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Weekly Movie News Rundown

January 31, 2015

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Time for your weekly movie news update!  Below you’ll find a slew of sentences meant to provide a brief glimpse of what’s been going on over the past week in movieland.  If something leaves you desperate for more info, then my advice is to do a little extra research on one or all of the following fantastic sites:  Latino Review, Dark Horizons, Ain’t It Cool News, CHUD and/or JoBlo.  Read on!

Steve Jobs has started filming.  The Danny Boyle-directed, Aaron Sorkin-scripted movie is set to star Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels.

Rumors has it that Disney wants Chris Pratt to play Indiana Jones in a reboot of a the series.

Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are set to star in Paul Feig’s reboot of Ghostbusters.

Liam Hemsworth has reportedly been offered the lead role in Roland Emmerich’s ID Forever (the sequel to Independence Day).

Luke Evans is no longer attached to the remake of The Crow.

Emma Watson is set to star in the live-action remake of Beauty And The Beast.

Peter Berg has replaced JC Chandor (A Most Violent Year) as the director of Deepwater Horizon.  Mark Wahlberg is still set to star in the disaster film.

David Leitch and Chad Stahslski (John Wick) may direct Chris Pratt in Cowboy Ninja Viking.

Noam Murro (300: Rise Of An Empire) is set to direct Blink, which is said to be about a paralyzed man who has to outwit his kidnappers with only his eyes.

Matthew McConaughey is set to star in an adaptation of Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, And The Greatest Race The World Has Ever Seen.

Christine Taylor will return for Zoolander 2.

Brad Pitt may star in Angelina Jolie’s Africa.  The movie will be based on ivory poachers in the 80s.

Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan will star in a remake of Frederic Jardin’s Sleepless Night.

Karl Urban has joined the cast of the Pete’s Dragon remake.

Jay Roach will direct Six Days Of The Condor.  The movie is said to follow five of the best CIA spies who are on the run after escaping a secret insane asylum.

Mission Impossible 5 has moved up from Christmas Day to July 31, 2015.

This Week’s Notable Trailers

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Movie Breakdown: Amira And Sam (Noah)

January 29, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Drafthouse Films has a history of releasing exciting, interesting films from directors we’ve never heard of. I’m watching this for two things: the Drafthouse seal of approval and the one, the only Martin Starr.

The Reality:

Amira & Sam is a charming, at times clunky, indie-rom-dram-com that looks past the tropes and cliches of modern day Hollywood romance pics, to dig just slightly deeper into the current state of America. Sam (Martin Starr) is a military veteran (and stand-up fellow as the film tells us over and over again) who’s unemployed and a little lost. Amira (Dina Shihabi) is a spunky, Muslim woman who lives with her uncle and, makes money by selling DVDs of shitty movies on the street, and struggles to maintain her traditions while pushing against them at every turn. Through a handful of fairly believable circumstances, the two meet, and then are thrust into each other’s lives where events occur, love blossoms, and so on and so forth. Like the title predicts, Amira & Sam is at its very best when the film is strictly about Amira and Sam. Martin Starr is an underrated and under-used actor who’s able to fill the role of Sam with a sort of stoned melancholy, punctuated by bursts of goofy humor. His Sam, though it’s overly hammered upon us time and time again, is believably good-natured, an American soldier who’s returned to a world he just doesn’t understand anymore. Dina Shihabi is nothing to shake a stick at. She manages to express a hard-edged, emotional wall, but illuminates enough of the cracks that the character comes off as an agreeable mix of feistiness, idealism and adorable cuteness. The slow unveiling of their enjoyment, and then love of each other is so sweet and tastefully done, you never really want any thing else to happen. Yet, this is a movie, so there’s a cluttering of this sweetness with a sub-plot about Wall Street and Amira’s legal issues and Sam’s family. It doesn’t detract from the film, because you keep wanting to see how these two are going to interact in new situations, but it could’ve been leaner, and more focused, and ultimately a better movie, if director Sean Mullin had just let his two leads strut their impressive stuff. If anything, the moments with Amira and Sam raise the film above some of the tired genre tropes, but in doing so, reflect on the presence and quality of them.

