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Archive for August, 2015


4.0 out of 5

Growing up through the late 80’s and 90’s you couldn’t go too far without hearing the style of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube on the radios and music video stations.  N.W.A. was a prominent and influential sound in those eras and through the wisdom of their lyrics brought some new, something real to the world of rap.

F Gary Gray (Law Abiding Citizen) has directed a tour de force with Straight Outta Compton giving you a glimpse into the lives of these musicians and artist and what they had to go through to get where they are today.  Not everything about their lives of course has made it into the film but what has paints a very powerful portrait and has a strong command of the camera.  Each shot is framed beautifully and gives meaning to what is being shown on screen.  It’s been awhile since I have seen a film show that much emotion through the lens.

Johnathan Herman and Andrea Berloff pen a powerful script from the story written by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff.  All pretty much first time writers for film have stepped up and told a story that erupts on screen with fire, heart and soul.  Their writing is top notch and very strong and takes us on a very emotional journey.  Not on through the life of the group itself but from the tough beginnings of each of N.W.A’s leaders.

O”Shea Jackson Jr(Ice Cube), Corey Hawkins(Dr. Dre), and Jason Mitchell(Eazy-E) give some of the best performances I’ve seen on screen this year.  Neil Brown Jr.(DJ Yella) and Aldis Hodge(MC Ren) both turn in exceptional performances as well, especially nearing the end of Eazy-E’s life.  Paul Giamatti(Jerry Heller) plays the ever so sleazy manager perfectly.  These are some of the best performances of the year and hopeful they will garner them with some award nominations.

The pacing of the movie works so well and for a running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes, the film flies by.  There wasn’t a moment of boredom throughout the picture.  Right from the start it captivates you and keeps you glued to the screen soaking in the beats, the music, the sound of N.W.A.  But it’s also not just about the music.  The movie takes you through the rough time growing up, the dealings with the LA PD, the creation of Ruthless, Cube going solo.  It’s there and makes for one heck of a ride.  With tight editing and strong pacing the movie just flows.

Credit goes to Gray with getting very strong performances from his cast.  For not doing too many feature films, Gray not only gave the movie grit but also brought in heart and soul to round it out.  Was it rough in sections, of course, their lifestyle wasn’t all roses but Gray also always kept things grounded and I never felt he went over the top with performances for certain set pieces.

If there was one thing that I felt out of place was near the end of the film when Dr. Dre jumps in his Ferrari and speeds off which ended him getting caught by the cops in a chase.  I felt the chase was tacked on and really didn’t need to be shown because there was never any follow up to it on the news or in the papers and it just seemed it was there to be there.  I would have had Dre speed off then cut to a news report about it or maybe not include it whatsoever.

This is one movie not to miss this year and shows how the influence and test of time N.W.A had and has today.  I highly recommend seeing this picture, even if you aren’t a rap fan or a fan of  N.W.A it’s just that good.  The reason I’m giving it 4.0 out of 5 and not a full 5.0 is because of the car chase scene.  I’m not big on chases and I felt it was just shoehorned in, but overall I hope this picture gets nominated for some awards, it definitely deserves to.



3.0 out of 5

Being a fan of the anime series “Attack on Titan”, which is based of the manga of the same name I was extremely excited to hear that it was being adapted into a full theatrical released movie in Japan.  The studio decided to break it up into 2 movies, there is a lot of story to cover after all and with the success of the anime decided it would be getting a US release as well.  This review covers the first part in a two part motion picture.

The story of Attack on Titan evolves around the military trying to combat these Titans who’s only goal is to eat humans.  After apocalyptic events the military have devised a city phased off in sections.  Each section has a protective wall to help keep these massive titans out.

Director Shinji Higuchi (Nadia: The Secret of the Blue Water) has the daunting task of bringing this beloved anime to the big screen and ov erl all does a decent job even though characters and parts of the story and lore have been changed bringing mixed feelings from fans of both the manga and anime alike.

Higuchi definitely does have a good eye when composing shots and knows how to keep the pace what is essentially a horror/action movie flowing a long.  When the titans aren’t around eating people and causing massive destruction, Higuchi manages to keep the movie going.

Screenplay writers Watanabe and Machiyama took many liberties and changed a lot of the lore from the story to bring Attack on Titan to the big screen.  They took out the character Levi and replaced him with a very creepy and d-bag charcater known as Captain Shikishima.  Mikasa’s role also was changed for the film making her more of a damsel in distress at the beginning.  Other characters were melted into one character.  In the anime most characters were from German decent where in this all were Asian decent.  It’s not that big of a deal to some but to fans of the manga and anime it breaks down the lore quite a bit.

