February 28, 2018
True Lies (1994) --- "Guy Thinks Wife Is Cheating On Him. What He Finds Out Will Make You Laugh For Days."
Secretly a spy but thought by his family to be a dull salesman, Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is tracking down nuclear missiles in the possession of Islamic jihadist Aziz (Art Malik). Harry's mission is complicated when he realizes his neglected wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), is contemplating an affair with Simon (Bill Paxton), a used-car salesman who claims he's a spy. When Aziz kidnaps Harry and Helen, the secret agent must save the world and patch up his marriage at the same time. (1)
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Hello, Movie Buffs!
James Cameron has directed some great action films throughout his career – Terminator films, The Abyss (1989), and Avatar (2009) – but none of his action films have been True Lies. The biggest problem with action films is that they take themselves too seriously but True Lies (1994) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (Junior), Jamie Lee Curtis (Freaky Friday), and Tom Arnold (McHale’s Navy), is both hysterical and action-packed from beginning to end.
February 26, 2018
The Shape of Water (2017) --- "Mute Girl Falls In Love With An Amphibian Man And Runs From a Guy Missing His Fingers."
Elisa is a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab's classified secret -- a mysterious, scaled creature from South America that lives in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent and a marine biologist. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
Director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy; Pan’s Labyrinth) has always taken the road less traveled with his films and with his return to the genre of adult fairy tales The Shape of Water (2017) is no different. And it’s no wonder why this film has received so many award nominations/wins. Similar to his 2006 film Pan's Labyrinth, the film follows a female character’s struggle between two worlds; one of reality, which reveals itself to be the true evil while the one of myth offers an escape from such evil. The Shape of Water is a romantic and dark fantasy with a love story that is both beautiful and bizarre in a Del Toro kind of way. There are a few similarities to Creature from the Black Lagoon, mainly in terms of Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) but there are some differences with the story, setting, and cast.
February 23, 2018
Interstellar (2014) --- "Self-Centered Dad Discovers The True Meaning Of Family. But Is He Too Late?"
In Earth's future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth's population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind's new home. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
Interstellar (2014) – directed by Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk) and starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, and Casey Affleck – is a sci-fi epic about love and time like no other. It is intellectual and thought-provoking, as well as emotional and heartfelt. Interstellar is the first film of a new stage in Christopher Nolan’s career, it is proof that Nolan along with his brother Jonathan Nolan (Prestige; The Dark Knight) can separate himself from The Dark Knight (2008 & 2012) and make a film that is humble, original, deeply meticulous, and personal. The Nolan brothers answers questions that raise other questions as well as pay great detail to the mystery that is love; a bond that can unite and strengthen men as well as separating men by shining light on one’s true intentions. Through Interstellar Nolan proves that we can go from a warm earthly planet to the cold depths of space and time but we can never be separated from who we are; we can travel throughout the universe believing that what we left behind no longer matters but it’s just a lie we tell ourselves to justify what we’ve done. Ironically it is through distance and time, by going to the ends of the world and finding the black hole beyond the horizon that we realize we can never escape who we really are. Like a footprint in the sand or like a wave upon the shore, we always leave a part of ourselves behind.
February 21, 2018
Black Panther (2018) --- "King Loses His Crown After He Loses A Bet. What He Does Next Is Incredible."
T'Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
Like most films there will always be people who will either love it or hate it, what side you chose is all a matter of opinion. Black Panther (2018) helmed by Ryan Coogler (Creed) and starring an ensemble cast – Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Letiitia Wright, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, and Forrest Whitaker – is an amazing addition into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and delves into the story of Black Panther after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016). Although I am not familiar with Coogler’s work as a director, here he proves that he was an excellent choice for this film, especially since the huge budget he was given here allowed him to pull out all the big stops in a bright and beautiful way.
February 19, 2018
"Catwoman" is the story of shy, sensitive artist Patience Philips (Halle Berry), a woman who can't seem to stop apologizing for her own existence. She works as a graphic designer for Hedare Beauty, a mammoth cosmetics company on the verge of releasing a revolutionary anti-aging product. When Patience inadvertently happens upon a dark secret her employer is hiding, she finds herself in the middle of a corporate conspiracy. What happens next changes Patience forever. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
Director Pitof’s 2004 Catwoman explains how Patience Phillips goes from being an introverted artist to becoming the extroverted and mysterious cat-burglar known as Catwoman (Halle Berry – Kidnap). Now, this film has been subject to some unfavorable criticism and while it is not the best Catwoman film ever, I found it to be a new and interesting take on DC’s iconic cat-burglar.
