Post has attachment
Spotlight Movie Review (8/10) “Great” (Non-Spoiler)
Blade Runner 2049
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Hampton Francher, Michael Green
Starring: Ryan Gosling (K), Ana de Armas (Joi), Sylvia Hoeks (Luv), Harrison Ford (Rick Deckard)  

Plot: A young blade runner discovers a long-buried secret that will change the world, and leads him to Rick Deckard, an ex-Blade Runner.

Review: If you were a fan of the original noir, sci-fi style of the first Blade Runner movie, then you will definitely love this movie as it expands upon that universe and presents a world that is 30 years into the future of that movie. Like the original, this movie is dark and bleak and is more of a slower character driven movie as opposed to an action packed movie. I watched the original Director’s Cut and The Final Cut of Ridley Scott’s previous epic and have come to prefer The Final Cut version of that movie. If I were to give that movie a rating today it would probably be somewhere in the 7~7.5/10 range. I have to say that I actually liked the sequel better than the original, but it wasn’t better by a lot as it seemed Villeneuve was trying to make this movie feel like a logical continuation of that movie. Also, I recommend watching the first one before watching this movie as it makes A LOT more sense if you do.  

Without spoiling the movie, there is a premise in this movie that took a while for me to wrap my head around as I couldn’t believe how the “miracle” mentioned by Dave Bautista’s (Sapper Morton) character in the beginning of the film even happened (guess that’s why it’s called a miracle). For the sake of the movie’s world and rules I decided to follow along with the premise (no matter how farfetched it seemed) and just decided that that happened because that is this world’s miracle and phenomenon and not necessarily related to ours. And when I finally got over that hump, the movie’s larger implications of what that premise could mean for the world’s inhabitants became more singular and I came to appreciate the movie even more. Gosling plays pretty much Harrison’s role in the first Blade Runner movie as he hunts down replicants and if I had to describe him in one phrase it would be “a more efficient Deckard.” My biggest problem with Deckard’s journey in the first Blade Runner movie was that he got lucky with all of the replicants he faced – someone interfered with Deckard’s fight with a replicant or the replicant that was trying to kill him would let him go on the verge of Deckard’s death. In this movie, K is very good at his job as he efficiently and brutally dispatches replicants and he makes it believable. He also has more tools than Deckard did, which makes him fun to watch as he tries to track down the suspect(s) in this movie. Armas as a holographic entity surprised me as the movie progressed and I grew more emphatic for her. Hoeks as the unwavering killer replicant was also great as she seemed to steal the screen whenever she was on – think Winter Soldier with longer hair and a killer instinct. And of course Ford gives another great performance as Deckard and this Deckard is more tortured and angrier than the one in the previous movie.

In essence, this is a mystery detective movie, but what makes it different is the premise and science fiction backdrop the movies takes place in. Think of it as Dick Tracy in a futuristic world with robots and you get Blade Runner 2049. However, I do have a few gripes with the movie. I didn’t think it was necessary for the strange scene with Joi and the hooker robot hooking up to please K and if the director decided to leave it in I wish he had shortened it a bit as it seemed a little too long. I saw what the director was trying to do and make sex between robots a wondrous and beautiful thing, but I felt that scene overstayed its welcome for me to fully appreciate it. This movie is also a bit long, as it clocks in around 2 hours and 45 minutes, and I felt the movie could’ve benefitted if it lost 15 to 30 minutes as I found myself looking at my watch during some of the more dragged on scenes. Like the first Blade Runner movie, Villeneuve does have some shots of the elongated scenes on the character’s faces, which works sometimes, but not always. Also, the first Blade Runner has the environment beat when compared to this movie, since the first one actually felt like a living world as there were shots of people living in the city; and this movie felt a little bit more claustrophobic and the world felt smaller than the first one because there were way more scenes with a few individuals rather than teeming cities. If you can, I recommend watching this movie in Dolby Digital if you theatre offers it as the sound and visuals are some of the best things about this movie.       
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Spotlight Movie Review (8/10) “Great”
American Made
Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise (Barry Seal), Domhnall Gleeson (Monty 'Schafer')

Plot: A pilot lands work for the CIA and as a drug runner in the south during the 1980s.

