Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Heat

***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 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! Oh THE Heat...I thought Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy were a part of a remake of the classic Michael Mann film with Bobby De Niro and Al Pacino.




The Heat – 4 out of 5

While the title feels a little bit lazy, The Heat doesn’t disappoint on the whole comedy thing…which is good because it’s a comedy. Boy, wouldn’t it be awkward if it was an erotic thriller and it ended up being funny. That scenario is 78% stranger when you consider the main characters are played by Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.


And somehow Marlon Wayans is in it.  Seen here after he remembered most of his career.


Okay, so The Heat is about a go-getter of an F.B.I. agent named Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) who is really, really good at her job and does so by-the-books but, because of this, she’s not really liked by her fellow agents. When the opportunity arises for a promotion, Ashburn jumps on it but first needs to solve a case involving a drug kingpin and she must do it with the help of a local detective named Mullins (Melissa McCarthy). Now the clean and primped government agent must form an unlikely partnership with a gruff, foul-mouth local cop…it’s like The Odd Couple—except, a whole lot more swearing, testicle jokes and Bullock playing the straight man.


Also there's a huge dildo in it...or maybe that's part of a missile launcher.
I don't know.  I don't get out much.


Friends, colleagues, acquaintances from various film groups I’m a part of and enemies that share a Xavier/Magneto, “We’re not so different you and I” relationship all seemed to agree on one thing: This movie is fucking hilarious (my enemies have very filthy language). While I didn’t disagree with them or predict it would prove otherwise to me, I decided to wait on this one because of one thing. While I am a fan of Melissa McCarthy and pretty much knew, without actually watching the film, that she was going to be scene-stealingly hilarious I’m just not a fan of Sandra Bullock.


I mean just look at her...wearing pajamas and shit.




One face suggests his fly is open, the other suggests he
had a lot of Mexican for lunch.
There was probably a time, in the 90s most likely, when she was fighting speeding buses and cock-punching the internet (I think that was the plots of Speed and The Net) that I found her to be okay. I guess when she was the quirky 90s chic who falls for Neo when he saved her from King Koopa’s bus bomb hard-on or sitting on the beach in a black bikini probably soaking in heavy doses of radiation from her obsolete laptop seemed to work for 90s Rev. but, as time went by and I saw her in more roles, I realized that I don’t really find her that convincing of an actress. I don’t know the exact moment (but I know it wasn’t Demolition Man because NOTHING about that movie sucks. It’s a scientific fact!) but I realized I just didn’t care for Bullock’s acting—there was nothing about her that really sparked my interest. Even when she walked by me at Comic-Con this year, I could even muster a little bit of star gazing and found I was more interested in the guy who was probably dying of dehydration in his home-made Voltron cardboard suit just ten feet away.


Hey look, it's one of those New Kids.  You know, from The Block.


However, Bullock proves to be something of noteworthy for me in this one. Honestly, she was a great straight man (or woman, let’s not get sexist here…just ignore the bikini comment from earlier) to McCarthy. The interaction between the two characters is what sells the movie. The story is nothing we haven’t seen before as unlikely team ups in the world of law enforcement is pretty standard stuff in Hollywood…and they’re ALWAYS about polar opposites being forced to team up for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s a neat freak teaming up with a slobbering dog or a gruff, lone wolf cop teaming up with a monkey or a dog being punished and forced to work with Jim Belushi or the overused cliché of the soft spoken Catholic priest who moonlights as a cop and has to put his personal issues aside and work with a dark overlord from the realm of Hell (Come on, Hollywood, we’ve seen enough of that one!) but no matter the team that is forged, the formula is basically the same. While that’s all apparent in The Heat, the comedy that is ushered unto us from Bullock and McCarthy is unlike anything we’d get from the likes of Chuck “The Real Joke is My Career” Norris and a dog.


A funny buddy cop comedy that didn't have to rely on an animal sidekick.
Of course, Rex Reed might disagree with that statement...but Rex Reed is an asshole.




Moments later, a manure truck crashed through the wall.
It’s not just Bullock/McCartney being funny in this one either because they are surrounded by people who all create some very memorable and hilarious moments. The former bane of the McFlys' existence and later man servant; Thomas F. Wilson, has a few hilarious moments earlier on in the film as Mullins’ boss but one of the best running gags, in my opinion, of the movie was Mullins’ antagonizing another agent from ANOTHER agency working on the case…who just so happens to be an albino (played by Dan Bakkedahl).  Albinos, they're so easy to make fun of...unless it's an albino orc with a metal hand.  If that's the case, then albinos are fucking terrifying.

