Movie Of The Week: The Lost City Of Z (2016)

lost-city-zThe challenge may be long gone and in the rear view mirror, but that doesn’t mean that us cinema fanatics cannot enjoy some movies in the meantime. While we debate doing a second challenge, I decided to do the Movie Of The Week where we view a new film and for this week we have chosen The Lost City Of Z. I have always been a fan of films that are based off of true stories and this one definitely peaked my interest, but it didn’t last very long in my local theater. The film follows a British soldier by the name of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) who is fighting every day to restore the family name that was put in limbo by his father. While on a mapping expedition in the Amazon, Percy makes a huge discovery that there may have been a civilization in the Amazon that predates everyone. The only problem is that the journey is not an easy one and he faces many obstacles on his journey to try and discover the lost city he calls Z. The film also stars Sienna Miller (Factory Girl) as Nina Fawcett, Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Jack Fawcett, Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga) as Henry Costin, Edward Ashley (In The Heart Of The Sea) as Arthur Manley, Angus Macfadyen (We Bought A Zoo) as James Murray, Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars: Episode VI-Return Of The Jedi) as Sir George Goldie, and the film was directed by James Gray (We Own The Night).

lost-city-z-trailer-screen2What was surprising about the film wasn’t necessarily the story itself or the way the presented it, but the acting in my opinion is the highlight. Robert Pattinson in particular was a highlight for me as the mysterious, drunk, but loyal Mr. Costin who had accompanied Fawcett on some of the journeys. The actors did such an amazing job of conveying the torture they had been going through on the journey with the sicknesses and the lack of provisions. They did an amazing job as portraying how difficult the Amazon itself was and how things were drastically different there then where they had been. The movie isn’t perfect in any way shape or form, but it’s kind of a cool adventure to be on for the two plus hours that you’re watching. I liked Charlie Hunnam’s performance, but I think too many people stole the show on him on too many occasions. Whether it be Pattinson or Angus Macfayden who plays someone who is not what they are expected to be. I thought the sets and costumes were amazing as it felt like you were really there in the Amazon in 1912 or so. The ending of the film definitely tries it’s best to not speculate on what exactly happened to Fawcett and his son despite all the different theories that there are out there. It’s sad to read online that his other son was never interested in the truth, but rather the revenue over the speculation of his death. Check out the film for yourself, I am going to give it an B+ for a final grade.

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Day 365: Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)

startrekii_spotlightIn any other normal year, this would essentially be the last film of the challenge, but thanks to the leap year, we have one more film after this. After watching Star Trek Into Darkness and being introduced to the character of Khan, I wanted to make sure that I watch the original film that featured Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. Things have changed around the Starship Enterprise and it starts with Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) who is having a midlife crisis because of the job change. While on a routine inspection, Kirk is forced to retake his place in the captain’s chair when an old familiar foe by the name of Khan (Ricardo Montalban) resurfaces and threatens to steal a project called Genesis that could turn into the ultimate weapon. The film also stars Leonard Nimoy (Mission: Impossible) as Spock, DeForest Kelley (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) as McCoy, James Doohan (Loaded Weapon 1) as Scotty, Walter Koenig (Star Trek) as Chekov, George Takei (Kubo And The Two Strings) as Sulu, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek: The Animated Series) as Uhura, Bibi Besch (Tremors) as Carol, Merritt Butrick (Fright Night Part 2) as David, Paul Winfield (Mars Attacks) as Terrell, Kirstie Alley (Cheers) as Saavik, Ike Eisenmann (Escape To Witch Mountain) as Preston, and the film was directed by Nicholas Meyer (Time After Time). 

the_wrath_of_khanThere is this one scene in the film that is just very uncomfortable to watch because you are imagining the agony they are going through. The scene I am talking about of course is the creature that crawls into Chekov and Terrell’s ear in the beginning courtesy of Khan. Ricardo Montalban was great as Khan, but I feel that it’s in the scale of the 1980’s. What I mean by that is that it wouldn’t work today because much like William Shatner it’s a little over the top. He is trying to squeeze the performance of a lifetime into his role as a sci-fi villain. I say what I say about Shatner, but to be honest I couldn’t see anyone other than Chris Pine play Captain Kirk as well. I liked the story of the film a lot because not only was Kirk faced with the major problem known as Khan, but we also discover something else from his past that showcases that playboy lifestyle that he has. I thought it was a good touch to the film and showed us why he was so interested in finding Carol. The ending of the film definitely set you up for another film, but there isn’t enough days in the year to explore anymore. The cinematography was pretty decent especially for 1982. It was a definite step up from the first film which was too cheesy and is why I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 359: Passengers (2016)

