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Sunday, March 29, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: IT FOLLOWS







































A sexually transmitted haunting plagues a Detroit teenager in this stylized horror film from director David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover). In the wake of sleeping with a handsome stranger, Jay (Maika Monroe) quickly learns that she has inherited a most unusual curse: wherever she goes, lumbering, half-naked phantoms follow, and their singular goal is to see her dead. Desperate, Jay turns to her younger sister and loyal circle of friends to for help. In time, however, Jay learns that her only hope for escaping death is to sleep with someone else, and pass the curse on. But the pursuing phantoms are invisible to Jay's friends and it soon becomes apparent that her time is running out. Now, with death closing in, the terrified young woman will be forced to make a difficult decision if she hopes to survive her terrifying ordeal. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


Director: David Robert Mitchell    

Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto


Release Date: Mar 13, 2015    

Rated: R for graphic Nudity, Disturbing Violent Content, Disturbing Sexual Content and Language    

Runtime: 1 hr. 40 min.    

Genres: Drama, Horror, Suspense/Thriller    

Review:

The horror genre is a virtual wasteland of garbage littered with cheaply made lazy films.  If you’re a fan of the genre you really have to run through a lot of garbage to find a few gems here and there.  It Follows is one of those gem that hits all the right notes while turning some of the genre’s tropes on it’s head.  David Robert Mitchell’s film a tightly wound ball of tension with only an occasional splat of blood here and there.  Its DNA is laced with Carpenter’s Halloween, Craven’s original Nightmare on Elm Street and even a bit of Kubrick’s The Shining.  While there’s a clear linage on screen, the film works very well on its own merits building up a pervading sense of dread for the majority of the film.  It’s a dense film that’s got plenty of to say about budding sexuality, adolescence and self identity with an impressive level of authenticity, thanks in large part to a wonderful cast, that makes the film even better.

A

MOVIE REVIEW: GET HARD












































When millionaire hedge fund manager James (Will Ferrell) is nailed for fraud and bound for a stretch in San Quentin, the judge gives him 30 days to get his affairs in order. Desperate, he turns to Darnell (Kevin Hart) to prep him for a life behind bars. But despite James’ one-percenter assumptions, Darnell is a hard-working small business owner who has never received a parking ticket, let alone been to prison. Together, the two men do whatever it takes for James to “get hard” and, in the process, discover how wrong they were about a lot of things – including each other. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

Director: Etan Cohen    

Cast: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Tip "T.I." Harris, Alison Brie, Craig T. Nelson.

Release Date: Mar 27, 2015    

Rated R for Pervasive Crude and Sexual Content and Language, Some Graphic Nudity, and Drug 
Material    

Runtime: 1 hr. 39 min.    

Genres: Comedy    

Review:

Get Hard is exactly what it presents itself as, nothing more and nothing less.  It’s dated jokes about race, sexuality and just about anything feels like a retread.  Anyone’s enjoyment or lack there of will depend on how much you like Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart.  Ferrell and Hart have excellent chemistry together throughout and make even the laziest jokes work.  It’s all juvenile and sophomoric but if you were expecting anything deeper or more important then you walked into the wrong movie.  It’s a breezy film with enough laughs to keep it from getting stale.  It’s the definition of predictable and far from Ferrell’s best work, but still funny enough to make fans happy. 

B-

Sunday, March 22, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE








































Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons' comic series is adapted for the big screen in this Matthew Vaughn-directed action thriller. The story centers on a secret agent who recruits a juvenile delinquent into a top-secret spy organization. Together, they battle a tech genius with diabolical ambitions. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

Director: Matthew Vaughn     

Cast: Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Mark Hamill.

Release Date: Feb 13, 2015     

Rated R for Sequences of Strong Violence, Language and Some Sexual Content.    

Runtime: 2 hr. 9 min.    

Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy    

Review:

Kingsman: The Secret Service is the type of spy spoof that people always told me Austin Powers was supposed to be.  For whatever reason the Powers movies just never worked for me as a spoof but that’s neither here nor there.  Kingsman is a fun filled ride through all the spy tropes we’re familiar with done in the most gleefully and violent manner possible. Fans of Matthew Vaughn’s Kick Ass will find plenty to like here since its cut from the same cloth while laying down some groundwork for a possible franchise.  There are hints of its comic origins here and there as the film uses colorful ways to kill people ending with a “firework” display that plays out like David Cronenberg’s acid trip.  The action is top notch throughout and Colin Firth is shockingly at ease as an action star, showcased in an insane church sequence.  Taron Egerton delivers a star making performance as Eggsy while Sam Jackson and his lisp makes for a fun villain whose aided by a memorable hence woman.  There are a few issues here and there, the film could have been cut a tad and the much talked about joke at the end falls terribly flat even though I was expecting it.  They’re hardly fatal flaws but hopefully something that will get cleared up by the time the sequel hits.

B

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of The Gunman and Insurgent





Dearest Blog, yesterday it was off to the pictures for The Gunman and Insurgent, a pair of action-packed movies sure to get the blood moving. Or not.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

First up: Sean Penn in The Gunman.

A former assassin's misdeeds come back to haunt him.

Dear reader(s), if we're being honest, my first reaction when The Gunman's credits started rolling was, "What the hell did I just watch??" Not that it was a bad movie, or even a terribly strange movie, it just wasn't what I expected from the trailer. I went back and re-watched the trailer and, in hindsight, I'm not sure why I didn't get it. Luckily, it's a pretty good movie anyway.

Pluses: Sean Penn is on point in the lead. For me, he's one of those guys (like Tom Cruise) who, when I hear his name I think, "I don't really care for that actor." Then I watch him in something and say to myself, "Self, what were you thinking? That guy is awesome!" Though he's crippled on occasion by awkward dialogue, Penn is solid here, which is a good thing, because it's mostly on him to carry this one. Idris Elba and Ray Winstone are very good with limited screen time, and the movie is noticeably better when they're around. The story is interesting, with plenty of action, and there's an angry sex scene that, while not especially long or graphic, is pretty hot. Finally, at just under two hours, the movie is smart enough not to wear out its welcome.

Minuses: Javier Bardem is a total clown...thinking his mugging may even upstage Captain Jack Sparrow in that new Pirates movie. As for the female lead, Jasmine Trinca, both the actress and the role are entirely forgettable; you could have plopped pretty much any woman of an appropriate age in that slot and she'd have been no better, no worse, and no more important to the movie. A bunch of obvious soap-opera glances in the opening scenes reveal the baddie long before you should have any idea; in fact, the whole thing, while entertaining, is extremely predictable. Finally, Idris Elba appears twice in a two-minute trailer and exactly the same number of times in a two-hour movie. I LOVE Elba, and was really hoping to see more of him.

Distractions: Penn's newfound buff-ness and Trinca's funky front teeth.

The Gunman runs 115 minutes and is rated R for "strong violence, language, and some sexuality."
As is kinda the norm for this time of year, it's a passably entertaining, but ultimately forgettable, afternoon at the cinema.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Gunman gets five and a half.

Up next was the second installment in the Divergent series, Insurgent.

Tris and Four continue fighting the good fight against Jeanine and the faction system.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, literally every single review I saw of Divergent, the first film in this series, contained some version of the sentiment, "Well, that was way better than I expected!" It is, perhaps, for that reason that Insurgent is something of a disappointment.

Though it runs about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor, Insurgent seems slow and long. I was pretty bored with it for major chunks of time. The action is decent, but repetitive, and much of the dialogue just seems silly.

Shailene Woodley remains (for me) nothing more than a poor man's Jennifer Lawrence...now with new dopey haircut!! I still have a crush on Theo James (curse you, lady Mary, for your deadly bed!!), and I shallowly found the movie far more interesting whenever he was onscreen. Aside from Kate Winslet, who is always reliable, this series has one of the more boring supporting casts I've ever seen, with a bunch of interchangeable actors who could be swapped out with barely a ripple.

Even having said all that, my chief annoyances were a weirdly made-up and bejeweled Naomi Watts (is that really how you picture the leader of your revolution??) and the awkward giggles drawn from my teenage audience by the non-starter love scene and a single almost f-word. (Hardly the movie's fault, but it still set my teeth on edge.)

Insurgent clocks in at 119 minutes and is rated PG13 for "intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements, and brief language."

Sadly, the middle frame of the Divergent series is exactly what I expect of most Y.A. adaptations. Here's hoping next year's finale is more like part one.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Insurgent gets five.

Until next time...
















 

Note to filmmakers: More Idris Elba is always better than less Idris Elba.
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