Posts filed under Movie Reviews

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom REVIEW

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The sixteen year friendship of Reservoir Geeks' founders, Chris and Andy, is due in large part to their similar tastes in all things, including movies. They love the same bad movies, most Gerard Butler action films, Wes Anderson (obviously) and above all else, Jurassic Park. Lines from Jurassic Park are often sprinkled though-out their conversations and was the basis for their first episode of Prequel. Sequel. Reboot. Remake., that was until they left last night's screening of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. A movie that has been likened in reaction to that of The Last Jedi. Fans either love it or they don't and for Chris and Andy, that rang true. So, unlike other reviews we've done on this site, this Jurassic World will have two opposing reactions. 

CHRIS' REVIEW

I think I've calmed down a little bit from last night. I was pretty heated when I walked out of the theater. I won't say I hated the movie, and I won't say that it was a bad movie. It was just.....

I really don't know what it was. 

  I made a meme for how I feel about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I made a meme for how I feel about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

It's as though the writers and director just stuck a bunch of cool scenes on post-it notes on a wall and threw replica raptor claws at it and found a way to string together all the scenes that stuck. Don't get me wrong, the dinosaurs were awesome! I just had a problem with everything else in the movie. It just so damn...wacky. That's the best way I can describe it. And, that's not to say I have a problem with over the top action movies. Fallen Kingdom just gets so close to that line that you wouldn't be insane to expect Chris Pratt to ride off into the sunset on Blue's back. And, you know what, I would have loved that. I could have forgiven the rest of the movie's ridiculousness. The previous films have had their share of silly moments (karate gymnastics, anyone) but it felt like I was constantly throwing my hands in the air in disbelief at either the crazy world these characters are living in, their actions, or the characters themselves.

The tagline for the movie is "The park is gone". Yeah, it is, in the last 5 minutes! The Lost World gave us more dinosaurs in the big city! I was really wanting to see a Jurassic World and instead I got Jurassic Mansion. I think the most irritating part is that if they were so into re-hashing the plot from the Lost World they could have at least followed a similar timeline and given us some more dinosaurs running rampant in the streets. Some compys eating food out of a dumpster behind a Wing Stop would have been funny. **OR** Jurassic World could have trimmed a little fat, added a few small plot threads and added the tail end of Fallen Kingdom and we'd be in the same place. As everyone is escaping the island in Jurassic Kingdom we see helicopters swooping in to remove the animals from the park with Ted Levine in the lead. Jump forward a few weeks with Pratt and Howard having tracked down the animals and now on a rescue mission. BOOM. Animals are loose on the mainland. Sure, Fallen Kingdom sets up a sequel (and that sequel sounds badass) but it really does nothing other than that.

You can hear all of my complaints in our audio review. I don't want to repeat the same things over and over again -- I'm not Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I'm sorry. I don't mean to be so cynical. Maybe I've just been watching way too much "Cinema Sins". I truly loved any stretch of film that had something scaly in it (luckily that was most of the movie) but I really could have gone without pretty much everything else. I'm sure I'll warm up to this movie like I did to Lost World (I really did not like that one after I saw it). I think I just need to watch it again with a fresh pair of eyes and maybe something more to drink. Bartender, do you have anything that suspends disbelief?

For now here's verdict.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Come for the dinosaurs, but leave your brains at the King Kong-sized gate.

ANDY'S REVIEW

I'm not going to lie and say this was my absolute favorite Jurassic Movie but in the entire series, it's neck and neck with Jurassic World for me. Now I apologetically love all the movies (even JP3) and that is thanks mostly to the fact that they are dinosaur movies where there are fluid moving thunder lizards sharing the screen with humans. It's equation that you cannot go wrong with. One of my favorite parts in the entire series is the final act of The Lost World when the T-Rex is running wound San Diego just tearing stuff up and interacting with the modern world. If that is what you are expecting for Fallen Kingdom, don't get your hopes up though. Much like with all trailers, they are deceiving and the mosasaurus/surfer scene is about as close to San Diego as you get. 