fd_pass_620x350_mlp_v1_lgThe finish line is so close at this point and I can see it which is super exciting as the challenge comes to a close soon. When I saw the trailer for today’s film Passengers, I thought that this film could either be a 2001: A Space Odyssey rip off or it could carve it’s own way into the annals of Sci-Fi greatness. Nevertheless, I chose to watch it for today’s film cause it features a couple of superstars in my opinion. There are always issues that are raised with the planet Earth like pollution or over population that we are always imagining if we could inhabit other worlds. That is why the Starship Avalon is on a 120 year journey through space to inhabit a new world known as Homestead II and all of it’s passengers are in a deep hibernation sleep. That is until Chris Pratt (Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2) who plays passenger Jim Preston is woken up 90 years too early. With 90 years ahead of you what are you to do, well you try to enjoy it and that is what he attempts to do with fellow awoken passenger Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) until problems with the shop become evident which could derail the journey all together. The film also stars Michael Sheen (Nocturnal Animals) as Arthur, Laurence Fishburne (Mystic River) as Gus Mancuso, and the film was directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game).

passengersSpoiler Alert: There is going to be some information leaked in this paragraph that could give away some details or all the details in the film. So either proceed with caution or do not read any further, but you were warned. You are probably why I didn’t list a lot of actors above and that is because while the film does list Andy Garcia, Julee Cerda, and some others, they are merely just cameo appearances compared to the work that Pratt, Sheen, Lawrence, and Fishburne put in. As I said above, I thought this was going to be the modern day 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it really wasn’t because it was it’s own film. If you are alone on a ship and you have 90 years to go before you land on a new planet (which you obviously won’t be alive to see), what are you going to do with the time? That is the exact question that Chris Pratt’s character is faced with and he makes a very difficult and selfish decision, but it creates one of the big turning point conflicts in the script besides the ship’s problems. The ending of the film is very cliche in how it ends which is my only complaint. It’s one of those endings that you are hoping for something different, but they give you the one you expected all along. Otherwise, the acting was great in where two actors were really able to hold your attention for the whole film which can be just as difficult as only one. Check this one in theaters now, I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade. 

Day 352: Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis (2015)

justice-league-atlantisAs you all certainly know by now, I am a huge fan of the DC Animated films because I feel they have the edge on Marvel in that department. Plus, there are only 15 days left (including today) and I’ve been wanting to see today’s film Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis because I am an Aquaman fan. Arthur Curry (Matt Lanter) has always been in search of answers to certain questions his whole life, but when his surface father is killed in a mysterious attack, it sends him into a downward spiral. After certain unrest in Atlantis, Queen Atlanna (Sirena Irwin) wants Mera (Sumalee Montano) to find her son Arthur in hopes that he can be the link between both worlds, but she is killed by her devious other son and now Arthur will have to avenge her and save both worlds from colliding. The film also stars Sean Astin (Justice League: War) as Shazam, Rosario Dawson (Death Proof) as Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion (Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox) as The Flash, Shemar Moore (The Brothers) as Cyborg, Jerry O’Connell  (Stand By Me) as Superman, Jason O’Mara (Son Of Batman) as Batman, Sam Witwer (Crank) as Orm, Harry Lennix (Man Of Steel) as Black Manta, Juliet Landau (Ed Wood) as Lois Lane, and the film was directed by Ethan Spaulding (Son Of Batman). 

justice-league-throne-of-atlantis-trailerI feel like every DC character story starts with them either being a drifter trying to figure out their place in life or an alcoholic trying to find their place in life. That was definitely the case in this film as Arthur Curry is a drunkard trying to figure out exactly who he is after the death of his father. I thought that the film was definitely a cool origin story for Aquaman that gives you some insight into who he is and what he can do. The film also introduced us to new scenarios like Wonder Woman and Superman dating which was a little different for me. One of my favorite things about the film is when he actually learns to use his powers especially the one where he summons the aquatic life like the shark that eats a certain villain in the film. The battle scene between the Justice League and the hydra/squid creatures was pretty cool and the overall battle scene at the end was good as well. Shazam is really starting to become one of my favorite characters as well because he looks like an adult, but he’s really just a kid so he acts like one in a way (his humor at least). My only criticism of the film is the little love story angles that you get, but I do understand why they did it (for subplots of course). I thought the voice acting was good and the story was well written. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 347: The Hunger Games (2012)

