Summer Movie Swing Part 1

Now You See Me 2

The trailer wasn’t strong for this second installment causing the movie to seem more spectacle than heist, but the film itself it’s actually a pretty good follow-up to its predecessor.

10NOWYOUSEE-master768A year after the original heist, The Horsemen are stalling for time, waiting for the right time to reappear after their original heist (sans one member who they just write off). Atlas is anxious to get back into the world even going behind Dylan’s back to talk to The Eye on his own. He is ecstatic when he receives a new mission: take down Owen Case and his all-seeing technology. But all does not go along their well thought out plan so they must out to trick the men who first tricked them.

The trailer captured some the biggest showy moments but the movie is more than just spectacle. There is character growth as each character shows them to be human and not just show men. The plot delves into the back story of Dylan, the almost mythical character that helps the team in the first film. The audience learns why magic is so important to him and his involvement with The Eye

The humor adds a great layer keeping things from becoming melodramatic. These moments are some of the best as tension is relieved through this humor for a great balance in mood. It’s a fun movie and worth the ticket price.

The Conjuring 2

Movies like The Conjuring intrigue me. I like things that are based on actual events but they often disappoint because the movies embellish. I have found that real life if often more scary than the clichés used in horror films. While the first movie was enjoyable, the second movie tries to up the ante but really just makes a spectacle of it.

In England, a girl is possessed by a ghost of a man that died at their home. Levitationhttps-%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fstory%2Fthumbnail%2F12071%2FThe-Conjuring-2, teleportation and telekinetic events terrorize the poor family. The Warrens are called in to investigate before the church will perform an exorcism. But Lorraine brings personal baggage into the case keeping answers veiled.

The Conjuring isn’t scary unless you are awake at two in the clock in the morning and are envisioning the nun’s face next to yours. The movie depends on clichés of scary faces, creepy voices, and standard horror fare. While it is not gory (a plus), there isn’t much to distinguish this movie from the many that have come before it. While the first one kept afloat by great casting, this installment does not; it feels like a B movie peddled by Hollywood.

The one thing I did enjoy was the way the writers spun the Amityville Horror and the Enfield Poltergeist. T used hey used Lorraine to explain the portion of the cases that were documented hoaxes .The movie uses Lorraine’s personal issues with a spirit to explain why she feels the spirit is at both places. This allows the Warrens to have some credibility after backing the mockery that was Amityville. (While I know Amityville was faked as a publicity stunt, there is still a picture that was taken in that house that haunts me. I’m sure there are emotions from the family murder that hang in the air at that house.) But otherwise this movie is a dud.

X-Men Apocalypse

The third in the story of the younger X-men turns out to be a lot better than was anticipated. Overshadowing and making fun of X-Men 3, this story follows ten years after the events portrayed in Days of Future Past. Mystique is now a hero, Magneto has a family and Xavier’s school is full of students. But when the First Mutant is revived, the world changes for all whether on the side of good or evil.

x-men-apocalypseThe movie does have some problems. The love story of Scott and Jean is shoved down our throats from the beginning. Its makes the love story artificial and staged. The movie also depends too much on the two starlets who producers consider hot right now. Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress but her character has evolved from the comics to make her a central character only because Lawrence won an Oscar and draws in crowds. The tale of her and Erick is repeated over and over, and it’s boring. The addition of Sophie Turner does nothing for the movie. High off her role as an annoying (but now fan loved) Sansa Stark, she is cast as Jean Grey but brings nothing to the characters and gives the same stilted performance she gives in Game of Thrones. The movie finally remembers that it the relationship between Erik and Xavier that truly propel these line of stories and that’s where the best acting and most interesting arcs lie.

But there are a lot of things the film gets right including the relationship between Xavier and Moira, and Erik’s desire to be a normal person. The two best scenes feature appearance by some of the best characters of the X-Men world. Wolverine makes a cameo and the writers did well explaining his intense love for Jean. The second features Quicksilver and the Eurhythmics. Sweet dreams ARE made of this.