The story is now better or worse than any other in the series, except for the original where the story is stellar. If anything the first act is very similar to that of Lost World except instead of grabbing the dinos for a new park, they are supposed to be going to save them for the island itself. There are a few new characters but most serve the same purpose as one who came before; Ted Levine is a hybrid of Roland from LW and Vincent D'Onofrio from JW, James Cromwell is the new John Hammond and the little girl is the kid in danger from any of the other four movies. Seriously, there's always kids and they are always in danger but that's okay because it's all part of the equation of JP awesomeness. 

My only real criticism is that the movie didn't need and we didn't need ANOTHER hybrid dinosaur. It was a statement on consumerism constant need for more in the last movie but this time it came off more as a crutch. The part of the Indoraptor could have just as easily been filled with the return of the Dilophosaurus or even the Allosaurus that the movie was almost obsessed with or maybe even just another Raptor. I don't know, it just seemed like unnecessary rehashing from JW. Beyond that, it was a fun exciting movie that I would definitely recommend to any JP fan and one that I plan on seeing at least a few more times before the summer ends. 

JURASSIC STANDING

ANDY
1. JURASSIC PARK
2. LOST WORLD
3a. JURASSIC WORLD
3b. FALLEN KINGDOM
4. JURASSIC PARK 3

CHRIS
1. JURASSIC PARK
2. LOST WORLD
3. JURASSIC WORLD
4a. JURASSIC PARK 3
4b. FALLEN KINGDOM


Immediately after getting out of Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom Chris and Andy dashed out to the parking lot (Andy on a cloud and Chris underneath it)  to record their thoughts before even sharing them with each other. This is that recording. 

*WARNING: SPOILERS*

  CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE PARKING LOT REVIEW!

CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE PARKING LOT REVIEW!

Posted on June 23, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Action Point REVIEW

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If you love Jackass, as I do, surely you were excited when you heard about Action Point. Mixing Jackass styled stunts with a narrative was something experimented with in 2013's Bad Grandpa and, for me at least, it worked. It was the perfect marriage of Borat and Jackass. The story was alright but the catching people off guard with violent stunts was the magic that picked up where the story let down. 

Action Point is like if someone decided to pull all the great stuff from Bad Grandpa and toss it aside. The story is such an underhand toss, I wouldn't be surprised if it was the example you would find in a Screenwriting for Dummies book but with a theme park added in. So with that you would hope the outrageous stunts would do some of the heavy lifting, but it does not. They come about so blatantly that you long for the days where you would hear, "I'm Johnny Knoxville and this is the Firehose Water Slide"... Holy crap... I'm not kidding at all when I saw that the way to fix this movie just popped into my head as I'm writing this. JACKASS ACTION PARK!

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The idea came about after Knoxville saw The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever and wanted to make a movie about the place. Instead of following the story as it actually happened we get stuck with a movie about a father and teenage daughter but it's not a good one. This movie felt like a high school friend's attempt at making his own version of Adventureland. I would have loved to see them rebuild Action Park, but crappy, (which they did for this movie) and have the Jackass crew do a movie in the park. It would have been easy, fun and far more successful than what is Action Point. 

There isn't a whole lot to say about the movie other than that. The directing was okay... Acting was good and it's always nice to see Chris Pontius around. Brigette Lundy-Paine was a pleasant surprise to see, as I am a fan of the Netflix series Atypical. Knoxville did a fine job but it appeared that he was injured early on in filming because he moved like a mannequin riding a skateboard down a cobblestone street. I wish I could have loved Action Point but I didn't. It kept getting so close to getting good and then would shift gears to crap again. I wouldn't recommend seeing it in the theater or renting it but if you see it streaming somewhere, throw it on while you're doing something else.  

Posted on June 3, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Solo: A Star Wars Story REVIEW

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Han Solo brought cool to the sci-fi genre with his aloof attitude, lack of hesitation to shoot first, and style. It's a character unlike any other before him and led to countless copycats up to Marvel's Star Lord. Through the original Star Wars trilogy we watch as Solo develops from a selfish smuggler out to make a few bucks to becoming a team player who makes sacrifices to help his friends and family until his death at the end of his own son in Force Awakens. Oh crap! Spoilers for Force Awakens...  But what was the space rebel without a cause like before the fate of the Galaxy was thrust upon his shoulders? 

