Friday, April 20, 2018

Thank You For Smoking (2006) Movie Review

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Thank You For Smoking centers around the life of Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), chief spokesman for Big Tobacco as he tries to balance his crazy work life while being there for his son.

Acting: 10

Beginning: 8
The film gets off to a solid start. You immediately fall in love with Nick as he uses his charisma to talk a crazed mob down. He's defending smoking, something we've known all our lives to be bad. Watching him in action makes you wonder just how long he can keep it up.

Characters: 10

Cinematography/Visuals: 5

Conflict: 10
Nick is juggling a lot in his life, some of it self-induced. There are enough dominoes that could fall at any moment which is a part of what makes the film fun to watch. You're thinking, "Things have to go awry at some point." When they do, the film is even more exciting to watch as you're waiting to see how Nick is going to pull himself out of his mess.

Genre: 9

Memorability: 8
Some of the conversations had throughout, especially between Nick and his son, are priceless. I loved the scene where Nick is talking to his son's classmates explaining to them what exactly he does. Nick manages to turn the idea of arguing on its head. According to him, if you argue correctly, you can never be wrong. The film actually makes you question the morality of selling the "wrong" things.

One of my favorite scenes involves Nick's interaction with the old Marlboro Man, a man that turned his back on the tobacco industry. Nick arrives to give the man a payoff to keep quiet. The way he goes about it is just phenomenal.

Pace: 10

Plot: 10
Lack of linearity helps to make the film successful. There's not much of an endgame here, but in this case, it keeps things fresh. It's not just one story, but a multitude of smaller stories within the film that make up its whole. It's a method that works well for this film.

Resolution: 10

Overall: 90
Thank You For Smoking is an eye-opening film that gives us a perspective from the view of the "bad guy". Is Nick Naylor actually a villain? Or is it merely that people want him to be the bad guy so they don't have to deal with the concept of free will and the bad decisions we make? It's always better when someone else can be the scapegoat. Great film.

Turbo Kid (2015) Movie Review


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You've never seen anything like it. It was a mashup of everything I loved, both as a kid and as an adult. Set in the post-apocalyptic year of 1997, a teenager becomes a superhero to save his girlfriend from the clutches of an evil villain.

Acting: 10

Beginning: 7
While it may not grab you immediately, Turbo Kid's beginning succeeds in establishing the world you'll be living in for the rest of the film. This world never left the 80's. Survivors get around on mostly bikes and use old-school technology like walkmen. 

My interest was really piqued when I saw three heads on pikes out in the middle of the wasteland. What did those men do to deserve that? Who put them there? The only way to really find out is to watch more. On we go...

Characters: 9

Cinematography/Visuals: 10
The visuals are extremely weird, but in a unique, good way. It's original in every way imaginable. A number of shots give you a nostalgic feel. Other shots panning the landscape leave you with a barren, hopeless feeling. So sad what their world has become, yet what an era to be stuck in!

There is violence. A lot of it. A surprising amount in fact. Heads roll, guts spew in brilliant fashion. Think Tarantino in a Mad Max type of setting. It's jarring to look at, but very entertaining and effective. If you are squeamish in anyway, you may find yourself averting your eyes. At one point, my wife actually had to leave the room.

Conflict: 10

Genre: 10
As far as action/adventure films go, this stands out as being extremely original. It was as if they took a number of films I had seen before and jumbled them all into one finished product. The action pops on screen and the adventure portions move the story along in swift fashion. 

Memorability: 9

Pace: 10
The film never gets boring at any point. Between the crazy vibe that latches on to you with the help of an awesome soundtrack and the steady play of action, you're always engaged. I also appreciated that the film never took itself too seriously as the action is broken up by a few hilarious moments that keeps the film from getting too dark.

Plot: 8
While the plot may seem pretty straightforward at first, there are a couple twists that keep things interesting. Overall the story is a strong foundation and is intriguing enough to make you care about the action.

Resolution: 3

Overall: 86
Fun, enjoyable film. And AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX! Check it out tonight. If you're a fan of action and the 80's, you will have a blast.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Quiet Place (2018) Movie Review

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Cool with being terrified for ninety nonstop minutes? I have just the film for you. In A Quiet Place, a family of four tries to silently survive a terror that stalks by sound.

