4 Things Movie Fans Should Know About Dunkirk Director Christoper Nolan

19 07 2017

christopher-nolan-interstellar-director.jpg

Hey everyone, I’m also writing on Creators.co to gain more experience/motivation. I’ll still be writing here too, but thought I’d provide an easy way for you to read more of my random thoughts.

That said, check out my second post here! It’s a great, great link.





The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

19 05 2015

Ultron_Group

First of all, sorry about the late review. I’ve assembled (zing!) twice now in the theaters to see this popcorn blockbuster known as Age of Ultron, but life happens, and it’s not like anyone was waiting for my opinion anyway. BUT, I do want to talk about this latest entry. Ultron is less straightforward than the first Avengers film, but that’s actually a good thing in my view. I like that they created their own greatest fear (pointed out by Ultron), and also the whole twin subplot. In addition, we got everything most people want in these movies. More heroes and villains? Check. Easter eggs and crazy action scenes, including that sweet slow-mo sequence around the “key”? Double check.

That’s not to say this was a perfect movie. The weakest parts of this and most current Marvel movies were the awkward setups for another movie. Hey look, Asgard is going to pot for some reason. Don’t really care now. Go fight Ultron. I’m going to watch the next Thor movie, Marvel. Just quit reminding me that there are more movies with these characters, because that really takes the tension out of this one.  Please just make a solid, standalone movie, preferably one without a random cave sequence with a side character (steps down from soapbox).

In other news, Black Widow has no idea who she likes. I mean, first Avengers, who is she paired with? That’s right class, Hawkeye. And remember how she flirts and kisses Bruce Banner in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Oh wait, that was Captain America. Anyway, if you accept this left-field mood swing (who HASN’T had this happen in a relationship? Sorry, bitter.), it’s not too unbearable. Call me whatever you want, but the scenes with their awkward flirty banter dragged on too long for my tastes.

James Spader Ultron poster

Don’t get on his Black List.

The original magic of seeing all the separate heroes in one movie is gone, but honestly there’s no way that could be replicated. Perhaps the new Avengers at the end will help in the next one? I actually enjoyed how we could jump straight into their team fighting a massive battle in the first scene. And, despite what I said about Thor’s visions, the Avengers’ fearful dreams caused by Scarlet Witch’s manipulations were a brilliant way to deepen each character, while still advancing the plot. I’m looking forward to more of the new recruits, but it will be depressing if we don’t get to watch the originals’ fun dynamic anymore.

James Spader and Elizabeth Olsen were my standout favorites. Elizabeth Olsen (thankfully not the twins) hasn’t been in a lot of big movies, and that actually helped her character’s innocence in a way. She and Quicksilver were convincing along their personal journeys. James Spader basically played Robot James Spader, and that’s a good thing. Some comic book purists apparently took issue with him not being as menacing as in the comics, but he DID nearly destroy the entire Earth, right? Not too shabby, all while being zany in a creepy way. Look, when have we ever been worried that the villain will win in these movies? There’s way too many more movies to make. Finally Vision was interesting, but I have no idea where they’re going with his character, especially after a random god reference. Don’t expect him to help out in any solo movies soon- he’s way too powerful.

Elizabeth Olsen

I seem to remember Quicksilver from a separate movie universe…

Hawkeye also got some great moments with meta one-liners and self-deprecating humor (We’re fighting an army of robots, and I’ve got a bow. None of this makes sense.)  Speaking of humor, the jokes never stopped dropping. Some worked, and some didn’t, but nothing was as painful as say, Transformers’ idea of humor. For example, the hammer lift sequence was a genuinely funny moment that played off each character in a natural way. And of course Robert Downey Jr. starred as his rich, funny self.

