Wednesday, November 18, 2015


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  If this film didn't go with the tagline "It'll take your breath away" then I have lost all hope for the world.

Air – 2 out of 5

When I first read about this film, I was pretty excited to see it.  Its story sounded like a prime breeding ground for some cool and dark sci-fi, the cast is composed of two actors I really enjoy, it’s produced by Robert Kirkman—the man who gave us The Walking Dead—and it was directed and co-written by the guy who wrote one of my all-time favorite video games; Red Dead Redemption.  How could Air go wrong?  Well, it can in just enough ways...

On the plus side, Col. Saul Tigh from Battlestar Galactica was the president
in this film's reality.

In the near future, chemical warfare has destroyed most of the world’s population and left the air un-breathable.  The government quickly built an underground bunker where the world’s leading scientists, thinkers and, most likely, best bakers of sweet pastries and snacks were collected and put into cryo-sleep.  Each of these facilities has two maintenance men who wake up every six months to do routine inspections and make sure the future of the world is sleeping well.  One day, two workers; Cartwright (Djimon Hounsou) and Bauer (Norman Reedus), get up to do their jobs but an accident causes one of their sleep terminals to be destroyed.  Now they are faced with a choice:  One of them has to die or they try to figure out another way.  As hopeless as it feels, things only get worse when they learn a startling truth about their job and the facility they operate in…


Remember:  Keep your Reedus stored airtight because
if air gets to it, it will die.  And if it dies, people will riot.
Some of the things that work really well with Air is its cast and its concept.  The story is a simple sci-fi feature that is built on a solid foundation of isolated and claustrophobic tension.  This future that's presented is a realistic way and I really dug how the equipment that Cartwright and Bauer are surrounded by looked antiquated in some areas and modern in others.  It really helped show that these facilities were quickly thrown together in order to preserve the human race.  Additionally, both Hounsou and Reedus are doing excellent job and really carrying the film—and that means a lot since they, realistically, are the only ones to the cast.  Granted, Reedus isn’t really pushing his boundaries and playing something we haven’t seen before.  For all intents and purposes, he’s just playing a slight variation of Daryl Dixon but he’s still entertaining in his role.

"Here ya go, Rick--I mean, Cartwright."

The problems I had with Air start with the fact that the story doesn’t dive deep enough into a lot of points of tension or conflict.  After the sleep terminal is destroyed, Bauer and Cartwright are left with a really difficult decision:  Do they try to repair the unit or do they sacrifice one of the chosen few so that the other maintenance man doesn’t have to complete their work alone?  Sacrificing an innocent to save the life of another innocent is a hardcore moral decision and one that should have been a big point of conflict and suspense in the film but, ultimately, it’s a short scene that is fixed way too quickly.  Instead, the film then just decides to have the conflict for survival be between Bauer and Cartwright and the film spins into a generic battle between the two.  This could have worked but the characters are introduced so fast and their point of conflict brought about so quickly after the more interesting sequence involving a moral choice is swept under the rug that it was hard to invest emotionally in their disagreement and war for survival.

The twist at the end is that the bad air was all a big prank from some super-
intelligent apes.

Another element I didn’t enjoy about the film and really stole all suspense and interest was the inclusion of a deus ex machina from the writers.  Cartwright has visions of his wife when he’s awake and even goes as far as talk to her while he’s doing his work.  This is fine and it goes a long way to show the heartbreak he is going through.  However, this quickly becomes a weak point of the film when it is used to solve any problem or minor hardship that he is facing.  There are points in the story where he and Bauer have obstacles and barriers in their way and rather than have them figure it out (they are in charge of keeping and maintaining the facility, so they should have it covered), the mirage of Cartwright’s wife shows up and shows him what to do to get them out of their mess.  Sure, his wife is a figment of his imagination so his subconscious is really telling him how to fix the situation but this presentation just feels lazy and like a plot device to just keep a story that is already moving very slowly on its rails and moving forward without any form of complication.

The scene where she explains to him where to find the toilet paper after the roll
runs out was a little weird, too.

It’s possible that my expectations for Air were too high but the final product was fairly disappointing.  I did enjoy the concept and the performances from Reedus and Hounsou but the story is pretty bland and it’s conflict seems to be actively avoiding going the deeper route and, instead, settles for something far more generic—and that extends all the way to the very, very predictable twist in the story.  Air looks decent and definitely had a lot of potential to be a science fiction film with depth and substance but, in the end, just felt more like a better SyFy original from days gone by.  A time before all their movies involved weird monsters and tornados with sharks in them.

Rev. Ron's Realitites: San Andreas

Hey gang!  It’s time for another addition of Rev. Ron’s Realities!

If you didn’t catch the first time I did this, you can see it right here.  Also, if you’re wondering what the heck Rev. Ron’s Realities is, well here’s a quick once over:  This is a new segment where, if an extra or a minor character in a film catches my eye or a specific plot point tickles my fancy, and I create a completely fictional history (or “reality”) behind this point or character.  I previous did it with the story behind the purchase of the intellectual property of Jurassic World and now I’m turning my sights on San Andreas.  So, if you’re ready (and if you’re not, I’ll give you a minute before you keep reading…ready now?) let’s go!

The sequel will have The Rock taking on the quake in a Hell in the Cell match.

Recently I watched The “Dwayne Johnson” Rock in the 2015 disaster flick San Andreas.  If you’re curious about my review, check it out here, but there was a scene where Dwayne Johnson’s character’s daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) is accompanying her mother’s boyfriend to his office in downtown San Francisco.  While there, she meets a nice British man and his brother but what caught my eye was an extra in the background who gives a cocky look towards them.  So, I got to wondering what brought him there and what the hell happened to him during the insanity of the gigantic earthquake.

The guy in the back, not the kid.

This man is named Robert Klimmer.  He’s single and has been living in San Francisco for nearly 15 years now.  He went to college at a decent school where he majored in architectural design.  Daniel Riddick, the boyfriend to The Rock’s ex-wife, runs a very lucrative business and, like the man Blake met, Robert is hoping to work for him and is there for an interview.  Blake, if you’ve seen the film, is a bit of a nervous type and Robert is more of a borderline cocky and arrogant type—which explains why he smugly gives Blake and the group a cock-eyed glance. 

Ah, San Fran.  The Big Apple as they call it.

Sure, Robert is full of himself but he has reason to be.  Growing up he always did well in school, he aced every course in college and has always been swarmed by beautiful women.  When he woke up that morning (after an excellent night’s sleep), he had a fantastic morning jog, his pre-shower bowl movement went well and had an excellent consistency that reminded him that he has a great diet and his drive to the coffee shop (where they got his order correct, they wrote his name on the cup correctly and was served quickly) and then to the office was met with absolutely no traffic.  Mr. Klimmer has reason to be arrogant, is what I’m saying because he is clearly living his life with a goddamn rabbit’s foot up his tush.

Not Shown, Robert's tush.

Robert feels he’s a shoe-in for the job but right before the office’s administrative assistant calls him in to meet with the hiring team, the earthquake hits.  He immediately rushes towards the elevator—even though you shouldn’t be using it in this emergency.  The car takes a second to arrive as the screaming masses of business professionals flee for their lives around him and escape down the stairs.  Eventually, the elevator arrives with a *ding* and he calmly steps in and rides the elevator down to the lobby.  Immediately after he steps out, a chunk of building sails down the elevator shaft and destroys the car.  Thanking his lucky stars (or the rabbit foot in his butt), Robert flees the building—and thinks he caught a glimpse of the company’s owner Daniel Riddick screaming something about needing help.  However, he ignores this and runs into the street.

Maybe it’s because of the mix of excitement and terror or maybe because his legs were toned from years of marathon running and daily jogs, but Robert runs right through the entrance and literally into the streets.  A speeding cab, shaken by the sudden movement of the tectonic plates and falling chunks of skyscrapers around him, weaves around madly and barely misses Robert.  The cab hits a parked car and the driver is ejected.  Robert takes a few steps in an attempt to make it look like he is going to help the mortally wounded driver but a large piece of the Riddick building embeds itself into the ground where he was just standing.  He glances up and sees the entire building is on the verge of collapsing and decides that it’s either him or death.  Pumping his well-toned calves, Robert decides to run.

                                                                                                           Photo - Emma Kessinger
"Crossfit, don't fail me now!"

The architect pumps his arms and legs until he is completely in the zone.  He tunes out the sounds of destruction and the screams of help from the people around him.  He has no time to help them.  He’s Robert “Fucking” Klimmer and he’s an amazing architect with a bright future ahead of him.  He can’t die now.  It would be a disservice to the world and reality as a whole.

Time flies by before Robert realizes that he’s been running for nearly an hour and he finally takes a moment to stop.  The tremors have stopped and the only sound he hears is the sounds of emergency services and the aftermath of destruction.  He pulls a hankie from his pocket and dabs the sweat off of his brow.  He chuckles to himself and can’t believe how lucky he is to survive.  “And why not,” he thinks to himself, “I’ve always been lucky.  Nothing bad every happens to me.”

As his chuckling subsides, he turns to take in his surroundings and realizes that he ran all the way to the seashore.  With a sense of overall safety overtaking him, Robert pulls out his cellphone and calls his mother.  She answers weeping because she heard about the ‘quake on the news.  “It’s okay, mom,” he reassures her.  “I’m fine, I made it out.  I didn’t get a chance to have my job interview but, hey, there’s always tomorrow, right?”

“What job interview?” his mother asked.

“At Riddick, mom” he says.  “Remember?  I’m going to be their next big architect.”

His mother remains silent for a long time before Robert realizes she whispering to his father.  He can’t hear her because she probably has her hand over the phone but it sounds like she said something about how she needs to tell him.  “Um, Robert,” she finally starts, “there’s something your father and I need to tell you.”

“W-what is it?”

She hesitates for a second, “It’s…well…you never actually graduated from college.”

“What?” Robert exclaimed in utter shock.

“You failed every class and your teachers said that you didn’t have what it takes to be an architect.”

“I-I don’t understand, mom.” Robert said bewildered.

“We paid your teachers to give you good grades,” she quietly replied.  “We know we shouldn’t have done it but you were so proud of your perceived achievements.  Sure, you were just handing in pictures of houses drawn with crayons—and even one time you drew a horsey—but we couldn’t bear to see you have your dream destroyed.”

“That horsey was a horse-themed nightclub, mom!” Robert screamed.

*Actual Photo*

“It all spiraled out of control from there, sweetie,” his mother groaned.  “We struck a deal with the school to let you think you were attending and even had them print up a fake diploma for you. “

“Fake diploma?”

It seems so legit though...

“And then there was paying for your apartment because you kept sending your landlord photocopies of dollar bills—which is illegal, honey,” she continued.  “And then there are the monthly checks we send to the coffee shop to make sure your favorite coffee is ready when you get there and all the prostitutes we pay for so you think the girls like you…”


She sighs, “If your father and I knew how hard this raising a child thing would be I don’t know if we would have ever adopted you in the first place—”

“I’m adopted, too?!?” Robert screamed.

“Oh honey,” his mother sweetly stated, “I’m so sorry to be unloading this on you right now.  I know you were just through something horrendous but your running skills are all you.  Oh, you always loved to run.  You would yell, ‘Look at me mama, I’m a bird’ as you ran.  Granted, you didn’t know what birds were at the time but you were 13—you were so young.”

He still doesn't know what birds are, to be honest.

Robert dropped the phone even though his mother kept talking.  Her buzzing voice coming out the speaker faded away and was replaced by an approaching roar from the distant.  He slowly turned towards the shore and saw a giant wave approaching the city.  That must be one of those tornadoes he heard about…at least, he thinks they’re called a tornado.  With a sigh, Robert looked down and saw he was still clutching his portfolio he was going to give to the executive.  He slowly opened the folder and saw all his bright colored pictures of hippos, sunflowers and a UFO with waving aliens in it.  They would have loved those nightclubs, he thought to himself as the tsunami hit the shore and everything went black.

Before everything went black, it went a blueish/greenish/whitish color.

On the other end of the phone call, his mother stopped speaking when she realized that Robert wasn’t replying.  She tried to call again but the phone went right to voicemail.  With trembling hands, she turned off the phone and turned to her husband.  “Do you think he’s okay?”

“He better be,” her husband replied, “we spend a lot of money to have that rabbit’s foot put in his small intestine when we adopted him.”

At that moment, Robert’s dark world started to brighten as his eyes opened.  He didn’t remember the wave hitting him or how he got to where he was but he found himself floating on a buoyant piece of office furniture.  He pushed himself up to a sitting position and gazed at all the destruction around him.  He chuckled slightly to himself, “Stupid tornado.”

Also, he never got another chance to try and get the job because... would be Spoilers for the film if I  told you.  That, and Robert was
clearly not qualified.

