Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Well, with the year of 2014 finally coming to a close (My! How time flies), I thought I’d take some time to write two new reviews for some films I had recently gotten a chance to watch, both of which were among my most anticipated movies of the year. One a notable change of pace for its signature director, and one a raved British drama expected to score major Oscar nominations. I hope you enjoy reading them.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
I know it’s perhaps odd to be posting a review on Christmas, but given the circumstances of the release of this film, I simply couldn’t ignore it.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple weeks, you’re already well aware of the new comedy The Interview, which features Seth Rogen and James Franco as two television figures tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Unsurprisingly, the film’s content has not gone over well with the North Korean government, with the film's distributor, Sony, having been the victim of a vicious mass-hacking, and the so-called Guardians of Peace threatening any theaters playing the film with attacks the scale of 9/11 (a threat eventually deemed not credible), ultimately culminating in the film’s eventual cancellation…
…Or so we thought. By trying so hard to suppress this film from the public, these “Guardians of Peace” have instead stirred up the mother of all Streisand effects, generating more interest in the film than it would have possibly gotten if things had played out uninterrupted. The whole world wanted to see this movie. So, on December 23rd, Sony announced that it would be distributing the film to 200 independent theaters for screening, and not only that, but the following day allowed sites like YouTube and Google Play to rent and stream the film. With this, I happily decided to give it a go. It doesn’t live up to any of the hype that was built-up, but I laughed hard and had fun with it.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Merry Christmas, everyone! It’s that time of year when families all over will be heading to the movies, seeing movies the likes of Into the Woods, Night at the Museum, and the now notorious remake the of the musical Annie.
For the record, I’ve never considered myself a fan of the original musical this film is based on. Aside from a couple songs here and there, I’ve always considered it highly forgettable and stale. Because of this, I was never quite as gung-ho as others to write this new film off, as I couldn’t care less for the source material to begin with.
However, I never could have seen just how negatively this film was being treated, so much so that not only fans of the musical, but even those who can’t stand it all agreeing on what a laughably terrible execution this is. Out of curiosity, I had to check it out, and I now find myself at a loss for words by how unhinged and crazy this film is.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Believe it or not, even this movie isn’t as pathetic or bloodthirsty as the crew at TMZ.
It’s no secret that our modern society has a grotesque fascination with crime developments, but in Nightcrawler, the debut film of director Dan Gilroy, that fascination with the dark side of media is taken to alarming new heights. In many ways, it’s an infinitely superior take on the seedy neon underbellies of the world to Only God Forgives. With a fantastic lead performance from Jake Gyllenhaal (recently nominated by the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild), Nightcrawler certainly makes Gilroy a bold name to watch in the future.
Monday, December 8, 2014
There’s a rich wonder to the expansive and limitless workings of the universe, the unknown often frightening to us, or leaving us awestruck by its possibilities. Within the human condition itself, there is also such wonder to behold. This is that core conflict that makes up The Theory of Everything, a detailing of the history behind the brilliant Stephen Hawking.
The life of Hawking is nothing short of extraordinary, fighting for his life when it seemed he had all odds stacked against him, but to this day is an inspiration for his teachings and findings, and while The Theory of Everything is a film that doesn’t break new ground, it’s no less of a stellar portrait than the man deserves.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
When we first meet Riggan Thomson, the lead character of Birdman, we see him contemplating his life decisions, wearing nothing but briefs, as if to expose his deepest insecurities, but floating by some psychic power. Is it really happening, or is it all hallucination. Is it the battle of expectations vs. reality, and merely living fantasy?
In this single image, the perplexing tone is immediately set for Birdman, the latest feature from director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu. A step outside of Innaritu’s usual directorial style, which include films such as Babel and Biutiful, the film played in major festivals and circuits around the world, and has been universally praised as one of the best films of the year.
My answer to that: They’re absolutely right. In a year that has been overloaded by sequels and reboots. Birdman stands comfortably among the most wholly originally films of the year, and a career defining moment for much of its cast and crew, a marriage of perfect craftsmanship and thematic density.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Laika studios have quickly become a prolific name in the animation circuit, having helmed acclaimed films such as Coraline and ParaNorman. While I don’t consider them to be near the same level of Pixar, they’ve still made films that are undeniable feats of imagination.
