Category Archives: Reviews

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Verdict: ★★★

Independence Day: Resurgence is a movie I’ve been anticipating since the credits first rolled on ID4. I’ve read some of the fan fiction, I’ve bought a couple of the post-movie books, I’ve even bought a picture album of movie screen shots because I loved that flick so much.

So when I saw the trailer for ID:R, I nearly shat a brick. And not just any brick… but the big, clunky, red kind. Yeah, that’s serious! Now, there are some spoilers in this review, not much, but some. So if you haven’t seen it and want to be completely surprised… READ NO FURTHER!

You’ve been warned. Go see it, then come back here and we’ll talk. Aaaaaand… go!

Okay so here we are, I saw it on July 4th weekend because Independence, and typical for Roland Emmerich’s work, there’s a ton of CGI, alien monsters and total city destruction with billions of people dying from a distance. See, the blessing about an Emmerich movie (and its curse, really) is that he really goes big so that the camera has to back off a few miles just so you can see what’s going on. In 2012, you knew very well that billions of people were dying all around the camera, and following that plane through downtown L.A. while subway trains were pooping themselves out of (suddenly) mile-high tunnels and thousands cars on the 405 were dumped unceremoniously into a bottomless abyss. What you didn’t see were the people, children, mothers, fathers, inside those cars and trains and being squashed under toppling buildings.

Same goes for ID:R… an entire hemisphere was sucked up in the air by MegaMaid (she’s gone from suck to blow!) and then dumped back down on itself, so you know very well that billions died. This makes Man Of Steel’s demolition of Metropolis look like a kid stepping on an anthill. Turns out, none of it was really necessary because the main point wasn’t the aliens’ destruction of a hemisphere… it was to drill to the Earth’s mantle to destroy the planet while getting the molten rock for their energy.

While I don’t have a problem with that, what was sacrificed for the CGI of Europe getting tossed like a salad was the story line itself. ID:R had several young characters who were the children of the first movie’s heroes. Capt. Dylan Hiller (Jessie Usher) is a household name because he’s essentially royalty, being Steve and Jasmine Hiller’s son. A fine pilot himself, he’s got a pretty harsh problem with Lt. Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) over a training accident that happened recently but you never really get to see what the problem is save for a tiny video that Jake plays before quickly shutting off. Jake’s fiance, Patricia (Maika Monroe) daughter of ex-President Tom Whitmore knows them both and would totally love it if they were BFFs again but you don’t get to see why she knows them or even what their background is save a single picture of the three of them in Jake’s locker.

Here’s the real problem with the movie… I don’t really care about any of these new people because I don’t know them except that they’re the kids from the first flick all grown up. Each character’s story is basically spoon fed to you with two or three lines and then they’re off to fight something. I would have appreciated another hour of the movie just getting to know them. Maybe a reference to dylan “just shootin’ aliens” or Patricia thinking about her late mother.

But enough about that because everyone from the first flick is on screen as well! Well, sort of. Okay, with the exception of Tom Whitmore (a rather aged and bearded Bill Pullman) and David Levinson (Jeff F—ing Goldblum! Woohooo!) all the old characters we fell in love with from the first one appeared for a few minutes and then disappeared as if being marched across stage for their token bow then marched right back off again.

Forget about any of the background characters who showed up but didn’t do much. Wait, why was Joey King in this movie? She’s a kid with parents who died and is… what is she doing? It doesn’t matter because the CGI in the air is what is important here. She’s crying for some reason, she pops her cute little face up here and there throughout the movie, but the movie seemed to push her out of the way just as fast.

And why was there a French woman romantically teasing David throughout the entire movie? What happened to David’s former flame, Connie? Nothing. Not even a little history. Just… they’re romantic, so be quiet and enjoy the aliens. K? K.

The only thing I hope for is that they tack that extra hour on the DVD. Please God, let them tack that on. I wanted to see more of my heroes here, but everything happened so fast. It was like a guy standing there holding a sign with arrows and hastily sharpied words telling us what every character was about in two lines or less then standing aside for the dogfight scenes.

So, TL;DR, I’ll sum it all up here with the pros and cons.

Pros:
~ The CGI was typical Roland Emmerich… bad ass and sophisticated on another level from Hollywood’s usual fare.
~ Excellent action.
~ Rockin’ dog fights that make Top Gun look like my three year old throwing a paper airplane.
~ The movie never takes itself too seriously and has lots of good humor thrown in.

Cons:
~ I’ve seen better emotional content in an IKEA directions packet.
~ Lots of needless destruction that pushes the story out of the way.
~ You never really get to know anyone, you’re just supposed to assume they’re good at what they do and you’re safe in their capable hands.