February 16, 2018
From Clint Eastwood comes “The 15:17 to Paris,” which tells the real-life story of three men whose brave act turned them into heroes during a high-speed railway ride. In the early evening of August 21, 2015, the world watched in stunned silence as the media reported a thwarted terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364 bound for Paris—an attempt prevented by three courageous young Americans traveling through Europe. The film follows the course of the friends’ lives, from the struggles of childhood through finding their footing in life, to the series of unlikely events leading up to the attack. Throughout the harrowing ordeal, their friendship never wavers, making it their greatest weapon and allowing them to save the lives of the more than 500 passengers on board. The heroic trio is comprised of Anthony Sadler, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone, who play themselves in the film. Starring alongside them are Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, Ray Corasani, PJ Byrne, Tony Hale, and Thomas Lennon. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
As humans, we love the idea of ordinary people performing extraordinary acts of humanity, especially during intense-crisis. On August 21st, 2015 three American friends – Sacramento State senior Anthony Sadler, Army National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos, and Airman First Class Spencer Stone – are on a summer backpacking trip around Europe when their train from Amsterdam to Paris becomes the target for a very catastrophic terrorist attack. For those who have heard of the story know that terrorist Ayoub El-Khazzani (Ray Corasani) armed himself – with guns, a box cutter, and over 300 rounds of ammunition – and opened fire on the unsuspecting passengers of the train. We know that instead of being one of the worst bloodbaths since 9/11, the terrorist was disabled after only two injuries and the three Americans along with an Englishman received the highest level of gratitude from the nation of France; wherein the incident occurred. Afterwards, Alek, Spencer, and Anthony collaborated with magazine writer Jeffrey Stern to write about their lives leading up to the incident on August 21st in the book The 15:17 To Paris. So it is only fitting that their story of incredible heroism is depicted by 87-year-old director Clint Eastwood, who turned the book into a compelling and heartfelt film.
February 14, 2018
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) --- "Being The Girlfriend Of A Secret Agent Is Hard But At Least You Get To Meet Interesting People."
To his friends and loved ones, young Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) appears to be an ordinary executive; however, he has secretly worked for the CIA for years. Ryan was originally brought in to crunch global data, but when he uncovers a carefully planned scheme to crash the U.S. economy and spark global chaos, he becomes the only man with the skills to stop it. Now a full operative, Ryan finds himself caught between his secretive handler, his clueless fiancée and a brilliant Russian leader. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
Jack Ryan, Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, 1992) has played him as well as Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October, 1990) and most recently Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears, 2002). In this latest reboot of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan book series Chris Pine (Star Trek) has the honor of playing the heroic intelligence analyst Jack Ryan in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014). This film offers a different Ryan from what we are used to and while is set several years post-9/11, it has that familiar Cold War feel to it that makes it a very exciting action-thriller.
Director Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express) is known for his Shakespearian-esq films but recently he’s started to expand his directorial work first with Thor (2011) and now with this film. Branagh relishes the opportunity to stage a Bond-esq spy thriller and once again he is responsible for starting a new franchise series. He admirably and carefully balances character dynamics with action sequences and his storytelling is energetic. Writers Adam Cozard (Legend of Tarzan) and David Koepp (Mission Impossible) take full advantage of our present-day geopolitical society by providing details to Ryan’s life before his employment with the CIA. The camera work during the action scenes is great and the infiltration scenes were astutely edited with an overabundance of tension. Most of the action is builds for the second half of the film with the real moment of tension involving a nail-biting office break-in. Whereas the final half of the film unfolds quickly and a bit predictable with a major adrenaline rush.
The acting and the interaction between characters was very good. Chris Pine is reasonably convincing as the rookie who is forced to rely on his instincts after being thrust into the field for the first time. Pine plays a pretty good spy, his action sequences were gritty and exciting, and his chemistry with Keira Knightley (Everest) was great. Branagh gives the Ryan a moral center with an added love interest, Cathy (Keira Knightley - Everest) who plays a surprisingly significant part in the film. It was great to see Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures) as Harper the mentor/supervisor for Ryan however, it’s too bad that his character was not better utilized. Kenneth Branagh portrays a strong antagonist with his subtle and sinister portrayal of Viktor Cherevin, a Russian businessman with terrorism and economic terror on his mind. Branagh transforms into his role that you don’t even recognize him, with no trace of a British accent and that makes his role that much more convincing.
