Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Horrible Bosses 2

***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! It could have been worse...it could have been a Hangover sequel.




Horrible Bosses 2 – 4 out of 5


I really enjoyed the first Horrible Bosses film. We’ve all had a terrible boss that we wouldn’t have shed a single tear if a rabid bear with an Uzi suddenly busted into the office and riddled his body with bullets and this film helped us with that fantasy…well, not the very specific one I mentioned but more of the worker killing the boss and fulfilling the very thing Homer Simpson once called the American Dream. When I saw the trailer for its sequel, I laughed quite a bit and was a little bit excited to see the trio of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day get into some more shenanigans…also, this film allows me to use the word "shenanigans."

And the shenanigans start!



Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis), and Dale (Day) are in business for themselves and they create a device called the "Shower Buddy." They soon find themselves doing business with some investors named Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son Rex (Chris Pine). After Bert screws them over in order to bankrupt them and buy the company when its in foreclosure, the group meets with their old buddy Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx) and come up with a plan to kidnap Rex and have Bert pay a ransom—and said ransom will be used to get their company back in good graces. The group soon see a hiccup…Rex is willing to play along because he feels his father doesn’t respect or love him.


Movies have taught me that crime leads to fun and hilarity!


Hmmm...I think I'll start calling myself Motherfucker
Ron.
The critics and audiences were mixed on Horrible Bosses 2 but I really enjoyed this one. In fact, I had just as much fun with this one as I did the first one. I’m a sucker for a dark comedy and the more inappropriate they get, the more likely I will find it hilarious (of course, it still has to be a joke…just doing offensive things for the sake of being offensive isn’t actually humor). There were some very definite risqué jokes going on in this film that easily rode the line of being funny and offensive but I never had a problem with any of them and was cracking up quite a bit.


The longer you stare at Charlie Day, the harder you'll laugh.


I won’t deny the chemistry that Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day all have as a unit or the chemistry they have with the rest of the cast—especially Pine, Aniston, Spacey and Foxx. This chemistry seen throughout the cast is what made so much of the humor work for me and made the near two hour running length not seem like overkill. The film could have easily started to drag but the characters and the story mixed so well with the darker humor that I was entertained the whole time.


Look at all those shenanigans...


The scenes may be short but the laughs they gave me
went well into the night...the neighbors weren't happy.
The cast in the film are all really good—I already mentioned their chemistry but each player was able to hold their own and bring it up a notch with the humor. Kevin Spacey returns and has a small role but his few scenes are memorable as hell. Jennifer Aniston continues to be the sexed up harlot of the previous film but is able to take it even further and really bring the shock factor of hearing some truly cheek-blushing things from one of America’s Sweethearts. It was also really nice to see more Motherfucker Jones because he was, without a doubt, one of my top highlights from the first film. However, one actor that really stole the show for me was Chris Pine.


Never in my life did I ever think I would hear Rachel says what she says in these films.


I had no real expectations for Pine because I’m not the biggest fan of him. I don’t think he’s a bad actor, I just haven’t really seen him in many films where I felt he was perfect for the role. However, for his role as Rex Hanson, I was beyond entertained. Pine not only felt right at home with the group of Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day but he was proving that he wasn’t just there to be someone who tags along but showed he could keep up and even steal several scenes with his delivery. The character of Rex has a bit of complexity to him and he develops quite a bit through the story and Pine was perfectly showcasing the changes without it ever feeling like a brand new character showed up and, more importantly, was hilarious the entire way. To put it simple: Pine nailed this character and all of his attributes, development and humor perfectly!


His performance made me PINE for more of his character!


I am truly, deeply sorry for that pun.


One thing however that felt extremely lacking in the film was the character played by Christoph Waltz. While it’s obvious who he is and the purpose he plays, I felt we never got to see enough of him and that having someone as ridiculously talented as Waltz go underuse was a bit of a crime. Granted, the film is already a bit longer than a lot of shenanigan-based comedies are and showing more of Bert Hanson and seeing some more development about him and his relationship with his son might have slowed the film down or make it too long, it still would have been nice to see some more Waltz added to the story and not regulate him as a metaphoric set piece or plot device.


