Review – The Frozen Ground

Frozen-Ground-Exclusive-Poster-HD1                Rating = ★★★   Tagline = High Rental

I’m a huge fan of serial killer movies – falls under the crime genre, which I love. Anytime one is coming out, it’s instantly on my radar. Most aren’t as exceptional as Se7en, or some of my other favorites. A lot are heavily clichéd, but I enjoy them all for the most part. The stories draw me in. It’s not too common when one leaves a large enough impact on me to go out and buy it, or simply remember it after a weak. It’s been a while since another good serial killer movie came out worth mentioning. Seen nothing but bad ones recently. I wasn’t approaching The Frozen Ground with much excitement. It surprised me, however. It’s nothing amazing, but it was well made. Without comparing in terms of quality, The Frozen Ground is sort of like Zodiac meets Insomnia.

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Review – Man of Steel

Man-of-Steel-poster2-610x904                Rating = ★★½   Tagline = Low Matinee

Superman is arguably the most recognizable superhero since his creation in 1938. I’ve never been interested in any other platform for superheroes other than their movies. So, from each individual film so far, Superman isn’t extremely fascinating to me. My interest level depends on the story written around him. Man of Steel is the best Superman movie since the first two Christopher Reeve films, but still weaves off more interesting ideas in favor of super fights on an enormous scale. The potential was here to explore the character. In the beginning, it seemed it might be going down that route, but ends up playing as more of a visually stimulation experience.

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Review – 2 Guns

2-guns-movie-poster                  Rating = ★★★   Tagline = High Matinee

2 Guns is a standard by the book action film for the most part. There’s nothing original to be found. What saves everything from simply falling into the back of my mind of being just another forgettable B-movie, is the chemistry between the two leads. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg were phenomenal on screen together. Whether their kidding around or being serious, anything they did meshed together seamlessly. The weakest parts of 2 Guns comes when one is on screen without the other. Both hold so much life and energy, things start to get boring quickly. Thankfully, the separations never last long. I loved watching them and hope the duo is seen again.

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Review – Kick-Ass 2

kick_ass_2_poster                     Rating = ★★½   Tagline = Matinee

The first Kick-Ass, well, kicked ass. It was one crazy, wild, and fun ride that gelled together perfectly. I heavily enjoyed it and would place it at the lowest, an honorable mention for the best movies of 2010. So, needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to the sequel. The red band trailer put out a little while back really got me eager for its release date. Kick-Ass 2 provided another fun time and had lots of good things, but I was disappointed with many aspects. Overall, it’s a B-movie. It had potential to be so much more, though. Nemours critics everywhere I look are bashing this – some uncalled for by almost insulting anyone who would be entertained. Defiantly not a bad sequel or film, just not nearly as great as the original.

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Review – Red 2

red-2-poster                        Rating = ★★   Tagline = Rent

Red was almost like a guilty pleasure for me. I had a really good time on my first viewing. Actually ended up seeing it a few more times after its release. Still do from time to time. I find it really entertaining. Had good action and funny dialog. It was also a kick watching the gimmick of the series: all these retired agents doing missions again. Red defiantly had re-watch ability. When hearing of a sequel, my excitement never got too high. Obviously I wanted to see it, but never had a good feeling that it would amount to much. Unfortunately, I was right to be hesitant. The movie seems hurried, aspects that made the first fun, were absent. Ultimately, it’s a simple popcorn film. I wanted to enjoy myself more, but just made me want to watch the original when I got home.

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Top 5 Brad Pitt Movies

1. Se7en

Se7en

Review = Se7en is a very dark, disturbing, and intelligent thriller. Believe me when I say disturbing, this movie may be overly bleak for many people. The mood itself provides a creepy atmosphere. An interesting thing is how we never actually see the killer actually doing the crimes; all we see is the aftermath of it. Nothing is held back, the victims are shown in grisly details. Dialog was masterfully written. Andrew Kevin Walker’s screenplay delves deep into the killer and both detectives. Numerous themes are weaved in as well. Overall, Se7en is a harsh step into the realities of the life of two detectives. David Fincher crated something that truly stays with you. The plot keeps you hooked until the final gut-wrenching moments. By far, in my opinion, the best serial killer movie ever made - more interesting than Silence of the Lambs.

Performance = This film put Brad Pitt on the map. 12 Monkeys had already come out, but Se7en just solidified the fact that Pitt was an actor to be taken seriously. Proved that he was capable of handling layered roles and nailing hard scenes. The ending scene was perfectly done, really conveyed all the emotions necessary. 1995 was an excellent year for Pitt.

