Thursday, June 26, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire

***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! THIS IS...A POINTLESS 300 SEQUEL!!!




300: Rise of an Empire – 2 out of 5

I love 300. I was a fan of the graphic novel and was excited when I first saw that trailer. The film was just gorgeous and brutal all at the same time. Zack Snyder took the spirit of the pages and made a fantastic fictionalized story of the last stand of the 300 Spartans. I didn’t really understand why it was decided to produce a sequel but, like most films, I gave it a shot. Let’s just say that I don’t feel the same about Rise of an Empire as I do the first film.
A major problem comes from the fact that one of the only positives I have to
say about the film has to do with the cool head gear.


Taking place before, during and after Leonidas falls to the God King Xerxes, 300: Rise of an Empire tells the fictionalized tale of the Battle of Selamis where Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) battles Xerxes’ naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green). What follows is a whole load of slo-mo brutality while shoe-horning in the events of the last film like it was some sort of fan fic where the fan author doesn’t want to screw with the canon of the original piece.
Go into the pool that radiates gold looking like a young Michael McDonald...
...come out looking like something out of the gay pride parade that haunts
homophobes' nightmares.  Holy shit!  I just gave that group another argument
for the gay agenda.  This one is completely on me, guys.  I'm sorry.


With the way this film went, I'm actually shocked that "Let
the Bodies Hit the Floor" wasn't utilized in this scene.
I wouldn’t say I walked into 300: Rise of an Empire already jaded but, despite having some decent trailers to sell it, I wasn’t too keen on the film and walked in with little expectations…however, I did have a deep down hope that the film would be entertaining. Believe it or not, some of it was. The action, while much more contrived and far more gratuitous than the first film, is still enough to satisfy the action junkie’s thirst for blood and unspoken desire to see muscular men with testosterone issues kick the ever-loving shit out of each other (and kick the shit out of a woman…which will appeal to the very type of people that I don’t want to associate with). However, at the end of it all, it lacked Zack Snyder’s visual style and ended up just looking like a cheap, Direct-to-DVD sequel.
"Dude...I'm so high.  I mean...I'm dying from a spear to the chest.  Got those two
confused for a second."


One of the biggest problems I had with the film (and one of the things that kept me from getting into it the way that I was into 300) was that Sullivan Stapleton was very vanilla in his performance. First off, he looks just like a generic white guy with a scruffy, stubble beard who would seem more at home on some forgettable drama on TNT or some network I don’t bother paying attention to. However, a bland, flavorless face can be overcome with a strong performance but with memories of Gerard Butler’s epic and fierce performance from the first film permanently burned in my head and Stapleton’s inability to even match half of his passion, the character of Themistocles comes off as boring and uninspired. However, this element seems to match with the overall look of the film.
"Eh...almost...nope.  Sorry, I thought I could act like I cared and give a decent
performance but...come on!  This is a 300 sequel."


One of the things that spoke to me about 300 was Zack Snyder’s directing and visual style. Snyder is very polarized in the popular world and people either love him or hate him (personally, I love the guy) but there’s no denying that he has a unique eye (well, I guess you could deny it if you wanted to). 300 really showed that as every camera angle and sequence felt like you could pause it at any moment, screen cap that shit, and use it as a cover photo on your Facebook timeline that spits in the face of any and all copyright laws. The varying use of tones that would make the characters and background look painted in golden colors, amber lights, and blueish and redish hues made the film feel like the comic book pages had come to life and gave the already fictionalize account of the real historical battle feel even more fantastic and epic feeling. Rise of an Empire didn’t have this. Instead of filters that seem like they are going to be in the next upgrade of Instagram, this movie and director Noam Murro seem to decide against the overall look of the previous film and settle with a look that—and this was a little distracting because of the first film—a look that all too often showed off the true skin tone of each character and ended up feeling like a cheap knock-off of the first film.

And here's a cheap knock-off of Gerard Butler.


