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Owen Wilson’s latest film finds him running to save his family from a military coup that’s taking over the country where he recently moved, but should you run and hide from No Escape? Click to find out!

 

“I know – I just finally read the reviews for The Internship … Let’s get out here!” Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) carries his youngest daughter while his wife Annie (Lake Bell) leads their older daughter Lucy (Sterling Jerins) after their hotel is swarmed by rebel forces in a scene from NO ESCAPE. Credit: © 2015 The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE: 



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Claire Geare, Sterling Jerins and Sahajak Boonthanakit

WRITER(S): John Erick Dowdle & Drew Dowdle


DIRECTOR(S): John Erick Dowdle
60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) is a simple man trying to do a simple thing: Provide a decent, honest living for his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two daughters (Claire Geare and Sterling Jerins). And in order for him to do that, he has decided to take a job with a company in Southeast Asia where he will be working on water pipelines. His family meets a nice man named Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) on the flight over and settles into a hotel once their long flight from Texas is complete. The next morning, Jack goes out for a walk to grab a newspaper. 



Then he finds himself embroiled in a full scale political uprising, prompting to run immediately back to his hotel, grab his wife and children and run for their lives. 



Will they make it? Only time will tell – but when you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language, you have no weapons or martial arts training and no idea what’s really going on, there may be no escape indeed …

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Owen Wilson fans; Pierce Brosnan fans; people who like “what would you do?” scenario action movies


WHO WONT (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who find movies centering on Americans in worst case scenario movies to be xenophobic; anyone who hates it when little kids say or do things to their own detriment despite the situation clearly calling for them to grow up; people who are uncomfortable watching extreme scenes of violence


SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? While the aforementioned potential negatives no doubt detract from the film’s narrative, No Escape is an entertaining action movie thanks largely in part to what equates to Owen Wilson’s strongest – and most enthralling – performance in years and the strong sense of peril co-writer/director John Erick Dowdle is able to create.



Wilson plays his character exactly as he should for maximum effect. Instead of coming off like a secret badass in disguise, his Jack Dwyer is a true everyman who is immediately overwhelmed once he is thrown into a situation he does not anticipate and responds as such: Transitioning from scared to death to still scared to death while trying to save his family and while trying to think clearly as possible. Wilson responds as one naturally would/should in situations of conflict given his character’s lack of preparation, yet maintains enough of a sense of “I must get through this” that not only makes you buy into his character, but root for him as well. Wilson avoids all action movie super hero tropes; there are no corny one-liners, no over-the-top fight sequences and even when the certain clichés rear their ugly head, they feel more organic in nature than forced for the sake of the story. 



Co-writer and director John Erick Dowdle does an excellent job at crafting a grim world for his characters in which his characters must fight to survive. Despite that underlying feeling you know what will happen in the story and who will (and won’t) survive, the tension he creates for his characters transfers over to the audience. The action and violence comes from all angles fast and furiously with no regard for anything and anyone in its path, all of which enhances the feeling of just how much peril is truly upon them while treating its characters (and the audience) with respect necessary to keep it again from falling into cornball territory. 



Wilson (and Bell’s complimentary) performance aside, there are some issues that may significantly affect your enjoyment of No Escape, the first being the notion that you likely can surmise what will ultimately happen. Look, you go into a movie like this, you pretty much know the routine of how it’s gonna go. Second, if you think the film has a bit of a xenophobic feel to it, whereas I would argue you’re a bit off base, it will definitely affect your view on who you should be rooting for and overall enjoyment of the film. Lastly, as harsh as it sounds to say,  Claire Geare’s and Sterling Jerins’ characters are the thing that likely never change in disaster movies but is still nevertheless awful: Children who are annoying, almost get either their selves or every adult trying to help them killed as they refuse to grow up in the moment. You may feel guilty at first for rooting for bad things to happen to children, but once you watch them nearly get someone killed for the fifth time in 20 minutes, you’ll get over it.



Getting over the idea a movie starring Owen Wilson that was thrice delayed from hitting theaters can’t be good is another one you’d be good to get over as well. Because No Escape as a film is for an audience as it is as an event for its characters: Unexpected, thrilling and an adrenaline pumping adventure you’ll feel better for having survived. 


OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

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They became known to the music community as “the world’s most dangerous band,” but now, some 25-plus years later, their impact is undeniable. Is Straight Outta Compton any good? Click for our movie critic’s review!

 

“The first person that asks us to do a karaoke version of ‘Rapper’s Delight’ is getting punched in the face!” The members of N.W.A. – MC Ren (Aldis Hodge), DJ Yella (Neil Brown, Jr.), Eazy-E (Keith Mitchell), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) and Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) get ready to rock Detroit in a scene from director F. Gary Gray’s STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. Credit: Jaimie Trueblood. © 2015 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.



WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE: 


KEY CAST MEMBERS: O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown, Jr., Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti, R. Marcus Taylor, Carra Patterson, Marlon Yates, Jr., Keith Powers, Corey Reynolds and Lakeith Lee Stanfield

WRITER(S): Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff (screenplay); S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus  and Andrea Berloff (story)

DIRECTOR(S): F. Gary Gray 
WEB SITE: http://www.straightouttacompton.com/
60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): The story of the hip-hop quintet once billed as “the world’s most dangerous group,” Straight Outta Compton stars Jason Mitchell as Eric Wright. A “street pharmacist” (or drug dealer, in plain terms) by trade, Wright is friends with Andre Young (Corey Hawkins), who spends his nights working as an aspiring local DJ working under Lonzo Williams (Corey Reynolds) a club owner with whom he doesn’t quite see eye-to-eye musically. His younger brother Tyree (Keith Powers) idolizes him, but with a young daughter to look after and a mother who doesn’t quite support his DJ dreams, Dre needs a new situation ASAP …

Meanwhile, O’Shea Jackson (played by his real life offspring O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) spends his time in high school writing his “reality raps” about the tough neighborhood in which he lives where the police are just as big if not a bigger threat than all the gang members that proliferate it. Realizing the drug game only ends with you in jail or in the ground, Wright – after some prodding from the man who everyone just calls Dre – decides to start a record label largely backed by Dre’s musical production and hard hitting lyrics by Jackson (a.k.a. Ice Cube). Joined by Lorenzo Patterson a.k.a. MC Ren and proverbial ladies man Antoine “DJ Yella” Carraby (Neil Brown), the five young men form the group that shall change hip-hop (and in turn, America), forever: N.W.A. 

(And if you don’t know what “N.W.A.” stands for, you’re really out of the loop. Continuing on …)

Wright – or Eazy-E, if you will – then meets a manager in the form of Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) who will take the group on to instant fame as their records strike a chord with rap fans from coast to coast. But that doesn’t come without controversy due to their profanity and violence laden rhymes that encourage, among other things, telling local authorities that they can go fornicate themselves for the way they treat young African-Americans. But what happens when money, power and the ability to live life the way every poor kid in the ‘hood dreams of being able to do one day? 

Straight Outta Compton tells the story, pulling very few punches along the way in doing so …

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E fans; fans of hip-hop’s “Golden Era” and anyone else who grew up with N.W.A.’s music; activists who will point out the timelessness of the group’s music as music and social commentary

WHO WONT (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? MC Ren fans; music historians who hate when biopics pick and choose what they do and don’t cover from the artist’s controversial past; police officers who do not like criticism of the police especially in light of the last year of the American news cycle; those who find rap music offensive or not music; Marion “Shug” Knight and Dee Barnes

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? It would be quite easy – lazy, mind you, but easy – to say Straight Outta Compton is a biopic that N.W.A./rap fans will love as it celebrates all of the group’s success while showcasing their cultural impact on America. But guess what? Compton – directed by longtime Ice Cube collaborator F. Gary Gray and produced by Dre, Cube and Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Woods-Wright (MC Ren and DJ Yella also served as consultants) – is exactly that.

However, the film is also much more. It’s an examination of the age old story of how money and fame has ruined/changed many groups in all musical genres; it’s an examination of the dangers of the African American experience in the inner city, police brutality and how America reacts to controversy that never comes off as preachy and it’s ultimately a story of friendship and brotherhood. And, thanks to strong performances by its key leads and director F. Gary Gray, it’s a funny, emotional and entertaining experience that goes beyond being JUST a film for those who grew up with the source material. 

For a cast lacking star power – Giamatti is by far the most if not only recognizable name on the roster – Compton shows that you don’t need big names to make for a good movie, only big talent. While some may raise an eyebrow at Dre being mainly depicted as a level-headed, I-just-wanna-make-music individual (Google “Dee Barnes Dr. Dre” and you’ll see why that was left out of the movie; Dre has since addressed that era of his life.), Hawkins’ performance showcases the dedication and genius he has regarding the thing Dr. Dre is best known for: Music. Likewise, whereas his performance could easily seem like stunt casting (or just a horrible idea) upon first glance, Jackson, Jr. proves himself a formidable actor playing his father, providing a portrayal that is funnier and more intellectually vital to his success one may associate with the name “Ice Cube.” Considering this is the same rapper who once billed himself as “the (insert racially charged epithet) you love to hate,” this portrayal of Cube shows why he’s been able to last as long as he has in Hollywood and do things like Are We There Yet? without ever losing his street cred. 

Mitchell, however, is the one that truly shines in nailing all the aspects of the late Eazy-E that enabled him to both platinum records and a dinner invite at the White House. Street smart hustler and well-meaning but naive businessman are the two sides of the Eazy-E equation which Mitchell nails equally, making the climax of his story a powerful one that removes the idea of “street thug” into caring spouse, friend and creator. Giamatti does a great job at humanizing both Heller (who’s dealings ultimately broke the group up in the first place) and providing a space for Mitchell to play off as the story progresses. MC Ren fans may be disappointed at how little focus is put on him as he equates to little more than Eazy-E’s forgotten friend; at least Neil Brown makes the most of his scenes as DJ Yella, adding comic relief before a final short but touching scene. Director F. Gary Gray deserves credit for bringing everything together as well as it does. Sure, one might (and likely should) take issue with some of the significant events/topics of the group’s past not being involved … Then again, the relevance of the group’s music today in light of African-American police relations makes every bit of the film’s 2 hour, 20 minute-plus run time feel necessary. Compton shows how not far America has come on the issue of police brutality in the African-American community and why a group like N.W.A. not only thrived, but was a revolutionary force like no other. 

