Tag Archives: 2014 movies

Movie Review: The Coed and the Zombie Stoner

Zombies have remained at the forefront of pop culture for a very long time. There is a fascination among today’s youth with the future, especially in a post-apocalyptic sense, and that has no doubt contributed to the popularity of the relics of old, such as Mad Max and George Romero’s creations and the dissolute, dehumanizing themes we continue to see instilled in television and film.

Let it be known that zombies allow for such wide parameters of creativity that I believed there was no way to make a bad movie with zombies. I Am Legend, despite its crumbling third act, wasn’t that bad. No film comes to mind featuring zombies that upends my stomach in a bad way.

Like with everything else, beautiful things can’t be left alone and eventually someone has to tarnish it. This is why we can’t have nice things.

The Coed and the Zombie Stoner is that someone and man, does it soil it. (soil it, soil it)

It’s been more than two weeks since I’ve seen it and yet I still remember it so vividly.

This film, in essence, is nails-on-a-chalkboard horrid. It is hair on fire, shattered bones, squandered dreams, expired dairy products, rusted metal, spoiled fruit, moldy bread, cancer tissue, shredded sponges, skinned cats, liquids under the dumpster, clogged toilets, blown tires, New York City traffic, pollution fumes, oil breaks and everything else that sucks wrapped into one. It has no cares or feelings.

The Coed and the Zombie Stoner is so bad I started banging the back of my head off the floor, trying desperately to detach my cerebellum from the rest of my brain so I wouldn’t recollect any of the clear crimes against humanity that occur during this seemingly endless track of roadkill and vomit. This Asylum production is a roller coaster that was purposely made so that all of its riders would throw up on each other. Your brain will slam on the opposing sides of your cranium the whole time, losing brain cells whilst feeling you have developed a concussion from lack of thinking. This movie is so dumb you’ll want to close line yourself.

Watching this and The Forbidden Dimensions on back-to-back Bad Movie Wednesdays makes me want to rip out my brain and start counting the cells I still have left. It’s insanely difficult to formulate my feelings into words and the only explanation I can come to is the amount of dumb I have let be consumed by my senses during these two movies. You can only be exposed to so much dumb before you start to feel dumb yourself and do I ever right now.

There comes a point in a person’s life when they have to sit down and decide what they’re willing to put up with and what they’re not. I’m going to be brutally honest. If you find this movie tolerable, you need to check yourself. Your life is going in the wrong direction and as your friend, I strongly advise you do something about it.

You have no idea how much I don’t want to talk about this film right now, but I feel obligated, at least to a minor extent, to elaborate on why The Coed and the Zombie Stoner makes me feel like an ostrich. I just want to stop what I’m doing and stick my head in the sand. I feel stupid in every way, but I honestly don’t see any way out. My arms feel stupid, my legs feel stupid, my chest feels stupid and I don’t even know how a body part can feel stupid but if there was a way for that to happen, this would be it. I feel limp, like my body was broken over night and I have no initiative to do anything and why should I? When you watch a visual display like this, you feel empty and no amount of food or drink can end that craving. You just need to bury yourself in sheets and surround yourself with smart things and smart people. You need to read, listen to music, watch something on YouTube that makes you laugh, anything that makes you feel smart and livens you up, because when you watch a movie like The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, it takes all the wind out of your sails and you’re dead in the water. You ain’t going nowhere and you can’t do anything but lounge and try to breathe. You feel like you just inhaled toxic fumes and you feel a heaviness in your chest. You’re breathing fine, but you just feel heavy and out of shape. It’s like your blood flow is in slow motion or something throughout your body and you just have no energy or want to do anything but lay down, try to gather what’s left and put the pieces back together. You feel depleted and in so much anguish that you just want to cry, cry for the inherent loss in partaking in such an experience. It may sound trivial to you, but some of these things that I watch, if you were to experience them, you would feel the same way.

To be less real and more to the point, The Coed and the Zombie Stoner makes detergent look like a tasty beverage. It makes a 2-by-4 with nails start to look like a good pillow and for some reason, experimenting with flying doesn’t seem like a bad idea either and neither does walking through a gun range. This movie makes you crave danger in a very unhealthy way, whatever it takes to get away from this trauma.

The plot is incredibly stupid and not worth reiterating, the actors are the worst of them all, igniting a wrath inside of me that not only endured but continued to grow till the end, and the dialogue is an incessant cursing tirade from a raging teenager on Xbox who is so furious and unraveled that he’s unable to form coherent phrases.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Black Mass,Enemy at the GatesAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesLeon: The ProfessionalEnemy)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Terminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the Street)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (EverestHerculesThe SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitz)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The VisitThe Fantastic FourThe Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotageGallowwalkers)

My score for The Coed and the Zombie Stoner: 13.

I can’t express the sense of euphoria I have knowing that I never have to write another syllable about this film nor watch another second of it ever again. Let’s just say we hope to pick more appetizing films for the next couple Bad Movie Wednesdays.

As one of my friends put it, that is the horrible beauty of art. It can be so pristine sometimes and so horrid others.

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Movie Review: Hercules

It has been such a long time.

Guys, I apologize for that. I’ve been in a writing funk lately, working on sports features and I was at my church camp two weeks ago, which meant I had no access to a computer or a phone for a week.

I’ve still been watching movies and have been saving drafts so I know what I need to get back to, but nothing ready to publish yet. Then I opened up Netflix for the first time in a while and there were a bunch of new releases. There are a bunch of films I’m excited to see on Netflix so aside from what’s on Netflix, what’s in theaters and what I own, don’t expect anything else. It’s time to get back to reviews. That and Breaking Bad.

And so, the first film that caught my eye on Netflix and will be my first review after my hiatus is….Hercules?

I’m as surprised as you but it was the first thing that jumped out to me. It’s been almost four weeks since my last post. I had to start cracking pronto.

I had considered seeing this in theaters but then I saw Brett Ratner and was like, “ha ha ha, NO.”

Even I, someone who’s never been a big fan of the X-Men franchise, understands how bad a movie X-Men: The Last Stand was. It was awful, one of the worst superhero films ever made. However, I find myself believing Ratner might have a resurgence. He directed the Rush Hour franchise and they all entertained at the most basic level. I think Ratner needs to go back to the basics. Make people laugh again and stop taking the dramas and action power plays. Leave those to the big boys.

As expected, Hercules is built on heavy CGI and by heavy I mean noticeable. This film could have been the rebirth or final bullet in Brett Ratner’s career. This was a big deal and we’re starting off with suspect visuals? I’m not saying I’m rooting for the guy but come on, man.

In ways, Hercules is what I expected it to be. It’s mindless action at its most bare which is also one of the biggest problems with it. Hercules is a legend and therefore, his character should be presented as such. Instead, Ratner seems lured to repeat what his successful predecessors have done (big budget action films) and misses out on the film’s greatest asset. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a solid actor and one of the few who did not start as an actor but who can act. Sadly, Johnson is neglected for almost the entire film. He trained for the role for more than half a year and yet is given no character to exemplify. Can you imagine dedicating that much time to something and then you get there and the event’s cancelled?

It’s a huge blight on the film that Ratner dismisses his most valuable piece to the film’s success, putting an unfair amount of responsibility on the supporting cast who is now led by a faceless hero. Hercules, a character that has been immortalized in history for centuries, remains faceless. Quite an achievement, Ratner. Quite an achievement.

Thank God for Ian McShane, as much of the comedy and Hercules‘ most entertaining moments are delivered by him. The rest of the supporting cast doesn’t hold the experience nor the talent required to cover up the “protagonist out to lunch” placard, leaving McShane looking around like, “Guys?”