One shouldn't waste Waltz.


More shenanigans!
Even with the consensus of Horrible Bosses 2 being deeply mixed, I really enjoyed this film and had a blast watching it. I loved how the story didn’t feel like it was trying to completely redo what was already done and I think all the characters are very amusing and played excellently by the cast. Some of the humor might be a tad offensive to some viewers but, to me, I felt it was hysterical and was laughing quite a bit. Sequels are always difficult to do but, in my opinion, I felt this one work exceptionally well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dear White People

***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'm going to take this time to tell you that bacon is pretty awesome...I'm going to eat some bacon now.  I know that has nothing to do with the film but I panicked.




Dear White People – 5 out of 5

As a white man, let me be the first to say that we sometimes can suck and we can suck big time. Aside from the fact that we clearly can’t dance (line dancing is the sad result when we try to dance) but a lot of white people are still harboring a lot of prejudice towards non-whites. We’ve made a lot of strides since the Civil Rights Movement started and MLK gave his infamous "I Have a Dream" speech but racism still boils under the surface. Whether it is white people losing their goddamn minds because Obama became president or the very palpable reality of racial profiling with our police officers, racism is clearly not going to be eradicated anytime soon. However, thankfully, we have films like Dear White People that will come in and ask the hard questions and show the reality of being black in a white world…and they were able to do it with a little humor along the way.
Also along the way, the film provided the cover of what I'm assuming is an acoustic
hipster rock back album.
So, this is what happened to Noah before he met up
with Rick and the crew.
Dear White People focuses on the very prestigious and predominantly white institution for higher learning called Winchester University. The story focuses on various black members of the student body and how they struggle with their identity and how it plays with their race. There’s Sam White (Tessa Thompson) who is causing a commotion with her campus radio show Dear White People.  Then there's Coco Conners (Teryonah Parris), a vlogger on campus who sparks the ridicule of the white students with her videos and is trying to get on a reality show that is casting on campus. There’s Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell) who feels the pressure from his father (Dennis Haysbert) to not become the stereotype that so many white people automatically think about black men. Finally there’s Lionel Higgin (Tyler James Williams), a gay man who feels ostracized by everyone on campus but thinks he finds some sort of belonging when he is asked to write about being black at Winchester for the student paper. However, tensions on campus hit a boiling a point when the University President’s son Kurt Fletcher (Kyle Gallner) has his club throw a black face party.
Okay...that is really offensive.  And, sadly, it's becoming a thing at many colleges.
I have no humorous caption for this pic of Sam...wait...
Sam's a boy's name!  Ha! Fuck it, I clearly have nothing
for this picture.
Too often, the world of cinema (and entertainment, in general) isn’t too kind to non-white characters. There’s the tired cliché that black men always die in horror films, the token black character in high school movies that, like they covered in Not Another Teen Movie so well, are designated to only smile and say things like "Damn," "Shit," and the likes, or action films allocating black characters to be drug dealers or thugs. Slowly, these tropes are starting to be feathered out of existence (very slowly) but we still have a long way to go. One thing Dear White People does extremely well is take on these stereotypes head-on and discuss them, asking the questions that a lot of people are uncomfortable with.
Every time someone said Coco's name, I had a craving for hot cocoa...I think I might
be pregnant...or I'm just fat and love food.
I found Lionel's complaining about white people always
touching his hair to be very amusing...mostly because
I have a friend who complains about that problem, too.
There are points in this film where these commentaries illicit some humor—like when Tyler Perry movies are brought up and a confused ticket taker is berated about his films and what they mean to black culture—and there are other points where the film has this commentary and it feels like a Facebook debate—like when Kurt Fletcher makes the ridiculous claim that white people are the true victims in our society. The thing Dear White People does better than anything else is provide commentary about what our race means to the overall big picture in society and how that plays into one's identity, and even better, the film doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. The film ends, after the big black face party leads to a disastrous conflict, with everyone providing their outlook on what it means to belong in one’s race and how this shapes one’s outlook on society and how they act and interact with the environment and people.
Wait...is that Edward Cullen?
I have nothing else to say with this picture of Brandon
P. Bell besides he has a perfect jawline.
Dear White People is also filled with just some amazing performances. While, for me, Tyler James Williams was the actor that I was most captivated with, everyone on this cast is really just amazing in their role. I don’t want to undersell anyone because they were all fantastic—it’s just Williams’ character was the most interesting for me. That being said, Thompson was incredible to watch as Sam and seeing her go from an angry militant to someone who is no longer afraid to show off her vulnerable side is impeccable. Brandon P. Bell hits the pressure his character Troy is under perfectly and has some great scenes with the equally amazing Dennis Haysbert. Hell, even Kyle Gallner as Kurt is great to watch—sure, his character is a loathsome little douche that, sadly, reminds me a lot of the people I went to high school with and find myself throwing up a little in my mouth when they post their "Racist but I’ll Claim I’m Not Racist" Facebook statuses and memes but he plays this role believably.

