Check Out Both Reviews!
Alyn Darnay (He Said) gave it three stars and Madison Monroe (She Said) gave it four!
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Alyn Darnay (He Said) gave it three stars and Madison Monroe (She Said) gave it four!
After â€śFast Fiveâ€ť comes â€śFurious 6â€ť
A few months after the wild adventure that was Fast Five, our heroes are basking in the glow of their amazing heist, enjoying their wealth while spread out across the globe.Â Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are about to become parents.Â Roman (Tyrese Gibson) enjoys entertaining women on his private plane.Â And Dom (Vin Diesel) and Elena (Elsa Pataky) are enjoying each other â€“ until their bliss is interrupted by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson).
Hobbs and his partner Riley (Gina Carano) have been tracking an organization of lethally skilled mercenary drivers across twelve countries led by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans).Â They are stealing parts to assemble a super-military-grade weapon that they can sell for tons of money.Â Shaw and his crew drive weird-looking cars that look like go-carts but are actually pretty deadly because they are designed with a steep slope in the front that can cause a car to flip over.Â One of the members of Shawâ€™s crew is Letty (Michelle Rodriguez).Â Wait a minute, didnâ€™t Letty die in â€śFast & Furiousâ€ť (the fourth installment of the series)??Â Not exactly.Â All is revealed in the movie, I wonâ€™t spoil it here.Â Not surprisingly, Dom is shocked to see his former love alive when everyone thought she was dead.
In exchange for full pardons for the crew, Hobbs asks Dom and Brian to assemble their team of skilled drivers to help track down Shaw and his gang.Â Â So the aforementioned characters, along with engineer Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) assemble in London, which is where Shaw is suspected to hit next.
Unlike Fast Five, this was less of an Oceanâ€™s Eleven type movie and more of an investigation.Â They are trying to find Shaw and trying to protect what he is looking to steal next.
At one point it seemed that the movie was over and I thought to myself â€śhow disappointing, this is very anti-climacticâ€ť.Â However I was wrong.Â The climax of the movie involves our heroes, several substantial fight sequences, a plane, and the longest landing strip ever.
During the credits, we are treated to a scene that will lead into the next movie in the franchise.Â It really shows no signs of stopping!!Â The scene was short and sweet, and a collective gasp went through the audience when the very well-known action star appeared on the screen, calling Dom and telling him “Dominic Toretto. You don’t know me…but you’re about to.” Fast & Furious 7 canâ€™t come quickly enough!
If you are looking for high-octane action, amazing stunts, comedy, and high-speed twists and thrills, then Fast & Furious 6 is for you!
Swift shot: Renoir has never fascinated me.Â Impressionism as a rule is not my personal go-to when I enjoy art.Â This was a challenge for me to let go of my apathy and immerse myself into a foreign film about an artistic style I don’t favor. For these types of films I only ask one thing, keep me interested, and Renoir did manage to do that.Â But, the Renoir I was most interested in, was not Le Patron . . . rather his son, the solider.Â Go figure.
Whenever delving into a biopic, I want to learn something new.Â I want to make sure I leave after seeing the film a little wiser or more cultured.Â For that reason, I give Renoir credit.Â But, I learned very little about Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet), and with the nuanced story-telling, I learned very little about Jean Renoir (Vincent Rottiers), or even Andree Heuschling (Christa Theret) for that matter.Â But, what I did learn from watching Renoir is why his art was devoid of negativity and that his colors were meant to blend into an almost wispy blur of incoherence.Â “The colors have to fuck,” as he puts it in the film.Â And he makes a solid point that the world has enough black in it, as in darkness, so he wanted to leave the world with something beautiful.Â I guess even non-enthusiastic fans would be hard pressed to say his art isn’t classically “beautiful” compared to the horrors of the world.