Review: This movie is based on the true story of Barry Seal, whom this movie showed that he near single handedly expanded the drug trade in America through his associations with the CIA, Jorge Ochoa, and Pablo Escobar. I don’t fully know the story of Barry Seal, and I am not sure how accurate this movie’s tale is, but it is definitely entertaining in how it shows the rise and eventual run-ins with the authorities. Seal has the FBI, CIA, DEA, and other different law enforcement after him at one point, and it was a bit of a revelation seeing how the authorities tried to catch Seal without cell phones, social media, and the internet, because the movie took place during the 1980’s. This movie is an examination of Seal’s life after he incidentally gets involved with the CIA through a meeting with the CIA agent “Shafer.”

The movie does sort of go into how Seal’s dealings with the CIA and the drug cartels affected his wife and kids also, but the movie is more focused on Seal rather than anybody else; and Cruise makes the selfish, self-seeking Seal likeable with his charisma and acting abilities. Cruise plays Cruise here with a Southern accent, but he does the Cruise thing so well you come to believe that this is who Seal is in this movie and sold me on the idea of Cruise being Seal. Plus this movie is just so fun, because it shows how ridiculous Seal’s life gets when he gets richer with his run-ins with CIA and the drug cartel and examines how much money he was really making. As the title eludes, Seal gets rich really fast as one can in America as long as he or she gets lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) and Seal lives the American success life but through ill gains and at the expense of other people’s lives. This movie attempts to also explain how the government is not perfect and is somewhat responsible for Seal getting rich through drug and weapon trafficking and through bad management and delegation. This government turning a blind eye to Seal is some of the themes the movie explores and really makes you see how incompetent the involved government authorities were at that time.

Partly a look into the ridiculous life of Barry Seal, and partly a look into the incompetent government bodies, this felt like a commentary on the ridiculous idea of the American success story as well as the government. Though the movie was a fun ride, I felt that the story would’ve been better served as a TV show and I wanted the story to take the time to see how other people in Seal’s life as well as the local community’s interaction with Seal played out as he became an overnight success story. Still Liman’s second collaboration with Cruise (the first being “Live.Die.Repeat” aka “The Edge of Tomorrow” (2014)) was an entertaining ride and I never got bored while watching this movie despite its flaws and brevity.           
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Comic Book Movie Review (8/10) “Great”
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Taron Egerton (Eggsy), Mark Strong (Merlin), Julianne Moore (Poppy), Colin Firth (Harry Hart), Pedro Pascal (Whiskey)

Plot: When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman's journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

Review: I loved the first Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) and I probably watched that movie a minimum of ten times because it was a great mixture of action, comedy, and all in all a great adaptation of a graphic novel written by Mark Millar. Millar took the time honored tropes of James Bond and turned them on their heads and made a movie that was a parody, but at the same time a movie that itself apart from the other movies in the spy genre with its charm and style. And I probably would give that movie a 8.5~9/10 even now if I were to rate it, so you can guess that I was excited for this movie when I heard it was coming out. Plus the return of Vaughn made me even more excited for the movie as I am a fan of his body of work (i.e. Kingsman: The Secret Service, X-Men: First Class (2011), Kick-Ass (2010)).

The Golden Circle is a great movie, that doesn’t reach the heights of the first one, but I had so much fun with it and I want to see Vaughn come back with a third one to complete a trilogy of Kingsman films. The movie starts off with one of the most exciting opening sequences of all time as Eggsy is involved in a car chase that spills from the suburbs to the city streets of London and frenetic action and mayhem ensues. The action is definitely better in this movie than the first one as you get a lot of over the top action scenes that are exciting and well-choreographed. I especially loved the last fight scene with Eggsy teaming up with Harry (yep the trailers show that he is back!) as it seemed like it was one continuous shot. I don’t know how Vaughn did the last action scene all in one take (if it was done in one take), but the choreography was something truly to behold as I thought it was one of the most complex scenes ever captured on film. I also loved all of Whiskey’s (Pedro Pascal) scenes as they did something wild things with his lasso and revolver in his action scenes. And Poppy (Julianne Moore) is one crazy b** and her character made her a formidable presence on screen because of her insane antics (oh and I thought Poppy Land was one of the coolest ideas of the film). Firth, Strong, Pascal, Moore, and Egerton all give great performances in this movie and each time they were on screen I had a good time.

