Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ted 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 (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!  Wait...is this a sequel to a TED talk?



Ted 2 – 4 out of 5

I really enjoyed the first Ted movie when it came out and was fairly excited to see another ridiculous and potentially offensive second adventure with Marky Mark and his talking, pot-smoking teddy bear—although, I didn’t want to see it bad enough to run out to the theater to see it there.  Sure, I really liked the first one but sequels can be a bit of a gamble and with the fact that it pretty much costs an arm and a leg to just get into the door of a theater, I decided that I would wait this one out until I could get it from RedBox (name drop!).  Well, that day came…so, what did I think about Ted 2?  Wait, don’t look at the score—shit, you probably already did.  Oh well, I guess you already know what I think…but if you read on I’ll tell you the details of my feelings on Ted 2 and maybe even have some cookies for us to share at the end of this review!

Living the dream...the dream of smoking pot with a talking teddy bear.

After the adventures of the first film, Ted (Seth MacFarlane) gets married to his girlfriend Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) while John (Mark “The Eyer of Lemon Drinks” Wahlberg) is nursing a broken heart after his wife left him.  As Ted tries to desperately get John back in the game, he’s horrified to learn that, in the eyes of the law, he isn’t considered as person after he and his wife try to have a child.  Soon, he loses his job and his marriage is annulled.  He and John seek the legal aid of young lawyer Samantha J. Jones (Amanda Seyfried) to help him battle for civil rights.  The case seems hopeless and he seems destined to be ruled as property.  His only hope is famed civil rights attorney Patrick Meighan (Morgan Freeman); however, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), the deranged psycho from the previous film, is hot on his trail to extract revenge on the bear.

Freeman is here to class this shit up!

For the most part, Ted 2 is pretty much the same as the first film.  Two stoner buddies getting into wild shenanigans while doing copious amounts of narcotics and having a lot of pop culture and nostalgia references thrown around during some cartoony action.  That isn’t me talking despairingly about the feature because I did find it entertaining and fun but I won’t necessarily say it is as fun as the first film.

The lack of fun was all Seyfried's fault.  I'm just kidding...or am I?
No, I am.  She was just fine in the film.

Like everything Seth MacFarlane makes, the film just feels like Family Guy but with different ingredients.  It has a lot of offensive humor, dick gags, insult jokes and lots and lots of references to movies and 80s sitcoms.  Also, like most of MacFarlane’s work, the final product is a machine gun constantly spitting out jokes like bullets.  Naturally, this formula leads to a wide spectrum of quality and some jokes are flippin’ fantastic (like Liam Neeson’s short scene and a Battle Royale that occurs at New York City Comic-Con), some are okay (like some overdone, hacky pop culture one-liners like something you’d hear an open-mic comic talk about when he brings up the Kardashians) and some of them get to the point that you wonder if they are even jokes and if they haven’t just crossed the line of MacFarlane just recreating his favorite moments from movies (like a Jurassic Park sequence that starts as an amusing parody and ends very awkwardly).  Of course, comedy is subjective so it’s natural to understand that what I thought was unfunny will be hysterical to others and what was hysterical to me might be dumb to someone and that person now hates me and wants me dead for finding it funny.  Whoever you are, please don’t hurt me.

Especially if that person is you, Liam.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:
I 100% believe you are the badass you always play in movies.

The only real issues I had with the film is the fact that a love interest for the character of John feels way, way too forced and never really feels natural to the plot.  Additionally, the special effects that brought Ted to life this time around didn’t feel as organic as the previous film.  While he, for the most part, interacts with other characters and the environments seamlessly, there were quite a few scenes where he really looked like he was composited it and it really hurt my suspension of disbelief.  Granted,this wasn’t terrible but was a bit distracting in those few sequences.  Finally, the threat to Ted from Donny and Donny’s plan never really feels that well developed and felt like a hastily added on B-plotline that is established quickly and forgotten about for most of the film until he’s brought back and the threat resolved too abruptly in the final act.  It has its place but comes off too sloppy.

Also...where was his son the whole time this went on?
Probably somewhere safe from him, I'm assuming.

Ted 2 definitely has some storytelling issues and a case of sequel-itis (a condition where the second film feels too much like the first one and results in something that is still fun and familiar but a little too familiar—it’s a totes real condition, I swear).  The performances and cameos are fun and there are a lot of great jokes that kept me giggling the entire time but it definitely isn’t as memorable as the first film.  It loses points for having the sense of being an obligatory sequel but, in the grand scheme of sequels, it really wasn’t as bad as sequels can get and I really did have a lot of fun watching it.