WARNING: HISTORY LESSON/COMMENTARY AHEAD!
Challenging of authority is nothing new, but the fashion in which the group did it comes through like a booming cannon in Compton, showing how the location could double for nearly any of the neighborhoods/cities where nearly 30 unarmed African Americans have died at the hands of police in the year since the events in Ferguson, Mississippi. 

It’s a sad likely truth that many of the people that need to see Straight Outta Compton the most will likely miss the point of the film if so. For, much like N.W.A. claimed when their cassettes (remember those?) were hot items among youths who had to get parents or older siblings to buy them for them at record stores, the violence and misogyny in their songs was a reflection of their reality, not a glorification of it. And even at the times when it could be seen as such, it says more about the society that makes the ideas presented seem glorious than it does the artist simply providing the commentary. N.W.A. knew how to put America up to the mirror to take a hard look at itself; Straight Outta Compton just illustrates why they were so good at it. 

While much of hip-hop today has shifted it seems into glorifying violence and misogyny instead of talking about why it exists and how to fix it, it was groundbreaking stuff back when N.W.A. did it; many of today’s artists just seem to be lazily trying to follow in their already well explored footsteps. Even in in their own youthful hypocrisy, N.W.A. created timeless music for a generation and the film encapsulates why it has lasted long beyond the group’s active recording years. 

A film that shares the story of five friends as much as it does explore the ideas of race in America, Straight Outta Compton is one of the best flicks of the summer and certainly a more “fantastic” superhero tale than recent comic book fare. (And yes, in true hip-hop fashion, I just dissed the awful Fantastic Four movie that recently came out. Eazy-E, I suspect, would be proud.) 

OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

 

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Trainwreck is earning Amy Schumer plenty of praise as the comedienne hits a new level of popularity but does her new film deserve the same attention? Read on to see what our movie critic has to say.

“What do you mean you’re a Golden State Warriors fan?!” Amy (Amy Schumer) has a serious moment with LeBron James (playing himself), a patient and concerned friend of renown sports surgeon Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader, not pictured) in a scene from TRAINWRECK, which Schumer wrote and Judd Apatow directed. Credit: Mary Cybulski © 2015 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved. 

WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE: 



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, LeBron James, Colin Quinn, Brie Larson, Vanessa Hudgens, Tilda Swinton, Mike Birbiglia, Ezra Miller, John Cena and a bunch of stand-up comedians you may or may not recognize

WRITER(S): Amy Schumer

DIRECTOR(S): Judd Apatow

60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): Trainwreck stars comedy’s it girl of the moment Amy Schumer as Amy Townsend, a writer currently spending her days working as a writer at an over-the-top men’s magazine in New York City fashioned after Maxim. While her sister Kim (Brie Larson) has found wedded bliss with her husband (Mike Birbiglia) and their son Allister (Evan Brinkman), Amy takes after her father (Colin Quinn) – meaning she drinks too much, gets high too often and pretty much runs away from any member of the opposite sex before they have any chance to turn their fling into an actual relationship.A wrench is thrown into her perfect little world, however, when she is given an assignment to do a profile on Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), top surgeon to many of today’s star athletes including his close friend LeBron James (playing himself or at least a version of himself as the case may be). The problem is that Aaron takes a liking to Amy … And the more time she gets to spend with him, Amy finds herself feeling more and more like there could be a reason to actually try to have a boyfriend.

That revelation, of course, is not one she is ready to handle by any means. 

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Amy Schumer fans, LeBron James fans, Colin Quinn fans, Judd Apatow fans who like it when he tightens up his movies as opposed to letting them ramble, fans of Comedy Central and the stand-up comedians they promote

WHO WONT (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Amy Schumer haters and people who are still mad at Schumer for old tweets, guys who don’t think women are funny on principle, Miami Heat fans, John Cena fans who aren’t used to seeing him outside of his WWE comfort zone, people with aging parents 

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? First making her presence known to the public via outlets like Last Comic Standing and Comedy Central’s roasts of Charlie Sheen and Roseanne Barr, Schumer’s eponymous sketch series Inside Amy Schumer is what propelled her to mainstream stardom in 2013. 

Now, with the perfect anti-romantic comedy romantic comedy well-suited to today’s world of Tinder hook-ups and Snapchats, Schumer – along with director Judd Apatow – has crafted one of 2015’s most entertaining movies. 

As much as we hate to admit it, it seems for the most part that the days of simply walking up, asking someone out on a date and then starting a relationship have come and are mostly gone. Be it technology, the sexual revolution, the increased pace of the work world, modern dating feels like a reality show as it is a trainwreck in which many of us can’t stop participating. Trainwreck highlights all of this with sharp, unexpected in many moments and sharp hilarity that excels thanks to the committed performances of all parties involved. 