The Lesson:

Give Martin Starr more roles!

The film will be on VOD and in theatres in Austin on January 30.

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Movie Breakdown: The Boy Next Door

January 22, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Jennifer Lopez has sex with the boy next door.  Shit gets weird.  This could be bad-good.

The Reality:

J.LOL

As I sat waiting for The Boy Next Door to start, all I had on the brain was J.LOL.  I just knew that the movie was going to be an innuendo-laced, Skinemax-esque good time, and I couldn’t wait to cleverly sling J.LOL around while blatantly celebrating the superstar for following up her divorce with an R-rated flick that’s centered around her banging a young hot dude.  Because screw you, Marc “I Need To Know” Anthony!

But no.  Instead of getting to have some fun throwing around the immensely stupid joke that is J.LOL, I had to jam it into the opening paragraph because The Boy Next Door is just an all-out awful film.  Imagine a mix of those laugh-track-less Big Bang Theory vids, the lamest Lifetime-movie cliches and the smell of burnt hair, and you’ll have an idea of what I experienced with The Boy Next Door.  Avoid it at all costs.

The Lesson:

What ever happened to the Jennifer Lopez that was in Out Of Sight?  She was great.

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Movie Breakdown: Blackhat (Noah)

January 15, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

There are two reasons why Blackhat is a difficult movie to pre-assess. One, Michael Mann is a legit, classic-making American director. This is the guy who made Heat, The Insider, Manhunter, Last of the Mohicans, and Ali. Oh sure, there’s a couple Public Enemies floating around in there, but c’mon, this guy is the real deal. But, he’s decided to make a film about cybercrime (a notoriously boring subject) with Six Packs McThorson as his cyber-hacker. So … let’s be honest, it’s going to be awful.

The Reality:

Michael Mann is, undoubtedly, a great director and every director has to have one really, really bad film, and Blackhat is Michael Mann’s very, very bad film. Don’t let this film trick you, ’cause it will. It starts as a really boring procedural “thriller” about a multinational group of cops and criminals (Chris Hemsworth as super prison-hacker Ryan Hathaway is particularly badly cast) searching for a super-hacker who’s trying to, uh, do stuff for some reasons. This two-thirds of the film is just awful. It’s confusing and boring (which shouldn’t be surprising as watching people type things and talk about code is always boring) and there are so many characters without any names or backstories that when quite literally (spoiler alert) all of them die at one point, you don’t know any of their names or what they were doing in the film. That said, when all of the characters meet gruesome deaths, the film, now just starring Thor, picks up a bit, and becomes, well, a heist movie. There’s much less coding, a lot more cars crashing and violent knife deaths, and overall, it’s a pretty entertaining cable flick you wouldn’t mind stumbling across at 5:30 in the morning after a four day coke and hooker binge. Again, though, don’t let the film’s almost entertaining ending let you leave the theater thinking this is a good film, because it isn’t. This is a badly written film, with cardboard characters (though I will say Viola Davis’ Barrett is a pleasure in her brief screen time). A film that is so unbelievably boring, that every action has to be forced into feeling exciting by the presence of throbbing, thriller music. A film so badly written that if you can tell me the name of two-thirds of the characters on screen at any given time, hell, you should write a movie. It’ll probably get made in Hollywood. A film so plotted that the big, bad super-hacker they break out of prison because of his ungodly skills at computers ends up making a shiv out of a screwdriver and saving the day with that. Fuck computers bro, lets just stab each other. I wonder if Michael Mann is slipping into his Ridley Scott phase. Or maybe he had a dream when he was a child that one day he would make a movie where the Odinson played a nerd and this, this is the consummation of that dream. Or maybe this is just a shit movie and you shouldn’t see it and we can all hope the next Mann flick is another gem.

The Lesson:

If you grind down a screwdriver and rubberband it to your forearm, it’s a potent and deadly weapon.

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Movie Breakdown: Inherent Vice

January 8, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Paul Thomas Anderson returns with Inherent Vice, which looks like a quirky 70s-enthused crime drama.