Watanabe and Machivama crafted a decent enough story so far but really need to work on dialogue.  There was quite a few melodramatic and very cheesy lines throughout the movie which at times kind of took you out of the story.  Overall though it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be,

Haruma Miura (Harlock: Space Pirate) did a great job as the main protagonist Eren, though his characterization in the movie didn’t seem quite as strong as the anime.  During the first part of the movie Eren seems more of a lost soul than a fighter willing to kill all the titans.  We don’t see this side of Eren until almost the end of the movie.  I thought Miura really held the movie together with his performance.

Kiko Mizuhara (The Trick Movie: Last Stage) played Eren’s love interest Mikasa.  Her performance was also well done though the love interest was overplayed in a lot of the scenes.  Mizuhara brought heart to Mikasa, who in the anime at times was a rather dull character, and by the end of the movie the fighter in her was brought out.

The performances for the other characters such as Armin and Hans were well done though the actress playing Hans overacted here and there.  Armin could have been used more in the movie and trhough out the film I felt there was a disconnect with the character.

I have never been fond of musical scores in Japanese films.  There is always something out of place with them and with Attack on Titan it is no different.  A lot of the music was overbearing and very melodramatic, there’s that word again, at times.  The choral pieces worked nicely and gave the movie a bit of the feeling the anime conveyed in scenes.  Fans of the anime looking to hear the awesome opening theme from the anime will be disappointed, that doesn’t show up at all in the movie.

Effects were also a mixed bag.  Some of the titan effects were very well done and the battle sequences hold up pretty well, but when the military are zipping around on their ODMG devices that’s where the effects start to falter, a lot.  For being a smaller budget film, the effects team did a great job on the titans and the gore was very well handled as well.  Oh yes there is gore in the movie.  I was worried that they would shy away from the amount of gore and violence the anime had and try to work around it but they didn’t.  I do have to applaud them from keep that part true to the story.  In the movie you get to see first hand how terrifying these titans really are and they do make for some very frightening sequences.

Overall this movie exceeded my expectations but that isn’t saying too much since my expectations were low at the time.  Part of the reason is that most live action movies coming from Japan, especially anime and manga story lines don’t really have the budget to really make them work.  Attack on Titan however works very well when the titans are on screen.  The movie becomes very terrifying and really gives you a sense of the Hell these people are going through on a daily basis.  If you are fan of the manga and anime you may be disappointed as to how things were handled in the story but part of it may surprise you.  Don’t forget that there is a follow up movie coming out shortly to tie it all up in a nice bow.

I give Attack on Titan a 3.0 out of 5.  I don’t highly recommend this movie but it’s not entirely bad either.  It does have it’s moments and I feel there are enough of them to make this movie an enjoyable experience.


2.5 out of 5

Who doesn’t love a good horror flick?  For me it’s a lot of fun to be scared in a movie or video game setting.  I’ve always loved horror movies and I jump at a chance to see one I haven’t seen before.  Last night it was “Exeter”.  Did it scare me or make me want to turn it off out of boredom?

I loved the harsh setup of “Exeter”.  We start off with a lady committing suicide and then go into a history of the the asylum for children.  I loved how strong of an opening it was and the harsh backstory of this asylum.  This really felt like a horror movie I could sink my teeth into.

The movie which was actually entitled “Backmask” was directed by Marcus Nispel.  He was responsible for directing the “Friday the 13th” reboot, “Conan the Barbarian” reboot and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” reboot.  As much as I liked The Teaxs Chainsaw reboot and at times the Friday the 13th reboot, I was not fond of his Conan the Barbarian.  So where this was a horror film I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

He does a good job at keeping things atmosphere in the movie.  It feels like a good ol 80’s 90’s style horror.  You got the young adults, partying in an old run down asylum.  What could go wrong theme of throwback horror.

Stephen Lang (Avatar) plays Father Conway.  He was the priest that is mentioned in the backstory of the asylum and is now in charge of a group that is clearing out the run down property so they can open up a youth centre inside this old building.  He isn’t on screen for too long and does a decent job with the role he was given.  Lang has always been to be me a decent character actor and was cast well for this role.

Kelly Blatz (Prom Night) plays Patrick, the young man that is leading the cleanup crew, getting this place ready for renovations.  Nick Nicotera plays Patrick’s best friend Brian and is responsible for getting the party started at the asylum.