2. Fight Club

Fight Club

Review = Fight Club raises many issues concerning out contemporary world, like a search for your true identity in a world where everything is a copy of a copy. Tons of messages are thrown at you. The main one, however, is best expressed as a quote: “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” One day you’ll wake up and be thirty. You start to think, what have I really done with my life? This was a controversial movie back in 1999, still is for that matter. when you see this, there is no middle ground. Either you love it or hate it. Fight Club is far deeper than just guys fighting each other (screenplay is clever). David Fincher balances a lot. Mixes dark humor and violence well. Let’s also not forget how outstanding the cinematography is.

Performance = Tyler Durdan is a tricky character to pull off. Somehow, Brad Pitt did just that. Does a lot of crazy goofy stuff, but manages not to come off as too much as a cartoon to where we thought he was to over the top to like or even want to see.

3. Moneyball

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Review = I am just going to come out and say that Moneyball is the best movie about baseball ever made, and one of the best sports movies in general. Now I’m not a big baseball fan. I have never seen a baseball game from beginning to end, I just find it boring to watch. I also hate it when people talk about fantasy-baseball stats. So when I heard that this movie was going to combine the two in a way, I was expecting to be completely bored out of my mind while watching. I was pleasantly surprised. When the end credits rolled I was blown away at what I just saw. Their were risks taken here. Moneyball isn’t really about the players, or the games, it’s all about the behind the scenes of baseball. It succeeds on so many levels, delivering a sweet, emotional, funny, dramatic, and complex ride – hit’s it out of the park.

Performance =  Brad Pitt is phenomenal. His typical performance isn’t given. There were no elaborate pep-talks with an emotional melody playing in the background, or even an overwhelming breakdown moment. Pitt subtly captures the character of Bill Beane making him feel genuine. He makes us Care for Billy, and desperately hope for him to succeed.

4. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

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Review = The title is long, giving up the story and ending essentially. I originally thought that might be a problem, but the way it unfolds is very well done.  Andrew Dominick adopts a different style for a western. It’s more of a psychological  western, than say an action one filled with gun battles. The relationship between Jesse James and Robert Ford is the central aspect of the film. Since we know how thing play out between them, you can pay close attention to what lead to that. Like how Robert went from obsessing this man to killing him. It raises questions, why did Jesse even put up with Robert? What is the true reason Robert did it. fear, jealously, fame, a mix of the three? There is a whopping running time. I felt the length, but it didn’t bother me – never looked at my watch. This isn’t flawless, but an artfully made story that was constructed with tremendous care.

Performance = Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Jesse James is flawless. Pitt is simply fascinating to watch. Brings an unpredictability to the the character. I  never knew what Jesse was going to do next. The way he delivers his lines was amazing. Truly became the character, making him highly intriguing to watch whenever on screen.

5. 12 Monkeys

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Review =  Terry Gilliam tells a fantastic twisted story about a virus destroying most people across Earth forcing the rest to move underground. A man is then sent back in time to gather information about the event. The storytelling is totally non-linear and instead opts to distort and bend the way the story is told skillfully incorporating different time sequences, flashbacks, dreams, memories, the present, the past, and the future. What sets 12 Monkeys apart from most other time-travel sci-fi movies is that the main character deals with the psychological effects of time travel. Gilliam puts forth a complex effort delivering a compelling vision for what would have been easy to to be routine action sci-fi.

Performance = Brad Pitt steals every scene he’s in here. Really gives an off-the-wall performance. Pitt risks overdoing it, but pushes the craziness as far as it can go without being indulgent. One of his best performances, and deserved that Oscar nomination.

Honorable Mentions:

Movie = Inglourious Basterds

Performance = Burn After Reading

Review – The Wolverine

movies_the-wolverine-poster                    Rating = ★★★    Tagline = Full Price

I’ve never fallen in love with any entree in the X-Men franchise. All have been around the same level – a good time. X-men: The Last Stand is hated on quite often. I honestly don’t see why. It simply takes a different path than the first two. Granted, that doesn’t raise it to new heights, but defiantly isn’t worse. Even though I’m giving The Wolverine what’s overall been given to the series for the most part, it’s my favorite X-Men film. I wasn’t looking forward to this. Mainly because of X-Men: Origins Wolverine. Wasn’t awful or anything, but was a chance for Wolverine to branch out; was completely forgettable. Something felt different about the movie right off the bat. Instead of having a superhero vibe, it had a dark mood, almost like a depressing drama. After the initial hook, it did hit some bumps in the road, nothing to take me out of the ride, though.