The Reality:

I was probably about 20 minutes into Inherent Vice when it dawned on me that I had absolutely no idea what was going on.  Since a lot of info had been wildly thrown around to get the story going, I quickly reasoned with myself that I’d soon get the pieces settled in my mind and then unravel the peculiar case that unlicensed PI Doc Sportello (played by the always great Joaquin Phoenix) had gotten himself wrapped up in.  But I didn’t.  Nope, instead I walked out of the theater still thoroughly baffled about most of the movie.  I can for sure say this though, I had an absolute blast trying to figure out what was going on.  Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film is the smarter, twistier, grittier version of The Big Lebowski, and I loved every goddamn minute of it.  In fact, all I want right now is to re-enter that world and then spend all of my time watching its various weirdos try to sort out their bizarre circumstances.  Thanks for that, PTA.

Please join me in seeing Inherent Vice an unreasonable amount of times.

The Lesson:

Let’s watch that again.  And again.  And then four more times.

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Movie Breakdown: Selma (Noah)

January 8, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The first trailer I saw for Selma featured every cliche from every bio-pic/historical moment movie ever, but instead of soundtracking them with swelling strings (Angelina Jolie I’m looking at you and Unbroken), they put big, bassy rap-music. It confused me. Thus, I enter Selma more confused than anything else.

The Reality:

There is a moment early on in Selma, a quiet beautiful moment with children on the stairs of a church that almost gave me a heart attack. I can’t think of a modern Hollywood film about a famed historical figure, or a notorious/inspirational historical moment that has done that in recent memory, but Ava DuVernay’s touching, beautiful film does just that. Where historical films most often falter is in their one-sided, best-of representations of the characters or moments they’re trying to bring to screen. It isn’t a terrible strategy; we’ve devolved into a culture of headline readers so when looking back at our history, why not just highlight the moments your popcorn munching audience will be most “emotionally” connected to? This isn’t that film. Yes, DuVernay does hit on the big moments of Martin Luther King Jr. (here played by the fantastic David Oyelowo) and his presence in the shitstorm that was the march from Selma to Montgomery because they are important and they do drive the story, but she places them in the context of what was a very tense social and political moment both for the dissolution of segregation in the South and the forward progress of the Civil Rights Movement. DuVernay isn’t trying to force feed you the inspirational message of what the Selma March has become in retrospect, she’s trying to show you the intricate political machinations that MLKJr. had to manipulate, along with his small army of assistants and aides and family members, to even get the march moving. She wants to explore how we look back on history as Americans – in the glossiest most black and white of ways – and to debunk the idea that any of the characters involved in the march from Selma to Montgomery were perfect people. ‘Cause they weren’t. From MLKJr. to the impressively portrayed LBJ (Tom Wilkinson), these were human beings with an incredible amount of weight on their shoulders, all with different motivations, trying, to some degree to arrive at a similar goal. It takes your typical bio-pic and puts it out to pasture. This is bio-pic as an artistic capturing of a moment that’s come before and Ava DuVernay absolutely nails it. She doesn’t fall into the cookie cutter visual aesthetic or narrative structure we’ve come to expect from movies depicting our history. Instead she does what a good filmmaker should and takes the pieces of history she needs to construct the story and the themes she’s most interested in and places them in a visceral, moving film. If you’ve ever experienced a scene with so much energy, emotion and visceral power than DuVernay’s depiction of the assault by the State Troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, you’re watching better films than I. It isn’t a perfect film – with some of the trappings of bio-pics coming to roost in the almost sappy ending – but it’s a great film, a ragged, true portrayal of the men and women who gave their time, their emotions, and their lives to trying to better this oft-times fucked up country.

The Lesson:

Pair this with Inherent Vice for a telling portrayal of America in the 60s and 70s.

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Movie Breakdown: Selma

January 7, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s incredible march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama makes its way to the big screen.  Is it Oscar-worthy or just Oscar-bait?

The Reality:

Good news!  Selma is most definitely an Oscar-worthy film.  Although, I will note that I largely feel this way because of David Oyelowo’s immensely impressive portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Every time he’s on the screen it’s impossible to not get hung up on every single thing he says or does.