However, ever since their debut with Coralne, it seems all of their follow up films have gotten progressively worse, all culminating in their latest release, The Boxtrolls. Leading up to the film, no one was really sure what it was about, and its enigmatic trailers fascinated us because of it. However, that promise of exceptional things to come turned out to be for naught, being the studio’s most technically masterful, but conceptually paper thin effort.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Hello, everyone! Well, it’s finally that time of year again. The time when I get to talk about a Young Adult novel series turned movies that I actually like.
For as much hassle as I give films in this vein, I won’t deny the films that have exceptional merits. Longtime readers will no doubt know of my fondness for The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins, and their subsequent film adaptations. Heck, Catching Fire made my top ten best films of 2013 list. I have always admired this series for its scathing societal commentary of obsession with reality television and the celebrity that comes with it, and its examination of governmental communism and manipulation.
So, you could see why I’d be so excited for today’s topic, Mockingjay – Part 1, based on what is my favorite book in the series. Of course, it still had its struggles to put up with. In what many assume was yet another money-grubbing attempt to cash in on the success of The Deathly Hallows, Mockingjay is the latest YA book to be split into two films, with the second half due out in November 2015.
And just like any of the tested alliances in the book, this decision turns out to be a necessary evil.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Today, I’m going to be doing something different. Recently, the hit comedy 22 Jump Street, the highly successful sequel to the highly successful reboot from two years ago, was released on Blu-Ray. Having never seen the first film, and having never gotten to see the second film in theaters, I decided to take this opportunity to watch both films back to back. Needless to say, I had myself one riotously funny time. The two films, based on the hugely popular television series, each turned out to be pleasant surprises in their own right, and without any further ado, here’s my take on both of them.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Brad Pitt must really love to kill Nazis.
When it went into wide release a month ago, Fury was one of the year’s most surprising hits. Directed by David Ayer of Training Day and End of Watch fame, and headlined by megastar Brad Pitt, it garnered much acclaim and box office success. A film that takes inspiration from and emulates numerous films, most notably Saving Private Ryan, the film attempts to strike a balance between a visceral action thriller and brothers-in-arms drama. However, in its attempts at doing so, the final product is a bigger misfire than the tracker shell bullets in the film.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
I’ve been putting this review off for a long time now, and now it’s time I finally start writing.
But really, how can I accurately get to the core of such a perplexing and polarizing film as Interstellar? Two weeks since I’ve first seen the film, I still don’t think I’ve cracked all of its secrets. Christopher Nolan has never been one to shy away from heady stylistics (such as in films like Inception and Memento), and with this film (originally intended to be directed by Steven Spielberg), he’s created his most head-scratching film yet. I find everyone either loves or hates this film for its intentions, and I can’t deny that I don’t see those same issues.
In many ways, Interstellar is very much Nolan’s 2001. An at once beautiful, but flawed piece of cinematic art, Interstellar ironically proves to be so ambitious that its heady concepts almost work against it. Is it a destined cinematic masterpiece that will grow in appreciation for generations to come, or is it a pretentious slog where Nolan’s intentions run more rampant than ever?
I have no clue, but let’s take a look at the film as is.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Big Hero 6 is an obscure member of Marvel’s classic archives, and one that makes Guardians of the Galaxy look as popular as Spider-Man by comparison. This would actually give Disney some much needed freedom to do what they wished with the material, and expand on the source material’s potential.
Disney, in a much needed rebirth, has been on a recent hot streak with their latest animated offerings, including Wreck it Ralph and Frozen, and Big Hero 6 is a fantastic continuation of their strong output. What Big Hero 6 may lack in 100% originality, it more than makes up for with brilliant execution, heart, and fun.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Happy Halloween, everyone! Well, considering it’s that time of year again when everyone likes to break out nostalgic annual classics, and turn their attention to new yearly offerings, a few days ago, I lent my attention to The Book of Life (You didn’t think I’d see something torturous like Annabelle or Quija, did you?), the new animated feature from Reel FX Animation Studios. That very name may leave a sour aftertaste to many a viewer, considering that they were behind last year’s critical failure Free Birds (which I have actively avoided). However, with a different creative team behind it, including Guillermo del Toro as a producer, The Book of Life is a generally fantastic film, and one of the year’s most dazzling treats.