I understand this is a strange gripe but every scene in the first film was accompanied by lighting and filters that would bathe the look of the film in rich and deep colors. Rise of an Empire doesn’t head to such lengths and it ends up making the film feel like it is not a true sequel to the epic comic adaptation and more like a third rate studio is trying to make a wannabe 300. Not only did the lack of rich lighting and filters make the film look cheap, it made it look like the entire movie was made by The Asylum—granted with a much larger budget than The Asylum works with (not the 250 dollars the production company is used to).
Truth be told, this one shot had a bigger budget than all The Asylum movies combined.


Finally, it might not have been the worst part of the film but it is still one of the film’s elements that kept me from getting into it, Eva Green’s performance is a little hammy and mega-cheesy. While she commands more attention than Stapleton, she spends much of that acquired attention looking like the community theater drama coach. There was no subtly in her performance. Granted, I wasn’t expecting an actress giving off sly nuances in a subdued performance but you don’t have to make it look like you are filming your audition role for a Joel Schumacher-era Batman film.  Okay, I retract that, she wasn’t THAT bad in her role but she still was laying it on pretty thick and over doing it a little much. If only she offered some of that passion to Stapleton…
Careful...you're approaching Helena Boham Carter levels, Green.


I won’t lie; I wasn’t expecting big things from 300: Rise of an Empire. However, I didn’t think it was going to be outright terrible when I walked into it (I didn't have high hopes but I still didn't think it was going to be as bad as I found it to be). There’s no denying that the film was, essentially, completely pointless but it didn’t have to feel pointless. The story likes to jump focus and feel like its trying to insert itself into the first film without the added luxury of having a major character from the first one return (seriously, they kept talking about Gerard Butler being off camera that I half expected to get a scene where we see a wall and a single muscular arm come from around it and hear a bad Butler impression saying, “Hey gang, I’m too busy to come out because I’m due at the Hot Gates”) and with lackluster performances, a style that doesn’t match the previous work and fight scenes that are just good enough to not be boring, 300: Rise of an Empire proves that sometimes movies don’t need sequels or, if you’re going to make a sequel that doesn’t have to exist, can you at least make it look like there was some effort in it?

Aw look, Lena Headey is trying to escape.  Good luck, sister...good luck.

The Wolf of Wall Street

***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 wanna make Wall Street money...without the Wall Street work...and the Wall Street douche bag attitude.




The Wolf of Wall Street – 5 out of 5

The moment I saw the trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street—wait, what trailer you ask? Why this one!



I’m not a fan of Kanye West but that song fits so well and the trailer is edited so amazingly. Anyway, the moment I saw that, I knew I wanted to see the film but since I’m reluctant to spend money on a theater ticket on any movie that has the potential to not keep me entertained the entire time for my dollar (and also has a three hour running time—I have a small bladder), I waited till it hit Blu-Ray and DVD. However, even then, I was busy with life (mostly moving into a new place and trying to fight off the angry spirits that were residing in the walls) and it took some time for me to finally sit down with the film. After doing so, I really regret not forcing free three hours of my time to watch this one sooner.

"Can you dig it?"

Totally real looking background behind him and in, no way, green
screen looking.
Based on the memoir of the same name from famed Wall Street money man/con artist, the movie tells the story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and how he went from a money hungry, wide-eyed boy who wished to own all the money on Wall Street to a guy who scammed his way to the top where he basically owned all the money on Wall Street. Along with his partner-in-crime Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), Belfort slashes a path through the decades and leaves a trail of decadence, loose ethics, moral ambiguity, drugs and hookers. And it looked like it was a complete blast!

"Ha ha I'm going to bring you down, motherfucker."