As for the rest of the Selma, there’s a variety of things I could take or leave.  The story is one that’s engaging and historically important, but I often felt as though I was being given the Cliff’s Notes version.  Too many things happen off-screen or are just dealt with via a quick line of dialogue.  Also, while director Ava DuVernay does a nice job overall, many of the scenes between the powerhouse dramatic moments are lackluster, and she frequently pulled me right out of the movie with various oddball elements (particularly the on-screen FBI notes).  Obviously, none of these things are outright deal-breakers, but I found them to be just naggy enough to dent my love for the film.

So, see Selma because you should, but know going in that it has some flaws that may distract you from time to time.

The Lesson:

I hope David Oyelowo has a big trophy case.

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Movie Breakdown: Inherent Vice (Noah)

January 7, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Alright, it’s Paul Thomas Anderson (top 5 directors of the last 40 years) adapting a bat-shit crazy book by one of the great, insane, American masters of writing. I would see this film if the entire thing consisted of a 35mm print of my dog’s anal glands getting squeezed.

The Reality:

I saw Inherent Vice for the second time last night and it showed me two things. One, Inherent Vice is an amazing film. An almost slapstick, stoner-noir, that flits around some of the very deepest and darkest themes of the 1970s with a sparkle in its eye and a tightly wrapped joint in the corner of its mouth. And two, this is a film that audiences are going to be able to watch over and over again and enjoy it, and hell, understand it, more and more each time. When I saw this film in December, I walked out dazed by the rat-tat-tat-tat plotline and the diverging narratives and the piles of characters and motives and cases PTA gleefully dumps on the film. It’s beautiful (because PTA has no concept of how to make a film ugly) and the acting, across the board, is outstanding (especially the warm-hearted stoner Doc Sportello played by Joaquin Phoenix, again making the argument that he is the best actor currently working) and I will say that PTA’s use of music in the film ascends just about any other he’s made. It’s a great film, but the first reaction I had when stepping out into the cold light of the movie theater was, “That film was weird.” It’s a tightly wound knot of story and PTA does not, for a moment, slow the avalanche of information to let you figure out what the hell is going on narratively, let alone with the big ideas of perception and identity that he subtly injects throughout the film. It’s as if the propulsion of the film (kicked into high gear by the opening Can track Vitamin C) reflects the theme PTA is trying to show – the 1970s were no different than the 80s, the 90s, or any time before it. It was just a bunch of people, doing what they could to get by – and by crafting a film that rockets along but is centered on the bumbling antics of a stoner-detective and his pals, you get the rush of a speedball, with all the confusion of a bong rip. And that’s just the first viewing. Upon a second screening all of the frivolities of plot and character development feel like the immediate family. The Golden Fang, Coy, the strange and wonderful locales the film drags you through – they make sense on second viewing and the audience is given the freedom to wrap their minds around the big and beautiful ideas PTA is shining a light on. I don’t know how to judge a film that needs to be seen twice (or just once by someone smarter than myself) to be completely understood, but I do understand the beauty of a film that with each viewing gets better and better and better.

The Lesson:

See it as many times as you can.

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Movie Breakdown: Unbroken (Noah)

December 24, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Let’s just say that the only reason I slogged my way through the rain to sit and watch Angelina Jolie’s newest bit of Oscar bait was because some chubby bunnies in North Korea decided to continue being assholes. Thanks a lot fascism for proving that amidst a world of change there’s always some consistency.

The Reality:

Unbroken is an above average bit of Oscar bait sandwiched between two glistening pieces of turd. The true story of Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) is a pretty amazing, Hollywood-ready bit of narrative. Zamperini was an Olympic runner who signed up for WWII, made waves as an outstanding bombardier, was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean, drifted around on a raft for three months before being captured by the Japanese and shipped from POW camp to POW camp getting the shit abused out of him all the way. It’s a story of survival, of, ahem, unbroken spirit, and of one kid who went through a shit storm and came out the other side a new man. Or it should be that story.