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Review – Gone Baby Gone

gone_baby_gone_xlg                                  Rating = ★★★★

Crime movies have taken place in a lot of cities. When you get down to it, though, there’s mainly a few that are most often re-visited. Boston seems to be the main one. It’s hard to explain, but everything comes off so much deeper and real. From the characters, to something as simple as the atmosphere. Gone Baby Gone is based from one of Dennis Lehane novels. Another one of his novels had already hit the big screen, Mystic River. Clint Eastwood directed. The bar was set extremely high in his suburb adaptation of Lehane’s compelling story. Which top tier director takes on this? That would be Ben Affleck, in his directional debut. His acting cannot even be compared to Clint Eastwood, but now he tries to see how good he can be behind the camera. He exceeds all expectations tenfold.

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Review – Mud

poster                Rating = ★★★★   Tagline = High Full Price

I can see now why Mud has such high ratings. It holds a score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. I would be hard-pressed to think of anything to remotely dislike. With a plethora of symbolism, lyricism, and dynamism, and being highly thought provoking throughout, it’s a great feat for it not to become convoluted. An ample amount of age-old morale’s and questions are brought up, but never leave the viewer feeling they’ve seen this before. Mud flawlessly embodies everything that’s good about independent films. Certain smaller movies I’d only recommend to cinephile’s, but this situation is different. It is a must see for anyone. Defiantly 2013’s best so far.

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Review – Despicable Me 2

Despicable-Me-2-poster                Rating = ★★½     Tagline = Low Matinee

I really enjoyed Despicable Me. In a way, it was the new Shrek. Both stories make you come to love and understand “the bad guy” – both did that equally well. I saw it late too, and regretted not seeing it sooner, should have gone to the theater. Doesn’t belong in the top ranks of animated films, but it contains enough charm and warmth to make a fun family movie. I’m let down pertaining the fact this wasn’t better or on the same level as the original. Was watered-down. I thought if the second panned out it might have rivaled the Shrek series considering how the third and fourth entrees dragged the franchise down. Kids will get a kick out of it. The adult audience isn’t going to be pulled in like the first. Still, parents can sit without despair. No need worrying if you get dragged there. Worth a watch, especially since Turbo remains a sole alternate for anyone looking for anything animated out now.

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Review – The Lone Ranger

the-lone-ranger-poster                      Rating = ½     Tagline = Avoid

July 4th is a coveted date for big blockbusters to be released. Sadly, it seems, this time doesn’t bode well for anything taking place in the old west. This joins Wild Wild West as one of the more disappointing summer movies; the most when closing in on the fourth of July. I was cautious when it came to The Lone Ranger. Red flags were there that could contribute to a bust (only if I’d known then), but over time my excitement had grown enough to see this on the holiday. Man, was I upset walking out. Should have been grilling in the backyard, watching something different, or doing anything else. For the last 70 years The Lone Ranger and Tonto have been an enduring buddy team. Now, unfortunately, a major stain is thrown on them. The Lone Ranger was simply a bad film that made for a horrendous time at the theater. A complete money-grabber.

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Review – Monsters University

MU_Bleachers_Online_1s_w2.0              Rating = ★★★½     Tagline = High Full Price

Monsters University was something I was keeping my eye on, but not very excited about. Anytime a new Pixar movie is coming out I’m always excited and have high expectations. All of them, aside from two, have been masterfully made and masterpieces in their own way. The last two entrees for them, however, brought about Pixar’s first ever slump. Cars 2 was decent, but was a major let down. Same thing with Brave. Still am furious and flabbergasted that it won best animated film over everything, especially Wrek-It Ralph. This was the first time I wasn’t pumped up or not wanting to see it immediately after release. A sequel made more sense than a prequel as well. Why should we be interested in Mike and Sully going to college when we know what they’re studying is deemed wrong later? Monsters University isn’t quite up to par with others, but Pixar is officially back (hopefully it continues). Whether or not a sequel would have worked better, I really enjoyed this.

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Review – World War Z

world_war_z_ver2_xlg                     Rating = ★★★    Tagline = Full Price

World War Z got a good deal of buzz and I’d see advertisements and hear news often. I had mixed feelings towards it. Anytime a zombie movie is coming out, I’m always very cautious. The concept has potential, but never seems to work out all that well. Aside from Shaun of the Dead, I’ve never enjoyed a zombie film enough to remember or re-watch. A lot of the time the plot will feel rushed or un-resolved. This is why the only zombie related story I’ve really got into is a TV show called The Walking Dead. I recommend that show for anyone in general, but specifically zombie fans. It focuses on the characters and the element of survival. Anyway… Brad Pitt did star and I’ve heard positive things about the book. So, I went in with some expectations/hope.