Unfortunately, Halle Berry’s character doesn’t really contribute much to the overall story, and even if she wasn’t included in the movie I don’t think it would have been a great loss. I loved when Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Champagne (Jeff Bridges) were on screen, but they movie didn’t give them a lot of screen time in this movie. I also didn’t completely buy how they brought Harry back in this movie, and I felt that with the method that Harry was brought back in this world gave the franchise less stakes as it seemed anybody that was killed like Harry in the first Kingsman movie could also come back with this method.

The Golden Circle has a few flaws, and overall it was a fun movie that didn’t match the first film plot wise, but topped it in terms of action and spectacle.    
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Action Movie Review (7.5/10) "Good"
American Assassin
Director: Michael Cuesta
Starring: Dylan O'Brien (Mitch Rapp), Michael Keaton (Stan Hurley), Taylor Kitsch (Ghost)
Plot: Mitch Rapp loses his girlfriend to a horrific terrorist attack and takes the law into his own hands as he hunts down the terrorist group responsible for the murder, but can the infamous Stan train him to be a better killer? 

This is for all accounts the perfect definition of a popcorn flick. The plot is very straightforward, there are some great choreographed action scenes, and somehow the world is at stake towards the end. You can leave your brain at the door and just have a fun time with it. What made this movie better for me was Keaton's performance as Hurley. He channels the crazy Keaton from "Beatlejuice" (1988), and "Desperate Measures" (1998) especially towards the end of the movie. I loved how Keaton played the insane specialist, who was barely keeping his insanity in check and seeing him snap was such a joy for me. 

O'Brien does a good enough job as Mitch and someone who is dealing with anger issues while dealing with his loss, but it did make me wonder if the CIA would really trust such an unstable guy as a hired agent in their ranks? The DoD must've been really desperate to enlist the help of this powder keg of a person. Kitsch's Ghost was more believable to me as he played the ex-operative who had an axe to grind with the organization, and you could understand why he was so angry with the organization.

It's a fun action movie, but my only gripe is that the third act became more of a disaster prevention movie when the first two acts seemed so personal and character driven. I loved the interactions between Keaton and O'Brien and I wanted the story to focus on them rather than on the disaster. Still the movie was a great flick to pass the time.  
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Horror Movie Review (9.5/10) “Masterpiece" (Non-spoiler)
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writers: Chase Palmer (screenplay), Cary Fukunaga (screenplay)
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher (Bill), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben), Sophia Lillis (Beverly), Finn Wolfhard (Richie), Chosen Jacobs (Mike), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley), Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise)
Plot: A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, hunts children.

Review: This is a perfect storm of a movie: the right director, the right script, the right kids, and the right actor to play the villain, makes this the scariest movie of the year. I was blown away as the first five minutes of the movie sets the tone for the rest of the movie – and I will add that it is a dire, dark tone (sprinkled with some humor) that never really lets up. Something terrible happens to Bill’s brother Georgie, and the viewer realizes that the director is not afraid to push the elements involved in the movie. Adults are not only subject to violence – sometimes children get hurt brutally. Although, the movie doesn’t have a lot of blood or gore, Director Muschietti pushes the story forward with kinetic and unsettling visual medium that you can’t help but feel unsettled throughout the movie.