Second thought, he's pretty terrifying too.


While the story of The Heat is very straight-forward and familiar, the one thing this film is incredibly successful at is its comedy. The movie was funnier than I had anticipated but it wouldn’t have been so if Bullock and McCartney didn’t work so well together. Their chemistry on screen is quite obvious and they play well off each other. They gel so well that some of the simplest interactions the two have causes some of the funniest, silliest moments. Both of them fire amazingly well with their comedic timing and it causes the movie to fly by in a sea of laughing-induced tears and a riotous chorus of “ha ha’s” and “hee hee’s”…but none of those damn “lol” things kids-now-a-days keep talking about.  I don't even know what an "lol" is.  It probably has something to do with sex or drugs...



McCartney is showing us the level of funny she brings to the movie.  In reality, it's
higher than that but she clearly is her own harshest critic.


The Internship

***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 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! Drink every time you hear the world "Google" in this movie and...well you'll probably die.

 



The Internship – 3 out of 5

Ah, Google…where would I—no, where would we be without you? You help us settle absurdly pointless arguments about who was that one guy who was in that one movie with the guy and which state is on record as being the “dumbest”…and, of course, there’s the vast and massive (vassive!) amounts of porn you connect us to on a daily, hourly and minutely basis. Yes, we are only a few months away from worshiping you as our new deity. The first step is to immortalize you in a film where you are, essentially, the main character.

Salesmen Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson) are out of jobs and quickly becoming analog dinosaurs in an age of digital…um, what’s the new model of dinosaurs? Tigers? We’ll just say tigers. Anyway, they are in need of new jobs and their options are limited. On the verge of giving up, Billy is sitting at his computer and using Google to find jobs (and not porn but it’s a movie; suspension of disbelief here, people) when lightning strikes him right in the mental search engine. Billy types “Google” into Google (which, I’ve heard can actually break the internet) and decides that he and Nick need to enter into their internship program. Amazingly, they bullshit their way into the program and join up into a ragtag group that is competing against much more qualified individuals—like brainiac snob Graham (Max Minghella)—and they must now work like they’ve never worked before because the group that wins the competition set by one of Google’s higher ups; Mr. Chetty (Aasif Mandvi), will win their jobs as well.


One of the challenges he gives the teams is editing him out of The Last Airbender.


While The Internship has its moments that are genuinely funny, the movie is a by-the-numbers comedy with gags and jokes that have been seen repeatedly in other films (sometimes done better) and the basic formula of the story is overly familiar to the point you can call, with 100% accuracy, what turns the story and plot are going to take.


Vaughn, in a shocking character twist, plays a man who is insightful, has lazy man charm,
is incredibly nice and talks kinda fast. 


Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are a decent enough duo together. There’s no doubt they have a chemistry that is very apparent on the screen. They look and act very comfortably around each other and that helps make them look like besties and two dudes that have spent a lot of time working together. While they are still basically playing the same characters we usually see them as, they do their jobs in the film adequately and are capable of making even the most blatant and uncreative funny moment and make them mildly amusing. Except the much-overdone joke of the fact that the main characters are “old” and don’t understand technology. It wasn’t funny the first time it was done and it became increasingly less so after the 15th time…so, about 10 minutes in the joke wore out its welcome.


They could have done less of those jokes and used more of beard-o here...
if only for that beard.


The real killer, like I stated earlier, is the fact the film is predictable as all hell. From the moment it begins to the mid-credits sequence, the film is not much different from a lot of other generic comedies out there. Even the presence of John Goodman isn’t enough to help this film be anything but a sort of budget brand comedy…and we all know that John Goodman’s presence automatically improves all films by at least 75% percent (it’s science).



Even the strongest can't make generic comedy anything less than generic...Goodman
probably wasted most of his powers making The Hangover Part III watchable.


The film feels like someone took a Mad Lips story writing book and just filled in the nouns, verbs and other adjectives and came up with the film that way—only, instead of adding words like “butt,” “fart” and “penis” like you are SUPPOSE to use in Mad Lips, they just used words like “Google,” “Intern” and “Owen Wilson’s nose.” 


The nose gets its own producer credit now-a-days.