"At this school, we get Allstate."
Dear White People is a great insight about the pressures of race, the hardships that come with aggression and prejudices towards people, and the difficulties of trying to find identity in a location where you ride a thin line of being a stereotype if you go one way and turn your back on your culture if you go the other way. There’s an unending wit in the characters, the story and even the overall editing and presentation of the plot that makes the film insightful, meaningful and, most of all, damn entertaining.


Blindness

***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 had a friend we called Blindness...he was deaf.



Blindness – 3 out of 5


I fear going blind—unless that blindness comes with super-powers that give me a sweet echo-location-like ability, I don’t want anything to do with losing my sight. With this fear, having a film like Blindness could easily be unnerving and entertaining at the same time—sorta like how my claustrophobia helped me really get into the Ryan Reynolds starring Buried.  But did it?  Was I able to engross myself in this one?

What the what?!?  Moore is a blond in this film?  This is an unforeseen development...
I don't know if I'm ready for this.


Without warning one day, a young man (Yûsuke Iseya) finds he went blind—but not blind in the fact the world suddenly went dark but in the fact that the world suddenly went white, like he was submerged in a vat of milk and opened his eyes. This man—credited only as First Blind Man—visits an optometrist (Mark Ruffalo and credited only as Doctor) and he declares this "white blindness" and is quickly horrified to learn that it spreads like a plague. Doctor soon learns that he has fallen victim to "white blindness" and that everyone he’s come in contact with—like Man with Black Eye Patch (Danny Glover), Woman with Dark Glasses (Alice Braga), and other people who also aren’t actually given a name and are just credited as a vague description of their character—have also gone blind. The only exception seems to be the Doctor’s wife (Julianne Moore). The government rounds up these victims and locks them away in a quarantine zone. Soon, the numbers start growing out of control and the quarantine wards start to war over food and other commodities. However, when the day comes that they no longer hear from the outside world, the doctor’s wife leads the group outside and are horrified to find out how large the epidemic has spread…

That blindness is quite white.  The name makes sense.


So, basically, Ruffalo was looking like Bruce Banner before
he ended up getting the part of Bruce Banner.
Blindness starts pretty awesomely. There’s some mystery there like why are people suddenly going blind and how exactly this virus or curse or whatever it is gets passed. Then the film moves on to the horrors of living a life of sight and suddenly that is taken from you and, boy, I felt for the characters there and the frustrations there were feeling. Finally, you get the horrors of seeing how the government treats these people as you have to watch as they are treated like animals and left to fend for themselves in a garbage and shit filled building. These elements are incredibly intriguing and made the film something interesting to take in. Even seeing the wards in this quarantine building battle for the basic necessities, witnessing what happens to the world while they were left alone, and having to experience all this through the eyes of the only person who can see in this quarantine zone made for a film that was easy to get into and characters that were easy to sympathize with.

Jesus, would you look at this mess?!?  Can't you guys clean up or some--
oops, sorry.  Forgot you are all blind.