hungergamesposterI have never really been into films or film series that were based on teen book series like Twilight and so many more. Nonetheless, I thought that for the sake of this challenge that I would change my mind. So, I did that and for today’s film I watched The Hunger Games. In the world of Panem, there was once an uprising against the government, but when it became time for peace, an agreement was made and The Hunger Games was born. Every district has to give up one male and one woman who will compete in a game to the death that is televised. Afraid that her sister wouldn’t survive, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers herself into the competition, but she’ll have to learn to play the game if she wants to survive. The film also stars Stanley Tucci (Jury Duty) as Caesar Flickerman, Wes Bentley (American Beauty) as Seneca Crane, Elizabeth Banks (The Lego Movie) as Effie Trinket, Woody Harrelson (Rampart) as Haymitch, Josh Hutcherson (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) as Peeta, Toby Jones (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) as Claudius Templesmith, Alexander Ludwig (Lone Survivor) as Cato, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Liam Hemsworth (The Expendables 2) as Gale Hawthorne, Donald Sutherland (MASH) as President Snow, Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen, and the film was directed by Gary Ross (Big).

mv5bmtm0njq4otgynv5bml5banbnxkftztcwotu2mzq4nw-_v1_There is something to be said about these films that are taken from popular teen books because I enjoyed watching the Harry Potter films I watched and I even enjoyed this one. There catchy and when turned into films with great actors involved in it then they actually work. I liked the story of the film and I really liked the premise of it, but I did think it was a little log for my liking. The actual battle scenes are very cool, but there are points in the story that I could have done without. I do however understand that the scenes I could have done without were definitely needed for the drama aspect of the film. I thought the acting for the most part in the film was really good from everyone like Harrelson, Banks, Tucci, and Lawrence to name a few. The sets and costumes for the film were awesome and the way some of the people in the Capitol looked interesting. The film has an interesting concept of how the government controls everything from lack of food to how everyone must conform to their rules. It could kind of reflect certain societies for sure. Governments are always trying to figure out ways to control everything and this is definitely reflected in this one. I’m not completely positive if you’ll get another Hunger Games film for the challenge, but I’ll definitely check out the rest of the series. I a going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 340: Legends Of The Hidden Temple (2016)

legends-of-the-hidden-templeThe film that I chose for today I have to admit was a choice that I made because of how much I loved the game show television series Legends Of The Hidden Temple which originally aired on Nickelodeon in the early to mid-1990’s. Now some 21 years later, the series is now a film and I chose it for today. All Noah (Colin Critchley) cares about on this family vacation is to prove to them that the Legend Of The Hidden Temple is a real thing. After receiving a map from the tour guide (The TV series host Kirk Fogg), he decides to enter the temple along with his two siblings. The only problem is that they have awoken the legendary Olmec (Dee Bradley Baker) who sends them on a mission to find both sides of the amulet or they are stuck in the temple forever. The film also stars Jet Jurgensmeyer (The Little Rascals Save The Day) as Dudley, Isabela Moner (Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life) as Sadie, Michael Benyaer (Deadpool) as Human version of Olmec, Daniel Cudmore (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) as Thak, Ioan Sebastian Tirlui (The Birth Of Venus) as Zuma, Catia Ojeda (30 Rock) as Mom, David Michie (Halloween) as Dad, and the film was directed by Joe Menendez (12 Monkeys).

legendsThe film is only an hour and five minutes long which is kind of an ode to the old days of film that was like that, but it’s an enjoyable film. The film kind of reminds me of The Goonies, but with Aztec stories and adventure. I wasn’t sure how they were going to handle a film version considering that it was a game show before, but the writing department deserves some kudos because they pulled it off. The only thing is that at times they stop too much to explain every little thing, but it’s not too big of an issue. It kind of helps as far as driving the story forward. One thing that I think could have been better is this dramatic scene between Noah and his sister Sadie in the shrine of the silver monkey. It was just a little too over-dramatic for my tastes. One thing that was funny about that sequence is that everyone had a hard time putting the silver monkey together on the game show and everyone does in the film as well. A funny nod to the struggles of putting that darn thing together. If you ever watched the TV series then you know the set design was going to be off the hook which it definitely was. The costumes for the ancient warriors were great and I love the odes to the series they throw in there like the T-shirt Noah wears once he is in the temple. I also loved the fact that they had the original voice of Olmec and the host himself Kirk Fogg in the film to give it that nostalgic feeling. This is definitely one that the kids should enjoy and if you get a chance, make them familiar with the TV series as well. The film is available on Nick.com and obviously on-demand. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 332: Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952)

