I have decided after seeing what a friend was doing with his challenge that I would rate the month of February as far as the films I watched. So, I have decided to list my top 25 films of each month and we are starting with the month of February. I will look at all the films I watched and I will rate them from 25 to 1 with one obviously being my favorite film of that particular month. At the end of the year I will rate the top 25 of the year if I make it to that point and hopefully I do. Obviously there are films that are left behind from the list considering some months have 30, 31, and this year February has 29 days. So, some films are unfortunately left behind and I will tell you that The Witch, Sharknado 3, The Punisher, and Black Mama, White Mama are left off the list. I’m not really going to explain why, but rather just show what my top 25 was. So, here is the list:
25. Jem And The Holograms
24. Freaks Of Nature
23. Good Guys Wear Black
22. The Other Woman
21. The Ladykillers
20. The Visit
19. The Last Witch Hunter
18. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
17. The Transporter Refueled
16. The November Man
14. Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm
13. Johnny Dangerously
12. Johnny Got His Gun
11. Triple 9
9. Reservoir Dogs
8. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
7. Friday Night Lights
6. The Fifth Element
4. The Dark Crystal
3. Cinderella Man
2. The Good Dinosaur
I am a huge fan of Disney Pixar animation as they seem to get it right almost every single time they come out with a film. With that being said, I had to check out their latest offering The Good Dinosaur (to which I am surprised it wasn’t nominated for an oscar). In a world where Dinosaurs live among the humans, a Apatosaurus named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is just trying to figure out what his place is among his family. Every single member of his family seems to know what there purpose is except for the skiddish and smaller Arlo. One day after the death of his father, Arlo goes after a human named Spot (Jack Bright) who Arlo feels is responsible. While he is going after him, the two end up getting lost and they have to stick together if they want to find their way back home and that means figuring out who he really is deep inside for Arlo. The film also stars Jeffrey Wright (Boardwalk Empire) as Poppa, Frances McDormand (Fargo) as Momma, Marcus Scribner (Black-ish) as Buck, Maleah Nipay-Padilla (Fruitvale Station) as Libby, Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) as Thunderclap, A.J. Buckley (Happy Feet) as Nash, Anna Paquin (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) as Ramsey, Sam Elliot (Tombstone) as Butch, and the film was directed by Peter Sohn (who also voices Pet Collector).
I want to start this paragraph by saying that there is always a character that helps drive these children’s animated films. They are the characters that children always laugh at because they are the comedic relief like Tow Mater in Cars, the Minions in Despicable Me, and so on and so forth. In this film, Spot is that character that helps drive the film forward and is the comedic relief. Without him, I don’t think the film would be as awesome as it was. It would be a great tear jerking story, but he makes it incredible. He is so essential to the story that Arlo couldn’t grow up and find who he was without him. There are so many great appearances in this film like a family of T-Rex’s voiced by Paquin and Elliot or Zahn who is brilliant as the pterodactyl Thunderclap. The film also features some incredible animation that I was blown away by how far we have come. When they do close ups of Arlo, you can see all the detail in his scales along with the bruises and anything else. Even the details in the river are amazing especially when it floods. Again, I don’t know why this film wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, but it certainly deserved a nod at least. It’s truly a film that is full of adventure and it even pulls on your heart strings like any great Disney film would. If you are a fan of animated films, then do yourself a favor and check out The Good Dinosaur. So with that being said, I am going to give this film an A- for a final grade.
I am a sucker for sports movies if you couldn’t tell from yesterdays post, but I am also a sucker for true stories. In early to mid-2000’s, Russell Crowe (Gladiator) was the hottest thing going in Hollywood and in 2005 he would starred in Cinderella Man. Cinderella Man tells the story of the original underdog in boxing in former world heavyweight champion James J. Braddock. In the 1930’s, things were bad in America as the country was still in a depression. For James J. Braddock and his family, things were just as bad. His boxing career was going nowhere and he could barely afford to feed his family. That is until his manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) gets Braddock a second chance at redemption. All he has to do is beat a couple of guys and he gets the shot of a lifetime against heavyweight champ Max Baer (Craig Bierko). The film also stars Renée Zellweger (Empire Records) as Mae Braddock, Paddy Considine (The World’s End) as Mike Wilson, Bruce McGill (Law Abiding Citizen) as Jimmy Johnston, Matthew G. Taylor (Pacific Rim) as Primo Carnera, Rance Howard (Chinatown) as Announcer Al Fazin, Troy Amos-Ross (Resurrecting The Champ) as John Henry Lewis, and the film was directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13).