Fun, exciting and often meta, Apocalypse is one of the better of the X-Men movies. Not as good as the first film or First Class, it never the less stands on its own.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Tim Burton does not return for this installment but his vision of the world is alive and well. The writing, on the other hand, needs a coffin.

Through the Looking Glass creates its own story instead of taking from the source material. The Mad Hatter is dying and the only way to save him is to find his family; heAlice_Through_Looking_Glass_tea_240516_620_347_100 believes they did not die like he had originally believed. So Alice, fresh off a sea voyage and looking at disaster in her personal life, descends deep into imagination and time to save him. She must steal the Chrono Sphere from Time to find out what really happened to the Hatter’s family.

My first thought was this was supposed to be a movie about Hatter and would let Johnny Depp shine. But The Hatter is not Jack Sparrow, and his entire performance is subpar. As the movie unfolds it seems to be more about the Queens than about Hatter and his family drama. While it was interesting to see how the Queen of Hearts got such big head, the story drags.

The best sequences are those featuring Time. Sacha Baren Cohen is hilarious and great at character acting and he outshines Depp like a supernova. A semi-villain, Time is given only moderate screen time and not enough chances to break up the monotony of the film.

The only other thing that stands out is the Alan Rickman; but don’t get too excited. His butter fly gets two lines at the beginning of the movie. It’s rather sad that this was all there was. I still have not completely mourned for this great and Alice did nothing to help me.

This Means War

With superheroes on the rise thanks to the Marvel Universe of characters (whether it be Marvel Studios, Sony or Fox), the DC characters have struggled to gain a modern foothold unless, of course, your name is Batman. DC tried to revive Superman, a character loved and who really took of for modern audience with Christopher Reeve. But the time has come for them to raise their character troupe the movie graveyard and kicking it off is Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.

After Christopher Nolan’s Batman the world seemed ripe for more characters Superman came back played by the fabulous Henry Cavil but the movie was all melodrama with a couple of invincible people throwing each other around. Back at Marvel, Ironman and Captain America were taking off. The Hulk wasn’t doing it’s best but their was promise in the character. Then there was Thor. Marvel brought them all together plus a few fresh faces for their mega comic assemble The Avengers. The an insane amount of money was generated and a plethora of characters got their own movies. Even Guardian of the Galaxy blew everyone away. Marvel was on top. DC knew they could cash in too and decided, instead of a new Superman movie, they would give set up for Justice league. But they didn’t really take the time for quality especially with the Marvel superhero vs superhero war coming soon.

Dawn of Justice introduces us to a mediocre Ben Affleck as Batman setting up for this to be Batman-v-Superman-Dawn-of-Justice-Trailer-Screenshot-Henry-Cavill-Courtroomhis movie as he goes over his past and sees his future. Meanwhile, Superman is saving Lois Lane again and people die from the fallout. The public is enraged. Clark Kent can’t even balance out all the negative spin at The Daily Planet, but he is more concerned with a vigilante bat that is branding those he captures. As the two men find out who their alter egos really are, they end up going to war over their personal brands of justice while Lex Luther is terrorizing the world and egging them on.

The Avengers are dealing with a similar issue. They are coming under government scrutiny for the damage and destruction and death that follows their latest missions (including the events from Age of Ultron). They are faced with a choice Sign the Sokovia Accords and live by the government rules or retire their capes. Tony Stark leads the side that wants to sign the accords; he saw in Age of Ultron what damage his power can really do. But Captain America can’t shake his past and continues to fight for freedom-especially those of super heroes and his friends. Essentially the fight starts over Bucky, but runs deeper into the philosophical ideas of right and wrong and the two sides ultimately fight for the things they believe in.

Civil War’s only real issue is that the villain is horribly weak. Zemo’s reasoning is nothing and makes little sense but when you look back at it. With all the superheroes clashing, it was a good idea to take back the villain. Whereas in BVS it took a big villain to bring them together, for Civil War the villain took a back seat to the ideology that both movies were trying to portray.