Solo: A Star Wars Story is what Phantom Menace should have been. A prequel that skips the needless childhood years and jumps right into the formative young adulthood age. Showing a young Solo as the scheming outlaw we already know him as but without all the rough edges fully roughed up yet. Unlike the current offerings in this Disney Star Wars universe, it seems that the writers dipped into the Lucas well of cannon backstory a bit. That is the film is penned by none other than Empire and Jedi writer Lawrence Kasdan and son Johnathan a duo who are both parts responsible for the characters we know and grew up knowing them. Solo feels the most tied to the original Star Wars trilogy in both characters and world. Gone are the annoying jokey-jokes of Last Jedi and back is the familiar world we all fell in love with. 
A criticism I have of this film and Rogue One is that the droid technology seems to be more advanced in these films than in Episode IV-VI. I know it's nitpicky but Lando's droid, L3, has the operating system of a sassy woman while 10 years later 3PO is all persnickety and adheres to all requests made of him. Perhaps we simply did not see an independent thinking droid before K2SO and L3 because 3PO simply was not programmed that way but where were all the other droids like K2SO in the original trilogy?!?!?! Okay, sorry. That went on too long.
Beyond that I really enjoyed Solo quite a bit and am excited knowing that Alden Ehrenreich has signed on for two more movies. Now will those be three more Han-centric films or will the films deal with stories set in motion in this film, is yet to be discovered. Whatever the case; if the other two films are on par with this one then it is a trilogy that will be ranked high in the list of Star Wars trilogies. 

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I'm not going to be delusional and swear up and down that you will love Solo because that might not be true. This will absolutely be a movie that some people will love while others hate, a trend that seems to be following these Disney Star Wars movies. Since Force Awakens, I've been on both sides of it. I really loved Force Awakens but hated Last Jedi while others felt the complete opposite about both. I do believe that a huge complaint will come from the camp of people that cannot get over the fact that Alden Ehrenreich is not Harrison Ford and I understand it but that is not a reason to count the film out as a whole.
Back in 2009 many people praised Chris Pine for having his own take on Capt. Kirk while at the same time also loving what Karl Urban did with his spot on Bones. Ehrenreich manages to do both with his portrayal of Han Solo dancing perfectly on the line of imitation and originality. While he embodies the character he somehow manages to make it his own and if you allow yourself to relax enough and accept this new reality, it is not distracting at all. On the flip side Donald Glover's Lando is spot on, perfect on every level, and steals the scene every time he is on screen with the same charisma and charm that Billy Dee Williams breathed into the character. Obviously Chewbacca is amazing with Joonas Sutamo now taking over the role from the great Peter Meyhew. Chewy and Han's budding friendship is given full respect and is far better than the originally conceived Episode III idea wherein Han was raised by Chewbaca (and idea that thankfully was never fully realized). Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Jon Favreau round out the supporting cast of heroes and Paul Bettany plays that part of the villainous Dryden Vos so well you want him to have his own prequel just so we can know what's up with his face.

I refuse to spoil anything in these reviews so I can't dive as deeply as I would like into very specific scenes I love but there is plenty to enjoy, if you allow it. The movie is good, if you let it be. If you can let go of what you don't like about it before you see it, you will enjoy it much more. It's not the best Star Wars movie but it is the best we've had since Force Awakens, if not more so simply for the fact that is hearkens back to the tone and feel of the originals. It's all the best of Lucas's Star Wars with the good parts of Disney's Star Wars.
Let yourself enjoy Solo. You'll be happy you did.

Posted on May 25, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Avengers: Infinity War REVIEW

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Sorry James Cameron, comic book movies are here to stay. For a while at least. 
Avengers: Infinity War hits the ground running and pulls no punches. I will go as far as to say that this is the greatest ensemble comic book movie to date. At a run time of a little over two and a half hours, the movie never stagnates and uses every second to the fullest. Contrary to the second two LOTR films in the trilogy, Infinity War never feels like multiple separate movies going on at the same time. All the individual stories serve the larger story and introduction between worlds are fluid and cohesive. 

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In a movie with such an enormous cast I was concerned that maybe some characters would be only on screen for a moment and I was mostly wrong. In a trend that seems to be recurring with the MCU a couple of folks were MIA (one which was expected) but someone from the past shows up and filled me with much joy and excitement... but that's all I'll say about that.
As I stated before, Infinity War is packed beginning to end with content and every character is given their time on screen. Each character serves a purpose and no one ever feels like they are there just because it's expected. Every moment these heroes have spent on screen in this movie and before was building toward the finale of this movie.