The Internship even offers up the prerequisite love story that is completely unnecessary and utterly worthless to the tale of the middle age wisecrackers trying to start over in a world they know nothing about. The walking skeleton that desperately needs to eat a meal; Rose Byrne, plays a Google employee that becomes the smitten target of Owen Wilson’s character…and, in a move that surprised absolutely no one watching the film, she falls for his quirky, awkward whispering and squinting charm rather than flat out reject him or use his hair to dust her apartment like anyone would in real life. While I’m not against the idea of having a love side story added to a comedy, this was just one of those movies that plain didn’t need it because it did absolutely NOTHING to develop the character of Nick Campbell and just acted as something that looked like deleted scenes re-edited into the film in order to put the brakes on the developing friendship between Billy and Nick and the rest of the group.


"Do you know where the cafeteria is so I can avoid it?"


A majority of the characters are frighteningly one-dimensional and are not much different than character traits we’ve seen in other quirky nerd and geek characters from other mediums. For example, the entire group that Nick and Billy belong to are generic stereotypes of people that only a screenwriter would believe is trying to work for Google. You have the quiet nerd, the socially awkward nerd, the sexy geek girl who is literally every geek guys’ fantasy and the overworked Asian who is pushed by demanding parents to get a proper education and get a great job. While each of these characters are played well by their actors, it doesn’t change the fact that each of these characters lack anything dynamic about them—yes, even after they all go through their confidence change after speaking with the older and wiser characters of Billy and Nick (just another turn in the road that can be seen from the beginning of the trip), they are still just walking, talking nerd gags. In the end, these individuals were far less than characters and more like a single character trait printed out and glued to a cardboard cutout.


It's not hard to figure out which geek cliche is which in this still.


The Internship doesn’t do much to stand out. Most of the characters are flat and forgettable. The story is familiar and pretty much an industry standard that is about as fresh and invigorating in the genre of comedy as introducing a new flavor of oatmeal to the world. The jokes, while some enjoyable and worthy of genuine sounds of “Ha Ha” escaping my noise hole, were mostly rubbish that has been passed off as jokes in films for the last decade or two. While the film does add in a healthy dose of curse words and female mammories, the jokes felt like the writers were playing it safe and opted out from doing new material. That’s a majority of the movie really; playing it safe. The Internship does little to pave new ground or even develop the existing land that is the genre of comedy but it does offer up some amusing moments that make it at least watchable once.

Monsters University

***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 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! MU seems like a far superior university than OFU.




Monsters University – 4 out of 5


The college experience has been greatly exaggerated in the world of cinema. Through my sexless high school years, I was under the impression that college would be a non-stop party of booze and drug consumption, never-ending sex and fun-hating Deans who will always get their comeuppance before the semester is up. However, my college years were really no different from my high school years. When I wasn’t in class, I was being rejected by women and playing a lot of Mario Party with my friends. After watching Monsters University, I wish my campus was like this one…I also wish I could exchange this degree in Communications for Scaring—it would certainly be more useful in this economy.


Wow, Sully is scarier than most, if not all, horror movies that have been released in the
last 15 years.


Man, Monsters U is way cooler than my campus was.
My college didn't have a program for water dwellers...
and even though I lack gills, I would have tried like hell
to be a part of that program.
In Pixar’s first prequel ever, Monsters University tells the tale of Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and how he ventures into college with dreams of becoming a Scarer for Monsters, Inc. In the program, he meets an arrogant Sully (John Goodman), who comes from a rich history of Scarers. The two soon enter into a rivalry that, ultimately, forces Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) to fail them both from the scare program. Seeking redemption, both monsters join the campus’ least popular fraternity; Oozma Kappa, and enter into the Scare Games—where victory means they will be welcomed back into the scare program. Now Mike and Sully must work together with their ragtag team of frat brothers; the mama’s boy Squishy (Peter Sohn), the non-traditional older student and former salesman Don (Joel Murray), the two headed magician Terri (Sean Hayes) and Terry (Dave Foley), and the Muppet-looking Art (Charlie Day), in order to get back on path towards their chosen destiny.

Unlike in the human world, a degree from a Monster College will actually get you
a decent job.


If Pixar is involved in an animated movie, the chances are nearly 100% that I will really enjoy the film (except the Cars films, never enjoyed those ones). The company is an innovator in the industry and has lead us full steam into an era where an animated movie is no longer just for kids with one or two moments that adults can find amusing. While there are examples in the past of animated films that have real deep emotion saturated into the comedy and colorful characters, Pixar perfected the art with stories that were more than just smirking animals that can talk.

There's no Axe Body Spray for these frat boy monsters...so, they actually smell
better than their human equivalents.