The characters are weak as is the writing. Only with McShane is there any light at the end of the tunnel. I appreciate the side crew element in action-based films but there isn’t enough quirks or more importantly, dialogue and character establishment, to make me care about these characters. They are there and I’m forced to put up with them.

With Hercules’ character left behind, any plot threads associated with him hold minute value, which sadly are all of them. A few days later, I’m still struggling to understand how you look at this finished product and you think, “Yeah, we did the character of Hercules justice.” They let Johnson walk into the spotlight and then they threw a cloak over him. It’s like throwing a cloak over an easel because the artist didn’t know what to paint, so he tried to sell his clients a covered canvas. Makes no sense, but I guess $100 million budgets allow this these days?

To go even further, Ratner pokes fun at the legend of Hercules, painting it as a fool’s charade rather than a feared fable. Would it have been hard to craft the hero that I so wanted from this film? Of course. Was it within the reach of Ratner? Absolutely but when I see a film struggling as hard as this one is, I truly don’t think Ratner cares anymore what people think of him.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Anchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesLeon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibrium)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Terminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the Street)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive Hard)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future Past)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (CyborgOutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. Evil)

My score for Hercules: 53.

With standard action and a plot line built on a bedrock of plot twists rather than on character, Hercules is the final nail in the coffin for Brett Ratner’s career. In what should have been a big deal for Johnson’s acting career, Ratner manages to make him as irrelevant as a snowball in the Florida summer heat. In closing, goodbye Brett Ratner. I think we all stopped wanting you after X-Men: The Last Stand.

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Movie Review: Zombeavers

In March, Jon and I spent Bad Movie Wednesday (BMW) watching a film from New Zealand called Black Sheep. It was going to be bad, we knew it from the get-go, but it was also so good. If you like “so good, it’s bad” movies, give this one a watch.

In that review, I said the following:

“Jonathan King is a marketing guru for the simple fact that he has discovered one of the secret truths of America: to attract the masses, think of something preposterously stupid and they’ll swarm to it like bees to honey.”

Months later, that holds true today.

I wanted to watch a movie on Monday and this title popped up on Netflix. I continued scrolling because I wanted to look at an award-worthy film that I’ve been pushing off, like Wolf of Wall Street or Whiplash. In the end, I couldn’t help myself. I hit play on Zombeavers.

I’d avoid the trailer because it highlights some of the best parts of the movie but if you need that extra kick in the rear to hit play, watch it.

Zombies are trending right now. Put zombies in anything and we’re going to watch it. We can’t help ourselves. Zombies are a lot of fun. With the grandeur and drama of The Walking Dead continuing to impress and haunt, the genre of zombies has surpassed the heights of George Romero’s films. Foreign filmmakers are contributing to the spike such as the Norwegian films Dead Snow and Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead. Zombies is not an American epidemic. It is a worldwide one and it’s an epidemic people aren’t looking to cure.

It’s been nearly a week since I’ve seen it, but I can still say with sure confidence that Zombeavers was meant for BMW. The opening dialogue serves as a model of how you want “so bad, it’s good” movies to begin. It’s blunt and honestly, this first scene was pretty funny. I went back to the beginning just to watch it again. Some of the things these guys say are so outta left field that you can’t help but crack up. I almost wanted the scene to keep going, but zombies though.

Teenagers going to a cabin for a getaway isn’t new and the style of the script writing for the rest of the film isn’t seasoned near as well as its opening set. It is all too easy to distinguish the different styles of the three writers that worked on this script. One wonders why three writers needed to collaborate to diagram this simple a tale. The conversations between these characters at times are pubescent despite the fact that these girls seem to be in their 20’s. Immaturity runs rampant in both the characters and production of this far-fetched fable.

At times though, Zombeavers‘ simplicity is what keeps the dam together and prevents the water from crashing down on its disabled cast. I think Jon would agree that at times that was what made Black Sheep and even Sharknado so much fun. There were plot holes canyons and streams of ridiculousness, but the tone never felt misplaced in either of those films and it doesn’t feel like that here. That’s hardly an excuse for mediocre drafting, but at least it wasn’t suckage.

Other times, some wider turns of the wheel would have been welcomed because such simplicity is not engaging. It never got boring but only because it was so absurd, not just the situation these characters find themselves in but the way they handle it and the way they express themselves. There are a couple of one-liners the screenwriters decided to throw in for some reason and while I’m sure audiences will react to them, if they’re like me, they’re not laughing with them so much as they’re laughing at them. It is a laugh of mockery and a slice of enjoyment rather than a fun-filled pie.

Also similar to Black Sheep, Zombeavers uses puppets instead of CGI. Some leeway can be offered to a film with little to spend but the beavers don’t frighten. I applaud the effort, certainly, but the result is dead wood (beaver pun). Hard to build with, harder to build on.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Leon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive Hard)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (CrankErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future Past)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (OutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafe)

My score for Zombeavers: 43.

Days after watching Zombeavers, I still found myself smirking over the stupid amounts of ineffectiveness in it. It’s one of the few films I’ve scored under 50 that I have an interest in watching again. The acting is strong-armed and gesturing with one hand. As you can guess, it doesn’t make the cut and the visuals are bearable at best. The dialogue that I criticized, believe it or not, is what keeps the film trudging in the mud and from afar, looking through binoculars, it’s pretty fun, but I wouldn’t dare get any closer.

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Movie Review: Drive Hard

For my brother. You’re welcome.

My brother Chris and I went to Walmart with my mom and dad the other day. Something we love to do is look at the movies and poke fun at the sludge Walmart calls film. My brother picked this up and we got a good laugh out of this. The front cover of this just screams stupid. The title is the cherry on top. Drive Hard? Really? That’s the best you could come up with?

But it got better still because it had John Cusack in it. No offense to Mr. Cusack, but I hate him, possibly more than any actor in Hollywood today. He has been in so many sewage films that watching a film that opens with John Cusack is like trying to acquire the willpower to put your head in a poop-filled toilet. It’s grotesque, it’s unsanitary and it’s unpleasant and you can’t think of any reason why you’d want to do that and for good reason: normal, sane people don’t put their heads in poop-filled toilets.

We didn’t buy it though because I had already spent money on a crappy movie to watch for you guys, which I’ll be watching and reviewing soon for your amusement.

Needless to say, I pulled an all-nighter the other day. On rare occasions, I find myself with extra energy and just don’t feel like going to bed. When I say rare, I mean like once every two or three months so don’t expect this to happen again for a very long time. Anyway, I watched Equilibrium earlier if you haven’t checked that out yet and I’m looking through Netflix and guess what’s in the New Releases section? Drive Hard.

I don’t believe in coincidences and so I felt obligated to watch this. I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. It’s John Cusack, guys. It’s like having diarrhea and vomiting while stepping on LEGOs. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

On the other hand, Cusack actually got a win on the board for his work in The Raven. Not overly memorable, but the guy didn’t push my buttons for once and dare I say, might have tried to act in it. Maybe Drive Hard would grant me such a mercy.

Drive Hard starts with an ad from the Australia Department of Tourism. Not really, but like Peter Jackson with Lord of the Rings, director Brian Trenchard-Smith provides us with a lot of panoramic shots of the city landscape and countryside. Australia looks like a nice place, guys.

The way this story plays out is far less exciting.

Former racecar driver Peter Roberts (Thomas Jane) is now a part-time driving instructor and is finding it difficult to provide for his wife and daughter. His wife didn’t like him driving so he quit and Roberts now has no real motivation to get up in the morning or really do anything with his barren life. It’s evident in the film’s opening scenes that his wife and daughter are embarrassed by him and view him as a nuisance more than a husband and father.

