What This Not That

Gerard Butler~Now

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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.

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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.

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Olympus Has Fallen

olympus-has-fallen-gerard-butler-aaron-eckhartLast year two White House terrorist movies were released.  As far as quality movies go, Olympus Has Fallen was able to combine humor, action and familial love effortlessly. Brining in a high profile cast, the movie had stronger characters brought to life by a talented cast. Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Ashley Judd, Angela Basset, and to round things out Morgan Freeman gave life to the terrorist crisis. Director Antoine Fugua was able to focus on the action while mixing in emotions and humor without losing sight of the film’s plot.  Exciting, engaging, and entertaining Olympus Has Fallen has gotten a sequel to take place in London. Here’s hoping the team can recreate that same style.

 

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White House Down

816rBuBLsjL._SL1500_While it had a bigger gross at the box office (and a way bigger budget), White House Down falls short at fulfilling its scope in an emotional and exciting way. One of the biggest problems is that Channing Tatum is not a good actor. He’s good looking (I’d watch him in Magic Mike all day long) but he is not a quality actor. The movie also meanders along and it’s quite sure where it is going and when to end.  It’s heavy on the FX and that is what really steals the show. Like so many Roland Emmerich movies, this one looks good but fails at being a quality film.

 

 

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300

300-Rise-of-an-Empire_zpsf2428956_1398972388300 took a graphic novel and made an inspiring underdog story and entertaining film. It didn’t focuses on gore, and Zack Snyder gave it a distinctive color palate to help mimic the look of a graphic novel. Mostly unknown Gerard Butler showed us he could be an action hero and Olympus Has Fallen continues to show that. Rounded out with Lena Headey and Dominic West, the movie’s cast captures the emotion of the characters without being sappy.  Well thought out and smart, the film stands on its own merits—even if it isn’t very factual.

 

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300: Rise of an Empire

300-rise-of-an-empire-movie-poster-3The problem with this sequel is that it is a spectacle movie. Rise of an Empire is not about the story, it’s not about the character; it’s about getting your attention with blood, gore and nudity.  Director Noam Murro tries to outdo himself adding in special filtering techniques and using slow motion way too often. Unlike the first film, it’s not a story of an underdog to inspire the ages. It just wants to push the envelope. Sorry it takes more than Eva Green’s breasts to entertain me.

Watch This Not That- Oscar Leading Man Edition

Leonardo DiCaprio

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11169254_800Shutter Island

DiCaprio is amazing in The Wolf of Wall street no doubt.  He does well with the humor and cockiness, but to see him really delve into the human psyche watch Shutter Island. Based and well adapted from Dennis Lahane’s novel, this haunting movie has a Sixth Sense ending so it will take two viewing to truly understand what a great job the cast and crew did with the material. Dicaprio never falters easily moving his character from situation to situation. The movie would have suffered with a lesser cast, but DiCaprio leads marvelous ensembles through the dark world of mental health.

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Titanic_posterTitanic

We’ve all seen it. We all know its crap. Like Pearl Harbor, it’s not truly about the actual historical event that took place. Instead, it’s cliché movie romance a sucky ending. The whole movie is totally unbelievable. While it was great start for a young Leo on the big screen, it shouldn’t be remembered fondly.

Mads Mikkelsen

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Jagten-The-Hunt-posterJagten (The Hunt)

This Foreign Language Nominee is emotionally powerful, even if the ending is a bit obtuse.  Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a kindergarten teacher who is falsely accused of sexual abusing his students. The plot is well thought out and viewers see the consequences on the accusations on not just Lucas but on several of the key players. Mikkelsen plays no one stereotype blending together a variety of emotions and feeling. He shows how deeply complex the situation is and how society actually reacts to even the allegations of abuse. The movie is moving and you easily side with Lucas from the beginning.

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tumblr_m8g6kizSKC1r04lg2o1_500Casino Royale

As Far as Daniel Craig’s James Bond movies goes, this is the best one in the lineup. This was probably the first time most American ever saw Milkklensen. While many are now familiar with him as the creepy Hannibal, this movie really proved that he was a great villain. But it only gave you that one side to his acting ability. Plus, whoever truly cheers for the Bond villain?

Bradley Cooper

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MV5BMTM2MTI5NzA3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODExNTc0OA@@__V1_SX214_Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook was all anyone could talk about last year and with good reason. The movie is both funny and serious and worked well with both aspects. Cooper gave the performance of a lifetime with a relatable protagonist with bi-polar disorder. From subtle tics to full blown outburst, Cooper managed each with ease and often it was painful to watch his character go through these emotions. The empathy he made us feel for his character was powerful.