Overall, there were tons of eye-candy, action scenes, humor and just about every Marvel character that’s been in this universe (besides Loki). There were so many random story lines and characters (literally) flying around I’m surprised it wasn’t a complete mess, but I guess that’s a testament to Josh Whedon. Unfortunately, yes, this is his last entry in the Marvel Movie Universe (sigh). Will he jump over to DC? Who knows, but it’s going to be hard to match his style of film-making next two Avengers, since it seemed to complement the theme and tone so well. Either way, he’s given audiences the two of the more enjoyable blockbusters of the last few years, and that’s worth some revelry.

If only this had happened.

If only this had happened.





100% Accurate Movie Predictions for 2015

4 01 2015

Well it’s that time of the year again, where I make shockingly-on-point predictions about upcoming cinematic offerings. These have all been carefully selected using Google and an impossibly low level of effort. Are we in for a treat this year, or a big, steaming pile of sequels?

 

Tak3n

Stop taking his blasted stuff!

January 9- Taken 3

Haha! That last question was a joke! Get ready for the third Taken movie- hot on the heels of the first mediocre sequel. So, what gets taken this time, besides Liam Neeson’s soul? Well it turns out the only thing taken this time (SPOILER ALERT) is Bryan Mill’s wife- permanently. Yep, remember those happy endings, where he saves his family and reunites with his wife Lenore (Famke Janssen)? Well, to quote the studios, “Forget that junk, let’s have Neeson get framed for her murder!” Meanwhile, the CIA, FBI and police all try to hunt down our hero.

Prediction: It’s Liam Neeson kicking butt, so you can bet this will at least enjoy mild success for a weekend or two. Word of mouth will ultimately kill it, because some people will miss the whole American-beating-up-foreigners aspect.

 

mila_kunis

I see we’re trying the Matrix outfits again.

Feb 6- Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is found on Earth by Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered action hero, who tells her she’s important (because of confusing reasons or something) and will “alter the balance of the cosmos” (I swear that’s a quote from the official description). Also, Jupiter Jones is a terrible name.

Prediction: The promos say “From the Creators of the Matrix Trilogy,” which isn’t the best reference, but honestly have the Wachowski siblings come out with anything else that’s worth mentioning? If all people mercifully remember is the first Matrix movie, and nothing else about the other two, you may get some tickets from an audience that’s willing to forgive Mila Kunis for her awful witch in Oz the Great and Powerful.

 

Feb 13- Fifty Shades of Grey

I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this article, you are already an educated and discerning individual who doesn’t need my sarcasm to know a bad movie.

Prediction: Some will say this embarrassing pimple of a film didn’t go far enough, and others too far. Either way, let’s have a moment of silence for all the poor bro’s who will get forced into the theater by their emotionally-unstable significant others.

 

Kevin James

Wow! April looks awful!

April 17- Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Paul Blart (Kevin James) continues his cautionary tale for washed-up comedians in the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Mall Cop. I sure hope there’s some fat jokes in this one!

Prediction: Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy will be jealous they weren’t involved. The positive side is you can instantly de-friend anyone on Facebook who mentions this film in a positive light.

 

Avengers_teaser

*Spider-Man not included.

May 1- The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and the rest of the Avengers reassemble to further build their retirement funds. Expect awkward conversations about why they didn’t assemble to help out on Thor 2, where the universe practically imploded, or why not even one of them called to check up on Captain America after his near-death experience. Also count on Captain Cameo (Stan Lee) making an appearance.

Prediction: Hah, you don’t need a blog to tell you that this movie will create a shower of gold bars over Marvel Studios, and will push them full steam into their next 75 comic book movies.

May 15- Pitch Perfect 2

Because the ladies need something to watch while their guy friends watch Avengers the third weekend in a row.

Prediction: See above.

 

Comic-Con

Because Disney World was closed.

June 12- Jurassic World

Imagine a world where citizens are willing to pay to see dinosaurs up-close again, even after one or two disastrous encounters where lives were lost. Imagine this awful business plan is again picked up by well-meaning but ultimately profit-driven people in suits who know that the jaded public will fall for anything. Are the story writers being intentionally ironic with us?

