Category Archives: Movie Reviews

No, you’re not a misogynist if you don’t like the new Ghostbusters trailer.

It’s been four days since the new Ghostbusters trailer dropped and reactions couldn’t be more divided and vehement. This reboot comes to us 32 years after the first time we were asked ,’Who ya gonna call?’.

The new production features an all-female quartet of Kristen Wiig, Melissa Mcarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the titular team of scientists dedicated to cleansing the big apple of paranormal activity. Take a look at the trailer if you haven’t already caught it.

The day after the trailer dropped, the internet was ablaze with comments.

While some will point to sexism as the reason behind some of the criticism, and others will say the film is pandering to the social awareness of the millennial generation. But before you make your judgement on the movie, I implore you to watch everything that made the original trailer so much fun to watch.

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You Mustn’t Be Afraid To Dream A Little Bigger, Darling!

In a season normally reserved for big budget action movies with plenty of explosions and little content, Screenwriter and Director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) delivers something just short of a modern masterpiece.

Summer movies are expected by many to entertain audiences without involving them. Your standard summer action movie is full of the same cyclical process that results in the girl being saved and room left open for a sequel, given enough people see the original. Summer movie goers may be in for a surprise with Inception.

This film is set in an alternate reality where it is possible to navigate through the human subconscious while people sleep. In other words, It is possible to invade a person’s dreams. Few people know how to do this, and of those few, there is an even fewer number who navigate through the minds of others in search of profitable information. These individuals are called Extractors. Enter Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), an Extractor who is working outside of the U.S., on the run for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. With his team of specialized dream navigators, He takes one last job that may finally bring him home in exchange for doing the impossible: Inception.

Nolan grasps his audiences attention from the beginning, and holds on to it until the very last scene ( Which in my theater, caused plenty of cheers and gasps). The idea of Inception is fed the audience slowly. Nolan requires that viewers think accordingly and sometimes takes their intelligence for granted. For those who have trouble keeping up, the central theme of the movie is repeated several times throughout.

This is a visually stunning mash up of every type of movie people have come to like. It’s cyberpunk-heist thriller that’s beautiful to look at. With scenes that defy laws of physics with eloquence, It’s hard to not forget ignore the casts performance, at first.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives a convincing performance as a man stuck between the lines of reality, who just wants to go home. Anyone with the slightest powers of empathy can feel for his character in this techincally and emotionally complex film.

Joseph Gordon-Levvitt (500 Days of Summer) gives a cold, distinguished performance as Cobb’s main partner, Arthur. His character is often criticized for not having enough imagination throughout the film, but Gordon-Levvitt fills the role with a quiet intensity. English actor Tom Hardy also portays his role as Eames, The Forger, with a likable flair. He and Levvitt share a few moments of on screen banter over a sour past relationship.

Every heist needs an inexperienced newcomer, and Ellen Page ( Juno) fills that role. Her character, Ariane, is the person who must design the dream worlds in which people are brought into. Though without a particularly dazzling performance, her presence is felt in key moments that help define Leo’s character. The rest of the cast gave solid performances, including Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), who plays a mysterious investor.

Without a doubt, Inception is the best movie of the summer, so far. It does what so many other summer movies fail to do and invites the audience to think along with it until the final scene. This movie may not be for all, however. Some may deem the concept as too far fetched and others have complained of it being too much like The Matrix meets Oceans Eleven. I however, stand unmoved.

I recommend this movie to anyone who will allow their imagination to be open to the possibilities of Inception.

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6 Movies You Should Have Seen Already

By William Johnson

After scanning the list of upcoming movies in the past weeks, none particularly stuck out to me. So, I’ve decided the list a few movies that do stand out from the rest. These are the movies, from recent years, that are on my all time favorites list, and that I suggest you check out.

1. Away We Go (2009)

This film features a couple in search of the perfect place to raise their unborn daughter. Burt and Verona are still struggling to keep the lights on their mid 30’s and want start over for the sake of their child. The couple travels across to country in hopes of finding a place with the right amount of stability, including friends to support them.

Anybody familiar with The Office will recognize a much scruffier version of John Krasinski as the lead role in this comedy-drama, directed by Sam Mendes (Jarhead). This movie features comedian Jim Gaff and actress Maggie Gyllenhaal in supporting roles as well as a cast full of familiar faces.

Singer-Songwriter Alexi Murdoch provides the majority of the movie’s soundtrack with songs from his Time Without Consequence album. His indie-folk tunes direct the mood of this film almost as much as the cinematography.