(shrugs)


Category: Reviews

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Verdict: ☠ ☠ 1/2

First of all, there are possible spoilers in this review. You’ve been warned! And when I say spoilers, I don’t actually mean I give anything away, but I do lay down parts of the movie that would move my review along. So if you absolutely, positively want to go into this completely shocked and awed, rent it first!

As a fan of various P&P movies (and the book) over the years, I have my own favorite movie version as does everyone else (mine is the one with Colin Firth as Darcy) but when it comes right down to it, P&P&Z may vie for the title. That’s because I’m both a fan of P&P and a fan of all things Zombie. The trick is that this movie was designed around those two niche audiences specifically, two completely different circles of friends who otherwise would have never given each other a first glance in the theater popcorn line. See? Already this movie is bringing people together! World peace is JUST around the corner, folks! I just know it.

Now, I know what everyone is thinking… how do zombies come into play in Jane Austin’s Brittania? P&P&Z, adapted from the novel of the same name was more well-put together than I thought it would be. Elegant, surprisingly NOT gory, and refined, the storyline, while much more compressed than Austin’s original dictionary-sized literary work of art, held much of the same feeling with the societal dances, Mr. Collins’ incredible ego and motormouth, and Mr. Darcy’s absolute disgust with it all. But seamlessly interwoven is the knowledge and constant danger that zombies lurk everywhere and that London and the surrounding area has all but fallen to the apocalypse.

As such, societal young women are trained in the ability to sing, dance, find rich men to marry and provide instant combat prowess and general martial-artistic badassery should the occasion rise whereupon they are onset by the random horde of undead gathering. This gives us a refreshing atmosphere of genuinely strong female leads, as every girl in the Bennett family dresses to the nines for the random country dance and regularly carries concealed throwing knives, long swords about their bust and pistols in their handbags for some extreme combat after the punchbowl is emptied.

And when I say female leads, I do mean that women in this movie dominate the combat scene. With the exception of Mr. Darcy… I’m sorry, Colonel Darcy (played by a very bored looking Sam Riley) who is a professional zombie slayer known throughout the land, the men in this movie don’t really have much to do. Elizabeth Bennett (a rather frail looking Lily James, Rose from Downton Abbey) is beautiful but positively no-nonsense when it comes to her emotions, her sister Jane (played by Bella Heathcote), and knocking the odd zombie into the dirt old school. Kitty, Mary and that silly girl Lydia prove to be much more fun to watch with combat training than Ms. Austin’s original characters. But there’s only so much action you can put in a movie like this and the men sort of just step back and let the women kick wholesale ass. Even the kindhearted Mr. Bingley is a true English dandy as Jane Bennett romances him by saving his ass from undead monsters in some of the most violent ways possible most of the time. I suppose this brings them together because as we all know, Jane fell for Bingley for reasons other than his money, though in P&P&Z, you can’t really tell what it was she liked about him.

That said, the Bennett sisters are truly bad to the bone. For fun, they upset Mrs. Bennett’s nerves by lightly conversing about singing, dancing and finding rich men to marry… all while sparring with each other throughout the house with brutal martial arts, kicks and punches that would make Jason Statham sit up and take notice. Then Mr. Bingley shows up and they all titter to each other, not really noticing the house’s splintering supporting beams they just kicked one another through!

The one character I had the most fun watching was Mr. Collins… I mean Parson Collins (played over the top hilariously by Dr. Who’s Matt Smith). Dr. Who had a blast playing the annoyingly talkative Collins who does nothing but jabber on about himself, himself, himself and Lady Catherine de Bourgh (whose lines are uttered through gritted teeth by Lena Headey in full battle mode).

All in all, this was a fun movie to rent. Everyone had a blast playing their parts and making this movie come to life. I wouldn’t have been entirely bothered by dropping a five spot on it at a theater either, but now that Redbox has it, I have no guilt whatsoever. Not like 2013’s Hansel & Gretel, sheezus. I had to drink to bury the fact that I actually spent money on that one!


Category: Reviews

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Verdict: ✫✫✫1/2

So I finally managed to put the kids to bed, pop some popcorn and see Mad Max: Fury Road when it came out on Pay Per View, and I was literally speechless the entire time. I hardly had a second to throw popcorn at my mouth and was thankful I hadn’t tried seeing this in 3D or I’d have mortally injured myself. My wife couldn’t watch it. Forget it, and I figured as much because I’d rented it too late at night and she wouldn’t have been able to sleep. But you know, that’s pretty much par for the course in any given Mad Max flick. I, for one, was happy to see this one didn’t deviate from the octane level of the original movies.