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Top 5 Superhero Movies

With Review – Iron Man 3, Review – Man of Steel, and Review – The Wolverine coming soon, I thought this was a good time to list my favorite superhero movies. Superhero movies have never been something I love. I’ll have a good time with pretty much every single one, but don’t really go crazy for them. Some go deeper and get me to connect. Thor, The Avengers, and the X-men are a whole lot of fun, but these are the ones I love:

Honorable Mention = Spider-Man 2

Spiderman 2 movie image Tobey Maguire

I didn’t think too much of the first, Spider-Man 2 was a huge step up, though. The sequel delved much farther into the character of Peter Parker and what it means to be a hero. His inner struggle was played out with great care. With more development, I became more infested. Even the villain is fleshed out. Dr. Otto Octavius is layered and adds another side to the story. The web swinging, pacing (good blend of drama, action, humor, romance), and acting also improved. I wasn’t sold on Tobey Maguire before, but his second attempt showcased that he was perfect for the role.

5. Review – Watchmen: The Directors Cut

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Watchmen: Directors Cut is one long movie – it’s running time is about three hours. The length was needed to convey the story properly. The theatrical release was still long, but the directors cut should be the only version. Alex Tse and David Hayter’s screenplay is beyond great. They did a great job getting everything they could out of the novel. Of course they couldn’t get every last detail from the novel into the movie. Still, they got a solid amount. Watchmen is a complex morality tale and has countless layers.

4. The Incredibles

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This is Pixar at it’s finest. Even though you are watching a film that is populated by CGI characters, the emotions they convey in what they say and do come across as purely believable. Brad Bird has in his hands an excellent, humanized tale of superheroes that borrows liberally from the Fantastic Four and takes it into an Ozzie and Harriet setting. The Incredibles also has some real funny bits – credit to the excellent screenplay. As in all other Pixars (save for Cars 2 and Brave), animation is flawless, and it can be enjoyed by adults along with kids.

3. Batman Begins

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This film brought back my faith in the franchise, and re-established Batman as a superhero to take seriously and not poke fun of. The aspect that stands out the most about the film is Bruce Wayne’s conflict, and what he tries to do to clean the streets and eventually become the Batman. Really, Batman Begins origin story was marvelously constructed. It’s a dark character study when you get down to it. Acting, soundtrack, cinematography, and all other elements are spot-on as well. The trilogy couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.

2. Iron Man

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The first Iron Man caught me completely off guard. Hadn’t expected anything special going in, thought it would be along the lines of a fun blockbuster. I was dead wrong. It turned out to be much more than that. Went deep into the character and crafted a fantastic story around action, not vise versa. When action comes, I love the way it’s shot. Robert Downey Jr. fits the role perfectly and just does such a great job. He truly becomes the character. I couldn’t see anyone else portraying Tony Stark/Iron Man.

1. The Dark Knight

darkknight blog

The wait for The Dark Knight was hard to endure. When it finally came, it exceeded my expectations and then some. It’s truly a masterpiece. This was so much more than a Batman film. The Dark Knight delivers with drama, action, romance, horror, dark humor, the study of a psychopathic killer, a detective story. All these elements mesh together cohesively. While watching a comic book movie, you always know it’s not real, I mean it could never happen. Here, however, it feels very realistic – draws you into the world. Christian Bale gets overlooked, but I love him as Bruce Wayne. Heath Ledger is phenomenal, makes the Joker something to remember.

What are your favorites?

Review – Peeples

peeples-poster                   Rating = ★★     Tagline = Low Rental

While watching Peeples, Meet the Parents kept coming to mind. Initial comparisons in the back of your mind isn’t always a bad thing; they can go either way. A movie can be similar, and the thinking process compares and observes details. On the other hand, you can be thinking this is just a downgraded version – that’s never good. Peeples isn’t bad by any means. It has some moments and never had me checking my watch. The next day I actually saw Meet the Parents again (got a strong urge to watch after seeing this), it had been a while. Both have identical concepts, but the execution is different. Everything Peeples does, Meet the Parents does better. Overall, this is a Tyler Perry (he co-produced) version of that story. Might click for some, but for me it was flat.

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