Monday, October 6, 2014
David Fincher is often regarded as one of the finest auteurs of our generation, having been responsible for some truly dark and twisted films such as Se7en, Zodiac, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. So, when it was announced that his latest film would be an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl, everyone was at once skeptical and intrigued.
I consider the book to be one of my favorites of all time. A scathing examination of romanticism and media manipulation, the book lends itself perfectly to Fincher’s stylistics. Much buzz and anticipation has been spreading for this film, and let me just say this. If you’re a fan of Fincher or of the original book, you likely won’t be disappointed. If not, results may vary. From a personal standpoint, I consider this to be as perfect an adaptation to such a great book as I could ever have hoped. Few films this year have been nearly as gripping as this one.
However, this is a tough film to talk about without diving into major spoiler territory. So because of this, if you have not read the book, or seen the film, I’ll leave you with my thoughts that it is a fantastic addition to David Fincher’s filmography, because for the purposes of this review, everything beyond this point will be spoiling huge chunks of the story.
With that said, let’s begin…
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Hello, everyone! It's been a while since I've updated anything to my blog, as things have been busy. Well, I decided to take the time to get a few (very) quick write ups done of some summer films I've watched recently, or have held back on reviewing. Enjoy reading!
Sunday, August 31, 2014
That, as they say, is that. The summer movie season has finally come to a close, and awards season is right around the corner with the festival circuit in a couple weeks. However, before moving on to that time of year, I’ve decided to add a new feature where I’ll be talking about the best and worst films of the season.
For those who’ve been following my blog these last few months, I’ve made no secret for how poorly this season started out, starting with the disappointing releases of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Godzilla, but in spite of that, the movies released in the following months were progressively better. From How to Train Your Dragon 2 to Guardians of the Galaxy, the quality of the films improved by leaps and bounds, and in one unlikely instance, it has yielded one movie that has been near-unanimously considered to be a masterpiece. That being Boyhood from Richard Linklater. In comparison to last year, I consider it an improvement, and having yielded several superior movies. The worst film of this summer isn’t even as bad as the worst from last year, that being the utter failure The Lone Ranger.
So, now that that has been addressed, I’ll be doing my ranking of the fourteen films I saw this summer. Please keep in mind that I still haven’t gotten around to several big releases, namely X-Men, The Fault in Our Stars, and 22 Jump Street (frankly, I couldn’t care less about movies like Ninja Turtles or the latest Sin City), and I hope to get to those remaining films as they become available on home video. With that said, let’s begin...
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Richard Linklater is perhaps best known for his Before trilogy of Sunrise, Sunset, and Midnight, but one other thing he’s often regarded for is that he’s an ambitious experimentalist. However, this is something that, more often than not, unravels his features. Linklater, at least to me, is a classic example of a man with stronger ideas than executions, almost like a question that’s far more interesting than the actual answer.
One year after his fantastic Before Midnight, Linklater’s back with another ambitious directorial effort, Boyhood. A project that was originally conceived in 2002, Linklater would annually reunite with his cast and crew to film snippets of footage for twelve years. It’s a stellar achievement on its own, but one that threatens to be a gimmick. While the idea is highly original, I never could shake my cynicism that critics were showering it with heaps of praise (even declaring it a masterpiece) because of the idea more than the execution. If the actual presentation isn’t good, that originality is for naught.
In the end, though, this was one time where Linklater deserved the benefit of the doubt, for Boyhood is the man’s best and most emotionally engaging film yet.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The summer movie season, though it started out rough, has gotten better in the months following May. With the release of films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and especially How to Train Your Dragon 2, it has showcased some spectacular films.
However, if there’s any one film that seemed likely to disappoint, it was The Expendables 3, the latest chapter in Sylvester Stallone’s series of greatest hits action stars under one roof. With so much off putting press being spread of this movie, it’s no surprise that it’s turned out to be a dud.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
“GET UP OFFA THAT THING and DRIVE YOUR FUNKY SOUL to the theaters” is something I’d be happy to say about Get On Up… if only it were a better film than it actually is. Director Tate Taylor, following up his terrific film The Help from three years ago, is back in action with this biopic of the Godfather of funk and soul himself, James Brown. Being one of the most recognized and cherished artists of all time, you’d think this combination with Taylor would be ideal.