The one thing this film does extremely well is showing how hard it is for these people to adjust to losing their sight and how frustrating the responsibility of taking care of them is for Julianne Moore’s character. The use of POV shots and putting things out of focus for the blind is a simple, pretty much obvious, idea but it really helped put the viewer in their shoes and helped you understand their feelings of hopelessness and frustration. These feelings can easily be seen simmering under the surface of Julianne Moore’s character as she is forced to take care of her husband and be the person who has to keep order and sanity in the quarantine zone after the "white blindness" victims were clearly just swept under the rug.  Her character takes on a lot of responsibilities and has the weight of a lot of helpless people resting on her shoulders and the exhaustion and wear it puts on her was excellent shown by Moore.

"Have a nice trip, see you next fall.  Ha ha, I'm kidding.  I'm very sorry for what
you are going through."


The film offers up some beautiful camera work and even has some great points of commentary and discussion about how the society treats the handicap, victims, and people as a whole. The film opens with the first blind man getting his car stolen by a man who is posing as a good Samaritan, the ward dissolves into anarchy and a single blind man (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) takes control of the food and demands payment and sexual favors in exchange for sustenance, and we witness the horrors of an armed militia with itchy trigger fingers who allow their fear of an outbreak overtake their sense of duty and protection. All these surface elements were interesting and made for a film that creates discourse with the viewers but Blindness suffers from a lack of…and this isn’t a pun…foresight.

Ain't no party like a blind pajama party...because you have no fucking clue what is
happening at a blind pajama party.

While the film has a lot of working elements, it did have some stuff that proved to be its undoing and kept it from being deeper than it could have been. The first thing that comes to mind is the film’s length. Blindness clocks in at one minute over two hours and the pace of the film and the way the story keeps changing focus as it goes from mystery epidemic to martial law-like in its rounding up of citizens and locking them away to trying to create a new blind society in the quarantine zone to dystopian breakdown of that society and the war between the wards to the venturing out into the unknown to see what came of the world—like it’s a television series pushed into two hours—the film ends up feeling like it last a whole lot longer. Too often the film drags in points—most notably when the man rises up in the quarantine building and holds the food at ransom for sex and money and you have to deal with the frustration of the only sighted person not acting fast enough—and this dragging makes the film feel like it is taking forever and kills a lot of the intrigue I had when it started.

I came to hate this character a lot and his death didn't come fast or brutal enough.

I also wasn’t a fan of how none of the characters have names. I get it, it plays with the theme of how these sick people weren’t treated as individuals that need help and were just faceless diseased things that were meant to be looked down upon by society and tossed aside to wither and die in their own filth and being nameless people only plays to the viewers being "blind" to the character's names but it ends up making the whole thing feel silly. Besides my nerves being rattled by watching these people struggle with the loss of their sight, I felt very little connection to most of them. Only a select few I found myself really being interested in and the rest are so often pushed aside, ignored, or even forgotten completely at points that it hurt my overall ability to really sink myself in to the drama and the characters.

Of course, his name really could be Man with Black Eye Patch.

Finally, director Fernando Meirelles is very preoccupied with throwing Red Herrings into the story and does a lot of cheap gags to make the viewer think one thing when, in reality, it’s the exact opposite. A few times he wants you to believe that Moore’s character has lost her sight and this same formula is done obnoxiously too often with the man who steals the First Blind Man’s car. Meirelles is constantly teasing that the man is there to screw over the blind guy but shows he's *SURPRISE* actually helping him…then this is done again and again until the fucking around has reached its zenith (and then beyond it) and we see that, yes, the dude is there to rob the blind guy; by that time, the gag is more eye-rolling than "A-ha!  Well played there, Mr. Director"-ing. While this worked slightly at the beginning of the film, it gets too repetitive and the gag runs its course very quickly and takes away from the energy that could have gone to drama or character development…or even shortening the fucking movie!

Aaaand then zombies attack.  They just can't catch a break.

Blindness has some intrigue to its mysterious blindness and is fairly interesting. It has some great performances in it and it seemed like it had a ton of potential. However, the dragging nature of the story, a running length that just felt too long and a lot of missed opportunities really hurt the film for me. It had some killer elements working for it but it also had a lot of elements that were killing it.