Overall, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) is not as good as the Mission Impossible franchise but it was a nicely done espionage thriller that pays homage to classic elements. The story was good, the camera work is great, and the action is exciting. The performances were great with some solid acting from Pine, Knightley, Costner, and Branagh. I hope that they come out with another addition to the series but I would not be surprised if that never happened considering the mid to low ratings earned.
- Jack Ryan
Worth Seeing: 7.1 of 10 stars
Worth Buying: 7.1 of 10 stars
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The Bourne Series: Identity (2002)
The Bourne Series: Supremacy (2004)
The Bourne Series: Ultimatum (2007)
The Bourne Series: Jason Bourne (2016)
007: Casino Royale (2006)
007: Quantum of Solace (2008)
007: Skyfall (2012)
Gangster Squad (2013)
Jack Reacher (2012)
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
Live by Night (2016)
Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Man on a Ledge (2012)
Mission Impossible (1996)
Mission Impossible II (2000)
Mission Impossible III (2006)
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)
February 12, 2018
Wonder (2018) --- "Young Boy With A Birth Defect Discovers That Being Different Is Better Than Being Invisible."
Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
Director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) adapted R.J. Palacios’ best-selling novel Wonder, a funny and uplifting story, and turns it into a cinema wonder for families. Upon learning that the story’s premise follows a young boy with facial differences, you know that the film is going to tug on your heartstrings and make anyone weep unashamedly. And Wonder (2017) does exactly that with an unforgettable journey.
February 9, 2018
The Revenant (2015) --- "Guy Survives Being Mauled By A Bear. His Road To Revenge Will Blow Your Mind."
While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains life-threatening injuries from a brutal bear attack. When a member (Tom Hardy) of his hunting team kills his young son (Forrest Goodluck) and leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back to civilization. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, the legendary fur trapper treks through the snowy terrain to track down the man who betrayed him. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
Revenant, a noun, it means a person who returns; as a spirit after death, as a ghost. This is exactly what the film is about. The Revenant (2015) falls into the same category as Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), by being a heart-pounding and terrific film. This is what you get when you take the skillful direction of Alejandro González Iñárritu and the stunning cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki fresh off of Birdman (2014), toss in the incredible acting skills of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, and combine it all into one film. The Revenant has brutal action sequences that are emotional, gripping, and realistic, and to think that events like the ones depicted in this film actually happened.
The film is a western-epic inspired by the true-life experiences of frontiersman Hugh Glass, a legendary fur-trapper in the winter wilderness of 1820’s America. Although the story has been embellished over the years, the ‘facts’1 and the film’s story are pretty close. This is a revenge story more than anything but it also highlighted human perseverance and the will to survive. The things that happen to Glass are truly horrific and the fact that he survived it is astonishing. The action style is similar to Gladiator with its effects and artistically constructed dream sequences but the film is not without special effects which are the best part. The horrific and grueling bear attack is a seamless blend of realistic animal and CGI technology making the bear to be both beautiful one second and deadly the next. This film is a thrill ride of different emotions, whether it’s in awe of the beautiful landscapes or gasping in horror at the unrelenting violence.
The cinematography is beautiful, cold, visceral, and almost entirely authentic from the use of natural lighting and powerful storytelling. Lubezki has proven that he is one of the most fantastic cinematographers today, and his extensive use of natural lighting over artificial makes the film appear even more stunning. The single tracking shot during an intense battle scene made you feel like you were right there in the scene. There are many long and expansive shots without breaks sprinkled throughout the film that only adds to the stunning nature of the landscapes. Supporting the cinematography is the music score, by relatively unknown composers Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto is mesmerizing. However, unless it’s a musical, the music should largely stay within the background in order to set the mood but this was not the case for this film. It was great but at certain times it tried to overcompensate for the lack of dialogue through much of the film.
Another noteworthy aspect of the film is the actors. Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic; Wolf on Wall Street) has finally received the seemingly forever elusive Oscar with this superb and cripplingly painful performance. After the bear attack to his character, much of DiCaprio’s scenes throughout the film have very little dialogue but that in no way deters from a brilliant performance. It’s clear that not all of the suffering is fake considering the unfriendly conditions in which the film takes place. Tom Hardy (Dark Knight Rises; Legend) is also impressive as the antagonist. But he mumbles constantly and it seems as if most of his lines would have made more sense if they were said with his Bain mask. The supporting performances are great as well despite their little screen time. The most noteworthy being, Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina; Goodbye Christopher Robin) who is compelling with a degree of compassion and Will Poulter (The Maze Runner; We Are The Millers) who gets the chance to shine in a truly top dramatic film and he well and truly makes that grade.