Alas, unlike what I was hoping, this is not the life story of Renoir, nor is it really the life story of anyone, it is a brief chapter of a family surrounded by death, living in a fantasia of color and purity . . . but there wasn’t enough.Â It felt like the whole thing was rushed, which, after you see it’s plodding pace you may find yourself scratching your head on that statement.Â But, what I mean is what was missing from Renoir was all the lines.Â In his own words, Renoir explains it brilliantly, “It’s not about lines, it’s about the colors.”Â Indeed, the colors and the chapters blend together to wash away characters that I might have wanted to know more about, if there were any real lines.
Renoir, directed byÂ Gilles Bourdos is about the famous artist’s last years, living and still painting in the French Riviera.Â Â Set in 1915, Renoir uses the entrance of ingenue Andree as a new model to the Patron.
Renoir is what you would expect of a French film about an artist surrounded by young, beautiful, naked women . . . it is about passion and love and sacrifice, but you will need to endure a lot of creative artistic cinematography to enjoy the film.Â Some of the characters wereÂ ennuyeux, just a nuisance to the story really, and others should have been developed with more life.
Still, Renoir deserves special praise for balancing, albeit not flawlessly, an artist’s pain and fear as he tries to capture the last bright sunrises life has to offer before his canvass is torn.Â And, if nothing else, watching it definitely earned me some cultural cool points.Â There is nudity aplenty in this film, so be warned if that sort of thing offends you.Â But, maybe you could lighten up a bit!Â Impressionist students will get that joke!
Fun-ish, but forgettable.
The H-Bomb: Master thief Will Montgomery (Nicolas Cage) is pulling a late night heist in New Orleans with his crew, including hothead Vincent (Josh Lucas) and the sultry Riley (Malin Akerman). It’s a ten million dollar job, the big retirement score for all involved. Everything seems to be going smoothly, but there’s just one teeny, tiny problem; the FBI, led by dogged agent Harlend (Danny Huston, rocking a Popeye Doyle porkpie hat), are lying in wait, ready to take Will and his team down. The feds make their move, things go terribly awry, and while the members of Will’s crew manage to escape, he himself is captured and sent away for eight years.
Upon his release, Will decides he’s going to go on the straight and narrow and leave his life of crime behind him for good. His first order of business is to try and reconnect with his teenage daughter, Alison (Sami Gayle) who he hasn’t seen since he was incarcerated. When he approaches her, he finds, much to his surprise and no one else’s, that she wants nothing to do with him or the stuffed animal he brought her. This disappointment, unfortunately, is soon going to be the very least of Will’s problems, as he is about to be contacted by his old associate, Vincent.
The years have not been kind to Vincent, as he now has a steel leg, due to something that happened during the heist, and is now driving a cab in order to make ends meet. He pretty much blames Will for how his life went to shit, and now that Will’s out of prison, Vincent figures it’s high time he collect his cut of the ten million that he thinks Will had stashed away before his capture. Only trouble is, Will didn’t stash the cash, he burned it to avoid a longer prison sentence, so there is no money to divide.
Understandably, Vincent has been hobbling around on a peg-leg for eight years and isn’t interested in Will’s excuses. So, pushed to desperate measures, he kidnaps Alison and sticks her in the trunk of his cab, then tells Will he has twelve hours to come up with the money, or else… Will knows what this psycho Vincent is capable of, and that if he ever wants to see his daughter again, he’ll have to put a big score together, and fast. As if that in and of itself isn’t difficult enough, he’ll have to pull it off under the watchful eye of his old FBI buddy, Harlend, all while the city of New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras in the streets.
Before I get into my thoughts on Stolen, I should mention that aside from the title, and the basic premise of the lead character’s teenage daughter being kidnapped, this movie has jack diddly-dick to do with Taken. I’m aware that much has been said to the contrary, but trust me on this, the two films couldn’t be more different. While Taken was a surprisingly solid and stylized action flick, Stolen is much more of a routine, formulaic time killer, with a rather lazy, clichĂ© ridden script, filled to the brim with one dimensional characters and reasonably absurd plot turns.