Honestly, this might be the best joke of the film.  If you don't know why, I won't
explain it to ya.  That's what Google is for...that and porn.

 By the way, there's no cookies here.  I ate them all...sorry.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Walk

***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!  The sequel will be called The Run and its prequel is The Crawl.



The Walk – 4 out of 5

About six or seven years ago, I found out about a documentary that involved a man who illegally did a tightrope walk across the Twin Towers in New York back in the 70s.  I’m a big fan of documentaries (by the way, in case you are wondering, I don’t review them here on my blog because docs are just too daunting to review) and being a big fan of these types of films, I eagerly sought out a copy of this doc, called Man on Wire, and was blown away with the guts and drive that artist Philippe Petit showed in creating a spectacle of wonder, horror and amazement.  When I first saw the trailer for Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of these events called The Walk, I was very excited to see this story get the dramatic treatment.

This man is a National Treasure!  Why aren't we all worshiping him yet?

For his next trick, he'll wrestle the Statue of Liberty
in a cage match.
In 1973, French street performer Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds inspiration strike him at the strangest time—while at the dentist.  He reads an article that talks about the construction of the World Trade Center towers in New York City.  He decides that he is going to illegally walk a tightrope spanning the length of the towers and quickly throws together a team of accomplices—that includes his fellow street performing girlfriend; Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), a photographer named Jean-Louis (Clémen Sibony) and a man named Jeff (César Domboy); who, unfortunately, has a crippling fear of heights.  With the guidance and help of the man who taught Petit how to walk the wire; Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), the man’s artistic endeavor—which he calls an artistic coup—begins.  Eventually, they get to New York and start to work out the logistics, going undercover to get all the details of the building, the people in it and all the exact measurements.  There, Petit gains a few more accomplices—including an inside man—and, under the cover of darkness in the early days of August 1974, Petit and his team secretly enter the towers and hope to accomplish one of the greatest feats of astonishment the world has ever seen!

See, he plans.  For example, if it was me, I would have planned to not do it because
I'm lazy and very, very, very scared to die.
  

The story of how Petit’s walk was executed is already amazing—pretty much as amazing as his actual stunt.  I was captivated when I watched the documentary and how they did it and Robert Zemeckis brought this to life in this dramatic retelling in a fun, slick, created and engaging way.  The way JGL tells the story as Petit while atop of the Statue of Liberty made for a fun narrative that kept the story flowing and really fun.  Additionally, Zemeckis really created some unbelievable visuals that are gorgeous at times and palm sweating-ly terrifying as he (and the visual effects team) perfectly encapsulates the size, scope and, most terrifying, the height of how far up Petit was during this amazing activity.

Yep, my palms are sweating just looking at this picture.

Finally, the performances from the entire cast are all amazing.  It’s no surprise that JGL is incredible because that guy is great in everything he does but he continues to prove that he’s an actor that you lose yourself in with his character and performance and I just believed him to be Philippe Petit—interesting fact, JGL actually learned to tight rope walk from Petit himself…that’s just cool.  The rest of the cast all provided excellent backup and really helped bring to life Petit’s team and those who helped him (or arrested him for what he did).

"It'll be just like this...now let's figure out how to turn me into a paper man."

The only complaint I had for the film was the fact I wanted to see a little more from the accomplices.  Due to the reality that Annie, Papa Rudy and Jean-Louis were there from the start in France they have pivotal roles that result in extended amounts of screen time and developments of the characters.  Additionally, one of Petit’s American accomplices—J.P. (played by James Badge Dale), a French-as-a-second language speaking electronic salesman—gets a lot of screen time but others, such as the inside guy (played by Steve Valentine) and the final two members played by Ben Schwartz and Benedict Samuel, are just sorta there.  They have their role to play but have very limited amounts of screen time and I would have definitely liked to have seen more from them.  However, the film is entirely about Petit, his point of view and the walk he did so wanting to see more from the accomplices is more of a personal desire and it’s not something that really hurt the overall film.

Greenhouse's facial hair alone should have warranted a bigger role for the character.