Overall, The Revenant (2015) is a masterpiece of a film. This is not a feel-good film to sit through, this is cold, beautiful, visceral, and impressive with significant violence that not many viewers can sit through. This is a visual treat for those who appreciate great cinematography and I recommend that everyone see this at least once in their life. So I am not surprised that it received 3 Oscars for:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Best Achievement in Directing (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
Best Achievement in Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki)
as well as 3 Golden Globes for:
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Leonardo DiCaprio)
Best Director - Motion Picture (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
"As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe... keep breathing."
- Hugh Glass
Worth Seeing: 10 of 10 stars
Worth Buying: 10 of 10 stars
I hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch The Revenant (2015).
127 Hours (2010)
All is Lost (2014)
Cast Away (2000)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
The Edge (1997)
The Grey (2011)
The Hateful Eight (2015)
The Impossible (2012)
In the Heart of the Sea (2015)
Life of Pi (2012)
Last of the Dogmen (1995)
Man in the Wilderness (1971)
The Road (2009)
Rescue Dawn (2006)
February 7, 2018
The DUFF (2015) --- "Every Friend Has A Designated Spot In The Group, Although Some Are Less Attractive Then Others."
Frumpy high-school senior Bianca (Mae Whitman) has a rude awakening when she learns that her classmates secretly know her as the DUFF -- designated ugly fat friend -- to her prettier and more popular pals. Desperate to reinvent herself, Bianca enlists the aid of Wesley (Robbie Amell), a charming jock. In order to save her senior year from becoming a complete disaster, Bianca must find the confidence to overthrow a judgmental student (Bella Thorne) and revolutionize the school's social order. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
Starring Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, and Bella Thorne, The DUFF (2015), based off the book (of the same name) by Kody Keplinger, is about one girl who tests the unbound waters of high school social statuses and cliques. The DUFF is fast paced and it's cool that it starts out with the graphic newspaper clips that explains the world of high school, the different types of people, and that they don’t just portray the stereotypical high school teenagers. The DUFF’s story is formulaic like Saved by the Bell (1989-1992), which is rarely seen in films because it’s so iconic. The story about a school girl dreaming of being it girl and getting the guy has been used a number of times, so author Kody Keplinger and writer Josh Cagan (Bandslam) needed to bring something new to the story in order to relate to the viewers. Luckily, The DUFF does so very well.
February 5, 2018
The Edge of Seventeen (2017) --- "An Awkward Teen Faces A Mid-Life Crisis When She Discovers The World Doesn't Revolve Around Her."
Everyone knows that growing up is hard, and life is no easier for high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who is already at peak awkwardness when her all-star older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) starts dating her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). All at once, Nadine feels more alone than ever, until an unexpected friendship with a thoughtful teen (Hayden Szeto) gives her a glimmer of hope that things just might not be so terrible after all. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
Kelly Fremon Craig (Post Grad) wrote and directed The Edge of Seventeen, a 2017 coming-of-age story starring Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, and Woody Harrelson. Before seeing this film I thought that this was going to be your typical teen film about young teenagers in high school but that is not the case with this film. The Edge of Seventeen is a complex, unusual, and awkwardly charming film about a young girl’s identity crisis as she tries to navigate the high school social structure; it’s reminiscent of classic 80’s John Hughes films like The Breakfast Club (1985) and Sixteen Candles (1984).
February 2, 2018
Recall, The (2017) --- "Camping In A Remote Cabin During An Alien Invasion May Not Be The Best Idea."
A man and a woman forge an alliance with a mysterious hunter when aliens abduct their friends at a remote lakefront cabin. (1)
Hello, Movie Buffs!
The Recall (2017) is a fun and cheesy sci-fi film about friends Brendan (RJ Mitte – Breaking Bad), Charlie (Jedidiah Goodacre – The 100), Annie (Laura Bilgeri – iZombie), Rob (Niko Pepaj – How to Get Away with Murder), and Kara (Hannah Rose May – Ballers) on a camping trip during an alien invasion and the mysterious Hunter is played by Wesley Snipes (Blade films).