about this Razzie Bait of a film called Movie 43 (2013) and finally felt it my duty to see why people hated it so much. With a cast of international A through D listers, who have been known to churn out both Oscar winning performances as well as garbage (I'm looking at you Halle Berry), to big name directors such as Peter Farrelly, James Gunn, and Brett Ratner, what's not to love. Quite a bit it seems. It tries to play like Kentucky Fried Movie, Amazon Women on the Moon or in today's parlance, an hour and thirty-four minutes of surfing Funny Or Die minus the comedic timing. Although, I'm not completely against this film. The ideas are there and funny moments eek out from time to time. I guess the real question is would you want to watch this if they took away the star power? Eh. Maybe.

In many cases the sketchs' concept is solid on premise alone, then it gets stretched just a tad too far. I believe the term is 'Beat into the ground.' Also, let it be known that I am a huge proponent of blue language and far from prudish when it comes to using it in abundance, but the trick is knowing when to open the fowl mouthed floodgates. One of the more annoying trends these days is the masking of lazy writing by inserting a deluge of expletives in order to shock an audience into laughing rather than working the joke. Fuck is that getting old.

So, let's buzz through the finer and lesser points of Movie 43:


-The Beezel sketch was great. Even if it fell into that cussing trap a touch.

-The Homeschool sketch was uncomfortably good.
-Halle Berry + Stephen Merchant = Funny. (did not see that coming)


-The main plot device involving an insane screenwriter and movie producer is a mess.
-The iBabe sketch, let's just say naked silent models couldn't save that bit.

-Don't know why it bugged me so much, the but cursing for the sake of cursing. Write a joke!

 Here's the deal. Is it a good movie. No. Is it watchable? Yes. Parts of it are very watchable. But when it sucks, it sucks in that (insert oral sex joke here) sort of way? See, told you I like bawdy humor. My best suggestion is to watch this movie in parts. Every now and again watch a segment or two. Maybe in smaller doses it's easier to take. This is the Youtube generation after all. Enjoy. Or don't. It's a mixed bag.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014) (PG-13)

Director: Jay Oliva & Ethan Spaulding
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Neal Mc Donough, Hynden Walch
Rated: PG-13

This week I have decided to go a bit off script on my review. Pulling from a genre that many non-comic book readers oft dare not tread. Sure, comic book movies have seen a clear boost in mainstream audience attendance with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (with which I have a love/hate relationship. Another day my friends) and the brilliant way Marvel has chosen to unfurl their gang of interconnecting hero stories as an ever expanding universe.  Today, however, I’ve decided to give credit where credit is due and give DC their day in the sun.

For all their shortcomings DC properties have had in terms of their live-action films, as successful as they are, where they truly shine is with their straight to DVD animated features. While, not all of the titles that have been produced over the years have been top notch, to count them out as kids stuff is simply unfair. Starting years ago with Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995), DC has put out some well written and superbly produced stories that could give their live-action brethren a run for their money. With that, I give you Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014).

Not for the youngsters, this is a gritty flick with some intense violence and language. So be warned.

The story is simple enough. The Riddler is at it again and this time as stolen sensitive intel from a secret government organization run by Amanda Waller (a role reprised by the wonderful CCH Pounder), a woman obsessed with keeping America safe without the help of super heroes. Now locked away in Arkham Asylum with the rest of Batman’s rouges gallery, Riddler has a flash drive with the information stashed in his cane, which is locked up tight in Arkham’s storage lockup. Employing a group called The Suicide Squad to break in and get back the data, Waller teams up a group of super villains equipped with explosives in their necks as incentive to get the job done. Now, some of these criminals are not the A-Listers one might expect from a Batman movie, but not to worry, familiar faces abound throughout.

Calling upon Deadshot, Black Spider, Killer Frost, King Shark, Captain Boomerang, KGBeast, and Harley Quinn (one of the best parts of this movie) we are treated to characters that wouldn’t normally get the type of screen time our titular hero is normally accustomed to. But this is the beauty of the story, Batman (Kevin Conroy, back in all his glory) is not the focus. In fact, he’s not in much of it at all. A decision that many might be weary of, but hey, Nolan had Batman appear for less than a third of the Dark Knight Rises (2012) 2 hour 45 minute runtime, only in this movie it actually works (as stated earlier, another day my friends). 

