Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

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



The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – 2 out of 5


Let’s recap, shall we? Despite having no interest in the books, I gave the first film a chance and didn’t really care for it (which, according to one middle-aged dude that I used to know, made me a snob and an asshole) but I did dig Catching Fire (and that, according to that middle-aged dude, meant I was just patronizing him—that dude had a lot of problems). After Catching Fire fixed a lot of the things I had a hard time with in the first one, I actually found myself excited for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. The trailer made it look action-packed and like Katniss Everdeen was ready to make President Snow pay for the way he’s treated his citizens in the Districts…it was a tad less than that.

Katniss looks like she just noticed the last slice of pizza is being left unguarded.

After destroying The Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) was rescued by the growing rebellion on Panem—led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and assisted by a former game maker Plutarch Heavensbee (the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman). They hope to take Katniss, a figure of hope already in the eyes of the poorer districts, and turn her into the Mockingjay; the very symbol of freedom and rebellion. However, as the plan to bring the Capital and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to its knees, Katniss and the rebellion are horrified to learn that Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is being held prisoner and is facing torture and possible death if Katniss doesn’t quell her revolution.

The wound is still fresh, Hoffman.  You left this world too soon.

I’ve heard all the big fans of The Hunger Games complain about Mockingjay being split into two films and, I have to say, I agree with them. While the film does work to plant the seeds of conflict and action that will easily be harvested in Part 2 and works to help up the potential for great drama, the end result felt like its potential was wasted and it just felt like a boring prelude that is just around to take up space, time, and money before the real event arrives. I couldn’t help but wonder, the moment the credits hit, if there was a way to trim this film down substantially and just have Mockingjay being one, slightly longer, Hunger Games film because Part 1 just proved to be very boring with only a few interesting elements to keep it from being a complete waste of time.

His beard is white as...wait for it...snow!  Eh?  Eh?
I'm truly sorry for that.

I was also very disappointed with the fact that Katniss isn’t the badass that was depicted in the trailer. I was ├╝ber-excited to see Everdeen fucking up some Capital baddies with her bow and arrow but, instead, I just see a Girl on Fire who is either always on the verge of breaking down because she’s worried about Peeta OR totally broken down because she’s worried about Peeta and is blubbering like a fool. Never mind the fact that I will never understand why she cares in any way for Peeta (the character is a waste, in my opinion. He’s weak and only drags Katniss down) but watching the very symbol of rebellion constantly falling to pieces over this character gets monotonous. 

Seriously, is his character just easier to sympathize with in the books or something?
Because I can't feel a thing for him in the films.


There has to be a point where we see that she is ready to stand up and fight (and it's going to happen) but, instead, the film barely gives that sense and I had to endure a lot of scenes of J-Law crying (and, despite her acting talent, she is not a good looking crier).

Stare at this photo...keep staring because it gets funnier the longer you maintain eye
contact.

I was also very disappointed with the fact the film seemed to be actively refusing to show off any sort of action. There are times where action-y things are happening but the film won’t show them. For example, the Capital is bombing the rebels hideout and we see all the action from the command center where characters like President Coin are describing what happens—we never actually see any of the bombing. There’s even a sequence where a rescue mission is done in order to save Peeta and other Victors from the games but we never see it. We are even told that something happens during the mission but we see nothing of it. 

Enjoy this part because it's going to have to sustain you for a bit.


Sure, this could work to create suspense and help us feel the lost of control that Katniss is feeling and her complete feeling of being chained and unable to help but, ultimately, these sequences just made the film feel empty and kinda low budget—like they couldn’t afford to actually show you this action and they went for a "tell, don’t show" route. It only made a film that already felt like it was moving slowly and came off boring even that more slow-going and lethargic.

"We promise that the next one will be a lot better."

Even though these elements dragged the film down and made for a disappointing follow-up to Catching Fire, the film still has great performances from the entire cast, I like the darker appearance the film takes (both in tone and visuals), the political themes it is playing off is fairly intriguing, and there is definitely some potential for this "filler-like" feel the film has to eventually pay off and pay off in a big way. However, as it is, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 comes off pretty disappointing and, I hate to say it, pretty much pointless. In the end, I couldn’t help but think that what happened in this film could have been condensed down and melted together with Part 2 to make an all-around better film.

