Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Final Destination 5


For the fifth time around, death is coming! This franchise brought fourth a new vision of terror to the horror/slasher genre when it debuted at the start of the new millennium. Instead of a super-powered monster chasing and killing teenagers, the spirit of death itself stalked those who thought they were fortunate enough to elude it after the main character would persuade them out of a catastrophic event they were warned about by a premonition. This concept worked very well starting in 2000 with an airplane explosion and even better when they increased the carnage with a highway accident in 2003's sequel. Unfortunately, as with almost any horror franchise, repetition took the shock value away and its next two sequels dulled the series.  Hence, I was reluctant to go see this film, but the previews made me want to give it a chance.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised! Immediately, I was drawn in with the film's 3D animated opening. It felt very cinematic. Although the buildup is virtually the same, (this time the tragic accident involves an office bus trip that falls victim to a bridge collapse), the filmmakers succeeded simultaneously in restoring the dark edge of the franchise and giving it a fresh look. Tony Todd's reprisal of the coroner character gave the fans a nostalgic feel while the elaborate death scenes kept it true and traditional and the concept of taking someone else's life to preserve your own brought forth a new dimension. Overall, a sickeningly fun time at the movies! Although I really hope this is the last film as it would end the franchise on a high note, I have already heard a rumor that a sixth installment may be on its way. Nonetheless, Grade A for this film for restoring my interest in the slasher genre!

30 Minutes or Less


What happens when two dumb criminals strap a bomb to a down on his luck pizza delivery boy and give him 10 hours to rob a bank so that they can hire a hit man to kill one of the criminal's wealthy father? The plot to a slacker comedy film happens. I found the previews as well as the collaboration of director Reubin Fleischer and Jesse Eisenberg (the film's lead character Nick, the walking time bomb) to look somewhat promising as I absolutely loved 2009's Zombieland. While I did laugh out loud at some of the distasteful but clever one-liners, I was just left unfulfilled with the boring side plots, unsurprising turns and lame ending. Grade C+.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Change-Up


The grass is always greener on the other side. This cliched statement is put to the test by "Hangover" writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore in this age old but still entertaining body swap comedy. We are off to a good start with the choice of two great lead actors, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds that both have a reputation of portraying great comedic and dramatic roles. Although best friends, their characters are almost total opposites. Bateman portrays Dave Lockwood, a lawyer and husband with three children and Reynolds portrays Mitch Planko, an unemployed stoner actor. After a night of drinking, they simultaneously wish to have the other's lives while urinating in a wishing well.

I hate to play off another cliche. However, it is appropriate to be careful what you wish for! Especially when you wake up the next morning to see that it has come true. The two lead characters are now living each other's lives. The story is a great example of how we learn to accept change by stepping outside of ourselves and viewing from somebody else's perspective but also successfully blends in the perfect amount of raunchy humor the aforementioned writers are known for. Thus, the final product is a well balanced serious and funny portrayal of life's obstacles. Grade B+.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


The Planet of the Apes franchise is once again resurrected, however this time with somewhat of a contemporary twist. This version is an origin story involving a lab performing controversial experiments on apes in order to enhance their intelligence. Scientist Will Rodman (played by the film's lead James Franco) adopts "Ceaser",  an infant ape and the relationship evolves from an experiment into a passion.  This is the basis for a great cinematic chronology that takes the audience from childhood innocence through tragic turmoil and perfectly rounding out with an epic action packed climax. I found this to be the best film of the 2011 summer season. It manages to keep you on the edge of your seat and still touches your heart.
Grade, solid A.  

July Digest

Okay, okay, I know I have been neglecting my blog. To be honest, it has mostly been out laziness, which I guess I could chalk up to writer's block. However, I plan on coming back strong with Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Change Up. No, really I do. Anyway, here's everything between those films and Transformers!