Wait...is that the guy from the Arby's commercials?
Even though the film depicts despicable people doing very unethical things all in the pursuit of money and then using that excessive piles of money to do awful things like copious amounts of drugs and boink hookers behind their wives’ backs, the film is ridiculously entertaining and hilarious in its presentation. Director Martin Scorsese perfectly delivers a film about excess to the tenth degree and nails every visual punch line the film has within its long running length. Furthermore, Scorsese perfectly utilizes an overused trope and uses it to make the film suck you in. How does he do this? By breaking the fourth wall and having DiCaprio as Belfort speak directly to the audience and narrate portions of the film. And I don’t mean that DiCaprio is just speaking like he is God and isn’t anywhere to be seen, I mean he literally is making eye contact with you and speaking to you as if you were standing in front of him while the action plays out around him. Sure, this dynamic has been seen before but it worked so well for The Wolf of Wall Street. The end result is a film that is easy to engage in, delightfully wicked with its language and overwhelming gratuitous nature, and it all culminates in a product that doesn’t feel as long as it is.

Man, just looking at Margot Robbie as Belfort's wife Naomi and I feel like my checkbook
is already depleting.


To think, he was once this man.
Other being incredibly hilarious and just outrageous with its near insanity that Belfort and his cohorts underwent in their journey to be the kings of Wall Street, the film is tremendously acted by an insanely talented bunch of actors. DiCaprio is, without actually having the need to say it, amazing and was completely robbed (once again) by not winning for this role. Right next to him, and keeping pace without losing a single step, is Jonah Hill proving that he keeps maturing as an actor and shows that there may not be a single role he can’t play. Honestly, the chemistry between Hill and DiCaprio was one of the film’s strongest aspects in the cast department.

I'm just guessing that the Academy is just jealous or...um...no, they're probably just jealous.

"That's a spicy alright, alright, alright."

Okay, I admit...I ran out of ideas when I got to that caption.
The rest of the cast is all filled with actors who felt like they were engineered in a lab specifically for their role. Even the smallest part felt like it was filled with an actor that couldn’t have been played by anyone else. Whether it be the guy who helps Belfort on his way to his multi-millions; Mark Hanna played by Matthew McConaughey or the FBI agent out for Belfort’s head; Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler), each actor really delivered and were incredible entertaining. Honestly, the cast was so large—like you had Margot Robbie as Naomi, Belfort’s seductive wife, Rob Reiner as Belfort’s Dad and even Jon Bernthal and Jon Favreau come up in the cast (and that’s not even mentioning the loads of others who were intricate in Belfort’s story)—and each and every single one of these actors really nails their role that, even if their role seemed small and insignificant on the surface, they all had their part to play to make this story amazing and the humor within it very satisfying. Not a single member of the cast felt out of place to me for this one and it is, without a doubt, one of the best things about this movie.

May Jon Bernthal's career be vast and long-lasting. Seriously, he deserves it.



Spike Jonze was in the film...seen here looking like he belongs
in the Beastie Boy video he directed.  You know which
one.
The story of Belfort’s rise to mega-fortunes is one of debauchery and completely vile behavior…but it sure is fun to watch. This movie can easily—EASILY—offend all sorts of viewers with its general story about a greasy douche making millions off of gullible people just trying to make ends meet but its Fuck-bomb heavy story, tons of boobies and butts (and a penis, too) and even an appearance by a chimpanzee that was in a single shot on roller skates has the ability to offend—wait, what did I just say? People were pissed because a chimp was in the film for a sequence that lasted less than 30 seconds? Yep, animal rights activists, including PETA, took time off from ignoring the fact that PETA (yep, they ignored themselves) will routinely rescue animals only to murder them back at their headquarters and then head back out to protest humane societies for euthanizing animals, to get all uptight about a monkey being in this film. So, at the end of it all, this film really has the capacity to offend nearly everyone. Drug addicts can hate how the film seemingly glorifies cocaine, or women can be offended how Belfort and his crew see women as only housing units for their dicks when their not in use for measuring contests, and the uptight will pass-out from the almost never ending use of the word “fuck.” However, just like the guys in the story, these elements (well, maybe not the monkey) are used for the sole purpose of excess and, even though they all are meant to offend, it is their ridiculous use that makes them have a purpose and helps make this an entertaining and funny film.

