Friday, February 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Explorers (1985) (PG)

Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Ethan Hawk River Phoenix, Bobby Fite, Amanda Peterson, Dana Ivey, James Cromwell, Dick Miller, Robert Picardo

This time around Mock Films Blog will be reviewing a film that I hadn't seen growing up but always heard good things. The movie in question being the young adult Sci-Fi adventure Explorers (1985) directed by the ever entertaining Joe Dante. When three kids played by Ethan Hawk, River Phoenix (in their first on screen roles), and Bobby Fite have similar (Tron-like) dreams, they unlock the blueprint for a device which can create a bubble that can travel through space without the feeling of inertia. (Yeah, I know right?) A kid's flick with high brow concepts. How have I gone so long without watching this movie?

Ten minutes in and it had me. I'll say it, I'm a complete ass for not enjoying this when I was young. It holds up (Kinda. I'll get to that.). This gem would have embedded itself into my nostalgia collection, much like Gremlins (1984) (another Joe Dante classic, which also stars the director's favorite reoccurring actor, the wonderful Dick Miller), The Goonies (1985) (which scared the crap out of me at the the age of six), and The NeverEnding Story (1985) (crazy Germans at their best). Are we seeing a pattern here with the years of release. This movie goes into that pantheon of films that are just enough on the fringes of weird that it works. A staple of film in that era.

Now, is Explores a perfect movie? No. Much like any Sci- Fi, there are certain problems that arise. For me, the ending was just not up to the level the rest of the picture laid out. For those who have seen it, you'll be in on the next part of this conversation. For the un-introduced, bare with me. I enjoyed the 'reason for being,' so to speak, when it came to the modus operandi of why the boys were given the technology. Actually, in concept, it's really quite brilliant. Even with the interesting twist, the third act explanation comes off as a bit cartoony compared to the tone in the first couple of acts. I'll admit, the time in which it was filmed was a definite factor. Although it did drag out longer than needed. Nothing a quick edit or two couldn't have cured. But to say it was a bad ending would do a disservice to the always entertaining Joe Dante alum Richard Picardo (playing multiple roles). Fun to watch as always (Google him. He's great). He can emote truly amazing performances through the most intricate of special effects make-up and never disappoints. But again, to say it was a bad ending would be unfair. It just needed some tweaking.

And they named it 'Thunder Road'
It's not often that a movie is clever enough to know that it doesn't have to talk down to it's audience (especially children) in order for them to understand what the film is trying to convey. And this one pulls no punches. The acting is great, the story is sharp, and it's engaging no matter the age group. A tough find in this market of pretty colors and product placement. Do yourself a favor, give Explorers a view. If anything, it feels like Ethan Hawk is starring in Boyhood (2014), but as the son. So, until next time, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars. (If you don't know that quote, consider yourself young).

Personal space. Learn it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hitman: Agent 47- Official Trailer (2015) (R)

Are you ready for a little bit of the old ultra violence? Hitman: Agent 47, from what I can tell, is a reboot of Hitman (2007), which I will say I did enjoy. That movie knew what it was and had fun with it.
A "shut your brain off on a Sunday" kinda film (don't judge). All I know about the reboot is that Zachary Quinto is in it and there is a crap ton ass-kickery afoot. So, watch the trailer and remember it's only a movie, I just tell you about it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

What We Do In The Shadows- Official Trailer (2014) (NR)

Yeah, this just looks straight up hilarious. Even the critics say it's hilarious. Just about every critic, in fact, gave it the same review... Hilarious. So, I'm gonna say this is probably one hilarious film. All things considered, it does look pretty hilarious.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Furious 7 (2015) (R)- Official Trailer

I may be late to the game on this one but I finally watched the trailer for Furious 7 (2015). Goddamn! Just Goddamn! Diesel? Check. The Rock.? Check. Statham? Check. Kurt F@#$ing Russell? Check. That's one third the size of The Expendables (2010) and twice as awesome. I don't care how ridiculous these films get, in my twisted mind they serve a purpose in keeping the memory of late 90's action films alive. Admit it, there was a time when Michael Bay was looked at as an innovator. When explosions and property damage were tolerated as long as they brought down the bad guy. Where you never had to change a clip on that machine gun because 'Who F@#$in' Cares!'

I'll admit the action films of yesteryear have started to wear thin. Especially, in this age of nit-picking plot holes down to nubs almost as sport, but with that said, The Fast and Furious franchise embraces it without shame. They are there to just be awesome. You aren't to question them, just watch and enjoy. It's that simple. And the movies are freakin' fun. My special lady and I catch them whenever they're on without hesitation. Usually at her behest (Jealous fellas?). So, strap in and turn the crazy up to 11. We don't judge.

If you'd like to donate to worthy cause check out Reach Out WorldWide founded by Paul Walker.

R.I.P. Paul Walker

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Voices (2015) (R)- Official Trailer

You know, I hear a lot of smack being talked about Ryan Reynolds from time to time, all because of that abominable Green Lantern (2011) and whatever the hell the X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) movie was. This poor bastard has had to take all kinds of abuse. Look, nobody tries to make a bad film. He just showed up to what he thought was going to be a bad ass acting gig and was met with poor scripts plus bad direction. O.K. Yes, he did do a few other stinkers, but what actor doesn't have a run of bad movies every now and again. (*cough* Depp *cough*! I kid. My man has a comeback on deck.) Let's face it, even in badly written comedies, R.R. makes the best of it.