His first client of the day is Simon Keller (John Cusack) and right away you can tell something is off with this guy. Garbed in black with driving gloves on, Keller seems to be taking the whole thing a little too seriously or as Roberts is about to find out, a little too recklessly, but Roberts has no idea how reckless they’re going to get.

Thomas Jane is from The Punisher by the way and if you didn’t know that don’t worry because it didn’t hit me during the entire movie. I’m usually really good with facial recognition but it never hit me that this was the same guy. I’m sure the fact that The Punisher was such a terrible movie probably had something to do with it.

Anyway, Keller has Roberts drive to the bank so he can pay him for the lesson only to come out shooting with a briefcase and suddenly Roberts is a hostage getaway driver.

Drive Hard shoots right out of the barrel but not smoothly. There’s a difference between striving forward and getting sloppy. Drive Hard chose the latter, kerplunking and clanking out of the starting gate in a way films are simply not supposed to go. This film accelerated at a TV show pace like the whole story needed to be told in a half hour.

The blueprint for this film maintains no real intrigue and lacks a hook. The boring plot synopsis coupled with that counterproductive cover poster will most likely leave this film on the shelves in stores to be made a mockery of unless you like to willingly subject yourself to apparent trashy content. I see no real reason why you would want to pick this up. Had it not been for my brother, Chris, pulling this out at Walmart, I never would have watched this. If it looks like a B-movie and it reads like a B-movie, chances are it’s a B-movie.

I’ll admit sometimes it’s worth the risk but my experience is that the risk will end up with the prize at the end of the day. Watch what interests you, don’t pick up things that look stupid. Pretty simple.

It claims to be an action-comedy, yet remove the adrenaline-less car chase and you have little to jump at.

Drive Hard is a character-driven story. Roberts is falling into self-loathing and Keller’s a thief that delivers the pep talks and advice that Roberts so clearly requires.

These characters are not typical yet not genuine either. Keller, despite being a thief, doesn’t kill people and doesn’t lie. He’s an honest guy, something that seems contradictory of what a thief is supposed to be but I accepted it as a road less taken and expected further progression down this road. Drive Hard doesn’t go any farther.

There’s a certain irony in watching a film titled Drive Hard where there is no driving force pushing the story forward. It would be as if a NASCAR driver drove 15 laps around the track and then went for a pit stop. The mechanics fill the tank, tap the back, saying, “go, go, go” and nothing happens. They run to the side and look in the window and no one’s home. The driver has disappeared.

The laidback approach stints the tempo and tone of Drive Hard and at no point did I think anything was going to happen. There’s no engine and no conflict. Keller robs the bank and Roberts eludes the cops, but aside from the continuous dialogue between the two, there’s plenty of land ready for farming that Trenchard-Smith remains oblivious to. Instead, he swerves the camera in the direction of a corrupt police force and money laundering scheme. This refocusing mutated a subplot into a second story fighting for tape time, adding yet another negative to an already error-filled equation.

This is typical of John Cusack’s films and yes, I know Drive Hard‘s faults are not his doing. John Cusack wasn’t a negative. He was a positive.

One of Cusack’s best tools in his acting repertoire is the ability to pander and emphasize things the script doesn’t tell him to. In essence, to extrapolate some sort of character and improvise in front of the camera. Cusack has wit but is generally awkward. Dialogue just doesn’t go through him naturally.

Here, Drive Hard embraces that bumbling and makes it a part of the character rather than a part of Cusack. Keller’s sarcastic, straightforward and calm, composed demeanor will bash against Roberts’ out-of-sorts personality.

As the rubber wears down, Roberts and Keller develop a friendship in the most absurd of circumstances. The conversations aren’t devoid of humor albeit very dry and that quirkiness is what kept this vehicle going even though Cusack and Jane had to push it themselves.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (InterstellarChappieAmerican BeautyGone GirlMulan)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (EquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. DeadSnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands Tall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Run All NightRageZoolanderThe Expendables 3Homefront)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Drive Hard: 53.

For once, Cusack is a highlight of a film and I mean that wholeheartedly, but Trenchard-Smith’s need for directionless subplots is such that Cusack and Jane don’t get the time they deserve or the writing depth they should have had. With no engine and no conflict, Drive Hard is about a friendship made in a getaway car and it would have done the cast and crew a favor to put a cam on the dash and just let them drive rather than continue to try to make a B-movie action flick that all in all was more at a D-grade level.

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Movie Review: Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead

I would like to preface this review by saying I never expected Dead Snow to be a good movie. Something I do to relax and calm my nerves is watch a bad movie and hate on it, which Netflix is the perfect avenue for. I brought up a zombie movie I did not expect it to be good. Dead Snow was a rare exception on Netflix, at least these days. It was a truly good film.

Good, not great. Looking back on it and skimming over the review I did for Dead Snow, something I continually hammered on was director Tommy Wirkola’s lack of direction and the film’s immobility for most of the first half. There was some suspense and there was a little pull on me to stick with it, but I think that pull may have been my want to see a movie at the time and not a pull from Wirkola.

However, I’ve seen Dead Snow twice which means it has some draw to it and I think that draw is that it’s too fun of a movie to not show your friends. It drags, it can be incompetent material at times and it’s certainly not to be taken seriously but it adequately meets the standard of fun.

So I was pumped for Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead. Despite its flaws as a film, I have fond memories of Dead Snow and while I had no idea how the film’s story would transition into a sequel, this was a film I was okay with having a sequel. There are so many sequels these days that are made purely for the dough and not for the story. This was a film that was made for the fun it gave the crew that made it and the fans who watched it. It only made $1.9 million at the box office.

Yes, Dead Snow is a foreign film, made in Norway, so you should probably take that into consideration, but I applaud the efforts. Money was not the top goal here and I truly appreciate that. Nice to see we’re not all obsessed with gold like those Nazi zombies in Dead Snow.

Watching Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead with my roommate and good friend, Jon and some guys around the dorm was a blast and carried so much more weight for me than its predecessor.

For one, Wirkola decided to loosen the reins on this script and just let it flow. The way the dialogue was written, I don’t think Wirkola needed to do much here.

The reason I say that is because Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is more comedy than any zombie movie I have ever seen, including Zombieland. This movie is a gut-buster in more ways than one. Dark humor is a mainstay. Wirkola loves having people lose their intestines so enjoy some of that. Like for real, I think there’s an intestine obsession going on here. Trying saying that three times fast.

The costumes and visual effects took a step up in this film, as did the tempo and entertainment value.

The plot is out there and it’s a go-with-it element. If you’ve been reading this for a while, you know I hate go-with-it elements but when utilized in comedies, it doesn’t bug me as much. Yes, this story is pretty ridiculous on quite a few levels but if you’re willing to accept them for what they are, you can have a real blast with this film.

The comedy writing is phenomenal and the actors do a pretty good job of dropping their lines into our greedy, give-me-more hands. With that said, this film isn’t all a party. Action sequences are taken seriously even if some of the kills in this film are exceedingly preposterous. Not saying that some of these kills would or would not happen, but the creativity this film offers with our zombie-executions is remarkable. It kept me laughing the whole way through.

The amount of time that these actors invested into this film can be demonstrated not by their performances but by the way they handle these roles. The timing is perfect. No joke fell flat. If anything, it felt like each one was on an escalator. After each one, we found ourselves holding our breath in anticipation of the next one. Then the dominoes of our self-control would come crumbling down after yet another brilliantly-executed gag.

Yet, there was something that Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead was missing and it took me a couple minutes following the film to realize what it was. What Wirkola’s sequel is missing is not uncommon. Nearly every comedy I watch is missing it because when screenwriters go to the drawing board, this isn’t the first, second or third thing that comes to their minds. The thing that’s missing is a takeaway, a life lesson.