Look at those monsters treating that animal so terribly...wait, they are treating it with more
respect than PETA treats those who have differences of opinion with them.


One complaint I don't have...those purple suspenders.
If there was one complaint I have about the film, it would be the fact that the passage of time isn’t carried out very well. The film will go from one scene to the next and, occasionally, it meant we were jumping into a new decade and, often, this is only decipherable thanks to the soundtrack (which was incredible, by the way). While this element helps sell the blur that Belfort’s life was thanks to his endless pursuits of money, narcotics and expensive women, it did make the film a little (very little) chaotic but, nevertheless, still incredibly entertaining and a blast to watch.

I'm not a Wall Street type but I am liking the parties they throw.


The Wolf of Wall Street is a hilarious, almost loving rendition of a man whose obsession with being the best and richest lead him down a life that would kill weaker mortals. Is Belfort represented as a hero in the film? Kinda. Did that make the film anything less than entertaining? Fuck no!

Joe

***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! When I rented this DVD from RedBox, I said to the disc, "Hey Joe, what do you know?"  The other people waiting for the RedBox beat me up for that awful joke.




Joe - 4 out of 5

Joe has a simple title, a title that doesn’t give away a damn thing about what the movie is about…other than assuming it is about a guy (maybe a girl) named Joe. However, simplicity is what makes this film work as it is all about the simplest thing in life that is incredibly simple with its simplicity that is simple: human drama.

What's in your dreams?  A shark or something?


Joe (Nicolas Cage) is an ex-con who is trying to live life the best he can with his small business. Sure, he spends some time downing bottles of booze and getting to know hookers on a personal level but the effort is clearly there. One day, he meets a 15 year old boy who comes wandering onto his job site and asks for a job. Joe, reluctantly, gives this boy Gary (Tye Sheridan) a job and, eventually, befriends the kid. He learns that Gary’s family is stuck in a very bad rut. They're poor and living out of a condemned home, his sister is catatonic and his father is an abusive drunk. Joe starts to help Gary with his situation but soon finds himself at a crossroad that will either see Joe finally get on the straight and honorable or down a much darker path.

I said a "darker path" but that doesn't mean I'm going to do an easy joke about his less
than stellar career choices.



Joe isn’t a flashy film filled with clever editing, witty one-liners, and over-the-top acting. Nope, instead (like I said in the first paragraph), the movie is just a simple view into human drama. Sure, the movie’s story may have elements that aren’t too common with everyday people in the real world but, at the end of it all, anyone watching it can relate to what they are seeing. You can understand the conundrum that Joe is in as he involves himself in Gary’s life and you can understand Gary’s struggle to get out of the terrible life he is currently trapped in. That’s what makes this film so strong. Sure, occasionally, the story got a little chaotic as you see Joe try to come to terms with the burden that has fallen in his lap and he must decide if he will help or just move on but it all ends up working thanks to the overall drama and the performances from the actors.

Director David Gordon Green, the man who gave us the awesome film Snow Angels and also directed Pineapple Express (really?), Your Highness (wait, is this information accurate?) and The Sitter—wait a god damn second! The same dude who helmed a bad Adventures in Babysitting wannabe with Jonah Hill directed this movie? Eh, I guess that shows how talented and multifaceted he is because he really is capable of highlighting the actors’ performances and the overall depressing tone of the film. It would also explain why Danny McBride was a producer. Not only are the players giving their all with showing you what they are going through, Green emphasizes that with his camera work and use of dull color tones.

Pictured:  Dull tones...and Cage in a Pantera shirt.


Just like in Mud, Tye Sheridan gives a tremendous performance that shows talent beyond his years. The kid has a bright future that hopefully won’t be destroyed by jealous older actors who can’t match his level of talent. The kid really nails the determined boy who is so frustrated with his current position in life that he will do anything to get out of it.