With that said, I just watched a trailer for The Voices (2015). I gotta say, it looks promising. (Don't let me down, Reynolds. I stuck up for you.) Think American Psycho (2000) meets Forrest Gump (1994). Hopefully, this isn't the work of a clever trailer editor. Give it watch, keep an open mind, and judge for yourself. I still think you'll be the bomb in Deadpool, Ryan! (Please send all hate mail to

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pods On Film: We Hate Movies Podcast

It's amazing to think that we live in a world where terrible, poorly made, B (though more times than not, Hollywood) movies have reached an almost high art status with the movie going populace. Gatherings are dedicated to watching a film, not for it's brilliance but for it's complete and utter incompetence. Endearing ourselves to them, we view reel after dreadful reel, while feeling some amount of pity. It's like going to you're child's dance recital, you know it's awful but they're trying so hard (it's sweet, really). But all the while, tearing the film to shreds for it's sheer crappiness. It's a vicious cycle. Yet, we laugh.

With that, I give you the We Hate Movies Podcast ( Hosted by Andrew Jupin @jupin, Erik Szyszka @EricSzyszka, Steven Sajdak @stephensajdak, and Chris Cabin @Crabin, the WHM Podcast is not to be missed. In their own words "The guys at WHM are members of Private Cabin, a comedy arts collective based out of New York City. They are comedians, writers, critics, and guys who thought watching movies as a college education wasn't a waste of money." It never is, gentlemen.

When you listen to these guys it feels like you are in your buddies apartment waxing silly about some dumb shit you just watched. And that is a compliment. I remember sitting around for hours with my friends after a bad movie, just trying to figure out where it all went so horribly wrong (with the film, of course). What makes the listen even better is that their knowledge of the subject is top notch. Yeah, I said it, top notch.

I discovered We Hate Movies while dicking around on iTunes one day looking for a movie themed podcast and a month later I had listened to nearly all the available episodes (I need podcasts at work or I just might snap). They structure the show like a Mad Libs and Cliffs Notes mashup of the film from start to finish, peppering in funny comments throughout. Wilfred Brimley and Jesse Ventura are forever engrained in my memory thanks to them (you want to know why? Just listen to the show, Gotdammot!). Their roundtable discussion style leads to some of the funniest bits as they play hilariously off of one another, often times creating better movies in the process. 

Bottom line, you will have fun with this one. You don't even have to watch the films to enjoy the show, but it helps. Give 'em a listen. What else you doing at work?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Guest (2014) (R)

Director: Adam Wingard
Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Bendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick

It dosen't happen often in this age of 'Spoiler Alerts' (not an actual spoiler, read on in confidence) and 'Instant Streamifacation' (copyright Mock Films Blog 2015), but now and again the average movie consumer gets a chance to see a film so good that nobody wants to ruin it for them. Being able to watch a flick without seeing everything coming from the trailer is no easy feat. And I don't care what the studies tell you, not everyone likes knowing how a film is going to end. With that said, I have a treat for you dear reader. 'The Guest' (2014) is the follow up film from director Adam Wingard of 'You're Next' (2011) fame (to be reviewed at another time. Hint: it's freaking great).

I had heard about this film from several sources, and never once did anyone give away anything about the plot, the characters, or even a hint of what it is. Even the trailer is unassuming. And I could not have been happier. Starring Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as "David," a charismatic veteran who pays a visit to the family of a fallen friend he watched die in action. Seemingly perfect in every way, the grief stricken Peterson's welcome David in with open arms. And, of course, nothing is what it seems.

Puzzled yet?
Leaving it at that, I will not delve deeper down the rabbit hole which this film starts to dig. The real premise is figuring out who David is and his intentions with the Peterson's. Then it goes even further, dropping subtle hints of what could be any one of a million backstories this interestingly cryptic character might have. Unlike most story structure, the plot unfolds in a way that is not spoon feeding the audience like a dullard. Every scene dangles just the right amount of puzzle pieces without showing you the picture on the box. Writer Simon Barrett (You're Next) slickly crafts a brilliant web of fact and fake out, leaving the viewer never quite in the loop but still engaged to learn more.

The movie has a strange aura about it. From the way characters behave with one another (and alone on screen), to the love/hate vibe Dan Stevens brings to the character of David, to the off putting throwback synth soundtrack, everything feels askew while still being a perfect fit. Speaking of the soundtrack, the music in The Guest is insanely interesting. The underlaying darkness hidden beneath the surface of even the most benign scene (of which there are few) is hinted at but never quite revealed. In tandem with some cleverly specific editing, cutting before the scene gives away the big answers, this picture knows how to keep an audience enthralled. And before you think this is some slow indie thriller, there is plenty of head thumping action. I hate to use comparisons but the movie felt like 'Drive' (2011) if 'Drive' wasn't so "too cool for the room" in it's approach. (FYI: I liked 'Drive.' Liked, not loved.)

Bottom line, this is a solidly made film that is not afraid to keep a few secrets from the viewer. Refreshingly penned and crafted, I don't doubt that this will be put up there with those films that you give your friend's grief for not seeing or even (heaven forbid) hearing about. My suggestion. Watch the film. Be surprised. Tell your friends. But don't try to learn too much before hand. There are enough spoilers in the world. So, until next time, always do a background check on that blue eyed stranger at the front door. Now matter how blue those eyes are. (So, blue.)

For the ladies. (Don't say I never give you anything.)