All that said, Stolen is not a bad film… well, not entirely. Sure, it is stupid as hell at times, but at a scant 96 minutes, the movie clips along at a brisk pace, features a somewhat inspired car chase through the crowded streets of New Orleans, and a handful of decent performances from its game cast.
Cage, who will pretty much do anything that’s sent his way these days, plays Will with a sense of conviction that actually got me to care about him as a character. Even though Cage, for financial reasons, has to whore himself out and take whatever he can get, I have yet to see him phone in a performance. Even in the stinkiest of stinkers, I can see that the guy is always trying, and here, like I said, he made me feel Will’s desperation and got me invested in him, even though the lame brained script seemed to be trying to do the exact opposite.
Another performer who manages to rise above the muck of this flimsy material is Lucas, who chews the scenery with psychotic glee as the unhinged Vincent. Looking like a deranged hippie who hasn’t bathed in about six years, Lucas brings a crazy-eyed intensity to the role that made him legitimately scary, with a real rage simmering under his scruffy surface. He truly gives a much better performance than this flick deserves.Â As for other cast members, Huston does okay, but is more or less wasted as the cliched antagonistic cop character, as is Akerman, in an underwritten role as Will’s other old accomplice who comes to his aid late in the story.
Speaking of the story, you may have noticed I’ve taken some potshots at David Guggenheim’s screenplay, and with reason, because when it isn’t simply being a bland thriller that’s generic in the extreme, it’s just downright dumb, such as the contrived sequence when Alison gets away from her kidnapper and comes upon a large crowd of Mardi Gras party goers, only to get recaptured again because they all had their backs to her and couldn’t hear her cries for help. Then we’re supposed to swallow the notion that Will could actually plan and execute a multimillion dollar robbery in the span of a couple of hours. Poppycock. Pure, unbelievable poppycock.
Sometimes, with a script this lacking, a talented director can come along and give it a little extra oomph, like Brad Anderson with The Call. Sadly, Stolen is saddled with Simon West, of Con Air and Tomb Raider fame, a director I’ve always regarded as a hack, and his work here has done little to sway my opinion of him. It’s not that he does a bad job, per se, it’s just that aside from the car chase I’ve already mentioned, the action scenes are rather flat and unremarkable… kind of like the film itself.
And that really sums up how I feel about Stolen as a whole, it was watchable, even enjoyable in spots. But overall, it’s just incredibly meh. It made no dent whatsoever at the box office, and it doesn’t take a mastermind, criminal or otherwise, to understand why. Aside from a couple of stellar turns by Cage and Lucas, it’s a pretty mediocre flick that, unless you’re some kind of Nic Cage superfan, just isn’t really worth going out of your way to see. Although, thanks to the fine folks at Netflix, you don’t have to go out of your way to see it, as it is available via streaming, so if you are a Cage fan, or a connoisseur of dopey, goofy thrillers, then by all means, give it a go, you won’t be sorry… hell, in all likelihood, you won’t even remember it the day after you see it.
Swift shot:Â The next chapter of the J.J. Abrams helmed Star Trek franchise doesn’t fail to deliver on the action, sexiness, or gut-wrenching drama you have come to expect from this incredible director.Â All of your favorite characters are back to boldly go where no man has gone before.Â (Screw you, PC police . . . it was meant to be man, and ‘man’ it will stay in my review!)Â Some things should remain intact, even in an alternate reality.
Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) are an odd couple in this universe, with both more or less tolerating one another yet grudgingly admitting they are a fantastic team.Â And from the moment the action starts, we are given a glimpse of how each views their duties.Â Spock is always logical and by the book, even at great personal risk, while Kirk is always a seat-of-your-pants type leader.Â This film changes those roles to a certain degree, as Kirk is betrayed by Spock and loses his command of the Enterprise.Â Now, if you thought that was a spoiler – DO NOT go beyond my Red Alert line below, because there are so many things in this film that are just far too easy to spoil.