After the party when the group tries a levitation spell on Rory (Michael Ormsby), he becomes possessed.  This is where things start to go awry and downhill.

The first part of the possession was intense and at times scary.  It made me jump a few times and also had my heart racing a bit in certain scenes. But as the movie went on, it became more and more of chore to watch.  It became more predictable, the scares weren’t coming often enough and by the ending your investment in the movie wavers.

I think what brings the movie to this point was the very uneven editing.  The editing is all over the place, jumping here and there and at times can make the movie disorienting, leaving you wondering how we got from point A to point C without first paying a visit to point B.   For this movie there were just too many people in the editing booth.  I think with a better pacing from editing would have helped this movie greatly.

The effects were well done for the type of budget this movie had.  The gore seemed realistic, which is something I look for when gore involved.  The makeup effects for the possessed boy were done well and fitted the movie style.  I have to give them props for those sections of the movie.

Overall it’s not a bad film just not one I would want to sit through again.  It does have it’s moments and may make for a decent showing on Halloween.  The movie does pull you in from the beginning but because of editing issues I feel it slowly deflates over the course of the running time.  If you like horror and have a chance to see it, give it a whirl you might enjoy it.  I can’t fully recommend it but that’s not to say that you the viewer may think differently.  I give this movie 2.5 out of 5.


                                                          2 out of 5

As long as I can remember I have always been a fan of the first “Vacation” movie starring Chevy Chase.  It was funny and I had a lot of fun watching it.  The same goes for “Christmas Vacation”.  Here we are in 2015 and we are graced with a new, slicker “Vacation”  Notice how National Lampoons name is nowhere to be seen on the poster.  How does this movie stack up?  Let’s read on.

I was already bracing myself for one terrible movie and for the most part that’s how the night went.  Now before we begin, this isn’t a remake or a re-imaging of the original.  It is it’s own movie and tells the story of Rusty Griswald all grown up with a family of his own.  Rusty decides that for the family vacation this year, he will take his family on a cross country road trip to Walley World just like his father did when he was young.

Ed Helms takes on the role of Rusty and Christina Applegate plays his wife.  Both the leads try their best to put on a happy face and for the most part do a good job with what they are given.

John Francis Daley helms the movie as the director and this is his first major motion picture.  For his picture he didn’t do bad though there were a lot of missed opportunities throughout the movie.  Nothing ever really takes you to that milk coming out your nose laughing experience and that slowly starts to wear you down throughout the movie.

Comedy is a fickle beast at times where somethings work and somethings don’t.  In those types of movies and shows the working elements should outweigh the non working parts, but in the case of “Vacation” they do not.  I found only two or three moments where I roared with laughter out loud and most of the time just a slight chuckle would emerge.  This makes for a very dull outing for a comedy movie which should be brimming with jokes.

One of the main writers on this movie is Jonathan M. Goldstein, he crafted “Horrible Bosses” and “Horrible Bosses 2” as well as the movie “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”.  I really enjoyed the first “Horrible Bosses” and thought that some of that comedy would rub off and maybe make “Vacation” a better experience that I was expecting.  Unfortunately it didn’t.

A highlight in the movie was that you get to see Beverly D’Angelo and Chevy Chase both reprise Ellen and Charles Griswold (Rusty’s Parents).  I feel they were thrown in the movie just for a way to connect it back to the original.

The movie itself just falls flat.  It’s overly long, or at least felt that way because of the lack of humor and even it wasn’t part of the Vacation family doesn’t stand up well as a stand alone movie.  the showing I was at most of the people there were leaving throughout the movie and that never is a good sign.  What worries me as well is the main writer on this is also penning a yet untitled Spiderman reboot.

The movie needed to be tightened up by reeling some of the jokes back from running on too long.  This could have gave the movie a more brisk feel to it and moved it a long faster.  Is it worth going to the cinema to see it?  I don’t think so.  Another wait for VOD or Netflix.  I ended giving “Vacation” 2 out of 5.


1 out of 5

Growing up I read a lot of comics.  Both from the Marvel and the DC stables.  I had my favorites such as Captain America, Spiderman, Batman.  Fantastic Four was always a group that would be hit or miss with me. I liked them enough to read the comics but was never a full fledged fan like I was with the super heroes.

