In 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).
There 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.
One of the most controversial filmmakers in Hollywood has always been Oliver Stone who has tackled topics like the assassination of John Kennedy (JFK), 911 (World Trade Center), and insider trading (Wall Street) to name a few. Now he returns with a new film about one of the most controversial figures today in the film Snowden. Snowden tells the tale of former CIA and NSA operative Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a man who exposed the United States Government for spying on it’s own people without warrants as he distributed the proof to the press. The film follows Snowden from how he got his start in the intelligence field to the struggles he dealt with when he got too deep into what was happening. The film also stars Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars) as Lindsey Mills, Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) as Glenn Greenwald, Melissa Leo (Red State) as Laura Poitras, Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man) as Corbin O’Brian, Robert Firth (Guardians Of The Galaxy) as Dr. Stillwell, Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins) as Ewen MacAskill, Timothy Olyphant (Rock Star) as CIA Agent Geneva, Scott Eastwood (Fury) as Trevor James, Keith Lakeith (Straight Outta Compton) as Patrick Haynes, Ben Chaplin (Thin Red Line) as Robert Tibbo, Bhasker Patel (Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom) as Marwan Al-Kirmani, and Nicolas Cage (Drive Angry) as Hank Forrester.
I have to be honest in saying that I wasn’t really aware of what it was that Edward Snowden was being accused of, but what ever it was he was being called either a traitor or hero. The one thing that I can say about him after watching this film is that he should be considered a hero. The United States government shouldn’t be allowed to pry in your life unless they have a warrant. According to the film, they were bypassing all of it by claiming that there were secret warrants so that they wouldn’t tip off the “Threats”. Now as far as the films is concerned I thought the film was alright in my opinion. It just runs a little too slow for my liking at times and there is a lot of computer jargon that the average person will not understand in it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a terrific job in the film as Edward Snowden and he even changes his voice to sound more like him. Shailene Woodley actually does a great job too and she even shows off some of her assets in the film which was a change for her. She does a great job being the perfect balance between the nerdiness and what is real in life. Now the beginning of the film claims that this is a dramatization so how much of it is true, I am not completely sure. I am actually interested to see what is fact and/or fiction. There are some thrills and suspense in the film as you wonder if he’s going to get caught, but we all know how the story ends. The film even features a cameo from the real Edward Snowden so look for that if you choose to see this. I am going to give the film an A- and I am doing this because I thought it was a good film (which is the same as alright), but I am just not into the computer jargon.
Besides films that are based on Football, the other kinds of sports films that I have always loved are boxing movies like the Rocky franchise, Raging Bull, and so many more. That is why for today’s film, I chose to cover the 2007 film Resurrecting The Champ which stars Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight) and Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Slevin). All Erik Kernan Jr. (Hartnett) has ever wanted to be is a great reporter like his father. The only problem for him is that everything seems to be going in the opposite direction in his life as he’s a beat reporter and his marriage is falling apart. After his editor (Alan Alda) turns down an opportunity, he meets a homeless man that everyone calls Champ. The man claims to be boxing legend Bob Satterfield even though people claim he’s dead. So, he does a piece on the champ that gives him critical acclaim and backlash. The film also stars Kathryn Morris (Cold Case) as Joyce Kernan, Rachel Nichols (Star Trek) as Polly, Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) as Andrea Flak, Kristen Shaw (The Last Castle) as Perlmutter, Nick Sandow (Orange Is The New Black) as Marciano, David Paymer (Quiz Show) as Whitley, Dakota Goyo (Thor) as Teddy Kernan, and the film was directed by Rod Lurie (The Contender).
Spoiler Alert: There are going to be details about the movie that could spoil things for you so proceed with caution or do no read any further. I didn’t realize when I chose to watch the film on TV that it was based on a true story. There was such a boxer named Bob Satterfield, but the real name of the homeless man known as champ changed in this film and he also didn’t die (I don’t think anyways, read this article). The film was very interesting to watch because Josh Hartnett’s character really believes that he’s getting his shot, but in reality is about to be made to look like a fool. The moral of the story for future journalists is to do your research before you release an article because retractions can be the death of your career like a boxer with a glass chin. The film contained an awesome performance from Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett’s is right up there with his. Dramas are very dependent on having plenty of dramatic moments within them and this film had plenty of moments that they focused on. It went back and forth with Josh Hartnett whether it was dealing with failing marriage, having his sons approval, and the drama with the newspaper. It’s a very different kind of boxing movie than what we are used to because it’s more of a human piece than a piece about the sport. I enjoyed watching the film and that is why I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.
For today’s film, I wanted to pay tribute to Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog) who recently passed away by checking out one of his films that I hadn’t seen yet. Of course that film that I chose for today is Star Trek Into Darkness. In this latest edition, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) finds himself without a ship and a crew due to a mission gone wrong. One day when Kirk and his Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) are being briefed about a recent attack, they too are attacked by a strange man who possess uncanny powers and strength. Kirk is then sent on a mission to recover the one man wrecking crew named Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) before he destroys the whole entire world as we know it. The film also stars Karl Urban (Dredd) as Bones, Simon Pegg (Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation) as Scotty, John Cho (Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) as Sulu, Anton Yelchin as Chekov, Zoë Saldana (Guardians Of The Galaxy) as Uhura, Peter Weller (RoboCop) as Marcus, Alice Eve (She’s Out Of My League) as Carol, Deep Roy (Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) as Keenser, Noel Clarke (Adulthood) as Thomas Harewood, and the film was directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).
