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Independence Day 2: Resurgence

Independence Day (1996) is one of my all time favorite films. As I rewatched the film just last night, I realized, to be a girl is to have a crush on Mr. Charismatic, Will Smith, Captain Steve Hiller, to become a woman is to love Jeff Goldbulm’s David Levison. To be fair, I love both characters and have watched Independence Day at least once a year my entire life since 1996. Whoa… that’s at the bare minimum of 20 times. Needless to say, I was very excited for Independence Day 2: Resurgence to soar into theaters and got the chance to see it opening day on Friday.

id422ID4 2 delivers edge of the seat fun, 20 years after Levison and Captain Hiller defeat the aliens that came to pillage the earth for their own reasons that never really become clear until we get the sequel. It is very entertaining to watch almost all of our favorite characters come back to continue a story line that  we have all come to know and love, and most likely quote in regular day conversation and then not have other people understand, then you sigh and die a little inside, but know that there has to be someone out there who would have understood the reference. Then you smile a little. Because now you have another installment of one of your favorite story worlds. Continue reading

The Mad Max Trilogy

A little known Australian franchise began in 1979 that focused on an apocalyptic world where gangs ran the world and gas is a very fucking high commodity. The trilogy that was born in the desert with flames and explosions galore. Fast-forward 30 years later and the now widely-known Mad Max is being rebooted by its creator George Miller with a Hollywood treatment and a cool hundred million dollars. So before we cross the finish line with Mad Max: Fury Road, let’s gear up for the weekend by returning to the classic car-chases, consumptive waste land, and the desperate, deviant characters of the early 80s with a cumulative review of the original trilogy. 

mad maxMad Max of 1979 was a bit of a blur; cars exploding, gangs fucking shit up, and very little dialogue that was actually pretty difficult to follow without subtitles. The difficulty wasn’t just on me and my download though, apparently when the film hit theaters in America in ’81–as the sequel was coming out–they dubbed American speakers over the actual dialogue to help not confuse the audience about the film specifically taken place in Australia? The film follows Max (a young Mel Gibson) as a police “Interceptor” who tries to keep a handle on the rising crime and gang violence whom eventually takes a break from the force as his partner is badly tortured and eventually dies from a gang. So Max becomes the perfect husband and father while taking a long vacation with his doting wife and son (the son may have been playing with an actaul gun in the first seen we meet him…. CaRAZY!) Honestly, you could skip Mad Max if you wanted because the sad back-story of the Road Warrior (excluded here because of major spoilers) is reprised in a much more effective manner in the beginning of the sequel. 

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1981’s Road Warrior is another tough pill to swallow but somehow has, like, a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes? It’s a fun film, more fun then the first, but still makes the fatal mistake of being a very serious action movie. There are few moments of laughter at a clever script or perfectly placed explosion which is why I wouldn’t give it that high of a rating. It’s a bummer that I am watching the film this late in my life, within the heavily influenced world of bigger budgets and CGI, but the fact that these explosions really happened with real stunt people in them, that’s pretty fucking insanely cool. Max himself has very little dialogue in this installment and he is contracted to help out a gasoline-rich community out-run a nasty raiding gang. A gang that is into leather and some same sex loving! But, you know also a gang that Max did kind of lead straight to their door, so the least he could do is help the community out. So Max is the resentful Road Warrior, it takes him time to look out for anyone other than his dog and himself but eventually he becomes our resisting protagonist in this dark and dreary life.

thunderdomeBeyond Thunderdome-oh sweet sweet Thunderdome. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Thunderdome is by far my favorite of the trilogy because it finally stops taking itself so damn seriously. Miller Americanized it a bit, with a star as big as Tina Turner in it, it’s hard to think they kept it Australian. The characters in Beyond Thunderdome are the most colorful and least civilized of the franchise and they make the movie so much more enjoyable. The very beginning is a bit confusing, but I feel as though this is a running theme within Miller’s work at this point. But soon enough we meet the glorious, rampant Auntie (Turner) who runs her Barbertown under a strict rule. She strikes some sort of deal with Max who is new to the city, and soon we find him fighting a giant “George Milton” who is ruled by a very small “Lennie Small” in the Thunderdome. And the dome is pretty damn rad. Two men enter, one leaves, and I will leave the rest of the awesomeness for you to view on your own time (because I personally think it’s the best part of the film). Eventually, Max is annexed back into the deathly desert and finds himself as a savior of a “Lord of the Flies” scenario. Our once again reluctant hero finds himself slowly helping a rag-tag group of survivors. 