The Walk, simply, is a fantastically crafted film that features a very fun, perfectly dramatic, and partially terrifying story—look, I’m not afraid of heights but that doesn’t mean I have to like them or even be friends with them…our relationship is more of a mutual respect—as in respecting each others privacy and keeping our distance.  Just like the documentary perfectly tells Petit’s incredible story (I highly recommend that documentary), The Walk perfectly shows it.  All-in-all, the feature is a very entertaining and very engaging film.

Dude, I can barely walk on a sidewalk and not fall.  I'd be dead the moment
I looked at the damn wire.

Goodnight Mommy

***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!  Interesting fact:  I made an appointment to get a vasectomy the second after watching this film.  Why?  Read the review and you'll probably take similar measures.



Goodnight Mommy – 4 out of 5

Children are f@#king scary.  I don’t care how much you love your kids or how often you try to convince me that I made a mistake by choosing to never have those little demon-spawns but those damn things are freaking terrifying.  Horror movies understand that no matter how many pics we post of our little kiddies we produce on social media we still have an underlying (and healthy) fear of them.  Think of all the scary movies you’ve seen that have focused on the unsettling things kids will say or do.  Tell me you don’t pee your pants a little when you hear kids slowly sing, “Lalalaaalaaaa.”  Well, the Austrian film Goodnight Mommy agrees that children are bowl-voidingly terrifying and used that to its advantage.

There is no greater evil in the world than kids...and twins are even worse.

Lukas (Lukas Schwarz) and Elias (Elias Schwarz) begin to grow suspicious of their mother (Susanne Wuest) after she comes back from having surgery and starts acting strangely and enacting new rules in their isolated home.  Soon, the twin boys start to question if the person who came back from the hospital is even their mother and it’s not long before they start demanding answers.

Plot Twist:  The Mom actually became the Invisible Woman!
Not the Marvel one, though.

This was the tamest pic I could find when the film goes
absolutely bananas.
Aside from doing the tried and true formula of using children to scare the bejesus out of me and remind me that I wasn’t making a choice that I might one day regret by never having the damn things, Goodnight Mommy is just an all-around fantastic horror film that left me captivated and frightened at the same time.  The feature is a minimalistic movie that offers up very little music, has few characters and doesn’t realistically have that much dialogue.  Additionally, the film is one of those successful slow-burn horror films that really builds up to something terrifying.  What makes it so successful is that much of the film is developing (and excellently so) the paranoia in the boys until, without warning, the film goes absolutely nuts—and in an awesome (but unsettling) way.

I'm not an advocate for child abuse but it would be hard to not rush my own child
if I woke up to this in the house.

Goodnight Mommy ran a real risk of dragging and being boring as, for a good chunk of the film, I found myself wondering where exactly it was going to go.  The story takes a lot of time showing the boys do a lot of things that feel like they are doing things of no consequence but this build and the focus on how isolated the family is in the middle of nowhere really helped bring the insanity that arrives in the final act and then it decided to turn it up to 11.  I know it sounds like I’m overselling this but the very striking simplicity of everything in this film makes the horrifying moments feel magnified and really felt like a punch to the gut.  Matters were only helped greatly due to some truly amazing performances from the three main players.

Maybe the kids were right.  Maybe she's no longer their mommy but now
she's their mummy!

I'll punch myself in the face for that one.  Don't worry, dear reader.

The only downside I had for the film was the fact the film does have a twist to it and, sadly, the twist is very, VERY obvious.  How obvious?  I called it the moment the boys were greeted by their returning mother.  Did this twist hurt my entertainment of Goodnight Mommy?  Hell no!

Gawd dammit!  Seriously, children are horrifying!

Goodnight Mommy is an excellently crafted film that fantastically uses its visuals and stunning simplicity to craft a very terrifying film.  It might suffer from one major problem by containing a twist that was far too easy to see coming and it did leave me with a lot of questions I really wanted answered (but was still okay with them not being answered); however, the entire film still creeped me the f#@k out and that’s something very few horror films can accomplish (my horror gland burned out years ago—it’s a real organ, look it up).

Sinister 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 (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!  Sinister 2:  Electric Boogaloo.



Sinister 2 – 2 out of 5

The first film holds a special place in my heart because I enjoyed it a lot and it was the film my girlfriend and I saw on our first date.  When I saw the trailer for Sinister 2, I was fairly excited but a tad on the pessimistic side because, based on the subject material of the initial film, this one had me worried it was going to be nothing but a retread of what was already seen but, this time, with new characters.  On the surface, the film does appear to be forging new ground but does the film ultimately live up to the entertainment the previous movie gave me?