George Miller tried getting Fury Road off the ground at the turn of the century but had some pretty major setbacks, not the least of which was September 11th and Desert Storm. Mel Gibson apparently dropped his role in this one as Max when development couldn’t get it off the ground and the role finally went to Tom Hardy this year. With practical effects and ultrafast camera work, Miller wove a rather simple tale of redemption and “finding home” on nearly constant spinning of gigantic, treacherous wheels.

Unlike the previous Max installments where all things material are at a premium and gasoline is literally to die for, Fury Road is all about the value of people… specifically The Five Wives who belong to the notorious dictator Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). The Five Wives are pregnant and have escaped his clutches as stowaways inside the “War Rig” transporting gasoline from one city to another and driven by the infamous road warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). In a direct defiance of Immortan Joe’s reign, Furiosa suddenly yanks the War Rig in mid journey toward the East in search of a new home for the Five Wives and the chase is on.

Max (Hardy) all this time is just a lone survivor of the holocaust, a wanderer, who does what he can to survive in the arid landscapes of a post-nuclear world. He is suddenly captured by Immortan Joe’s devoted, brainwashed cronies called “War Boys” and found to be a universal blood donor, by which he is promptly hung in a cage and is used for donating blood to rejuvenate a War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Nux needs Max to stay alive and give him a blood transfusion, but wants to join the search for the Five Wives to please his master Joe. So he takes Max with him and straps him to his suped up muscle car, and continues the transfusion as he jumps into the cross continental road(rage) trip. Tell me that’s not badass on so many levels. No really!

Basically, this entire movie a one long car chase. Much like the old westerns throughout the sixties, the Mad Max movies have always been wonderfully simple, beautifully imaginative and extremely fast paced. Fury Road is, with the onset of better quality film and graphics, even faster. With sped up scenes in places and flashes of clues here and there, this movie throws clues and story line at you like a crazy 120 minute roller coaster. Dialogue is kept to a minimum as words are not wasted. Looks and camerawork do most of the talking and as the movie races at breakneck pace across gorgeous desert vistas and through breathtaking continent-wide dust storms, you’re left as the end credits roll with a rapidly thumping heart and wide unbelieving eyes, wondering if you really did just see what you saw.

For an amazing analysis, see Ouroboros’s  thoughts on Fury Road here ~> http://ruggedgamers.com/mad-max-fury-road-review/


Category: Reviews

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Verdict: ☣ 1/2

Southern Louisiana.
The Bayou.
Twenty years ago.
Someone had a shaky video camera!
Nooooooo!!
(cue shrieking violin)

Yes, my friends. The opening minutes of Evil Remains is nothing but someone on a bus with a camera pointed out the dusty window watching the Southern Louisiana bayou go by while PowerPoint style credits fade in and out, and ominous breathy music plays. This sets the stage for some major slashaliciousness, which is awesome if you’re into this kind of thing.

After we go on a trip through about ten miles of Louisiana backwoods, the story opens when a teenager murders his two parents in a cursed house on cursed property near New Orleans. Everyone blamed the curse, of course, and the murderer just disappeared. Wait. What? True Detective, this obviously ain’t. Anyway, twenty years later, a group of hottie college kids are all playing cards at a house party that is so poorly lit the cameraman has to stick the lens right under their noses Blair Witch style just to see their expressions as they talk and laugh and get drunk and say the F dash dash dash word with every sentence. Sooner or later, five of them decided to road trip it up to the cursed house on the cursed property to spend the day, in support of their friend who is writing his thesis on the history of the place.

The group of friends consists of the usual slasher stereotypes: Mark, the intelligent one (Daniel Gillies), is writing the thesis. His friend since childhood (and possible boyfriend but it’s never really said) Tyler (Clayne Crawford) is a very studious person who is grounded in reality and doesn’t waste words. Eric (Jeff Davis, one of my all time favorite Who’s Line Is It Anyway comics) is the funny one and interjects jokes nearly every time he shows up on screen to the point where he is annoying everyone. I’m reminded of Ryan Reynolds’ extremely irritating Hannibal King from Blade Trinity when I see him. Then, of course, there are the two insanely hot lesbians Kristy and Sharon (Estella Warren and Ashley Scott) who never really make out on screen… and just my opinion, but if insanely hot lesbians do not make out in a slasher flick, there’s really no reason to have insanely hot lesbians in a slasher flick.