However, Get On Up is generally a more mixed bag, filled with interesting tidbits not executed to their fullest potential.
Monday, August 4, 2014
"I'm about to die next to the biggest idiots in the Galaxy” says Gamora, one of the characters in the
latest Marvel adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy. For several years now, Marvel has been doing a good job at introducing audiences to the less popular heroes of their library, and creating an ambitiously interconnected world in the meantime. However, in spite of their previous risks, I doubt anyone would have envisioned them bringing one of their more zany series like Guardians to the silver screen.
A somewhat obscure series in the Marvel archives, most audiences are generally unfamiliar with the characters, unlike the likes of Iron Man and Thor. You might have said the studio themselves would just as adequately be idiots for trying to make a film based on the material. But, try they did. Under the direction of the quirky James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy proves to be yet another gamble that paid off for Marvel. A funny, action packed, and thoroughly entertaining Sci-Fi romp with hardly a dull beat to be found.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
In 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes became the biggest pleasant surprise of the summer. It was a fantastic new take on the worn out mold of the previous films, and breathed new energy with new concepts behind it. Naturally, with its sequel, we all became ecstatic for how it would continue the new story, and for a summer movie season that has finally started to show some great life as of recent, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is by far one of the best films not just of the summer, but of the year in general.
Ten years after the events of the first film, mankind is all but extinct, with a select few humans in hiding, while the apes take conquest of the surrounding forests. Eventually, desperation forces some of the humans to rely on the help of the apes in order to preserve their colony, and provide electricity through a dam in the apes’ territory. However, treachery begins to arise in so-called friends, and with tensions bubbling to their boiling point, it could lead both humans and primates into all out war.
Friday, July 18, 2014
I finally got around to a couple more summer releases this year, both films of which being complete opposites catering to two different audiences. One a character driven journey with brutal thematic allegories, and the other a bombastic sights and sounds extravaganza. So here are my thoughts on both of them…
Thursday, July 10, 2014
On April 6th, 2013, just two days after his passing, Roger Ebert’s final review was published, that being for Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder. Oddly enough, the title of Malick’s film is the perfect way to bring the legacy of Ebert’s career full circle. A man full of wonder and energy beyond description, Ebert’s passion for cinema, as well as his eloquent writings and collaborations with Gene Siskel, have justly cemented him as the greatest film critic of all time.
Almost a year and a half has passed since his death, and the sting isn’t even close to receding. Ebert kept us coming back, time and time again, but it was his passion for life itself that made him such a fascinating individual. Taken from the title of Ebert’s memoirs, and directed by Steve James of Hoop Dreams (one of his favorite films), Life Itself is a film that shows us in unflinching detail the struggles, triumphs, and bumpy circumstances of Ebert’s long, celebrated career. Simply put, the film is fantastic.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
The summer movie season, aside from being a slow one for me, has also been very weak. Unlike most years, I have trouble thinking of any movies that I’ve liked, aside from How to Train Your Dragon 2 that is. So, it’s been about a month since the official releases of both films I’m reviewing today, Maleficent and Edge of Tomorrow. I decided to give both movies a go to see if they would make any impact on my thoughts on the summer, and here are my thoughts on them.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
“There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.” So says M. Gustave, as played by Ralph Fiennes in Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Told as a story-within-a-story-within-a-story, this film looks into the golden age of its titular hotel, in the madcap events surrounding its concierge and his faithful lobby boy in training, as the two of them become tangled in a convoluted case of treachery, murder, and deception, all of which are so beyond description that I dare not spoil the surprises. As anyone who follows my blog knows, The Grand Budapest Hotel was my most anticipated release of the year. So, with it finally having come out on DVD, I turned my attention towards it. My final verdict…. I would be so bold as to call this Wes Anderson’s best film to date.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
About a week ago, I gave a very enthusiastic review of the latest Dreamworks Animation release, How to Train Your Dragon 2. Having great adoration for the first film, it’s no faint praise that I found this film to be an improvement in EVERY aspect possible. That point of view still stands, but if there was any one detriment to my overall experience, it wasn’t with the actual movie. It was with my theater’s scheduling.