There's a truly tasteless and offensive joke here but, considering how I've been losing
what few followers I have lately, I'm just not going to risk making it.

Kids just attract evil because they, themselves, are
evil.  One of the biggest reasons I won't have children.
Deputy So-and-So (James Ransone) is back and he’s hunting down the Bughuul—the ancient creature that claimed the lives of Ellison Oswalt and his family from the first film…he’s probably also wondering why he hasn’t been given a proper name in this franchise yet.  Thinking he’s going to find the house that will stop the cycle of killings, the deputy is shocked to find the supposedly empty home occupied by Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her two children; Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartania Sloan).  Courtney fled from her abusive husband with her two children to the home; however, unbeknownst to the deputy, the youngest; Dylan, is being visited by the ghost of children who were pressured by the Bughuul to murder their families.  Now the ghosts want Dylan to do what they did but, having seen the horror first hand, the deputy is going all-out to stop the Bughuul once and for all.

Seriously, give this guy a f#@king name!!!  He deserves it!

There was no denying the potential Sinister 2 had and the promise it held to live up to the scares of the first film.  Hell, the film does a great job of bringing back the chilling and unique music that really made the last one stand out and it even goes a step further by offering up some more development of the background of the Bughuul.  This development was super interesting and it really made me want to see more of the Bughuul's history and the other atrocities it has done.  Finally, James Ransone is so charismatic, charming and endearing as his character that it was nice to see him in the lead role.  I was actually a tad worried if he could handle the lead and carry the film but he actually did a great job…I just wish the rest of the film was as good as he was.

This is definitely one of the film's creepier moments.

From a performance perspective and a visual standpoint, the film is very good.  There wasn’t anyone in the cast—even the younger performers—that weren’t doing their job well and the film still has the excellently crafted atmosphere of the first film and director Ciarán Foy fantastically uses darkness and shadow to keep the feel from the previous feature.  However, the film loses a lot of potential as the scares lacked subtlety and build-up—a key quality of the first film—but it doesn’t get any worse than feeling like the film had no guts to it and that too much of it felt rushed.

I also didn't care for the fact that the Bughuul expert was smiling during times he
was describing the horrible shit that the Bughuul does.  That was...a strange
choice for the performer.

While the film does get a little dark in the end (and does annoyingly copy the exact final seconds of the last film), it doesn’t go as far as the super dark ending of the first film and it gives the entire product a weaker feel and like it was actively trying to tack on a happier ending.  Matters aren’t helped when the story suddenly feels like it was abandoning the development it was starting to grow organically and then suddenly scrambles to get to the final act of the film and shove it all together in the closing moments.  Right as the conflict really starts to get interesting and the build-up and development feels like it has a lot more to go the film up and jumps to the finale and what’s delivered feels empty and just blah.

"HEY!  How ya folks doing?  Can I get you anything?  More soda and chips, maybe?"

Finally, I really didn’t care for the point of view for the Bughuul’s plans being shown through the kids in the Collin family.  One of the things that made the first film so captivating with its story for me was the fact that the Bughuul manipulates the children to kill their family but the perspective of that manipulation is shown through a father that is trying to figure out what the hell is going on.  This made for some amazing scares that sent shivers down my spine as the film would show ghostly activity going on around the man but all he ever saw was the few moments when the Bughuul wanted him to see him.  All-in-all, it made for a very scary film for me but this time around the perspective is shown from the children and we see the ghost kiddies basically leading the kids down the path of Bughuul’s manipulation.  This cut down on the intrigue for me big time and really made the entire product feel lazy.  There was no underlying mystery other than a single twist that wasn’t that interesting. 

"Hello, we're the ghosts and we're here to hold the viewers hands through every
second of this narrative."

Sinister 2 has its moments—for example, the Super 8 films of the families dying is still super messed up and horrifying to watch—but the film ultimately felt like a weakly and too quickly churned out sequel.  It still has the feel and look of the first film and James Ransone is so fun to watch but, sadly, the film just lacked in the scares and lacked even further in the interest department.  I wanted to enjoy this one as much as the first one but it just ended up feeling like a quickly thrown together sequel without much substance to it.