There is character depth to Civil War that Dawn of Justice just doesn’t have. While both untitledmillionaires in high tech suits throw big baby fits, at least Tony Stark’s breakdown makes some modicum of sense. He stays very logical until the end when his emotions take over changing his and Cap’s relationship irreparably. Batman, on the other hand, deduced that Superman is bad because people have died when he has foiled plots. There is not a personal reason other than one of his employees died during the events of Man of Steel. So he goes off on a tangent and decides to be judge and jury for Superman. ( This coming from a man who brands the criminals he captures.)

Dawn of Justice does not live up to the hype. The excited teasers don’t even take place in the current story but are visions that Batman sees of the “future”. There is never any explanation as to why he sees these things. Some would say these were the reasoning behind Batman’s baby fit but nothing is clear. While future movies may make these things clear, it’s not very good writing if the movie can not stand on its own. Civil War, on the other hand, is a complete story that will have ramifications on the future without using confusing tools of past and future. Civil War depends on the characters to move the story forward and then those emotions are channeled into the epic battle scenes.

Civil War shows the grey areas of right and wrong while Dawn of Justice assaults the senses but not the brain.

Marvel easily does the best job portraying what happens when superheros have conflict. . The reasoning is better and you see passions rise. Each side thinks they are doing the right thing and viewers can see both sides. Dawn of Justice is not thought provoking and the movie is movie is highly polarized It’s no wonder that Marcel is still on top; DC is still nothing but a cheap imitation.

What This Not That

Gerard Butler~Now

Watch This…

London Has Fallen

London_Has_Fallen-600x321London Has Fallen is the sequel to 2013’s Olympus has Fallen, a witty action flick. Butler is a pretty awesome action star and has found a niche in being a bad ass. Movies like the Fallen series are perfect for his rugged charm and handsomeness. London has Fallen is a fun trill ride that allows you to escape from reality.

In this sequel, Banning is preparing for the birth of his baby, but his time off is interrupted by the death of the British Prime Minister. The president (Aaron Eckhart) is obliged to attend the funeral as well as some of the biggest political rulers of the modern world. Sounds too good for a terrorist to pass up doesn’t it? In fact, this has been staged and planned to a “T”. But there is one ripple in their plan: Banning.

Fallen is good because of several things, the first being that the movies take the characters on emotional roller coasters and leave them no time to be stale and static. Those are also two words that cannot be used for the movie. The movie continues to pack thrilling punch after punch with little time to rebound. Sprinkled humor and a great relationship between the main characters inject moments of respite from the onslaught of violence (they seem to be channeling Taken at this point). Do I care if it’s realistic? No, because action movies are meant as an escape.

There is a huge fault in the movie that does have to do with bad character development. Angel Basset continues her role as the head of the Secret Service but she shrinks from her former bad ass role. When the attacks on London starts, the writers turns her into a sniveling woman who has apparently forgotten how to shoot a gun. This is disgraceful to the character and to Basset.

London Has Fallen is thrilling fun like it’s predecessor. So grab some pop corn and get your ass in the theater.

…Not That

Gods of Egypt

Gods-of-egypt-summitIn the trailers, Gods of Egypt looks gods awful. It’s that kind of awful you can’t look away from. But the movie is surprising better than I thought. That is not to say it was good. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. In fact, it reminded me of all the B movies of old that used stop motion. The movie looks good but has no substance.

The story follows Horus’s rise to power and destruction after his father passes Horus the throne. But uncle Set is angry at being passed over for the crown. In a coupe, he dis-eyes Horus and rules all Egypt This would be the end of the story except some young and stupid kid steals one of Horus’s eyes and in the process gets his girlfriend killed. He makes a deal with Horus: he gets the god the other eye and his girl friend will be brought back from the dead.

Gods of Egypt doesn’t take itself too seriously. That is why I think it attracted actors like Butler and Geoffrey Rush; it was fun to do. And you can tell Butler is living it up. Yelling in his bough as Caucasian as you please. And it seems like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau can never keep all his body parts in tact. The humor helps cover some of the less cohesive parts of the movie (quite a lot of it) leading to a few good laughs.

Over all, this is a rental to pass a stormy evening. Save the money for a ticket for London has Fallen.

