17
Sep 15
Lucy is a film that you go into with the mindset of a superhero movie, if you go into it thinking it's going to be be based totally on facts then you'll hate it.  Lucy is a sci-fi action film, not a commentary on morality or the human condition.  Yes Lucy is over the top, yes it's totally unrealistic, yes it's a script written around gun battles and car chases, but as a pure entertainment film it works.

Story

Well the story was kind of thin, there certainly was a script but I think it came second to the gun battles and car chases.  The whole idea of a drug that increases your brain power has been done, Limitless for example, the only difference is Lucy isn't a smart film, it's a dumb action film with fake science to try and make it look smart.  My biggest issue with this film is that it just felt rushed, it seem like they were trying to fit a 2 hour film into a 89 minute slot, if the director had just made the film a little longer and given the audience a little more time to breath this might have been a better film.

Music

The music fit the film very well, fast paced music to drive the scene, drawn out music for the tense moments.  Nothing else really to say, the music fit the film.

Acting

Scarlett Johansson goes from party girl to super cold in one scene, it was kind of like watching her become an even colder Black Widow.  Morgan Freeman was as always great, he could have played every character in Batman & Robin and I still would have to say the acting was great, even if he had bat-nipples!  The rest of the cast was fine, nothing to really go on about so I'll just leave it there.

Conclusion

Lucy is a pure sci-fi action film that is meant as entertainment only, if you can go into this film with that mind set then you'll enjoy it.  I'd say give it a shot, it's not long, and it's just dumb fun.
10
Sep 15
Citizenfour is an interesting film, it's a documentary about Edward Snowden as he was preparing to release the NSA spying documents.  Most of the film takes place in Snowden's hotel room in Hong Kong, and while that can sound boring, it was interesting because you see the measures he went to just to make sure that the facts got out and that that the story was about the facts and not him.  The film touches on how the United States is becoming more and more a surveillance state, and the dangers that brings, and what is privacy nowadays in our world.  Also it shows how much Edward Showden had to give up and risk to release this information to the public, it couldn't have been easy and I don't know if I could have done what he did.
Music
From Wikipedia:
The soundtrack consists of portions of the Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts I–IV, which was released under a Creative Commons license (BY-NC-SA) in 2008.
I thought the music fit the film very well, it gave it that edge that you felt while watching it.
Conclusion
Regardless of what you think about Edward Snowden and what he did you should see this film, just to see his side of the story and maybe you'll see just how far the NSA and government is really going to bring an Orwellian 1984 police state to reality.
3
Sep 15
Justice League: Gods and Monsters takes an interesting twist on the origin stories of BatmanSuperman, and Wonder Woman, it take place in an alternate universe where the characters are very different and so is the world they live in.  Batman is a half man half bat that drinks blood, Superman is the son of General Zod, and Wonder Woman was married to Darkseid's son.  The Justice League rules with an iron fist, and is willing to kill, leading to the world turning against them.  It's a totally different take on the Justice League but I have to say I liked it.

Story

Overall I liked they way this story was done, it never really lost me and flowed at a good pace.  I liked the fact that there were flash backs for all three of the Justice Leaguers at different times of the film to tell how they came to be the person they became.

Acting

Well it was voice acting, and as much as I love Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly I don't think their voices would have worked as well for these characters.  Also there is the fact that the charterers are much different people than they are in the Justice League we all know and love.  Benjamin Bratt as Superman was a good choice, not to far off from the voice we all know but just different enough to let you know it's not our Superman, same for Wonder Woman with Tamara Taylor voicing her, it was close enough to to the Wonder Woman we all know that it played well.  As for Batman I like that it sounded nothing like the Batman we know, he's the only one in the group who was completely different in every way, casting Michael C. Hall with his monotone voice was perfect for the Batman of this universe.

Music

Well it was a DC film so music wasn't really an issue here, yes it has some music but it never really did anything for me so I can't really say anything other than yes it was there, not that it was bad just that it never really grabbed me.