Besides being a fan of sports movies and/or true stories, I am also a huge fan of Boxing films and this is up there with a lot of them. Boxing has always been one of those sports where an underdog can surprise people (and inspire) and be champion. Cinderella Man is definitely that underdog story and Russell Crowe’s performance in the film is amazing. Of course, he’s not the only one who did an amazing job as Zellweger and Giamatti deserve some kudos as well. The writers did an amazing job making sure you saw how desperate the times were back in the early 1930’s and how resourceful people had to be back then.We haven’t seen a depression like that since then and I hope that we never get to ever. The action in the ring is amazing and a strong point as you see every punch and every bit of blood that is splattered. I love some of the camera shots where it looks as if you are the boxer entering the ring and sometimes it looks as if you are taking the punches and getting dazed. The costume department and hair/makeup deserve some kudos as well making us feel like we are being transported to those times. I love the look and feel of the prohibition/great depression era s far as hairstyles and clothing are concerned. Ron Howard is a true master of cinema and he has proven it to us over the years with the plethora of work. There are so many great boxing films out there, but try this one. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
This could just be a sign that I miss football season even though it’s only been a couple of weeks or so since the big game. I have always been a fan of the sport and films about the sport of football so it was only natural for me to pick Friday Night Lights as today’s film. The film is based off of the book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream which was by H. G. Bissinger. It tells the tale of a football team from deep in the heart of West Texas in Permian High School. There is a lot of pressure on the team to win a championship as the film focuses on it’s coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thorton) and five of his players Boobie Miles (Derek Luke), Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund), Ivory Christian (Lee Jackson), and Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez) as well as the struggles they all go through with all the pressure. The film also stars Lee Thompson Young (The Famous Jett Jackson) as Comer, Tim McGraw (The Blind Side) as Charles Billingsley, Grover Coulston (The Lone Ranger) as L.V. Miles, Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights-TV Series) as Sharon Gaines, and the film was directed by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor).
The guys who wrote Varsity Blues (also based in Texas) must have read this book because they borrow some of the elements. The guy who wrote the script for When The Game Stands Tall must have been watching this film. How do you ask that this could be possible? The star player with all the division one scholarships goes down with a knee injury, does that sound familiar? The father who is so obsessed with football that he literally gives his kid a hard time, does that sound familiar to you? You might be saying no way can Friday Night Lights and When The Game Stands Tall be the same because they are both true stories that took place at different times and different states. I know that, but you probably didn’t know that Alexander Ludwigs character of Chris Ryan was made up. In fact, he is a combination of guys that played for the team. This was an amazing football movie that shows how quickly a team of guys can bond over a season. It also teaches you about brotherhood and what that really means. Now the film isn’t as crazy and over the top as Varsity Blues was, but it had plenty of drama in it. The film was so amazing that it would spawn a television show that Connie Britton stars in as well as the coaches wife once again. If you love football movies, then give this one a shot because it is that good. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
There are films out there that just grab you the minute you see a movie poster or a trailer. There are films out there that just strike a certain chord in your brain the right way that makes you interested like The Town and other films that have to do with bank heists. Today’s film, Triple 9 was definitely one of those that mad me want to see it. Triple 9 is about a gang that has former cops and dirty cops on its team that perform heists. After a heist is successful, these gang which is made up of the ringleader Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), ex-cop Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), dirty cops Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie) and Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr.) are put to the test one more time. They have to plan the murder of a cop in order to pull off the biggest heist they have ever performed. The film also stars Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) as Chris Allen, Woody Harrelson (Rampart) as Jeffrey Allen, Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) as Russel Welch, Gal Gadot (Superman Vs Batman: Dawn Of Justice) as Elena Vlaslov, Kate Winslet (Labor Day) as Irina Vlaslov, Teresa Palmer (Take Me Home Tonight) as Michelle Allen, Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire) as Sweat Pea, and the film was directed by John Hillcoat (Lawless).