Horrible Bosses- a funny but predictable comedy that pits disgruntled employees against their bosses, Grade B+

Friends with Benefits-Funny and very realistic look at relationships that is played out very well by its leads, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. I also liked the idea of a romantic comedy poking fun at other romantic comedies! Grade A

Captain America-The First Avenger-One of the best stories yet leading up to next year's blockbuster Avengers film (hint: stick around after the credits.) However, a bit slow for a comic book movie. Grade A-

Crazy Stupid Love-What is it with me a chic flicks lately? I must be settling down in my old age. Anyway, this was like the aforementioned, FWB, a great mix of comedy and drama that demonstrates realistically how "crazy and stupid" we are over finding true love. Grade A

Cowboys and Aliens- a "Sci-fi Western" that is a text book example of a summer movie that blends both of those genres very well together. Really enjoyed Harrison Ford's anti-hero character and the epic annihilation and battles, even though the film had somewhat of a lag. Grade B

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon


For the past couple of years, I have been celebrating my independence with an annual 4th. of July trip to the movie theater. Ironically, it all started in 2007 with the release of the first live action Transformers film. So, it was the perfect opportunity to go see the third installment of the franchise based on the popular 1980's animated series. A lot of you out there beat me to it however. According to imdb.com, the film set an Independence Day weekend box office record, grossing slightly under $195 million.


After two epic battles, Sam Witwicky (played by the returning Shia LaBeouf) has a new love interest, Carly Spencer and is struggling to simply find a job. Meanwhile, the Autobots now secretly work with the American government protecting our national security and the Decepticons have gone into hiding. The rivaling robots are soon again raging war when Sentinel Prime, a former leader of the Autobots that was recovered during the 1960's moon landing and kept top secret by the American government is resurrected. Optimus Prime remembers him as a great leader. But, in a shocking twist, he sides with Megatron and along with the other Decepticons, they set out to bring forth thier home planet of Cybertron here to Earth and use humanity as slave labor.

The mix of historical events with conspiracy theories as well as the factioning between robots and humans to decide to chose between freedom and justice with the Autobots or enslavement and power with the Decepticons easily make this the best installment of the series. The film is visually incredible with battle scenes that go over the top but still appear believable and not computer generated. It also maintains substance with a well written plot that contains good storytelling and a touch of comedy to relate to all demographics for a fun summer night at the movies! Grade, solid A.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bad Teacher


Cameron Diaz stars as Miss Halsey, a slacker teacher who is recently dumped by her sugar daddy. It's a scary thought that a hot starlet looking for a new set of tits is shaping America's youth! Nonetheless, it's a good time at the movies. Halsey's decadent behavior as well as her rivalry with her fellow teacher Amy Squirrel make for some cheap laughs and will also make you route for the anti-hero underdog.
Grade B+.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Green Lantern


Throughout the past decade, comic book superheroes have been finding their way into megaplexes and creating a lot of box office success. It was due time for the Green Lantern, one of D.C. Comics most popular heroes to be portrayed in film. Hal Jordan, an arrogant slacker is recently terminated from his fighter pilot job. He later discovers he has a much higher calling when  he is teleported to an alien that has crash landed on earth. Before the mysterious creature passes away, he gives Hal a ring, symbolizing that he has been chosen to join the Green Lantern Corps, an elite intergalactic team that possess powers to create objects with their minds. I have heard some negative reviews from critics and word of mouth. However, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Ryan Reynolds was a good choice for the lead role as his typical on screen arrogance made Hal Jordan more believable. I had a minor issue with the battle and the intergalactic scenes however as the planetary scenery and some of the alien characters looked noticeably animated. Nonetheless, this film is a very accurate portrayal of what is personally my favorite superhero comic book. Grade A-

