Day 31: The Gift (2015)

The-Gift-TC-1For today’s film, I chose a film that had a lot of buzz back in the time that it was released in 2015, but I never had the chance to see it then till now. Joel Edgerton (Warrior) pulls triple duty for The Gift which he wrote, directed, and starred in. Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) have just moved from Chicago to LA to try and start a new life in a new setting. One day the couple run into an old acquaintance of Simon’s named Gordo (Edgerton) who randomly starts bringing the couple gifts. One of those gifts is that he unwraps a secret from 20 years before that is going to affect Simon’s relationship with Robyn for the worst as details start to unravel. The film also stars Allison Tolman (Krampus) as Lucy, Tim Griffin (Star Trek) as Kevin, Busy Phillips (White Chicks) as Duffy, Adam Lazarre-White (War Of The Worlds) as Ron, Wendell Pierce (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2) as Det. Mills, Beau Knapp (Southpaw) as Det. Walker, Nash Edgerton (Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge Of The Sith) as Frank Dale, and Mirrah Foulkes (Sleeping Beauty) as Wendy Dale.

62161First of all I have to start this paragraph with how much I enjoyed Joel Edgerton’s performance as Gordo the Weirdo (That is what Bateman’s character calls him). At times, he seems as innocent as can be then there are times where he can start to look really weird. What I can tell you is that the twist in the end is something I should have seen coming, but I didn’t. I am obviously not going to give away what the twist is just in case you were looking to watch the film. Jason Bateman is as brilliant as usual as he delivers a serious performance as the manipulative Simon. Rebecca Hall does great as well as the woman who begins to put the pieces together when she cannot get the answers from the one source she needs. The film has suspense at times during the film, but it really starts to kick into overdrive in the last 10 minutes of the film. I however did enjoy the writing because the story was pretty solid in my opinion and the filmmaking aspect of the film was solid as well. Joel Edgerton did a pretty good job for someone who was directing his first feature length film and the overall aesthetic/tones of the film was dark. I am starting to see the maybe Hollywood is starting to go with more original ideas which gives me hope for filmmaking. I enjoyed the film, you know exactly what you’re getting when you watch it. That is why I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.

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Day 30: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

dawn_ofthe_planet_ofthe_apes-2I have always been a fan of the Planet Of The Apes series whether it were the classics or the reboot Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. It took me a little bit to catch the sequel Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, but it’s here. I believe that it has been ten years since the events of the first film and what the humans called the Simian Flu has almost wiped out the entire human race. Meanwhile, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his family of apes are enjoying the fruits of their fight by living in the forest across the Golden Gate Bridge. The apes believe that there must not be any more humans until they run into a crew looking to gain access to the dam. The crew led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) need to gain access to the dam in order to establish a power source for the humans who still live in San Francisco because they are running out of fuel for power. As Caesar begins to allow the humans to work, one ape named Koba (Toby Kebbell) begins to get angry and he rises against Caesar in order to gain payback on the humans for what they did to him when he was captive. Can Caesar and Malcolm stop Koba before he starts a war or will it be too late? The film also stars Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight) as Dreyfus, Keri Russell (Felicity) as Ellie, Kodi Smit-McPhee (Paranorman) as Alexander, Kirk Acevedo (Oz) as Carver, Nick Thurston (White Irish Drinkers) as Blue Eyes, and the film was directed by Matt Reeves (Felicity).

1396985361000-01-bt079-0360-v142-le1027I loved the first reboot film because it obviously explains the story of Caesar who we hear about in the original films. The first one left you in the cliffhanger of knowing how exactly the apes were able to kind of take over (at least part of San Fran). The second one kind of explains the story a little bit more as it is starting to inch over to where it is kind of the planet of the apes. The second really takes us into the psyche of the apes now that they have been free for what they say is 10 winters. They are still adjusting to the freedom and some of the apes struggle with how Caesar handles humans and it turns into a battle. I love the special effects obviously, but one of my other favorite elements of the film are the sets. The set design for the film was phenomenal as they created a post Simian flu San Francisco. Jason Clarke was phenomenal as well as he kind of took the place of what James Franco was to Caesar in the first film. I don’t know about you, but I am certainly excited for the new film War Of The Planet Of The Apes. I am most excited because it continues the story from this film and that means more Caesar and Andy Serkis. I am going to give this film an A- for a final grade.