Prediction: Obviously this isn’t going to be better than the original, so the most I can hope for this is gentle critics and lowered expectations from fans. Because profits…find a way.

 

Jai Arnold Schwarzenegger

Terminator heads hate sunny fields.

July 1- Terminator: Genisys

It’s a new Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and a new Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke)…with an aging Terminator robot (Aging Arnold Schwarzenegger) in an alternate timeline. Apparently Terminators actually age now. They probably will have a crazy shootout scene in the Terminator Retirement Home, with all the other time-traveling robot assassins who couldn’t take out one dude.  At least the misspelled title will drive my OCD friends crazy.

Prediction: Arnold hasn’t been the biggest draw lately, and this is a tired series that should have gone to bed a couple of decades ago. They’ll probably draw a profit, but we won’t be telling our grandchildren about where we were when we first saw Terminator: Genisys.

 

Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence

(Cue whistling)

Nov 20 – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

It’s the second part of a sequel to a sequel, based on the least popular book of The Hunger Games trilogy. Even with all that cynicism, you and I will probably be in the ticket line opening weekend.

Prediction: If I remember correctly, Part I didn’t do as well in theaters, partly because of the extra fluff inserted to make the book into two movies. However, it’s the last entry of the movie series, so it’ll draw in enough profit to finance a giant party in The Capitol.

Star Wars

Admit it. You just stopped breathing for a moment.

December 18 – Star Wars: Episode VII

Like a jilted lover who doesn’t know any better, the nerd in everyone will return to the Star Wars universe this winter. Our favorite characters are now 30 years older, but there will be no Jar Jar Binks or whiny pre-Vader. Could this be the movie that finally brings balance to the Lucas? Or is it a trap?

Prediction: It’s probably a trap. But a very effective trap that will take all our money.





The Hobbit- The Battle of the Five Armies Review

26 12 2014

Martin Freeman bilbo

First of all, yes, this Hobbit trilogy should have been just two movies. No matter how many extra sources Peter Jackson pulled from (what’s up, The Silmarillion?), each installment has had parts that felt like cinematic fluff to fill in these long running times. The Battle of the Five Armies is no exception, most notably in the meaningless made-up character Alfrid and his unremarkable plot. Wasn’t it awesome when his story ended with him running away in a dress? No, no, it wasn’t.

Looking past the filler, I still enjoyed the spectacle and story closure this film gives us. A little explanation as to why Dwarves and Elves are usually at odds? Check. Tying up all the characters’ stories, while also giving us a bridge to the original Lord of the Rings trilogy? Check. A huge battle that goes on for basically the whole movie? Yep. An opening battle that’s better than the main event? Yes (unfortunately).

 

battle of the five armies

World of Warcraft shut-ins.

 

The superior action sequence of Smaug attacking Lake Town should have been the second movie’s finale. It’s poor writing to construct a false cliffhanger just by cutting an action scene in half, and then expecting the audience to remember/care about the characters a year later. Also the random, made-up hide and seek segment with the dragon in the Lonely Mountain felt weird and made Smaug look like a burglar from Home Alone. The attack on Lake Town was splendid and eye-catching, but imagine if it was the emotional payoff of a movie instead of a random opening act with two characters most people would have forgotten about. Maybe I’m just sore because I didn’t have enough built-up emotion to tear up.

 

benedict cumberbatch

He still kicked butt though.

 

Besides the misplaced initial fight, the rest of the movie deals entirely with the setup and execution of the Battle of the Five Armies. We do manage to get some character moments however, and as usual the entire cast is stellar. Thorin’s (Richard Armitage) sudden transformation into Scrooge McDuck is a little jarring but necessary to the plot. Seeing Galadriel, Elrond, and an energetic Saruman fight Nazgul was as awesome as it sounds. Martin Freeman‘s final job as Bilbo sealed his perfect portrayal for the trilogy. Also, my crush on Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel) remains intact.

 

tauriel legolas evangeline lily orlando bloom

Sorry Legolas, you’re just too tall for her.

 

I’ll say it one more time- CGI Orc fights are just a shadow of the earlier stuntmen duels. Think back to The Fellowship of the Ring and the gritty finale with the band of Uruk-Hai. How much better did that look with the stuntmen in full costume, swinging real metal? The heroes actually flinched a little when knives were thrown and blocks were made, because there was an element of actual danger. No matter how good the CGI is, the audience still picks up on elements that look or feel off.

I did find myself feeling emotional during the post-battle scenes, only because I knew these would be the final Lord of the Rings moments on the big screen. The film writers were obviously addressing their longtime fans from Bilbo’s farewell to the Dwarves to the final callback to The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s a bittersweet moment for an epic movie saga.

 

Sorry, but really.

Sorry, but really.





Interstellar Review

7 11 2014

christopher nolan movie

(Disclaimer: I’ve been accused of being a Nolan fanboy before, but I’ll do my best to stay objective here.) Christopher Nolan’s latest work departs from the action-packed nature of Dark Knight Rises and Inception,  trading dreams for black holes and fist fights for time jumping. There’s the trademark blend of blockbuster and philosophical, and at nearly three hours, it takes a while for the space travel to even take off (zing!). However, the longer segment on Earth is time well spent, and it you can endure the marathon length, there are some great payoffs.

 

Cooper Nolan

Meanwhile, on Hoth…

Chris Nolan’s brother Jonah penned the script all the way back in 2008. At the time, he intended somebody like Spielberg to direct, but after his brother’s directorial rise in recent years he was able to take control instead. Basically, the planet has been running out of food/crops ever since The Blight (some sort of parasite) and the subsequent giant dust storms. This is a futuristic world that was thrown back into a situation not unlike the Great Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. So when Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) finds out that there may be a chance off-galaxy to find a new livable world, he joins Emilia Brand (Anne Hathaway) and crew to jump into a black hole near Saturn. So yes, it’s a sci-fi plot, but it attempts to reach for higher themes then your typical sci-fi flick. Are we alone in the universe? What could we have wrong about science? What is mankind destined for, and what should and shouldn’t we sacrifice to get there? And finally, what does love have to do with all this? (Talk about a curveball).

If it sounds a little heavy, it is (and thank goodness for the fair amount of humor included). And some of these themes and elements (especially the time manipulation) cause some logical leaps in the movie. For example, why is Anne Hathaway’s character not decades older than Cooper in the film’s final act? Did the black hole slingshot slow time down for her too? Or heck, the ending is pretty ambiguous, so maybe what we’re shown of her was in the past? Also, the whole “other civilization” thing is sort of an easy way to explain plot developments, but is not fully explained. I don’t need to know everything, but I would have liked to know why Murph was so important to them in the first place.

Amelia Brand

You’ve got some explainin’ to do…

Potential plot (black) holes aside, let’s get to one of the strongest parts of the movie- the cast. The heart and driving force of the movie is unquestionably Cooper and his daughter Murphy (played very well by both Mackenzie Foy and Jessica Chastain). Their scenes together in the first act of the movie kept the later parts from falling apart. We could believe Cooper’s drive to see them again, and this was a huge source of the film’s emotional impact. It was so effective in fact, that I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed at the less-than-ideal way this plot was resolved. I’m not saying it was a negative; I just like happier endings, okay?  It was a huge surprise to me when Matt Damon showed up near the third act, and kudos to them for keeping it a secret from most of the audience. His portrayal of Dr. Mann effectively sold that he had lost a few screws up there during isolation. The fact that he was Matt Damon distracted a little, especially considering the initial surprise of such a big actor appearing out of nowhere. I may have complained about the ambiguity of Anne Hathaway’s final state, but she carried her weight as Brand, somehow selling us on her love for a man we never physically see. Finally, it’s always nice to see Michael Caine in a Nolan project, but I wish he had a little more to work with during his shorter screen time. Topher Grace and John Lithgow must have just wanted to be in a Nolan film, because their parts were so small I barely had time to notice them.