Acting: 10
The number of words said in this film probably equal the number of words it took me to write this review. The cast relies heavily on body language and facial expressions to convey their emotions and it's extremely effective. You feel their fear, their love for one another, their hatred. No way this emanates without an amazing cast.

Emily Blunt. Emily Blunt. Emily Blunt. Absolutely...freaking...phenomenal. It's hard for me to put into words how outstanding of a role she played in making this film work. She's powerful yet vulnerable in her role as mother Evelyn. Again, so challenging to do when your words are limited. Seeing her kill it made me excited to rewatch Edge of Tomorrow.

Beginning: 10
One does not simply get eased into watching A Quiet Place. It's a film that comes out of the gates swinging with one of the best intros I've seen since Baby Driver. Tensions run high as you're just waiting for something awful to happen. It's the perfect setup for a film that holds on to you and never lets go.

Characters: 10
While Blunt's Evelyn blew me away, I felt I related most to John Krasinski's character Lee, the father of the family. He is trying to keep everyone safe by having them abide by the rules that have kept them alive for so long. At the same time you can tell it frustrates him to have to shelter his kids from being kids and living their lives normally. He loves his family and is solely focused on the duty of keeping them safe and together.

Each character is layered with their own personal demons that have affected them in some form or fashion. The kids are intelligent as you would expect from children that have had to grow up in such an insane world. At the same time their sporadic and unpredictable feelings remind you that they are still just children. 

Cinematography/Visuals: 9

Conflict: 10

Genre: 10

Memorability: 10

Pace: 10
A nonstop thrill ride. Sure you will get a couple breathers, but there is ALWAYS tension. Whether it's silence or looming threats around the corner, A Quiet Place never gives you a chance to get comfortable. I heard all of this going into the film and I still wasn't prepared for such intensity. Get ready...

Plot: 6
My one gripe. There is definitely a slight plot hole here that caused me to dock points. I won't ruin things, but if you look closely enough it's pretty obvious. I will also say that this one plot hole does little to nothing to ruin the overall experience of the film.

Resolution: 8
Strong ending that nicely ties everything together. It's a resolution that doesn't linger or wear out its welcome. It reminds me of Edge of Tomorrow in that it's just enough.

Overall: 93
If you're looking for a a memorable film to watch, A Quiet Place is a wonderful solution. Very original spin on a genre that can be repetitive at times. This one will stand out in my head for years to come.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ghostbusters (1984) Movie Review

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A group of four armed with special proton packs come together to protect Manhattan from crazy supernatural forces that have taken hold of the city.

Acting: 10

Beginning: 10
In the opening scene, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) is doing an ESP exercise with a couple. He's having them use their brain power to identify something from a card they can't see. He's clearly sweet on the girlfriend because he keeps giving her soft-lob answers while taking the boyfriend through hell. The scene is one of the best openers I've seen in a movie and is a clever, hilarious way to kick things off. It doesn't take long for you to fall in love with Murray's character.

Characters: 10
Without Venkman, the film doesn't exist period. He carries a lax, dry attitude while everyone else around him is freaking out and for good reason. He's not even close to being a scientist like his counterparts, but that's a strong reason for what makes the film so great. All four of the characters are unique and bring something different to the table. The supporting roles are also awesome, each providing their own quirky, unique flare.

Cinematography/Visuals: 10
Considering the film was made in 1984 (and special effects have greatly increased since then), I was pretty happy with the visuals throughout Ghostbusters. The ghosts are creative and original providing enough variety without being overly repetitive. This film put Slimer on the map, a disgusting green blob of a ghost that tries to devour everything in his path. Watching food pass from his mouth and through his body before exiting out the other end was a hilarious touch.

Oh, and can't forget about Stay Puft. Fun times watching that scene unfold.

Conflict: 10

Genre: 10

Memorability: 10

Pace: 10
Consistent blending of comedy and the paranormal helps maintain a healthy pace. The dialogue is so crisp and on point, it's hard to get bored as there is always something happening or something hilarious being said. Director Ivan Reitman even managed to take advantage of moments that would have otherwise been bland. The best example that comes to mind is the scene where they are riding up an elevator. Instead of just sitting around aimlessly, the group takes turns firing up their proton packs for the first time. One memorable scene among many.