"You should see the other guy...he would probably look worse if I was able to get a hit in."


Then you have Nic Cage…Cage is an actor that gets a lot of hate but, and I say this a lot, I am a fan of the guy because he is one of the most unique actors in the biz. Yes, he overacts a lot but his overacting is unlike anything else out there. He doesn’t chew the scenery that way the community theater drama coach does and has spent a lifetime thinking he’s the greatest without anyone being honest with him and telling him he should stick to working the photo department at Walgreens. Instead, Cage made his overacting an art form of unique intensity and insanity. That being said though, he is also capable of being a legitimate dramatic actor and he shows that in this film. In fact, this may be one of his greatest performances to date…with the exception of him screaming about bees and punching women in the face while wearing a bear suit. Nothing can compare to that majesty.

Fun Note:  Cage also played the dog...and he already owned the costume.


The film made headlines when, shortly after filming wrapped, the man who played Gary’s father, Gary Poulter, was found dead. Poulter was a homeless man cast by director David Gordon Green because the director likes to cast locals in his production and, even though the man met a terrible end before the film was even released, Poulter’s performance was show-stealing. The man felt like an authentic homeless and abusive father. I get it that he was really homeless and that’s why the homeless aspect of the character looked real but, being that he’s not a working actor, it would have been easy for the guy to give a wooden performance but he didn’t. He looked like a natural actor who grew a bad beard, messed his hair up and decided, for artistic purposes, to give up showering so he could really get into his role. Poutler was just incredible and really made his character both despicable but depressing and very haunting.

He looks like a homeless and much older Jeff Daniels.


Joe is a simple movie with an easy story that, even if you’re not a homeless kid struggling with abuse issues from his drunk father or an ex-con running a business that kills trees in order for newer, stronger ones can take their place and is suddenly thrown into a situation where he must decide whether or not to help a troubled youth, one can easily identify with the struggles that the characters are undergoing and that is the magic of the film and what made it very engrossing to watch. And now that Cage got that great acting out of his system for a few years, he can go back to the crazy stuff that I love from him so much…like taking on the Rapture and stealing Kirk Cameron’s bread and butter.

22 Jump Street

***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! This film, and the last one, are so funny that I can't help but wonder if some dark magic was used to make it possible.




22 Jump Street – 5 out of 5

I’ll be honest, when 21 Jump Street came out, I wrote it off because I was at a time in my life where I didn’t think too highly of Channing Tatum and I never thought the film was going to be great because I never cared for the show it was lampooning. However, when it came out on DVD, I gave it a chance because of some friends recommended it to me and I found it to be a million times funnier than what I was prepared for. After that, I became a Tatum fan and started to pay attention to the works of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.

                                                                                          Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Seriously, never predicted these two could work together so well.

                                                          Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Taking orders from Ron Swanson...and not me Ron Swanson,
the Ron Swanson everyone likes (yes, my name is really
Ron Swanson).
Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are back and, against the wishes of Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman), the force reinstates the 21 Jump Street undercover division…the only problem, the church they were once stationed at has been purchased but, thankfully, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) set up shop across the street at 22 Jump Street. Now Jenko and Schmidt must go undercover in college to try and find a new dangerous drug called WHYPHY that is on the verge of going viral at campuses across the country. However, things aren’t going to be easy as the once tight partnership of the two cops comes under threat of the two growing apart.

                                                                                          Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Except in this screen shot...they actually look like they're working quite well together
here.


Due to the high status the first film left with me after having incredibly low expectations, I went into this film with very high standards and was expecting only the best from Hill and Tatum and Lord and Miller. And you know what? It didn’t disappoint me in the slightest! I found a film that was just as funny and just as entertaining as the first one and proved to be a perfect follow up for a comedy that, in reality, didn’t really need a sequel but I wouldn’t say there shouldn’t have been one either.

                                                                                           Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Gymkata!