Now I know you are wondering if the film lived up to the trailer or the movie poster? My simple answer to that question is an obvious yes, but how did it live up to it? First off, hats off to all the actors in the film because they did an amazing job as far as that department is concerned. It’s hard for me to choose one person as the MVP especially out of the four guys on the team plus Affleck and Harrelson. Although, I had a hard time buying Kate Winslet as a Russian Jewish Mobster especially with the accent, I am willing to look past it because the film was gritty and it was exactly what I wanted. They inserted the twists in the film just at the right spots so that you didn’t get bored with the film and they were plenty of scenes where you don’t see the particular action coming. If I had to compare this film with any other film out there, I would choose The Town just not as amazing as that one, but it’s up there. It’s basically The Town without bank robbers and with cops instead. The heists sequences are actually where the fun lays in this film because it’s an adrenaline rush as you sit wondering whether they can pull it off or not. One piece of criticism that I do have for the film is that it could have explained their relationships a little more and there are some scenes that could have been cut out. The only spoiler I can give you is that Norman Reedus (his character is bad ass) fans will leave disappointed. I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade. Check it out in theaters all across America now.
Back in the 1990’s, The Blair Witch Project really kicked the found footage genre into overdrive especially in the horror genre. M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) had been in a dry spell for a while, but he returned in 2015 with The Visit. In the film, Katheryn Hahn’s (We’re The Millers) kids are making a documentary for her because they are going to visit their grandparents. The significance of it is that they’re mother hasn’t seen them in over 19 years and they want to document it for her in hopes that they can get them to shed light as to why and hopefully they can bring both parties together again. As soon as they get there, they start to notice that there grandparents are acting very weird and things don’t appear as they seem. The film stars Olivia DeJonge (The Sisterhood Of Night) as Becca, Ed Oxenbould (Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) as Tyler, Deanna Dunagan (Running Scared) as Nana, Peter McRobbie (Brokeback Mountain) as Pop Pop, Celia Keenan-Bolger (Mariachi Gringo) as Stacey, Samuel Stricklen (Mozart In The Jungle) as The Conductor, Jorge Cordova (In Plain Sight) as Miguel, and Benjamin Kanes (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)) as Dad.
As far as found footage horror films go, this is one that I could actually tolerate because there isn’t all that annoying shaky camera effect to it. You’re basically watching the documentary the kids are creating and the character of Becca is obsessed with film so you know the camera quality will be good. As far as the story is concerned, I actually enjoyed the story because it kind of keeps you on the edge of your seat. You know that something just seems terribly wrong with the grandparents even though you side with Becca and you just say, “hey their old what do you expect.” Now as far as the acting is concerned, I have to give Deanna Dunagan a lot of credit because she really does an incredible job just acting very weird. She portrays on screen what kids are scared of when it comes to old people that they don’t really know. With Peter McRobbie, you don’t really get to see how crazy his character is until, but what he does is crazy. The reveal towards the end will either shock you or it’s something you may have seen coming, but I won’t give it away. No spoilers today on the blog for you. This was a decent return for M. Night Shayamalan who in my opinion hadn’t really been making anything worth watching in a while. If you want something fun to watch that you know is Oscar worthy in any way shape or form, then check this one out. I am going to give the film a B- for a final grade.
Before Marvel movies became the hip thing to do in the cinema world, there were films that they were releasing that weren’t that great. For today’s Ass Whoopin Wednesday film, we are checking out one of those films in The Punisher which starred Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV) as Frank Castle, the cop who goes for vengeance after his family is murdered. You see it has been five years since the supposed death of Frank Castle and his family and someone known as The Punisher is taking out mobsters left and right. Only one cop (Louis Gossett Jr.) believes that The Punisher is Frank Castle and he is going after to Frank. Meanwhile the city is in chaos ever since he started murdering mobsters and the Japanese Yakuza are moving in, but it’s up to Frank to stop them. The film also stars Jeroen Krabbé (The Living Daylights) as Gianni Franco, Kim Miyori (The Grudge 2) as Lady Tanaka, Barry Otto (The Great Gatsby) as Shake, Brian Marshall (The Spy Who Loved Me) as Dino Moretti, Nancy Everhard (The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk) as Sam, Todd Boyce (Spy Game) as Terrone, and the film was directed by Mark Goldblatt (Dead Heat). To see the rest of the review, please click here.