Given the writing/directing combo’s pedigree, not to mention the fact the film is chock full of veteran stand-up comedians (it’s like a comedy central who’s who of the last 4 years), it should come as no surprise that Trainwreck is funny. What may be surprising, however, is just who it is making you laugh and why. Essentially an examination in role reversal for the first two-thirds of the film, Trainwreck features guys in the role of innocents facing heartbreak and being sensitive to the desires of a relationship and Schumer essentially taking on the traditional undesirable male traits of the “hit-it-and-quit-it” style of dating. It almost serves as a comment on the idea of male dominance of the opposite sex making him a “man,” but it also doesn’t make Schumer’s character come off as a representation of all women as much as it does just her father’s daughter given his nature as explained at the beginning of the film. This in turn makes her character’s later actions feel authentic as she confronts her ways, which then enhances the story and entertainment value of it all.

The film wouldn’t work so well without the committed performances of Schumer’s co-stars as several of the film’s big name co-stars – ESPECIALLY John Cena as a seemingly sexually confused bodybuilder and LeBron James as LeBron James, conscientious friend who is a little aloof how taltented he is – either plays things against type or to sharp comedic perfection. Whereas Tilda Swinton is so biting as a Devil Wears Prada style editor at Schumer’s character’s magazine, Quinn is somehow lovable as a curmudgeon who loves his girls despite his ways. 

James, yes, JAMES is probably Trainwreck‘s biggest winner as the two-time NBA champion gets to show a side of himself that you likely never knew existed in the film. A major character in the film, James shows both humility and aloofness in his role that really delivers, whether you are a fan of his or not. Hader and Larson likewise play perfectly opposite Schumer, their actions serving as the conscience Quinn’s character often kind of destroys. This all makes things much more impactful when Schumer’s character “breaks” character in her more sympathetic moments.

All in all, the way comedy is under attack now – Schumer being one of the stand-up stars goaded/forced into/making issuing well-stated apologies –  Trainwreck will no doubt leave some saying the film plays up whatever insert stereotype here for cheap/easy laughs. Those with the ability to be discerning and laugh at well-thought out humor that plays fair to BOTH sexes, however, will be treated to what may arguably be the summer’s funniest film to date, as well as a movie that will serve as a good outlet for one.
 
OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

 

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Chris Pratt is back in theaters taking on another heroic world in the franchise relaunch of Jurassic Park. So, why does our movie critic wish Jurassic World would go extinct? Click here to find out!

“You think my breath is bad now, wait ’till I put some Sriracha on these flying wings! The Indominus Rex wreaks havoc in a scene from co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow’s newest addition to the Jurassic Park franchise, JURASSIC WORLD. Credit: Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment. © 2015 Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.



WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, Judy Greer and Ty Burrell

WRITER(S): Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow (screenplay); Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (story); Michael Crichton (original characters on which the film is based)

DIRECTOR(S): Colin Trevorrow

60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): Hoping to recapture the magic that struck audiences back in 1993, Jurassic World stars Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson as Gray and Zach, two brothers visiting the realized Jurassic World – the dinosaur theme park the late John Hammond (played in the original by Sir Richard Attenborough). Now a full scale park that features everything from rideable dinosaurs to a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and Starbucks, the brothers are getting VIP access to the park courtesy of their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). 



A marketing executive who works 24/7, Claire is currently overseeing the upcoming reveal of the park’s newest attraction – Indominus Rex – the park’s first original genetically modified hybrid dinosaur that has the DNA of T-Rex (and several other creatures) so it can shine as a way to keep guests interested and coming back to the park’s home on Isla Nublar. While Claire, Dr. Wu (BD Wong) and Masrani, the park’s billionaire owner/aspiring helicopter pilot are all fond of their newest creature, Owen (Chris Pratt) has yet to meet the animal as he’s been busy working on another project: training a group of velociraptors to work and respond to his commands. While Owen is optimistic about the bond he may one day be able to share with his animals, Hoskins (Vincet D’Onofrio) is interested in his work for a different, far more militaristic reason …



So, what happens when you put 20,000 tourists on an island with prehistoric killing machines, people with various motivations and security that may or may not be able to hold them all off? Well, the park is open … How long it is, however, remains to be seen …


WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? People who enjoyed the Transformers movie series; Chris Pratt fans; people who enjoy mindless action sequences and watching dinosaurs come to life; anyone enjoys campy summertime action movie fare


WHO WONT (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Fans of the original Jurassic Park film; Chris Pratt fans who hate to see him trying to carry a movie single-handedly; those who hate predictable sci-fi films; people who pick apart plot holes; people who enjoy characters that are not one dimensional
 

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? As someone who [1] is a fan and owner of the original film trilogy [2] enjoys Chris Pratt’s work very much and [3] was hopeful the new film would deliver something original, it saddens me to say this, but the truth must be told: Jurassic World is proof that much like the fictional venue featured in the film, the park should stay closed forever as bigger is clearly not always better. Jurassic World in fact does it best to prove that bigger is 100% worse. 



If you’re the type that pays attention when you watch a movie, you’ll likely notice there are a myriad of problems that plague Jurassic World from start to finish – and all of them come together to create a hybrid best described as a Michael Bay orgy of violence, predictable storylines and bad acting that co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow tries to save with a big blowout action sequence at the end. 



Let’s run down some of the problems together now, shall we?