While Monsters University isn’t as deep with its themes like Toy Story 3, Up, Wall-E or Finding Nemo, the film does provide a fun origin story to the lovable characters from Monsters, Inc.—unless you count themes like integrity, friendship and perseverance deep…and they kinda are. Well played, Pixar. You once again proved how talented you are in the writing room as you made a fun (and funny) film that teaches us important lessons without actually realizing we just got served a piping hot lesson.

Forget the Tri-Lambs, I wanna join up with Oozma Kappa!


Like any other film with Pixar, the animation is top notch and gorgeous and, like comparing the first and last Toy Story films, comparing this prequel to the original film, Monsters University looks like another leap forward in animation—especially when you look at the fur animations on Sully and other hair-covered monsters. The computer rendered hair looks and reacts to environmental stimuli more realistically than the toupee of that guy in the office (usually in accounting) that everyone works with in every job…even jobs that don’t have offices or accounting departments. He’s just always there and his name is usually Phil.

Actually, even Mike's hair is more realistic than Phil's rug.


Other than the animation, top notch voice acting is an all-out requirement to make an animated movie. Casting a person that doesn’t fit the character is the fastest way to throw me out of a movie (yes, faster than crappy animation). For example, I reviewed Epic awhile back and nearly the entire film was poorly cast and it just made the film look like an expensive PR move rather than something that was suppose to entertain me. I get it that Steven Tyler wants desperately to be back in the spotlight again and be relevant after years of making songs that stopped being worthy of remembering after achieving perfection with “Dream On” but his “I just swallowed a razor blade with a light gravel chaser” voice doesn’t fit that of a glowworm.

Now, let's get that awful movie Epic out of our minds and just enjoy this adorable
picture of a young Mike Wazowski!


This is a department where Pixar never fails in. They always have the perfect actor to fit the character—even if the actor is annoying and hopelessly clinging to a terrible stand up gimmick like Larry the Cable guy in Cars. I can’t stand his comedy or his tired character but, I have to admit, he was probably the best choice for Mater. It could have been worse though, his Rednecks of Comedy brethren Jeff Foxworthy could have taken the job and the film would have written in an entire bit of the characters saying, “You might be a lemon if…”


Now forget about that awful Jeff Foxworthy and focus on this monster librarian...who is significantly less
frightening than the fact someone actually finds Foxworthy's material funny.


Of course Randy was a nerd in college.
Billy Crystal and John Goodman are back as Mike and Sully and once again their on-screen chemistry comes off in a very noticeable way and their voice acting easily brings life to the characters’ rivalry and slowly budding friendship. We also get to see the return of Randy, the sly chameleon voiced by Steve Buscemi and other Pixar alumni like John Ratzenberger and Dave Foley. Every character is brought to life by some incredibly talented people who all seemed to be tailor-made for the part they are playing. Whether it is Alfred Molina as Professor Knight or Nathan Fillion perfectly delivering the cocky lines of the frat monster Johnny from the rival fraternity or all the small parts filled in by talent like Aubrey Plaza, Tyler Labine, John Krasinski or Bill Hader, each actor is effortlessly breathing life into these characters and adding a sense of credibility to the monsters and making them less of cartoon characters and more of actually people with personalities. One of my personal favorites from the film was Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble.

I put this picture here to show Dean Hardscrabble but I think the real attention-stealer
is that monster to the left that is clearly drunk.


The Dean is a winged, half-dragon/half-centipede monster with an icy chill to her aura and the incredibly talented Mirren made you believe it. It really is a testament to the final product that Pixar puts out there because, I’m sure, there are tons of people who look at an animated movie and think, “It’s just talking into a microphone, who cares who is doing the voices?” Like I said earlier, the right voice does go a long way to making a character believable and Pixar is not one to half-ass their characters or stories.

Imagine my surprise to discover that MU's song wasn't written by Marilyn Manson
or Alice Cooper.


Monsters University was another fun trip to the world where all the things we think hide under our beds and live in our closets call home. The movie looks good and, most importantly, it’s very funny and another great family movie from Pixar. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Escape from Tomorrow

***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 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! I guess the real reason Disney isn't suing is because you can't sue a guy because he made a shitty film.




Escape from Tomorrow – 1 out of 5

Okay, so everyone knows this movie for one thing: It was filmed in Disney World and Disneyland WITHOUT the Big D’s permission. The writer/director, cast and crew would enter the park as tourists (possibly while wearing straw hats, bright colored shorts and flip-flops) and keep the scripts (if there actually were any but I’ll get to that later) on their iPhones and filmed the movie using cameras that your everyday park visitors would use…although, I’m shocked the director just didn’t decide to film using his smartphone’s camcorder; if he did, he at least would have had another excuse for the shitty quality of the film's appearance.