Foxcatcher

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



Foxcatcher – 4 out of 5

I was just entering in my tail-end of my freshman year in high school when the conclusion of this film (and its most important moment) occurs. I kinda/sorta knew about the whole ordeal of creepy billionaire John du Pont murdering the Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz. I had a vague memory of it happening but I was too busy being the coolest dude in school and having too many women try to be my girlfriend (please believe that) to really pay attention to the tragedy. It wasn’t until this film came out that I said, "Whoa, I sorta remember that happening." Regardless of how well I remember the tragic and horrifying event (and I should have remembered it a bit more vividly since David Schultz was a wresting coach for the University of Madison in my home state of Wisconsin), I was very sold on seeing the film.
Somehow...Ruffalo pulls off this look.

Pin him!  Destroy that dummy bastard!!!
Foxcatcher is a loose adaptation of the real life events surrounding Team Foxcatcher. Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is a gold medal winner in the 1984 Olympics with his brother David (Mark Ruffalo). One day he gets a call from the eccentric (and very creepy) billionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell). John du Pont explains that he has always had a fascination with wrestling (even though his mother thought it was beneath their family) and wants to build a private training facility and team. Mark accepts quickly since, even with all his wrestling accomplishments, he feels overshadowed by his brother. John du Pont has declared that, no matter what, he will get Dave to join the team and, eventually, he succeeds. However, soon things start to fall apart and tragedy is soon on the horizon.
Hell in the Cell this Sunday!!!

Foxcatcher might not be a film for everyone because it is a pretty dry film. It focuses entirely on character development and presents its drama with very little flash or flair. The strongest point this film has going for it is the cast and their absolutely amazing performances. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are incredible and they both really immersed themselves into the characters. Additionally, Steve Carell completely blew me away with his very unsettling performance as John du Pont. Not only does the make-up make the funnyman completely unrecognizable but his mannerisms, speech and the way he carried himself was completely different than anything I’ve ever seen from the man and it really proved that Carell’s talent is far vaster than I’ve ever been prepared for.
I never wanted to see Steve Carell play the guy who looks like he's the type who
will expose himself on a public bus.

Another aspect I really enjoyed in Foxcatcher was the way director Bennett Miller used editing when it concerns noise and sound. The film is, for the most part, very quiet but there are times when the drama starts building and sound starts getting louder and stronger and, before the scenes hits it focal point, the scene cuts to the next scene and the story is brought back to near silence. It was quite the attention-grabber that made the drama a little more engaging and helped break up the very real possibility of the film getting monotonous and boring.
Fun Fact:  This is Mark Ruffalo's father.

It’s pretty easy to get bored with Foxcatcher and, I’ll be honest, I found that some points of the film dragged pretty badly. However, when looking at the film from an overall standpoint, the film is pretty interesting. The performances are top shelf stuff, the story is full of intrigue, and the drama gets pretty heavy and very authentic feeling.  I realize the film is based on true events but what I’m saying is the film felt like you were watching real people go through these issues and not actors recreating the tragedy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Batman vs. Robin

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



Batman vs. Robin – 3 out of 5


In a case that is life imitating art…or, more accurately, art reflecting art, the New 52 direction that DC’s animated universe is taking seems to be following the same route the New 52 comics is taking with me. DC has been my go-to company for great animated features (Marvel doesn’t even bother anymore because they are dominating the films and now streaming shows) but, lately, the films have been slipping. I was less than impressed with Son of Batman, I was pretty disappointed with the lackluster treatment Aquaman got in his first animated film and now I’m walking away with a feeling of "meh" to another animated feature. Just like my interested in DC’s New 52, I’ve gone from being super excited about the upcoming prospects to barely registering any interest whatsoever. Still, I have to say, I did dig this one more than Son of Batman.

How does he keep his goggles from fogging up every time he breathes?