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Super 8


It's 1979, (coincidentally the year I was born) and decades before kids are addicted to video game consoles and I-Pods, it appears they enjoyed sneaking out late at night to film their own zombie movies. On this night however, their special effects department gets a generous donation when they catch a train wreck during their shooting. The days following the event become very strange when the military arrive to investigate and the children find something sinister in their recovered footage. To start off, I give J.J. Abrams and Paramount Pictures an A on the marketing of this film. Keeping the audience in the dark over who or what was discovered on the train wreck footage defiantly brought forth a certain mystique that aroused my curiosity. Unfortunately, as is the case with many summer Hollywood features, the hype does not live up to the product. The story goes off with too many subplots involving the turmoil of the children and their families and does not focus enough on the "creatures" that should be centerpiece of any summer sci-fi feature. Grade C+

Sunday, June 12, 2011

X-Men: First Class


It's the 1960's, a time when Americans are eluding their fears of the Cold War with rock n roll rebellion and the sexual revolution. However, another revolution is slowly making itself known, the mutant revolution. This prequel explores the triumphs and turmoil of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr (who would later become Magneto) that inspires them to form the legendary Marvel Comics elite team, the X-Men. The mutant powers and intense battle scenes made for some great visual effects. This combined with great storytelling that explored the origins of the characters and their eventual opposing sides due to differing outlooks on handling human opposition to mutants easily make this entry the best film in the series. Grade A

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Hangover Part 2


The wolf pack is back! This time, they are in Thailand. Despite being halfway around the world, Phil, Stu and Allen find themselves in virtually the same predicament. They are completely wasted and have no memory of the previous night's activities. They must put all the pieces back together and find a way to make it back in time for Stu's wedding. The humor stays raunchy but goes much more over the top in shock value, just as most sequels try to outdo their predecessors. Despite virtually the same plot being played out again, I laughed my ass off. Isn't that what comedies are supposed to make us do? Hangover 2 is the perfect kickoff to your summer season, go check it out soon. Grade A.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011



Yet another graphic novel comes to theaters in the early stages of the summer movie season. Paul Bettany stars as "Priest", a rebel anti-hero who turns on the church to track down a gang of vampires that kidnapped his niece. Along with his sidekicks, Hicks and Priestess, they travel through a post-apocalyptic Orwellian setting that is very desolate. While I was drawn in at the beginning of the film with the uniqueness of the back story being told through an animated sequence, I was soon drawn out with the dry dialogue and slow moving plot that was highlighted by only a few semi-entertaining battle scenes. The 3D aspect was once again overused with the exception of the aforementioned animated scenes. Grade C 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fast Five


Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are back, reprising their roles as Dominic Toretto and Brian O' Connor in the fifth installment of the highly successful "Fast and the Furious" series. Actually, highly successful might be an understatement at this point.  Fast Five took in slightly over $83 Million, breaking many box office records. Most notably, it had the highest opening weekend in the history of Universal Pictures. No small feat, considering they are responsible for classic blockbusters such as Jurassic Park and E.T.

So, why is this now decade old franchise still successful? Simply because it works. Toretto and O'Connor are now on the run in Rio De Janeiro, graduating to international espionage. Jordana Brewster also returns as Mia Torretto, Dom's sister and Brian's girlfriend. The three main characters put together an all star team of  "Street Racing Superfreinds", comprised of characters from the franchise's previous films. The group plan on stealing money from Rio's biggest criminal, Reyes and living happily ever after.  Reyes ties to both the criminal and law enforcement sides make for some thrilling action and story telling. Throw into the the mix F.B.I. Agent Hobbs, played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and the street racers now have two factions from both sides out to eliminate them. Over the top Hollywood action sequences as well as some hand to hand combat makes Fast Five deliver. The actions of the group have become much larger and they still manage to stick to their street racing roots as a team. Going bigger and staying true are what good sequels are all about. Little hint, don't leave once the credits start to roll! If you were not one of the millions of people in theaters this weekend, get out and see it soon, you won't be disappointed! Grade A