Dead vs dumb

For Valentines weekend two big movies opened at the box office. You had Deadpool for the comic fans and millennials and then you had Zoolander oft forgotten but still worth your time I made a deal with my movie going partner: I would go to Deadpool the opening weekend as long as I got to see Zoolander 2. Here’s how the two movie stood up to expectations.

Deadpool-Jump-GunDeadpool has slowly been building steam. I was unexcited for another mediocre super hero movie. I had read some of the title character’s comics and enjoyed it but that didn’t mean I was running to the theaters. But early review came in and people loved the movie. It was so hyped up even Bettie White gave her endorsement. So I got excited about the movie and, honestly, this was the worst thing I could have done.

Deadpool follows a non-super hero as he avenges himself and his overly erotic lady love. Wade Wilson starts off as a violent, jerky mercenary that is diagnosed with cancer. In an effort to prolong his life and be with the woman he loves, he takes a dangerous treatment option. But that treatment turns sinister and he is turned into a mutant with insane healing powers. The down sides? His skin has been ruined leaving him literally scarred for life. Wade then takes up the mantel Deadpool hiding his hideousness behind a flashy costume while taking down the man who has changed his life.

In the first two minutes, I was convinced this would be the nest Guardians of the Galaxy (the best modern comic hero movies). The opening titles poke fun at what has become the predictable formula of these movies. It’s meta presence is sprinkled through out the film with many reference to Wolverine and Hugh Jackman. This jokes are perfectly timed and not over done. But the ,movie degenerates as it goes along. Part is the lack of faith buy the studio. The movie features third string X-Men whose characters were flat and one delusional. But the biggest issue is that the movie tries too hard to break the mold. The movie was raunchy, yes, but there were times were it was just offensive for offensive’s sake; it didn’t propel the story it just hurt it.

But over all the movie performs well. Ryan Reynolds is perfectly cast and does his best work when playing off other characters. In fact, he is a better leading man than several other movie heroes including Ant-Man. A future film with Cable (or heck Hawkeye but we can’t move across studios now can we?) will make better use of this banter as a anti-buddy buddy flick. Now that would be perfection.

Speaking of buddy buddy movies,Zoolander 2 shows us what happens when two perfect idiots get together. I am not a big Ben Stiller fan, but the original was too perfect not to love. The movie was ridiculous and stayed ridiculous (in a good way). It knew how to push the envelope with out knocking it off. It was laugh after laugh even after multiple viewings. So when they announced a sequel I was nothing but excited. The trailers didn’t disappoint; it was still just as ridiculous. It was going to be a great laugh. The movie met those expectations and I was more please with it than I was with Deadpool.

After a tragic accidents kills his wife and has his son taken away from him, Derek Zoolander has sequestered himself away. His pity party is crashed by Billy Zane who tells him he has been grieving for long enough and it was time to get back to work so he could get his son back. He is reconnected with Hansel who can’t stand him because the accident left Hansel scarred and ruined his carrier. But the two must put aside their issues and get to the bottom of why media stars are being killed.

Zoolander beats out Bill Pullman’s character in Ruthless People as the stupidest human635907104884099048-ZL2-12177R being alive. And it’s funny because this is a pooling of various idiotic statement people have actually made. When humanity’s various stupidity is put into one person, its collectively hilarious and believable. But that is all that is realistic about this. Every other event and plot point is exaggerated with great glee. For a time you are taken out of the violence and seriousness of the real world and get a chance to laugh. Here fictional male models ironically due what models are suppose to do: transport you to another place weather it is the runway, the visions in a fashion designers mind, or to a world were there is someone more stupid than Donald Trump.

The two movie are so polar that is it hard to compare them especially at what is a better movie. Zoolander made me laugh more and gave me just what I was expected. Deadpool didn’t meet my expectation but gave me some glorious shots of Ryan’s Reynolds butt.