The Court of Owls' judgment involved a lot of
throwing up mouse bones.
Loosely based on the "Court of Owls" story arc from the comics, Batman vs. Robin sees the continuing story of Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son. Damian (Stuart Allan) is trying to put his training from his grandfather and mother behind him and follow his father’s teaching of "justice, not vengeance" but he isn’t having the best time with it. He and Batman (Jason O’Mara) go head-to-head constantly and, after tracking down The Dollmaker ("Weird Al" Yankovic), Batman is convinced that Damian isn’t willing to give up his League of Assassin’s training. However, what Batman missed was a mysterious stranger called Talon (Jeremy Sisto) who appeared out of nowhere and killed The Dollmaker—effectively accomplishing what Damian stopped himself from doing. Now, it seems, Talon is trying to lure Damian away from Batman and have him accomplish what he truly wants to accomplish when battling crime. However, Batman is convinced that Talon is laying a trap by courting his son and this conflict builds to a boil and Batman and Robin come to blows.

Batman pretends he didn't want to fight his own son but, deep down, you know
he's enjoying this a little bit.


Overall, Batman vs. Robin is a fairly decent addition to DC’s shared animated universe and a better follow-up to Son of Batman. I’m not the biggest fan of Damian Wayne (I find his character to be grating and he is, without a doubt, my least favorite Robin) but the film did do a great job of developing him and showing him struggle with his training from his grandpa Ra’s al Ghul and his mother Talia and what his father is trying to instill in him. I do like the conflict between Bats and Damian and it definitely made for a great character-based drama within the comic book tale.

I still don't like you, Damian.


Like all other animated features from DC, the animation looks good and the voice acting is still great. Some of the character designs—mostly when characters are out of costume—lack individuality, however. Batman, Nightwing, and Talon all pretty much look the same when they remove their costumes. The same is seen when you compare a young Talon and Bruce Wayne to the character design of Damian. Aside from eye color and hair styles, the character designs give off a clone feel and it is mildly (but not completely) distracting. Ultimately, however, I can easily overlook this because generic body types have plagued DC’s animated features (and comics, in general) for a long time.

Forget character design for a second, here's a pic of Alfred with a shotgun.


One of the things I really enjoyed about this feature was the voice acting cast. I’ve already stated in the past that I am now officially sold on Jason O’Mara being Batman but I found it incredibly cool that they brought in my personal favorite Batman to provide the voice of Bruce Wayne’s father Thomas. 

Me and my favorite Batman; Kevin Conroy!

 


It was super cool getting to hear Kevin Conroy’s iconic voice play a different Wayne. Additionally, I really liked hearing "Weird Al" do a more serious, and very demented, role as he voiced The Dollmaker. At first, I didn’t recognize it as Yankovic’s voice but that shows how well he was doing his job at bringing the character to life. 

It's nice to see that The Dollmaker takes time to be both insane and a fitness
buff.

For the one person in existence who doesn't know who
this is, this is Batman.  Also, welcome to the world,

new born baby!
Everything else about the film is, more or else, decent and functional. The story is a decent adaptation of the story arc and the action isn’t memorable but it is workable—except for the fight between Batman and Robin. (That shit was on the ball, son!) One thing that felt a tad sloppy (and this is something I’m seeing increasingly more of in the DC animated world), is how rush the story feels. Everything feels like it is moving too quickly and further development isn’t being taken into consideration. I understand this is a Direct-to-DVD animated feature but why should that limit it to being just under 90 minutes? A little extra time might have made the Court of Owls have a little more legitimacy to their threat level, Damian’s internal conflict and desire to reject Batman’s teaching for a more satisfying lesson from Talon could have been deeper, and more action might have helped this film a lot. However, as it is, it works and is entertaining enough to be watchable…just not as memorable as other, earlier, DC animated films.


I don't need to see Nightwing popping his pimples.