Overall, Mad Max is a bit of a scramble, we have a few good characters that we only get for half the film (Fifi, Max’s Chief of  Police Department and his partner Jim Goose), some sweet ass car chases, but really the film doesn’t age well as it takes itself much too serious for an action revenge film. 1981’s Road Warrior has twice the amount of action, as sequels usually do, a better climax and a silly Feral Kid (calling Short Round?) at Max’s side after he unfortunately looses his dog to a gang member (that’s twice now!!!). For me, it wasn’t the best of the three, but definitely a fun ride to take. 1985’s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is personally my favorite and I believe it to be the best out of the Mad Max trilogy, even though it rated lower than both its’ predecessors on Rotten Tomatoes. But the whole trilogy rates over an 80% for critics which is god damned impressive for a franchise that started nearly 40 years ago. The plot for Thunderdome is easier to follow and it has enough action to hold you over, but maybe some people find it not as entertaining as the first two because there isn’t as much car chasing because we have the actual Thunderdome instead, along with some covert affairs going on too.

One thing is for sure, I can see why Hollywood wants to revamp the franchise for a new audience as the first three were successful and looked back on fondly as an exhilarating ride. But as a first time viewer, 30 some years later, and as a viewer who is actually younger than the latest film, it makes sense to make another installment for a fresh-faced audience.

Phantoms (1998)

Phantoms Poster

Phantoms Poster

Phantoms is a horror, sci-fi, thriller set in a ski town of Colorado that is very much dated by the decade of the 90’s; if not by just the cast but the special effects alone. The movie is based off of a novel by horror writer Dean Koontz who also happened to pen the screenplay. The movie is a bit of a cross-over between The Thing (1982) and Scream (1996); it’s pretty much a small group of 90’s arch-type characters being picked-off one by one by creatures from another world that they can’t really identify. It even casts Rose McGowan as the classic whore, a Skeet Ulrich look-a-like Ben Affleck, and a young Liev Schreiber; so as you can tell, they are trying hella hard to replicate the success of Craven’s Scream. 

Overall the film is lack-luster with time. It did not age well in the last 17 years; the scares are dismissive, the creature are un-realistic and poorly construed, the cast only called in on half the days, and the story holds no real sense of believable urgency. It’s a bummer as my boyfriend highly recommended the film as a fun, campy 90’s classic; for me it missed the mark, which is disappointing as I am a very big fan of Koontz’ Odd Thomas which is also on Netflix as of May, 2015.

The Quiet Ones (2014)

"INSPIRED BY ACTUAL EVENTS"

“INSPIRED BY ACTUAL EVENTS”

The Quiet Ones is a supernatural, demonic horror film with a slow build and a fizzle of a climax. It is yet another “inspired by actual events” story of a young girl possessed by an inexpiable personality. It takes place during the 70s (typical) and follows a professor (Jared Harris), two of this doting students (Erin Richards and Rory Fleck-Byrne), and a young camera-man (Sam Claflin) looking to gain some experience and a bit of knowledge about a young, disturbed girl (Olivia Cooke, Emma of Bates Hotel) and her “medical treatment.”

The Quiet Ones has a decent enough plot that drives enough interest to keep you watching, but the scares are few and far between to really consider is a decent horror film, even if you decide it to be categorized more as a psychological horror film. The movie unfortunately doesn’t get good until about ten minutes before the climax, when things really start to get good. The final scenes are the best though, so does that make up for the movement of a snail? Perhaps. If you have an interest in demonic movies, go ahead, give this movie a shot, currently available on Netflix.