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The story was so well executed that if you told me that this was this first film written and they worked their way backwards with each film, I'd believe it. There is not one scene that could be removed in this Rube Goldberg machine of a movie that is the end result of perfect cinematic universe building. A fitting crescendo to a nerdy symphony ten years in the making! 
I wouldn't only recommend you see Avengers: Infinity War, I would recommend you see it twice or even thrice. It is that enjoyable. 


Below is the link to the SPOILER riddled Parking Lot Review I did with fellow Reservoir Geek, Doug Bashore immediately after seeing Avengers: Infinity War. If you've seen the movie or don't mind spoilers, enjoy!

 
 
 
Posted on April 28, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Super Troopers 2 REVIEW

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The problem with comedy sequels is far too often the second movie relies on material from the first movie too heavily. Take The Hangover 2 for instance; it is improbable that the exact same group of people would have the exact same experience twice but in different locations. The third movie was a departure from formula and was far superior to the second. Then you have a Bill and Ted situation wherein the second movie is vastly different from the first and it fails at the box office. An example of a well executed comedy sequel is 22 Jump Street; a sequel that is so aware of itself, it has many funnier moments than the first but makes the first necessary in order to enjoy the second.
Super Troopers 2 pulls off a bit of all three but never to the point in repeating itself to where it comes off as annoying or a waste of time and never dependent on the success of the first film. The story is another investigation into drugs (fitting as they are law enforcement) but this time set in Canada making it a fish out of water scenario. No character is underutilized and even the throwbacks to the first film feel natural and fluid to the story. 

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Something that makes this sequel special is that the entire core cast, outside of the Broken Lizard crew, returned. Brian Cox is used well throughout and is let loose with his comedic talent, a side we don't always get to see from the often serious actor. Even in the first Super Troopers he never went as far into the deep end of the comedy pool as he does here. Marisa Coughlan returns for a couple of short scenes as Ursula from the first movie showing that her relationship with Foster is still in full swing. As to not spoil anything I will keep my lips closed for any further mentions of cameos. 
Super Troopers 2 is not only a good sequel but a good movie. It's sequel status is improved more over by the fact that the second doesn't necessitate the first. Sure there are a few jokes and references but never to the point of the "most annoying noise in the world" from Dumb and Dumber. It's a fun time and a very enjoyable comedy. 
You won't be disappointed that you saw it. Maybe even make it a double-feature with the first. I don't care. What am I your dad?

To hear what we thought about Super Troopers 2 right after we saw it, click the picture below to listen to our SPOILERY episode of Parking Lot Review!

 
 
Posted on April 21, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Isle of Dogs REVIEW

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It’s no secret that I’m a Wes Anderson fangirl. If there’s a Wes Anderson-esque post or meme on social media, friends tag me. There’s a Wes Anderson Week on Instagram every year and I play along with images of symmetry, family, nostalgia, and overhead shots (do yourself a favor and start following #wesandersonstyle). I once dressed a vintage portrait to look like Royal Tenenbaum for a party room with those Reservoir Geek guys (you heard of them?). What can I say? The man’s got a style I can’t help but admire.
Despite my love for Mr. Anderson’s work and all the inspiration it affords me, I have to confess that I went to see Isle of Dogs with great trepidation. Why? To be honest, Anderson’s last two films, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom, weren’t my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still great… they just aren’t my favorite. But they aren’t my least favorite, either. That would be Fantastic Mr. Fox. Hence my sense of trepidation.
Anderson’s previous undertaking of an animal stop-motion film was charming and stylistic, but it was derivative and it just didn’t click with me. I was worried Isle of Dogs would be the same, albeit with an original story this time around. From what I’d read online as the film was being made, I wondered if Anderson could successfully navigate such a cultural departure, not to mention focusing on an entirely different species, from his usual work. I am so happy to report that my fears were unfounded because, doggone it, I absolutely loved Isle of Dogs.