When Jolie’s film (scripted by The Coen Bros., amongst many) is firing on all cylinders it’s exciting and heart-wrenching and beautifully acted by a troupe of talented young Brits (with reasonable American accents). The cinematography (by frequent Coen-Bro-collaborator Roger Deakin) is glorious and at times, this film stands up to the rightfully classic WWII epic Empire of the Sun. And in the middle hour and a half – raft time and POW time and a little bit of time where Zamperini holds a large log for a while – this is exactly what’s occurring and I thought to myself “Huh, maybe I do enjoy the silky marshmallowy goodness of Oscar bait.”

For some reason though, Jolie, even with a veritable army of talented writer types, can’t seem to figure out how to end this film (let alone start it, as Unbroken for the first twenty or so minutes plays out like a WWII version of Forrest Gump). Though the film is called Unbroken, the almost-last shot of the film, with Zamperini blankly staring into the camera as a cargo plan cruises above him, seems to point out that Mr. Zamperini was indeed broken by his experiences in the war. That, like any normal human being put through the months and years of torture that he did, his brain is a PTSD-addled bit of mush and that it will take years and years of introspection and professional help until he’s able to stare into the face of the world and feel okay. Which is fine, realistic even, but Jolie, being a perhaps bad director, decides to clog the tube of honesty with a heaping pile of title cards that duly explain that Zamperini – later, after the budget for this film dried up it seems – became Unbroken and did a bunch of stuff with the Japanese who’d imprisoned and tortured him. And this, this is not okay. Why make a two and half hour film and then when you get to the most important part of the whole fucking thing, just have your editor scrawl some shit on a computer screen and call it an ending? Oh wait, oh wait, that’s not what Jolie did, instead she first had her editor scrawl some shit on some title cards and then for bonus fun she had the holiday pianist from Macy’s pick his favorite elevator music track and have it lightly playing under a clip of the real Louis Zamperini carrying the Olympic torch through Japan. At which point the part of my brain that thinks critically imploded and I was left a drooling vegetable.

I hope this movie gets nominated for “Best Middle Section Surrounded By Forty Minutes of Film That Will Make You Feel Like You Just Beer-Bonged A Shit Taco, Yes, Technology Has Improved To Where You Can Now Beer-Bong Solid Matter, Frat Guys Are Fucking Stoked.” You know, if that’s a category this year.

The Lesson:

Fuck you, North Korea.

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Movie Breakdown: The Gambler

December 22, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Mark Wahlberg is The Gambler.  The trailers have made the movie look like a gnarlier version of Rounders.  I approve.

The Reality:

I’m not at all sure why Rupert Wyatt’s latest film is titled The Gambler, as it doesn’t contain any actual gambling.  Sure, Mark Wahlberg stares a dealer or four in the eye and makes some bets, but these moments happen so quickly that his character doesn’t even bother with sitting down.  No, the movie should have been called The Rambler since that’s just about the only thing Wahlberg or anyone else does.  Personally, I love a good ramble, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of anything that was thrown my way.  I think Wahlberg is sad and/or angry because he is or isn’t a gambler?  Also, one of the “bad guys” is tired, so he would like to start an avocado farm?  And what about the basketball player that keeps saying he has a knee?  I don’t know.  I went for high stakes gambling and all I got was a bunch of people incoherently talking about their lives and how they may or may not matter.  Don’t see The Gambler unless you have “fuck you” money and time.

The Lesson:

Insert witty pun about gambling.

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Movie Breakdown: Big Eyes

December 22, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Tim Burton ditches Johnny Depp (finally) and goes “normal” in order to tell the story of artist Margaret Keane and her doozy of a husband, Walter.

The Reality:

While I really appreciate that Big Eyes is Tim Burton’s first film in a long while that doesn’t scream TIM BURTON, that’s not enough to keep me from scoring it as just another average effort from the famed director.  Burton certainly picked a great story to adapt, as what transpired between Margaret and Walter Keane is wildly interesting, but his telling of it is done in such an uneven and fairly bland fashion that I probably would have been just as satisfied reading the couple’s Wikipedia page.  Even Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams, who overall turn in good performances, often have moments where they seem aware that what they’re doing is just filler until the next “important” scene comes along.  For a film with such a great story to explore, I looked at my watch far too often.