Where was I? Oh yes… the students hit the road to the house to spend some time there. This is, of course, without stopping for donuts or getting any permission from the property owner or even considering that the murderer from twenty years ago might still be hanging around. Throwing caution to the wind, the students laugh and banter and hang bare feet out the VW van window and follow the map to the place. Honestly, I love banter. This scene was actually kind of cool and it made me wonder why the movie didn’t just surround the road trip. I would have enjoyed about another half hour of this much more than the movie the way it was done.

It doesn’t matter, because all too soon the trip ends and they arrive at the spooky house. Sneaking around the house and exploring the property, the students slowly do their ghost hunting thing… shooting photography and recording sound with a boom mic. And as they explore, they unfold their individual personalities and reveal a much deeper friendship between all of them than I was used to seeing in this type of movie. Like I said, I like banter and dialogue and this movie has plenty of that. Most slasher flicks don’t and fans of the genre will be bored with the constant back n-forth between everyone. Since I’m not a fan of slashers, I found the dialogue rewarding.

Speaking of… the script seems to have been improvised by the talents on screen. That or the script writers really knew how to bring out character development and should have a nice career in Hollywood ahead of them. The expansion on (at least) a couple of the characters through simple dialogue itself was disarming. I enjoyed just listening to them all talk, reveal their histories and bat ideas around. But again, I’m not a fan of slashers so I found that nice. Slasher fans will hate it!

However, the movie’s dialogue was slashed, as it were, by the onslaughter of the bad guy and the students I’d come to enjoy listening to start getting iced right and left for no other reason than they were just there. [cue slasher fans’ rejoicing!] Then there’s a twist that I saw coming, but only because I’d seen the same twist in so many other slasher flicks. All in all, this is the same slasher flick you’ve seen over and over from about 1960 on. [more slasher fans’ rejoicing!]

The long and the short of it is, for this reviewer, I found this movie to be very well supported by actors who took it a little too seriously. Everyone on set gave it their level best as if there were awards in consideration this year. I say “level best” in as much as a crummy slasher flick can give. This definitely wasn’t Shawshank Redemption caliber acting, but it was decent. However, the movie’s camerawork made Cloverfield look like CSPAN and its lighting was done by film students who haven’t graduated yet. There were entire shots in this movie that would have been more appealing if they’d been done in complete darkness. The budget for cinematography in Evil Remains seems to have been blown entirely on the cast, what with the likes of Jeff Davis and Kurtwood Smith (Eric’s Dad from That 70’s Show).

What offsets this slasher flick from practically every other slasher flick is that the actors bring their A-game so well to their roles, the character development is astoundingly deep for a slasher movie when you know every one of them is about to get whacked with a chainsaw or a pair of gardening shears. Which then, when the inevitable happens and teens start dropping, makes it all the more depressing because I had become somewhat emotionally involved in their individual stories.

All in all, a nice low budget popcorner to get laid by at the drive in but not one I’d keep in my Amazon Prime library.


Category: Reviews

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Verdict: ★

First of all, this review is chock full of spoilers so if you’re really interested in watching it surprised (whispers behind hand: like that’ll happen since every scene you see coming five minutes ahead of time) then skip this review! You’ve been warned!

Okay now… I’m a monster movie buff as most of you know. And that covers, for me, everything from the old 1920’s black and white silent flicks to the likes of Cloverfield and Pacific Rim. So when a monster flick comes out, whether it’s a blockbuster or an indie, I’m willing to give it handful of popcorn and see what happens. There are movies I regret from both types… and there are movies I loved!

That said, it’s occurred to me over the years that sometimes big name actors make goofy, small beans monster flicks during their heyday because they want to do lunch in exclusive places with impressive friends and their checks from the blockbusters they just starred in aren’t quite enough to cover the tip.

I get that. And usually you see those actors starring by themselves in those goofy, small beans monster flicks because their managers didn’t catch them in time. Three of the biggest names in Hollywood were lured into this one by that tip-covering paycheck. Unfortunately, even their charisma, charm and good looks couldn’t make this movie any better than the used bar napkin its screenplay was scrawled out on.

Gremlins creator Joe Dante has made great goofy monster flicks in the past that had practical effects, blood and gore that looked like ketchup and wonderful fun stories to back it up. Not sure what happened here, but BTE told me he’s lost his magic touch. This movie had boring effects, film school caliber monster make up, blood and gore that looked like ketchup and a not-so wonderful story.

Ashley Greene (Alice from Twilight), Alexandria Daddario (San Andreas, True Detective), and Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, Odd Thomas) head up this multiple A-lister and seem to have forgotten everything there is to know from drama school. Indeed, they act as if they’d tried reading that napkin five minutes before Dante shouted “Action!”

