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Saturday, April 18, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: EX MACHINA







































Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller, EX MACHINA. Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at an internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company’s brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human component in a Turing Test—charging him with evaluating the capabilities, and ultimately the consciousness, of Nathan’s latest experiment in artificial intelligence. That experiment is Ava (Alicia Vikander), a breathtaking A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated––and more deceptive––than the two men could have imagined.

Director: Alex Garland

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Corey Johnson

Release Date: Apr 10, 2015

Rated R for Graphic Nudity, Language, Sexual References and Some Violence Runtime: 1 hr. 50 min.

Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller

Review:

Alex Garland’s directorial debut is one of the smartest and sleekiest sci-fi films in recent memory.  Garland’s film is beautifully shot, delivering some stunning imagery throughout.  Thematically, it covers some well worn sci-fi tropes but it does it in a wonderfully engaging manner that rarely bores.  The actors and characters are all fascinating throughout with each actor delivering some multifaceted performances.  Oscar Isaac is quickly becoming a personal favorite of mine and he delivers as the reclusive tech genius.   Alicia Vikander is just mesmerizing as Ava.  The performance is measured and subtle, rarely overselling any moments but thoroughly engaging.  Domhnall Gleeson is solid but sadly he’s overshadowed by Vikander and Isaac.  The film is provocative and thoughtful until the final act where things devolve and starts to feel a bit too paint by the numbers.  Thankfully, Ex Machina is impressive enough to overcome that small misstep and make a big splash for Alex Garland.

A

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Review of Furious 7








































Dearest Blog, this weekend a hundred fifty million bucks' worth of us trekked out to catch the latest installment in the Fast & Furious saga, Furious 7.

Spoiler level here will be mild, limited to trailer reveals and stuff you only could have missed if you lived under a rock.

Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) comes after the crew responsible for dispatching his baby brother (Luke Evans) in Fast & Furious 6.

There's not a lot of mystery to the Fast & Furious franchise; you pretty much know what you're going to get. If you pay for a ticket and then complain about it, shame on you; however, there's no denying there are better and worse entries in the series, and, sentiment aside, Furious 7 falls somewhere on the better side of the middle.

Fast & Furious' action objective seems to be: "bigger, louder, dumber." In that regard, Furious 7 is an unqualified success. The insanity of some of the stunts is, in the immortal words of Danny Butterman, "off the f*****g chain!," well worth your big-screen dollar. Unfortunately, much of the dialogue is painfully bad, and attempts at sensitive moments only highlight the limits of much of the acting talent. Michelle Rodriguez, in particular, is so terrible I was a little bit embarrassed every time she was onscreen. (She's generally a favorite, so no hate!)

A cast this size means limited screen time for most, and if your favorite is someone not named Vin Diesel, well, prepare to be disappointed. I'm a big Vin Diesel fan myself. I love Dwayne Johnson and am pretty fond of the rest of the F&F regulars, but when they're facing off with Jason Statham, with apologies to Dom's crew, my loyalty leans only one way!

Any other shortcomings aside, Furious 7's biggest problem is that it's just too damn long. The best action sequences seem to drag on, and even the Paul Walker tribute is over-sold. Heck, if they'd just cut half the shots of people's hands and feet shifting gears, they probably could have come in under two hours and been better for it. Having said all that, Furious 7 is still good fun, and, given the circumstances, I think most of us don't mind indulging the filmmakers if they wanted to hang onto this one just a little bit longer.

Furious 7 clocks in at 137 minutes and is rated PG13 for "prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action, and mayhem, suggestive content, and brief strong language."

Furious 7 is a big, loud, crazy good time, though, for my money, not as entertaining as the previous two installments in the Fast & Furious franchise. If we're being honest, though, there's only one merit on which this movie is really being judged, and that's whether it's a fitting tribute to Paul Walker and a satisfying farewell to Brian O'Connor. In those respects, I haven't heard any complaints.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Furious 7 gets six.

Until next time...

 Good guy or bad guy, I'm with Statham! <3 span="">

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-
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