Like the first film, this movie is hilarious as fuck! And I don’t mean I laughed here and there or “lol’d” but, like the text “lol,” I didn’t laugh at all. Nope, this movie was, “I better check to see if I pissed myself from laughing so hard” funny. From beginning to end, this movie is overloaded with the unique humor of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The humor will run from easy dick jokes to very smart, extremely witty references that may (or may not) fly right over the head of your average viewer. It is this complex and never repetitive style of humor that makes Lord and Miller the talented duo of directors they are and why they can create a more adult-geared movie like 22 Jump Street work so well and, on the other end of the spectrum, make a family film like The Lego Movie and have them both be as equally gut-busting.

                                                                                          Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Once again--and I hate to repeat myself like a broken record--but never thought this team could have worked.


                                                          Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Riggle rowdily returns...that's alliteration, my friends.
Other than having Lord and Miller and their ability to showcase the hell out of jokes and gags, one of the things that made the humor work so well the first time around was the fact that the cast all worked together really well; with special note on the chemistry between Tatum and Hill. Every actor really nailed the humor required from their character—whether it be Ice Cube’s frustrations with Jenko and Schmidt or Rob Riggle and his infectiously energetic performance—every actor knew what was needed to make the jokes work and that is seen all over again in this film. Again, Tatum and Hill have great chemistry together and it seems to get better as this movie, unlike others that have used this joke, are able to make their partnership in the professional world become a believable metaphor for a partnership in the private world. We’ve seen this joke—you know, the whole “We work together but seem like we WORK together" gag—but 22 Jump Street made it work on a whole new level thanks to Lord/Miller’s direction, Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill's writing and Tatum/Hill’s synergy.

                                                                                         Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Synergy is another word for ghost riding the whip.

                                                          Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
We've all been in this situation!  Amirite?
Since this is a sequel, you are required by movie law (not to be confused with Ape Law) to bring in some new characters and this movie does it extremely well. First off, Peter Storemare (one of my favorite character actors) is brought in as a drug lord and even if he was bad, it’s still awesome to have him in the film (but he wasn't bad). One of the reasons that Jenko and Schmidt are having their problems is because Jenko meets a guy who is basically a carbon copy of him named Zook (Wyatt Russell) and their interactions are hilarious and, meanwhile, Schmidt runs afoul of a mean-mouthed roommate of the girl he is courting played by Workaholics star Jillian Bell. Both these new additions to the cast really made for some absolutely hilarious moments and really worked well in the film and with the cast...and Peter Storemare is just awesome as the drug lord.  His awesomeness did translate into some hilarious moments, too.

                                                                                          Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
This particular scene with Bell and Hill is quite top notch!


In all honesty, I really feel that 22 Jump Street is a work of comedic brilliance. With its vast array of comedy styling and an emphasis on meta-humor that refuses to take itself too seriously and poke fun at itself and the story quite a bit, the movie proves to be a perfect comedy that is so rare in this day and age of bad slapstick and poop humor. Add to the recipe a hefty dosage of great talent who knew exactly how to nail the joke and its top stars having undeniable chemistry together and you have yourself a sequel to a great comedy that works wonders and, is so good, that I wouldn’t mind several more sequels.

                                                                                           Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
This seems like an appropriate pic to end the review on.

Non-Stop

***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 fear giving Liam Neeson a bad review because there's a chance he may find my little unheard of blog and then precede to find me and kill me.




Non-Stop – 3 out of 5

At this point, I don’t think there is a single dangerous situation that Liam Neeson can’t throat chop his way out of. In fact, at this point, I’m pretty sure that Neeson, the man and not the characters he plays, can make your face literally explode with just a flick of his fingers and a single, light connection to your cheek. Hell, if Neeson bopped your nose, it would probably collapse your entire skull.  

No joke, my nose actually started to bleed just looking at this picture.