Left Behind (2014)

Left Behind poster work

The end is nigh…. For Nic Cage’s career

So we all know that Nic Cage has made a few poor decisions in the past ten years when is comes to casting choices. From Ghost Rider to The Wicker Manour boy Nicolas has been drawing the short stick for decent movies. And the case of bad roles doesn’t break with Left Behinda story about the people “left behind” after the rapture happens. Nic is the father of one of the skeptics of God that loses her younger brother and crazy, punch drinking mother in a naked daze (as all that is left behind of the raptured are their clothes).

Left Behind is a slow moving catastrophe that arrives without a pulse. I checked it out on Netflix in the hopes that it would be so bad that it would be fun, but boy, was I wrong. Left Behind will be of no interest to anybody outside the tight bible belt as these slow characters come to realize that they missed their chance at God’s gift.

Even if bored at the end of the night, I’d steer clear of this dud of a movie.

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Into the Storm (2014) Frightening to some, laughable to others

stormI was excited for Into the Storm to come out on August 8th, its been a long while since a decent disaster film came out that wasn’t related to a biblical story or originated on SyFy.  I loooooove disaster films, they’re much better at scaring me than actual horror films, just because disaster strikes on a regular, real basis, unlike a crazed, unstable serial killer whose got it out for some randy teenagers. Not to mention, I’m no longer a teenager, and I am not a cop, and have yet to be exposed to a psychopath, so you know, in my mid twenties, I think I’m safe.

Although, ironically enough, Into the Storm opens with your basic dumb teenagers being swept away in a twister because they weren’t smart enough to get in the car and get the hell out of the street when they saw power lines dropping like Raid-ridden flies. What’s really interesting about this take on a disaster film is that it takes hand-held POV camera shots to a new level. There is no real shakiness to any of the film, because for once you see people use tripods (by the amateur students that just so happen to be filming a time capsule for their father who is the Vice Principal of their school) and anti-shake cameras (by the professional storm chasers). What makes Into the Storm even cooler though, is that we have about 3-4 separate stories going on during the film, all of which intertwine intermittently throughout the short 89 minute film, which makes the movie blow by. (ehehe, get it?)

It’s a fun, fast-paced, nail biter that I think might give it’s older sister Twister a run for her money (and yes we have a flying cow in this film as well). Our cast, is composed of a single, over bearing father (mentioned above, played by Richard Armitage) his two high school-aged sons (Max Deacon and Nathan Kress aka Freddy from iCarly), the girl that one of the boys have an obligatorily crush on (Alycia Debnam Carey); a team of storm chasers which include the heartless, get anything for the shot Pete played by Matt Walsh, two new comers to the team that seem to have no luck (Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sumpter) and two seasoned camera men, one token black college student (Arlen Escarpeta, previously seen in Final Destination 5 and Friday the 13th as pretty much the same character) and one older white man who had such short screen time, I thought he was an actual crew member of the film, until he was addressed ONCE by Pete. Oh and there is also these two hill billies that end up chasing after the storm while pounding back numerous beers. They are simply the comic relief of the movie, but add to the fun thanks to Kyle Davis as “Donk” and Jon Reep as Reevis. The acting over all is fine, there are a few scenes that are intolerable, but they usually have the newer actors in them, so it’s forgivable. The best performances by far go to the young Nathan Krass and Matt Walsh, with Max Deacon a close third for only one very heart-shattering scene where he and his crush are *spoilers, it’s a damn disaster film* face to face with their own slow death of water slowly filling an inescapable basement. 

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What really steals the show though are the mass amount of twisters and the sheer destruction they leave in their wake. I mean you go into a disaster film hoping to see destruction and mass chaos, and the movie delivers, which is why I find it hard to believe that Rotten Tomatoes scored it as low as a 21% by critics and 50% by audiences. The film set out to show the audience what a handful of repeating circulation storm clouds can do to one poor county: the chaos when the sirens hit, running to safety, praying to the gods that it won’t hit you, and of course, the clean up afterwards.