First off Skarsgard pulls off one of the scariest villains of all time. Not only does he have that scary, eerie clown getup, but his acting is so mesmerizing as you see the subtleties and nuances in the way he does things to make you feel unsettled and make the clown more unpredictable. In the first five minutes of the movie immediately you see that Pennywise is an other-worldly villain and a force of nature rather than just a man and it is truly horrifying. I loved every one of the child actors and I felt that they really were a group rather than just a bunch of actors thrown in together and each character had his or her quark that made each of the characters stand out in the movie and this was only possible because each of the characters delivered such solid performances. Bill is the leader of the group whose soulful look made you believe something truly terrible happened to him; Ben was the heart of the group as his childlike, naïve performance made you fall in love with him; Beverly as the head strong girl of the group who doesn’t want to take crap from anybody despite problems at home; Richie is the troublemaker and fun guy of the group; Mike is the strong, silent one that will be there for his friends; Eddie is the anal kid who must overcome his fears; and Stanley is the rabbi’s kid who doesn’t like to dive into danger. My only gripe was that I felt that Mike was the least developed and I wanted to see more from him, but Jacobs still did a great job of portraying the character.

This isn’t a faithful adaptation of the book or these things would pop everywhere: #childsexorgy #extradimensionalturtle. I felt the writers took a very realistic approach to the novel and made just enough touches of “other-worldiness” to make the movie unsettling enough. It is the subtleties that make this movie even better and truly terrifying. There are plenty of jump scares, but what really makes this movie terrifying is the psychological nature of the villain as the kids never know how Pennywise will try and attack them next. So good I am seeing it again tonight!  
2 Photos - View album
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Comic Book Movie Review (5.5/10) "Mediocre" (Non-spoiler)
Show Runner: Scott Buck
Starring: Anson Mount (Black Bolt), Iwan Rheon (Maximus), Eme Ikwuakor (Gorgon), Ken Leung (Karnak), Serinda Swan (Medusa), Isabelle Cornish (Crystal)

Plot: An isolated betrayed superhuman family fight to protect themselves from mankind as well as from their own. Can the royal family fight the coup and manage to survive as a family...?

Review: I am sort of confused why Marvel would choose to release the first two episodes on IMAX as it doesn't seem to justify extra costs Marvel would incur.  From box office estimates the movie only made $1.5 million across 393 theatres in the US and This show premieres on network television on ABC Network on September 29, and honestly I would even recommend that you wait for the first episode to air on television instead of watching it in IMAX. The movie takes some advantage of the IMAX format and produces some higher quality picture and sound, but the production, story, and acting when compared to other cinematic movies that are found in theatres are extremely lacking. If I saw this on television I would have given it a pass for the lack of special effects and production values because the scale is smaller and TV usually has a smaller budget, but after paying more than $20 for an IMAX movie ticket I would say that the experience was not worth it. 

In terms of acting I would say Mount as Black Bolt, Iwan as Maximus, and Leung as Karnak were the standouts even though Leung's action scene felt stilted and choreographed and this was probably done to layer the special effects post production and to provide enough space for the computer effects team to work. Swan as Medusa and Cornish as Crystal are passable, but there scenes didn't really stand out. Also, Marvel's decision to do something about Medusa's hair as a plot to cut costs on special effects of her lively hair was disappointing. 

As a movie it did not work, but as a network TV experience I would have enjoyed it for what it was and maybe given it a 6.5/10. 
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Comic Book Movie Review (6.5/10) "Okay" (Non-spoiler)
Batman and Harley Quinn
Director: Sam Liu
Starring: Kevin Conroy (Batman), Melissa Rauch (Harely Quinn), Paget Brewster (Poison Ivy), Loren Lester (Nightwing), and Kevin Michael Richardson (Floronic Man)
Plot: Poison Ivy and Floronic Man are planning to turn everybody on Earth into plants and to Batman and Nightwing's chagrin, they must employ the help of Harley Quinn to save the world!

This movie felt like a Harley Quinn DC comic by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti set in the Batman Animated Series Season 4 universe. And because the vibe is that of a Harley Quinn comic, this movie felt more like a comedy rather than a serious, action movie. If you are expecting a serious, dark Batman movie you might be disappointed, but if you are expecting a mindless, cutesy Harley Quinn movie that makes SOME sense in a zany way then this is for you. 