What holds this movie together for me is the enduring chemistry between the two lead roles, Burt and Verona. Though both have their own dorky quirks and worries about life and people, they are able to confide in each other. Their bond and ways they handle every situation is what attracts me to this movie.

2. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004)

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) explores a notion originally used in Alexander Pope’s Eloise to Abelard. In both stories, a young woman falls for a teacher and wishes the memory of her love be wiped clean once she finds that she cannot have him. Kaufman provides the possibility of memory erasure in his script while director Michael Gondry helped visualize the process in modern cinema.

Eternal Sunshine travels deep into the minds of main characters Joel and Clementine, two estranged lovers who have their memories wiped of each other. Jim Carey (Yes Man) and Kate Winslet (The Holiday) provide the right amount of chemistry for this love/hate relationship gone wrong. Carey is in one of his most serious roles as Joel, who decides that he doesn’t want the procedure done halfway through and fights to keep a hold of his memories.

This film asserts the idea that removing the memory of an act does not change the type person of person you were when you committed the act. Eliminating the memory of somebody doesn’t change your tendency to be attracted to that person. In a film that audience can’t help but to identify with, Eternal Sunshine demands your emotions and your intellect with every viewing.

3. Kingdom of Heaven – Directors Cut (2005)

Ridley Scott (Gladiator) brings his usual hack and slash action elements to this movie, but with a bit of class and beauty. Orlando Bloom portrays the historic figure of Balian, a blacksmith turned defender of Jerusalem against Muslim forces during the Crusades.

The first thing audiences may notice in Kingdom of Heaven is the allure of the landscapes used in this film. Every scene attempts to include the beautiful backdrop. The detail in this film is remarkable. The crew recreated the ancient city of Jerusalem in the Moroccan Desert.

Although the Muslim people are the invading force, they are portrayed with much more respect that most contemporary films. In fact, this film provides criticism to the Christian Crusaders.

I recommend the directors cut because the original film was incomplete. Characters were reinserted to the directors cut make a more coherent story. Although this brings the running time up to 194 minutes, for anybody planning to watch it, this is the only way to truly appreciate it.

4. Anything by Quentin Tarrantino

Whether is be Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds or Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino brings cinematic gold to the silver screen every time.

Tarrantino brings a sort of over the top violence and black comedy that most contemporary films are missing. His non linear story telling and over the top dialogue set him apart as one of the decades top directors. His intentional use of cliches and habit of killing off more half of the original cast in him films are trademarks of his style.

5. Up in The Air/ The Hurt Locker (2009)

I combined these two movies because the portray similar lead characters. Both The Hurt Locker and Up in The Air feature men who have been trained to do one thing, and excel in this by dedicating their lives to it. In the process, they lose the ability to live outside of their skill set.

George Clooney (Ocean’s 11-13) plays Ryan Bingham in Up In The Air, a corporate downsizer who travels across the country with his life in his backpack. His job is to lay people off when company managers are too cowardly to do it themselves. This movie follows his travels and the way he perceives people and relationships.

Jeremy Renner (Dahmer) is Sergeant First Class William James in the Academy Award Winning film, The Hurt Locker. James is a bomb specialist with an extensive service history who is assigned as the team leader of an Electronic Ordinance Disposal Unit. The Hurt Locker follows his tour in Iraq, and readjustment to home life.

While these films share similarities, they are quite different movies. I grouped them together because of the similar themes and the way both films made me feel. Up In The Air caries a theme of voluntary detachment, while the EOD unit in The Hurt Locker must find unity to succeed together.

6. Babel/Crash (2006/2004)

Babel is a combination of concurrent perspectives in regards to a shooting in Morroco that fatally wounds an American tourist. The story is shown from the perspectives of those affected and following investigation. Crash is about a car theft that systematically sparks a chain of events.

Babel and Crash have been called large and small scale versions of each other. While similar, the difference between the movies lies in how connected the groups of people are. In Crash, a series of racially charged events affects the lives of several families. Babel is based around one event that has international consequences.

Both movies, however, examine the racism and prejudice that exist in our national and global societies. The harsh realism behind these movies is necessary when discussing these issues.

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First Impressions of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

By William Johnson

M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) attempts to translate the entire first season of a popular animated series in his newest film, The Last Airbender.

In a world where the four elements ( Air, Water, Earth, Fire) can be controlled by special beings known as benders, there is one person who can wield them all. The Avatar is a bender who reincarnates in a cycle among the nations through each generation. For example, if he or she were born in the earth nation one century, they would reappear in the fire nation the next century. This person serves as a medium to the spirit world to who keeps the balance of power between the nations. Siblings Katara and Sokka find the avatar in a dormant state and race around the world with him to help him learn all of the elements so he may overthrow the tyrannical fire nation and it’s leader, The Fire Lord.