One of the most interesting scenes for me took place in the school as everyone at an outside graduation ceremony took cover in the hallways and covered their heads. A drill any Mid-Western kid would be familiar with. So I sat there, on pins and needles waiting to see if they would survive the tornado coming straight for them, because you know, that could have been me or you in our childhood. That scene is worth the price of admission alone, because of how terrifying and realistic it is.

Into the Storm, for me, as an Ohioan girl who had to hide away in basements and take shelter in the hallways of her high school, was very frightening and delivered exactly what I wanted, but for others, who may not have that same innate fear of terrible storms and tornadoes, they might find the film foolish and unrelatable because they never lived through the fear of losing everything in this manner. I had saw this film with a friend who lived in Mexico for the majority of his life, which I believe does not have tornadoes (maybe just those terrifying hurricanes?) and while I was on the edge of my seat, he was occasionally chuckling at a tornado demolishing a bakery. So there’s the big difference on if you will be the audience that will either enjoy the film or hate it.

So if you’ve ever lived through a storm scare in your life, you might want to check out a controlled setting of it in Into the Storm, you might just have yourself a nice little fright and take away some handy tips for your next storm. Oh and one more thing, I totally ended up being chased by a severe storm right after I left the movie theater as well, check out my tweet with the photo.

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Hercules (2014) The one with Dwayne the Rock Johnson

Said action based poster mentioned below.

Said action based poster mentioned below.

The year 2014 could also go down in history as the year of Hercules, the demi-god known for his strength and his…. well let’s just say “amorous” father: Zeus. At the beginning of the year, screens were graced with a gritty, action drama; The Legend of Hercules, starring Kellan Lutz who you might remember as the beefy Emmit Cullen in Twilight or even the Greek Sea God, Poseidon, in 2011’s ImmortalsThe film overall tried far too hard, and left the audience feeling lack luster.

With not only the summer heating up, but the theater selection as well, in rolls Dwayne the Rock Johnson in 2014’s HerculesThe movie opens as a Grecian boy describes the most gruesome, famous labors of Hercules. The young narrator begins with the legend of the Lernaean hydra, moves onto the Erymanthian Boar, and gets interrupted during what is ironically Hercules’ first labor: Nemean lion.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

As you watch Hercules take each monster down, you begin to wonder: “is this the same disastrous, overzealoused CGI film that Director Renny Harlin farted out earlier this year?” And then Dwayne struts into the camp of pillagers that kidnapped his nephew who happens to be our young narrator. The Rock is draped in the lion’s pride, the lion mane gloriously haloing around his head. As the camera slowly pans up to his face, we see him smirk and laugh, nearly right into the camera!

And you begin to wonder, is he being cheeky?

What type of movie is this going to be? (You especially wonder this, if you’ve kept your nose out of any trailers, commercials, or reviews for the film.)

Then something wonderful happens, Hercules takes out four men with one blow of his club with the lion’s teeth attached to the end. As his nephew, Iolaus, played by Reece Ritchie, continues to boast Hercules’ strength, we see him take down more and more men before he lures the enemy behind a wall so the leaders of the pillagers cannot see what’s happening. And that’s when you realize exactly what type of film this is.

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta's skin is vulnerable

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta’s skin is vulnerable

It is a campy, tongue in cheek, action film that delivers the type of fun that a summer flick should deliver. You meet the rest of Hercules’ crew of misfits, all of who hold their own genuinely interesting back-stories, along with a wonderful display of individual weaponry. Rufus Sewell (as the deviner, knife-wielding Autolycus, friends with Herc since they roamed the streets as orphans), Aksel Hennie (as the young wildling Hercules took under his wing when Tydeus’ entire town was massacred), the lovable Ian McShane (the seer who had “seen” his own death, therefor could go into any battle knowing he wasn’t going to die yet, Amphiaraus), and my personal favorite Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (as the badass “Amazonia” warrior, who inexplicably wears next to no armor Atalanta) all play their parts perfectly.