It’s no secret that I considered the first How to Train Your Dragon the best use of 3D I’d ever seen in a movie, so suffice it to say that the sequel was one of the VERY FEW movies I actively sought out seeing in 3D. Well, as it goes, my local theater had a wonky schedule. My local AMC houses ETX screenings, and while it’s basically just a form of IMAX-lite (and not a cheap one, at that), it still makes for a stellar piece of quality viewing. However, my theater decided to relegate Dragon to its smaller 3D theaters, reserving its biggest screen to the decidedly non-3D, non-IMAX 22 Jump Street. Needless to say, I was furious with this ridiculous move, cashing in on 22’s popularity, when it really doesn’t justify it like this movie does. However, logic must’ve struck them, as they added screenings for this movie in ETX the next weekend. Having wanted to see it this way from the beginning, and simply wanting an excuse to see the movie again, I immediately pounced upon the opportunity. The movie itself is even more rewarding a second time (and I hope it will continue to be on subsequent viewings), but as for my thoughts on the 3D, at the VERY LEAST, the film is every bit on par as its predecessor, and in some areas, is even an improvement.
Monday, June 16, 2014
So, after finally seeing the spectacular How to Train Your Dragon 2, I decided to lend my attention to another one of my most anticipated films of the year, Seth MacFarlane’s wild west parody A Million Ways to Die in the West. After being tickled quite thoroughly by his directorial debut, Ted, I found myself eagerly awaiting his follow up, and yet, I find that in spite of all the potential this project had, it’s hard not to consider myself underwhelmed by the final product.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
In 2010, How to Train Your Dragon was a massive success. A refreshing step out of Dreamworks’ then typical comfort zone of movies driven by humor and dry pop culture gags, it was a heartfelt and enchanting movie that quickly set word of mouth on fire, leading it to become a consistent box office success (including reaching number one at the box office, four weeks after its original debut), cementing it as the sleeper hit of the year. I myself found the movie irresistible, not only because of how touching and captivating it was, but for the bold moves its filmmakers had made. It also doesn’t hurt that it was the best 3D I had ever seen in a movie, and to this day, still is.
Obviously, with this kind of adoration, that’s putting a lot of pressure on the inevitable sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and believe me, this type of movie was exactly what I needed. After last year’s weak slate of animated features (I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again), it’s refreshing that we are now leaps and bounds ahead of it in quality. As for how this film stands, not only does it match the first film in quality, it goes even further… It surpasses it in every conceivable aspect.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Well, things are going a bit slow as far as movie viewing goes, so I figured I would take the time to finish a couple reviews that I’ve been putting off for a while. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and The Lego Movie.
I first saw both films all the way back in February, but I held off on giving them actual reviews for other projects. Now that they’re both about to be released on Blu-Ray, I decided I would finally take the time to archive my thoughts on them. They’re both really entertaining, and I hope you’ll check them both out.
Monday, May 19, 2014
Hello, and welcome back, everyone! So, a couple weeks ago, the summer movie season got off to a weak start with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a weak opener that many were hoping the upcoming release of Godzilla would rectify.
If you’re one of the few unfamiliar with the source material, Godzilla is the iconic lizard monster popularized by the campy 1950’s and ‘60’s kaiju films from movie studio Toho. American filmmakers had previously attempted to bring ‘Zilla stateside, but unfortunately in the form of Roland Emmerich’s horrendous interpretation. Directed by newcomer Gareth Edwards, and starring a fantastic roster of actors, this new take on the legend was released to magnificent hype, some may say to the levels of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. With all the word of mouth, I suddenly got hopeful that it would start the season off right… but unfortunately, this really didn’t hit the mark. It’s just about as weak as any other movie released this month so far, but the sadder fact is it isn’t even the least bit enjoyable to watch.
Friday, May 2, 2014
It’s been two years since the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, which last saw our beloved web-head releasing with flying colors… Or, perhaps the better word would be muted colors. In spite of its solid critical success and strong box office revenue, this reboot to the Spidey storyline never could escape justly deserved skepticism that it was little more than a cynical attempt for Sony to keep the rights to the character, and even some who enjoyed it felt quite apathetic about it afterwards, myself included.
Of course, a sequel was to be expected, but the studio went even further, announcing that not only would three sequels be in production, but also a few spin-off films for other characters in the series. With so much hype built around it, and with Captain America already making a big splash this year, you may expect this film to be just as entertaining.