A quick example of what I mean by life lesson can be demonstrated in a speech in Step Brothers.

Yeah, I’ll own up to it. I just used a Will Ferrell film to demonstrate what I love in comedies. Sometimes his films really miss the mark, but Step Brothers was not one of them.

At the infamous Catalina Wine Mixer, we get a speech that indirectly says, grow up, but never forget your childhood. I’m talking about the “don’t lose your dinosaur” speech.

If you haven’t seen Step Brothers yet, shame on you sir/madam. Shame on you.

Basically, the whole reason Step Brothers gets so many point from me (I haven’t written a review on this yet but when I do, I think my score will surprise you) is because it understood that life can’t be all about laughs. It isn’t. That’s not how life works. Life gets serious more often than it gets funny and while we watch comedies to distract us from the stresses of our lives, we need to be given some confidence as well, something that gives us that boost of motivation to want to go back out there and weather the storm. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is missing that.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (TwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead Snow)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead: 72.

You’ll find brand new fire in this installment and it’s a jolly good time, but absence of the reflection element, as well as any real character depth, does make this a journey without a compass. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead still comes highly recommended from me. It is sure to tickle your funny bone at some point.

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Movies in 2014

This has been a long time coming. Should have posted this like two months ago. Nonetheless, here’s a belated issue of my awards for the best films of 2014. As always, there are some films I didn’t get to see this year and there are others I got to see but did not review. Among the notable ones I did not see as of this writing: Interstellar, Birdman, Foxcatcher, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Selma, Nightcrawler, The Drop and American Sniper.

Best Picture and 4 Runner-Ups

Last year’s winners: 1) 42 2) Iron Man 3 3) Olympus Has Fallen 4) World War Z 5) Star Trek: Into Darkness

This year’s winners:

5) Godzilla

Looking back, I gave this film far more credit than it deserved. With that said, Godzilla was still about what I was expecting. Gareth Edwards directed some suspense and some of the best visual effects of the year with the CGI monster god and his radioactive foes. Yes, Elizabeth Olsen and Kick-Ass‘s Aaron Taylor-Johnson didn’t excel in their roles. Yes, Godzilla had like 20 minutes of screen time in his own movie and yes, Bryan Cranston was removed far too early, but despite all of that, it was still awesome. Godzilla still got to roar in the camera and I still got to live in the moments of my childhood, back when Godzilla was cool, before this mistake.

“While the pressure for this film to succeed seemed infinite, a successful American Godzilla movie has finally been made. Godzilla may not be perfect, but it’s a huge improvement from the memories of the past and is definitely a must-see and must-buy on its way to becoming one of the biggest box office hits of the summer.”

-excerpt from my review

4) Transformers: Age of Extinction

Nothing I can say will convince anyone that this should be on this list and it probably shouldn’t be. I’m a huge fan of Michael Bay and his exaggerated explosions and even those his stories seem to get more predictable each year and the acting seems to get worse for each sequel, the same adrenaline-filled explosions, racist stereotypes and digital imagery continues to be displayed and as long as it does, I’ll still love these movies because the child inside of me refuses to hate them.

“An astoundingly fortified film, Transformers: Age of Extinction manages to thrill audiences with a new assortment of personalities both human and alien along with some more special effects from the boom master himself. If you walk out of the theater disappointed after Transformers: Age of Extinction, it’s probably your own fault because you should have known what you were getting going in.”

-excerpt from my review

 

3) The Judge

David Dobkin’s The Judge provided one of the year’s best pure dramas. The conflicting characters of Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall created the family tension that many of today’s Americans find so easily relatable. Vera Farmiga played a solid supporting role and that, coupled with some surprising plot diversions and adamant subplots, made The Judge a worthwhile travel into a small family town.

Didn’t get to write a review on this one, but I will next time I see it. Robert Downey, Jr. showed he’s not typecasted and does hold some characters not named Tony Stark inside them.

 

 

2) Guardians of the Galaxy 

The Chris Pratt-led gang of intergalactic convicts blew the box office out of the water, making just short of $775 million. Dave Bautista showed some acting prowess and the cast’s comedic timing was great all the way through and the script was on point the entire time. Also carrying one of the best film soundtracks in recent memory, the Guardians of the Galaxy had some solid visual effects. A firm lesson about letting life evolve around you and some more musical numbers, Guardians of the Galaxy, dare I say it, may have been better than The Avengers.

“As a kid and an adult, many of our dreams will involve watching superhero epics and this film is that dream. I doubt this film will be beaten by any film this year in the box office or by my scoring. Dare I say, this may have been better than The Avengers?”

-excerpt from my review

 

1) Gone Girl

The ceiling can’t hold us (Macklemore reference), or at least that’s what the cast and crew of Gone Girl must have said when viewing their finished product. David Fincher once again solidified his pristine resume and bolstered his cinematic reputation with this year’s best film. Granted, I missed some of the best picture nominations as you can see above, but based off of what I’ve seen, Gone Girl led the pack in 2014. An award-worthy script and acting duo, coupled with Fincher’s detail-oriented mind, made a suspense thriller not only memorable, but engraved in some of our minds forever.

“David Fichter’s latest venture Gone Girl should expect a few Oscars at this year’s ceremony and Gillian Flynn should expect to sell a few million more copies of her book because with two great leads and great direction, Gone Girl is bound to be one of the greatest films of 2014.”

-excerpt from my review

 

Worst Picture and 4 Runner-Ups

Last year’s winners: 1) Thor: The Dark World 2) The Great Gatsby 3) Oz The Great and Powerful 4) After Earth 5) G.I. Joe: Retaliation

5) I, Frankenstein

I wanted to see this all year. I knew it was going to be bad-really bad-like so bad that bad doesn’t even quantify the product’s lack of achievements but I still wanted to see it. It was a bust by far. Far too much exposition and explaining and not enough pushing forward with the screenplay, I, Frankenstein stalled in the middle of the hill and slowly fell down so that by the time it started to hit the gas a little, it was far too late.

“A thoughtless venture, which I suppose is ironic considering the subject matter, I, Frankenstein is bad but not degenerative. The action starves and the plot is moot, but I still got a little fun out of this, bumping it from the low 40’s.”

-excerpt from my review

 

 

4) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Michael Bay might have produced it but it was a loud thud on the brains of Turtle fandom. This film was yet another failed attempt to revitalize one of the better comic book series and so Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Raphael will have to wait some more before their material is served justice and their fans luxury.

“Perhaps doomed from the start, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is too predictable, ineffective and inefficient to be entertaining let alone bearable. Turtle fans will have to lay in endless restlessness for a while longer before they are content, or preferably, satisfied. Despite all this, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will probably make a decent chunk of change from box office revenue because of the young folk that don’t know a good movie from a bad one, which could sprout a sequel, and make all of true Turtle fandom curse the Hollywood gods.”

-excerpt from my review

3) X-Men: Days of Future Past

I’m almost positive I was in the minority with this one, but I hated this with a burning passion that would rival the embers of Mount Doom. Not only has Bryan Singer become one of my least favorite directors of all-time, the film also loved to just erase all previous storylines as if the mistakes of the X-Men franchise could just be unwritten by a time-traveling ordeal. The characters are so easy to hate due to the irrational decisions they seem incapable of avoiding. The best scene in the film hands-down was when Quicksilver demonstrated his awesomeness but the X-Men decided not to take him on the rest of the film’s journey because apparently doing it the hard way is the X-Men way. Let’s forget about the fact that Quicksilver could prevent any bullet Mystique tried to fire from hitting Trask or anyone else for that matter and could end any stalemate in milliseconds, but whatever, we’ve gotten Wolverine practicing his English over here and James McAvoy massaging his temple. Let’s film that instead.