Yep, my shoulder just dislocated looking at this picture.
Liam Neeson is an emotionally struggling air marshal named Bill Marks and the man has some drinking problems to go along with his disastrous and grief-stricken past. One night, he boards a red eye for London and, about halfway over the ocean, gets a text message on his secure phone line that informs him that someone is going to die every 20 minutes if 150 million dollars isn’t transferred to a specific account. Things quickly go from bad to worse as Marks finds out that whoever is behind this hijacking is trying to frame Marks for it. Now, along with help from a random passenger (Julianne Moore), Marks is forced to get to the bottom of the attack and do so before the plane is destroyed—either by a bomb the hijacker put on it or by the United States military trying to stop a potential terrorist threat.

Also, Lupita Nyong'o from 12 Years a Slave is here...despite having no real
importance to the story or plot.  I'm also 90% sure that she never had one line.


I’ve always enjoyed Liam Neeson as an actor but seeing him take on more ass-kicking roles—and I don’t mean like he’s really good in the role (he almost always is) but I mean a role where his character is literally using a force of motion that involves his boot connecting in a violent way into someone’s rear end—I’ve ended up becoming an even bigger fan of the guy (having him as a Jedi in my beloved Star Wars franchise doesn’t hurt things either). These roles, and his acting talent, have pretty much cemented the idea that he is a legitimate face-puncher and all but guarantees that I will take my time and money and use it to see him do said face punching. Hell, the very fact that he is Liam Neeson guarantees I will see him in a role. Shit, I actually paid money to see him in Battleship in the theaters. The point is, even when the movie is bad (like Battleship) Liam is almost always the one thing you can walk away with counting on being good. And he is good in Non-Stop.

Shit!  Neeson can now successfully shoot while jumping backwards in the air.
He's pretty much invincible now.



Whoa, Liam!  What are you doing?
The movie actually starts out pretty decently. There is some intrigue with who is responsible and threatening the passengers through Neeson’s character and there is some great action scenes that involve Neeson throwing quick chops and bending hands and appendages in ways I’m fairly certained are not suppose to bend. However, there were some major problems I had with the film that kept it from being better than what it was for me. Namely, the film just suddenly drops its thriller aspect for generic action and the motives behind the antagonist and his reasons for hijacking the plane are weak at best…finally, the movie is grossly predictable and I was able to accurately guess the bad guy within moments of the film’s start.

And another thing...people still own phones like that?


Without question, Liam Neeson is the strongest part of this film—and I mean that in both how he carries action scenes, carries the tension and just carries everything on his rippling shoulders of awesome acting. Julianne Moore is decent in the film (it’s hard for her to really, truly be bad in a role) but, truthfully, I didn’t see much in her character that was needed for the story. Honestly, much of the cast isn’t really bad in their roles and the acting really isn’t the problem in the film. The one thing that keeps the film from really soaring (bad pun absolutely intended) is the fact the film abandons its thriller/mystery aspect seemingly very quickly and very early in the story and the motives behind the hijacking and the entire events of the film are very weak and laughably insulting. I can forgive how easy it was to guess the bad guy and the fact that pretty much only Neeson's character has any real importance to the story but it’s harder to forgive how completely unnecessary the bad guy’s plan was.

Somehow...those glasses work for Moore.  And work for me, if you know what I'm saying...
I mean, they're the same prescription as my glasses.


Aside from that, Non-Stop is a mediocre, mildly enjoyable action/tense flight that isn’t very memorable but doesn’t land near total disappointment (like my cliché use of flying lingo like how real critics use in order to get the easy “sound byte reviews?”). It has some good fights scenes, the concept is enough for some interest, and, most importantly, it has Liam Neeson in it.  Too bad the rest of it wasn't half as good as Neeson was/is

Oh, non-stop!  Like a airline flight.  Now I get the title.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

American Hustle

***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! One day...one day, I shall have a comb-over like Bale has in this film.