The animation is fun. Harkening back to the 90’s animated series with a few modern tweaks, it definitely beefs up the action for the adults reared on its predecessor. And holy haymakers, Batman! You get a heaping helping of Bam! Slam! Pow! (sorry, I couldn’t resist) The characters fit their roles in the story perfectly, letting each showcase what has made them such formidable foes for our Caped Crusader over the years. Proving that sometimes, a super villain team up is can be just as entertaining as when the good guys join forces. I would like to tell you more about the movie, but this is something fans and others alike should see for themselves. There are enough spoilers in the world.

So, here’s my two cents on the movie. Watch it. Forget that it is animated and imagine for a second if the studio behind the broodingly disappointing Man of Steel (2013) actually let writers put out a strong script rather than another (zzzzz… sorry I dozed off) origin story, than maybe DC can Wow us with the upcoming series of Justice League films slated to be made. At a runtime of just 1 hour 15 minutes, they prove that a film doesn’t have to be a 2+ hour super hero therapy session. 

The crew over at DC animation have consistently made some of the smartest, exciting and well made fair to come out of the label in years and it is time DC put their trust in creators who know the right moves to make with so many beloved characters. Marvel gets it right, in the live-action department, without a doubt, but DC animation is undeniably brilliant in their execution of the genre. Time to take a few notes Hollywood. I can nap at home.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dredd (2012) (R)

Director: Pete Travis
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
Rated: R

I'm writing this review with a slight ulterior motive in mind. My intentions will soon be revealed. Please be patient.

It was a warm September day in the year 2012. Having the day off from work, I decided that it was time to break a rule that I set in place years prior, I was going to see a movie... ALONE! Before then, I scoffed at those lonely folks sitting silently in a theater, not able to scrounge up even a modest acquaintance to accompany them to the cinema. But as time goes by, people change. Tastes change. Beliefs change. And it was on this very day that, I am glad to admit, I grew as a person. Or at least as a film lover.

I arrived early, bought my favorite snacks, chose a center seat, not too far, not to close, and got ready to do nothing more than give my full attention to the feature presentation. With nobody there to ask a question about the film or an ear to whisper a witty quip to mid-picture, I was about to have a true movie going experience. And I could not have picked a better movie.

Based on the comic series Judge Dredd, Dredd (2012) stars Karl Urban (Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2002, Star Trek 2009) in the title role of judge, jury, and executioner in a violence ridden city in the post apocalyptic future. Judges, as they are called, perform swift and deadly justice in order to keep the overcrowded populace from getting out of hand. The landscape of the picture feels both confined and vast, as citizens are housed in Mega Towers, giant slum apartment building, that make up smaller communities, each with their own criminal element.

Put in charge of a psychic rookie judge (Olivia Thirlby) on her first day, Dredd and his new partner are called upon to investigate a group of murders in one of the Mega Towers. An obvious gang hit, the judges go after the local drug lord of the tower, Ma-Ma, played sadistically perfect by Lena Headey (Game of Thrones 2011). But she won't go down that easy. Hacking the building security system, she locks our heroes in and announces a bounty on whoever brings them to her.

From this point on, the movie goes into overdrive, bringing a bit of the ultra violence to a whole new level. Shot in 3-D, (a trend that is oft used in incorrectly) director Pete Travis (Vantage Point 2008) utilizes this to its true potential. Ma-Ma deals a drug named Slow-mo, which makes perception move at 1/10th normal speed. An effect shown with the help of 3-D and slow motion camera work. Trippy is not the word for it. Not for the squeamish, the violence is occasionally slowed down as well. Probably the most 'elegant gore' ever filmed, but feel free to cover your eyes (you big baby, you). In a fight to get their, woman, the judges are relentless in their goal to bring Ma-Ma to justice, battling their way floor by floor to complete their task. And my God, is it fun.

By the end of my time at the theater, I was a changed man. To think, I went 30 odd years without ever seeing a movie alone, immersing myself in the experience. Dredd was that perfect movie for me. It scrubbed away the tarnish of the first Stallone version, Judge Dredd (1995), and took it down to its gritty roots. Simple, raw, and fun. Did I mention it's fun? Good. Moving on.

So, now back to my opening rant. The creators, actors and fans of Dredd have declared today #DayOfDredd in hopes of getting a Dredd 2 into production. If ever a movie needs a sequel, this is that movie. Watch the flick, decide for yourself, and if you dig this as much as the rest of us Dreddheads out there, let it be known on social media and check out the Facebook page in order to get the ball rolling.

In review, Dredd rules. Go watch it and decide for yourself. Till next time, Hotshot.