The Force is Fit for Fans

n a world where sequels and prequels run rampant, it was as no surprise that Disney would bring back the Star Wars franchise. What was uncertain was the quality of the films would be produced. The Disney brand almost certainly lends to a viable sequel but fans were left with a taste in their mouth after the mediocre prequels from years before. Add J.J. Abrams (someone with good idea but usually ruins them when he executes them) and the trepidation for The Force Awakens was mighty.
While I understand not spoiling the story, I really don’t like not knowing what the story is about and the movie handles that in the first two minutes. Basically Luke has disappeared after a tragedy involving training new Jedi. Han and Leia have drifted apart; Han has gone back so a life of smuggling but Leia is still looking for her brother. Meanwhile, a new crop of heroes join in the pursuit of Luke: Rey, an orphan abandoned on Jakku, Finn a Storm Trooper who defects, and Poe Leia’s best fighter pilot who is instrumental in battle against The First Order. I’ll keep these spoiler free (I’ll save those till the very end past the photos).
The movie pays homage to the original three films. But this becomes one of the few drawbacks. The first fifteen minutes are pretty much recap of things that have been done in the originals. This quickly gets boring but doesn’t last very long. The movie quickly begins to stand on it own while blending past characters with future characters seamlessly. But you can create checklist of things from the originals and play a drinking game with it. A cantina? Take a drink. A villain with a screwy voice? Chug! The only issue is that the end but I won’t discusses it until after the cut.
With a strong story, The Force Awakens looks great. CGI and technology have come along way but it still visually feels like Star Wars. The characters are developed as the movie progresses with out falling back on stereotypes. Abram does not screw this up. This was a fear I had after Star Trek but here he doesn’t stray away from the things original fans loved but made it accessible to a new generation. Luckily, he doesn’t have to back up his work in the sequels; this won’t be like Alias, where after the second season everything went down hill. I thank Disney for this, for there dedication of not ruining the legacy.
If you’ve seen it, then we have SO much to discuss. Skip down to below the pictures and we’ll kick some ideas around. If you haven’t seen the film, move along there is nothing to see here.

HERE BE SPOILERS
Let’s talk that ending. While it was imperative to see Luke, condemning her travel to him into a five minute time span stinks of the issues that plaque the prequels. Plus, Luke never says anything to Rey when she finds him. This is the moment where he should have announced who her parents were. But nothing was learned or benefited by this exchange. The film could have easily ended with her getting the Millennium Falcon and taking off and then cut to Luke watching and waiting for her arrival. While this is a small issue, it could mean that the pacing for the next film will be ruined.
Parentage is a big issue. With Luke being the last Jedi, we knew that Kylo Ren and Rey had to be related to someone. They came right out about Ren to move the story with Han along. But the writers fed you bits and pieces as they went and overly hinted at her being Luke’s daughter. But could this be a red herring? I certainly think so. I believe that she will be another child of Han and Leia’s. Since twins run in the family and the fear of the force going to the Dark Side, it’s not a stretch to think that they separated her from her brother to keep her safe. What proof do we have in the film? There are two notable moments: the first being when Ren take off his helmet and the two share a charged moment. It wasn’t sexually and was more than just the force clashing between them; it was loaded with recognition and importance. Plus, they looked a lot alike. Next, you have Han’s paternal feelings for her. This is odd in the loner and its possible that he doesn’t know that she is that second child. This also repeats themes from the first films which The Force Awakens has done since the opening minutes.
And finally, I should address Han himself. Many people had no idea that he was going to die and have intimated that I had been spoiler spelunking before I went on opening night. This is outright insulting. In fact, I knew because Ford has been talking about it for YEARS. Just by reading interviews with him, I have known his desire for Han’s death and that it would happen this film. ( While, I don’t make fun of people who didn’t figure it would happened, I was pissed that people would throw hate my way.) But I knew this info before I knew that Han would be such a pivotal role in this movie. Han has arguably been the character that was the moving force in the franchise (the only other character we could argue would be the Darth man himself), and he continues to be so in the Force Awakens. I don’t say this to belittle the other characters. But it will affect the upcoming films. We now know that all the characters would show up in the next film (Star Wars often overcomes death, so this won’t be an issue), but what will the films be like without him as a driving force?
I look forward to the next film and am very annoyed that it will be so long before we get the next installment. But that does give us plenty of time to develop our fan theories.