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From the opening credits until the final seconds, I was enchanted, both by the quietly humorous, though at times dark, story and the stunning cinematography. Written by Wes Anderson with two of his previous cohorts, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, along with newcomer Kunichi Nomura, Isle of Dogs tells the story of flu-ridden canines in a not-too-distant-future Japan who are exiled by the government to Trash Island. A young boy, Atari (aka The Little Pilot), risks his life flying to the island to rescue his beloved guard dog Spots; after crashing on the island, he encounters a ragtag gang of alpha dogs who agree (one of them, grudgingly) to help reunite The Little Pilot and Spots. And the hero’s journey archetype commences. But who exactly is the hero? I won’t spoil it for you.
The stop-motion in Isle of Dogs was effortlessly detailed and really quite amazing. It had no ambition to be cutting edge and lifelike, nor was it distractingly opposite and clunky. In between moments of wondering how many hours of production it took to meticulously shift and film every tiny movement, a cloud of cotton batting comically sufficed as the dirt kicked up in a (sometimes gruesome) dog pack scuffle. It didn’t take itself too seriously and it was perfect. My favorite stylistic touch in Isle of Dogs was the incorporation of Japanese 2D animation. Any scene visualized through a screen, be it television, radar, or messaging screen, was rendered in beautifully flat and stylistically opposite 2D animation. It was a wonderful juxtaposition that Anderson wouldn’t have been able to pull off in a live-action film and I loved it.

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Of course, there are plenty of signature Wes Anderson traits sprinkled throughout the film if that’s what you’re looking for: symmetry unleashed from the get-go; clever color schemes (the colors of Japan were bold and intense, while the colors of Trash Island were muted and dusty); an eclectic soundtrack featuring works by Alexandre Desplat, songs from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Drunken Angels, and jangly psychedelic folk rock vibes from The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band; and an ensemble cast of now-beloved Wes Anderson regulars: Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton, to name a few. Anderson newcomer Bryan Cranston was great as the gruff Chief, as was Koyu Rankin as the kind-hearted and determined Atari.
I went to see the movie with a group of friends and, afterwards, we all chatted about which dog was our favorite (mine were Oracle and Duke - he just likes to gossip) and which parts made us cry (because you’re gonna cry). Isle of Dogs is about unlikely friendships, despotic governments (you can decide how much you want to read into the politics), vulnerability, and perseverance. Most importantly, it will also make you want to go home and give your best dog buddy a scratch and if it doesn’t, you have no feelings. Or you just don’t like dogs and that’s okay, too...  I guess. While it didn’t quite knock out my first place Wes Anderson film (The Royal Tenenbaums, always and forever), Isle of Dogs made a quick leap to the top of the list. Two enthusiastic paws up.

 
Posted on April 7, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Sorry, Not Sorry Cinema: DEEP RISING

Because I love starting recurring columns, that never recur: here's a new one! Welcome to "Sorry, Not Sorry" where we'll discuss the horrible things we love....with no apologies.

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1998's Deep Rising isn't a great movie. It's not a bad movie. It's a meh movie. BUT for some reason I have to re-watch it: Every. Time. I. Find. It. Streaming. 

I can't tell you why, but like the people that made this movie, I'll try.

Upon each subsequent viewing I find more and more wrong with it, but alas, here we are. I just watched Deep Rising again this afternoon. I was scrolling through HBOGo just minding my own business, I see Deep Rising and I'm like "oh, that's cool, I'll add that to my watchlist" annnnnnnnnnnnd I'm watching it again.

It's kind of a monster movie. It's kind of an action movie. It's trying really hard to be a comedy. It does all of these things to varying degrees. 

The story goes like this:

There's this big cruise ship sailing about in a storm filled to the brim with rich people. There's this hot lady-thief there to empty the ship's safe. She gets caught and locked in the pantry. There are strange groans and growls coming from the sea. Suddenly something goes wrong...

A few miles away we find our rugged hero getaway-boat-captain shuttling his tiny boat's crew towards an unknown destination with a group of mercenaries on board. They run across the cruise ship after their boat is damaged and head aboard looking for a way to repair their ship. Something's not right. The vessel is deserted save for a few survivors. As they search for clues they find themselves being picked off one by one by something...blah, blah, blah.