"That's my secret, Capt.  I'm always blind."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Them

***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 isn't the Them that is about giant ants.



Them – 2 out of 5

I never heard of this 2006 French-Romanian horror film until my horror nerd girlfriend requested that I put it on the Netflix queue. She watched it when I wasn’t around and I picked it up later and I’m wondering how she didn’t fall asleep during it. I mean, I totally would have fallen asleep but fortunately I was forcing myself to be active and watching it while I was running on the treadmill but, man, this film is boring.
"Goodnight, sweetheart.  Let us begin another mundane night that contains
absolutely no home invasions or potentially horrific situations."

The story to Them is simple: After a hard day of teaching, Clémentine (Olivia Bonamy) goes home to her ridiculously oversized house (they clearly pay teachers better overseas if she can afford this mansion that never seems to stop growing in the film) and spends a quiet night with her lover Lucas (Michaël Cohen). However, in the middle of the night, they are awoken by some noises and soon discover that their home is under siege by some unseen predators. Terror and horror overtake the duo as they scramble to escape with their lives…but when they learn who their invaders are and why they are attacking; no amount of preparation will soften the blow. By the way, it’s also based on a true story...because of course it is.
"Honey, hurry up!  I need to use the can.  You never know when a home invasion
will happen and you don't want full bowels in those situations."

After watching this, I do what I always do with movies and check out what others thought of the movie and see its rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For the most part, this film received good reviews but I just didn’t see it. Most critics say the film is terrifying and full of non-stop suspense and tension but I just didn’t get that. For me, the film dragged, provided nothing new that I haven’t already seen in the world of horror to the point the film is almost predictable, there’s no shock to the "reveal," and there’s just nothing happening that is really grabbing my interest and keeping my attention. In short, this film was just a snoozer for me.
Jesus...how fucking big is this house?

Nowadays, there's an app for that lighter.
Part of the issue I had was I just didn’t care for the characters. While the performances from Bonamy and Cohen are in no way bad, I just didn’t know anything about their characters beyond the fact they are lovers and what their occupations are. Besides that, I really felt no emotional connection to them beyond a feeling that they shouldn’t be horribly murdered because they are innocent people. This is actually a pretty common problem I have with home invasion horror films and when I find myself have a barely passing interest in the protagonists of the story, it’s hard for me to really get invested in the story—especially one that is fairly repetitive and something that is overly familiar in the world of horror...this type of film has been insanely popular in the last decade.
She has this gigantic house but has that for a TV?

"You monsters!  Get out of my room that only has plastic
sheets hanging from the ceiling!"
The film also takes a very, very minimalist approach towards music and that has the potential to be a good thing because it allows other elements of the film to provide the terror. However, thanks to a lethargic pace and the repetitive nature of the plot that involves running five feet, hiding, being found again and then running before one stops to listen to the sounds created by the chasers, this lack of music only amplified the boring state I was having with the film. This dynamic became really apparent during a sequence when Clémentine is hiding from the attackers in her car and is desperately trying to find her keys. At one point, she stops and stares out the front of the windshield—now, it’s obvious that someone is there because she’s terrified and the directors decided to stay on that shot of her looking in terror for several beats way too long and then, by the time the film cuts to the man she’s looking at, the suspense is already gone and maybe, just maybe, adding in a striking tone when they cut to the man might have made for a little bit of a scare.
Having her reaction shot last 9 minutes might have been too long and could have
benefited from a bit of a trim in the editing room.

The film also tries to have a twist with the nature of who the attackers are but the reveal of who they are and why they are attacking this couple was a bit "meh" to me. While the mystery of who they are and the seemingly motiveless nature of their attack seemed to be the only real bit of interest I had in the story, the complete lack of tension and suspense that bored me ended up making me indifferent to the reveal of the attackers and the half-ass way their motives are explained to the audience (fuck spoilers, they just have some text at the end of the film tell you why they attacked…that just felt lazy) made it impossible for me to really feel any surprise or even have any kind of reaction beyond relief that the film was over.
"I'll go get help!  I love yo--wait, are you flipping me off?"