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MV5BNjkxMTc0MDc4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODUyNTI1MDE@__V1_SX214_American Hustle

Sure, Cooper easily glides into the role of the overly ambitious FBI agent with a perm. But it lacked the nuance of those as his character in Silver Linings. While it easy to argue that the issue is the character itself is the problem, it does not let Cooper shine. His character is just one of many characters where the roles are reversed. We are supposed to feel sorry for the bad guys and hate the good guys. But the movie doesn’t manage to do that, and Cooper’s character is an overblown hardass.

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Reboots

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Mortal Kombat Legacy

untitledWhat do you do when one of the best video game movie adaptations is ruined by a horrible sequel? Let the idea simmer for several years and then bring it back as webisodes! Kevin Tancharoen started the web series when no one would fund another Mortal Kombat movie. The web series focuses on origin stories and looks deeper into the characters we know and love. Throw in some great sci-fi actors (Tahmoh Penikett, Jeri Ryan) for Season 1 and give the tale some love and BOOM! Mortal Kombat is awesome once again.

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Star Trek

J.J. Abrams has put his messy hands all over this franchise making spectacle a priority and qualistar%20trek%20into%20darkness%20650%20paramountty takes a back seat.  I am not a huge Abrahams fans. He often starts with great ideas and then goes crazy with them. The first in this reboot series was a subpar film with at least some science fiction fun with a nod to the old generation. Into Darkness begs the question is this reboot or remake? The movie also stereotypes the basic characters giving them no depth. The films try for growth with Kirk and Spock and each falls short because it does not go along with the universe they are in. Overall it’s Star Trek with a younger cast, lots of visual effects, but no heart.

British Book Adaptation

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Wuthering Heights

master_heights_rain_450_252This Masterpiece Classic version of Wuthering Heights stars two British men who are currently on the American hot list: Tom Hardy and Andrew Lincoln. Hardy is Heathcliff an orphan welcomed into the home of British money and falls in love with the man’s daughter. Circumstance leads to rivalry between Heathcliff and Linton (Lincoln) and many tragic deaths ensue. This adaptation really explains the book though it changes some aspects. It made it possible for me to actually finally read the book and understand it. Plus, this adaptation adds a little sweet to the end of the tragedy.

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Atonement

First, it has Keira Knightly in it–in a main role.  I have a strong distaste for her as an actress. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy Atonement movie imageI don’t think she has much range and she is often a character that plays some sort of bitch. She’s good at that really, to the point where I don’t like her or her characters. The second issue is the story itself. It has a horrible ending. You think the characters all live happily ever after but no, they all die tragically.  I can handle tragic deaths (see above) but after I thought there was a happily ever after? No way. Not even James McAvoy makes me want to watch this again.

Watch This Not That Twilight Edition

The Twilight Saga

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Eclipse

This is the best movie in the series. This installment does what a good movie adaptation should do: cut the boring weaker parts of a book and concentrating on the best parts. The teen angst is minimal here cutting out a lot of Edward/Jacob from the novel. The screen writer makes the appropriate choices of focusing on Jasper and Rosalie’s back stories and the training for the upcoming newborn battle. This movie lets several of the Cullen clan shine instead of giving them minimal lines. Even Emmett gets a little attention. Eclipse allows allowing the vampires to truly show their power.

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Twilight

If it weren’t for the tale is a beloved story for fans, this movie would have been an epic failure. The teen angst was overdone to the point of being overly melodramatic and if I never ever hear a “dramatic pause” again it would be too soon. This drear look into a dazzling vampire world suffers from lack of vision and casting. The character’s make-up was horrendous and the two main actors have no charisma or spark. The movie only picks up for the baseball scene and ballet studio fight showing what this world could really be.

Breaking Dawn

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Part 2

With a Twilight movie, it’s hard to get away from the emotional sappiness. This one has this of course but it also includes Bella truly developing into a person. In fact as a vampire, she has more color than she did as a human. Part 2 also brings back the Volturi, one of the best aspects of the mythology. Michael Sheen is amazing as Aro and creeps out the Cullens and viewers alike. This adaptation corrects criticism of the book (no battle, etc.) while keeping the true intention of the book clear. The surprise ending is exciting for fans and they will forgive any deception they may feel. This last Twilight leaves with a punch.