180da2aa534a02457cbccb7a15bfbd95This is it people, this is the countdown to the end of the year because there are only four Sundays left in total for the year and after today only 34 days left (side note: I realize that the blog is titled 365, but there is in fact 366 days this year). For today’s Sunday At The Classics film, I was in the mood for a pirate film so I chose to watch 1952’s Blackbeard, the Pirate. The always honest Robert Maynard (Tora! Tora! Tora!‘s Keith Andes) is on a mission to go undercover to capture Sir Edward Morgan (The 7TH Voyage Of Sinbad‘s Torin Thatcher) even though Morgan claims that he is reformed and no longer a pirate. So Maynard poses as a surgeon for the most infamous Pirate of them all in Edward Teach a.k.a Blackbeard (Oliver Twist‘s Robert Newton) in hopes he can prove that Morgan still dabbles in piracy. The film also stars Linda Darnell (The Mask Of Zorro) as Edwina Mansfield, William Bendix (Detective Story) as Ben Worley, Irene Ryan (The Beverly Hillbillies) as Alvina, a lady in waiting, Alan Mowbray (The King And I) as Noll, Richard Egan (The 300 Spartans) as Briggs, Skelton Knaggs (House Of Dracula) as Gilly, and the film was directed by Raoul Walsh (White Heat).

94045937As far as this film goes, its actually not too bad of a film because it’s fun to watch especially if you want to imitate pirates like we did when we were children. Blackbeard was one of the most infamous pirates and the film definitely portrays him as someone that no one should trust even his own crew. We never really find out if Maynard gets his guy because there is just so much going on in the film that you have to assume that he doesn’t. One part that made no sense to me is one minute he is being tied up and beaten with a whip and having salt thrown on the wounds to being right by Blackbeard’s side all over again. It bounced back and forth like that way too many times, but there is some cool action to keep you interested. There is a battle scene between Morgan and Blackbeard’s ships that I really enjoyed and then there are the sword fights which were cool as well. The acting of course was superb by everyone in the film as they had some real heavyweights of the time in the film. The cinematography was pretty good as I loved the shots of the ships while at sea. The film is actually available to watch on Youtube if you want to view it. I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.

Day 322: The Brothers Grimsby (2016)

the-brothers-grimsby-red-band-trailer-2I was surfing my local cable company’s on-demand service searching for a film to watch when I stumbled upon today’s film. Whether you love him or hate him, you cannot deny that Sacha Baron Cohen (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street) has been an important figure in the comedy world which is why I chose to watch his latest film The Brothers Grimsby. Nobby (Cohen) is an imbecile English soccer hooligan who lives with his girlfriend and his nine kids. He has been in search for the last 28 years for his brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) who were separated after their parents died. One day he finds out that his brother is a MI-6 agent so he goes to see him. Sebastian uncovers a sinister plot, but is falsely accused of something after running into Nobby, but he’ll realize that he needs him more than he thinks he does. The film also stars Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) as Dawn Grobham, Ilsa Fisher (Now You See Me) as Jodie Figgis, Lex Shrapnel (Captain America: The First Avenger) as Steven Marber, Rory Keenan (Reign Of Fire) as James Thurbeck, Scott Adkins (Doctor Strange) as Pavel Lukashenko, Penélope Cruz (Zoolander 2) as Rhonda George, Barkhad Abdi (Eye In The Sky) as Tabansi Nyagura, Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) as Banu The Cleaner, and the film was directed by Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk).

img4Listen I am going to tell you that you know exactly what to expect from a film that was written and stars Sacha Baron Cohen. You have to completely let go of any inhibitions and just enjoy a stupid comedy. I knew what to expect from it and I completely enjoyed the film because I wasn’t trying to see how smart it was. I mean come on now, there is a scene where Sebastian and Nobby are completely up an elephants you know what and they get boned by a whole village of elephants. So you tell me what kind of film are you expecting from that? Now that you’ve let go, the film is has some real hilarious moments in it from the opening scene of Sasha boning Rebel Wilson in a mattress store to Nobby pretending to be a spy when his brother accidentally takes heroine. Mark Strong does a terrific job balancing the fact that he is supposed to be a bad ass and deal with an imbecile like Nobby which forces him to let go. The cinematography in the film is actually very appealing and the story is actually pretty decent even though a lot of it is pretty far fetched. It’s a comedic take on the spy genre that has populated Hollywood and as I said you know what you are getting. That is why I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.