Conclusion

Justice League: Gods and Monsters is another great film from DC, it sits up there with Under The Red Hood and The Flashpoint Paradox, both excellent films from DC.  One thing I must note though, this is rated PG-13 for a reason, there is murder, blood, and a little language, so if your going to let you children watch this one make sure they can handle that before hand.
If your like me and a fan of the DC Universe then you should definitely see this film.
27
Aug 15
The Gambler is a complicated film, despite it's title it's not really about gambling, it's about a man who would rather die than live a mediocre life.  In an attempt to fill the void of his current mediocre life he gambles, he doesn't care how much debt he builds up with loan sharks who will kill him because he would rather die than live his life the way it's going.  Some people will not understand the theme of this film and hate it, but if you've ever striven for more in your life and hated the way your life was (or is) then you can understand the theme of the film and connect with Mark Wahlberg's character.

Story

The Gambler is a complicated story, there are layers to it.  Overall it's a very well written story, it's not so dense that you can't follow it but it's deep enough that it will make you think.

Acting

Mark Wahlberg just looks like he's someone who has given up and doesn't care anymore, and that's what the character called for, you can really believe that this person doesn't care if he lives or dies.  John Goodman plays the caring scumbag part perfectly, he knows there's a problem and tries to help but deep down is still a scumbag and makes things worse.  Jessica Lang is the concerned and tired mother, you can see the hurt that she feels and really believe that she's feeling what the character is supposed to feel.

Music

Not much to speak of here, there was a little radio in the background style music but over all there wasn't really anything to speak of in the film.

Conclusion

Everyone should take a gamble of this film, it's not going to be for everyone but if you've ever felt out of place or incomplete in life I think you'll enjoy this film.  Just remember that just because this film is called The Gambler it's not really about gambling, it's about a life unfulfilled.
20
Aug 15
The film Sunshine written by Alex Garland was a surprise joy to watch, I didn't have high hopes for the film based on the description but by the time I was half way through the film I was glued to the screen.  The film takes place in 2057, the sun is slowly dying causing a solar winter on earth, a team of astronauts are sent to the sun with a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan to restart the sun and bring it back to life.  Things start to go wrong and what follows is a tense, edge of your seat thriller right to the end.

Story

I'm not going to lie, the story it's self sounds terrible, but once you see the film you'll understand that the basic story has little to do with the actual film.  The film is about the drama and suspense built up around the events going on during the mission to the sun.  While the idea is ridiculous, the story is well written and will entertain you to the very last minute.

Music

There really wasn't much music to speak of here, mostly you got little bits of orchestra music to help set the tone of the scene.  I think this was a good choice, the film takes place in the vacuum of space, and the lack of music really helped give that dead space feeling to the film.

Acting

Cillian Murphy once again delivers an outstanding performance, ever since I saw him in Batman Begins I've been amazed at his acting abilities.  He plays the weak nerdy man who of course in the end has to overcome impossible odds, and the whole time he is on screen you believe in his character.  Chris Evens is the jock type, but still has the brain to make it believable that he would be on a highly technical space mission.  Mark Strong was perfect, the way he was shot in this film gave you just enough to feel the fear the other characters were feeling while not going over the top and drawing you out of the film, even in well lit scenes you don't get a clear look at him only the fear on the other charterers.  Rose ByrneMichelle YeohCliff CurtisTroy GarityHiroyuki Sanada, and Benedict Wong all play their parts perfectly, helping to build suspense while keeping the story flowing.