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Part 1

The first installment of the adaptation of the 754 page book is great for those fans that are Team Edward and love Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. For the rest of the world, we cringed at every badly acted scene about the honeymoon or pregnancy. We enjoyed the wedding for the funny moments not the horrible dress Bella wears. This is the epitome of emotional sap that goes to far in the books (or I could just be cynical). The wolf CG scene looks like something from a B movie but Jacob and his new pack are truly the best part about a movie based on a girl loosing her virginity and getting pregnant.

Watch This Not That Halloween Edition

John Carpenter Film

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The Ward

A fabulously spun psychological thriller places Amber Heard in a haunted mental ward. Tight writing and plot twists keep you guessing the entire time through out this movie. More than anything, the final moments of the movie are the scariest and will be carried around with you for days.

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Vampires

I hated this movie. It joins the ranks of B-movies every where. There was gratuitous gore, violence, cussing and nudity. It was a spectacle instead of a story. Anyone wanting  a no holds bar horror movie of flesh and rampage would do well for this, but other viewers should beware.

Stan Winston Studio Creature Fest

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Wrong Turn

A throwback to ‘70s horror films, Wrong Turn uses tension and release in tandem to scare the pants of the viewers. The Stan Winston Studio creatures are grotesque in bred humans and terrifying in their own right. Add in talented young actors (Eliza Dushku, Desmond Harrington), and it’s a horror film worth watching.

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Darkness Falls

This uninspired horror movies is neither good nor bad. It fails to draw viewers into their world. The evil tooth fairy is very frightening in look but due to the lack of excitement in the story, her psychological fear is minimal. Darkness Falls lacks the urgency, character relation, and tension needed to a good horror movie.

Clive Barker’s Book of Blood Adaptation

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Dread

One of my friends calls Dread the “best worst movie ever.” The plot is so psychologically twisting that the terror lies more in the decisions of the killer instead of his actions. I dare you to look at a steak the same way ever again. Staring Jackson Rathbone and Shaun Evans, the film looks into the idea of fear and comes to the conclusion the only way to get over your fear is to face it.

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Midnight Meat Train

I love Bradley Cooper. I love Leslie Bibb. I love Peter Jacobson. I hate this movie. One of Barker’s more odd tales about beings that devour humans, Midnight Meat Train is full of blood and gore and it down right depressing. The short story is actually better, minimal zing many of the things that make the movie so bad. Like men with hammers on a train? Like creatures from the center of the earth that need sacrifices? Watch this movie.

Classic Horror Movie Remake

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The Omen

It takes handwork to keep something true to its source material. The Omen does well giving a modern twist on several scenes while keeping the spirit and the spookiness the same. Well cast actors help as well, and only Liev Schreiber could pull off the famous Gregory Peck role. While not as good as the 1976 original, the new version gave quite a spook on 6/6/06.

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Psycho

This “shot for shot” remake is horrible. Why Gus Van Sant thought this was a worthwhile project I don’t know. Why Vince Vaughn was picked to play Norma Bates is beyond me. This version gives a modernized spin adding masturbation and graphic violence where there is no need. The original 1960 version didn’t need it, so I’m not sure why the 1998 version did.

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Recent Horror Movie

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Woman in Black

This Daniel Radcliffe vehicle is a superb gothic horror tale with tight writing and great visual effects. Radcliffe is a solicitor trying to clean out a haunted house but is delayed by seeing the famed Woman in Black. The movie does not go for the easy scares, building tension that keeps you on the end of your seat, and Radcliffe proves his abilities as an actor. This is a great throwback to the time before horror movies were slasher films.

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Silent House

A gimmick movie edited to look like it was filmed in one fluid shot leaves the viewer wanting more. A girl goes back to a child hood house to clean it up to sale when a stranger breaks into the house and causes her and her family terror. While the gimmick could have been really cool, the two directors saw fit to give you odd angles, not show the actual violence, or even anything that was going on. The constant dark and concentration on static objects gave the directors obvious places to do cuts but nothing ever really frightens you. Top the film off with an ending that has been done better in many other movies, this remake gives you no scares.

Peter Jackson Film

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The Frighteners

Michael J. Fox plays a con man riding people’s house of ghosts—ones he’s sent there himself. But soon the ghost and the terror are all too real, and Fox’s character is the only one that can stop them. This suspenseful horror movie is a fresh take on ghosts and is visually stunning. Fox gives a great performance, and the plot is gripping. Packed with humor and horror, The Frighteners is one of Jackson’s best.

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Lord of the Rings

Because everyone in this world (other than me) has seen these movies a bazillion times, can quote every line, knows every difference between the books and the movies, and (like me) knows in their heart of hearts that The Hobbit should not be made into three films. Go ahead and check some of Jackson’s other works.