“Similar to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past promised fans an action feature and instead gave fans something entirely different. While The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gave us an enthralling romance, X-Men: Days of Future Past gave us boring dialogue, an overly complicated plot and lightweight characters to make audiences care far less for an X-Men film than previously thought humanly possible.”

-excerpt from my review

2) A Haunted House 2

Fun story: So my brother and I were going to see this because the trailer made me howl like a hyena multiple times. We got all the way there and my brother forgot his I.D so they wouldn’t let him in, ergo I didn’t get to see it  with him because he decided to be stupid that day. However, I should have seen it as a sign from God, not my brother’s stupidity because this movie was reprehensible. Far too much stand-up comedy routines that weren’t funny and contained offensive humor. I love offensive humor, but this film took it to a crypt I was not willing to travel to.

“Somehow not the worst film of 2014 (that distinction belongs to Open Grave), A Haunted House 2 is still one of the worst sequels I’ve ever seen as well as one of the most tasteless “comedies” I’ve ever seen. The sad thing is that Marlon Wayans somehow has a net worth of 15 million dollars for making disheveled sewage like this.”

-excerpt from my review

 

1) Open Grave

This movie is terrible. Really don’t want to talk about it anymore than I need to.

“This movie is like a giant unopened Christmas present and you unwrap all the paper and scramble through all the unnecessary tissue paper looking for your present and after looking through it for five minutes you come to the realization that there is no present. Open Grave is dreadful, atrocious, deplorable and every other synonym for terrible you can find. No one involved with this visual representation knows what is going on and the fact that this is even categorized as a movie disgusts me. I know some YouTube filmmakers who make better movies than this. This movie needs to be buried because no one wants to see this. (see what I did there?) It is a huge waste of time and if you know what’s good for your well-being, you won’t see it.”

-excerpt from my review

Best Actor 

Last year’s winner: Chadwick Boseman- Jackie Robinson, 42

Robert Downey Jr, The Judge

Worst Actor

Last year’s winner: James Franco- Oz, Oz The Great and Powerful

Sharlto Copley, Open Grave, Maleficent

Best Actress

Last year’s winner: No one.

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Worst Actress

Last year’s winner: Natalie Portman- Jane Foster, Thor: The Dark World

Megan Fox, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Best Director

Last year’s winner: J.J. Abrams, Star Trek: Into Darkness

David Fincher, Gone Girl

Best Special Effects

Last year’s winner: Man of Steel

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Best Screenplay

Last year’s winner: None, new category!

Gone Girl

Best Score

Last year’s winner: Man of Steel

Guardians of the Galaxy

I apologize this is so late and underwritten. Looking forward to the new year even though it’s already two months in, lol.

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Movie Review: I, Frankenstein

It’s been far too long, guys. Far too long.

I’ve neglected my blog for the past few weeks with things continuing to draw my attention away from WordsofWisTIM and I’m sorry. I’m more than three weeks behind on blog reading and there are so many films I’ve seen this year and not written about.

To try to make up for that, I’m going to challenge myself. I’m going to post each day for the next two weeks to the best of my abilities. Movie reviews, sports reports, sports features and a Movies in 2014 feature coming your way. I’m dusting off the pen and going mad crazy on the ink. I’m so excited to get back and I’ll try my hardest to never drift off again.

To begin my two week marathon, I’m starting with a film made in 2014 and I think I was one of maybe five people who wanted to see it: I, Frankenstein.

The trailer didn’t bore me. Dare I say I kinda wanted to see this in theaters, but I couldn’t. How could I? It looked like garbage and Jai Courtney, too and Aaron Eckhart? “Hopefully it’ll come out on Netflix,” I said. Well it did, so thanks Netflix.

I, Frankenstein’s 3% on Rotten Tomatoes is simply amazing. Sometimes I question how films make it look so easy. How do a bunch of people get together for a project and manage to fail so badly? That’s one of the questions that Hollywood still puzzles me with. Might have to blog about that sometime, maybe make a new series focusing on the questions Hollywood puzzles me with? I don’t know.

So the film opens with a Lionsgate logo. So far so good, I’ve enjoyed lots of their films.

Lakeshore Entertainment. The logo looks familiar. It’s a kid jumping off a dock into a lake.

SKE Films? Did someone just make that up?

Hopscotch. Hopscotch Features. Wow. Don’t even know how to respond to that. How can I take you seriously when you name yourself Hopscotch? When you read a production company name like that, you slowly close your eyes and sigh. Crap.

I knew it was going to be crap. I knew it before I started it, yet I still watched the darn thing anyway. What’s the matter with me? A few years ago, I’d just shut it off, but I’ve developed a need to finish what I start and now every cursed film that finds its way into my hands has been watched from beginning to end.

Five minutes in? Time for some exposition. The whole universe is laid out like a blueprint for a bystander who just wants to watch the construction process. Do I need to know all this? Do I really?

There’s a war between gargoyles and demons and blah, blah, blah. This was produced by the same guys who did the Underworld series so I should have expected it but I still cringe. Has anyone watched those films? There is so much exposition that there is no substantial time to develop character because we’re too busy learning about this fantasy universe.

It’s a plague that infects so many science fiction and fantasy worlds today. Simplify, simplify, simplify, that’s really all you need to do. For this film, they didn’t even have to do that. Director/writer Stuart Beattie cast Bill Nighy, the same guy who played the villain in Underworld and in every movie ever. Has Bill Nighy ever played a good guy? If I cared enough, I’d research that but I feel I can safely assume he hasn’t. I think he may have had a good guy role in the 2012 Total Recall remake, but it was more of a cameo than anything. He’s got the villainous voice and in no way am I saying he’s not a good actor but if you cast Bill Nighy in a movie, the audience can safely assume he’s a bad guy and that he’s trying to take over/destroy the world. Guess what? That’s what he’s doing in I, Frankenstein.

I never watched this and I knew that was where it was going. Anyone who has watched three of Nighy’s movies knew where this was going.

If Stuart Beattie, who wrote Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, wants to be lazy and toss the cast a scarce script, fine, but cut out all this set-up garbage. No one cares. We all know the weapons have to be anointed or something to kill demons/bad guys. We’ve seen enough vampire movies, demon movies and Underworld movies. We’re not dumb.

We all know that Frankenstein is supposed to be overly strong in this film. Frankenstein can’t be an action hero without inserting that clause. Don’t need reminded of that for five minutes.

Don’t need to know about the gargoyle/demon war. It’s evident there is one. They’re killing each other. That meets the requirements of the Oxford definition. I already know why because again, Bill Nighy is here, figure it out people. I know the when (forever…Nighy), the how (Nighy) and the where (everywhere…Nighy). This is all Nighy’s baggage. I got it, okay?! Geez. Move on.

Maybe I’m being unfair, saying Nighy asserts himself that much in a movie like this, but that’s how I felt and thought about this introduction. Just a total waste.

A film should never start with substantial exposition five minutes into the film. Ever. That’s a terrible way to start a film. Aside from being lethargic and unbearably uninviting, opening with exposition is akin to giving the audience the first draft of the script, unedited and unfiltered product scraped together and molded into a block of words on paper. Discolors the art of screenwriting, doesn’t it? A mind-blowing intro is an unfair expectation for almost any film, but expecting a plot extrapolation before reaching the double-digit minute mark is like being a fan of the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Cubs and Edmonton Oilers, the three teams that have the longest playoff/World Series droughts in their respective sports leagues. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Why does a crew willingly subject themselves to that? What purpose does it serve? If they’re trying to set up signs that say, “Turn back now. If you don’t, you’re about to go dumpster diving,” they’re doing a great job, but if they’re trying to make a theatrical presentation that makes millions and entertains audiences, they’re really off track.