He had a stressful week.  Attacking his home invaders proved
to help.  Hastag Silver Linings.
From a technical standpoint, Them doesn’t really do anything wrong. Aside from having some poor lighting in spots and some shaky camera work that didn’t really help the action, the film has a simple (albeit overly familiar) story, the acting is good, the lack of music and antagonists surrounded by mystery had potential, and, despite characters that have no depth to them, they work for what they are needed to work for. The reality is home-invasion horror films don’t speak to me (even though the idea may spook me because I don’t want anyone invading my domicile), so the film already was a hurdle for me to begin with. In the end, even with the potential I saw in it, the movie just didn’t work for me and I found it more tedious, boring, and completely empty on scares.
"Hi!  Oh wait--HELP!  I'm in danger!"

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Whiplash

***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 got nothing to put here...except that I'm kinda hungry and would really like some chocolate donuts right now.


Whiplash – 4 out of 5


I was in band in grade school. I played the clarinet and, me thinks, that this fact makes it completely realistic to believe that I can relate to this film….ah, fuck. Who am I kidding? I wanted to play the drums in band but I ended up playing the fucking clarinet. I wanted to be the Miles Teller in this film and rock the shit out of those drums…I guess that’s how I can relate to Whiplash.
Okay...now that we're getting a new Spider-Man series that will exist in the MCU, can we
please have Simmons come back to play J. Jonah Jameson?  Please?

Play a jazz version of "Freebird!"
Andrew (Miles Teller) is attending the highly acclaimed Shaffer Conservatory music school in New York and dreams of being the next big drummer to beat the world into oblivion with his sweet kicks (or whatever slang that drummers use). While there, he is granted to be an alternate in conductor Terrence Fletcher’s jazz band. There, he is berated and verbally abused by the teacher and is pushed to be a better drummer. Andrew becomes so obsessed with being better than Fletcher expects from him that he practices until his hands bleed, he hurts his relationship with a potential girlfriend (Melissa Benoist), and even flees the scene of a car accident in order to get to a performance. However, soon both world’s of these two men come crashing down and the stage is set for Andrew to finally be the best and win over Fletcher’s respect and approval.
"I SAID PLAY 'WIPEOUT!'"

I had some reservations about this film. I didn’t know if I would dig the story but wanted to see it for J.K. Simmons, I’m a big fan of the guy. My biggest hang-up with this film was Miles Teller as the struggling but determined drummer. I’m not a fan of the guy. I didn’t care for his douchy character in 21 & Over (albeit, that film had a lot more wrong with it than just Teller) and I’ve never really seen a part played by him that really spoke to me. This one changed that.
Playing Expert on drums can do that to you when you desperately want to get 5-stars.
(Yep, my Rock Band references are dated.  But don't worry, there will be another one
coming up!)

While I will admit that Teller isn’t as memorable in this film as Simmons is, I have to say he was a lot better than I was prepared for. Teller really captured a magical mix of a fiercely determined musician and a completely arrogant and petty kid who only is looking out for himself and his best interest. Of course, by the end, Andrew realizes he was kinda stupid and learns all this when his world comes crashing down thanks to his own bullheadedness but Teller perfectly captured that growth and those characteristics. From watching him smirk over someone else being belittled by Fletcher, seeing his cockiness when he belittles others’ achievements to seeing his heartbreak when he realizes he might not achieve his dream or didn’t act on his feelings with a girl he met felt realistic and wasn’t just another example of wooden acting I’ve seen from him like in Divergent.
"So, uh, what are you doing later?  Wanna grab a frozen yogurt or something?"

The highlight, for me, in this film was the truly epic performance from J.K. Simmons. I’ve never seen him play a role badly—ever—but the man continues to prove to me that he is clearly some celestial being because no mortal man can act the way he does. Sure, the character of Fletcher is very un-PC and says some truly horrific and shocking things but it makes the character legit and when I see Simmons in action, I don’t see him as an actor playing a role. Instead, I seen him as the role he’s playing. He always becomes the character and this abusive, asshole-ish character felt real and believable thanks to Simmons’ ability to immerse himself in the character he’s playing.
Okay-sign or playing a tiny violin?