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You get the gist. There's some crazy monster from the deep lurking about and this ragtag group of criminals and crew must find a way off the boat. The monster is...interesting. It's like a giant squid...thing. It'd be scarier if the digital effects didn't look like some PS2-era video game cutscene. The movie could have been soooooo much better if they had put that CGI budget towards some practical effects. This movie came out four years after Jurassic Park so there's really no excuse. Somehow that low-res look, however laughable, adds to the charm. There aren't really any tense moments, but there are spaces for them. They're trying. So hard. For instance, there a scene when one of the thief-ship's crew is trying to repair the damage (the massive 4x6 foot hole) in the side of their ship and is attacked/eaten. She's welding an angled piece of the hull to...nothing. She's literally just running the welder/blowtorch over the surface of the metal all while water (up to her waist) sloshes over her work surface. She hears that aforementioned groan from the ocean and we know her time has come, but all I can think about is how in the hell did she intend to fix that gaping hole! Maybe it was some kind of new fangled metal that you could just heat up and stretch to mend like Billy Mays' Mighty Putty. This isn't the only instance of "tension" during metalwork. At almost the same time our captain, now aboard the cruise ship, is heating up a pipe and banging on it, somehow crafting a part to repair his ship's engine. He's actually banging the roundness out of the pipe. Not quite sure what that's supposed to fix, but while he works the monster strategically picks off another couple of mercenaries. Somehow, I'm still invested.

The dialog might be the best part. What better example could I offer than the THREE times "___________, my ass" is used in the span of 90 seconds. "You know what badass sea-people would say to each other? 'My ass' after they hear something ridiculous." Later on, during some of that tense welding, we get this hilarious exchange: 

Hero Captain: What you got there?

Comedic Relief Mechanic: Peanut...

Hero Captain: Peanut?

Comedic Relief Mechanic: Peanut.

Hero Captain: Okay, peanut...

Comedic Relief Mechanic: [drops his peanut in the water] Shit!

Some gut-busting stuff, I know. For some strange reason though...I laugh, or maybe that's too generous...let's say a smile creeps across my face, but a genuine smile nevertheless. There's a certain lameness to every line delivered in Deep Rising, but it's the confidence with which they are delivered that earns that smile. Deep Rising is one hour and forty five minutes of Dad-jokes.

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The cast and crew of Deep Rising is a veritable smorgasbord of "hey, it's that guy!" guys. Stephen Sommers is behind both the camera and word processor on this one pulling double duty as writer and director. You might not know his name, but Sommers scored a pretty big hit the following year with The Mummy. He's still active in Hollywood having most recently directed Odd Thomas which I rather enjoyed. Treat Williams stars as our wisecracking hero captain. No one can deliver Dad-jokes like a guy that looks like a friend of your Dad's. I mean this sincerely: Treat is a reel treat (I think that was a Dad-joke). Famke Janssen stars as hot lady-thief and love interest to Treat Williams. Oh, did I not mention that they manage to shoehorn a romance into this sea monster madness? Yeah, love blooms on a corpse-filled boat. Director Stephen Sommers must have taken a shine to comic relief mechanic Kevin J. O'Connor because O'Connor makes an appearance in several other Sommers joints throughout the years. This love affair may have actually been sparked years before when O'Connor (and Famke Janssen) played a role in Sommers' Lord of Illusions. The cast is rounded out with Anthony Heald (Silence of the Lambs), Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Cliff Curtis (Sunshine).

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Deep Rising closes with *spoilers* our two lovebirds escaping to a "deserted" island in the middle of the ocean only to be greeted with the rustling of trees in the distance as something huge makes its way across the island. Deep Rising was so sure of itself that it went ahead and filmed a ready-for-sequel ending. It's that self confidence that makes me love Deep Rising. I feel like I was onto something with the Dad-joke reference. Deep Rising is the "Dad" of movies: it's not funny, it's not sexy, it's not exciting, but dammit, you love it anyway.

  We give Deep Rising 5 digested fingers out of five!!!

We give Deep Rising 5 digested fingers out of five!!!

Deep Rising is available for streaming on HBOGo.

Posted on April 6, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Ready Player One REVIEW

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The much anticipated, Ready Player One, came out this week. Being a huge fan of the novel by the same name, I had to see it. It did not disappoint….much.

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Don’t get me wrong, the movie is great. It is a visual masterpiece of 80’s nostalgia that will drop your jaw. However, it is wildly different than the book. Don’t let that keep you away though. Ernest Cline, the author of the book, was also one of the writers of the screenplay. This was made with his full support.