Story-wise, Jurassic World presents the EXACT same story you expect you’re going to get if you’ve ever seen any of the first three films: Man CANNOT control dinosaurs and not only that, the more WE try to control nature, the more nature is going to show us who’s in control. There is no surprise to what the Indominus Rex is about, going to do or how it’s going to do it. Likewise, you know what every human character is going to do after the first time they show up on screen, so nothing in Jurassic World is exciting in terms of the story because you can figure it out 20-25 minutes in. Having refused to learn from all the past incidents – and given the money spent, loss of life involved and resources wasted, wouldn’t SOME government/environmental agency/PETA have shut this place down by now?! – you are not surprised/shocked in the slightest when what happens unfolds.



How bad of a repeat of every other Jurassic Park movie is this? Well, let’s see … 



[1] The businessman (Khan) is always going to be optimistic and hopeful but extremely misguided; [2] The business execs/scientists (Howard/Wong) are always going to put the wrong things first in the idea of making money/their legacy; 

[3] The animal control guy (Pratt) is always gonna be the one that has to fix something/knows whatever is going on behind closed doors isn’t right, but not until after the security team realizes their overmatched … 

[4]And there’s always gonna be one guy (D’Onofrio) that is gonna be the dumb fat guy. Did I also mention …

[5] There’s got to be a somewhat ludicrous romance and

[6] The kids are going to be both

[7] Not interesting/annoying as siblings until they …

[8] Have to be rescued? Seriously – it’s to the point Child Protective Services wouldn’t let anyone under the age of 18 anywhere near this place. At least 

[9] There’s going to be one wise-cracking employee (Jake Johnson) to throw in some good one liners and try to help along the way.



By the way, if you think I just gave away the movie in the paragraph above, you OBVIOUSLY haven’t watched the trailer for the film since IT DOES EVERYTHING I JUST MENTIONED IN LESS THAN 3 MINUTES.


Pratt does his best to keep the film in some level of plausibility/interest as the take no nonsense Owen, but given all the aforementioned tired tropes the other characters he’s saddled with have – just wait until Howard goes into classic Indiana Jones damsel in distress mode with the perfect mode of sweaty, alluring feminine outfit (complete with high heels!) and complete character 180 attitude turn – it’s a lose-lose situation. It’s really hard for anyone to overcome a complete cluster of mediocre, so just consider this one a mulligan for the former Parks & Recreation star (and fittingly potential next Indiana Jones).Next to Pratt, the dinosaurs are the only good thing about Jurassic World. but save for one Alfred Hitchcock/Birds-like inspired sequence and the massive blowout at the film’s climax, the other dino sequences are lackluster as everything else.

So, unless you’ve never seen a Jurassic Park movie, really love watching people run in panic after making bad decisions … Or just like Chris Pratt so much you have to see every film he’s in, Jurassic World is proof that bigger is not only not always better, but that some movie franchises should just stay extinct.

OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

 

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In a world where social media is taking over, it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about teenagers dying because of it. But is there more to Unfriended than meets the eye? Click here to see if you’ll “like” it!

 

“Dude, I can’t even imagine going back to Friendster!” Val (Courtney Halverson), Ken (Jacob Wysocki), Jess (Renee Olstead), Blaire (Shelley Hennig), Mitch (Moses Storm) and Adam (Will Peltz) share a Skype session with an unknown “friend” in a scene from Levan Gabriadze’s modern technology thriller UNFRIENDED. Credit: © Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson and Heather Sossaman 

WRITER(S): Nelson Greaves


DIRECTOR(S): Levan Gabriadze
60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): A year ago, Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) killed herself after an embarrassing video of her posted to YouTube made her the target of cyberbullying. Now, her memory lives on in cyberspace … 

Fast forward to the present and Blair (Shelley Henning), Laura’s former best friend is online chatting via Skype with her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Storm) planning their prom (and subsequent afterparty). All is going well until a group of their friends – Ken (Jacob Wysocki), Jess (Renee Olstead) and Adam (Will Peltz) – interrupt their fun. But there’s something wrong – really wrong – with the connection, or at least they all think so … Because there’s an unknown person with no profile picture on the call with them. And no matter what they try, they can’t get them off the call.

That’s when something really strange happens: Mitch and Blair get emails and Facebook messages from the last person they ever thought they’d hear from ever again.

That person would be Laura Barns – and as they learn, sometimes logging off is a lot harder than you think.


WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Teenagers; old school horror movie fans (think tension, not blood and cuts); people who like movies that are fun despite being pretty predictable
WHO WONT (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Teenagers (they’re a fickle bunch); people who can’t stand movies where the teenage characters are well, too young acting for their own good; anyone who wants a gorier moviegoing experience

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? Unfriended is one of those movies you’ll find yourself enjoying because of all the things it does well that make up for all of the things that it doesn’t. 


Unfriended is perfect in encapsulating the way many of today’s teens talk/live, the technology that is enabled an entirely new set of problems that really didn’t exist as recently as 20 years ago and how a slow build of tension can always make for an entertaining movie. Unfriended doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel by showing just how invasive and damaging modern technology can be as much as show just how awful people can be when it comes to using it for nefarious purposes. 


While that – how is this dead girl talking to people from beyond the grave and why? – may be the thing to originally hook you into seeing Unfriended, the thing that helps keep you interested is watching the cast (who does a sneaky good job for what their roles are) crack under the pressure as all the twists and turns take place. You can feel the animosity, the fear and the characters’ breaking points as the story unfolds, which makes for fun even when you know what’s going to happen before they do. To say much more than that will kind of ruin the slow build to the film’s climax.