Batman vs. Robin is, without a doubt, not one of my favorite animated films DC has produced in its shared animated universe. It’s functional, definitely entertaining in the moment, and does develop Damian Wayne’s character nicely after Son of Batman but it doesn’t have the same edge, addictive nature, or replay value of early Batman animated features like Gotham Knight, The Dark Knights Returns Part 1 & 2, Under the Red Hood or any of the features that see him team with Superman and the rest of the Justice League.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

***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! The title really needs to be longer.



Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – 3 out of 5


As a child, I never read the 1972 children’s book this film is based on but since I’m no stranger to having crummy days, I can kind of relate to what is happening to Alexander. I think we all can. Heck, I would love to meet the person who never has bad days of any kind and immediately put all my money, effort and time into trying to give them the worst day ever—because I’m clearly a petty, petty man. Or, instead, I could just let that person watch the film and understand what it is like to have things not go your way.

Could be worse...you could find a bear stuck in your hair.  That'd be awful.



Relax kid.  You're just in high school.  Unless you never
move out of your hometown, you'll soon realize that
high school sucked.
Alexander (Ed "I have the last name of a Viking" Oxenbould) is about to have a really bad day. In theory, his day should be good because he’s having a birthday party but, when he wakes up, he slips on a skateboard, spills some milk, finds gum in his hair and discovers that the most popular kid in his grade is throwing a sick party that will over shadow his and cause nobody to attend and celebrate the anniversary of his birth. Meanwhile, his family seems to be on the verge of having a great day. His father Ben (Steve Carell) has a job interview at a video game designing company, his mother Kelly (Jennifer Garner) is climbing the company ladder at her job, his brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) is dating the most popular girl in school and is going to go to prom with her AND get his driver’s license, his sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) is the lead in the school play and his baby brother Trevor (Elise and Zoey Vargas) is a baby…and that’s about it for Baby Trevor—but that’s still good. 

The baby is already trying to figure out where he went wrong with his life.


Irritated over the hand fate has dealt him, Alexander makes a birthday wish and asks that his family understands what it is like to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Then, on the day everything was set to go his family’s way, his wish comes true…

You could have wished for a million more wishes, you fool!

Alexander looks like he just saw a dead body.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, overall, is a mildly entertaining movie that isn’t the most memorable but it’s not completely terrible. The biggest selling point and the highlight of the film for me is Steve Carell. Carell is naturally charismatic and extremely funny and charming. He rarely disappoints me when it comes to anything he does and he proves to be the most amusing part of the film. The strongest points of the film (and the funniest) usually came from him and he helped keep the movie flowing. The rest of the cast are not terrible and they are all doing their jobs very well. No one is really distracting and, in fact, Oxenbould is fairly decent in the lead but the film still isn’t a very memorable affair and is a "safe bet" family film that is good enough for a momentary distraction but not something that will make it into the usual rotation of films that you watch on a regular basis. 

Your husband is Batman...you get to tell people that.

"It's right behind me isn't it."
While the story is solid (even though it is pretty generic and a bit like Liar Liar) the biggest problem that held the film back was the really bad comedy. The jokes are terribly predictable and usually just stem from awkward slapstick and sometimes followed by a bad one-liner. For example, there is a scene where Alexander’s brother knocks over a trophy case and, after causing a huge disastrous mess, a teacher comes out and calls him "Wreck-It Ralph." It’s a bad joke that little ones might find funny but it really does set the bar for what you would expect in the film. However, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I was looking for excellently crafted and ridiculously witty humor. Characters breaking stuff and getting messy is what I predicted the film would be and it delivered that. It’s just that, personally, I found most of it amusing on a level where I will acknowledge its amusing-ness but not actually laugh. This is a little strange to me, though, because Steve Carell is a master at making bad situations hilarious (remember how hysterically uncomfortable he made situations in The Office?) but, in this one, he just sort of made them slightly chuckle-worthy. Then again, he can’t be expected to do the same thing he did in The Office in a kid’s film.

No mortal being can be as adorable and likable as Steve Carell.
He has to be a part of a mass hallucination we are all experiencing.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day isn’t terrible or horrible or no good or very bad. It’s watchable and has its moments and the cast is entertaining. Overall, however, the film just didn’t have enough of those fun and heartwarming moments to make the film really stand out. It’s balanced enough with its humor and story that parents won’t feel like they are going insane and being talked down to if they join the kids watching it but, in the end, it just lacks the magic and defining moments to make the film something that you won’t forget the minute the credits hit.