American Hustle – 3 out of 5

This film has been on my “Must See” list since it hit the theaters but for one reason or another (usually ninjas trying to set off a nuclear bomb-based reasons) kept me from getting to view it. However, thanks to the miracle called “home media,” I finally got to watch it and…I was a little underwhelmed by it all.

Cooper can make a man in curlers look badass and manly.


Work it...work it.
Loosely based on the Abscam sting of the 1970s, American Hustle sees a comb-overed, pot bellied Christian Bale as con artist Irving Rosenfeld. After living a successful life on the con with his con artist lover who loves cons (drink every time I write “con”), he and his partner in con and love; Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), end up getting caught by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper in a terrific perm) and are forced to work their conning magic in magically conning ways in order to bring down corrupt political figures including a New Jersey mayor (Jeremy Renner). Rosenfeld gets more than he bargained for as mobsters start to come into play and his uncontrollable wife (Jennifer Lawrence) starts to throw a wrench into the gears.

He ran on a platform of no Chitauri invasions.


I really enjoy David O. Russell’s films (even though he has a reputation for having a temper that resulted in George Clooney kicking his ass and just being all around insane), so with I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook dancing in my skull alongside all the praise the film was getting from cinephiles and movie critics, I think I might have oversold myself with this one and expected more than what I was getting. The critics told me the film was overloaded with energy and was “uproarious” with its humor and the performances were fantastic, so I sat down thinking this was going to be a film that was sure to get my perfect score and I was going to go crazy over it…that never happened.

Dat comb-over!

Lawrence will never be an attractive crier.
First off, I didn’t think American Hustle was a bad film, not in the least. The cast is filled with extremely talented folks (even Bobbie De Niro shows up) and they are all performing the fuck out of their roles. Even Jennifer Lawrence, an actress I don’t think too highly of (or really think that low of, either) has finally shown me what all the hype was about with her as, even though her role is limited and her screen time isn’t very numerous, I was captivated by her for the first time. Literally every single actor in this film was awesome to watch and it is, without a doubt, the strongest thing about this film…that and the kick ass soundtrack the film has. 

I'm fairly certain Bobbie just showed up on set and demanded a role.



At this point, I want to remind you all that he is a talking raccoon
in Guardians of the Galaxy.  If that isn't awesome, I don't know
what is.
As far as the film being funny…well, that’s up to the viewer. Sure, some critics, as it sounds from their reviews, were pissing themselves from laughter and, sure, some of my friends who have watched it told me that they didn’t find it funny at all. Well, I fell into the middle ground. Overall, I found myself chuckling here and there (and more towards the beginning and end of the film and when Louis CK shows up) but I never really found myself laughing to a large or predominately noticeable degree. There were some decent gags here and there but most of the humor felt few and far between. That’s kinda expected since the film is a sort of dramedy and there needs to be some serious times along with the Ha-Ha times. Unfortunately, it never felt like the non-funny times were utilized for drama the best.

You either love Louis CK or you're wrong.


The real killer for American Hustle for me, and what kept it from being something as special as my expectations made me think it was going to be, was the fact the film’s story and plot tend to drag and feel like it is going somewhere but going somewhere extremely slowly. I didn’t think the film was boring or uninteresting but the story is unfurled at such a pace that I literally felt every second of the two hours and change running time. Even though I was sucked into the performances and was digging the epic classic soundtrack, the film just felt like it was moving too slowly for me. I wasn’t expecting a fast and flashy film but, at the very least, I wanted something that didn’t make it feel like two hours were trudging by.

Amy Adams just screams class.  Not me, though.  I was picking my nose while I typed that.


For me, American Hustle was just a decent, alright film. I loved the music, I liked the premise, I was enamored (I never use that word) with the cast and their performances were immaculate (another word I never use); however, I just couldn’t get sucked into the slowly unfolding plot to the point it didn’t feel like the seconds were slowly ticking away. While not a bad film, it just proved to be not a film I could get completely into.

I'm sorry, Bale.  I'm sorry I didn't give it a better score.