Unfortunately, you would be proven wrong. While not without its moments, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a weaker, heavily less focused follow-up to the original.
Monday, April 7, 2014
Welcome back! Now that I’ve had plenty of time to rest, it’s time for my first official review for a 2014 movie.
When Captain America: The First Avenger was released, it was such a breath of fresh air. Fitted with a retro World War II vibe, and directed by Joe Johnston, it felt like something out of an Indiana Jones flick rather than any traditional superhero flick. Up until this point, it remained my favorite entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after The Avengers, and in what has so far been a great second phase for Marvel’s constructed world, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has undoubtedly been the highlight. For what was already a wonderfully old-school adventure, The Winter Soldier is a spectacular update that stands as one of Marvel’s best since outings
Friday, February 28, 2014
On Sunday night, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will honor what they feel has represented the best achievements in film of 2013 during their 86th annual Oscars ceremony. The Oscars are always interesting to watch. Even though numerous races are set in stone from the get-go, there will always be the tricky categories to give us pause in predicting what we think the winners will be. This year has been no less perplexing, with support for films flying all over the place from presumed runaway frontrunners, to now several films having a legitimate chance to take the victory.
I wasn’t planning on doing this, but given how good and how hectic the year has been, I decided to toss in my predictions of who is going to win in all 24 categories, and my reasons as to why. I’m not 100 percent sure on all of these predictions, but these are all as finalized and certain as I’m going to get. With that said, let’s get started.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Coming off of the fantastic year in film of 2013, now is the time for me to look ahead to some of my most highly anticipated films of 2014. The year itself has already turned in some titles worthy of notice, even in such a dumping ground as terrible as February (which includes THREE remakes), the fact that we’ve already got a movie as excellent as The Lego Movie (which I recommend everyone go see) is a very encouraging sign. 2014 has potential that it could even best last year, and so, having found some time to sit down and properly put my thoughts together, I give you my list of my top ten most anticipated releases of the year.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Alright, everyone! It’s all come down to this. After spending so much time talking about the worst movies of 2013, it’s finally time to talk about the best that 2013 had to offer. Despite some embarrassingly bad titles tossed around this year, I still maintain that it was a fantastic year for films, with plenty of variety to showcase. It had everything from sci-fi romance to action thrillers, from family dramas to survival thrillers in space, and from Hobbits and dragons to snowmen and reindeer. It seemed to have a little bit of something for everyone, and today, I’m counting it all down in the top ten best movies I saw all year. Please keep in mind that there are still high profile films I haven’t gotten around to like Blue is the Warmest Color, Nebraska, Philomena (or, as it’s now called, PhiloMANIA), and The Wind Rises.
Before moving on to the official top ten, I’d like to hand out some honorable mentions to films that would have been very deserving of placement on here. Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is a brutal, devastating, and essential portrait of slavery, lifted by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s stunning lead performance. Inside Llewyn Davis from the brothers Coen is among the duo’s best films in years, a tale as timeless and heartbreaking as the folk songs present in the feature. Woody Allen struck a home run with Blue Jasmine, thanks mainly due to the performances of Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins as two sisters in a believably bitter situation. Dallas Buyers Club boasted fantastic performances all around, especially from those of the Oscar worthy Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Pacific Rim from Guillermo Del Toro is one of the best blockbusters of the year, and is an all around massive, spectacular, and thoroughly entertaining popcorn flick.
One project that I’d like to show due appreciation to (even though it isn’t a movie), is the spectacular survival-horror video game The Last of Us from the creative minds at Naughty Dog. If this qualified as a movie, it would have easily taken my position at number 1. Ever since finishing the game back in June, every image and emotion felt from the experience has stuck with me. From the gritty tone and atmosphere, the frightening sound design, the harrowing script, the inseparable duo of unforgettable lead characters, all the way down to the haunting score, The Last of Us not only proved how well a game can tell a story, but put any and all of the movies released this year to shame. It is perfection, one of the greatest games of all time, and a living testament that video games are high art.
All geeky gamer rambling done, let’s introduce the top ten.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
With 2013 officially brought to a close, I can now look ahead to the year 2014....