Also, Burn Gorman is in the film...and that matters to me because I'm a Torchwood fan.

The Voices

***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 hear voices...but only when people around me are making them.



The Voices – 5 out of 5


Dark comedies are a hard sell to a lot of people. For some reason, people are not fans of darker humor that often involves death or the things that people say you’re "not suppose to joke about." I’ve never been in that camp. I’ve always been about the dark humor and the stuff that offends (of course, there is a line. Offensive to just be offensive comes off as desperate). When I heard about The Voices, the concept immediately sold me and I was very excited for it to be released on DVD.

The DVD's need to come with a pink jumpsuit.  Just sayin'.



Seriously, I want one of those pink jumpsuits.
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) has a traumatic past but he seems to be getting over that as an adult thanks to a shrink (Jacki Weaver) and a great job at a bathtub factory. He is suppose to be taking medication to control the voices he hears and hallucinations he suffers from but when you can engage in a conversation with your pets the way Jerry does, it makes the idea of meds that take that all away seem like a horrible idea. At his job, a young girl in the office named Fiona (Gemma Arterton) grabs his fancy and he eventually gets to spend some time with her. Unfortunately, that night ends badly and he accidentally kills her. Since Jerry isn’t in the best mental state, he is convinced by his pets, the cat Mr. Whiskers and the dog Bosco, to dismember Fiona’s body and keep her head in the fridge…where he sees her speaking to him. Soon, however, Jerry finds himself at a crossroads where he could start a normal life with another employee who is very attracted to him (Anna Kendrick) or fall further down the hole of insanity and become a serial killer.

Cats already kill for the fuck of it...why not try to convince others to do the same?



I flat out LOVED The Voices! The film was so entertaining and perfectly mixed the humor, the drama and the horror aspects of it. One thing that is incredibly difficult to pull off with dark humor stories is stopping chaotic and jarring shifts in tone. Very often a dark comedy will be darkly hilarious for moments and then suddenly slip into horror zones, supernatural zones, and/or dramatic zones with no real blending. It will suddenly, like a Bruce Lee chop through suckas, fly from one tone to the next. Sometimes it is a single shift from comedy to drama or comedy to horror and, other times, it is a constantly shifting tone and it appears the film has no clue what genre it wants to belong it. The Voices did not have this problem at all thanks to director Marjane Satrapi seamlessly integrating the tones and keeping the story flowing. 

The only thing that bothered me about this film was the fact that no karaoke night
is ever this populated and rarely do people in the bar pay any attention to the singer.

The film ends a lot less funny than when it started (that doesn’t included the awesome and hilarious musical piece during the credits) as the film shifts from a quirky dude who talks to his cat and dog to a guy losing his mind and accidentally falling into a chasm that is forcing him to hurt and kill people. This shift isn’t a bad thing at all because the film flows fluidly and the progression feels natural. The film is hysterical at the beginning and I loved the silliness of it but I also loved the drama and tension the film slowly mixes in. The way these elements came together and the comedy was slowly overpowered by a more serious, and even darker, atmosphere was engaging, interesting and happened at such a gradual and natural pace that it never felt out-of-place or jarring. It felt like a natural evolution and it was glorious.

Well, this seems to be unconventional therapy but okay.

The story, like the tone of the film, is a lot of fun and very entertaining. The concept of a guy who hallucinates (but in a more believable and less cartoonish way) and has discussions with his pets is pretty simple but incredible effective. There have been plenty of movies that center around characters who have very loose grips on reality but his film was able to take that formula and make it dance with hilarious moments, incredible drama, and a horror film type of belonging. The plot, additionally, moves along fluidly and never lets up on any of the intrigue, comedy or drama. It’s telling a complete story that never lets up, drags, or has any sequence that feels superfluous or unneeded. Writer Michael R. Perry wrote a story that is stupidly solid and works amazingly.

Admit it, we all would like our dogs to talk to us.