Max (Yelchin), a kid who works in a horror shop, is not brave enough to break up with his controlling, passive/aggressive manipulating girlfriend Evelyn (Greene) who walks all over him. He loves monsters and old black and white monster movies. She loves the environment and drinking soy. How the heck these two even met is not explained but everything she wants to do that takes away from his dreams opening his own horror shop is met with surrender and slumped shoulders as Max’s self-worth allows her to pull the strings in his life. He’s miserable and doesn’t know what to do about it.

One day, they walk into an ice cream shop against her better judgment, because lactose, but Max spends an awkward 15 seconds I’ll never get back begging and pulls her into the shop where they find Olivia (Daddario) dancing to rock music behind the counter. She’s obviously the exact antithesis of Evelyn and though you would expect sparks to shoot off between Max and Olivia in this scene as it was intended, that never happens. The two A-list actors just don’t have it in them and what could have been that “love at first sight” moment falls flat.

Instead, Evelyn goes all “future psycho-ex-girlfriend” on Olivia and ragewalks leaving Max there with his shoulders slumped and that dead look in his eye. But because the script on the napkin said so, Olivia starts to like Max. Soon however, a vague magical (see: goofy plastic) trinket shows up in the horror shop Max works for with no history behind it or explanation and as Evelyn forces Max to promise he’ll be with her forever and always, the trinket lights up and smoke comes out of it… which means poo is about to slap against a fan blade somewhere. That afternoon, Evelyn gets hit by a bus and dies.

<quick rant> Sheesh, I mean, even in Gremlins the mogwai doesn’t have an explanation, but at least there was a cryptic old Chinese man who owned the shop lending the entire thing some authenticity. This plastic trinket showed up via UPS. Effing really?? </quick rant>

Wait. Wasn’t this was a zombie flick? Where are the zombies? So far I’ve just been depressed having to watch Max be depressed because he has no self-worth and won’t break up with Evelyn. Suddenly, BAM! She’s dead. Okay, credits should roll. The popcorn was at least pleasant. I got up to hit the Eject button when Max opens his door to find Evelyn standing there as a sex-crazed zombie who has already started decomposing. After all, the aforementioned goofy plastic trinket blew smoke, so the devil must be in the details here.

Yes. You read that right. Evelyn is now a sex-crazed walking corpse. Necrophilia anyone? Ew. One thing I never thought I’d actually see is a zombie wanting sex with a human. That one was a little strong.

Burying the Ex is a zombie flick that kind of forgot about the zombie part. Evelyn doesn’t have much to do after she comes back from the dead, doesn’t even really have a hunger for human brains until the last half hour, and the movie mostly focuses on watching Max trying to keep it that way. Unfortunately, I found myself trying to encourage the movie along, much like running uphill and being fatigued at the end of it. I wanted to like it, and I wanted it to be good for the sake of the A-listers. But it just turned out to be exhausting for the most part. The A-list actors weren’t on their A-game. The script was trying to be Warm Bodies meets Superbad, but came off as warm ice cream meets plain bad. In the end, I hope these three got their tip money paychecks because this one was a waste of a good hour and a half for me.


Category: Reviews

This is actually the worst comic book movie ever made and I’ll tell you why. First, there’s not a single like-able character in the film. Not one of the principles is engaging, interesting or even once, funny. Second, there’s absolutely no attempt to make the film fun-not a single Yehaa! moment. I’m sorry, at some point there’s got to be some break in a dismal tragedy. And make no mistake, Fantastic Four is a dismal tragedy. Even the most depressing Shakespeare play has a comic break. Third, there are no surprises. The film and the characters are predictable if maybe a little more boring than you’d expect.

The dialogue is stilted, the chemistry between characters uninspired and the casting indefensible. I cannot imagine worse choices. These are some of my favorite comic book characters played with no understanding or empathy . Miles Teller is dull as Reed Richards, Kate Mara, bland as Susan Storm, Michael B. Jordan, sullen and resentful as Johnny Storm and Jamie Bell, an actor I like, is as unlike Ben Grimm, the always-loyal best friend of Reed Richards, as I can imagine. Whether this is acting or direction is debatable, but regardless it makes Fantastic Four painful to watch.

What’s even worse is the villain, Toby Kebbell. He is one of my favorite characters in both The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

In both films he’s not only a great villain but commands the screen. In Fantastic Four he’s hobbled by a really bad script and a terrible story. Of course, the original Dr. Doom, from the comic book, is lost to us after one reference to his home country, Latveria. I couldn’t even detect an accent. I’m sorry, but Dr. Doom, evil super villain and ruler of a tiny European country, is far more interesting than a slob of a computer geek with no personality. Not to be too harsh of course.