I honestly do not believe that there is anything J.J. Abrams touches that isn’t awesome. The first Star Trek film was amazing, Episode VII of Stars Wars was great, and this was an excellent sequel. This one starts off with a bang and it never lets up for two hours and that is what I loved about it. The film is essentially a prequel of what’s to come for all the films that were already made and most especially Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. I thought Benedict Cumberbatch did an amazing job as the superhuman Khan, but I have to admit that I do have to watch the Star Trek films because I haven’t seen most of them. I need to at least see the Ricardo Montalban version to do my compare and contrast of the two. Anyways, One of my favorite things about these films is the CGI because we can do unbelievable things and create worlds tat would have been time consuming so long ago and sometimes impossible. The action sequences are amazing as well and there is plenty of it. One thing I have to say about J.J. Abrams is that he has made Star Trek likable in a sense that anyone will go see those films now whereas before it was Star Wars vs Star Trek. This film actually has me excited to see the next one, but it will be sad t know that it’s Anton’s last ride as the beloved Chekov. I am going to give this film an A- for a final grade.
For today’s film, I chose one that for some strange reason I had only seen bits and pieces of it because something always pulled me away from it. The film that I chose for today is called Brothers and it stars Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) as brothers Sam and Tommy. They are two brothers who took distinctly different paths in life with Sam (Maguire) being a marine and Tommy (Gyllenhaal) always being someone in trouble. While in Afghanistan, Sam and another Marine (Patrick John Flueger) are captured by the Taliban. The two are presumed dead and to comfort his family, Tommy will step in to take care of Sam’s family. While Sam’s wife Grace (Natalie Portman) is hesitant at first, she allows Tommy to spend time with the girls and to fix things around the house. That is until, she finds out that Sam was saved and is still alive, but Sam has a lot of demons inside that he is battling and things become unnerving at home. The film also stars Sam Shepard (Swordfish) as Hank Cahill, Mare Winningham (Turner & Hooch) as Elsie Cahill, Bailee Madison (Just Go With It) as Isabelle, Taylor Geare (Dream House) as Maggie, Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek) as Major Cavazos, Carey Mulligan (Drive) as Cassie Willis, and the film was directed by Jim Sheridan (In The Name Of The Father).
I have to be honest in saying that I used to try and avoid watching Tobey Maguire films only because I wasn’t a huge fan of the last two Spider-Man films he was in. So, I have to admit to everyone right now that this was definitely one of his best performances. There is so much passion in the role and there is one scene that he makes me a believer that he is a soldier fighting inner demons. In my opinion, it was just so convincing that I felt bad for him even though I know it’s just a movie. Jake Gyllenhaal I recently started becoming a huge fan of his and he doesn’t disappoint me in this film and Natalie Portman does a terrific job as well. The film really reminds you that if you’ve never been in the military and been to war then you will never know what these guys have been through. You are always just on the outside looking in and you feel as helpless as Sam’s family in this film. The scenes in Afghanistan aren’t as bad as they could’ve made it out to be, but there are some scenes that may be hard to handle. It’s hard to pick an MVP in this film because not only did Gyllenhaal, Maguire, and Portman do well, but there kids in the movie did an amazing job being kids that are having a hard time adjusting to this different version of their dad. While it may not be the greatest movie ever made, I really enjoyed watching this film. That is why I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.
I never got the chance back in the day to check out the film Smokin’ Aces which looked like a bad ass movie. That is until today and that is why I am presenting it to you guys as today’s challenge film. Buddy Israel (Jeremy Piven) was a wannabe gangster Las Vegas performer who decides to turn snitch for the FBI against a rival crime family. Now he needs protection because a hit has been put on his life to make sure that he never gets the chance to snitch. The hitmen are coming from everywhere and anywhere to try and collect on it, but the FBI has to get to him to get him out before the hitmen come. The film also stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) as Richard Messner, Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) as Donald Carruthers, Joseph Ruskin (The Scorpion King) as Primo Sparazza, Ben Affleck (Dogma) as Jack Dupree, Peter Berg (Collateral) as “Pistol” Pete Deeks, Martin Henderson (The Ring) as Hollis, Common (Run All Night) as Sir Ivy, Andy Garcia (The Godfather Part III) as Stanley Locke, Alicia Keys as Georgia, Taraji P. Henson (Date Night) as Sharice, Chris Pine (Star Trek) as Darwin Tremor, Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as Jeeves Tremor, Tommy Flanagan (Sons Of Anarchy) as Lazlo, Joel Edgerton (The Gift) as Hugo, and so many more.
This movie has a wild and crazy collection of a cast that includes a mix of 80’s, 90’s, and the stars of today all rolled into one awesome cast. Matthew Fox plays the head of security of the casino/hotel, Jason Bateman plays a weird lawyer, Curtis Armstrong who played Booger in Revenge Of The Nerds is in this movie as well. Chris Pine plays an insane character who belongs in a Mad Max movie which shows you how over the top insane and awesome this film was. One thing is for certain, you never have to question Jeremy Piven and his performance because he is a top notch actor that delivers. Ryan Reynolds doesn’t really open up in the film until the last half of the film, but when he does he also delivers. He certainly does in this film as a drugged out paranoid wannabe mob boss. The action in the film at one point becomes non stop as double crosses and hots just keep coming. I will say one thing if you have never seen the movie you may think it’s over at one point, but the ending of the film may shock you. There is a lot that is revealed and of course I will not spoil it for any of you. I really liked this movie and I have to be honest and say that I went into it with no expectations and it paid off. It was tough to decide a grade for this film because it lies on the B+/A- border and that’s how I’ll keep it.
For 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.
First 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.