Plot: 10

Resolution: 10

Overall: 100
Ghostbusters is an unforgettable ride from start to finish. It's one of those films you can watch over and over and it never gets old. A definite classic.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Risky Business (1983) Movie Review

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Things get crazy for Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) when his parents leave for the weekend and a call girl shows up at his door. A quiet weekend alone turns into one full of sex, drugs, and...pimps named Guido?

Acting: 10
Before Tom cruise commanded the screen with a number of memorable action and sci-fi films, he played the role of a young high school kid completely unsure of himself. His innocent charm is instantly likable. He's vulnerable, but not in an annoying kind of way. Amazing performance, not just from Cruise but from the supporting cast as well. 

Beginning: 10

Characters: 10
I love when characters aren't the same people they started out as in the film. Character development can be hard to manage in film because you have such a short window of time to pull it off successfully. I respected and appreciated the development of Joel and Lana (Rebecca De Mornay). Joel goes from being a kid who can't tell if he's coming or going to a confident kid that acts older than his age. Hiding underneath his new exterior is a boy that's still scared to death as his life's stakes are now realer than ever. Lana enters the film cold and removed from her situation and leaves with a warmer heart and more of a vulnerable side. It's refreshing watching these characters mature right in front of you.

Cinematography/Visuals: 10
Tom Cruise sliding across the floor in just a button down and socks. That slow motion wind-filled moment where we meet Lana for the first time. The L train scene. These are just a handful of moments that define this film and make it a memorable experience. Director Paul Brickman captures these shots just right to create a lasting impression.

Conflict: 6
The full conflict of the film doesn't really present itself until you're over halfway done with the film. Up to that point Risky Business feels like more of an aimless adventure. A good time without any stakes involved.

Genre: 7
Very original romantic comedy that is unique in its premise. It has a solid realistic feel in the way the characters think and react. Joel knows he needs to stay away from Lana, yet he can't help himself in being drawn to her. If Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of my pinnacles for rom-coms, Risky Business is certainly in the wheelhouse.

Memorability: 8

Pace: 7

Plot: 7

Resolution: 4

Overall: 79
It's a film I will watch anytime I see it's on. While it didn't rewrite the history of cinema, Risky Business manages to hold its own as a good watch, even if the ending was a little underwhelming. 

Trading Places (1983) Movie Review

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The Duke Brothers, kings of the stock exchange, wager a bet on whether or not a poor man with no experience can succeed in running their brokerage firm. It's a solid comedy that relies on human nature to help tell its story.

Acting: 10
A mixture of familiar faces and a few fresh ones, performances are stellar from top to bottom. It's what you expect when true professionals come together to put on a show. Eddie Murphy's comedic timing is on point as always, playing the role of homeless man Billy Ray Valentine. Just listening to him tell his story in prison about the Quart of Blood Technique had me in stitches. He has a way of being funny in a nonchalant way, reminding me of some of my closest friends.

Denholm Elliott won my heart as the lovable butler Coleman. He's kindhearted, but can be hilariously cruel at the same time. A lot of his laughs came from watching his subtle actions (rolling his eyes after a phone call, sneaking a drink during a party, etc.).

Dan Aykroyd won me over as well in his role as rich snob Louis Winthorpe III. I hated his guts at first but ultimately came to sympathize with his character which was the whole idea. He wore the role of proud rich kid well, but excelled when it came time for him to get crazy.

Beginning: 7

Characters: 7

Cinematography/Visuals: 8
The film opens with a multitude of shots that captures the heart of Philadelphia so well. I've only visited the city once and seeing those opening shots made me want to go back. Other very memorable scenes include the party at Valentine's home (absolute bedlam) and the calamity that is the trading room floor. Just seeing all those bodies pressing in on each other is enough to make you claustrophobic. 

Favorite Still Shot: Valentine laying on the ground with almost a dozen cops pointing their guns just inches from his face. That one shot has been a feature in so many film montages over the years and deservedly so. That smile Murphy delivers saying, "I give up" is timeless.