After some major convincing, Kirk is allowed back on the Enterprise under Admiral Pike, but his tenure is short-lived as a nefarious terrorist, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) has destroyed the Starfleet Archives in London.Â No doubt a subtle tip of the bowler to Cumberbatch’s roots.Â Harrison is a formidable opponent of Starfleet.
Kirk is put in charge of a top-secret mission to bring the Enterprise to the edge of Klingon space (where Harrison is believed to be in hiding) and fire a set of experimental long-range stealth torpedoes at Harrison and then go home and drink some scotch.Â That’s the plan, but this is Abrams folks – you don’t really think it’s going to be that simple do you?Â Kirk, Spock, Uhura and some defrocked “red shirts” manage to capture Harrison at great personal cost.Â Also, they kinda blow the whole “top-secret” aspect of the mission . . . and disobey their original orders.Â Kirk disobeys a lot of orders, it’s kind of his thing, in ANY universe!
Admiral Marcus, the mission’s architect is none to pleased and decides to rendezvous with Kirk to voice his displeasure, but turns out the Enterprise has a stowaway on board, Marcus’ daughter, Carol, again, not a major spoiler!Â Marcus is played by RoboCop himself, Peter Weller, and his blonde daughter by Alice Eve.Â You may recognize Alice from her other Sci-Fi role as the young Agent O in Men in Black III.Â Her character plays a crucial role in Kirk’s destiny, but not how you might be thinking.
Things rapidly go from black and white to gray as words like morality and honor take on a double-meaning.Â As the Federation stands on the precipice of a great war with the Klingon Empire, there are those vying for a glory-bound campaign and others determined to avoid war at all costs.Â There are arguably some stabs at previous administrations in the film, but I didn’t find them overly annoying.Â Suffice it to say that if you want to find politics in this film, you won’t have to look hard.Â But, there are so many great things and greater characters, with Chekov, Bones and of course Scotty and his weird . . . “companion.”Â All the one-liners you are hoping for are again thrown into the mix as the tension is built up to a 10 on the butt-pucker factor!Â Or, a 10 on my patent pending Thrillometer!
Again, ILM (if I have to tell you who that is, it doesn’t mean anything to you anyway) lend their talents to this Star Trek film, and the attention to detail is again breathtaking and spectacular.Â Back when those words actually meant something, ILM was shattering their definitions!Â With Star Trek Into Darkness, they really outdid themselves.Â I got to screen it in 3D which was a bit of aaaallllllll riiiiight!
There are some crucial things that happen in Star Trek Into Darkness that “flip the switch” on the past franchise, but to get into that, you need to delve into the Red Alert section below – because there will be major spoilers ahead!Â If you don’t want to be deprived the joy of experiencing everything as it unfolds, and/or you are Dr. Sheldon Cooper, this ends your read.Â For many reasons that you have to see to appreciate, Star Trek Into Darkness is a must watch film!Â And, as it is a major popcorn flick, you need to see it in theaters . . . there is no excuse not to!
***RED ALERT*** – Spoilers below
Ok, you have been advised, you proceed now at your own risk . . .
This film takes a literal exploration of its sister sequel, The Wrath of Khan.Â In fact, Khan is the primary villain, as he manipulates just about everyone into reckless danger.Â Where The Wrath of Khan is known for many famous, often quoted, lines – Into Darkness delivers the same lines with not-so-subtle changes.Â Perhaps a character you were expecting to say a famous line is uttered by another, equally important, character.Â But, even my spoiler section isn’t going to divulge that.Â Just know that the entire film is a dedicated parallel to The Wrath of Khan.Â And just like when Ricardo (Fantasy Island) Montalban played him, Cumberbatch is vicious and unrelenting in his desire for revenge.Â Perhaps his vengeance is a bit weak though, as Abrams only dabbles in the back-story of why he is so determined to see Marcus die.