Extended opening exposition is one of the cardinal sins in film-making, at least for me, and I, Frankenstein suffered greatly for continually throwing blueprints in my face.

Aaron Eckhardt isn’t a bad actor, only a bad decision-maker. The Dark Knight had some of the best acting of the decade and Eckhardt as Harvey Dent was part of that Christopher Nolan epic. He has the tools if he’s coached the right way and given the right part, but his reliance on substandard films such as this is a continual grievance for his fans. The focal point of the movie, Eckhardt commanded my attention at least but not my mind.

Eckhardt was asked to build a palace out of sand in an hour and a half and was given but three grains to start with. An unattainable goal only worsened by a lack of co-worker participation, Eckhardt’s voice grows graver and deeper as the film goes on, something I found ironic since everyone wants to bury him.

For a character that’s enshrined in the gothic world of fictional characters, Frankenstein is poorly written here. He’s a monster and he wants to be left alone. Surely there’s some complexity? Not I, Frankenstein. Every chance at proficiency is skipped over and standards were lowered as the film progressed. Some basic themes can be colored in, like loneliness and self-identity most of all, but the space is left blank. Frankenstein would have a self-identity problem. He can give hardcore death stares all he wants but he hates himself. Anyone in the same predicament would, no matter how confident they were in themselves and their own abilities before. You don’t wake up each day covered in scars, knowing you were created and hated by your creator and say, “Aw, it’s a glorious day. Time for me to get some Jimmy Dean breakfast!”

There are far more lessons and values that could have been covered but any drama or takeaways you might have expected from this are not arriving to the presentation. CGI and action sequences overshadow them. The character Frankenstein constitutes respect and I, Frankenstein does him no such thing.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (House at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead SnowRubberHansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an Empire)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for I, Frankenstein: 47.

A thoughtless venture, which I suppose is ironic considering the subject matter, I, Frankenstein is bad but not degenerative. The action starves and the plot is moot, but I still got a little fun out of this, bumping it from the low 40’s.

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Movie Review: Rage

In 2010, College Humor made a popular video on YouTube: Nicolas Cage’s Agent. It was a video satirizing Nicolas Cage’s ability or rather inability to say no to a role because it seems like Cage takes any role he can get his hands on. The video wasn’t funny because of its acting. It wasn’t funny because of the fake movie titles. It was funny because it was true.

Nicolas Cage seems to be in everything these days, which leaves us to conclude that he just accepts everything offered to him.

Since beginning his career in 1981, Cage has starred in 77 films, including 22 in the last five years. The only actor I can think of that can come close to matching that five-year total is Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson has made 24, but it’s worth noting that Samuel L. Jackson has starred as Nick Fury in almost all of the Marvel films, a total of five films where he’s played the same character and been on the screen for a short amount of time.

Nicolas Cage has made only one sequel and that was Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Let’s not talk about that.

Nicolas Cage seems to have lost all standards he may have had for himself and perhaps that is because of his tax problems, but he was one of the highest-paid actors in 2009 according to Forbes, rounding out the top five at $40 million. He had six films hit theaters during 2009 and 2010.

However, while he makes the money, he’s not getting the ratings.

Aside from Kick-Ass (7.8 IMDB, 76% Rotten Tomatoes, 66% Metacritic), none of his other films have reached a 7.0 on IMDB and none have reached a 70% on Metacritic.

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans received a 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and was hailed by critics. I’ve never seen it, so I can’t judge how good or bad the film is, but I will say this: I’m unsure how I can put faith in a scoring system that gave the same score to The Hangover and Gran Torino (79%), when the former was so dumb and the latter was so underrated.

All of this prefacing goes to say that when you see Nicolas Cage on the cover of a movie, no one’s going to blame you if you decide to turn around and walk away.

I quickly googled Rage before I hit the play button on Netflix. A 14% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 28% on Metacritic is what greeted me.

Watching it, I saw why.

Paul Maguire (Nicolas Cage) is a successful business man with a construction empire. His daughter’s kidnapped. Why? Because we learn that Paul used to be part of the Irish mob and only after stealing a large chunk of change from the Russian gang did he finally leave the life.

There’s no call for ransom. Paul fears his past has caught up with him. To save his daughter, he’ll have to revert back to his past life and the skills he acquired during that time.

Paul sounds a fair amount like someone named Bryan. Who’s Bryan you may ask? Just wait. I’ll keep giving you hints.

Both directors’ first names begin with the letter “p”.

Both films involve a father trying to save their kidnapped daughter.

Both films have a running time of about 90 minutes.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Rage is Taken. Without Liam Neeson. And Luc Besson.

If you look at Taken from a neutral standpoint, it should never have come close to being the money-maker that it was. There have been far too many movies about a father trying to save their kidnapped child. Ingenuity does not spawn on such a desolate canvas. The resources have been consumed by the previous mimes’ visitations. Yet Luc Besson, probably France’s greatest export in the last 50 years, made it work. A resonating script with Liam Neeson tearing apart foreign countries embattled the hostage cliché and won with a first-round knockout and a $226.8 million cash prize.

Rage does not fare so well in its bout.

I find the boxing metaphor to be a fair portrayal of a hostage film. The themes of thievery, loss and desperation are big-board headlines for hostage films and trying to utilize those same concepts while trying to differentiate your film from the rest of the genre is very difficult. The genre (the boxer) will not stand in his corner and wait for you (the challenger) to come to him. He’s going to come out swinging and pounding on you because he thinks he knows what you got: nothing. He thinks you’re just like every other chump he’s fought and flattened. He doesn’t expect a rival and why should he? How many successful hostage movies have really been made? How many times has he really lost? Four, five times out of how many? A thousand? Hard to bet against odds like that.

Yet, the genre’s tragic flaw is the same as many others: pride. His pride will allow him to tire himself early in the first round, allowing you to ignite a counterattack and get back in the trenches, but you still have to fight your way there. He’s taken innumerable punches during his career, comparable to Rocky Balboa’s punishment and will not be worn down easily. If you want to survive, you need to unleash the bombs…now.

To add yet more support to this rather elaborate metaphor, it’s worth noting most hostage films struggle to graze the 90-minute mark let alone two hours. That’s because the challenger can’t stay in the ring with the champ for ten rounds. He’s got three rounds to make it happen. If the bell sounds at the end of the third round and both are still standing, it’s over. The champ has won.

Taken‘s knockout punch was Liam Neeson’s magnetizing monologue with his daughter’s captor over the phone, easily one of the best monologues of the last five years. If anyone in the audience was not already chained to their chair by that point in the film, they were when Neeson shut his phone.

Rage has no such chain. If Rage had a chain, it would be a Christmas streamer that you could rip with your pinkie.

To begin with, there’s no story prior to the conflict. I could open up Netflix, select Rage and scroll along the timeline until I found when the kidnapping occurred, but I’m not going to because it’s irrelevant. Whether it was because Rage completely neglected Cage’s Maguire or they simply didn’t manage their time correctly really doesn’t matter here. The first round is over and the champ doesn’t even bother to sit down for his water break. He continues standing, like a medieval knight offended by the fighting skills of the local stable boy.

Maguire assumes that his daughter’s disappearance is because of his shady past and that the Russian mob is responsible. He gets his two best buds to help him find out what happened to his daughter, but they don’t go about it the way you would think. Rather than act like a private detective, Maguire picks up guns and knives and starts killing people, thinking that will determine who is behind the killing.