Jim (Roy Abramsohn) is on vacation with his wife Emily (Elena Schuber) and his kids at the Happiest Place on Earth. On the last day of the trip, Jim gets an early morning phone call and is informed he’s fired. Not wanting to upset his family’s vacation, Jim keeps this a secret and they all set out to enjoy some overpriced snacks and rides that will make them vomit the snacks back up to be collected later and re-used (just kidding, Disney doesn’t recycle vomit…or I don’t think they do). Along the way, Jim spots two underage French girls and starts to become enamored with them; going as far as following them around the park. Eventually, Jim’s psyche starts to wear thin and he starts to hallucinate and question his sanity as frightening experiences start to dance around him. He begins seeing evil faces on the peoples of the world in It’s a Small World (but that's normal), he feels antagonized by a fat dude with a bad accent that rides a Rascal scooter (also normal) and ends up meeting (and screwing) a woman who claims she was once a princess for the theme park (okay, these are just everyday occurrences at the park). Is all this a part of Jim’s suddenly failing grasp on reality or is there something sinister being orchestrated by The Mouse and the thawed head of Walt?

"Honey, stop talking, I'm trying to remember how to walk like a human being."

If, for some reason, you just skipped over my score, I didn’t care for this movie. While the story of how the film was made is interesting, the rest of the film is infinitely less so. However, it’s my belief that the film’s story, acting, plot and all the technical details like special effects and editing were objects that were considered secondary to the concept of filming without The Mouse’s knowledge for the sole purpose of creating buzz for the film festival circuit—and even though Disney has been mysteriously silent and acting very unlike their usual self and have NOT sued the shit out of writer/director Randy Moore, I think that Moore was secretly hoping they would because it would only add more buzz for a completely worthless and all around shitty horror/thriller/dark comedy.

THRILL as you look at the back of a man's head on a ride.


Escape from Tomorrow is a gimmick, not a movie. While Moore claims (according to Wikipedia anyway—Murika’s most trusted news source…other than the Facebook links your Conservative cousin likes to share) that the story was inspired by his past that involves the park and his daddy issues, I think the real deal is that he never even considered a story and was just looking for a project that would cause a lot of quick talk and publicity without the quality of the final product really having anything to do with it—besides, he can easily sidestep that by saying, “What do you expect? We filmed this without the park’s permission and did it guerrilla style!”

"Eh, we'll just do this scene with a green screen...I'm not TRYING to make a good
movie here, geez." - Something I assume the director said.


The story sucks in this movie. Right off the bat, it’s not interesting in the least—the incredibly shitty acting by Roy Abramsohn doesn’t help things as his performance was so ridiculously lacking any realism or any convincing moments and his performance only filled me with an overwhelming desire to not give a shit about his snapping sanity and just turn off the movie and do something more entertaining (and in the case of Escape from Tomorrow, that’s pretty much ANYTHING). Jim is unlikeable in every way and not even in a way that he’s captivating to watch like, say, Kenny Powers or some really great villain. Jim is a boorish, perverted and a borderline rapist-of-a-man that isn’t getting any favors from the very untalented Abramsohn fumbling around trying to bring life to the character. With a character who is already unbearable on paper and is being played poorly by a bad actor, it’s really, REALLY difficult to have any desire to involve yourself in the story.

Pictured:  A man I literally didn't give a single shit about.  Not one.


But the story isn’t good enough anyway to invest in.

I love weird movies (like anything made by the Japanese). Movies that make you say, “What in the living fuck am I watching?” for nearly the entire length before it finally all comes together in a somewhat sensible way (so...NOT like a Japanese movie). David Lynch always comes to mind as doing some great, really strange shit. However, he comes to mind because even though it looks like some of his movies will NEVER be understood by the masses, it at least looks like HE knows what he’s doing and knows what the hell is going on. Moore looked like he had no clue what he was doing with the film’s story and plot.

What if Abramsohn was actually a spy sent by Disney to destroy the film with his bad acting?