When studios started making comic book movies it was very hit and miss.  I’m not going to include the 70’s and 80’s Captain America live-actoin stuff or the live-action Spiderman shows.  I’m going to start with Tim Burton’s Batman.  !989 started to look like super hero movies were being done right.  For the most part were.  Buton’s Batman was, at the time one of the best super hero movies I had seen this side of the original Superman.  Once Schumacher took over Batman things went downhill.

In between that time we had a Captain America film which was a catastrophe as well as a Fantastic 4 film.  One of the only reasons this Fantastic 4 film was made was so the studio could keep the rights to the franchise.  For better or worse this film was a film that really wasn’t supposed to be seen.

Now we have strong movies coming out of Marvel Studios as well as the road DC is paving working towards their Justice League movie.  While all of this is going on 20th Century Fox decides to reboot or re-imagine the Fantasic 4.

The previous two outings of Fantasic 4 and Rise of the Silver Surfer were nothing special.  They looked cheap, felt cheap and the stories fell short.  This new Fantastic 4 movie was going to breathe new life into this faltering franchise.  Were we finally going to  get a good Fantastic 4 movie worthy of the license?  Unfortunately not this time.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this movie and it mainly centres around Josh Trank, the director.  He had a big hit with “Chronicle” and was also slated to work on Star Wars: Rogue One which he ultimately got fired from because of what was happening on the set of Fanastic 4.

Storiies of him being hard to work with surfaced, always whining, not knowing what to do on set, how he treated some of the actors.  When word got out that he was trashing Fox for what they did to his film and how they ruined it, it started to look like it was Trank just being Trank. But after watching the film I’m not so sure.

Many liberties were taken with the movie on how the team got their powers.  Even though it is a slight change.  It when from getting blasted with cosmic rays from the comics to getting bombarded by the energy of a planet defending it self.  Some reviews said they got their powers through time travel…not there is no time travel in the movie, there is though inter-dimensional travel, which si how the team find a planet that could help save the dying Earth.  For the most part this works, but we are getting a head of ourselves.

The first part of the movie enthralled me.  It was very well done;  It showed that Trank knew how to do a slow burn and build on characters and also showed he could tell a good story.  This version is definitely darker and it a fresh retelling of Fantastic 4 and I was loving it up until a point.

Miles Teller (Whiplash) plays Reed Richards, a brilliant young scientist that still has his schoolboy innocence  as he gets brought on by Franklin Storm to work with his daughter Sue Storm (Kate Mara) in perfecting this machine that will allow for inter-dimensional travel.  Also on the team is Victor Von Doom, played very well by Toby Kebbel.  Later Franklin Storm brings his son Johnny Storm (Michael B Jordan) on board as well.  I thought Jaime Bell was a great choice for Ben Grimm.  he really brought some humanity to the character.

Trank, I thought did these characters justice for the first part of the movie.  The tone was a more serious tone, a darker tone and I felt that really worked on captivating you to what’s happening on screen.  This was a film that I felt was hand and feet above the other films and I started to think we might actually get a good Fantastic 4 film.

Enter Act 2.  This is where you can tell re-shoots were done and other people were brought in to change this picture.  To the studio there wasn’t enough action.  This is where the reshoots come into play.  All of the re-shoots pertained to the action sequences, which was pretty much the final battle and some shot scenes here and there.  you can immediately tell someone else was calling the shots because the fell of the movie and the tone dramatically shifted from a darker movie to a very light comicbook style movie.

The acting took a hit, the dialogue took a hit and the effects took a hit.  Throughout the first part of the movie the dialogue was pretty realistic and worked very well.  The banter between the team felt right and things flowed smoothly.  The grounded realistic approach to the Fantastic 4 worked.  When the movie shifted gears that’s when everything fell apart and it fell apart rather quickly.  So much in fact that it killed what could have been a really great super hero film.

The ending battle with Doom was so anti-climatic and the rushed ending will make you roll in your seats and throw your hands up in the air, it was just that bad.  It’s too bad that the studio decided to step in and ultimately do things their way.

I really do feel bad for Trank.  I have been bashing him lately because of the movie and him speaking out about why the movie was trashed and I chalked it up as a young director being a baby, but after seeing the movie I would really love to see Trank’s full vision of what he had in store for Fanastic 4.  If I were to rate this film on just his part of it, it would be an easy 4 out of 5, but I’m rating this movie on a whole.

With subpar effects at the end of the movie and a jarring break in style and tone of the film I can not whole heartedly recommend this film to any one.  Wait for VOD or Netflix.  What started out as an awesome superhero movie tuned out to fall flat and become yet another terrible Fantastic 4 movie.  I give this new version 1 out of 5.