Truly, theirs was a romance for the ages.
The only real complaint I have about the film is the fact I feel the character of Nicole—the potential girlfriend of Andrew that gets thrown aside in his obsessed rush to be the best drummer—felt a tad superfluous. As the film opens, we see him court her and then it is only implied, very weakly. that they continued to see each other after their first date. When Andrew says that he needs to focus on his music and can’t have her possibly hold him down and breaks up with her, I found myself saying, "Oh, I guess they were dating this entire time." Granted, this element helps later when Andrew is at his lowest and is returning to music but, in the end, it didn’t feel needed and the film could have easily existed without her.  Matters aren't helped that her screen time is so limited that you can even gauge if she's doing a good job or not.  In fact, it might have been better to leave her out and focus more on the relationship with Andrew's father (played by Paul Reiser).
Is he mad about his dad?  Eh?  I'll be here all week!

Overall, I really enjoyed Whiplash. Miles Teller is better than I’ve ever seen from him and J.K. Simmons is incredible in his role. The story is pretty formulaic but it definitely works. I had one real complaint in the story and the movie might not have a lot of replay value for me but the film looks great, is edited fantastically, and the riotous drum numbers are enough to make me forget I once played the clarinet and finally get the drive to take up the drums—and stop pretending to play the drums on a Rock Band controller (see, I told you there would be a second Rock Band reference).

Dracula Untold

***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! Two words, Hollywood:  Blacula Untold.  Get on it!




Dracula Untold – 2 out of 5

Dracula gets the superhero treatment in the start of Universal’s new monsters shared universe. But the question needs to be asked…can one of the greatest villains and monsters from cinema’s history work as an anti-hero? The answer…kinda.
Never thought Dracula could be so sexy.  Everybody else is getting that feeling too, right?
Or did I just learned something about myself I never knew?

The infamous Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans) is sickened by his violent past and is trying to rule his kingdom in peace with his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and his son Ingeras (Art Parkinson). However, trouble soon comes to Transylvania when some Ottoman Empire emissaries go missing due to a vampire hidden outside the realm. Vlad is blamed for the deaths and the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demands tribute in the form of 1,000 boys for his army. Initially, Vlad seems like he’s going to deal but when his son is going to be one of the tributes, he seeks power from the vampire hidden in his lands. The vampire (Charles Dance) grants him his power by having Vlad drink his blood but he warns the power-hungry ruler; if he feeds on human blood before three days, the curse of the vampire will stay with him for all eternity. For the love of his kingdom and his family, Vlad agrees and sets forth to stop the coming war. However, Vlad soon learns he may not be strong enough to ignore his hunger…
Hunger for DEATH!  And human blood.  Death and human blood.

I’m not really a fan of vampires and didn’t really have much in the form of excitement for this film. However, when I heard that Universal decided to have this one be the beginning of its rebooted shared universe for its iconic monsters, I admit that I was a little more interested. However, ultimately, I don’t think this was a good start to this universe because Dracula Untold was a little silly…now, if only they made Blacula Untold. Now that would be something.
If making a deal with a spawn of Satan will get Blacula Untold off the ground, I'm prepared
to make that sacrifice.

Honestly, Dracula Untold has some promise but the story is pretty messy and the action is ridiculous. While the story, on paper, works and it easily makes the usual villain sympathetic because he took dark power in order to protect his family and his people, the end result and the plot played out poorly. Vampires are sold as a mystery and Vlad learns of them through a monk in the story but, as the plot unfolds, it seems everyone knows about them…including Mehmed, who somehow learns his weaknesses. When the credits hit, I found myself saying, "So, vamps weren’t really that mysterious after all because it seemed like everyone really knew about them. It was Vlad who seem to be in the dark." In the end, though, the story is somewhat functional.
Have another close-up of Luke Evans.