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Scream 4


Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson are back with another installment of  "Scream", the franchise that revived the teen slasher genre in the late 1990's. Now this franchise is attempting to revive itself in 2011. Craven and Willamson do this successfully by keeping the humor and suspense of the previous films and contemporizing them by poking fun at the recent horror trends of "torture porn" like the Saw series and the countless classic horror remakes. The film also retains the "who dun it?" approach of the previous three which is also updated with much more graphic death scenes, another aspect of the horror franchises of the new millennium that keeps true to the series but with a fresh cutting edge (no pun intended!). My only gripe with this film is that I expected a little bit more. But to explain this, I would have to spoil the ending and kill the suspense! So, don't miss this one! It just may end up being your favorite scary movie! Grade A- 

Sunday, April 10, 2011



Focus Features, an independent studio known for their lower key artistic films is perhaps attempting to succeed in a more commercial market by releasing this action thriller. However, this film is by no means a Hollywood sellout. The film contains substance with a good storyline and well crafted characters that maintain the viewer's excitement throughout its duration. Hanna is a 16 year old girl trained by her father to be an assassin.  Hence, the European Intelligence Agency wants to stop her and use for their own purposes. They are led by the ruthless Marissa (played by Cate Blanchett), a good choice for the film's lead antagonist villain. Thus, we have the perfect cat and mouse game. This makes the Hanna character adapt to her situations, weather it be by fighting off operatives or befriending some unknowing vacationers, giving the film both heart and action. Grade A-.

Your Highness


The makers of Pinapple Express are back with a new comedy for the adolescent stoner market, which is a strong one for many movie theater franchises. This film however strays away from the modern marijuana escapades and instead takes us back in time to the medieval days of knights and dragons. Initially, I was not attracted to this film until I seen that Zooey Deschanel had a part in it. She plays the beautiful maiden Belladonna, the love interest of Fabious (James Franco) who gets kidnapped. His brother, Thadeous (Danny McBride) joins him on a quest to rescue her giving the movie somewhat of a plot, although lackluster and cliched. Now, don't get me wrong. I realize that this was intended to be a "stupid" comedy and not something that was supposed to be intellectually stimulating. I did enjoy the medieval scenery and had a few laughs but never fell out of my chair. So, if you are looking to give your braincells a 90 minute rest, head over to your local theater and see this one. But only if you have some extra cash and a bong.
Grade C

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sucker Punch


The third film of Friday's triple feature was a fantasy adventure that was well worth the stay! The up and coming but still fairly unknown Emily Browning stars as "Baby Doll", a young girl institutionalized by her abusive stepfather. The powers that be in the facility plan on lobotomizing her, so she decides to make her
last few days an adventure with her fellow inmates.Writer/director Zack Snyder, known for his great visual work in films such as Watchmen and 300 does an excellent job taking the audience right along for this adventure utilizing the same comic book like visuals he used in the aforementioned films. The main cast of the protagonist heroins are strong and contain substance that will appeal to a female audience, possibly even as role models. However, they are also have the looks and sex appeal to appeal to a male audience. So although unconventional, perhaps this makes a great date movie! But don't pass it up either way! Grade A.

Saturday, April 2, 2011



There is something I learned about spending a lot of my free time at movie theaters. The spontaneous choices are sometimes the best ones. Yesterday, I originally intended for my double feature to be Source Code (which I seen and blogged) and Sucker Punch. However, there was an hour in half wait between those two films. Hence, I changed my mind and decided to see Insidious instead. I seen the previews and had some mixed reactions. I thought it could go either way. To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be an extreme understatement. Bottom line, I am going to boldly state that this was the best horror film of the past decade. It managed to be absolutely terrifying without a single drop of blood and only a PG-13 rating.

The film tells a dark story about the Lambert family, who think they are living in a haunted house. They later find out that the source of their terror is far worse. A demonic figure is actually haunting their comatose child! Having read several books on the occult as well as Reptilian Shape shifters helped give me a great insight to this film's subject matter. Director James Wan was also very instrumental in bringing a frightening tone to the misery of the characters through nightmarish sequences that successfully hooks its audience and makes them feel the anxiety of the events. Grade, Solid A.