Just the right amount of seriousness and cheese; Hercules is one of those films where you can tell the cast had a load of fun while filming. It plays into all the stereotypes and tropes of action flicks while winking at the viewer, like “We know what you like, and we’re gonna ride it hard and long allllll night. Oh yeah.” It’s frustrating that they wouldn’t portray this elevated funness in the posters or advertisements, because the film is doing hella decent on Rotten Tomatoes (for a mid-summer action non-marvel flick) and only decently in the box office.

Director Brett Ratner’s Hercules is the best darn mythos-based movie I have seen since Disney’s 1997 Hercules. What writers Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos, and (Radical Comic writer) Steve Moore did was more than just stick to the myth, they made Hercules a man, a man with pain and anguish, a troubled past, but also, more importantly, a man with a friends, a man who is both loved and feared, a man who became a legend thanks to his cohorts. He was no seed of Zeus, but since he believed he was a hero, he was one. And that is by far the best message one could take away from not only any movie, but also Hercules’ Legend.

Hercules (2014) is based off of Radical Comic’s character from The Thracian Wars and The knives of Kush. The film currently rates a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed more than $56 million domestically as of August 6th, 2014.

The below trailer is the closest perfect description I could probably find online without spoilers, and without it being the actual perfection that is Hercules. Beware, the trailer contains many scenes that are not in the final theatrical cut, but I am very happy to report that Hercules’ wife in this adaption is Megara (seen above), and they dress her in purple. Like I said the most tongue in cheek mytho movie ever.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is this summers block buster film that isn’t a superhero movie, but you may know the film’s better title: Rise of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, or even Dawn of the Rise of the War of the Planet of the Apes. I’m just kidding, those are just a few of the names that I’ve been calling Matt Reeves‘ installment of the sci-fi franchise that started back in the 60s. After many stumbles of the tongue and just saying; “Well, the writers don’t really give two shits about the lineage of the franchise, so I’m done remembering what  intransitive verb the writers are using for each Apes film” and I just call them That One Apes Film. It seems to suffice.  Continue reading

The Conversation (Day 08 of 100)

I am just as boring as this poster depicts. It is not false advertising.

I am just as boring as this poster depicts. It is not false advertising.

Damn if this movie wasn’t misleading, The Conversation (1974) starring Gene Hackman as the lead, Harry Caul, and (hardly in it, Harrison Ford) is a Drama, Mystery, Thriller based around a secret surveillance expert (Hackman) and his recorded conversation of a couple he was spying on in the park for a very secretive client. 

The movie is slow-paced, had forced love interests in it (because really, even in the 70s, was Hackman considered a sex symbol? How much suspension of disbelief is expected of me for this film?), and probably only did well in theaters and with critics because it was the 70s. You know, that time in American history where no one, especially the government could be trusted? We had that whole Soviet Espionage thing happening, and every person everywhere thought they were being spied on, or phone tapped, or that a sleeper agent could “wake” at any moment.

The movie hardly held my interest and was far too long, dragging on for 113 minutes, and was directed by “all star” Francis Ford Coppola, regardless of the director and 3 Academy Award Nominations, the film doesn’t hold up for this new generation of movie goers. What was frightening, and psychologically tormenting about this film doesn’t translate for us today. It was placed on my list as #93 but doesn’t deserve it. 

 

The Conversation  has a rating of 98% by critics and a shocking 90% by the typical audience. Do not attempt to watch this movie unless you were born after the year of 1980. Even that is pushing it.

A Clockwork Orange (day 06 of 100)

Poster

Ahhh, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, a film adaptation of Anthony Burgess‘s  novella about a hyper-violent youth group in a dystopian future Britain which comments on juvenile delinquency, psychiatry, youth gangs,  along with social, economic and political subjects. One of the most difficult film’s to watch on this list. So much so that I could not bring myself to watch it again, for a third time to review it with a fresh viewing. This is also a bit of the reasoning behind the giant lag in my 100ish Days of Summer. I have loaded it up 2 or 3 times int he past few weeks, and haven’t been able to really push past the first 10 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, the film is one for the ages, premiering in 1971,  A Clockwork Orange symbolizes everything that was wrong with the rambunctious youths of England in the sixties and the fearful advantages that science takes in “curing” the “wicked.” Continue reading