…But not without a couple side stops along the way. In light of the end of the year, I decided to take this time to look back on the year, creating a new feature where I celebrate the best and the worst the year had to offer. To start it off, I present to you the top five worst movies of the year.
I’ve said that 2013 was a fantastic year for movies, but that doesn’t mean we still didn’t get some disastrous titles along the way: After Earth, Diana, Texas Chainsaw 3D… just to name a few. However, I would like to note that I haven’t gotten around to some of these reportedly terrible titles, so this is only relegated to what bad offerings I did end up seeing. Titles that I had hopes for despite their bad reception, or titles I watched because I guess I just felt like I needed to be punished.
First of all, I want to give out some dishonorable mentions before we move on. Barely missing out is Only God Forgives, Nicolas Winding Refn’s take on Dante’s The Divine Comedy, that ends up being a half-baked, garish, discordant purgatory all its own because of its sloppy direction, whether or not that was the intention being irrelevant. How I Live Now starring Saoirse Ronan would have been my worst of the year had it not been for the survival elements in the second half. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 was an obnoxious, unfunny letdown from its highly enjoyable original. The Way, Way Back gets my vote for 2013’s most overrated, a downright unpleasant mixture of uncomfortable comedy and tacky drama lifted mainly by Sam Rockwell. M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth also gets a mention for its stupid, illogical script, and uninteresting performances. I’d also like to give a shout out to those awful voiceovers from Walking with Dinosaurs. Even though the movie itself isn’t bad, those terrible vocal performances bring it all to a screeching halt.
Anyway, let’s get to the real top five.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Here’s a series of short reviews I’ve had the time to sit down and write. These will be my last reviews of the year, but that doesn't mean I'm quite done with the year yet. I still have plenty more to say about certain films, and it helps that until The Monuments Men comes out, there's nothing being released that interests me. In a few days, I'll be getting around to a couple of special features I plan on doing. One will be the list of the worst films I've seen all year, and one will be of the best I've seen all year, so I hope you'll join me for those in the future.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Thank god for Megan Ellison!
Perhaps an odd opening for a review, but I really mean it. Ever since her company, Annapurna Pictures, was founded, it has given so many great films (including the likes of Zero Dark Thirty and The Master) the much deserved attention and financial backing to films that, otherwise, would never have seen the light of day. One of these films that received backing from the company was Her. An at once poignant, but also deceptively bizarre sounding film from director Spike Jonze, of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation fame, the film was one of the best received films of 2013. After it won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, my interest in the film had piqued drastically. Having had time to let all my thoughts on the film sink in since my first viewing, I can enthusiastically declare it one of the best films of an already fantastic year in films.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
"SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!" I chanted furiously at Justin Long.
"SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!"
"SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!"
Dinosaurs are fascinating creatures. Even though none of us ever saw them live and up close, what we have discovered of them have intrigued us for hundreds of years. Dinosaurs have been admirably brought to the screen numerous times, and one of the most famous instances happen to be BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs series of specials, creating a fondly remembered, spectacular and realistic documentary-esque presentation of the creatures in their own time, to which numerous imitators have recreated in the years since. When a film adaptation of the miniseries was announced, you bet I was excited. I was hoping that it would finally give the dinosaurs the treatment they deserved for the big screen, but much like previous movies such as Disney’s Dinosaur, the filmmakers made the last minute decision to add voiceover performances, wasting the potential for what this movie could have been. As a result, I’m left with the ultimate love/hate movie.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Perhaps I’m too harsh on the series. After all, after the immense success of his original trilogy, Peter Jackson was only setting himself up for disappointment with the much awaited prequel. Much of my compliments and criticisms of The Desolation of Smaug are so similar to that of An Unexpected Journey, I could just as easily copy and paste most of my original thoughts verbatim. However, for what it’s worth, Smaug does represent a marked, albeit still problematic, improvement over its earlier sibling.
Saturday, January 4, 2014
“If this ever changing world in which we’re living makes you give in and cry, say live and let die.”
Truly, it is a live and let die world in American Hustle, a crime dramedy from director David O. Russell, clearly channeling the legendary Martin Scorsese. American Hustle has garnered enthusiastic praise as one of the best movies of the year, and has elicited comparisons to Scorsese’s own Goodfellas, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call it among my best-of choices, I still had a pleasant time with it.