Conclusion

Sunshine is a must see thriller film, don't let the description fool you it's a great film that has been overlooked.  The story is great, the acting is wonderful, and in the end you will be happy you've seen it.  Just to prove to you how much I enjoyed this film, as soon as it was over I bought the film and added it to my collection, I have a feeling this will be one of those films that I go back and watch again and again picking up little things I missed before.
13
Aug 15
American Sniper is the story of Chris Kyle, and US Navy SEAL Sniper deployed 4 times to Iraq, based on the book of the same name.  The film is an emotional roller coaster, you'll see the highs and the lows of a warrior, and you'll see the emotional and physical toll war takes on our warriors.  I've seen a lot of controversy surrounding this film and I'd just like to say that the people calling Chris Kyle a murder should also thank him for his service to this country because it's in the United States that you have the freedom to say those things, no matter how much of a scumbag it makes you.  Look I was against the Iraq war from the beginning, but like it or not the troops were there and Chris Kyle was protecting his fellow warriors, it wasn't his job to protest the war, his job was to do what the Commander-in-Chief ordered him to do, and that was protect his fellow warriors and take out terrorists.  Is it Hollywood propaganda?  A little.  But it's also showing you people what warriors go though and tremendous toll it takes on them and their families.  Maybe all those who say this is Hollywood propaganda and glorifies murder should take a second look and actually watch the film and see the real story.
Protest the government, not the troops.

Story

Amazing.  Obviously it's not going to be able to tell the whole story in just two hours, but what you see is powerful.  The horrible choices his forced to make, the toll those choices take on him, the hardship his family goes though, it's all enough to make you want to cry.  Knowing it's true just makes it hit you even harder.

Music

Well there really isn't any, and I like that.  The fact that there really isn't any music in this film just heightens the tense feelings and drama.

Acting

Bradly Cooper was fantastic, he dove into this part and really made me believe he was Chris Kyle, he didn't even look or sound like himself, it was just amazing.  If you watch the making of documentary for American Sniper you'll see just how much he did to play the part perfectly, his dedication to a single roll is astounding.  Truly I think Bradly Cooper is one of the best actors of this generation.  Sienna Miller was great, he could be snarky and loving and frantic all without taking it to far.  She also impressed me with her level of dedication to her part as you can see in the make of documentary.

Conclusion

A must see film.  Everyone should see this film at least once, and if you don't get the true story about the toll war takes on the warrior and the family then you need to watch it again and understand what the film is trying to tell you.  This film is not glorifying murder, it's exposing what war does to the people who fight it and those whom they love.  So rent it, buy it, what ever you do, just see it.  I know it's been added to my collection.
6
Aug 15
Grudge Match is a film about a pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout, 30 years after their last match.  It's a comedy/sports film that will make you laugh but it's not a pure comedy.  I really enjoyed this film, I wasn't laughing throughout the film but when I did laugh I laughed hard.  It's kind of funny seeing De Niro from Ragging Bull and Stallone from Rocky come together for one more boxing film, only this time it's two guys you'd never expect to see in the ring.

Story

The story was good and believable, it tugs on the right heart strings and makes you laugh at the right times.  It's a bit like Rocky, and down and out former boxer gets the chance to prove himself in the ring and still has time to fall in love, and bring his old trainer out of retirement to help him, and in the end fight the high roller other boxer.  The film poke fun at some of the stuff done in the Rocky films and has some cheesy one liners but it holds up and never really get old.

Music

I'm just going to be honest, there isn't much, so I can't really say anything here.

Acting

Stallone plays Rocky, he's just in Pittsburgh this time.  Some people don't like Stallone but he's a fine actor and did a fine job here.  De Niro plays the white Apollo Creed, he showboats and taunts but ultimately fights.  Another fine performance from De Niro, he really knows how to sell it.  Kim Basinger plays Adrian, Rocky's love but this time with a little twist.  Basinger plays it fine, I've never been a huge fan of her work but she is fine here.  Alan Arkin plays Mickey, he even has the hearing aid!  Arkin is great, he's a pervert and a hard ass all at the same time, I love it.  Kevin Hart is Don King, he's an asshole and the butt of the joke.  Normally I don't really like Hart but this time he was perfect, he made you hate him while still laughing at him.  Over all the acting was fine, everyone sold their parts and made for an enjoyable watch.

