The Boys Are Back in Town

The speakers blast the opening beats to “Pony”. It can only be one thing: The summer movie that calls to women and lures them in the theaters with the promise of rock hard abs and nice tushes. It’s Magic Mike back in theaters and this time it’s XXL!

In the previous installment, too much time was spent on a lack luster plot that was forced down the audience throats. We didn’t go for a dramatic movie: we went for a good time. Magic Mike XXL learned from the original’s strengths and weaknesses. The second romp is fun with a few moments of sentiment that will put a smile on your face.

Dallas sells out the boy leaving them stranded on their own before the big stripper convention in Myrtle Beach (is this even a real thing, because well….). Mike sees an opportunity to have some fun and re-galvanize his life. The team (Richie, Ken, Tarzan, Tito, and Tobias) set out in a food truck once the prodigal son returns for their last performance. But the ride isn’t that easy. Drag queens, drugs, and girls set the boys off the beaten path as they struggle to find a new MC and some new routines to go out in a “tsunami of dollar bills.”

This movie is pure fun with laughs abound. The plot centers around the Kings of Tampa themselves and not just on Mike and his an unworthy protege. Instead its a buddy movie focusing on the male entertainers themselves. Joe Manganiello kills it as Richie who becomes a de facto leader for the team and has some of the best one liners. He also has one of the best dance sequences in the entire movie.

There are a few moments of tenderness which reminds everyone why women seek out male entertainers. We want to be reminded that we are wanted, that we are beautiful. In the most touching (and one of the few dramatic scenes in the film), Matt Bomber’s Ken breaks out the Bryan Adams to serenade a middle aged Southern Belle reminding her that she is worth love and to have her fantasies come true.magic_mike_joe_manganiello.0

The other thing the movie does well is bringing in strong women. Jada Pinkett Smith is Rome, a feisty
and feminine strip club owner who rules every scene she’s in. Amer Heard plays the scorned photographer who just needs her smile back. And Elizabeth Banks, well, she’s just spectacular. These character balance out the testosterone and proves male entertainment isn’t an all boys club.

What does it do wrong? Well, the plot is as thin as the men’s thongs but its those thongs we came to see. Will it when the actors any acting awards? No, but someone needs to give these boys kudos for their dancing moves. This movie is pure movie escapism.

Magic Mike helps level the playing field when it comes to female sexuality. Forget 50 Shades of Grey where women have to submit to be sexy. These men remind we are beautiful just the way we are and that we should embrace to our sexuality (and those one dollar bills). Hate it if you must, but Magic Mike XXL is great summer movie fun.

Costner vs Neeson

Aging action stars are all the rage in Hollywood right now. But how do dramatic Hollywood stars stack up?

A Movie to Kill

Director McG stays in his favorite genre: spies. Three Days to Kill attempts to add a real storyline to a shoot ‘em up but adds too much cheese for the movie to stand on its own.

amber-heard-in-3-days-to-kill-movie-2Kevin Costner is Ethan Kenner a CIA operative who opts out after he finds out he has brain cancer. He heads to Paris to spend time with his estranged wife and daughter before he dies. But he is brought back into the fold to catch a terrorist only he has seen. When he is promised a magic experimental drub as payment, he can’t turn down.

The cast is a problem. Though I give Costner more credit for this role, he’s not the one that brings the movie down the most. Hailee Steinfeld gets staring credit but her portrayal of a teenage girl is truly one dimensional and stale. Though she has more emotion in 3 Days to Kill than she did in Ender’s Game, she does have the natural talent her Ender Counterpart Abigail Breslin had at an early age. Connie Nielsen as the wife was terrible and, like the daughter, the poorly written and relying on making the mother a nag. The movie does not even use its best character to her best ability. Vivi (played by the fierce Amber Heard) is negated to small roles egging Costner’s character to do her bidding without much explanation.