Finally, the cast is impeccable as all hell in The Voices. Anna Kendrick is her usual adorable sense, Jacki Weaver has some fantastic moments with Reynolds as Jerry’s therapist, and, even though I’m not the biggest fan of Gemma Arterton, I really enjoyed her as Fiona and she made me laugh quite a bit—especially when she is nothing more than a talking decapitated head after Jerry accidentally kills her. As good as these parts were, I felt no part was as amazing as Ryan Reynolds.

Look at that cast!

Reynolds is an incredibly talented actor who has come a long way from his days on Van Wilder. The guy has acting chops that sprout further than just some bad sex comedy jokes and has proven that he can be a comedic force but also an action and a dramatic one as well (and he's only getting better as time goes by). I have to say that his performance in The Voices might be the best thing I’ve ever seen from him so far (Deadpool isn’t out yet, so I won’t count my chickens before they hatch…but there’s a real chance that will be the greatest thing he’ll ever be in!). 
Goddammit, Reynolds!  Stop being so talented!

Reynolds played Jerry (and provided the voices for the animals he spoke with—which is another thing I loved about the film) exceptionally well. Reynolds knew how to hit all the funny parts, he mastered the dramatic scenes and, overall, made the character a broken and sympathetic one. Yes, Jerry’s mind was busted and he was doing terrible things but you knew Jerry wasn’t evil. Jerry’s story is a bittersweet one that involves a man who is a bit adorable and with a whole lot of tragedy mixed in. It would be a hard character to play. How do you make a man filled with delusions that ends up hurting and killing people but, ultimately, wants to just be loved and be happy be a character that you can simultaneous laugh at and feel sorry for—and THEN, feel relief for when he finally finds his happy place and is free from his tortured mind? That’s no easy feat but, dammit, Ryan Reynolds make it look like it was and it was fucking flawless!

That's the same face I'm going to make when I see Deadpool.  I'm very excited for
that one, Reynolds.  I'm not entirely sure why I addressed my excitement specifically
towards you since you'll never read this.

The Voices is just amazing and I absolutely was enthralled with it. Aside from a great story and superior acting from the lead and the entire cast, the film contains gorgeous visuals from director Marjane Satrapi that mingle unbelievably well with the humorous, terrifying and dramatic story. Simply put, I loved every second of The Voices.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Imitation Game

***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 don't feel like playing the Imitation Game, can't we play Operation instead?



The Imitation Game – 4 out of 5


To me, the Imitation Game is me telling my friends that I can perfectly impersonate them and then I proceed to just make fart noises with my mouth because I like my friends to have absolutely no trust in me and also see me as a gigantic asshole. In this film with Benedict Cumberbatch, the game is a lot different.

I don't even want to add a caption.  This shot just looks cool.


How good is Charles Dance as an actor?  He made being
shot with a crossbow on the toilet look dignified.
The Imitation Game revolves around the brilliant mathematician Alan Turning (Cumberbatch). In the late 1930s when a little skirmish called World War II was ravaging Great Britain, Turning joins with a cryptography team in an attempt to break the German’s code and their Enigma machine. Everyday is filled with frustrations as time plays against the team and Turning sets his sights on designing a machine that will do the code-breaking for them; a machine he lovingly names Christopher (his past sheds the light on why he picked that name). While this is going on, he deals with the drama of not fitting in with the team but definitely attempting to, fighting so there is a place in the decoding for the brilliant mind of Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) because, back then, men didn’t want to know that women had brains and could think, and working to hide a secret that could get him in quite a bit of trouble with the law (hint: he’s gay and that used to be considered a crime.  Shut up, it's not a spoiler since it was a major part of the story and a part of history). Years later in 1951, Turning would recall all of this and all of his achievements during the war after his home is broken into and a stupidly motivated police detective (Rory Kinnear) does everything he can in order to find some dirt and bring charges on the man.

"And after I get some dirt on Turning, I will finally catch the Beer Baron."