This also feels like a more mature episode of the Batman the Animated Series as characters curse and there are some violent scenes that would never have aired on television. The movie also takes many liberties with the characters as a Harley Quinn driven story should, and Batman and Nightwing occasionally act out of character. There is a strange bonding scene between Nightwing and Harley Quinn that probably would never have aired in the show or even taken place in a Nightwing comic. 

The movie has a very simple premise, but the way it plays out feels so ridiculous that I often forgot the movie took place in Bruce Timm's BTAS universe. It's also too bad that they were not able to get Arleen Sorkin, the original voice for Harley Quinn in the Animated Series, but Rauch does a passable job of conveying Quinn. Still for what it's worth it was a good time, but I don't think this movie is something I would revisit again in the future.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Spotlight Movie Review (10/10) “Masterpiece”
Wind River
Director/ Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Jeremy Renner (Cory Lambert), Elizabeth Olsen (Jane Banner), Graham Greene (Ben)
Plot: Cory Lambert is grieving hunter in Wyoming who lost his daughter to a mysterious attacker. While hunting a mountain lion for a friend, he discovers the body of a young girl who was brutally raped, and miles away from the nearest sign of civilization. FBI Agent Jane Banner calls upon the help of Lambert to help her track down the killer of the young girl…

This is by far my favorite movie of the year, and probably is Jeremy Renner’s best performance as an actor. Because of his recent loss, the dead girl’s predicament hits a little too close to home, and he has to deal with his own grief while trying to track down the killer. Most of the movie takes place in a secluded Native American reservation in Wyoming called Wind River, and in this movie the location itself is a character of the movie. Wind River is in the middle of nowhere and one has to wait hours for a simple ambulance to reach the person in need, and this seclusion makes every situation feel dire and desperate and only heightens the tension of the film. Renner is completely convincing as a grieving father and I couldn’t help but feel bad for Lambert and when he described what happened to his own daughter I felt my stomach drop because it was such a convincing performance. Every gesture, and even the shifting of his eyes makes Renner truly the standout in this dramatic thriller.

This is officially Sheridan’s second directorial venture, but it is his third time writing for a movie. Ever since “Sicario” (2015) Sheridan has been on my radar. I was so impressed with Sicario that I also gave his second writing credit movie a try “Hell or High Water” (2016) and I was pleasantly surprised. Out of these three movies, Wind River is definitely the strongest outing and I feel Sheridan’s writing only got better with this movie. The script was extremely tight and I couldn’t find any plot holes in this movie! If this his directorial style, I hope to see more from Sheridan in the near future. Every shot tells a story, and he is a true story teller through and through with the visual medium.
2 Photos - View album
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Korean Action Movie Review (8.5/10) “Great”  (Non-spoilers)
The Villainess
Director:  Byung-gil Jung
Starring: Ok-bin Kim (Sook-hee), Ha-kyun Shin (Joon-sang), Jun Sung (Hyun-soo)
Plot: Sook-hee was a girl trained by mentor/lover Joon-sang to kill and to survive. When a mission goes wrong, she is captured by a South Korean black ops group to train her to be assassin for the government. With a newborn baby, can Sook-hee manage to be a mom as well as an assassin for the South Korean government?

This a REALLY violent movie. I don’t get shocked easily, but there were some scenes that give “Saw” a run for its money. However, the violence doesn’t feel gratuitous and actually heightens the story telling and without giving away any spoilers, when you see how a friend of Sook-hee is murdered you immediately want her to kick some bad guy ass. This movie borrows ideas from “Hardcore Henry” (2015), “La Femme Nikita” (1990), and even Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Vol. 1” (2003) to deliver a visceral, but strangely poignant experience. This movie has two of the greatest action set pieces I have ever seen in an action movie. The movie starts in the perspective of a first person shooter camera, and you see Sook-hee dispatch enemies with guns, knives, and even rope all from her perspective for about the first 15 minutes and it is GLORIOUSLY done in ONE take (there might have been some editing, but the editors did a great job of making the scene flow continuously and naturally). If you have seen “Harcore Henry” you would know what I am talking about, but the rest of the movie is shot normally. My second favorite action scene has Sook-hee in a stolen car with a mission windshield, and she places a water bottle on the gas pedal and steers the car from the hood of the car to jump onto the public transportation bus that has her target in seemingly ONE shot. Director Kim definitely has some innovative ideas of shooting action and takes the concept of a single shot scene to a WHOLE new level.