At the end of the day, Big Eyes is far from bad, but it’s lacking the right mix of details to make it something worth calling great.  If you see the film, matinee it.

The Lesson:

Come on, Timbo!  I know you still got a great film in you somewhere.

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Movie Breakdown: Exodus: Gods And Kings

December 11, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Ridley Scott tells the tale of Moses.

The Reality:

Exodus: Gods And Kings (or as I like to call it, Moses Rises) is a mess of a film.  Ridley Scott succeeds at delivering a visual spectacle, but he falls flat with everything else – the pacing is clunky and tedious, the casting doesn’t feel right (who the hell hired John Turturro to portray a Pharaoh?) and the story itself just isn’t told in an interesting or entertaining way.  How disappointing.  I advise that you skip it.

The Lesson:

Nice try, I guess.

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Movie Breakdown: The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

December 11, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Peter Jackson concludes his bloated, but entertaining adaptation of The Hobbit with The Battle Of The Five Armies.  The film looks like an action-heavy time.

The Reality:

Naturally, whether or not you should rush out to see The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies greatly depends on you.

If you’re like me and happen to be a diehard fan of what Peter Jackson has done with J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, then you’ll find that The Battle Of The Five Armies is an epic experience that’s a more than fitting end to The Hobbit Trilogy.  Hooray!

On the flip side of that, if you haven’t been particularly enamored with Jackson’s take on The Hobbit, then you should know that The Battle Of The Five Armies is not a marked improvement over previous entries An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation Of Smaug.  Just like those two films, it’s riddled with too many shoehorned Lord Of The Rings tie-ins, a gluttony of CG, a slew of oddly timed jokes and numerous side stories that never really go anywhere.  Bummer!

So, in other words, super fans will find a lot to enjoy in The Battle Of The Five Armies, but those of you who’ve long been on the fence in regards to Jackson’s super-expanded adaptation of The Hobbit probably won’t be too impressed.

The Lesson:

Hey Pete, I liked it.

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Movie Breakdown: Top Five

December 10, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Chris Rock stars in Top Five, a film that he wrote and directed.  It looks kind of funny.

The Reality:

I have mixed feelings about Top Five.  The movie, which follows a burned out comedian as he wanders around New York City, is essentially a crafty mixture of Judd Apatow’s Funny People and Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy, and overall I found it to be charming, refreshing and funny.  However, there are a variety of moments in the film (namely the entire third act) where Chris Rock clearly doesn’t think his audience is with him, so he crams in cliche plot points and bottom of the barrel jokes so that everyone can be certain that they’re watching a CHRIS ROCK MOVIE.  It’s unfortunately jarring, and I can’t help but think about how great Top Five would have been if Rock was a more confident director/writer.  Maybe he’ll get it all figured out someday.

Top Five isn’t amazing, but it’s a solid little film.  Don’t be afraid to check it out.

The Lesson:

Keep at it, Rock.

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Movie Breakdown: Horrible Bosses 2

November 24, 2014

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The mildly funny Horrible Bosses gets a sequel!  Wait.  What?  Why?

The Reality:

Even with the terrible Dumb And Dumber 2 and the truly awful Sin City 2 up for consideration, I think the clear-cut winner of 2014′s “most unnecessary sequel” award is Horrible Bosses 2.  I mean, it’s not as though the first film is a classic or something, so who the hell requested a second entry, and how do I thank them?  Oh yes.  That’s right.  I actually want to thank them.  Because despite being loaded with nothing but crude, insensitive, classless and stupid jokes, it totally cracked my shit right up.  Everyone involved is clearly having a ton of fun, and there’s a loose, infectious energy constantly present throughout the movie that’s difficult to not get caught up in.  I can’t say it’s for everyone (especially if you prefer “smart” comedies), but if you’re down for a good ridiculous laugh or 20, then don’t hesitate to seek out Horrible Bosses 2.

The Lesson:

Second time’s the charm.

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