Fans of the series will make sure notice of the differences between the film and the series immediately. While no film is ever just like the creative entity it’s based on, M. Night Shyamalan makes sure to remove any comedic value from this film. This was something the series relied heavily upon in the character of Sokka, who is represented by Jackson Hale (Twilight). Instead, he opts for a more serious version of the character whose bland love story isn’t presented with the slightest bit of interest.

It doesn’t, however, take a fan of the series to notice the evident flaws in this film. The credit for this underperforming movie doesn’t all belong to Mr. Shyamalan. This film is anchored down by a weak script, unbelievably bad child acting, and poor cinematic presentation. At times, the movie felt unfinished and rough. The acting from newcomer Noah Ringer, as Avatar Aang, felt as pretentious and cheesy as the rest of the film. The movie didn’t involve anyone of the audience who hadn’t seen the original series, thusly alienating anyone who had the misfortune of trying out what they expected to be a coherent movie.

Of all the things this film does wrong, it still has the gimmick of bending the elements. Even in this, the production value felt low like a made for TV film or straight to DVD release. When the movie crawls within the last ten minutes, and the climax is happening, the cinematic quality shoots up as if to reward the audience for having to sit through the first hour and a half.

The one thing done right in this movie are the fight scenes. Choreographed sequences in the film show where all of the effort from the crew was placed, by both the actors and the post production team. The final battle scenes are intense and flashy. They do not, however, eliminate the rest of the movie from my memory.

The Last Airbender proved to be a movie that I could hardly sit through, and much less recommend to anyone besides the most diehard of fans.

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I love It When a Plan Comes Together.

By William Johnson

The 2010 film remake of the 1980’s action adventure  television series features an ensemble of stars direct by Joe Carnahan (Smoking Aces).

The film is about four Iraq War veterans and Special Forces servicemen who are attempting to prove their innocence after being framed for a crime they didn’t commit. After escaping from military prison, the men must chase down the real culprits in order to clear their names.

This film feels like Carnhan’s last movie, Smoking Ace, an adrenaline injected thrill ride with little attention to detail. This isn’t the type of film that will leave you pondering over cliffhangers or unexplained plot twists. The A Team is pretty frank in it’s delivery, as if offers no illusions of grandeur of deeper meaning. That being said, this is a classic summer action movie.

Liam Neeson (Taken) and Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) both offer their usual on screen personas. Cooper is, of course, cast as a smooth talking ladies man with a sense of humor, while Neeson retreats to his usual wise, father figure role. The two characters, John “Hannibal” Smith and Templeton “Face” Peck, are portrayed believably by the Neeson and Cooper.

The role of Mr. T’s character, B.A., was filled by UFC mixed martial artist Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (The Ultimate Fighter). Rampage took some time out of the ring to prepare and film this movie. He made headlines by losing his first fight after the movie to rival Rashad Evans. Jackson provides what seems to be a caricature of the original B.A. His actions sequences are well choreographed, and he provides the comic relief needed in such an action oriented movie. Where he seems to fall short on the screen is in dialogue. His lines felt rushed and jumbled at times when his character was actually required to speak.

South African Sharlto Copley (District 9) delivers an unremarkable performance as the team’s aviation specialist H.M. Murdock. His character normally serves as the get away driver and saving grace of the team with little involvement with action of the plan.

This film uses all of the original catchphrases from Hannibal’s “I love it when a plan comes together”, to Mr. T’s, “ I ain’t getting on no plane” and “You’re crazy fool!”.  B.A.’s fear of flying is used prominently, along with a nod to the classic GMC van he used to drive.

Those going to see this film should expect a montage of gunshots and things blowing up, along with a few laughs. The main problem isn’t with the movie, which achieved what it set out for. The vehicle on which the movie is based, the original series, is shallow. For those who are fans of the original series and are feeling a bit of nostalgia or just want an action oriented movie experience, I recommend the movie. However, in what feels like a two hour long episode of the classic, some viewers may get annoyed with seeing the team in the same type of predicaments, only to be saved in the same formulaic fashion.

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First Impressions: Get Him to the Greek

by William Johnson

Russell Brand brings the insanity to this spin-off sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Since 2004, Apatow Productions (Knocked up,Anchorman) have been doling out comedic hits, and Get Him To The Greek is no exception. Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) Stars as Aldous Snow with Jonah Hill (Superbad) cast as Aaron Green, a bumbling intern responsible for getting Snow to The Greek Theatre. The two must travel through several hilarious situations in order to get Snow to perform.