Maybe letting us actually see Marcus’ betrayal would have made Khan a more sympathetic creature.Â Perhaps his vengeance would have been justified?Â Also, Abrams attempted to make the argument that vengeance doesn’t solve anything.Â Ok, but ending the film like he did, a year after the attack where they go off on a five year mission might have made sense in our known Star Trek universe, but in this new reality . . . not so much.Â As the film ends, Kirk [The Federation in other words] has led an incursion into Klingon space and killed a patrol there.Â Vulcan is gone, and the enemies are very much at the gates.Â So to go on a noble five year fact-finding mission makes little, if any, sense.Â Maybe it is the warrior in me, but the ending was weak, and Kirk’s final moment at the podium about not seeking adventure and vengeance are all well and good until you hear these words . . . “Klingon bird of prey ahead, Captain!”Â Now what?
Madison Monroe (She Said) gave it four stars and Alyn Darnay (He Said) gave it five out of five!
Introducing . . . The Mandarin?
I used to play Marvel RPG as a kid, and the FASERIP sheet books were neatly (ok, not so neatly) stacked in my room with hundreds of character sheets with stats and back-stories galore.Â Yet, we keep getting Rhodes . . . boring!Â If there is another Iron Man stand-alone film, can I please start a petition to just have Iron Patriot be OUT of the film?Â He’s like the Jar-Jar Binks of the franchise.Â Yes, I said it.Â And, I got nothing against Don Cheadle, he’s a fine actor, loved him Crash and Brooklyn’s Finest.Â I’m just tired of Rhodes.
“What in the name of Elvis is going on?”
The H-Bomb: Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes) were just a couple of typical, twenty-something slackers when they came upon a new mind altering drug called Soy Sauce. A pitch black goo with hair growing out of it, Soy Sauce can â€śopen doors to other worldsâ€ť by giving its users an array of psychic powers, as well as making them able to see things normal people cannot… like strange, otherworldly creatures. Other side effects of the Sauce include turning sausages into cellphones and doorknobs into dicks… but let’s not get into that.
Before Dave and John can fully wrap their tiny minds around the new powers this black gunk has given them, they find themselves in the middle of an outrageous plot that involves a full-on invasion of Earth by beings from an alternate dimension. Now, our un-dynamic duo, with their recently obtained extra-sensory abilities, find themselves in the most unenviable position of being the only ones who can stop it. You may want to step back, because shit is about to get freaky.
I kept the plot synopsis for John Dies at the End deliberately general, because if I tried to go into any real detail describing this thing, I would, in all likelihood, only confuse you. Sure, I could tell you about the demonic monster assembled from meat products, or the flying mustache bat creature, but you really need to see it for yourself for any of it to make even an iota of sense.
Based on a book by David Wong, John Dies at the End is brought to us by screenwriter/director Don Coscarelli, who has dabbled in the extreme abnormal in the past with his Phantasm films (of which there are four), as well as his goofy, but irresistible cult hit, Bubba Ho-Tep. As bizarre as those past flicks were, they ain’t got shit on this one. John Dies at the End is by far, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Coscarelli’s most all out bonkers film to date.
Imagine if someone were to drop Naked Lunch, Night of the Creeps, and any adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft into a blender and hit puree, this zany ass horror/sci-fi/comedy thing is what would probably come out. I don’t know how much of the material in here is Wong’s and how much is Coscarelli’s, but it seems like they both threw absolutely everything they could at the wall to see what would stick, and if something didn’t stick, they simply said, â€śFuck it. We’ll make it stick, every last bit of it. Even if we have to use fucking super glue, it shall stick. Logic be damned.â€ť This line of thinking has resulted in a genuine work of what-the-fuck cinema that even David Lynch would be proud of.
Granted, this is nowhere near as esoteric or confounding as a Lynch film, it’s still way the hell out there, and often makes no bloody sense whatsoever. But that’s fine, as it’s made clear from the off set that this takes place in a world where anything goes. Literally. We could call this lazy writing, an excuse for the author/filmmaker to just make any damn thing up as he goes, a way to give himself an easy out if he gets stuck story wise, and it probably is, but with a flick this wildly whacked out and unpredictable, not to mention this gruesomely fun, that I can let it slide.