Day 29: Goosebumps (2015)

Goosebumps-Movie-Preview-Behind-ScenesI was excited for today’s film when I saw that it was available at my local Redbox location. I was a huge fan of the Goosebumps book series that came out in the 90’s from R.L. Stine and I was excited for the film version which stars Jack Black (High Fidelity) as R.L. Stine. Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother Gale (Amy Ryan) are trying to start fresh in a new town when they move to Madison, DE. While at the new home, Zach meets his neighbor Hanna (Odeya Rush) and her weird over protective father (Black). One night, Zach swore that he heard a scream coming from Hanna’s house so with the help of his skittish new friend Champ (Ryan Lee), they’ll go over to investigate, but trouble lurks ahead for them. The boys by accidentally let out the monsters from R.L. Stine’s Books and one them named Slappy the Ventriloquist doll (voiced by Jack Black) will stop at nothing to rid the world of Stine to ensure they can never be trapped again. The film also stars Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street) as Lorraine, Halston Sage (Neighbors) as Taylor, Ken Marino (Role Models) as Coach Carr, Timothy Simons (The Interview) as Officer Stevens, and even a cameo by R.L. Stine himself.

goosebumps-movieI was wondering going in to watching this film whether I would let a child see it because these were children’s horror stories. After watching it, I would say that I think it would be OK, but be watchful of some scenes depending on the age of your child because there is a werewolf, Zombies, a creepy clown, and much more. The movie overall was fun and cool to see come to life. I was weary of how Jack Black was going to do and he did fine in the film. He wasn’t an over top goofball like he can be which was pleasant to see. I loved the combination of Dylan Minnette who plays the strong type and Ryan Lee who is a complete chicken. Yes I know it’s very stereotypical cannon, but there is a reason why it’s around because it works. Just ask Scooby Doo! The monsters were very cool to see and there was plenty of action, comedy, and suspense to keep you going through the whole film. I had a lot of laughs as I watched in suspense and the set design was what was even better. I loved the scenes in the old fairgrounds that they have in the film. It’s visually stunning in my opinion especially when you throw some monsters in it. There’s also a little bit of a love story, but don’t worry cause it’s not overpowering. Just a nice little touch thrown in by the writers. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 28: Self/less (2015)

selflessposter-Copy-1000x600While all of us who are fans of comic book movies wait for Ryan Reynolds (Waiting) to star in Deadpool (which comes out in February), I figured I would review the last film he made to date. The name of the film is Self/less and it was directed by Tarsem Singh (Mirror Mirror) and the film looks at a topic that all of us may have wondered about. What if we possessed the ability to take the brilliant men of the world who are old and about to die and transported them into new bodies? It brings up the idea of immortality and man’s ability to play God. That was the question that was raised to New York real estate tycoon Damien (Ben Kingsley) as he was slowly dying of Cancer. He was lead to believe that the bodies that were available were created in a lab and so he makes the jump. Unfortunately as he gets used to his new body (Ryan Reynolds), he begins to discover that maybe these bodies belonged to people who had souls of their own. As soon as he discovers this, he is on the run and he has to protect the family of the man who once occupied the body. The film also stars Natalie Martinez (Death Proof) as Madeline, Matthew Goode (Watchmen) as Albright, Victor Garber (Argo) as Martin, Derek Luke (Captain America: The First Avenger) as Anton, Melora Hardin (Hot Chick) as Judy, and Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop) as Claire.

12739_5Ryan Reynolds takes a lot of crap for some of the roles he chooses where people feel he can only play a certain part, but I beg to differ. We know that the film didn’t do as well in the box office as the studio had hoped, but I feel like people should given the film a chance. It was definitely a cool and new concept for a Sci-Fi thriller like this. It gives you an insight into what the possibilities could be and what the side effects can be by taking over a new body. Ben Kinglsey is an amazing actor to begin with and he plays a bitter old man who has always appreciated the money first over the real joys of life. Ryan Reynolds is kind of the coming of age part of the film where he begins to realize that he loved all the wrong things in life and decides to make up for it. I really enjoyed the acting from Matthew Goode, he does an amazing job play a manipulative man hell bent on perfecting his research and will do anything to achieve it. There’s plenty of action, suspense, and mystery to please any fan and I love the special effects in the film. Now I pose this question to all of you. Would you sell your body to save someone you loved even if it meant never seeing them again? Would you take over a body knowing that a real soul once possessed it and is still kind of there? Check out the film and answer that for yourself. I am giving the movie an B+ for a final grade.