If I had set out to make the worst super hero movie ever, hired the most reviled director and a two year old to write the script I would have ended up with a better film. Pardon me, but, with little exception, main stream comic book characters we like, want to emulate and might like to get to know.

There’s not a single instant, till the last few seconds, that I enjoyed anything. There is one scene right at the end that shadows hope for the future. The special effects are cheesy, the dialogue lame and predictable and the plot unlike anything I can remember from the Fantastic Four franchise.

I would not recommend this film unless you were the last person on earth, had just enough power left for one movie, every other DVD had been destroyed and you had two hours to live. It would probably cheer you up about your impending doom. I felt more depressed after this movie than after a Chekhov play, and that’s horrible.

You don’t need to see this movie, but if you do, see it in the theater. You don’t want to be that despondent at home. Stop and grab a comedy on the way home to cheer up. That should help.

Rating: 0 out of 5 (and that’s generous)


Category: Reviews

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Iron Sky

Verdict: ★1/2

Warning: Spoilers ahead in case you actually do want to see this one!

This movie was deliciously awful. A marvelous idea that, on one hand was funny and brimming with top-notch CGI for a couple of guys with one PC and 37 days of shooting but on the other hand, was woefully underutilized with a goofy story line and non-researched technical details.

In 1945, after the war, The Nazi elite suddenly disappeared and, lo and behold, settled on the dark side of the moon of all places. In the 73 years since, they’ve been pooling their resources and plotting their revenge against the Earth… and by plotting their revenge, I mean they’ve been building a monstrous tank like UFO mother ship out of iron gears the size of skyscrapers and huge bike chains to turn them. The only thing they needed was something… something infinitely more powerful to complete the construction and power the UFO back to Earth so that they could conquer it in Der Fuhrer’s name.

So 73 years later it’s 2018 and two hapless astronauts, who speak like they were plucked right out of the inner city and launched into space, just landed on the moon. Turns out the President of the United States, a soulless, trash talking Southern woman who spends most of her time on an elliptical machine, only used them to get re-elected because one of them was black. Yes, you read that right. Anyway, they land near the dark side of the moon only to discover Nazis already there mining Helium 3, an amazing element that is the most powerful energy source in the universe. The Nazis wear gas masks on the moon, and ride around on motorcycles and in black VW Bugs because internal combustion works in zero-oxygen environments. Apparently.

One of the astronauts has a smart phone (of course, because Verizon’s cell service reaches the moon) and the Nazis find out it’s the missing piece to their amazing, iron, bike chain UFO tank thing. Hooking it up, a Nazi scientist right out of Einstein’s wardrobe somehow hacks the smart phone and connects it up via USB to their UFO. Suddenly the giant bike chains start churning and the enormous iron gears start grinding… and the smart phone runs out of battery power. Beeeoooop. Everything shuts down again. So they make a decision to return to Earth to get more smart phones. The only way to do that is to invade with giant iron zeppelins, each hauling an asteroid behind them so that they can slingshot them into the Earth.

I’m not making this up! I actually spent most of this movie laughing at the utter ridiculousness of the story.

However, I said it was deliciously awful and I meant it. This movie doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and director Timo Vuorensola’s humor just slaps you in the face at nearly every turn. Written by Johanna Sinisalo and Michael Kalesniko, the guys behind Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, the effects given to Iron Sky are astounding with today’s software behind it. The film’s leading lady, a school teacher named Renata (Julie Dietze) steals the entire show as she slowly finds out through Earth’s history how terrible the Nazis really were, negating all the propaganda she’s ever taught her students on the moon.

I’ll put it to you this way… think of America in the movie Idiocracy, make the President a woman who just stepped out of a trailer park, add the UN from Austin Powers, and then let Nazis from the moon invade the entire thing. It’s just about everything you can imagine.


Category: Reviews

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Verdict: ★★ 1/2

I thought about this review for a couple of days before actually writing it. When I first saw Ex Machina’s trailer I figured it was just another motion capture CGI gig that Andy Serkis made so popular with his extraordinary talent behind Gollum and King Kong. Drop an actor or actress into a suit with dots all over it and add ILM’s magic wand and holy cats… you’ve got anything you want walking around!

I was wrong. It’s worse. Code monkey Caleb (a rather rough looking Domhnall Gleeson) wins a week long stay with his extraordinarily reclusive CEO and founder of the company he works for, Nathan (a surprisingly bearded Oscar Issac). The moment he’s sitting in front of his computer and just finding out he won, we see his face being scanned by something from the web cam, his reaction, his every nuance of expression. This foreshadowing work sets up the feeling that Caleb is being watched, and if he is… aren’t we all? Immediately, I was suspended in the belief that, in the movie, I have no privacy and as such, I felt immediately unsettled.