What I can’t let slide, though, is the confusing beginning, a structurally jumbled mess of flashbacks and flash-forwards that’s all over the place, including a bit with a severed head and a broken axe that the film leaves hanging and never comes back to. Once it settles into its framing device with Dave telling his story to a reporter (Paul Giamatti, who also executive produced), all is well, but at first it comes off as scatter-shot and makes us feel a little lost as to where we are in the story.
While I’m complaining, I should also bring up that for a film this ambitious, and it gets pretty damn ambitious, it sports a very low budget, and at times it shows, particularly with the uneven special effects. When it sticks to practical effects, its all good, but when it goes the digital route, it’s like watching a computer game. There are some green screen shots in a cave that just reek of artificial cheese (seriously, is it that hard to film in an actual cave?). The most egregious of the lot, though, is when the film abruptly switches to animation in order to depict a large scale massacre. This, like Kill Bill Vol. 1, is the sort of flick where you can get away with that kind of thing, but the transition is jarring, and they obviously did it this way because they lacked the funds to do it practically.
But enough with my petty gripes, on to the cast, who have given me absolutely nothing to gripe about. Williamson, making his feature debut, plays Dave with just the right balance of sarcasm and bewilderment. We experience pretty much everything through his eyes, and he makes the character easy to relate to and pull for, despite the outrageous circumstances he finds himself in. Mayes, as the John of the title, makes this doofus stoner oddly endearing, even if he is a complete dunderhead. Giamatti brings some weight to the supporting cast as a reporter who isn’t what he seems, as does Clancy Brown, who is funny but underused as Marconi, a superstar televangelist/monster slayer. Fans of Phantasm are in for a particular treat, as a certain Tall Man makes a cameo as a demented priest.
All things considered, John Dies at the End may not be one of the best films of the past year, but it is certainly one of the most original, which should come as no surprise, as it is brought to us from the same director who, ten years ago, gave us an elderly Elvis Presley who is forced to do battle with a soul sucking Mummy in a Texas nursing home. While it doesn’t quite have the heart or charm of his Bubba Ho-Tep, John Dies at the End is every bit as absurdly entertaining, and Coscarelli does manage to somehow make it even more outrageous. On the heels of this, I am certainly curious to see what Coscarelli does next, I can only hope it doesn’t take him another ten years to do it.
Can you spend all your life running from a mistake made in your youth? In April 2013, we found out you may want to keep running, but life has a way of catching up with you.
Directing this 125 minute thriller is Robert Redford.
The great cast is: Robert Redford as Jim Grant/Nick Sloan, Jackie Evancho as Isabel Grant, Shia LaBeouf as Ben Shepard, Susan Saradon as Sharon Solarz, Terrence Howard as Agent Cornelious, Brendon Gleeson as Henry Osborne, Julie christie as Mimi Lurie and Anna Kendrick as Diana. With other great stars making appearances like Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Stanley Tucci and Sam Elliott.
In our youth we all make decisions, and depending on how strongly we feel, sometimes we take action. Back in the 70′s we saw a lot of groups take action, they were called activists. A few of these groups became known as radicals because some of their actions were illegal. Like, in this case, robbing a bank where an off duty cop gets killed. Not wanting to get caught for this crime the group known as the Weather Underground splits up and hides.
The members take on new names and scatter to different places, doing what ever is needed to stay off the radar. Since you can’t run forever, Sharon decides to turn herself in and pay for her crime which ignites a media storm. One reporter, named Ben, wants to get the scoop. What starts out as simple assignment quickly becomes his obsession.
The realistic storyline was very easy to fall right into and get hooked on. This was only reinforced with the great work done by the cast. It is a little slow paced but well worth the watch.