A Cult Classic Returns

More than just nerds rejoiced when news surfaced that Fox was bringing back the X-Files. Fox has done well reviving their best shows including 24, but I don’t think Fox was prepared for the response regarding The X-Files. The premier was scheduled after the NFC Championship and was delayed due to the game but fans came in droves with rating higher than anyone expected. If Fox was trying to kill the The X-Files they failed. The two night premier shows had very little to do with one another and was probably designed just to boost the ratings Fox thought would be miserable. But the fans proved, we still want to believe.
The show starts with Scully and Mulder reconnecting after a crash in their personal relationship. Scully has tried to put the life begin her because she can’t (and never will). Mulder has become even more obsessive over the stories of a government conspiracy involving aliens and the government’s involvement in their experiments. The two come back together when a loc3al web series host bring them to a girl who had been abducted.
Sunday’s show was little more than just a recap of the show fans know and love but, finally, new information about the conspiracy arises and it more notorious than ever thought. The premier polarized the main characters: Scully was a total unbeliever again and Mulder was like a lunatic with his theories. This flashed fans back to the beginning of the series but made no sense with the character development. The writers chose to go back and make their relationship null and void to rework that chemistry and it is getting old. And where was the joke about Scully’s hair? Mulder should would have made one.
The following episode was a “monster of the week” but had someXF_sc7_0067rjw_hires2f link to the overall conspiracy story.
This second episode is more like The X-Files we remember, no longer focusing on catching up new fans. Chris Carter and company were able to get back to what they do best: create creepy stories using the paranormal as metaphors for human fears. Mulder was believable again and Scully seemed genuinely interested in the pursuit of the mystery. The only downside is that the show was more gruesome that it has been in it hey day. The production team upped the gore to keep up with today’s standards (and they didn’t really need to.)
But over all it is exciting to have Scully and Mulder back. The fans never really gave up. They have bided their time with a movie and comic books that even looked at the origin of the The X-Files. No matter their age, it is wonderful to have the show cast and crew back together.

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

All We Are Are Spectres in the Wind

Explosions, car chases and gun fights are a plenty as Bond slays an octopus and saves the word. Spectre is a fun ride with a succinct focus that tidily wraps up the Daniel Craig era.
Bond finds a link to an underground organization after a visit to Mexico city where his destruction makes the national news. This is critical mistake for MI6- the 00 Project is threatening to be disband as MI-6 takes over with a new system that watches everyone 24/7. Bond takes no head when, by the help of Q, he sneaks off toff after being grounded by the newest M. But what they don’t know that the previous M left a clue to her death behind. Bond will stop at nothing to avenge her and get to the bottom of Spectre and its intersection in his life.

picture-perfect-a-look-at-the-latest-007-film-spectre-2

The is what viewers love about bond: foreign beauties, ridiculous stunts, and snappy one liners. But t the iconic lines of James Bond fall from Craig’s mouth like stale bread. It is hard to tell if it is the writing or the acting. Craig’s distaste at ever being Bond again is a good thing. This means we don’t habv to watch him an his route performance. As usual, he shows off his body but does nothing on the acting front. Christopher Waltz is great as the typical over acting villain, and Dave Batista has become this generations Tor Johnson. The true standout performance is Ben Whishaw as Q. He is witty, brave and often the humorous release for the film. Whinshaw is the best casting choice since Dame Judi Dench as M.
The plot is thin and shake which is typical of many of the films and the twist at the end you will have seen coming since early in the film. But it truly doesn’t matter. Bond films are known for the thrilling chase scenes and fights. Add in a shake of humor and the movie continues to entertain.
Happily, writers conclude the stories of the last three films forming a common thread for Craig’s time as Bond. This fourth film ties all of them together. Villains past and present have a story that is wrapped in a nice shine bow connecting some of the weaker movies together. Bond finally comes face to the face to the man he has been truly hunting since Casino Royale ending the latest leg of Bond films.
Walking out of the theater leaves a better taste in Skyfall (even if the theme song doesn’t ,measure up). Viewers and Bond get closure as the franchise looks to the future. Until the studio decides on what is next for fond, Spectre is a nice little meal to tide you over.