The Imitation Game is pretty damn cool and interesting for several reasons. First off, the story is inspirational, horrifying and extremely dramatic all at the same time. It’s cool that Turning did what was thought to be impossible and break the machine that was coding the messages from Germany and it’s even neater that this was kept a secret for years until it was eventually declassified. However, the crime committed on Turning is horrific to see unfold on the screen because, since it is 2015 and I’m not some close-minded religious Red State occupant who can’t accept that homosexuality is genetic and not a choice to piss off members of the Tea Party and the Westboro Baptist Church, seeing that there was a time when, even after being instrumental in saving untold number of lives during war, a person can be persecuted and criminalized for not loving the opposite sex is a confusing and terrible thing (although, I sadly have extended family matters who probably thinks this makes sense…but they also claim English was declared a national language, that America is a Christian nation, and evolution is a lie created by the devil…so, they might not be the people to turn to for…well…anything).  What I'm saying is that the punishment dealt to Turning for being just who he was born to be and done so after proving to be a hero to his country is something that is appalling and utterly disgusting.

To break up my rant of bigots, here's a photo of Knightley.


Alan Turning’s story is something that had to be told so we learn from our mistakes as a human race and how stupidly ignorant we were. The things Alan did during the war, his relationships as a child, and the injustice done upon him despite being a true and real hero makes for perfect drama and intrigue. Things are only enhanced when you have a man whose acting talent is so amazing that it’s almost supernatural in origin (which might be why he was cast as Doctor Strange…it’ll save on the special effects budget because I’m fairly certain Cumberbatch can probably actually make magic happen). Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t have to prove that he’s talented (because we already know) but the dude seems to take every role that comes his way and makes them addicting and captivating to watch. Turning’s story is already sympathetic (as long as you’re not an intolerant homophobic asshole, I guess) but Cumberbatch’s performance made it even more so. He made the tortured brilliance and hidden secret life of Turning have weight to it and feel authentic.

Sometimes Cumberbatch is too likeable for his own good.  Stop being so
lovable and overwhelmingly enjoyable!


The rest of the cast is also delivering quite well. Keira Knightley is great as Joan Clarke and has some fantastic chemistry with Cumberbatch. The entire team is filmed with actors just laying it down like it’s no thing ("it" which is being laid down is awesome acting, FYI). Finally, there’s some great safe bet actors like Charles Dance and Mark Strong in the ranks who, you know the moment you see them, are going to give a fantastic performance.

Mark Strong's real name is Mark Strong Performance In Everything He Does.
(And yes, that joke is stupid.)


In the end, The Imitation Game is filled with a strong cast and tells a interesting and bitter-sweet story that fills you with pride over the achievements Turning made when cracking the German code and leaves you drained from shame when you see how he was treated for just being who he was. Additionally, the way the story intermingled various points of his life—his time as a child, his time during the war, and his interrogation—melded together perfectly and made a story that flowed exceedingly well. Overall, it’s just a very powerful and emotional film.

Rollerball (1975)

***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 will never find roller skates cool.  I know I'm being controversial here but that's just who I am, dammit!



Rollerball (1975) – 3 out of 5


I’m not entirely sure if I’ve actually watched the original Rollerball in its entire entirety. I recall seeing bits and pieces here and there and I won’t rule out that I might have seen it with my Dad years and years and years ago on an old VHS Tape (kids, ask your parents what the hell a VHS is) but I don’t have much memory of it beyond it starring James Caan and roller skates. Recently, I decided to watch it (probably for the first time from beginning to end—like I said, I can’t remember if I’ve done this or not) and take in this cult classic from the 70s.

They have to leave the rink because Couples Skate Rollerball is about to start.


In the near future of 2018 (well, it was a distant future when it came out in 1975…also, we have only 3 short years for this future to come true, so get on it!), the world is controlled entirely by giant global corporations (actually, we might already have this future locked and loaded) and they strive to eliminate all forms of individuality. The masses are entertained by a game called Rollerball (the game is also used to eliminate the need for war). The game is played by two teams on roller skates on a circular track. The object in this brutal game is to score points on their opponents (so, basic sports) but the game can get deadly. One of the most famous stars is Jonathan E. (James Caan). He’s been in the game long enough and played great enough that he is a celebrity and recognized everywhere. This kinda goes against the idea of eliminating individuality so it is decided that Jonathan must retire. The only problem is that he isn’t ready to. So, the corporation will make him retire; either willingly or permanently.

