Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Epic: extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.

Too often the adjective “epic” is applied to movies that have no business carrying that moniker. A sad byproduct of that misuse of the word is that when a movie that really deserves it comes along, the word means nothing to the ear and mind. Christopher Nolan has delivered just such a movie to the world.

Cooper is a former NASA test pilot that now lives in the American heartland with his aging father, Donald, and two children, Murphy and Tom. Cooper spends his days working not as a brilliant engineer or pilot, but toiling in the hopeless task of tending his corn fields.

Cooper is in the position of farmer because the world has crossed over the threshold of disaster. The planet is in the grip of a famine that is responsible for killing the vast majority of the world’s population, either by starvation or war over resources. A blight is causing crop failures all over the world. Massive dust storms ravage the heartland destroying valuable farmland and covering everything in their path with a heavy layer of lifeless dirt.

The planet Earth is facing a future where human beings will not be the dominate form of life on the planet. If the human species is to survive, finding a new home is going to be imperative. Interstellar is the epic story of how Cooper and his family shape the course that the human race has to follow for survival.

As a writer, Christopher Nolan has brought some truly amazing work to the big screen. Since Memento debuted on the big screen in 2000 he has established himself as one the best Hollywood has to offer. With Man of Steel, Inception, The Prestige and his biggest success The Dark Knight trilogy making up his resume, Nolan has taken on a story, in Interstellar, that is far and away his most ambitious endeavor. Interstellar is a film that truly deserves the use of the word epic.

The first thing that really captured my attention with the movie were the visuals. Maybe it was the fact that I was watching the movie in IMAX, but the scenery and overall scale of everything was close to breathtaking at times. The scenes of the dust storms, the depictions of flight through our galaxy, and the visits to the other worlds were all incredible to the eye. The filming locations were all ideal for the story and the special effects were all perfectly suited to the level of this film. In all, no expense appeared to be spared in making everything “look” perfect.

As stunning as the visuals were, the movie did not rely solely on the eye to keep the viewers engaged. The incredible cast that was brought in was able to really bring this massive story to life. To run down the list of well-known talent in this movie is an exercise in, “how many big name actors can we squeeze into one movie.” Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, John Lithgow, Michael Cain, Matt Damon, Ellen Burnstyn, Topher Grace, Casey Affleck, and MacKenzie Foy make up the majority of a cast that all impressed regardless of the amount of screen time each had.

The best performance of the movie has to go to Matthew McConaughey who continues his recent string of impressive performances that include his roles in The Wolf of Wall Street and The Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey plays the lead role of Cooper, a dedicated family man, farmer, and former NASA talent. Cooper is completely miserable in his existence in a world that sees technology and exploration as wastes of time and resources. The performance of McConaughey as Cooper is one that will only add more weight to his already impressive list of accolades.

If the actors and the visuals are the main positives, the size of the story will be the closest thing I can think of to a negative. The story as a whole is incredibly complex and challenging in size and scope. The movie could have been effectively made by focusing on the characters or the story, maybe even as two movies; Nolan did both in one. The main cast of actors all received a fair amount of development to anchor them into the sprawling story. With the story itself, there was no detail left to assumption. It is very clear that Nolan was not going to cut any corners with this movie and the result is a run time that clocks in at over 3 hours. Again, my only negative.

As I think about the experience as a whole, I am convinced that I have seen a movie that will eventually be regarded as one of the best ever. I am sure there are those out there that will say they didn’t like it, to each their own. For me, Interstellar blended stunning visuals, great acting, an immersive story, and to ice the cake, the legendary Hans Zimmer produced the score. This movie has everything going for it. Get out of your house this weekend and into an IMAX theater, IMAX is a must, and see this future “best ever.”




In 1945 World War II was beginning to wind down, the Allies had stormed the beaches of Normandy a year earlier and had since crossed into Germany on a march to take Berlin. Making up the backbone of the Allied offensive into Germany was the Sherman Tank and its crew of soldiers. Each tank had a crew of 4-5 soldiers; a tank commander, driver, mechanic, gunner, and loader that all worked and lived together in or around their tank. Writer/Director David Ayers has brought the story of one such WWII tank crew to the big screen in Fury.

Fury was the name of the M4 “Sherman” tank commanded by Sgt. Don “War Daddy” Collier, played by Brad Pitt. His crew of 4 was made up of gunner Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia Labeouf), driver Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena), mechanic Grady “Coon Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) and machine gunner Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). These 5 men came from distinctly different backgrounds and contributed to the team in very different ways, both professionally and with their personalities.

David Ayers wrote and directed Fury without any real story arc that you can dive into. The setting is irrelevant and the plot details are interchangeable. Much like Ayer’s previous movies Training Day, End of Watch, and Sabotage, Fury places more emphasis on the characters themselves to drive the movie.

Each of the five men that make up this tank crew brings something different to the group that is, at times, complimentary to the team and other times detrimental to the team. The characters are all dichotomies of heroism and villainy. As each character’s story is developed, you see them make incredible swings in their individual senses of morality. As the scenes unfold, you are watching from the edge of your seat to see whether this crew of American soldiers is going to be the pillars of honor that we all imagine them to be, or outright bastards that we should be ashamed of.

In addition to the emphasis on the characters, Ayers also places a great deal of detail on the emotions of war. He drives home the point that those emotions are often complicated and swing between joyful and painful like a pendulum. Acts of bravery and honor are contrasted by acts of rage and depravity. Brief moments of joy are almost immediately negated with overwhelming scenes of pain and loss. From the characters themselves; the youthful fear and idealism of the new guy, Norman, is opposed by the confidence and callousness that comes with being seasoned in war embodied by Collier, “Ideals are peaceful, history is violent.”

Themes of brotherhood and individuality, faith and hopelessness, compassion and vengeance, and bravery and cowardice were all prevalent as Ayers tries to emphasize the duality of war.

Ayers also uses the graphic scenes of battle like a blunt instrument to get across the point of the brutality of war during that era. The clear images of horrific battle injuries and the over-the-top examples of death were hard to see at times. The scenes of battle between the Sherman tanks and the vastly superior German Tiger are historically accurate and will have you sitting with your jaw agape wondering how the Allies managed to win a war with such inadequate equipment. The final battle scenes are emotionally gripping and compelling despite the fact that the end result is so obvious and inevitable.

To complement the diverse characters, an equally diverse cast of actors was brought in to play the various roles; all of which delivered as needed and beyond. Brad Pitt delivers a performance that was equal parts Inglourious Basterds and Saving Private Ryan. Shia Labeouf is able to shake off any negative impact that his off-screen antics, and the Transformers movies, may have had on his career and give a performance that many will be surprised by.

Brad Pitt’s character, Collier, was very complicated one; both for the actor and the audience. