Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Words

***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, 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 1-5. 1, of course, 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! Don't plagiarize, kids.  What works for Dane Cook won't work for you.

The Words – 2 out of 5

I learned in school early on that your entire life can be destroyed in a single instant if you plagiarize someone's work. The teacher made it sound like those drug ads that state if you smoke a single marijuana cigarette you will end up a junkie that’s unable to work and gives out handjobs to millionaires just so you can get some scrapes together to buy some skunk weed and eventually die from dehydration and starvation because you forgot to eat due to getting high so much (that ad exists right?). My teacher made it sound like that…only a million times worse—like, while you were doing that, a werewolf with a barbed penis and AIDS is constantly jumping out and raping you at random intervals before stealing your pot you stroked so hard to save up for. School made stealing other people’s work sound like the worst thing on the planet…and yet, when Carlos Mencia does it, we celebrate—I’m kidding, nobody likes Carlos Mencia and his joke stealing earned him his reputation of being an asshole. Cooper doing a Sammy Davis, Jr. impression?

The Words is a story being told by Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid). Hammond wrote a book about a man named Rory (Bradley Cooper). Rory is a struggling writer and rather than just self publish his book which, like most self published books, is probably just a rip off of whatever big seller is currently eating the market (there are literally 200 million rip offs of The Hunger Games and Twilight being self published as I type this [citation needed]), Rory struggles to get his writing noticed by the bigwigs—“bigwigs” is the technical term for people in the publishing industry.

"My book contains more than 140, it might not keep the attention
of many of you out there in the audience."

Look, words!  This movie is so goddamn literal!
 Rory is your stereotypical starving artist—he doesn’t work and he mooches money from his father (played by the awesome J.K. Simmons) and yet, he somehow has snagged a smoking hot wife (Zoe Saldana) that is perfectly okay with the fact his idea of a hard day at the office was having to put on pants and run down to the corner market for coffee after writing about three paragraphs in his novel. Eventually, Rory stumbles upon a manuscript that tells the tale of a man in Paris during the war and is so blown away that he does what any logical writer would do—he steals it and claims he wrote it. Everything is sunshine and stardom until the day comes where the original author steps up and kicks Rory in the metaphoric balls. The man (credited only as The Old Man and played by Jeremy Irons) tells Rory his story and kicks him again—this time in the metaphoric guilt trip balls. The kick works and Rory feel awful for claiming ownership over another man’s musings and is willing to ruin his career, his life and his marriage over the mistake.

Then, at one point, we're suppose to believe that Olivia Wilde wants to sleep with Dennis Quaid.

The Words had promise and potential for a dramatic story. Just imagine the shit that could go down between Cooper and Irons in this one…are you imagining it? Well, I’ll just wait here until you do.

It's hard for me to see Jeremy Irons do anything but threaten Bruce Willis over the telephone.

Okay, I’m going to assume you have had enough time to properly imagine it. The dynamic of the Rory character stealing the life’s work of The Old Man is ripe for drama; Rory’s life goes down the drain, The Old Man is given a choice of letting the man drown in his devious ways or forgiving him for making a selfish mistake. Or how awesome would it have been to see the ill-gotten fame be expanded upon and see Rory rise to exalted status only to have it crash and burn with the heat of our yellow sun? Sadly, none of this really goes down.

The Old Man also wrote the Twilight novels but immediately tossed them out
in the garbage for Stephanie Meyer to collect and use her pact with the Devil
to gain fortune and fame from them.

Oh, there’s some drama between Rory and The Old Man but it fails, greatly, to live up to the circumstances. When The Old Man’s story is told, we get to feel how he poured all his loves, passions, pains and sorrows into his story that he only ended up losing to Rory but his pain is really all I experienced in the story. I never really got to see any tension between the two—with an exception of when The Old Man first comes forward to Rory. After that brief moment, the drama that follows doesn’t live up to what could be there.

Most of the tension during their meeting came in the fact The Old Man
wasn't wearing anything under that coat.

The same event occurs when it’s revealed to his wife that he lied about the novel being his. This scene should have been extremely emotional and very heavy and had a lasting impact on the story. While it does have a ripple effect and ends up playing an important role in the ending (and I loved the ending, by the way), the drama that should have come from it feels like it was at a 5 when it should have been at a 7 or 8, minimum. And that is a horrible let down.

See, this is about a 2 or a 3.  Not nearly high enough.

Despite having a great cast, much of the acting isn’t that spectacular. No one is really terrible but no one is really doing much to shine and all are giving off about as much effort as the drama is in the story—it’s there but not to the degree it should be at. However, I think this was Bradley Cooper’s weakest effort I’ve ever seen him in. During the entire film, he seemed lost on how to accurately portray the deep emotions that Rory is going through. When he’s happy, it doesn’t feel genuine—instead, he looks like what an overacting drama douche with a major in theater at a community college believes what happiness is suppose to look like and only has knowledge of joy from a book that they just kinda skimmed through. In fact, any time Cooper is trying to look excited when his novel is being considered for publishing, he looks like he has absolutely no understanding of how the emotion is suppose to be portrayed. Granted, he gets some of the sadness and guilt down but since the story doesn’t place enough emphasis on these elements, his talent in this section is wasted…and speaking of wasted, his best acting came when he acted like he was drunk.

In the morning he won't remember this and will have to go on an adventure
with his two friends to figure out what happened.

The Words, honestly, had a lot of potential to be a great film about a writer that is so desperate for success and recognition that he’s willing to do the worst thing possible when it concerns writing. While the story is there, the cast is present and all seems like it could be mixed together to create a tremendous story heavy in emotion and drama, the film fails to live up to this potential and doesn’t allow it to blend enough where all the ingredients are mixed into a smooth, rich treat (not entirely sure why I suddenly went into a blender metaphor there).

It's a mystery why The Old Man turned to a life of writing.  I mean, look at all that!

Sticking with my blender comparison, The Words is a lumpy, tasteless mush that could have been great if done right. There are elements (or ingredients) that work but are not utilized they way they should. The cast is filled with very talented people but none of them are really giving a noteworthy performance and the story is solid and ripe for something interesting and compelling but it just wasn’t feathered out the way it needed to be.

Well, at least Zeljko Ivanek had a role in it.  So, it has that going for it.

Pitch Perfect

***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, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, 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!  It is required to sing this review while reading it. 

Pitch Perfect – 3 out of 5

I will always take requests for films to review on my blog. Friends, followers, family and foes (yes, my enemies request reviews) all will send me emails, texts, carrier pigeons and notes written in blood asking me to do a write up on a movie they want to see or something they’re curious to see my perspective on…and, despite what some commenters will tell you (like the Juggalo who sent me a death threat for giving an ICP movie a bad review), some people find my reviews amusing. Well, my niece one day handed me a copy of Pitch Perfect and said I should watch it and review it because she had a conspiring thought in her head that I would hate the movie.

I'm pretty sure this is what my niece thought I was going to be doing while
watching this.

Pitch Perfect is about college freshman named Beca (Anna Kendrick) who is your typical loner (you know she’s a loner because she always wears headphones and puts on a lot of eye makeup) but ends up finding that, mysteriously, her college is really, REALLY into acapella groups—bolstering the fact they have several groups and officially making that college the scariest place on Earth. Beca eventually joins a ragtag, all-female group—you know they are ragtag because their group is filled with eccentric girls like one who only talks in whispers and one who is called Fat Amy (played by Rebel Wilson…and not to give away any spoilers but she’s called Fat Amy because of her charming personality). This all-fem group is in direct competition with a group of dudes who look like they slipped in a pile of Swag and Axe body spray and is out to finally beat them at the national competition. It’s like Step Up if it was written by the writers of Glee—at least, I think…I’ll be honest, I don’t watch Glee and have never seen Step Up. As luck would have it though, one of the guys in that group ends up being the love interest of Beca—because, you know, it’s a movie and if she just was a girl who enjoyed singing with her group, that might frighten audiences.

Guys, stay away from her.  She's clearly such an independent loner.  I mean headphones
AND heavy eye make-up?!?

Honestly, Pitch Perfect wasn’t that bad and I mostly enjoyed it (take that, niece! You lost the bet I know you made with your mom about whether I would like the movie or not!). I never found the movie to be that funny but it did have its moments. The two ragtag members I mentioned in the group (the whisperer and Rebel Wilson) were very funny and I thought Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as the announcers for the acapella competitions were extremely hilarious, however, I really only laughed a few times but that’s not because the film wasn’t hilarious—it was—I just didn’t think the jokes were that funny. I felt they were more amusing than anything I would laugh out loud to...or "LOL" as you youngsters say.

These two definitely made me LMFRHO--or whatever the fuck the kids are
saying nowadays to represent "ha ha."

However, there were some things the movie had that kept me from really getting into it.

And no, Rebel Wilson was not one of them.

First off, I mentioned it at the end of my synopsis, the love story element felt unnecessary and tacked on. “But Rev. Ron, Beca finding love is what Pitch Perfect is all about.” Not really. I thought the film was centered on acapella groups and their song battles, not a generic romcom set to tunes. This film could have easily existed without Beca finding love with the persistent (and yet, kinda douchey) presence of the character Jesse (played by Skylar Astin). Aside from the fact that Skylar’s performance is emotionally one-dimensional and has an arrogance about him that makes him a passive aggressive dick to all those around him (I can't emphasize enough what a dick I thought his character was), the only real connection that this character and Beca have is the fact they are both in acapella groups and both work at the campus radio station. Little to nothing is done to give them any common ground or why they are even hanging out when Beca literally has absolutely no reason to be around him.  It's just a mystery and a detail they didn’t bother to really explain beyond the fact it’s clear Jesse wants to bone her, so he basically stalks her and will be in her dorm room despite the fact that through much of the film she says she doesn't want him around. I honestly would have felt the film would have worked if the two just ended up platonic friends (it would, at least, made Jesse's sudden and numerous appearances around her feel less "attempted rapey"). It also would have been a refreshing change from the usual Hollywood love story crap that is used in every film.

Judging by the way the Jesse character acted towards others the entire film,
he's either going to be nice to the singer and pretend he's deep and emotional
 in order to sleep with him or he'll just be a passive aggressive dick who insults
him in order to make sure he feels superior. 

On a related note:  Ben Platt (the guy on the right who doesn't
look like he keeps roofies on him at all time) should have been
utilized more in this film.  I saw him in the Chicago
production of The Book of Mormon and he was amazing.
 Maybe it’s just my musical interest but I had a hard time deciphering what songs these acapella groups were singing. I am one of “those guys” who thinks that all new music is just awful and capable of making people sterile and spontaneously make their ears bleed, so I rarely listen to music that was recorded after the 90s (I pretty much stand firm that the best music was produced in the 60s and 70s but I’ll take some 80s and 90s). That being said, the music in this film was mostly songs I’ve never heard before and then hearing it in an acapella version only made it that much more difficult to figure out what song they were creating. The only time I really knew what they were singing was during a acapella battle in a drained pool where they sang some songs from the 80s but I spent more time thinking to myself, “If someone stumbled upon an event like this—a bunch of college kids singing in an empty pool—it would be the scariest god-damn thing to ever be viewed.” There is an audience for the songs used in this movie, it’s just more for my younger niece who lent me the DVD and not for dudes who thinks the excuse “because it’s M.C. Hammer” makes perfect sense when people ask, “Why do you have M.C. Hammer on your iPod?”

"Hmm, a bunch of people singing at each other in an empty pool...I'm just
going to walk away now and wet myself."

Not to mention the only time I’ve ever really enjoyed acapella was when it was used for the theme song of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Other than a few complaints, the movie does its job decently. The story is the tried-and-true formula of the underdog in the sports competition—only this time, the sports is singing without instruments backing your ass up. The acting is decent and, while never truly memorable for me, wasn’t that bad to experience. Anna Kendrick doesn’t carry the film the greatest as Beca but it could have been worse. I mean she could have been in a tween movie about sparkling vampires or some stupid shit like that.

Honestly, even though Kendrick is pretty vanilla in her presence on screen, she wasn’t really that awful to experience…of course, there were some bad apples. Skylar Astin is annoying as the character of Jesse with his “I’m totally just trying to be your friend but it’s obvious to all of mankind that I just want to bone you and will probably dump you after I’m done” attitude. If this was truly how his character was suppose to be, then I guess he played it well but after watching 21 & Over I realized this is the only way Astin can play a character, so he’s really not that good.

The look of a man who sneaks into girls' bedrooms, watches them while they sleep
and steals their underwear.

The acapella life is a strange one.

Even worse than Astin, however, is Adam DeVine (from Workaholics) as the douche bag acapella-er Bumper. DeVine is my least favorite character from Workaholics as he just comes off as an unlikeable D-bag that is one of those friends that everyone has that will always show up, embarrass himself, talk shit about you, ask for money and almost always start a fistfight with someone before he pisses all over your bathroom walls and passes out with his pants down and vomit pooling around his dome. This friend is someone you actively try to avoid but he always shows up to ruin your good time. That's the reason I find him to be the least amusing person on the show that I find to be more mediocre than amazing and, it’s actually not surprising, but he’s playing the same person in this film and I found he did little to add any humor to any scene he was in. Like Astin, his presence was more grating than enhancing but only at a far greater degree.

Or maybe he was just playing his character from Workaholics during his college years.

My few minor complaints aside, Pitch Perfect was pretty fun to sit through—although there was a lot of sex talk and swears in it and I’m not entirely sure why my pre-teen niece is watching it. I may not know what the hell the groups were singing most of the time and I may have felt that the love story was completely and utterly pointless to the story and did absolutely nothing for the character of Beca that her friendship with her singing group couldn’t do (remember, she was a loner character and singing helped bring her out of her shell, not by a pleading man with stalkerish ways that scream he’ll be sending her dick pics from his cell phone the moment the credits start.) Besides the shortcomings I had with some of the acting, the story and much of the humor, the stuff that works in this one works well enough that I didn’t feel like I wasted my time on a film that should not be for an audience composed of guys like me…or an audience of a bunch of Rev. Rons. I know that thought may scare you but I’m thinking I’m going to make a softball team with all those Rons.

Monday, June 24, 2013

High School

***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, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, 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! Dont' do drugs, kids...unless they are free.  If that happens, try the hell out of them.

High School – 4 out of 5

I’m not ashamed to admit it but I was a stud in high school. The ladies loved me, the guys wanted to be me—oh, who am I kidding. I’m no different now than I was in high school. I couldn’t get a date, I thought a fun evening involved less booze and more Dungeons & Dragons and movies, and I was no stranger to getting my ass handed to me by jocks.  Some things I learned about jocks though:  Don't feed them after midnight, don't get them wet and don't expose them to direct sunlight. However, this film is less about the horrors subjected to the nerds of the public learning institution and more about the drugs involved in the public learning institution.

High School is all about an overachiever named Henry (Matt Bush) who makes the mistake of getting high on the demon weed (marijuana) with an old chum of his; Travis (Sean Marquette). He soon learns the sickening truth that his future at MIT and school valedictorian may be in jeopardy when the school’s Dean; Dr. Leslie Gordon (Michael Chiklis), decides that the entire student body must submit to a drug test or they will get their asses expelled. Now, in order to cease his promising future from being destroyed, Henry teams with Travis to get the entire school high; hence, essentially destroying the Dean’s plan (he can't punish the whole school, after all). So the two steal the most potent form of marijuana ever created by drug-genius Psycho Ed (Adrien Brody) and bake up the trippiest pot brownies in all of existence…and feed them to the entire school!

Where did they learn how to do this plan?
The answer:  They learned it from watching you.  ALRIGHT?!?  THEY LEARNED IT

First off, if you haven’t tried a pot brownie, I highly suggest you do because they are fun as hell—wait, I probably shouldn’t openly advocate the use of a completely harmless, but incredibly vilified, drug in my review…

But seriously, they are fucking awesome!

Moving on!
High School is just absolutely funny—which was kind of a surprise for me because, despite my feelings towards cannabis, I find most stoner comedies to be pretty weak and find most of them require you to actually be high in order to laugh at their very basic, very unfunny humor that rarely goes beyond punchlines like, “Ha ha…weed.” High School is actually a film that you can laugh your ass off while stone cold, disappointingly sober…of course, I imagine that a nice pot brownie may only make things better…but don’t ever do that kids, or you’ll find yourself as a stand-up comedian who is an amateur movie critic on the internet. What I’m saying is, that if you do drugs, you’ll just end up making your life AWESOME!!!

The movie isn't going to win points for make-up, however.  Unless I missed the scene
where he got the "look through this telescope and get the pirate treatment" prank.

The story has nothing but a solid foundation for real, honest comedy that involves drugs and it doesn't cross the line of being a drug movie that fails at being a comedy, like so many stoner comedies do.  If there were any problems, they were so minor in the film that it really had no impact on my enjoyment. Sean Marquette as Travis can, at times, be a little overbearing and feel like he was trying too hard to be funny and, also at times, Matt Bush as Henry, feels too weak to be a main character and not strong enough to carry the film. However, both of these men will then come out of left field and put those fears to rest as they do something incredibly entertaining and amusing. Everything else about this movie was just super, amazing and fantastic to sit through.

Sour Apple Candy Balls!  He's looking right at us!

The way the film handles being high is terribly amusing. It jumps back and forth from being realistic (I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when I saw the students start to smack their lips due to dry mouth) and, other times, it's really over-the-top—but over-the-top in a funny way; not in “that’s not what happens” way like when you had to see Shia LaBeouf’s mom take the weedy treat in Transformers 2…of course, that was only the beginning of the film’s problems.

Damn, drugs are fun...but don't try them kids.  It's not like anything good has come from them...
like great music or the soothing of pain.

The performances of the other players were incredibly strong and really made this movie not only extremely funny but just a solid movie to sit through. Adrien Brody was great to experience as the eccentric genius drug dealer that had an affinity with talking to his frog (yeah, you heard that right). It was a role I’ve never seen him in before and, was actually surprised, that this Academy Awarding winning actor could pull off convincingly and with a sense of silly thrown in, as well. Without a doubt, though, the biggest highlight of the film for me was Michael Chiklis as the Dean.

Chiklis and demon faces in the clouds--two awesome highlights!

I haven’t seen Chiklis do a comedy-infused role since his days as the Commish (or that time he played Curly) but ever since The Shield, his role as the hard-as-all-fuck cop; Detective Mackey, has made it hard for me to see him play a role that has a humorous edge—or even an outright hysterical edge like in this one. And, I’ll just say it for no reason here: Chiklis as The Thing was the only thing I enjoyed about the Fantastic Four movies.

Yes, he looks exactly like someone he would have arrested and brutalized in The Shield.

Chiklis as a rock monster aside, he really was the funniest thing in this movie for me. His unique comb-over, the way he read his lines, the way he played the soft-spoken, strangely creepy character really made all the gags and scenes he was in really hit a home run and kept this movie hilarious the entire time. There’s a lot of great things going on in this movie but Chiklis was the one EPIC thing.

I didn't think it was possible for Chiklis to become a sex symbol but here we are.

High School has all the potential to be a really generic stoner comedy that basically is an hour and a half of some dudes on break from Spencer’s gifts with blood-shot eyes munching on Doritos and saying, “Huh huh…weed...bong...420...another weed reference.” The reality is, the end product was a solid story that was unending with its hilarity. It’s actually less of a stoner comedy and more of a comedy that just so happens to be about getting stoned.

Colin Hanks eating Cheez-Its...stop drilling movie, you've struck oil!


Hey! I just finally got the title…ha ha…high.

Chernobyl Diaries

***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, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, 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! Still don't know where the "diaries" part comes into play in this movie...or is this a gritty reboot of Anne Frank's diary?

Chernobyl Diaries – 1 out of 5

You’ve probably heard of the tragedy that was Chernobyl in school or have learned of its existence in a round about way thanks to maps based on the place in various first person shooters. I’m actually kind of surprised there hasn’t been a cheap horror film made about it before this one (of course, there could be ones out there that I’ve never heard of).

Chernobyl Diaries tells the story about some tourists looking for a little excitement, so they hire an extreme tour guide to take them to the radioactive wastelands that is Chernobyl—sadly, the extreme tour guide didn’t have any Mountain Dew immediately around him so I have my doubts about his extremeness. The group runs into some problems getting into the place as the military isn’t allowing visitors; so they are forced to sneak in. A few oddities start to spook the tour guide as they see the sights and things only get worse when they are shocked to find their vehicle sabotaged. Forced to stay the night, they learn they are not alone in Chernobyl and something is lurking in the radioactive shadows...and it wants their blood.

"No, I'm okay.  This is just great for the skin."

**Warning:  This review contains spoilers**
Simply put, this movie is boring…or maybe the director and the rest of the production was being ballsy by making absolutely nothing fucking happen the entire fucking movie!  Bold move, Chernobyl Diaries.

"I'm starting to think it may have been a small mistake to come to a town nearly
decimated by nuclear fallout."

There is almost nothing this film does right, in not just the realm of horror films, but just in film in general. While it’s cool they are using Chernobyl for the story—because, let’s face it, its tragic past is ripe for tension and terror—the problem occurs when that they don’t utilize it to the extent it needed. Director Bradley Parker, although, did a great job of crafting a tone that seemed like horror could have easily been inserted but, it seems, Parker and the screenwriters forgot the last part.

The film did a tremendous job of making the viewer feel like they are a part of the experience by giving the film a “found footage” feel without all the awful crap that comes with a “found footage” film. The camera is very active and dynamic and feels like it’s from the perspective of a person in the group that we never get to see but, unlike that awful horror sub-genre, the camera is not swinging around wildly to the point that everything is a blur and nothing is distinguishable. This was the one thing I actually walked away thinking that the movie did exceptionally well and it probably could have translated to some extra spooky scares…but, like I said, they forgot to add that part.

There's something that could possibly be scary off to the side...but, don't worry,
you don't get to see it.  Subtle horror is one thing but straight up cockblocking
your audience to terror is another.

As far as acting and the cast is concern, there was very little—almost nothing—of note going on. The characters are all generic, flat beings with no real differentiating characteristics—even from an appearance standpoint, they all look like average white people you would see standing in line at Starbucks. The story does little to feather out who these people are and, in doing so, gave me no reason to care for their existence. The only thing I learned from the film about these characters is that two of the men were brothers and one of the brothers had a girlfriend he was going to ask to marry—that’s it! I wouldn’t even know their names if it wasn’t for Wikipedia because they are literally that undeveloped and of such little consequence. In fact, I only referred to them by comparing them to other actors that I know.

One I called Kirk Cameron's Clone and the other I called the Secret Love-Child
of Leonardo DiCaprio and Frankie Muniz.

"Ha ha...I'm the easiest thing to deal with in this movie."
 The only person in the story that I really cared about, and subsequently the only one I felt actually gave a performance that was decent, was the character of the tour guide; Uri (played by Dimitri Diatchenko…who, coincidentally, is the only actor I feel deserves to have his name mentioned in this review because he’s the only one who actually gave off a performance that actually was decent—and then they fucking kill him off!).  Diatchenko had a screen presence that, while it may not scream headlining actor, it did command enough attention that he was the only character I actually cared about watching.  He didn't do much in the film and his character really is not much beyond a tour guide but he's convincing enough that his acting looks light years beyond the rest of the cast...however, the rest of the cast looked like they were busy in a rehearsal for a rehearsal so, no matter how badly Diatchenko would have come off, he still would have been easier to deal with than the group of tourists.

Seriously, look at her!  Being all...touristy and shit.

The rest of the film is just…well…weak. For a horror film, there’s very little going on that could qualify as scary. There is an attempt to set up some terrifying stuff but the attempt feels half-assed and looks like the effort put into it was just abandoned out-right in favor of some more scenes of the characters wandering around the nuclear ghost town. This is best illustrated when Uri plays a practical joke on the tour group by pretending to be pulled into the lake in Chernobyl. They all have a good laugh but when they walk away, we see there really is something lurking in the murky body of water. However, these mutant fish only come back into play once when a guy falls into the water where his leg is mildly cut and then they move on…never to return to the promise of flesh-eating fish.

"Instead of the fish, let's give them a pointless scene with a bear
...and make sure to make it not scary." - The Director.

There’s even a time when the “horror” starts to go down and one of the tourists explains that she caught a picture of something in one of the buildings. This could be creepy except for the fact it’s never expanded on and barely mentioned again after she makes this revelation. This could probably be overlooked if the film gave us some creepy shit the entire time but it doesn’t. It spends most of its time trying to craft atmosphere—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it paid off in the end, however, they spend so much time trying to mold this atmosphere that, by the time they try to utilize it, the movie is almost over.

That’s right, the horror film moment where the shit hitting the fan happens occurs only minutes before the credits show up. It was like the production lost track of time trying to establish a tone of spookiness and then realized that they were making the film run long and quickly decided to thrown in an ending that haphazardly throws in weak scares that probably should have been littered throughout the running length but just ended up at the end. The credits probably should have come with a post-credit sequence of the director shrugging his shoulders saying, “Sorry we forgot to put real scares in the film. We just got so wrapped up playing around with the characters walking about and fighting off any attempt at making our characters interesting and compelling that we forgot to put the monsters in until the end.”

Unless you count the monster that is the Muniz/DiCaprio baby.  If so, the horror
was there the entire time.

The film ends with a note that would suggest that the movie had an overall method behind its madness—that the story actually had a plot going for it the entire time but if you watch it, you realize that’s not the case as absolutely NOTHING about the film’s half-ass explanation in its ending was established. It really just ends up being a big “Fuck You” to the viewer and rubbing our noses in the fact we were just ripped off of an hour and a half watching a movie with almost nothing working for it.

If you listen closely, you can actually hear the director, off camera, whispering,
"Go fuck yourself, I got your money," to the audience.

Chernobyl Diaries, other than having a title that only has one word in it that actually applies to the film, is just a weak, go-nowhere movie that feels about as motivated to do anything as a hippie performing anything beyond explaining why pot should be legal (hippies are lazy, is what I'm getting at, and so is this movie). It’s a horror movie with no scares and a movie with nothing happening.

This Is the End

***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, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, 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! When the rapture hits, I'm going to James Franco's house.  I'm sure he'll let me in when I point out how I always mention what a great actor he is in my reviews.

This Is the End – 5 out of 5

This is, quite possibly, one of the funniest films I have ever seen in my life!

This Is the End sees Jay Baruchel (playing himself) reuniting with his childhood friend Seth Rogen (also playing himself and pulling even more duties as co-writer and director with Evan Goldberg) for a pot-fueled weekend of catching up and video games. However, Seth recommends they head to James Franco’s house warming party (Franco is also playing himself—I think you see the pattern here). Reluctantly, Jay agrees but when the two head off from the party for a pit stop at a convenient store and a discussion how Jay is feeling uncomfortable at the party because the people there are not the types he likes to associate with, all insanity snaps around them as mysterious blue lights start to pluck random people off the ground and pull them into the skies. Jay and Seth rush back to the party only to find that all hell breaks loose—literally! The rapture has arrived and now Seth, Jay, James Franco, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride are stuck with little supplies and a horde of unholy nightmares waiting outside.

                                                                                                             Columbia Pictures
Quick James Franco, use your powers of tremendous dramatic acting
to put out the flames!

Flat out, this movie is just abso-fucking-lutely hilarious! From beginning to end, this movie is side-explodingly funny with little slowing down the entire time. On the surface, this movie has the potential to be a gimmick that would wear out its novelty very early on—having actors play caricatured version of themselves during the rapture could have easily been a one-joke film that ends up beating the dead horse in a time paradox way where the dead horse has already suffered a tremendous beating before the beating actually starts. However, thanks to non-stop, fantastic performances from the main players (and all the cameo parts—but I’ll get to that later) and a witty, brilliant script from Goldberg and Rogen, the movie stays fresh the entire time.

                                                                                                             Columbia Pictures
I suppose I could put a joke about how Kanye and Kim having a baby caused this
end of the world event but, so far, it's been said by exactly 1 million stand up comics
at every fucking open mic during this last week.

The comedy this film throws at you is more than just a bunch of pot, dick and rapture jokes. While the movie has all these (and they are hilarious!) they add even more with some witty, insulting banner between the characters that feels almost like they are venting their real frustrations at each other and are engaged in a real, albeit funny, arguments.

                                                                                                             Columbia Pictures
Usually the arguments ended in white guy dancing.  So, everybody wins!

This Is the End also has some incredible slapstick moments that culminates in terrific scenes where dignity goes out the window. There was no hint at celebrity egos in this one as each and every player in the film allowed themselves to be mocked and teased or look like a screaming girl when the terror goes down. This lack of egos only helps the film have a legitimate and authentic feel to it—or about as real as a film about the rapture can be. Even more surprising is how there are celebrities making cameos that get killed off—I’m actually shocked that Rihanna (who sadly makes a cameo but, thankfully, doesn’t sing) didn’t pull a diva move to keep herself alive in the story. It could have been easy for any actor in this film to say, “I was in this and deserve this, so this shouldn't happen to me in this movie” and the film could have been a two hour circle jerk to a golden idol that is an actor's inflated sense of self-worth but the movie was so tongue-in-cheek and the actors and characters straight up making fun of themselves that such a thing never occurs.

                                                                                                              Columbia Pictures
Michael Cera, on the other hand, is a Golden Idol all on his own.  Treasure him.

One of the special treats this film offers up the viewer is the insane amount of cameos that occur. Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Michael Cera are just to name a very, very small few. Each one (except Rihanna—she couldn’t act in Battleship and she REALLY could act as herself) is just a riot and some, ones I won’t mention for the sake of spoilers, are beyond words with the humor they brought.

                                                                                                             Columbia Pictures
Fuck, I just remembered she DID sing at one point and did it without
Auto-Tune...the rapture suddenly seems easier to deal with.

One of the most interesting things about this film I found, was how serious they took the rapture part of this rapture comedy. All the events of the apocalypse occur with a serious undertaking and a side dish of the Ha-Ha's. The beasts of the underworld, the burning sets of carnage and the horrors that are brought from these things all look like they could be used in a serious film about the End Times. The dichotomy of the hell-spawned nightmares that torment our cast and the funny nature of our characters trying to deal with these awful baddies and scream like girls while doing it only intensified the hilarity. However, despite how all these elements feel like they belong in the next Roland Emmerich film, there’s still a familiar humor to them that keeps them just on the line of funny without branching too far into the real terror part.

                                                                                                             Columbia Pictures
Well, it's not as frightening as the lack of jokes in The Sitter.

The best thing, in my opinion, of this film has to be that, with all the fire, demons, drugs and jacking-off jokes, there is a heart and charm to the film’s story layered within. Overall, with all the rapturing and rupturing of the laugh organ (that thing exists) there is a tension and heart-filled story about Jay and Seth’s friendship. Rogen and Goldberg did a magical thing and made this movie about their troubled friendship and the impact it took with their separate careers without you truly realizing it and being overwhelmed by a potentially needless sappy lovefest. They took a rapture movie with a bloated big-budget feel (and did I mention how great the special effects were?) and made it more about two friends finally getting their grievances off their chest and understanding each other more deeply right before their worlds come to an end. It was actually really sweet seeing Jay and Seth’s development throughout the film and a testament to the filmmaking of Rogen and Goldberg with how they made the film touching without taking away from the comedy.

This Is the End is just pure comedic genius. The premise is fantastic, the special effects really sell the story, the cameos are an icing on an already delicious cake and the comedy is non-stop. The film is fun, touching and hysterical. It’s going to be one of those movies I will watch over and over again. I can honestly say that this is one of the greatest comedies I’ve sat through in a long time!

World War Z

***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, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, 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! The first zombie movie that I've seen that didn't make the zombie apocalypse look like a good time and, instead, an actual horrifying event. 

World War Z – 4 out of 5

I love the book this film is very loosely based on by Max Brooks. When I got it, I read it in one night and thought it would make a great movie. If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s about a fictionalized Max Brooks interviewing people who survived the zombie apocalypse and listening to their stories. The tales that are in it are extravagant, amusing, interesting and extremely diverse. It could have easily translated well to a film. However, for numerous reasons, the film adaptation bears little resemblance to the source material beyond the title…but, you know what? It wasn’t such a bad thing.

                                                                                                          Plan B Entertainment
Okay, there's a guy in the background who is clearly running towards the danger
everyone else is running from.

One day, while driving his kids to work with his wife Karin (Mireille Enos), Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) suddenly is forced to flee with his family in terror from flesh hungry monsters. A former UN investigator, Lane uses his connections to get himself and his family into military protection. Soon, he’s called upon those in charge to be the man to investigate where this zombie outbreak came from and, more importantly, how to stop it. Reluctantly, Lane agrees in exchange that his family be protected. Now Lane must travel the planet and find out what caused this outbreak and how other areas are dealing with the terror.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
Traffic folks, amirite?

World War Z went beyond my expectations. While I was honestly disappointed the film wasn’t like the book, I was already over it when I sat down in the theater because I followed the news of this film’s production and learned early on that the film would be like the book in, pretty much, name only. While it would have been cool to see a literal translation that is more faithful to the source material, the end product went on to be one of the best zombie films I’ve ever seen.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
I live in Wisconsin, this is a usual sight.  This is a shot of Packer fans celebrating, right?

Unlike most films about the walking dead, this film is very light on the gore and, shockingly, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment factor. I’ve always been on the side that gore isn’t a necessity to a great zombie movie. To me, what makes a fantastic film that involves the shambling corpses, is a story that focuses on the hurdles the human survivors have to face and how they are going to live in a world that was so rapidly thrown upside thanks to an enemy that is, essentially, one of their own. The gore and seeing zombies eat the flesh off screaming men’s bones have always been an added treat. Being PG-13, World War Z shows little to no gore and I didn’t feel robbed by this. With a story that focuses on the global implications of a zombie apocalypse and the determination of a man to protect his family by trying to save humanity, it didn’t register with me that there was no blood and guts until the credits came.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
Stairs seems to be their weakness.  ED-209 must have been patient zero.

Like I stated in the last paragraph, the key to a zombie film to work for me is the survivors. So, to have survivors that you want to see make it, you need actors that can do their duty exceptionally well and characters that are easy to rally your emotions behind and are interesting enough to watch. I think WWZ did this fantastically.  Even the smallest character is eccentric enough to leave a lasting impression but never to the point where you think the actor is trying to be Helena Bonham Carter and ends up being a caricature and a joke. Most importantly, however, was the way Brad Pitt carried the film.

                                                                                                          Plan B Entertainment
In retrospect, that zombie probably jumped way too early to properly pounce on

Pitt is an unbelievable actor—let’s just face the facts. Other than being ridiculously handsome even when he’s scruffy, beaten and exhausted from running away from hordes of the undead, Pitt played a character that has all the makings of a hero but never becomes a man who should be sporting a long red cape. The character of Gerry Lane feels real. You see in him a hero who is doing what he thinks he needs to do so his family can live in a world where the dead don't rule. I would suddenly find I would get stuff in my eyes whenever he called his wife on the satellite phone while out on the assignment or whenever he thought of his kids. Pitt’s emotion he poured into the character felt palpable and it spilled off the screen. He wasn't your typical zom hero character, blasting molding baddies in the skull zone.  Instead, he was a human with nothing but a little nobility and a whole lot of guts.  If removing the gore from a zombie movie and adding some Pitt-esque emotion and heroism makes better zombie movies, I think we need to do this with ALL zombie movies.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
"I'm Brad Pitt.  My rugged good looks and incredible dramatic performances
will destroy those zombies."

Even the zombies were different than our usually monsters we’ve come to know and love. Many have made the obvious comparison that they looked and acted like the ghouls in I Am Legend but, while watching and understand the viewpoint, I didn’t see them as such. Sure, on a basic level, their appearances are kinda similar but watching the massive numbers and the way they moved was immensely interesting. They tweaked like a coke-addict on a bender of cocaine and caffeine and they swarmed like deadly insects that have nothing else to live for and have long forgotten to care about their own safety. Slow, shambling zombies are terrifying in big numbers and even the now infamous Rage Zombies from 28 Days Later are pants-fillingly frightening because the simple fact they can actually run your ass down but these zombies were scary on a new level…they simple didn’t seem to give a single fuck. When you saw these zombies chase someone down, they would slam themselves into buildings, trample their own kind and even leap off of rooftops to try and get to that tasty, tasty living meat. As they would do this, their numbers would grow and grow and, when you add in the fact that they give relentless a new definition, you have the makings for a spine-chilling enemy.

                                                                                                          Plan B Entertainment
I've had it with these motherfucking zombies on this motherfucking plane!

You can’t have a zombie flick without tension, suspense and terror and this one brought it to you in ways that kept it from being a collection of cheap scare moments. Director Marc Foster is generous enough to throw in a few “jump moments” when a maggot-filled walking cadaver comes leaping around a corner but he also orchestrated sequences that were tense on different scales. For example, when Lane arrives in Jerusalem and discovers that they were able to wall off the city before the outbreak started and were living fairly well…but, since this is a zombie movie, we know that won’t last. When the shit hits the fan, we see terror on a grand scale where rapid crowds of zombies move like locusts through the people and Lane must try and climb the insurmountable mountain of decaying flesh to escape. Or there’s the part where Lane and two others are forced to get all Sam Fisher over the zombies asses and sneak around an infested WHO building. The movie refuses to deliver tension in a monotonous, routine way that we usually see in zombie films. Instead, we get a film that will go big, get bigger and then take a sudden turn and make the tension smaller, more localized and claustrophobic.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
"This axe will help us...I'll just give it to the zombies as a present and maybe
they'll appreciate it so much they'll leave us alone!"

And this brings me to my favorite part…

This is the first time I’ve seen a zombie apocalypse film that truly felt like a world-wide epidemic. With all zombie films, it’s always explained that the world is now owned by the undead but the stories will always focus on a small group of survivors in cities and surrounding areas that look like Philadelphia (thanks for that industry standard, Romero). World War Z bucks that tread and we see, hear and experience how the world is dealing with dead bodies getting up and gushing with an appetite for living flesh. This film wasn’t just a dozen people in an abandoned city trying to find supplies and get to some semblance of safety. Instead, we see the various ways others are dealing with this problem and none of them feel like the same thing we see in all other zombie films.

                                                                                                          Plan B Entertainment
Hey, they look like ants from up here.  Horrible, decaying ants that will eat you alive.

World War Z went way beyond what I was expecting and I really enjoyed it. It was unlike any zombie movie I had ever seen and it didn’t fail to entertain. From beginning to end, the movie had me glued to its story and the journey of Gerry Lane as he put himself in harms way to protect his family and help world overcome this problem. I liked the way they made the zombies a threat on a level I’ve never seen before but I really enjoyed that this was the first time I’ve seen a zombie movie that really was on a global scale. It was so addicting that my only real complaint is we don't get to see enough of how other areas of the planet were dealing with the outbreak.  While it would have been very cool to see a straight adaptation of the book (if you get a chance, get your hands on the audio book. There’s some great actors lending their voices in that one), the final product is, plain and simply, epic!