If nothing else, it’ll make you think twice before you go post a mean comment on someone already embarrassing his or her self on the Internet posting/discussing an online movie clip … Hint, HINT! 

OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

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Is Insurgent, the second film in the Divergent series, strong enough to help propel it to the front of young adult science-fiction/action drama? Click to find out!

“Seriously – I don’ think this is part of the CrossFit class I signed up for!” Tris (Shailene Woodley) gets ensnared – literally – with Jeanine (Kate Winslet) in a scene from director Robert Schwentke’s movie version of THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT. Credit: Andrew Cooper © 2015 Summit Pictures Entertainment

 

 

WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Zöe Kravitz, Kate Winslet, Ray Winstone, Ashley Judd, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Mekhi Phifer and Jai Courtney


WRITER(S): Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback (screenplay); Veronica Roth (novel on which the film is based) 


DIRECTOR(S): Robert Schwentke
60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): Taking place just days after the events of the first film, Insurgent finds Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley) on the run with her boyfriend Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller) and brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) after an attack has caught the eye of Jeanine (Kate Winslet), leader of the Erudites. 



Who are the Erudite, you ask? Well, if you had seen the first film in the Divergent series, you would know that the Erudites are one of five factions living in a dystopian future Chicago walled off from the rest of the world. Society has inevitably (as always is the case it seems in these type of movies) broken down, fallen apart and resulted in tribes, er “factions,” as a result. The Erudite are supposed to be the most intelligent, the Candor are the most honest, Amity are the peaceful ones, Abnegation are selfless and the Dauntless are the brave (a.k.a. soldiers and police). 



If you are like Tris, however, you are “divergent,” which means you test into belonging into too many factions – which makes you a potential troublemaker since you will upset the balance of society. Then again, you could test to be factionless, which means you’re also an outcast. Got it? Good. Let’s continue …



With Jeanine looking to keep power for the Erudites – well, mostly herself, really – Tris came to realize what being Divergent meant once her parents’ faction was raided and they were killed. Realizing how evil Jeanine is, she wants revenge and to get her out of power along with Four, a fellow former Dauntless recruit. Thing is, Jeanine isn’t going down without a fight – especially not after she discovers a mystery box Tris’ mother (Ashley Judd) was willing to die for as long as it stayed out of the wrong hands. 



But now of course, it is in the wrong hands … And Jeanine is going to need someone Divergent to help her open it …

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Those who enjoyed the first Divergent film; Woodley and James fans; people who find The Hunger Games movies to be a bit too over-the-top and/or cheesy; fans of young adult (YA) sci-fi
WHO WONT (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who find the series to be too much like The Hunger Games; those who don’t like it when movies take major liberties with the original source material; those who want more gunplay and/or grit in their sci-fi films; people who are over the whole “dystopian future where teens must save us thing.” 
SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? If – IF! – you’re not too familiar or hung up on all the changes from the original Insurgent novel and don’t mind the young adult dystopian future thing, Insurgent is not that bad … Especially considering how it kind of makes another film it’s mockingjay …



Here’s what Insurgent has going for it that it does better when compared to its main rival in the whole “the future is awful, so let’s have this girl save us” genre: [1] The chemistry – both romantic and as rebels – between Woodley and James is about 10 times better than it is between Jennifer Lawrence’s and Liam Hemsworth’s respective characters in the latest Games installment; [2] Woodley’s character has fully embraced her rebel leader status, which in effect makes her, for lack of a better word, “cooler” – especially given the amount of angst and self-discovery her character takes; [3] Director Robert Schwentke’s visuals are eye-popping at times during Tris’ simulation sequences, which helps to bring the story to its arc in pretty remarkable fashion and [4] The layers to Insurgent, while not bny any means perfect, deliver a film that is more solid on both a sci-fi and YA level. 



That being said, are there flaws? Sure – Octavia Spencer is not utilized on any great level, some of the actions taken by Jeanine’s security make you wonder how they have not been overthrown long ago and Ansel Elgort is either doing a phenomenal job at making Caleb a complete wimp … Or the character is just boring, uninteresting and a waste as currently offered. 



Now, if you haven’t read the books like yours truly, you won’t notice the changes from the original Insurgent novel and likely not care about them … However, if you ARE one of those “this is not like the book!” people, the film’s producers and its author know you are likely going to notice. Whether or not that ultimately ruins the experience for you is solely up to you … But if you simply are concerned whether or not the movie stays true to the spirit of its characters (Tris in particular), is entertaining and delivers a copious amount of well-executed action sequences, you should be satisfied. 



As opposed to writing a dissertation about the film and what it has to say about the need for the elements of life its factions struggle with, oppression, the idea of isolation vs. integration … Sorry, I kind of started to get lost on a tangent there. Instead of doing that, all you simply need to know about Insurgent is this: It’s the rare sequel that expands upon its original premise, delivers some rather intriguing interactions and features a solid enough acting/directing job to get you through from start to finish. It sets the stage nicely for the third – and let’s be honest, no matter how good you think Insurgent is, three films will be enough – and likely final film, Allegiant



And that should be pleasing to the ears of everyone who enjoyed Divergent, regardless of the faction they would claim. 


OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

 

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It’s the most anticipated movie based on an erotic thriller, well, perhaps ever. But does the big screen adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey live up to its sexy – or is that sleazy? – expectations? Click here to find out!

“I didn’t come to hear you play that – I wanted to hear ‘Super Freak’ by Rick James!’ Anastacia Steele (Dakota Johnson) approaches her billionaire lover Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) in a scene from the highly anticipated just-in-time-for-Valentine’s Day release FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Credit: © 2015 Focus Features and Universal Pictures.


WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Victor Rask, Luke Grimes, Eloise Mumford, Max Martini and Marcia Gay Harden

WRITER:
Kelly Marcel

 
DIRECTOR:
Sam Taylor-Johnson
 
60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT):
 
Based on E.L. James best-selling novel of the same name (and the entry to the trilogy), Fifty Shades of Grey stars Dakota Johnson (The Social Network) as Anastacia Steele, a soon-to-be college graduate who is demure in her nature as she is inexperienced sexually which is to say very. Living in Portland, she finds herself thrust (no pun intended) into a world completely foreign to her once she finds herself in the presence of Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).
 
Arguably the most famous and successful and unnamed alumni in her colleges history as a 27 year-old self-made billionaire, Grey is an intimidating presence to young Anastacia And even more so once he reveals he is interested in much more than answering the interview questions her friend Kate (Eloise Mumford) needs him to.
 
Once she graduates college, Anastacia dives into a whirlwind passionate relationship with Grey in which he reveals his passion for sexual liaisons so Different Than what she is expecting it requires a contract. Seriously. And that becomes a point of contention: For if she is everything he is looking for, why then, cant he just enjoy her in a way that doesnt require handcuffs and other restraints so that they can be free of any emotionally?
 
Needless to say, what follows is likely to change both of their lives in a manner neither of them expects
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?
 
Anyone who enjoyed the book; those looking for an above-average soft core romantic way to spice up a standard Valentines Day outing at the movies; the romantically adventurous; those who enjoy experiencing titillation with random strangers in an audience; couples curious about more than quote-unquote normal sexual behaviors and looking for way to start the conversation about their own relationship
 
WHO WONT (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE?
 
Well, you mean in addition to the Cincinnati archdiocese? Introverts; ANYONE uncomfortable with the sight of other naked human beings, let alone in public; people who find the general concept of the book/film ridiculous/trashy; people unfamiliar with the ways of many modern couples/want to act as if this world doesnt really exist; anyone who would rather watch an actual adult film/one with less overall
schmaltzy/cheesy cinematic experience
 
SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL?
 
Before I say anything else, let me go ahead and say this: I, like many men throughout America, have NOT read the books. I also fully acknowledge I am NOT the book nor films target audience, so take that for what you will, die-hard Grey fans.
 
That being said, I actually kind of enjoyed the movie because it delivered exactly what I thought it would: A somewhat tawdry-yet-titillating film that is filled with enough nudity and Hollywood-style sexual situations and decent acting to overcome its somewhat ludicrous (and not because of the nature of the
characters
encounters) story. 
If you grew up watching HBO in the 1990s, have ever searched whether purposely or not the Internet or been paying attention in the last 20-25 years, the sexual content found in Fifty Shades will NOT be shocking to you. In this age of not-so-real-but-were-still-calling-it-reality television, explicit lyrics, same sex marriage debate and the like, theres pretty much nothing left that can be shocking to the American populace about sex. Think about it: There are probably more people today who have seen Kim
Kardashian
s sex tape or Twitter account than there are that could name most of the state capitals in
the county they live in. 



The themes of sex and violence is one of Americas oldest and grandest entertainment staples, so the only way you could essentially be shocked by Greys content is if [1] you do not engage in any of the activity yourself and find anyone who does absolutely, positively a disgusting, perverted human being [2] have deep, personal religious convictions regarding any type of sexual activity before marriage and/or [3] just dont want to see people in movies or real life exploring their own personal sexual
boundaries/perversions. And I
m not here to judge you; as I always say, save for engaging in illegal activity, what you believe when it comes to all things sexual is between you, any potential partner you may have, your family and/or your therapist.

 
However, once you take sex OUT of the equation, the majority of Grey is a bit of a mixed bag. While the sexual situations are obviously the films biggest selling point who doesnt enjoy a little voyeurism every once in a while, right? the thing that could have been more interesting is how its two lead characters came to be the way they are. Thats not to say the movie should be seen by any 12 year-old like it can be in France (yep heres the proof), but most worldly adults shouldnt be too shocked by what they see.
 
While we get a short-but-effective explanation of Anastacias lack of sexual experience, the thing most people (and by people, I do mean the films female audience contingency) will want is more of Greys story. WHY is he the way he is and why can he not, for lack of a better word, enjoy himself without his out-of-the-norm methods? In attempting to set the stage for parts two and three (YES, theyve already committed to doing them both), director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel are a little limited in what all she can reveal in this initial installment, but that in turn hinders the film from coming full
circle.
 