Conflict: 8

Genre: 6

Memorability: 9
Trading Places still holds up all these years later as a classic comedy. It's hilarious but it also gives you pause for thought as well about the class and race roles in society. Sure it can be absolutely farfetched at times, but it's sole purpose is seemingly not just to entertain, but to raise awareness as well. It's been a few days since I've seen the film yet it still sticks out in my head amongst others.

Pace: 8

Plot: 8
As the plot unfolded, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous...Until I started thinking about today's political landscape and considered, "Hmmm, this is exactly the kind of experiment I could see a rich person with a lot of time on their hands concocting." It isn't all the way believable, but I tend to make exceptions for action films and comedies.

Resolution: 10

Overall: 81
I like Trading Places way more than I expected to. Director John Landis does an excellent job of walking the line between funny and thought-provoking, sometimes even daring to mix the two. Very solid film.

The One (2001) Movie Review



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What if the universe was not just one universe but a multitude of parallel universes? In each universe, you exist living a different life in the universe next door. Oh, and everytime one of you dies the other yous get stronger in every way, shape, and form. What if someone with no relation to astronomy or science figured out this secret and decided to travel to every single parallel universe killing his other replicas until he basically became a god? I'm kind of getting mad just typing it out, actually. But yeah, that's The One alright. Hot mess doesn't even begin to describe it.

Acting: 1
There were honestly times where I didn't know if I was watching an action film or an afterschool special. The lowest score I've ever given Acting before this was an 8 if that gives you any indication on my thoughts of the performances, or lack thereof, that came from The One. The lines were so badly telegraphed you could see them coming from a mile away. Overreactions in abundance. It was painful to watch so I know it had to be painful to film. Actors/actresses, you have one job...Terrible film or not, at least make me believe you.

Beginning: 6
From an action standpoint, not the worst start I've seen. However, I couldn't shake the fact that there was going to be a need for a lot of explaining in the future. I also couldn't shake the fact that that explanation was probably going to be extremely disappointing. While I enjoyed the fact that it came out of the gates swinging, there was a cohesiveness that was missing. Sadly, that carried through for the rest of the film.

Characters: 5
Both the acting and the scripted characters were wildly inconsistent. I was never really intrigued by any of the characters nor carried any desire to want to know anything more about them. Watching the characters move aimlessly through the story was like watching cardboard hold up a wall. Where did the 5 come from? That's simple: Jet Li is a badass. Give me multiple Jet Li's with superhuman abilities and you definitely have my attention.

At one point in the film, Jet Li faces the other Jet Li and goes, "After this, there will only be one." Who the hell wrote that in? Are you kidding me? We know there will only be one, that's the entire point of the movie. Killing me...

Cinematography/Visuals: 5

Conflict: 6
Decent action sequences here. Big "HOWEVER" coming up...wait for it....However, the main problem I couldn't shake was the same problem I had with the film Lucy: If you have god-like abilities, it's never really a fair fight. If it's never really a fair fight, things get boring really fast.

I felt like the girl whose boyfriend bit off more than he could chew in a fight and is now getting manhandled while she's screaming, "Stop hitting him!" It just gets old after awhile. Imagine if Superman's greatest opponent in a film was the National Guard? Definitely skipping that film.

Genre: 6
Not the best martial arts action film I've seen. Also not the worst, far from it in fact. Credit is deserved for at least trying to do something different. The execution may have fallen short, but there are still a handful of moments that I can say I enjoyed.

Memorability: 5

Pace: 10

Plot: 4
If it doesn't look good on paper, it's definitely not going to translate well to the big screen. Not remotely believable. So many holes I don't even know where to start. Again, how does this one man learn that there are other "hims" out there he can kill and get stronger? Not buying it. I'm giving it a 4 because the foundation was there. The follow-through, unfortunately, was not.

Even if the story had been fine, it would have been done in with the endless corny moments that appear out of nowhere. There's this one gas station scene...you know what, not even going to get into it. Let's just say it's bad. Real bad.

Resolution: 2

Overall: 50
Yikes. You know what's really sad? This film actually has flashes of brilliance. I can see the areas where it could have been tweaked to create a solid film. Sadly, that will never happen. Steer clear of this grenade.