I don’t believe for one gawd-damn second that this movie actually had a script. The thing the actors were looking at on their phones was probably just mad ramblings of a man just looking for easy publicity because this movie makes no sense—and no, that doesn’t mean I “didn’t get it.” I understood the story but, the problem is, it’s sloppier than the coin booth on Triple Token Tuesdays at the budget smut shop. There is no coherence going on and, when you factor in the really, really amateurish editing, the film looks like the script came in at a very distant last thought. It was clear to me, after watching it, that Moore cared less about the actual film and was more concerned with figuring out how to create buzz, garner cheap publicity and getting folks talking thanks to a little controversy than actually make a somewhat watchable film.  His use of piss poor green screen sequences only cements this belief in me because, fuck quality.  You can always call it "art" when you have enough people talking...even though it's obvious you just took a shit on a camera.

"Yay!  We are totally in the park right now and not a part of a really cheap looking
effect!"


The only thing interesting about Escape from Tomorrow was the story of how the crew went about filming it, despite it being an obvious and shameful attempt at getting press. The end product was an incoherent, poorly acted and ugly dog turd of a film that can’t quite balance the strange, the comedy, the horror and the thriller aspects. However, the one thing that bothered me the most about this movie was the fact that Moore, in a slimy, penny-pinching villain way, was able to utilize hundreds of unaware extras for his film in the form of other park visitors. Everyone talks about Disney protecting their intellectual property through lawsuits but if anyone has a lawsuit that could result in bankrupting Moore it would be the people who were visiting the parks on the days he was filming.

The black and white really shows that the character of Jim sweats pure bacon grease.


These people were filmed without their consent and never signed a waver for their faces to be shown on screen…and yet, here’s Moore profiting off of people who were just looking to head to Disney to ride some rides and buy really expensive souvenirs. I would never openly advocate the illegal downloading of someone else’s artistic creation but since it is clear that Moore is getting famous by half-assing a movie, whole assing publicity for said half-assed movie and using people just out and about baking under the sun and having fun at the house that The Mouse built, then maybe hitting him in the wallet isn’t such a bad thing and one of the times where pirating is actually teaching a lesson. After all, he didn’t mind utilizing the FREE help of all the crowds in his movie…

Randy Moore sure could pick his actors...just overflowing with charisma, charm
and realistic acting talent.  Just look at this guy.  I absolutely believe that he is looking
at something.


But, of course, I’m kidding. Don’t illegally download Escape from Tomorrow…but, do yourself a favor; don’t spend money on it either. I can't, in good conscience, recommend watching this one because Moore wasn’t trying to make a movie, he was just trying to create a controversy.

The Colony

***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 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! Even in a post-apocalyptic world where it never stops snowing, there is still that asshole who will say, every day, "Where's this Global Warming we were promised?"





The Colony – 2 out of 5


I just have to assume that The Colony was made because some Canadian writers and filmmakers had some extra cash and time to waste in-between hockey games and other Canadian stereotypical activities…like being really nice.


Underneath all that snow, thousands and thousands of pounds of poutine.

The Colony takes place in the not to distant future where mankind built machines that control the weather (somewhere, Cobra Commander is shedding a single tear of happiness) but these devices breakdown and it starts snowing…and never stops (now CC is crying tears of pain). The luckiest of the population are able to get to underground locations to fight off the cold and exchange freezing to death for the common cold becoming an epidemic, food shortages and much more slowly freezing to death.

First xenomorphs, then tornadoes and now snow storms?  Mother nature has
a hit on Bill Paxton.


Colony 7 is lead by two military men; Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) and Mason (Bill Paxton). While Briggs tends to be the more compassionate of the two, Mason seeks to rule their compound with an iron fist that is needed to combat the cold. One day, they received a distress call from Colony 5 and Briggs takes a young man named Sam (Kevin Zegers) and another faceless character who is sure to die with him to investigate the call. Once there, they learn that another outpost was successful in repairing one of the weather machines and the overcast days can be melted away to blue skies. However, they also learn that some people haven’t taken to the change in weather as well as others and have turned to a life of murder and eating human flesh…and now it seems they have accidentally led them back to Colony 7.


"Before we head over to Colony 5, I need to stop by Zion and take care of a
few things."


While I didn’t think this film was going to be incredible, I did think it held the potential to be an average movie that might be entertaining—or, at least, entertaining enough where I felt I didn’t just waste my time (but, then again, I felt it could have surprised me). While all the ingredients are there; two great actors leading the film and a decent sci-fi premise, the execution felt rushed and only partially completed. It honestly felt like half a movie.

The bridge seems to be immune from collecting snow.  What sort of future material
is this bridge made of and why wasn't EVERYTHING in this movie made of it?!?