The movie tries to become a family oriented film but cliché after cliché bogs it down. He teaches his daughter to ride a bicycle, he teaches her to dance, the ex-wife gives in and sleeps with him, and more. The only saving grace in the humor that peppers the movie bringing enjoyment in the dullest or most sappy moments. Luc Besson is often a genius but his basic story is lost in the sap and I want to blame Adi Hasak for that, but I’m sure I can.

Non-Stop Thrills

Liam Neeson has turned into an action star. Many complain that he shouldn’t be. But he is and will continue to be a bad ass. Though critics have a point, he seemed like the least likely action star candidate, he does well with the persona and is always himself.  We love to watch him kick ass.rs_560x415-131016133110-560.liam.cm.101613

Non-Stop seems very out there, but it puts itself together well. An Air Marshal must find out who is killing a passenger every twenty minutes. But things get more complicated as things turn against him. His past and life as an alcoholic works against him as staff and passengers turn against him. But Bill never gives up intent on saving those on the plan.

Non-Stop doesn’t stop. The plot is always twining keeping the audience on its toes. What you think you know you don’t. And while the reasons behind the terrorist attack are lame, the actual process is gripping and exciting. You never know who to trust, even questioning the “hero” himself.

Bottom Line: Non-Stop is one if just plain fun (no pun intended).  It’s soars over 3 Days to Kill focusing on action and not family feel good cheese.

Paranoia Ain’t the Way to Live Your Life From Day to Day

maxresdefaultRight off the bat, Paranoia alienates some people. Mainly older people, especially the older rich. But for people in my generation, it pulls you in from the very beginning.  Paranoia looks at the current generation and how we work, and one man’s effort to over throw the elder regime.

Liam “Baby” Hemsworth plays Adam Cassidy a young post college graduation with the naive attitude that the whole world is in front of him. When his world is suddenly pulled out from under him, he finds himself working for the older, lying, rich, and a group he despises. His ethics are strained even more as he is asked to steal corporate secrets from his boss’ rival. Caught between Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford, Adam woes the girl of his dreams strives to take care of his father, and to be more than his parents were. Going against this could mean his life or the life of his father.

The movie is a taunt psychological thriller. Viewers watch Adam change from a naive college graduate to one of the men he never wanted to become. But Adam never loses sight of his goals, outsmart the villains and save his father’s life. This combined with a love affair gives a second layer to corporate espionage thrillers. It’s not just about getting ahead; it’s about getting out with relationships intact.

What truly carries these relationships is the genuinely talented cast. Ford and Oldman are great as warring tech companies trying to manipulate the newbie into doing what they want. They have a dry evilness that scares you without pulling out guns or violence. They are great at the hint of violence. Amber Heard plays Adam’s love interest who works for Ford. Heard is an amazing actress and easily play both the emotional lover and shrewd business woman. Nip/Tuck’s Julian McMahon gives a side of toughness putting Adam on the run. But it is Baby Hemsworth who carries the movie. Watching him you forget how young he really is as his character emotionally ages before your eyes. He leaves no trace of accent pulling off the All American Boy. In fact, dare I say it; he is a much better actor than his brother.

Foparanoia-movie-poster-10r me personally, it was an allegory of my generation. I come from a generation that believes that with a degree we are ready to take on the world and make big money. But when we get to the real world, the shock knocks us down.  Everything we were told about what having an education would be is false; too many people have it these days. Besides, those newly in the work force shouldn’t expect such an easy work life; we have to do our time. Adam tries to circumnavigate this and fails. The difference between him and me? His consequences affected every aspect of his life to a deadly degree.

The biggest issue with Paranoia is its name. There were moments when they played with the idea that Adam was just seeing things. But this was short lived. People really were following and threatening him. It’s like Abduction; how can you come a movie something when the title doesn’t happen at all.

While not the best movie, Paranoia is thrilling and engaging. The cast truly personify their characters drawing viewers into a world that is very foreign to them.  But most of all, Liam stands out from his brother and on his own two feet.

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.

…Not That

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.

…Not That

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.

…Not That

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.

…Not That

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.