Day 27: Turbo Kid (2015)

turbo kidFor today’s Ass Whoopin Wednesday film, I chose a movie that had gained a lot of buzz in the underground world and horror magazines. The name of the film was Turbo Kid and it was directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell. The film stars Munro Chambers (Degrassi: The Next Generation) as a kid in a post apocalyptic wasteland in 1997. Everyone in this world has to fend for themselves and the kid is essentially a scavenger just trying to make it by. His life gets complicated when he run into a very eccentric girl named Apple (Laurence Leboeuf). Together the two will be hunted by a very aggressive overlord named Zeus (Michael Ironside) so they’ll have to ride their BMX bikes and stick together in order to survive. The film also stars Edwin Wright (Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans) as Skeletron, Aaron Jeffery (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as Frederick, Romano Orzari (Punisher: War Zone) as Bagu, Anouk Whissell as The Mother, Tyler Hall (RoboCop) as bounty hunter, Orphée Ladouceur as female guard, and Yves Corbeil (Afterglow) as Turbo General. To read the rest of the review, check out the article here.

Day 26: Rampart (2011)

Rampart-posterBack in the late 1990’s, there was a scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department’s CRASH (a task force set up to fight street gangs) department. They believed that there was a lot of corruption in that department and the Rampart division of the LAPD. This film, Rampart, takes place during that time as it follows police officer Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson). Officer Brown is the kind of guy who follows his own brand of justice in life whether it be on the streets where he does things his way or at home with his dysfunctional family.  After a beating incident, things begin to fall apart for Brown as he looks to keep his family together as well as his career as he fights to keep his job. The film also stars Bree Olson (21 Jump Street) as Helen, Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City) as Barbara, Anne Heche (Donnie Brasco) as Catherine, Jon Bernthal (The Wolf Of Wall Street) as Dan Morone, Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) as General, Steve Buscemi (Fargo) as Bill Blago, Robin Wright (The Princess Bride) as Linda, Ned Beatty (The Toy) as Hartshorn, Ice Cube (Ride Along) as Kyle Timkins, Sigourney Weaver (Ghostbusters) as Joan Confrey, and the film was directed by Oren Moverman (Love & Mercy).

rampart.pngI realized as I started to watch the film that I did a double shot of Woody Harrelson for this challenge and I’m glad I did. This film is not only visually stunning, but it’s gritty and it’s dark. You literally see the a man descend from the beginning of the film all the way to the end. What I mean by that is that Woody starts off the film being this tough guy who does things his own way on the streets. He is cocky about it and believes in what he is doing until everything around him starts to fall apart. The more the film goes on, the darker the fall into madness for Woody’s character. There are a lot of scenes in the film which stunningly portray his character as this misanthrope, misogynistic, womanizing man who has no care in the world for how people feel. This film is great for character study and it kind of shows where LA was at in the late 1990’s. Every person from Bree Olson to Ben Foster do an amazing job acting wise that you can’t help, but love this film. Woody’s transformation is unbelievable as well as he just looks sick for most of the film and he gets worse as time goes on in the film. The only thing that I question is the man’s home life as he lives with his ex-wife and his current wife and he has a child with each one. Oh and I almost forgot, they are sisters too. If you’re into films like this one then you should definitely check it out. The film is available on Netflix and with that being said, I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 25: Kingpin (1996)

kingpinEarly in the challenge, we covered a film from the great brother tag team of the Coen Brothers, but now we have another famous brother combo for today’s film. The Farrelly Brothers have made great comedy films like Dumb And Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and today’s film Kingpin. The film stars Woody Harrelson (Zombieland) as Roy Munson, a bowling prodigy in the 1970’s who unfortunately got his hand cut off after he tried to swindle some guys in a game of bowling with his biggest rival Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray). Now, it’s 17 years later, he is in the dumps, he has no money, but he finds an amish guy named Ishmael (Randy Quaid) who happens to be a decent bowler. Ishmael is a guy who just wants to be noticed, but he gets his chance when he finds that the community needs $500,000 to save it from foreclosure. You see Roy tells him about a bowling tournament that is offering 1 Million dollars and they need to do is when and they’ll split it. What takes place next is one heck of an adventure as they hit the road to Reno. The film also stars Vanessa Angel (Hall Pass) as Claudia, Chris Elliot (Scary Movie 2) as The Gambler, Lin Shaye (Insidious) as the landlady, Zen Gesner (Shallow Hal) as Thomas, and Rob Moran (Dumb And Dumber) as Stanley.