Matthew Cooper Interstellar Nolan Foy

He did give her a terrible name though…

 

The musical score (once again by the great Hans Zimmer) and special effects were top-notch. My serious advice is to see it in IMAX, because I did not (yet). Nolan loves using those rare, expensive cameras, and around a whole hour of this space epic was shot with IMAX cameras. Besides the spectacle, I could have also benefited from the superior speakers in an IMAX theater. The speakers in my auditorium were so janky some higher musical moments were all but ruined. Hopefully this isn’t widespread but there have been some reports of faulty sound experiences.

 

Murphy Nolan

Somebody really hated Signs…

To sum this all up, Interstellar is a deeply introspective film that trades the action and pizazz of Inception or Dark Knight Rises for an emotional and philosophical sci-fi journey through the stars. You’ll laugh, you’ll tear up, and you’ll definitely look up the plot explanation later just to figure out everything that was happening. But that’s a typical Nolan movie, right? Because of the slower pace, it lacks the re-watch potential of some of his other movies, but this is one trip you don’t want to miss.





Dawn of the Planet of the Apes -Review

29 07 2014

Caesar horse golden gate bridge

I’ll admit it- I haven’t seen any of the original Planet of the Apes movies (sorry, Mr. Heston). I do understand that there really isn’t a central character that stays around through the movies, and that generally each ending is sort of nihilistic. Besides that, I’m told to avoid the Tim Burton mess of an entry. I did manage to catch Rise of the Planet of the Apes in theaters, and I’m happy to say that movie pleasantly surprised me. It wasn’t life-changing, but it was a smart enough movie to get me into the theater one more time to watch a movie about talking apes. And that is my first point- these CGI apes look fantastic. So much computer work can be intrusive, but in this case it was effective. The actor/effects artists nailed facial expressions, and while it’s difficult to tell when the actor’s work ends and the artist’s enhancing begins, Andy Serkis stole the show as Caesar.

andy serkis ape motion

SMEAGOL. NOT. KILL. APE.

During the opening scenes, I was in a bit of a shock with monkeys doing sign language with no humans present, but by the end of the movie it seemed natural. Jason Clarke as Malcom was easily the most effective human character, with the others filling in the blanks, such as his wife Ellie (Keri Russell) who played the supportive spousal role who happens to know medicine. Malcom’s son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is easily more memorable if only for his scenes with Maurice, everyone’s favorite primate.

orangutan

“This is a Marvel book. I specifically asked for Batman, human.”

Dawn excels in the villain category, with excellent examples on both human and ape sides. For the humans we have the hateful Carver, who blinds himself by blaming the apes for a virus that humans created. I still can’t decide if Gary Oldman‘s character Dreyfus was even supposed to be a villain. He came across as a sympathetic leader, especially during the scene where he finally sees his family’s pictures again. However he did end up being an antagonist to Malcom at the very end when he thought Malcom had lost his mind. Ultimately, it’s implied he could have been reasoned with if there had been more time to explain; after all he had already decided against violence earlier when he found out there was a peaceful alternative for the dam. It’s an interesting character only because of Oldman, because honestly he wasn’t given much content. I felt like there must have been some deleted scenes that filled in more blanks about him.

Underused. Should have stayed in Gotham.

Wishing he had stayed in Gotham.

That being said, Koba easily takes top honors for best villain. He’s genuinely sympathetic as a victim who wants to keep his species alive, until he starts murdering anyone who stands in his way. At that point, we see what a monster he’s allowed himself to become, almost indistinguishable from the worst humans who had harmed him in the first place.

Koba

Mr. Cutie wants your guns.