The Colony has great special effects and the tone of the film is fantastic. It’s dirty, grimy and just feels cold—like the weather and the locales of the film—BUT, the film is viciously underdeveloped. The story doesn’t need much to make it move, it’s simple and that’s fine but the characters—both the pro and antagonists—don’t really have much going on for them. The cannibals are just faceless bad guys who have no real backstory (and that works sometimes) and one of them looks like he’s trying to go for a look that can only be called Nazi Chic.

Okay, it's more like homeless Nazi Chic.


But this just ends up making their presence in the story feel like they were a last minute addition because their budget couldn’t afford something more horrifying or interesting to discover when Briggs and the guys got to Colony 5.

And they really set the bar high for the monsters in Colony 5, too.  I mean, look at
Death here.  He's seen some shit and if it scares Death, it has to be some scary shit.


A lack of development is most apparent when it concerns the biggest names in the film: Fishburne and Paxton. Both men are incredible actors and don’t disappoint in the film, however, their characters have nothing going for them. When the movie starts, it seems that they both are going to have some meaningful characteristics and some growth will happen to them as the film ventures forth but nothing really happens to them.

Fishburne, seen here trying to bring Cowboy Curtis back to the surface.


Fishburne seems like he had a few hours to kill and showed up to film his minor role one afternoon (he's still good but this film desperately needed more of him in the story...at least a weekend's worth of filming). Paxton, on the other hand, gets to see his character go from a brash, aggressive leader to a violent dictator…but we don’t get to see it happen. When the character of Sam returns from Colony 5, Mason is no longer the man he was when he left, he’s actually worse. Nothing wrong with that change but the problem comes because this alteration happens when he’s not being seen in the film. It just felt lazy. The group leaves for Colony 5 and something meaningful possibly happened that forced Mason to get more extreme but why bother showing it? It would have been nice to see a little inter-cutting between the doomed mission to Colony 5 and the tension roiling around Mason at Colony 7 that forces him to tighten the reins to the point they're choking.


"Um...game over, man?"


Then you have Kevin Zegers.  He's...well...he's just kinda there and he's not really doing anything special.  Actually, the snow in the film is a little more lively and convincing...the snow drifts give off more emotion, too.


The lifeless gray and cold backgrounds were kinda--oops, sorry, that's actually
a picture of Kevin Zegers.


That’s the real killer of this movie. The Colony could have be a mildly entertaining sci-fi film about survival in a post apocalyptic world. While this formula is overly familiar and kinda cliché, it could have worked to a minor extent—especially since the special effects look great, the acting is decent and the beginning of the film sets up a great tone and atmosphere for the story. However, the film felt rushed. The movie didn’t even feel like it was the first draft of the script but rather a crude outline written on the back of a piece of scrap paper.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Europa Report

***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 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! After checking out Europa, let's check out Uranus (I'm sorry for that one).






Europa Report – 4 out of 5


So it may seem cliché to have a sci-fi film about finding life elsewhere in the great universe (that just so happens to react to human contact with a raging murder boner), Europa Report takes this tale and makes it unsettling in a way that hasn’t been seen in the world of movies since Aliens…and, even more amazing, is they do it in a “found footage” way and, in the process, completely avoids all the bullshit that makes the “found footage” subgenre an unwavering piece of crap.

They're waiting on the results of the pregnancy test...the space pregnancy test.


An organization that calls themselves Europa Ventures decides to privately fund (because, Thanks Obama) a mission to Jupiter’s moon of Europa in the hopes of finding a place suitable for hosting simplistic life. However, the mission seemed doomed from the get go as the crew; Pilots William Xu (Daniel Wu) and Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca), Chief Science Officer Dr. Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo), Marine Biologist Dr. Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra), James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley) and Chief Engineer Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist), starts to face some nearly disastrous issues and an communication’s blackout hides the horrors they discover when they reach the moon. Eventually, communications is reestablished and the CEO of Europa Ventures declassifies the footage and shows what went wrong on the mission and the shocking discovery the crew found…


"Alright, let's get our asses down there and check for life...friendly, in no way human-murdering life."


While the film starts slow, Europa Report builds at a perfect pace. The way the tension unfolds never comes at you too fast but builds layer upon layer till the final moments of the movie comes at you at “HOLY SHIT” levels. While I never found the film to be actually frightening, I did find it attention grabbing and suspenseful. And I think the last part has a lot to do with the fact the movie looks and feels very authentic…or about as authentic as a sci-fi movie can get.
 
