Thursday, April 18, 2013

Movie Review: Evil Dead

Evil Dead (IMDb score: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 63% Fresh)

Writer & Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci

Disclaimer: I have not seen either the original Evil Dead or its sequel, so I can’t comment on whether it stays faithful to the source material.  If you enjoy horror movies, and gore in particular, I recommend this film.  While some of the character’s actions reach Prometheus levels in that they make entirely no sense given the circumstances, some of the sequences were very frightening, thrilling, and funny.  I don’t believe in the concept of hell but the scariest element from the movie was the fact (eventually known to some characters) that if they are killed by this demon they will spend eternity in hell unless the demon is defeated.  The idea of being mortally wounded and knowing with near certainty that your soul is about to belong to the Devil is probably the worst feeling I can imagine. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

NETFLIX Movie Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed (IMDb score: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes 91% Fresh)
Director: Colin Trevorrow (Will be directing the upcoming Jurassic Park IV)
With March Madness and Easter, I didn’t make it to the cinema this past weekend, but I watched this movie on Netflix and loved it.  I meant to see this in theaters but I never could, and it is available for streaming on Watch Instantly now.  A QUICK PLOT OVERVIEW:  a Seattle magazine writer sees an ad in the classifieds requesting a partner to travel back in time with him.  The writer (Johnson), looking to hook up with an old classmate, takes along two awkward interns for two purposes: to get the story and to get wasted.  The would-be time traveler (Duplass) turns out to be completely serious and is gearing up for his grand voyage, and intern Darius (Aubrey Plaza) becomes entangled in his pursuit. I found that clip hilarious, and if you enjoy it you'll like the movie.  (continues after the jump)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Movie Review: Stoker

Stoker (IMDb score: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes 67% fresh)
Director: Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance)
Writer: Wentworth Miller (Michael Scofield from Prison Break ha)
Cast: Mia Wasikowska (pronounced Vaas-Kaav-Ska), MatthewGoode, Nicole Kidman

Oldboy is on my list of foreign movies I’d really like to see, and it’s beloved by much of the film community that I read and respect so I was interested to see the director’s English language debut.  I walked into the theater without having seen so much as a preview, so I had no idea what to expect.  As the film progressed I was reminded more and more of how I felt watching Black Swan.  Both are beautifully shot and orchestrated well, but the tone is a sort of creepy melancholy where the audience knows something is disturbed beneath the surface.  Taking center stage is the Stoker family: India (Mia), her mother Evelyn (Kidman), and a previously unheard from Uncle Charlie (Goode).  It’s clear from the outset that India is highly introverted and off-putting in certain ways, and that she has a strange relationship to her mother.   Brilliant acting from Wasikowska and Goode on display here, she is totally convincing and heightens some already ruthless sequences with her cold, ethereal presence.  Meanwhile Goode is all mysterious charm. (continues after the jump)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Movie Review: Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers (IMDb score: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes 70% Fresh)

Writer and Director: Harmony Korine (numerous short films)

Hopefully this movie isn’t taken too seriously by audiences, because it is completely devoid of any semblance of morality or realism.  Instead it combines two of the most idolized elements of American youth: partying and the crime culture often promoted by rap music.  The result of this concoction is a crazy, ridiculous, entertaining ride of a movie.  Three ladies and their younger friend are eagerly looking forward to, you guessed it, Spring Break, yet they have no $$$.  To solve this problem they cruise to a restaurant where Brit (Ashley Benson) and Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) violently rob the patrons.  Up to this point the movie was a haze of weed and booze and boobs, so this drastic change of tone worked to great effect.  The way this scene was shot was amazing, and I won’t spoil it here.  From a rookie director, I was quite impressed. (continues after the jump) 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Movie Review: Dead Man Down

Dead Man Down (IMDb score: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes 38% Fresh)

Director: Niels Arden Oplev (Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Writer: J.H. Wyman (The Mexican)

I’m struggling to understand the IMDb score for this movie, as it deserves a much lower rating.  This is a classic $2, sit-on-your-couch-on-a-Sunday flick.  Focusing on a scarred (literally and emotionally) woman on a quest for revenge and a mobster thug who is more than meets the eye, this is an entertaining but highly predictable affair.  Rapace and Farrell’s chemistry propels the movie as far as it can go on such a weak script, but unfortunately Terrence Howard is underused.  They could have made him much more sinister or ruthless, but instead I almost pitied him!  There are a few bloody and rather impressive action sequences which were enjoyable, but there’s little to no mystery about the whole thing.  In terms of plot this will seem like familiar territory for many viewers. (continues after the jump)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful (IMDb score: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes 61% Fresh)
Director: Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Spiderman Trilogy, Drag Me to Hell)
Writer:  Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards, Romeo Must Die)
Cast: James FrancoMichelle WilliamsMila KunisRachel Weisz

Attempting to create a prequel to one of the most essential and beloved Hollywood classics of all time seemed to me like a very dangerous undertaking.  Simple to screw up, hard to do well.  Despite this fact, the potential ROI of a film like this is astronomical and that’s what earned it the green light from the studio.  Imagine you’re Disney and you see Alice in Wonderland make over $1 Billion in 2010.  This is solid gold. EDIT: Well, after opening weekend it’s only made $155M worldwide against a budget of $215M so there goes that theory!  It should still make it to $500M. 

Thankfully, I was mostly happy with how Oz played out.  The story is shallow and somewhat underwhelming (like the original Oz when you think about it), but the world Raimi and the production and design teams created is brilliant.  I saw this one in IMAX 3D and it visually blew me away: amazing colors, breathtaking wide shots, and beautiful special effects.  The tornado sequence was intense and stressful, as it should be.  The original score complements the film well, helping to inspire a sense of wide-eyed awe. Overcoming the weaknesses of the plot and characters, if you get something out of incredible visuals, this one is worth seeing. (continues after the jump)

Friday, March 1, 2013

TV Review: Dexter Season 7

Hey everyone, I've been on a bit of a hiatus to help get ready for my dad to return home from the hospital, but I should be posting regularly from now on.  

WARNING: I will spoil a lot of Season 7 but not much from previous seasons.  Do not read further if this sounds like something you want to avoid!  I will say that this was a GREAT season, up there with Season 1 and Season 4 as the best the show can offer.  The review begins after the jump.