In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Snow was a drug-free rock star vacationing in Hawaii with his then girlfriend, Sarah Marshall. This film opens with Snow performing his latest song, African Child, which turns out to be a flop. After the failure of his latest album, and dissolution of his relationship with singer Jackie Q, Snow decides to fall off of the wagon and fall back into a drug inhabited lifestyle.

Aaron Green is an intern at Pinnacle Records, whose CEO Sergio Roma ( Sean “Diddy” Combs) decides the company needs new ideas in order to survive in the current climate of the music industry. Green suggests the company have Aldous Snow perform at The Greek Theatre for a tenth anniversary concert. Sergio agrees and tasks Green with 72 hours to do this. The next hour and a half are spent with Green scrambling about with Snow through various situations on the way to the concert.

Jonah Hill gives an exceptional performance as the wide-eyed Aron Green. He plays foil to Brands outrageous Snow. As a team, these two actors play off of each other in any given situation. Brand shines as the seemingly intelligent and spoiled rock star. The lengths in which Aaron goes to keep Aldous happy are hilarious enough to keep viewers quoting lines from the film on Facebook status’s for the next few months. Sean Combs also gives a decent showing as the music executive obviously inspired from his own personality. For anyone who’s seen an episode of “Making The Band”, Combs performance should be no surprise.

Hill and Brand supply the laughs throughout the majority of the film as Green and Snow dash back and forth from slapstick to situational humor. Where the movie begins to falter is in the last twenty minutes of production. Behind the crazy rock star lifestyle story, lies a deeper tale of two men finding themselves. Green, who loves music,starts to discover that the life of a rock star may not be for him. Meanwhile, Snow attempts to realize how his actions effect others, and that he may want something besides drugs.

The problem with these two different story types, comedy roadtrip and  soul searching drama, is how the thread in which they are tied together begins to unravel. Until the last twenty minutes of the film, it works. However, the two separate and the film makes an abrupt dramatic change that may seem off putting to some audiences.

Despite the minor flaws, Get Him to the Greek is a superb comedy for those who are fans of the usual Apatow comedies. For the most part, the raunchy and sometimes silly humor will keep movie goers in stitches.

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First Impressions of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

By William Johnson
Jerry Bruckheimer fails to bring any magic to this time-traveling tale.
Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) stars in the Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean) produced and Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) directed adaptation of the popular Prince of Persia video game series. Named after the first installation, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is a high budget, fantasy-adventure featuring a time warping blade, capable of sending the wielder a full 60 seconds into the past at a time.

After King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) witnesses an act of courage in a young street urchin on the streets of a nameless Persian city, he takes the boy in to be a prince of Persia. It’s years later and Prince Dastan is leading a charge into a holy city, named Alamut, in search of weapons and finds nothing but a princess. In a series of twisted events, Dastan ends up with a time warping dagger capable of unleashing the fabled Sand of Time, which have the power to destroy the world. It is now up to Dastan and the princess of Alamut, Tamina (Gemma Arterton) to protect the dagger from those who would use it for evil.
This film suffers from poorly put together Computer Generated Imagery and ineffective dialog. Digitally generated back drops are apparently unrealistic and moments between the princess and the prince seem unbelievable. This movie attempts to use clichéd moments where the two main actors almost kiss, but are instead interrupted by some event.
The biggest oversight I noticed within the movie was the under use of it’s chief gimmick, the dagger. When placed in danger throughout the duration of the movie, the prince seems to forget that he is wielding a time bending dagger. In a film that overused CGI, hardly any of it was invested in the item placed in it’s namesake.
The film does , however, attempt to make political allusions by inserting Alfred Molina (The Da Vinci Code) as Sheik Amar, an ostrich racing entrepreneur who opposes taxes. Molina’s performance was the highlight of an otherwise unenergized cast. Another allusion takes places when Dastan is opposed to the idea of invading a land based on inconclusive evidence of the government trading weapons of mass destruction with their enemies. Although evident, these allusions don’t make this movie any wiser when said.
This films delivers exciting battle scenes reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Mummy trilogy and swift acrobatics similar to Spider-Man.
While the film has it’s flaws, it may be only the first is a new Jerry Bruckheimer series. Fans of the popular video game series may enjoy this adaptation
and others may pan it, but Prince of Persia brings forth exactly what it’s trailer promises: Action, Adventure, Romance, and Acrobatics.

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