Conclusion

If you haven't seen Grudge Match I suggest you rent it, it's worth it.  It's not going to be the film you want to keep going back to over and over again but you'll enjoy watching it, you may even enjoy watching it a second time later on.  I'd say give it a shot.
30
Jul 15
Ex Machina is a simple idea with a deep meaning, basically it asks "what make us human".  The story is basic, a billionaire lives in the middle of no where so that he can secretly create an Artificial Intelligence (AI) android that will pass as human and he brings one of his employees to his private estate for a week to perform the Turing Test on the android he has created.  It is a little slow, but it's also thought provoking throughout so you won't get bored, watching the progression and asking questions as they come up really holds your attention and makes this a great and entertaining film.

Story

While the story is simple, the subtext is deep.  This was just a well written script, it takes everyday fears (Google, crazy rich people, android that look and act human) and brings it all together to play on those fears while still making the viewer think.  Some may find the film far to "wordy" but that's part of what makes it so good, the "wordy" part is what makes you think and plays on your fears.  This is an Alfred Hitchcock level film is you ask me, it plays on real emotions, and slowly builds suspense, absolutely perfect.

Music

While there isn't a lot of music to speak of, the little that is used really sets the mood of the film.  Mostly it's classical music played while Nathan (the billionaire) is working out while overlooking the gorgeous scenery.  Other than that the only other music you hear is during the credits and that is more modern music.

Acting

Domhnall Gleeson was great, he starts off this shy programmer and throughout the film he slowly changes into a more bold and angry man, by the time you get near the end you almost feel what he feels.  Oscar Isaac plays the crazy billionaire but at the same time seems somewhat normal, he can really make you feel like he's trying to do the right thing while delivering lines that tells you otherwise.  Alicia Vikander is Ava the Android, an my god did she pull of this part well, even just minor head movements give her a robotic feel and yet still she can give off the feeling that she's human at the same time.  Her part had to be the most difficult to play while also being the most important to actually get right, and I feel she nailed it. Sonoya Mizuno is the maid and cook with no lines and while that may seem to be an easy part it's not, he can't express what her character is feeling with words so it all has to be expressed with her face and and her actions.  This had to be incredibly difficult yet she pulls it off and makes the viewer feel for her and question everything about her at the some time.  This is the first time I've seen most of the actors perform (except Oscar Isaac) and I have to say I was blown away by their performances, overall it was an outstanding cast.

Setting

I know I don't normally say anything about the settings of films I review but I have to say something about this one.  Part of the film was shot in Valldalen, Norway and my god is that a beautiful place, if I was a crazy billionaire I think I move there too!  The other half of the film was shot in a studio and the sets they used really make you feel like they are in prison while still free, even the interview room was set up to give you the feeling that while Ava has more freedom she is also trapped, I don't think I could have does a better job myself.

Conclusion

Ex Machina is a great film, it will play on your emotions and make you think, but in the end it's just a good film to watch.  It is rated R due to violence and nudity, but it's not that bad, just don't let the little ones watch this one, though I doubt they would want to since it's more of a "grown up" film anyway.  If you enjoy thought provoking films or Alfred Hitchcock film you will certainly enjoy Ex Machina.
23
Jul 15
Kingsman: The Secret Service is like John Wick meets James Bond, it's witty, its funny, and it's action packed.  Most "action" films these days are watered down PG-13 trash that show just enough action for you to know there is a fight going on but don't show you any real action, Kingsman on the other hand is an R rated film for a reason, it's actual action with all the over the top blood and guts you want in a real action film.

Story

Ok yes the story is over the top and totally unbelievable, but if you can suspend your belief for this film and just enjoy a good old fashioned spy action comedy film then you can totally enjoy this film.  As long as you don't go into this film thinking it's a Bourne film and understand it's basically an R rated Bond film you'll be fine, otherwise you'll be throwing popcorn at the screen and yelling "oh bullshit" throughout the entire film, remember this is a "suspend your beliefs and just enjoy" type of film.