The real parts that hurt the film were action sequences that were forgettable or just plain ridiculous. The first moments when Vlad learns his powers and takes out the first army (all by himself…and his people never question this until a holy man later says, "Wait, guys! I think something is wrong here."), the resulting battle is dark, cluttered and confusing. It even ends with a POV shot of a man dying and seeing all the carnage play out from the reflection of the sword Vlad impaled in his chest. That part was really hard not to laugh at.
Yep, this is in no way terrible to look at and try and figure out what the hell is happening.

The next problem that occurs with these battle sequences is they made Vlad way, WAY, too powerful! The second time he takes on Mehmed’s army (who decide to blindfold themselves because, as their logic dictates, "You can’t fear what you can’t see" but, and here’s my logic, wouldn’t that make what the hell is happening to you even that much more frightening?), during this battle, Vlad is utterly decimating this army using his…um…bat cloud manifestation powers (having that ability might have made Twilight a little more interesting). 
"You guys hear that?  It sounds like people in the front are yelling, 'What's happening to
me?  Something bad is happening and it's killing me.  If it wasn't for this infernal
blindfold, I would be able to witness the creature that is ripping me apart.'"
"That was the warm up army...now let's kill the main event
army."
Seriously, he is laying waste to these guys and isn’t even breaking a sweat—fuck, he’s not even on the battlefield but off to the side with his family. During the battle, his family gets attacked and Vlad can’t save them—this, obviously, is expected because you need Dracula to fall somehow or else how would you get Dracula? However, there was absolutely no way I could buy that Vlad couldn’t save them. After witnessing him twice fuck up an entire legion of faceless body-bag fillers, was I really suppose to believe that this character that seems to have absolutely no limit on his powers wasn’t able to save the one thing that means the most to him?
Well...she was kinda naggy at one point.  Maybe he failed on purpose?

While the visuals of a giant hand made of bats being commanded by Vlad looks cool and seeing him Storm-it-up and somehow control clouds and lightning too (another power I never knew vampires had hiding in them) may make for cool visuals that work for trailers, it made it impossible to really care about the character because you wondered if he didn’t just intentionally let his family meet doom face-to-face. Vlad learns his new powers ridiculously quickly and you’re asking me to believe that all the power he has been flaunting somehow comes up short when one person’s life is on the line? Sorry, I didn’t buy that.
So...he couldn't just command those bats to rescue his family?  Or are the only commands
the bats respond to are ones that involve murder?

I’m not trying to say that Dracula Untold is a waste of time because it does have some working elements. Luke Evans is fantastic as Vlad and I would love to see him come back for another tale of Dracula or even pal it up with the Mummy and the Wolfman. Charles Dance is also incredibly creepy as the Master Vampire that changes Vlad. Additionally, the film has some killer special effects and the visuals, as I mentioned, look fantastic. However, this proved to be the only real strong points I dug in the film because the supporting cast isn’t particularly memorable and Dominic Cooper was a poor, poor choice as Mehmed.
"Danger is coming...I sensed it with my guyliner."

I like Dominic Cooper a lot as Howard Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and on Agent Carter but sometimes he proves to be the wrong man for the role. Cooper sometimes gets too cheesy for the role he’s performing (like in Need for Speed…although, he is nowhere near the worst thing in that film) but, in the case of Mehmed, he’s just so superfluous. Mehmed never really feels like a threat and when he does have a scene, Cooper’s performance feels wooden. If the script was a little tighter and Mehmed was actually shown to be something to be feared, a wooden performance from Cooper might have been passable but, with Mehmed written as he is in the final product, the character probably could have been played by a chair and you never would have noticed.
Forget bad casting choices, this image is so badass I want it airbrushed on the side of a van!

Dracula Untold is a weak starting point for the shared universe for Universal’s monsters—hell, even if it wasn’t a universe sharing starting point, the film is a weak outing for Dracula. The movie has its elements that work but the end product just felt too silly. However, it could have been infinity worse…originally, Sam Worthington was cast as Dracula. *Shudder*