Caleb’s flown out to an estate that makes Alaska look like the corner under the tree in my backyard, dropped off in the middle of a field and told to “follow the river” which he does so in his business suit and patent leather shoes. Tromping through the setting for Jurassic Park, Caleb finally finds a “door” without having been attacked by velociraptors, and he has to search the entire premises to find his host. The first thing this ultra-rich CEO/Founder of the greatest search engine on the web says to him is “Dude!”

Seriously? Nathan turns out to be nothing more than a fratboy without the frat. Gets drunk on a daily basis, yells at his maid with generic, store-bought douchebaggery and talks as if he hates tech lingo. Turns out Caleb has been selected (by winning) to participate in a very important test… to see if the newest model of AI android technology can convince him it has a consciousness.

Enter Ava (an astonishingly disarming Alicia Vikander), an android who only has facial expressions to convince Caleb she’s just this side of human, because the rest of her, with the exception of her hands and feet, is robot. And by “facial expressions” I mean, she tries not to smile while asking very basic questions of Caleb while trapped in a single room plexiglass prison.

My confliction with this movie is that it’s horribly depressing. I’ll put it bluntly. This movie is like watching a happy child suddenly drop his ice cream and start crying, only with awesome CGI. There’s not one part of this movie that actually offers any spark of hope, excitement or romantic anticipation. What has every red-blooded male nerd dreamt of in the history of nerddom? I’ll give you three guesses but if the first one is “a girl robot to take to the prom”, you’ve won. This movie could have been so much more than what it was, for much wider of an audience. Instead, Caleb is a depressed guy who wins a depressing week’s stay with his DB boss and is forced to administer a depressing psych test on a depressed robot.

The reason why I’m conflicted is because this movie is also surprisingly artsy. With such a simple plotline and generic acting, writer/director Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Dredd) delivers an astonishingly thought-provoking idea while punching it home with a twist I should have seen coming, but didn’t. Again… the conflict: It works very well but made my emotions roil in a pot as if about to receive a box of mac-n-cheese noodles. I actually had to drink after the show to make myself feel better, but man… it had me going. I was mad, depressed, and yet respectful of Garland’s vision here.

Ex Machina adds to the AI/android phenomenon with a marvelously bland recipe.


Category: Reviews

This is by far the best in the series and this is why:

  • Mission Impossible: make a movie with great action, terrific characters and an awesome plot and story…MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
  • Mission Improbable: add some great practical effects mixed in with CGI and come up with believable action sequences…MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
  • Mission Implausible: manage to keep the audience engaged and in their seats for the entire film without the usual “Aw C’mon,” gasp…MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is easily “best of breed” and also my favorite of the franchise. Not once was I thrown out of the film by some cheesy special effect or lame piece of dialogue.

The IMF gang is in disarray. Alen Hunley (Alec Baldwin), head of the CIA, is coming after the team with the intention of taking it apart under the auspices of Langley. Unfortunately there’s a terrorist organization (think Specter or Chaos) intent on taking over the world and destroying IMF first. Enter Ethan, Benji and Luther and expect tons of action! With great direction and cinematography and a terrific sense of humor, Rogue Nation is a hit.

Unfortunately not all is perfect. The bad guy, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), suffers in comparison to any of the Movie Madness Top Male Villains. Alan Rickman or Jack Nicholson, either one, could kick his butt and, the movie is a bit predictable. Particularly having seen even one of the trailers, it’s easy to see where it’s going. Agree or not I think you’ll like this one.

4.5 out of 5 stars and you just have to see this one in the theater!

As always let us know what you think at: moviemadnesspodcast@gmail.com or call the voice mail # 260-573-0015 or post them to Twitter, Facebook or the Ultimate Movie Geeks community on Google+

 

 

 

 

 


Category: Reviews

Indominus-Rex

Verdict: ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

In Jurassic Park, people and bratty kids were dropped on an island, learned about genetics bringing extinct species back, and were chased by dinosaurs.

In Jurassic Park 2, people and one bratty kid were dropped on an island, chased dinosaurs, and dinosaurs were dropped in San Diego.

In Jurassic Park 3, people were dropped on an island looking for a bratty kid and were chased by dinosaurs.

Now, in Jurassic World, people and their bratty kids visit an island, spend lots of money on souvenirs, learn about genetics bringing extinct species back and get chased by dinosaurs.

The circle is complete.