Acting

Just superb, Colin Firth seems to really be in his element here, he's able to play the high class gentleman while still having knock down drag out fight scenes, in other words he was great!  Samuel L. Jackson was funny and annoying at the same time, which was exactly what his character needed to be, even his lisp was perfect for his character, it was just the perfect combination of crazy billionaire and evil genius.  Mark Strong always seems to amaze me, I've seen him play the tough guy, the weak nobody, and everything in-between and every time I can believe it, and here again he plays more of a tech guy throughout most of the film and you still believe it for every second.  Michael Caine while not a huge role in the film still provided just enough snooty jerk to really push the plot along and make you root for the main character.  Taron Egerton was fun to watch, and even though this was the first time I've ever seen his work, if he can continue to put out films like Kingsman then I would be happy to watch his films.  The rest of the cast was great as well, and of course we have to give a special mention to Mark Hamill for his performance, funny yet believable.

Music

There was a fair amount of British rap in this film along with typical orchestra music and to be honest it worked for this film, I'm not a fan of rap in general but the tone the rap set in this film worked perfectly for the scenes it was used in along with the orchestra music.  The music never over powered the action or drew me out of the film, in fact I think it only drew me in more.  Over all I'd say this film nailed it when it came to the music, and that's not an easy thing to do.  To many times the people behind films decide to overpower the film with music and end up destroying the film, sometimes less is more and Kingsmen gets that.

Conclusion

Kingsman: The Secret Service is an over all fun film, it's not for children hence the R rating but it's just good old fashioned over the top action and comedy that you can sit back and enjoy.  I would suggest that if you haven't seen this film yet you should, I'll bet you'll enjoy it!  As a testament to how good I think it is as soon as I finished watching my rental copy of the film I went out and bought myself a copy and now have it in my collection forever.  And if the rumors are correct and there is a squeal to this film I won't make the mistake I made when this one came out and wait until it comes out for rental, I will go to the theaters to see the squeal.
16
Jul 15
Blackhat is an out of touch disaster, that makes no real world sense, and stretches the imagination so far that it breaks and your left hurting for the rest of the film.  I had high hopes for this film since Michael Mann was involved and he's done some great film making over the years, HeatCollateralThe Kingdom, just to make a few, but sadly I was left disappointed and slightly upset at how dumb the film makes must think I am to even buy into half of this turd they call a film.
Story
For the love of god this story was horrible!  I will say that if 90% of the story had been rewritten to make it at least somewhat believable then the basic premise at the end of why the bad guys are doing what they are doing would actually work quite well.  Sadly the people behind this film obviously asked that guy on the internet called 4chan what hackers did then made a film based on what they were told.  I'm pretty sure that the most advance computer the makers of Blackhat have used is the Apple Lisa, because they obviously have no idea what they are talking about and must think anybody who can do a google search must be a wizard.
Music
It was fine I guess, honestly I don't really remember any music.  Maybe it was so perfect that it blended into the scene and I didn't even notice it, or more likely the film was so bad that I was screaming in my own head and couldn't hear the music.  Either way I have no real comment on the music.
Acting
I so badly what to just slam everything and everyone in this film but I can honestly say that the acting was fine, no amount of good acting can save this film, but at least there is one positive for this film and it is the acting.  Really the only big name in this film was Chris Hemsworth and while he was fine, and I would watch other films with him in them, I have to admit I couldn't stop thinking Thor!
Conclusion
Skip it!  Seriously this is just an out of touch attempt to cash in on the trend of older people not understanding how "them computers and interwebs work".  Plus they must have known that they were making a total turd of a film so they spend the majority of their casting budget on Chris Hemsworth to try and save a doomed before release film.  Don't waste your time with this one, it's horrible, and it will leave you wish for the two hours of your life back that it just stole from you.