968794568I had always heard that Kingpin was a great movie from so many people, but I just never got the chance to watch the whole film. Thankfully, Netflix had it available to stream and I do not regret one moment of it. This movie was truly hilarious from beginning to end especially with Randy Quaid. Randy Quaid was hilarious whether it was stupid humor or slapstick humor, he brought the goods to the table and he worked well with Woody Harrelson. The two of them made a great combination on the screen as they went through this journey together no matter how outrageous. Bill Murray definitely deserves a nod as well as the sleezy, womanizing, rival who knows just what buttons to push. Without Bill Murray, I don’t know who honestly could have filled those shoes. There is a reason why he is respected in the comedy world, just remember that. Lin Shaye who all of sudden appears in all of these films I had no idea she was in does a terrific job. She looked like that stereotypical comedy landlord who is so gross that our main character has to deal with. I also enjoyed the film’s soundtrack which goes all over the place from Disco to folk to even sound country music thrown in the mix. I definitely enjoyed this film a lot that I am going to give the movie an B+ for a final grade. Check it out on Netflix right now!

Day 24: Bringing Out The Dead (1999)

017_BRINGINGOUTTHEDEADQUADSoon enough you’ll figure out that I am a fan of Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street), but I honestly did not know that he directed today’s film. In 1999, Scorsese directed the film Bringing Out The Dead which starred Nicholas Cage (Raising Arizona) as paramedic Frank Pierce. Frank has been on the job for way too long to the point that he is burnt out and the ghosts of patients that he couldn’t save are starting to haunt him whether he is on the job or off. Over the course of three turbulent and mind exhausting nights, Frank will have to try and survive the nights without completely losing his mind in this drama/thriller. The film also stars John Goodman (Death Sentence) as Larry, Patricia Arquette (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) as Mary Burke, Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible) as Marcus, Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) as Tom Wolls, Marc Anthony (The Substitute) as Noel, Mary Beth Hurt (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) as Nurse Constance, Nestor Serrano (The Day After Tomorrow) as Dr. Hazmat, Aida Turturro (The Sopranos) as Nurse Crupp, Cliff Curtis (Blow) as Cy Coates, and Sonja Sohn (The Wire) as Kanita.

bringing-out-dead-pic-1_758_426_81_s_c1This film is so intense in just about everything and it’s awesome. Nicholas Cage does a great job playing a guy who is just going through absolute hell and looks like he’s been going through absolute hell. This is one of those rare times that I really enjoyed his performance because he’s hit or miss with me. The film is very dark in nature so it has that look that Shutter Island had with it’s dark color tones with the bright reds, etc. I really enjoyed the scenes where every thing is all of a sudden sped up to make them look even more crazier than they are. The film also shows you how dark and dingy the city can be and it shows you sections you’ve never seen before as well. I love how Scorsese almost focuses on that as well like he’s making the city a vital character as well. I have to say that I truly enjoyed the side story between Patricia Arquette and Nicholas Cage because they are both struggling with inner demons while Cage is being haunted by the dead, she is dealing with a dark past of her own. It definitely added a cool dynamic to the film that kept the story rolling. Martin Scorsese is definitely one of my favorite directors and there are a lot of films that I still have not seen that will probably show up on this challenge. Check out the film for yourself, I am giving the movie an B for a final grade.