A Story with Ghosts in It

Guillermo del Toro’s latest film Crimson Peak has picked up a lot of hype as a horror movie. But what is Chrisom Peak exactly? And how does it stack up to his other works.

Edith was visited by the ghost of her mother as a child and it warned her from Crimson Peak. But that cryptic message becomes less of a concern as she grew into adulthood.  Edith must entertain the advances of her childhood friend Dr. Alana McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) and exotic stranger (Tom Hiddleston) with a bad reputation while being shunned as a female author.  After her father dies, she marries Thomas Sharpe despite his bad reputation. They join his sitter in their decrepitated manor England. Once here, the ghosts come back to warn of betrayal and murder.

crimson-peak-posterThe problem with Crimson Peak is that it’s not scary. I had read that it was supposed to be scary and was highly disappointed. There was some violence and gore but no scares. My friend had to point out that it was more Gothic horror than a traditional horror movie, and I have tried to see it in that light. While it helped my perspective of the story, it did not really help with my enjoyment of the film. Del Toro is a fanboy and all his best work emulates his influences and likes but most add his own touch and makes it his. This is a love song to Gothic horror stories but adds very little new ideas other than some horrific violence.  The movie is basically “The Woman in Black” combined with “The House of Yes.” Taking ideas, atmospheres, and stories from a plethora of sources (Poe, Bronte just to name a few) they are hodgepodged together with little subtlety. The writing treats us like children showing us that they are telling a version of Jane Eyre with Mary Shelley undertones. We have to guess nothing that happens as we know how these stories play out. It reminds you in exposition that it is a romance and it is a story with ghosts in it (seemingly to fight off the mislead advertising for the film). This is insulting to the viewers and lacks the nuance of so many of Del Toro’s past works.

Jessica Chastain steals the movie and too much time is spent on Mia Wasikowska’s naive and inspecting lead character that sees specters. It is Chastain that moves the movie forward, the one that gets to play a smart and fierce woman.  But as her character’s persona denigrates, her performance crescendos. The other actors can’t keep up with her Hiddleston and Hunnam are all passable but not overly inspiring. There characters just seem to be fuel for Chastain’s playground There is only one other character that stands out so some much.crimson-peak-jessica-chastain-hiddelston-mia-wasikowska-00063r

Luckily, like most of this genre, the house becomes a character in itself and all the visuals are stunning. The house looks like other you have seen before but the deterioration and the clay that leaks from the walls and floors like blood are eerily creepy. It is the clay that leads to any kind of f horror turning everything a bloody red. The red snow is insanely creepy and is more than just a metaphor for the horrors taking place inside the house. Alas, not everything is treated with such smart double dimensions.

Unfortunately, adverting by the studio cannot contribute to the issues with the film.  Many reading this will say I am wrong, that it perfectly emulates all the classics. This is also its down fall. We del Toro fans hunger for his next project, to see how he puts himself into things that we love how he brings it into our world. But this movie didn’t do that. So the literature fan in me will subside so the nerd girl within me can start pining for Pacific Rim 2.

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Kingsmen

Kingsmen: The Secret Service is hands down one of the best movies of the year. Colin Firth leads a top notch cast in this humorous look at the spy world directed by Matthew Vaugh (X-Men: First

KSS_JB_D11_01354 - (From left) Harry (Colin Firth), Eggsy (Taron Egerton), Merlin (Mark Strong), Roxy (Sophie Cookson) and Percival (Alastair Macintosh) display varying reactions to an extraordinary event at the Kingsmen training facility.

Class).

Harry sees the potential in Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, an inner city kids whose mom is stuck in the mob life. When Eggy calls in a favor from the Kingsmen, Harry takes Eggsy under his wing and trains him for a spot in the elite service. Eggsy learns fighting skills, espionage techniques, and most importantly, how to be a true gentleman. All of Eggsy’s new acquired skills are put to the test when an eccentric millionaire tries to take over the world.