How? How exactly will dead people answer your questions? Was Davy Jones wrong? Do dead men tell tales after all? They don’t? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. This plot diversion doesn’t make any sense nor is it productive for the characters, those involved with the production of Rage, or the audience. What happened to the characters? They weren’t glossed over. They were buried ten feet in the ground, the area was encased in concrete and they put a skyscraper on top of it. Director Paco Cabezas flat-out forgot.

Given that, I don’t blame Cage for this forlorn venture. I blame him for taking the job and continuing to take such roles, but not for his performance here. Cage’s ability to overdramatize and exhibit uninhibited enthusiasm is never released aside from one haphazard instance. The acting is flat, no doubt aided by the vanilla script, striving for no noticeable goal aside from the standstill pose of a mannequin.

Yet, undeterred by mediocre peers, Rage managed suspense. I was not held by anything. I did not break my streamer, but rest assured I could have whenever I wanted to. Perhaps it was because I planned to review Rage, but a small morsel of me wanted to know how this ended. I’m talking about crumbs here, a nibble worth, but it was enough I guess.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (House at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead SnowRubberHansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (ZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: RetaliationVantage Point)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an Empire)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Rage: 52.

Rage could avoid a knockout, but its defeat was certain. It was going to lose. Still, losing in a decision, even if it was one of the easiest decisions the judges ever had to hand down, was preferred to tasting the mat. The bell for the third round rang and the challenger ran right into the champ’s uppercut, knocked out cold in a hit that was comparable to Jadaveon Clowney’s infamous smackdown.

The third act of Rage was a total cop-out, stealing the molecule of sugar that was left by the Grinch when he raided the houses. Once again revealing the greediness of Hollywood’s pockets, Rage makes me want to send a pair of notes to Hollywood executives. One pleading them to remember why they entered the business: to make movies that mattered. The second, a hate-filled message cursing them all for allowing greed to override their passion for cinema. Each year, we get less “real” films and more wastes of time. It’s unacceptable.

Quick sidenote, Cage needs to star in a film called “No Man”, a spin-off of Jim Carrey’s Yes Man. Learn to say no, Cage.

Merry Christmas!

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Movie Review: Sabotage

David Ayer’s Fury was an impressive war schematic for cinema, demonstrating some substantial character curves and atmospheric tension.

David Ayer’s Sabotage is the opposite.

Our film starts with a drug bust, which is to be expected. A couple of guys get shot and we get a couple of one-liners from our cast members, a cast that includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Mireille Enos, Terrence Howard, True Blood‘s Joe Manganiello and Lost‘s Josh Holloway.

There are enough familiar names here that some drug-busting, gun-toting crime-fighting characters should be molded and utilized, yet Ayer spends no time in the creative process. The conflict is set up immediately following the drug bust, which was a mere ten minutes in.

Some films are meant to step on the gas straight out of the gate. You see this with a lot of Jason Statham films and other films that don’t have a lot of familiar names in them. This is partially due to script writing and partially due to not having the talent on-screen to exude character confidence. Films that have only one experienced actor will usually take this route.

However, with all the names I’ve listed above, it seems unnecessary to speed this process up. It feels like a misuse of the talent you’ve assembled. It also seems to be common to build apprehension in a crime-based film but when you press forward with such fervor it’s nearly impossible to accomplish any.

The introduction of a film is the most important because that is when audiences will decide to stay with the film or leave. If I wasn’t writing this review, I would have left. There’s no clincher, no hook to my interest. They run into a drug dealer’s place, shoot a couple guys, bag some money and leave. The fact that I talk like nothing happened is a testament to how unengaging the material is. A DEA task force should provide more lively content than this as well as more enticing characters.

Just like that, we’re already involved in an investigation of the squad. Where did the money go? Who stole it?

Nothing noteworthy is established about any of these characters before they’re being investigated, leaving audiences with little if any interest in subsequent events.

Yet there was still hope here if the film began its character writing in the midst of this investigation, similar to what writer James Vanderbilt did in John McTiernan’s Basic.

Director David Ayer, who aided Skip Woods in the film’s screenplay, passed on that avenue also. The investigation is instead skipped over entirely and serves only as a blight on the characters’ reputations.

The writing worsens from there and looking at Skip Woods’ past work, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. The A-Team was the only film that I felt he found success with. Aside from that, his last three have been X-Men Origins: Wolverine, A Good Day to Die Hard and this garbage.

There are quite a couple of things that don’t make any sense during Sabotage‘s near-two hour running time, as well as some truly malignant dialogue. To reveal an example, John “Breacher” Wharton (Schwarzenegger) and investigator Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) are arguing about why people from his unit start showing up dead:

Wharton: “You spend enough time on the job, the job fights back.”

Brentwood: “That’s bull****.”

That is but one example of a plethora of decrepit combinations of words that will barely satisfy the term “writing”.

The level of writing in their scripts forces the film’s performance onto the shoulders of the actors, who have name recognition but not the talent to make a poor film breach the bearable barrier. Olivia Williams is especially cancerous here, both in acting and in the character she plays.

Which leads me to Schwarzenegger. Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnie were the top-notch stars of the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and starting in the late 2000’s, have slowly begun to fall off the horse.

If you exclude the Expendables films, it’s difficult to find the last good film these guys have done where they had a substantial role. Bruce Willis’ would be Live Free or Die Hard in 2007. Since then, he’s starred in both Red installments, which I admit I haven’t seen; Surrogates, which was okay but not great; Looper, which I haven’t seen but apparently no one likes; and A Good Day to Die Hard, one of the worst movies of 2013.

Stallone’s Rambo in 2008 had the dark sentiment war films today are missing. It was a successful installment of the series, an example of what Willis’ A Good Day to Die Hard should have been instead of the butchering of the famous John McClane that it was.

Stallone’s other films haven’t been great but they’ve been far better than Willis’ and Schwarzenegger’s have been recently. The Escape Plan and Grudge Match were at least satisfactory. Not worth revisiting, but they weren’t a waste of my time. Stallone’s still got some hidden gems to work with and aside from the third Expendables film, hasn’t been too far off the mark.

Schwarzenegger has gone the longest without a hit film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003. A large portion of that is because he was serving as governor of California, but his re-entry into Hollywood has been abysmal. The Last Stand, Escape Plan and Sabotage have been his newest three and if this is the best that Arnie can do, he needs to hang up the cleats for good. Truthfully, Willis needs to hang ’em up, too. Stallone is the only one really trying to produce quality films these days.

Arnie will always be famous for his great action flicks filled with corny one-liners that we all loved back then, but these films he’s starring in now just don’t work and only succeed in dragging what’s left of his reputation further into the mud. Just stop, Arnie, please?

The characters are hard to tolerate to top it all off, something I’ll elaborate it on in the spoiler’s edition.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Gone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of Extinction)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (House at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead SnowRubberHansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (ZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: RetaliationVantage Point)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and Aliens)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (GallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmenClash of the Titans)

My score for Sabotage: 19.

I found myself reading through some of the reviews posted on Netflix. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. “Minus 10 rating. Worst I’ve seen here. Shut off after 1/3 through. It’s disturbing to read positive reviews about this for many reasons. I don’t know how Schwarzenegger could let himself be associated with it except for trying to keep a public image and to make a little money. See for yourself.”

I agreed with everything this guy/girl said except that last part. Don’t do that.

2. “Terrible movie. The ‘acting’ is flat. Characters are one-dimensional. Disgusting unimaginative dialogue and consists entirely of swears. I turned it off after 21 minutes. The movie deserves zero stars but one needs to assign a rating in order to submit a review.”

Did I write this one? I don’t think so but I almost thought I did. The amount of excessive profanity was needless.