Well, there you have it, the strange, strange odyssey of Robert Klimmer; the man in the background of single shot in San Andreas.  Stay tuned, who knows when inspiration will strike again and I see something in a film that needs a completely ridiculous and totally made up backstory.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Justice League: Gods and Monsters

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! this isn't a Justice League that has Ian McKellen and Brendan Fraser in it?

Justice League:  Gods and Monsters – 4 out of 5

If you follow the blog, you know that I’m an unapologetic fan of superheroes and comic books (not that I understand why anyone would have to apologize for being a fan of this stuff).  I’m a big fan of all the Marvel films and I really dig DC’s animated features.  When I heard that Bruce Timm—the man who gave us the epic Batman:  The Animated Series and so many other awesome things—was creating a new Justice League story that would show a brand new look at DC’s Trinity (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), I was all in.  Not only because this was another chance to see another DC animated film but because Justice League:  Gods and Monsters offers up a unique and original retelling—a new universe—for a completely different tale of the heroes to take place in.

One of the biggest changes is that Superman is dressed like he's trying
to join up with the goth kids.

In an alternate reality, Superman (Benjamin Bratt) is the son of General Zod and was raised by migrant farmers on Earth, Batman (Michael C. Hall) isn’t Bruce Wayne but Kirk Langstrom (the man who would be Man-Bat in the mainstream storyline) and is no longer a man seeking vengeance as a vigilante but a new form of vampire, and Wonder Woman (Tamara Taylor) is Bekka, a New God and the widow of Darkseid’s son.  Together, they form a new Justice League that protects the world but is looked upon with suspicion from the population.  After the deaths of brilliant men like Victor Fries, Ray Palmer and Silas Stone are made to look like it was done by the team, the world calls for an investigation.  Soon, the team learns they are being blackmailed by a diabolical villain in an effort to remove them before he initiates a plan to convert the world to his vision of perfection.

Amazing.  Her suit is somehow even more impractical.
 Despite coming out of the gate with some amazing features in their animated shared universe, I haven’t been that impressed with the last few DC features.  They’ve never been all out bad but too many of them have felt rushed and like they were pushing too much content into a seemingly short time span.  This is also seen in Gods and Monsters as the story has the harsh responsibility to craft a new world but it also juggles having a story that is deep and massive.  For the most part, the film does a great job of both feathering out the universe (this is also helped thanks to 3 short prequel animated features that can be found online...and I very much recommend watching them) and developing the mystery and intrigue of the story to a satisfying degree.

Kinda looks like the Commissioner Gordon/Robo-Batman a bit.

Like all DC’s features, the animation looks great and continues to keep a similar look with the other films (a look that fits perfectly with Batman:  TAS).  Additionally, the voice acting is pretty good.  Bratt, Hall and Taylor do a great job of bringing life to these new versions of the Justice League.  Finally, keeping with the trend of the other films, this feature is very mature and very dark.  Sure, the film gives you some robot nipples in order to, I guess, be mature but what really blew me away was how dark the feature goes.

Like Bat-nipples, only even more pointless.

Gods and Monsters gets gory to the point that this film would easily be skirting an R-rating if it was a live-action film but what I really dug about this was how Bruce Timm really wanted you to make sure these aren’t the heroes you were raised with.  Sure, some could argue that Timm was going a lazy route and making Supes, Bats, and WW darker for the sake of being dark but I saw it as an antithesis to what I’m used to.  Superman isn’t the Boy Scout we know but a bitter and angry man, this Batman will only kill bad dudes (and do so by drinking their blood) and Wonder Woman is barely a shadow of Princess Diana.  This new approach to their origins and going beyond by making completely different characters become these heroes rather just adjusting Bruce Wayne, Diana and Kal-El’s backstory really made for something interesting and not just a quick alternate universe throw-together.

This Batman does not suck...well, he actually does.
(Damn, did I really go with that awful joke?)

Justice League:  Gods and Monsters might be the best DC animated film I’ve seen in some time.  Its story is great, the voice acting is top notch, the new twist on the same old heroes is intriguing and the action is violent but exciting.  Bruce Timm crafted a universe that is rich and has the potential for many more stories and more unique takes on other DC characters.  I'm glad this world will return with online episodes and I'm excited to see what other neat routes this universe will take.