The action isn’t the only great thing here as Ok-bin Kim and all of the stars give some great performances here, and the story is actually really good and unfolds through both in-time and flashback scenes. I have also seen Ha-kyun Shin in other moves such as “JSA: The Joint Security Area” (2000) and he was great in this movie too. The film never feels like it leaves any plot lines floating in the air. Things get neatly told through a strong narrative (except for the ONE time when young Sook-hee had a hard time shooting a nobody when the nobody had a gun aimed at her, but doesn’t even hesitate to execute someone who is trying to hurt Joon-Sang  – maybe this was to show how much she loved Shin?) and the story feels cohesive by the end of the movie. I would’ve given this movie a 9/10, but there were some rough transitions that took me out of the movie, especially scenes like when Sook-hee’s daughter on cue leaves the scene to conveniently pave the way for Kim and Sung to play out the rest of their scene. Despite amateurish narrative moments like this I felt overall the director did a great job of bringing the three way love story amongst Sook-hee, Joon-sang, and Hyun-soo, Sook-hee’s desire to live a normal life, and Sook-hee’s desire to protect her daughter at all cost in a tightly done fashion.

It’s too bad not a lot of theatres are playing this gem of a movie, but if this movie is playing in a nearby theater I highly recommend that you check it out.        
2 Photos - View album
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Comic Book Streaming Show Review (7/10) "Good" (Non-Spoiler)
Creator: Douglas Petrie/ Marco Ramirez
Starring: Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Mike Coltar (Luke Cage), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Finn Jones (Iron Fist), Elodie Yung (Elektra), Glenn Jones (Stick), Jessica Henwick (Colleen Wing), Rpsario Dawson (Claire Temple), Sigourney Weaver (Alexander Reid)
Plot: The Hand led by the Alexander Reid and the Fingers of the Hand have descended upon New York City and it is up to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and the Iron Fist to stop their diabolical plans. But can the four of them learn to work together first...? 

Review: This show has a VERY slow start. In fact the four disparate super heroes don't even meet each other until the end of episode 3 and the show starts really taking off in episode 4. However, what this show benefits from compared to the other respective individual heroes' shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) is its shorter length of 8 epispdes as opposed to 13 episodes, and when the show starts going it doesn't let up and never really slows down but you have to get pass episode 3 to get to the good stuff. When the four heroes do come together though, the chemistry amongst the four characters is pretty good, but nowhere near the chemistry of the Avengers. 

Since no other cinematic series has attempted to do this except the Avengers it's easy to compare the two properties. This is a lower budget, more grounded version of the Avengers, and it never really reaches the high standard of heroic action and ensemble that the Avengers does. The Five Fingers of the Hand are finally revealed in this show, but they never really feel that dangerous and don't have a menacing presence on screen when compared with Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin or David Tennant's Kilgrave. For all the talk of the dangerous potential of the Hand, the Hand never really feel like a huge threat despite the claims of their historical, political, and social reach. In fact they just felt like common thugs and no real match for the four Defenders. (What happened to the ninjas?) The showrunners attempt to give some gravitas to the Hand by having them be led by Weaver's Alexander character and the presence of a much faster, stronger Elektra as an antagonist, but it never feels like the Defenders are truly over their heads. Maybe it was due to budget constraints, but the Hand felt like low rent thugs compared to the enemies in the other Netflix Marvel shows. In fact the Hand in Daredevil Season 2 seemed alot more mysterious and dangerous than the Hand in the Defenders. This show should have felt epic, but it never did.

If I had to rate this show compared to the other Netflix Marvel shows in terms of best to least, I would say the order would be Daredevil>Jessica Jones> Luke Cage> The Defenders> Iron Fist. The Defenders was a fun way to kill 8 hours of my life, but not the epic super hero team up show that I was hoping for. 
Add a comment...
Wait while more posts are being loaded