 

Day 310: Trolls (2016)

trollsposter3The choice for today was a totally conscious one because I am huge fan of Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog) and Anna Kendrick (Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates).  So, it was only natural that I would go and check out their latest film that just hit theaters in Dreamworks Trolls. At one time, the Trolls would openly sing and dance because they were so happy until a big and evil Bergen showed up. The Bergen was a depressed being that when it ate a Troll it became happy. The Bergen’s would continue to do this once a year until the Troll King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) risked his life to help the Trolls escape. After being in hiding for twenty years, his daughter Poppy (Kendrick) decides that it’s a good idea to throw a party, but they are spotted by a Bergen and most of the village is kidnapped. Now along with the curmudgeon Troll named Branch (Timberlake), they will risk it all to save the Trolls before they are eaten. The film also stars Zooey Deschanel (Eulogy) as Bridget, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) as King Gristle, Christine Baranski (Cybill) as Chef, Russell Brand (Hop) as Creek, Gwen Stefani as DJ Suki, James Corden (Begin Again) as Biggie, and the film was directed by Walt Dohrn (Shrek 2) and Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After). 

trollsThis is one of those films that if you were trippin this would be the film to see because of the content and the colors. The film is just so out there, but it’s honestly one of the funniest kids movies of the year by far. I’m sure there is someone out there that is going to say that the film is a hidden message for some sort of social inequality or a representation of war or something like it, but not me. The film is almost fairy take like in it’s nature as it talks of these creatures that eat you because they think it brings them happiness, but it really comes from inside you. Dreamworks is one of those companies that has done a fantastic job in the past with their films (e.g. Shrek, How To Train Your Dragon, Home, etc.). I have to be honest in saying that I thought the idea of the film was stupid because I doubted they could come up with a good story, but to my surprise they did. The soundtrack to this film is one of it’s strong suits because it features great original music plus some cool covers in it. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Timberlake and Kendrick’s characters meet this weird cloud (voiced by Walt Dohrn) because of the interaction they have with each other. It’s genuinely a very funny scene in the film. This was a very fun movie to watch so check it out for yourselves. I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.

Day 266: Casino Royale (2006)

hqdefaultAfter today, there are only 100 days left to the year which means I have a 100 movies left to watch (I know the blog is titled 365, but my mistake cause there’s 366). Believe it or not, there are a lot of James Bond films that I still have to see and so for today I chose to watch Casino Royale which is the first Daniel Craig (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) film in the series. James has just gotten his 00 status and he gets sent into the field for the first time. His immediate result is not a desirable one, but he looks to make it up with a poker game. You see James follows a weapons dealer named La Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) to a poker game in Luxembourg where James will have to outsmart him to stop him. The film also stars Eva Green (300: Rise Of An Empire) as Vesper Lynd, Judi Dench (Skyfall) as M, Jeffrey Wright (Boardwalk Empire) as Felix Leiter, Giancarlo Giannini (Man On Fire) as Mathis, Caterina Murino (The Story Of My Life) as Solange, Simon Abkarian (Zero Dark Thirty) as Alex Dimitrios, Isaach De Bankolé (The Skeleton Key) as Steven Obanno, Jesper Christensen (Spectre) as Mr. White, Ivana Milicevic (Banshee) as Valenka, and the film was directed by Martin Campbell (Goldeneye). 

casino-royale-letterboxOn the scale of all of the Bond films that I have seen, I actually enjoyed watching this one because it was fun to watch. The series took a dark turn with Skyfall and it continued through Spectre (I still have Quantum Of Solace to watch). This was as fun of a movie to watch as Goldeneye was and it was one heck of an improvement from it’s predecessor Die Another Day. This is definitely a side of James Bond that we had never seen because it was a young version of him who is adjusting to being in the field. We figure out through this film why he has a hard time keeping the ladies (he has no problem getting them). I really liked Mads Mikkelsen as a bond villain, but he’s certainly not my favorite. He’s everything a Bond villain would be and I love his choice of torture (I don’t really love it, it’s just extremely painful to watch). I am in love with Eva Green so I think it’s safe to say that I loved her as a Bond girl. She was the perfect counterpart to James Bond as she matched wits with him on plenty of occasions. The great thing about these films besides the action and special effects is the locations that they travel to. They filmed in the Bahamas, Italy, Czech Republic, and England. Do yourself a favor and give Casino Royale a shot because the film showcases why I love Daniel Craig as James Bond and why I wouldn’t be upset if he returned to the role once again. I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade only because Skyfall and Goldeneye are better than this one.