3. “Gads, what low-brow, low-rent, trite trash. Cheap cliché after cheap cliché. Gave it 29 minutes. What a total waste. Watching this movie is like staring at an un-flushed toilet. On second thought, the toilet would be a better time. I like Arnold a lot, but this movie is a disgrace.”

I loved the toilet bit, sir.

4. “What a let down. Good people in it, but the script failed them (and us). Arnold’s acting was abysmal. This movie had more clichés than ANY I have ever seen, a 10-year-old could have written it (and perhaps did). Skip it and save two hours of your life.”

Man, these guys are making my life really easy. I should do this more often.

5. “This movie is god-awful. It’s a prime example of why Schwarzenegger needs to end his career. Despite the success Ayer had in the recent war film, Fury, he dropped a fat goose egg with this loser. There’s a fair amount of clichés and despite a formidable cast, the acting is tasteless and almost at a high school level at some points. The dialogue is shuttered, the action is bland and it tries to make it more gross than it needed to be and yet that’s not even done well. This was stupid. Don’t watch this.”

That one is me. Take my advice. Don’t. Watch. This.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION

These DEA agents don’t seem to care about much of anything, including each other. When one of them dies in a train accident, they have a drinking party. It’s not one of those mournful ones that you would expect either. It’s a raucous, bring-in-the-stripper sort of ordeal. Truly disgraceful and a real way to get the audience to like you. Oh, wait…

The ending’s very anti-climatic and when we learn from our culprit why they started killing all of their former friends, they say, “Because they stole my money.”

I understand money can be a very powerful influence, but this person cut out their friend’s intestines and nailed their body to a ceiling. Like, what is going on here? Was this character always this crazy? There are so many questions about the motivations here that are glossed over.

Our main character, played by Arnie, when the group starts getting paranoid that one of their own is doing the killing, says that all we have is trust. We have to trust each other.

At the end of the movie, Arnie admits to stealing the money, so he can pay off the Mexican police to tell him where the man who killed his wife and son is. What happened to we have to trust each other? He is at least partly responsible for all of his friends’ deaths because if he wouldn’t have stolen the money for himself, the poco locos wouldn’t have come out and started killing everyone. Maybe it would have happened down the road but at least he wouldn’t have been responsible for it and we wouldn’t feel like the main character was a phony the entire movie.

 

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Movie Review: Gone Girl

OH…MY…GOD! This was phenomenal.

David Fincher is a critically claimed director. Yes, he’s responsible for making the worst film I’ve ever seen (Alien 3) but following his premiere film, he rolled some huge hits onto the Hollywood strip, including Se7en, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Clearly one of the best directors of the last 20 years.

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) was in love to a pretty blonde and marriage to this blonde seemed like a great idea. Five years later, he hates his marriage but won’t ask for a divorce because he’s broke. After coming home to find his living room upturned and his wife missing, a manhunt to find her begins. Dunne shows little empathy and few emotions, drawing the suspicious eyes of the police and the more that develops, the more it seems that Nick Dunne killed his wife.

Adapted from the 2012 novel by Gillian Flynn, the script and character writing are of the greatest esteem. With so many kidnapping/crime films, uniquity is hard to come by but remains for the entirety of the film. No character feels unneeded and no plot point unwanted.

Something I loved about this film was that it was never clear-cut where this story was going. There were always multiple routes that this story could have taken. I don’t usually see stories like that. I don’t want to use the word “predictable” because that’s not what I mean, but I find a lot of the stories today predetermined. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen but I know it’s going to center field. Gone Girl was not like that at all. I had no idea where this was going because of all the avenues this had at its disposal. When I’ve seen a movie based on a book without reading the book, rarely do I go to review the original source material. Gillian Flynn’s novel is on the top of my recreational reading list.

There were wrinkles in the overall fabric but they were put there on purpose. It was not accidental or a temporary lapse of the pen. They were put there for a reason.

Affleck has received plenty of hate over social media after news broke that Affleck would be the new Batman in the upcoming Superman-Batman film. If you’ve seen Daredevil, you know why. For a little, I admit I bought into all the hate. Ben Affleck is a wild-card for me. Good Will Hunting? Life-changing. Armageddon? Over-hyped. Reindeer Games? Witty and creative. Pearl Harbor? Hated by most, loved by me. The Sum of All Fears? Garbage, just a few points above suckage. Daredevil? Dare I watch this again? Argo? How did he win an Academy Award for that borefest?

Point being? Ben Affleck is hit or miss for me. His record with me prior to this film? 3-4. Granted, Good Will Hunting was so awesome I could probably count that as two points in the win column but the fact remains that some Affleck movies I just plain hate. Affleck’s face wasn’t going to turn me away from this film though and I’m happy it didn’t.

I can’t say anymore without spoiling so if you haven’t seen it, stop here. Got to see it before you read this.

Affleck’s Dunne is not a likable guy. He doesn’t seem to care about anything. He’s very vocal about how much he hates his wife yet refuses to get a divorce. We find out later he’s having an affair with one of his students. He’s constantly lying to the police and his sassy twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon), who’s very likable and a great sideshow presence. He’s not a good guy. I was convinced he did it.

In most crime movies, the writers usually try to paint the suspect as innocent and convince us of his/her innocence before taking off the mask and showing us they were guilty all along. This film took a different approach, trying to paint our suspect as a guilty, good-for-nothing, cheating husband. I was convinced he did it. Then I found out Amy Dunne was alive.

I was shocked, as I think most viewers were, because we’ve watched too many films where the guy’s guilty. He did it, the movie shows him getting off and gives us a flashback of how he did it and wraps it all up with a roll credits. Because of all of those previous viewings of similar material, we allowed ourselves to be shoehorned in our thinking. The result was a Oscar-worthy film that surprised, thrilled and created one of the most creepy characters of all-time.

If Rosamund Pike doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Actress, the whole awards ceremony is a bunch of baloney. I’ll never look at Pike again without thinking of her role as Amy Dunne. She is a maniacal, control freak, killer psychopath and I never saw it coming. Even when it was revealed that she had set her husband up for murder, I was like, “Well, that’s not really how you should deal with a cheating spouse but okay.” Only when the facade of amazing Amy was beginning to wither did I realize that Amy Dunne was indeed amazing, but not in the context that I thought. She was always one step ahead of everyone. Her journalistic abilities to read and sway the court of public opinion were mesmerizing and her delivery was cutthroat (PUN). Amy Dunne was one to be feared.

Affleck was great, but Pike was, dare I say, legendary. This was one of the best character portrayals by an actress I’ve ever seen and I definitely did not expect such an example from Pike. I hadn’t seen enough of her to determine her potential, but I never would have thought she could have pulled off something like this. This role could turn Pike into one of the leading ladies on the Hollywood strip for the next decade. Time will tell but I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on her.

The complementary roles were solid, especially Tyler Perry bringing another serious role to the table. I was just so blown away by how this film was able to sway the audience and myself like puppets. They got us rooting for Nick’s guilty verdict and then we were rooting for Amy’s imprisonment. It led me around like a dog chasing a bone and I wasn’t even mad about it. It was incredible. It really showed how the media can brainwash your thinking if you don’t maintain neutrality.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (MulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of ExtinctionJack Reacher)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(When the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012)MaleficentRise of the Planet of the Apes)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Dead SnowRubberHansel and Gretel: Witch HuntersAnchorman: The Legend of Ron BurgundyThe Transporter)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Expendable 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: RetaliationVantage PointThe Starving Games)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and Aliens)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (GallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmenClash of the Titans)

My score for Gone Girl: 98.

David Fichter’s latest venture Gone Girl should expect a few Oscars at this year’s ceremony and Gillian Flynn should expect to sell a few million more copies of her book because with two great leads and great direction, Gone Girl is bound to be one of the greatest films of 2014.

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