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Steven Spielberg was tasked with directing this film and he knocked it out of the park. Strangely enough, his works are heavily featured throughout the novel, but almost completely stripped away from the movie. I can only guess the reasoning is licensing issues or he didn’t want a movie that sounded like he was patting himself on the back the whole time.

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Ready Player One is set in the year 2045 if a future wrought with poverty and apathy. It’s so bad, society has chosen to spend the majority of their waking hours in a virtual universe created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg) called The Oasis. After Halliday’s death, a message was broadcast around the globe that told of a quest to find 3 keys hidden throughout the virtual world. Whoever should find the three keys wins the ownership if The Oasis and the fortune that comes with it.

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While the movie may be different from the book on virtually every level, I can see why they did it. For one, like most novels, it just impossible to cram everything into two and a half hours. Sadly, this removes the backstory from most of the characters. You just have to accept the situations and social dynamics for what they are, but never really know why. Second, while the novel reads great and keeps you immersed in its world, it really just wouldn’t film well. While I may not have been able to watch the story I wanted and was expecting to see, the story they told was great. In the end, I was satisfied.

  Click here to listen to the PSRR Parking Lot Review of Ready Player One.

Click here to listen to the PSRR Parking Lot Review of Ready Player One.

Posted on March 31, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Eli Roth's Death Wish REVIEW

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Before we get going on the review it should be noted that I am a huge fan of the original 1974 Death Wish starring Charles Bronson. After talking to a couple leaving the theater I was in and my buddy Ray Boyer from the Flick or Flop podcast, it seems that seeing Eli Roth's movie without seeing the original makes it a 'fun' movie. Unfortunately, I HAVE seen the original and seeing the new one was a nightmare for me.
Since there is so little I liked about this one I will get that out of the way. Vincent D'Onofrio and Dean Norris do an amazing job as the brother and investigating detective, respectively. Perhaps it seems that way because they are surrounded by such trash but I don't think it is. D'Onofrio consistently nails home run performances no matter the film and this is no exception. Okay, that's it for the good.

There's been a lot of theories that it is this movie that will bring Bruce Willis back into the good graces of the audience once again and after seeing it I can tell you, that is not true. Maybe if we had a toned downed, Sixth Sense type Bruce Willis that would be the case but we don't get that at all here. What we get is John McClain in a doctor's coat who acts a little meek-ish but is still built like a brick shithouse with a shaved head. 
Charles Bronson was an action star for many years but in the role of Paul Kersey played a very convincing father and husband. His first kill leaves him shook to the core and after shooting the would be mugger in the gut, Bronson's Kersey runs away and vomits in a state of shock. Willis's Kersey shoots a carjacker (who is driving the stolen car straight at him with the intent to harm/scare) in the throat causing him to wreck into a light pole. The accomplice (who before getting in the car fired at Willis) exits the wrecked vehicle, they then get into a shootout wherein Willis's Kersey wounds the man then walks over and shoots him in the head. After that murder he walks over the car and watches the driver gasp for air before finally succumbing to his wounds. Remember, Bruce Willis plays a doctor. Just saying.

Bronson is torn by his decision to take the law into his own hands whereas Willis cannot get enough of it. The only thing that would be less believable than Bruce Willis as a doctor is Bruce Willis being able to show any range as an actor. Not that he is incapable of it, just that something in him has broken. Like Pacino after Sent of a Woman, Bruce Willis no longer has the ability to play anything other than a badass after the fifth Die Hard. Made worse over, due to the fact that he is now in his 60's and has still yet to transition to the older strong man like Clint Eastwood or Tommy Lee Jones. 
Back to the movie, shall we. Eli Roth reels it back but there is still plenty of blood and guts for you, if that's what you are looking for. The kills in the movie have no real excitement or style, save for the auto-shop scene that hearkens back to the days of Roth's earlier films. The story is lackadaisical at the offset and doesn't really get moving well into the second act. Even after the murder and attempted murder it moves listlessly before Willis gets the motivation to become a vigilante. Oddly enough it isn't the killing of his wife or head-shot his daughter receives but a beating by muggers in the street that is the final straw for him to get going.
From that point it moves pretty quickly as he hunts down the men who ruined his life and spends one day "outsmarting" the cops. It's really rather boring to be honest. You don't really care about him or his family. The ham-fisted character building is as subtle as a one act play written by a ninth grader. It's just all together lazy and boring. 
A few nitpicky parts here:
-Bruce Willis is a surgeon in a hospital who leaves mid-operation when paged and goes to perform other surgeries. He never preps between rooms. 
-He rushes in to a room where a cop has been shot but the guy flat-lines, like right away. While comforting the officer's partner a nurse comes up and says, "The shooter is in the O.R. now". I've never worked in a hospital but I don't think that's how a nurse describes a patient to a doctor... When he's walking away the cop yells to Willis, "So you're gonna save that killers life?" and in an ADR'd line, a good thirty feet away, in a crowded and busy hospital, Bruce Willis responds "If I can" in a volume that would only register as a slight whisper.
-And most egregious; his daughter who has been in a coma for a month due to a gun shot to the head, wakes up with perfect hair and Bruce Willis says that she will get to go home in a week. They did surgery to remove a bullet from, what I can only imagine, is her brain, and she has her wits about her enough to be able to go home in a week. She does tell her uncle D'Onofrio that therapy has been going good. Whatever the hell that mean.