Kingsman combines humor and action, making it more than just a spy spoof. With subtle mocking of society and our depended on technology, Kingsmen looks at the ways of older generations and blends them with aspects of these latest generation to create a human ideal. Though I make it sound like it, the movie isn’t preachy; its tongue in cheek and full of laughter. Witty and smart, here more than just slap stick and potty humor (yes, there is some of that). At the end of the film, you are pleased to have passed the time with these characters and anxious to watch it again.

 

 

Maggie

08-maggie.w750.h560.2xThis zombie drama starring, Abigail Breslin and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is truly as good as all the hype. Focusing on family and the psychological aspects of the change, Maggie is a suspenseful thriller instead of a gory horror movie.

On a farm in the Midwest, Wade (Schwarzenegger) must deal the fact that his run -way daughter has been bitten by a zombie. Medical science has been studying the phenomenon and has no answers, just quarantine. Maggie, the titular daughter, must deal with a slow transition into a monster. With a father who loves her and a step-mother who is afraid of her, she must deal with more than just family life; she must deal with becoming undead.

Maggie is a realistic look at the zombie apocalypse. No major event happens. No half decaying bodies are running around. Instead, it focuses on how a family deals with disease and the inevitable death of a cherished member. It is a metaphor of an aging world cloaked in zombie trappings. Scaring you more by your mind than by your eyes, Maggie is the most subtle of zombie films. My friend was freaked out by the movie because of how real it was; she said several times “They are showing it as if it can actually happen.”  That scares me more than other zombie movie I’ve ever seen.

 

Child 44

The movie focuses less a murder mystery that it does on the state of life in the Soviet Union doting that the 1950’s.  Don’t expect a taunt crime thriller; instead, be prepared for lingering despair,

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hope in humanity, and malleable relationships.

Leo becomes a hero in the Russian secret police.  Promoted quickly, he rubs elbows with the higher ups. But when a longtime friend comes to him about the possible murder of his child, he becomes a liability to his superiors. When his wife is set up as a traitor, Leo is demoted but doesn’t give up on finding out who perpetrated the heinous crime.

Child 44 is slow. Little attention is paid to the mur-I mean accidents that happen to these children. Instead we see Leo’s life unfurl,  beginning with his heroism followed by his  inevitable down fall  and setting forth on his noble quest. If you were unaware of how dark Russia was during this time, then you will be surprised about how bad it was for anyone under the regime. Hardy gives an excellent performance (as always) easily portraying the irony that his character suffers from- his ladder to the top is also his downfall. Charge with emotional and driven by character development, Child 44 is not a who-done-it, but a picture of a world that was real not that long ago.

 

Dark Places

Based on the hands down best book by Gillian Flynn, Dark Places follows real human beings and the dark places inside them.

Dark-Places-Movie-2015-starring-Charlize-Theron-and-Nicholas-HoultLibby survived the massacre of her family when she was young. The only family member besides her to make it out alive is her brother who has been convicted of killing her mother and sisters. Libby hasn’t adapted well to post-tragedy life and has coast on a trust fund provided by a public with big hearts. But the donations start drying up and her book isn’t making any money, so she desperately accepts the offer to speak at a local “Murder Club.” The group meets to discuss murder cases, solve the unsolved and fact checking the solved ones. When they suggest her brother Ben is innocent, she can’t emotionally handle it but the promise of money to research what really happened is too good to pass up. Switching between the present and that her family was murdered, Libby and the audience find out what really happened that night.

The movie is better than Gone Girl because the script and story are stronger. Instead of straight up psychos (this does not disclose any psychos in this move), the story centers on real people and the murid of ways our psyche deals with the hurts in our lives. From lies to love to betrayal to sacrifice, the movie runs the gambit of human emotions and what we each see as the injuries in our lives. Backed by powerful performances by Charlize  Theron, Christina Hendricks, and Drea de Matteo, Dark Places is an excellent film.