The thing about this movie that makes it look real is Number 1) the acting is very, VERY good (Sharlto Copley is in it…so, of course, the acting is great) and Number 2) the film is presented in a “found footage” format that actually works. If you read my blog and check out my reviews (and if you do, we already know that you are a great, funny, polite, charitable person that’s attractive to the point they cause groin-gyrating, white-hot lust in all those they are attracted to) then you know I am NOT a fan of the “found footage” subgenre (with a few notable exceptions) because it is, despite being sold as realistic, the least realistic form of storytelling in movies.

"You quiet down, back there!  Don't make me turn this million dollar vessel around!"


Nothing about this genre makes sense. No one films their lives as much as a character in one of these movies does—and they especially don’t keep filming when the scary shit is going down or make sure they are in frame like, say, in Apollo 18. Furthermore, these genres depend on the gimmick and let the story and characters suffer. Most these films are based on a premise that would, at best, be a 10 minute short film but they end up being milked out to an hour and a half by filling them with fluff that does nothing to develop the story or the one-dimensional characters that are, usually, nothing more than just names and vague descriptions. However, Europa Report does what so few “found footage” movies can do and makes it work and actually make sense.

A mission to Europa gives you plenty of time to work on your Marlon Brando in The Godfather
impression!


First off, the film is presented pretty much like a documentary where the CEO of Europa Ventures; Dr. Unger (Embeth Davidtz), is setting up the footage you are about to see of the doomed mission to Jupiter’s moon. Right away this makes tons more sense than, say, an unlikeable couple who think they are being tormented by invisible monsters from the other side and think setting up a camera in their bedroom is the perfect action plan.  Due to the fact that if something like this happened in real, non-movie boring life, there would be an investigation and, probably, a documentary, so this movie makes mucho sense in that regard.


"I repeat, we have successfully launched the Q-tip ship."


The story goes further into plausibility as it actually provides legitimate reasons for the journey to be filmed—other than the voyage being a landmark in science and discovery, shit like this DOES get monitored…but this film doesn’t shoe-horn in handheld camera sequences with no realistic reason for doing so like, once again, Apollo 18 did (or maybe it was NASA's protocol to, when being attacked by little moon-rock monsters, to keep filming with the camera in your hand--that also was lightyears ahead of any camera technology to exist at the time--and, for God's Sake, keep your face in frame!). While there is an occasional handheld sequence, that part actually makes sense as it is Copley’s character taking a camera on a tour of the vessel for folks back on the blue orb Earth. The rest of the time, the footage is shown from the various cameras attached to the vessel (both inside and out) or attached to the spacesuits.


Is it possible to have too much Sharlto Copley face in your shot?  I think we both
know the answer to that.

The answer is no, by the way.


This element worked so well for me, a viewer, because it meant I didn’t have to sit through the usual “found footage” bullshit of shaking the camera a lot in order to hide any view of whatever is terrorizing the man with the camera. Europa Report takes this sad and pathetic (and overused) cliché and turns it on its head by taking the “disrupted footage” element and making it look legit. Radiation will cause the camera to distort BUT, unlike most “found footage” films, the filmmakers didn’t use this as an excuse to cover up the action. They use it to HIGHLIGHT the action as you can still see what the hell is going on and it only makes the film that much more interesting and engaging.  Objects are still obscured in this but not in a way where you are about to get motion sickness.


Even on Earth, blue lights under ice means some scary shit is coming your way.

The only real downside I felt the film had was the special effects; they were…well…they weren’t that good. While much of what you see looks real, the shots of the spacecraft in space looked infinitely less so. The only thing I can compare the look to is the graphic quality on a Playstation One video game cutscene. While bad special effects can be a mortal wound to some movies, it ended up being just a minor flesh wound for Europa Report thanks to the story and acting being so good…not to mention a killer ending! (Also, that wasn’t suppose to be a pun, for those who seen the movie.)

"Okay...maybe a little better than the PSOne."


Europa Report really surprised me. Truth be told, I thought it was going to be a low budget junk film that had a story that you can see its details a mile away. However, it was far better than I anticipated. While the story is very straight forward, the presentation it has is anything but; the story is edited in a way that you are forced to pay attention because a character’s fate will be presented one second but not fully revealed until later on and the way they made it look like a real documentary focusing on a real scientific mission really made the film unique. Despite lacking in the special effects department at points, Europa Report is a prime example of how to breathe life into the “found footage” genre but it's just all-around tight storytelling that takes an familiar tale and makes it fresh.