As a fan of the original, I suggest that you don't see this. Maybe if it's streaming somewhere down the line, but even then it's not worth it. Watch the 1974 Death Wish. It's amazingly well written, directed and beautifully acted. Bronson's performance is so layered and nuanced, it's shocking that he was not nominated for his role as Paul Kersey. In fact, watch Death Wish 5 and you'll be better off than watching this garbage. 
I knew it was going to be bad, I just didn't know it would be this bad.

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If you have not already heard it, you can listen to what our pitch for a Death Wish remake would be on Prequel.Sequel.Reboot.Remake. available here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Posted on March 3, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Gotham by Gaslight REVIEW

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Remember that time Batman hunted Jack the Ripper? If not then 1) you haven’t read Gotham by Gaslight, and 2) you, my friend, are missing out! The good news for those Batman fans among you who don’t go “full nerd” by reading the comics is that DC just released an animated version on Blu-ray and rental or purchase streaming platforms.

For my fellow “Full Nerds” who may have read the comic previously, a fresh story still awaits you. As the movie wastes no time establishing, this was not merely an adaptation of the original story but a new tale set in the same Victorian era. Usually I’d be the first to balk at straying so far from the source material, but the only thing wrong with the original comic was that there was not enough of it- this animated movie takes the time to flesh out what a Batman universe of the late 1800’s might be. That means a handful of appearances from the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery, none of whom appeared in the comic (aside from a brief mention of a repeat killer shown on a wanted poster to look an awful lot like The Joker). The addition of these familiar faces in the animated telling add a “Whodunnit” element to the plot where the source material did not leave much mystery.

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Gotham by Gaslight the comicbook hit shelves in 1989 and was the first time DC officially used the branding “Elseworlds” - a distinction invented for reimaginings of familiar heroes’ origins for "one off” purposes. The comic was written by Brian Augustyn and illustrated by the talented Mike Mignola; if the latter name sounds familiar it’s because he'd later go on to create Hellboy and the rich universe that surrounded him. Mignola’s art style was perfect for the project, accomplishing a huge amount with his almost minimalist approach; heavy handed on the shadows in which The Ripper would hide and the Dark Knight has always thrived.

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Almost 30 years later, Warner Bros made the perfect choice to parallel Mignola’s style on the animation side of things by using the equally concise character design of Bruce Timm, legendary artist behind Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and countless others. He serves as Executive Producer on the movie and his team took the same approach as in his earlier Batman work- a color palette working largely in blacks, perfectly echoing the darkness of the subject matter.

It’s worth pointing out that while it shares Timm’s streamlined designs of “The New Batman Adventures”, Gotham by Gaslight is a dark departure not intended for kids. The movie is rated R for language and violence, a necessary tone for a story where the antagonist is one of the most famous serial killers of all time.

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It would be impossible to further compare the book and film without spoiling one or both, but when the credits rolled, the new path this movie paved for it’s familiar title did not overshadow the enjoyability. Gotham By Gaslight is a steampunk-tinged murder mystery definitely worth checking out and one of DC’s better ‘straight to DVD’ features of recent years; a worthy addition to any Bruce Timm animation collection.

 

Posted on February 19, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.