Call it my women's intuition but I think this guy is bad and up to no good.


Rollerball is a cult classic beloved by those who adore the 70s Sci-Fi dystopian futures that were the rage in film. Being that this (probably) was the first time I watched this film from beginning to end, I can’t say that I’m going to join the group that loves this film. Overall, I didn’t think it was horrible but I didn’t think it was great either.

"I've heard rumors of a skate that has all the blades in a row.  That is just silly
nonsense so get that shit out of your heads now!"


Old reviews of this film praise James Caan’s performance as Jonathan E. and, while I think Caan is a tremendous performer, I wasn’t really that blown away with his performance. He doesn’t look like he cares that much about the film and spends most of the time entering scenes awkwardly with an uncomfortable smile. For a majority of the film, he looks like he wants to be anywhere BUT the set and the performance doesn’t hold a candle to what Caan has does in many other films. Too many times in the film, Caan comes off like a man who stumbled into a situation where everyone is speaking a language he doesn’t understand and he just stands there with a weak smile on his face and is occasionally nodding in an attempt to make it appear he has some clue to what is happening around him. Sure, there are times that he isn’t doing this and is giving off a tremendous performance—like his refusal to be pushed out of a game and a scene where he spits words at the corporation-provided concubine—but, for the majority of the time, I saw an actor who looked like he wasn’t comfortable at all and it was slightly amusing but horribly distracting.

I'm fairly curtained Caan wasn't paid for the film and did it as a favor or
possible obligation in a contract he once signed.

Watching Rollerball now, the action scenes during the games come off extremely tame. The action isn’t cleanly crafted with well executed stunts and isn’t filmed in a way that really brings the viewer into the chaos that often. Add in the natural clumsiness that comes with roller skates (it’s hard to look graceful on those things and not look like you are constantly flailing around in an attempt to not fall on your ass) and you have the game sequences come off looking very raw and less polished than what we would get in films in this day and age. I’m not trying to knock these sequences at all because they are the real highlight of the film and are fun to watch but with the limits of camera technology at the time (and the existence of roller skates) they have the habit of very definitively dating the film. However, the stunt men in this film did do a tremendous job of making this sport look hard hitting and insanely difficult (I would be the guy clinging to the wall as my skates constantly try to come out from under me)—in fact, the stunt performers did such a job that this became the first film where stunt persons were credited and have been credited ever since. Prior to Rollerball, the work of these brave men and women who put their bodies on the line in order to get the shot and have dorks like me amuse myself while I eat pizza and cake in the dark on the couch went uncredited.

"Crap, guys!  I split my pants reaching for the ball."


While the story is pretty simple, it’s quite effective with its metaphors of denial of individuality and corporate control over the populace and how they use their influence to craft wars—which are, in the case of this film, done in the form of Rollerball. However, I did find much of its presentation of the future to be a bit laughable. At its core, all dystopian society films and total control utopia stories can be very silly if look into them too deeply but a society that uses a sports game (that I have to remind you is done on roller skates) in order to remind the people of society the, as one corporate executive in the film puts it, "futility of individual effort." In a way, that makes sense because sports are a team effort and, lest we forget, there is, in fact, no "I" in team. However, we all know how obsessed we get with sports in our societies and we all know the level of hero worship that comes with teams and single players. So, in the end, Rollerball’s reality works for the film but I still found a lot of it and its details to be chuckle-inducing.

"Hey, I'll meet you by the giant tea cup building!"


Rollerball is not bad. It’s not the best Sci-Fi film from the 70s I’ve seen and I had a hard time not laughing at a lot of the stuff in the story. However, the game sequences are nice (but I still can’t overlook how silly people look on roller skates) and I kinda get why it’s a cult classic and why people think it’s great. I just don’t agree with them…but that’s okay because I don’t have to and they don’t have to agree with me. Peace on Earth achieved!