Day 23: Charlie Bartlett (2007)

Charlie-bartlettFor today’s film, I decided to review a film that starred Robert Downey Jr. who made a resurgence in his career in the 2000’s and Anton Yelchin who starred in a film I loved called Alpha Dog. The film I chose for today is called Charlie Bartlett and Yelchin plays the title character. Charlie is a kid who is just looking to fit in, but unfortunately he doesn’t know how to do it the right way as he has found himself getting kicked out of numerous schools. His clueless mother (Hope Davis) decides to enroll Charlie into Western Summit High, where Charlie will become the school’s psychiatrist in order to gain popularity. The only problem is that there are consequences for every action and Charlie has to try and use his new found popularity to do the right things. The film also stars Kat Dennings (Thor: Dark World) as Susan, Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) as Principal Gardner, Tyler Hilton (Walk The Line) as Murphy, Mark Rendall (30 Days Of Night) as Kip, Dylan Taylor (Tideland) as Len Arbuckle, Megan Park (The Secret Life Of The American Teenager) as Whitney, Jake Epstein (Degrassi: The Next Generation) as Dustin, Derek McGrath (Carrie) as Superintendent Sedgwick, Jonathan Malen (Mean Girls) as Jordan, and the film was directed by Jon Poll (Captain America 1990).

charlie-bartlett-2You can look at this film in several different ways, is it social commentary on how obsessive our society has been on abusing prescription pain killers? Or is it commentary on how kids will do anything to become popular? Well, if it’s the second one, then that is something that has been happening for ages and even in film. Every generation has their films on what it’s like to be a teenager like what Fast Times At Ridgemont High did for the 80’s. I highly doubt that it was the first one just because the pills are a minor part of the whole film and only serve as a catalyst to get the film going. Although, there is this one line in the film that I thought was superb and exactly how society should look at teens and prescription drugs. It reads like, “Bringing psychiatric drugs and teenagers together is like opening a lemonade stand in the desert.” I thought that was a brilliant piece of writing from the writers. Everything about this film was good from the writing to the director and it’s sort of a coming of age story, but only in the fact that Charlie comes to realize who he really is and what his place is in society. Kat Dennings of course looks fantastic in the film and she does an amazing job playing a teenager with so much angst. Listen check out the film for yourself, it’s playing on one of the premium channels. I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.

 

Day 22: Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser (2015)

Joe-Dirt-2-Beautiful-Loser-2015There is a sudden trend in Hollywood where they take comedies that were hits and they try to make sequels 15 to 20 years after the fact. Well, that is the case when Crackle took over and made the sequel to the 2001 hit Joe Dirt with Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser. David Spade (Tommy Boy) assumes the role of Joe Dirt once again and everything seems Ok as Joe is married to the beautiful Brandy (Brittany Daniel) and they have triplets together. I said everything seems Ok until a tornado hits Silver Town and sends Joe Dirt back all the way to 1965. Now Joe has to try and make it to that moment when he first met Brandy before it’s too late. Otherwise, everything he worked for will disappear as we know it. The film also stars Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths) as Clem, Patrick Warburton (Ted) as Foggle, Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray) as Jimmy, Dennis Miller (The Net) as Zander Kelly, Tracy Weisert, (My Name Is Khan) as Woman, Charlotte McKinney (Dancing With The Stars) as Missy, Matthew Curry (Fred And Rose) as Ronnie Van Zandt, Adam Beach (Cowboys & Aliens) as Kicking Wing, Kevin Farley (2gether) as Cal, and the film was directed by Fred Wolf (The House Bunny).

charlotte-mckinney-joe-dirt-2I am feeling so torn with this film because I was such a fan of the original film and I am disappointed in this film. I am so disappointed with the writing department because the story just didn’t stand up to the original. At times, the film just felt like it was a spoof film as we got references to Forrest Gump, The Wizard Of Oz, and so much more. It was just all over the place and the ending of the film just pissed me off completely. They waited 14 years to make a sequel to the film and they could’ve gone another 14 without one. Apparently, it also didn’t matter that at the end of the first film Joe received a new hairstyle, but it’s Hollywood they can do what they want. One of the other things that bothered me about the film was at one point the camera was so shaky that it was nauseating to watch. I wanted to really love this film, but it relies too much on stupid jokes like their overuse of farting to get laughs.  The only great thing about the film is the fact that Brittany Daniels looked absolutely amazing. Time has been very kind to her and I loved every second of her onscreen time. Mark McGrath was actually the other breath of fresh air the film needed and had. I was looking forward to seeing Kid Rock, but McGrath did a great job as the new enemy. The soundtrack was actually pretty amazing as well, but that couldn’t save the film. I am going to give this film an C-/D+ for a final grade because it borders between the two.