Basically, I appreciate how director Matt Reeves chose to go with a character-driven story when it would have been so easy to go the Michael Bay route with endless action scenes. One example of this is the ending sequence, which was actually cut short. Originally, the last few minutes focused on the apes on the Golden Gate Bridge, staring at a fleet of Navy warships approaching. Instead, we got a emotionally high final scene between the best human and ape characters of the movie (Malcom and Caesar). With deep villains, complex issues and standout visual effects, Reeves managed to pull off a sequel that’s even better than the (new) first movie.

Andy Serkis tracking horse apes

This would have been a very different movie had they just used this footage.





Edge of Tomorrow Review

13 06 2014
tom cruise emily blunt

Watch out Matt Damon. A better mech suit’s in town.

 

Edge of Tomorrow, inspired by every gamer’s attempt to beat a video game on Insane mode (I’m assuming), serves as a superior alternative to last year’s political (and drearily boring) ElysiumBoth featured blockbuster stars who donned a crazy mechanical suit (although Tom’s is less painful to put on), so I was a little wary going into the theater. I’m pleased to say it was not only better than I thought, but it could very well be my favorite summer movie so far. It’s definitely more original than Tom Cruise’s other recent sci-fi Oblivion, which was interesting but felt like it borrowed an awful lot from other movies. Edge of Tomorrow could at most be compared to Groundhog Day; that is, if Bill Murray had been shooting terrifying aliens the whole time. But what makes it stand out?

 

Cage

Cruise. Does. Not. Age.

 

First of all, it’s Tom Cruise playing against type. Yes, he plays an officer named Cage, but he’s more of a PR guy for the military who never gets close to the field. After being thrust into battle by comically unfortunate circumstances, he jumps out and…dies (whoops, spoiler alert!). He then wakes up screaming the previous day, and it’s then he realizes that the movie just gained a very interesting premise. As he replays the day, he gets better and makes progress in finding out what’s happening to him. Don’t worry, even though he relives the same day, it doesn’t get stale thanks to smart editing that conveys the events without dragging down the pace. How many different ways can one day go? Quite a bit, apparently. There are also quite a few hilarious shock moments that come from Cruise getting untimely destroyed, but we only cut back to the previous few seconds. It would be interesting to figure out just how many days his character had to live through, because he dies constantly.

 

Rita

(Game Over Screen)

 

So far we have a proven lead actor, solid CGI (the “Mimics” are super creepy) and a promising premise. The other key part of this success formula is named Emily Blunt. I’m a fan of her acting (and may or may not have a crush), but usually she gets stuck in sort-of-OK movies like The Adjustment Bureau or Looper (notice I haven’t reviewed either). In this film, she easily holds up her side of the movie as Rita, and makes a character believable that could have easily come across as outrageous. To top it off, she’s great with Tom Cruise. I don’t remember one scene where the chemistry or dialogue felt forced, and to be honest she had the harder acting job- she had to start from scratch each new day while still developing her character. Both her and Cruise both had the action pieces down as well, selling the tension in CGI-fueled battles. I don’t say that to indicate that the battles looked fake- again, the CGI was effective, and coupled with some tight choreography and sound effects, each battle sequence held my attention.

 

General

Punch him in the face with Scientology, Tom!

 

But there’s got to be some downers in this movie, right? Well, if I nitpick a little I could mention the reason for Cruise’s gift/curse is a little simplistic, but really it’s done so well I can’t complain. If anything, my main beef would be how unlikeable the military is for the majority of the movie, especially that half-witted General. I get that they aren’t supposed to be perfect, but if we’re supposed to be rooting for humanity, it wouldn’t have hurt to have them be a little more sympathetic.

 

All in all though, this is a solid action movie with surprisingly strong writing. The plot could be repetitive but it’s not, and in hindsight the day goes so many different routes it’s hard to remember the exact path the movie took. Ultimately, it’s a serious, heartfelt and somehow fun sci-fi journey through time.

 

tom cruise meme

Much like when you notice Christian Bale’s eye wart…