Jurassic World is a vacationing theme park that I would have loved to visit. Everything I dreamed Jurassic Park would have been when I saw the first flick, this movie brings it to life! And you’re right there with all the tourists holding dino-shaped balloons and sipping soda from a Jurassic World cup, seeing the bored, young employees mumbling “Enjoy the ride.” with every flip of the switch, and watching Megalodon gobble sharks and saddled triceratops babies carry kids around in the petting/riding zoo. The luxury resort on the hill opens up its balconies to epic vistas of Isla Nublar that you never got to see in the first one. It’s awesome and fun! But behind the scenes, there’s always the corporation watching the bottom line, and focus groups’ figures show that people are getting tired of dinosaurs.

Time to make some new monsters! Enter Dr. Henry Wu (an older, more sophisticated looking BD Wong) the brilliant geneticist who’s been with In-Gen since Jurassic Park. A scientist without empathy or emotion, Dr. Wu loves gene-splicing and he’s so preoccupied with whether or not he could that he doesn’t stop to think if he should. Just like old times! This time around, the boss sent him an email that said, “Give me something bigger, cooler and with more teeth.”

M’okay. How’s Indominous Rex sound to ya? Bigger. Cooler. And much more teeth! Oh, and it’s highly intelligent and bound to give parents nightmares, let alone kids. Looks good on In-Gen’s quarterly statement, right? Unfortunately, no one in In-Gen’s corporate structure listens to the people who work closely with these animals… that they are animals and not just “assets”. So they’re all surprised, yet again, when the “assets” get out and start doing what they do best: hunt… eat… and be wild animals.

The problem is… it’s not any ordinary “asset” this time. It’s the Indomious Rex.

Jurassic World, directed by Colin Trevorrow (who didn’t have much on his resume when he was chosen to helm this ship) is a call back to the original movie that changed Hollywood forever. JP1 was an amazing movie, steered through science and the future of genetics, the danger of thinking we’re in control of Nature, all masterfully crafted by the hands of Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton. Trevorrow forgets the second two movies even happened (thank God), pretty much accepts that Dr’s Malcom, Sattler and Grant never set foot in Jurassic Anything again and drops the movie 20 years after the events of JP1. There is no history of the second two movies ever having existed, however, there is lots of history harkening back to the first movie’s story, including Dr. Wu himself who has been busy in the lab. You’ll have a blast seeing some of the relics found in the “old park” as they call it.

In-Gen knows how to clean up after itself, that’s for sure. The problem is it keeps making messes. In-Gen security chief Vic Hoskins (I’ll always call him Gomer Pyle, Vincent D’Onofrio) struts around and grins like the guy you never want a cubicle next to, and pretty much figures the team of velociraptors that Owen Grady (Chris Pratt in full Indiana Jones mode) raised would be a perfect toy soldier in World War Three’s battlefield simply because they’re trained to do a few tricks. Meanwhile the park’s operations manager, Claire Dearing (an extremely perky but dangerously sharp Bryce Dallas Howard) has in mind that everything is under control with the push of a button or the call on a cell phone. She runs a taut ship and even dresses down an employee for wearing an old “Jurassic Park” shirt. This is a new era, after all, and it’s Jurassic WORLD now. Forget the past, this is the present. Everything’s different. We’re in control and the mistakes of the past are simply that.

Right? Right??

She’s amazing at running a park when everything works. Unfortunately, she’s not so ready for another mess and In-Gen is great at messes! That’s why they’ve got their own military ops division… to clean up messes. But even more unfortunately, this is no ordinary mess. They’ve created a monster… not a dinosaur. A monster with capabilities none of them were ready for because the genetic information it was created with is highly classified, even to the park’s owner. It’s bigger than they thought it’d be. It’s smarter than they thought it’d be. It never had a mommy or anything to cuddle it, and thus it knows nothing of nurturing. And now it’s out of its cage and racing across Isla Nublar killing everything.

This movie is a beautifully done popcorn monster flick with no apologies. All the thrills you got from the first movie are front and center and brought to the table differently. There are jump moments so be prepared! There are also softer parallel stories (the two boys whose parents are divorcing, the history and friction between Claire and Owen) that sort of act as glue to keep everything together. All in all, the movie is well balanced and paces smoothly.

A word on music, Michael Giacchino (Cloverfield, the new Star Treks and now Inside Out) took John Williams’ brilliant original score and kept it solidly original, including the fun flute notes and energetic melodies. It was like Mr. Williams never left the studio and was there smiling the whole time. I enjoyed it very much, not only for the sake of the movie’s pacing, but also for the nostalgia. I highly recommend just leaving JP 2 and 3 off your shelf and seeing 1 and 4 instead!


Category: Reviews

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