Source Code


Jake Gyllenhall stars in this mystery thriller as Colter Stevens, an agent who awakens to find himself in a unique government experiment, known as the "Source Code", a machine that sends its subject back in time for investigative purposes. His mission transports him to a tragic train bombing, where he takes on the role of a passenger in order to find the culprit. Of course, through trial and error, he must travel back several times. This episodic approach makes for some good storytelling where the same characters play out different scenarios. However, the film later falls flat when the main character becomes over-heroic. Grade C

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer

Matthew McConaughey stars in this courtroom drama as Mick Haller, a brilliant lawyer that is possibly the best at what he does, legally and illegally. The film's main plot involves Haller taking on a client, Louis Roulet (played by Ryan Phillippe), a son of a wealthy family who is convicted of attacking a prostitute even though Haller has doubts about his innocence. This storyline is effectively suspenseful with plot twists that keep the viewer's interest up until the very end. The side plots and supporting characters were also effective in the sense that they gave depth to McConaughey's character. This film is an impressive dialogue and plot driven thriller that you definitely don't want to miss! Grade A.  


This film was written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead fame. The film's writers also star as the two main characters, Graeme and Clive, a nerdy duo attending the San Diego Comic Con who decide to take thier love of comics and science fiction a step further by going to explore Area 51.
They meet up with Paul, a freindly and sarcastic alien (voiced by Seth Rogen).  Needless to say, they end up on the run from some government officials. This film is a predictable but entertaining trip to the movies that spoofs classic science fiction films such as E.T. and Star Trek as a salute to geeks everywhere! Grade B-.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


This one stars Bradly Cooper as a down on his luck writer who discovers a strange pill. The pill enhances the user's intellectual aspects and allows them to practically learn anything in a short amount of time or think their way through virtually any problem. While this film utilized the often overused storyline of the protagonist going from rock bottom to total prosperity, I was very impressed with the use of the main character's first person narrative. Director Neil Burger's animated scene changes and flashbacks also effectively told the story in a more entertaining fashion. The main character's journey of fortunes and pitfalls will win the hearts of action and drama fans alike. Grade B+

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau


Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star in this intriguing mystery thriller. Their characters meet by chance and subsequently become infatuated with each other (no surprise there). However, when the two happen to see each other again, Damon's character learns not only that fate was supposed to keep them apart, but a mysterious group known as "The Adjustment Bureau" is relentless in their pursuit to enforce this. My interest in secret societies and conspiracy theories as well as the similar subject matter of what I thought was the best film of 2010, Inception initially attracted me to this movie. While this film was somewhat thought provoking, it lacked any true depth and played out as a cliched love story. Grade C+

Monday, March 14, 2011

Take Me Home Tonight


I love movies and I'm stuck in 1980's! So, this was a match made in heaven! I made the trip to Cinemark on Montage Mountain immediatly after work on Saturday evening. I grabbed  a Starbucks iced coffee and stepped back 20+ years where I enjoyed a ton of laughs and a lot of fun! Topher Grace and Dan Fogler made a great comedic duo with Fogler playing the irresponsible troublemaker and Grace playing the naive best freind that goes along for the ride. While out at a party, they run into Grace's high school crush, played by the ever so beautiful Thersa Palmer. To almost no surprise, it ends up being the boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy finds girl again storyline. Just like those classic 80's films we grew up on! T.M.H.T. captures the nostalgia not only through retrospective musical numbers, but with great filmaking and storytelling that was a throwback to the movies of that time. Well worth the trip to your nearest megaplex. Don't miss this one! Grade A

Welcome Aboard!

For all of you that know me, you know I am a cinema fanatic! I will now share my opinions about all the films I watch, good and bad, old and new. Comments always welcome folks!