The again, you do have the issue of Dornans portrayal of Grey either feeling spot on given the characters controlling, tortured (spiritually) nature Or a bit too serial killer-ish given some of his dialogue and mannerisms. (In other words, youll likely be turned on or turned off w/ little grey area in between. See what I did there?) Johnson plays her character very well all things considered, as she
is great as a naive young woman at the start of the film before eventually blossoming (literally and figuratively) into one who is more assertive as she becomes more experienced. Thus, it
s a big of a mixed bag where you get some good with some bad during the films two hour run time. For there are
moments that are quite interesting, stimulating and funny, others that feel as if they drag on forever and some that quite frankly, just don
t need to even be there in the first place.
 
So, is Fifty Shades of Grey the perfect Valentines Day cinematic gift to satisfy and please lovers from coast to coast? Ehh Probably not but it isnt as horrible as you might likely believe at first glance, either. The sex will be perhaps steamy for some, but it’s nothing like Caligula – then again, fortunately, most main stream films are not. 


One thing is for certain, however – its probably going to do a LOT for mens neckties sales this Presidents Day weekend.



OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

 

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The creators of The Matrix trilogy are back in theaters with their latest sci-fi adventure, the Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum-led Jupiter Ascending. But is this cosmic action adventure out of this world good? Click here to find out!

McCoy on Movies: Jupiter Ascending
The creators of The Matrix trilogy are back in theaters with their latest sci-fi adventure, the Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum-led Jupiter Ascending. But is this cosmic action adventure out of this world good? Click here to find out!

“What fire – I’m trying to figure out how to reach that shelf up there without asking someone taller than me!” Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) faces danger in a scene from Andy and Lana Wachowski’s sci-fi epic JUPITER ASCENDING. Credit: © 2014 Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:



 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nikki Amuka-Bird

WRITER(S): Andy and Lana Wachowski

DIRECTOR(S): Andy and Lana Wachowski

WEB SITE: http://www.jupiterascending.com/

60 SECOND PLOT SYNOPSIS (OR AS CLOSE TO IT AS ONE CAN TRY TO MAKE): A film that’s nearly impossible to accurately sum up in short session, Jupiter Ascending stars Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones. The daughter of a … Let’s say somewhere in Russia … immigrant whose husband was murdered while she was pregnant with her, Jupiter has long been told she is destined for greatness. That should in turn help explain why she hates her job cleaning toilets with her mother (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and aunt (Frog Stone).

Then a group of aliens tries to abduct one of her clients thinking it’s her … Only for her to later be saved by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a wolf/human DNA hybrid former military hunter from a universe way. And that’s when she learns the details of her true existence as a descendant of royalty from a family known as the Abrasax, which is now in-fighting over who gets control of Earth. And both Titus Abrasax (Douglas Booth) and Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne) have some very specific ideas about their inheritance …

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?: People enjoy watching Channing Tatum shirtless; Matrix sequels apologists; people happy to see a mash-up of many of their favorite sci-fi movies without blatantly ripping off one of them too much

WHO WON’T – OR SHOULDN’T – LIKE THIS FILM?: People seeking a less convoluted plot, stronger characters and/or more originality; those who don’t like movies that rely on action sequences to overcome their shortcomings


FINAL VERDICT – IS IT GOOD, GREAT, BAD OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? Jupiter Ascending aspires to rise to astronomical heights … But watching the movie, it’s pretty safe to say it barely gets off the ground.There’s a LOT to dissect when breaking down the various problems that keep Jupiter Ascending from doing just that, so there’s no one area one can pinpoint to simply say “THAT’s what’s wrong!” You could start with the fact that Kunis’ character is not well-developed from a plot pacing/development standpoint as it’s always a lot more interesting to see why her character is supposed to be special than simply have other characters always tell you she is. Then again, while trying her best to commit to the role, Kunis too often comes off as just along for the ride in a movie that is largely about her character.

The same could be said for Tatum’s character, for all he essentially gets to do is look steely eyed with his shirt off – and we already have Magic Mike and the upcoming Magic Mike XXL for that. At least one could say he looks engaged in those two films, however, as save for his fighting sequences, he often looks confused as to how he’s supposed to convey his character’s feelings other than “I must save her” actions.

Then again, the actual story being told in Jupiter Ascending feels like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a romance? A story of destiny? Downton Abbey/Cinderella in space? A homage to Star Wars with its lizard and elephant like creatures and flying ships? A tribute to Star Trek with its creatures with wacky skin tone, distinct ears, ship captains and interspecies love affairs? What the hell is it?! Whatever it is, it all comes across highly disjointed, predictable (even when the film reaches full sci-fi hodge podge status) and trying to do too many things without doing any of them individually well. And the less said about the film’s attempts at being funny, the better.

To summarize, somewhere in Jupiter Ascending is a decent story trying to get out … But it is not apparent in the finalized product. Underdeveloped characters, a convoluted plot and a general lack of anything distinctly original make for a humdrum (yet ultimately watchable) movie. It’s just not one that’s going to stick with you – in a good way, at least – long after you’ve seen it.

With Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowskis are proving themselves to be more and more akin to the M. Night Shymalans of the science fiction genre … And that, much like the supposed creatures in The Village, is something one should not wish to speak of.


OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):  

 

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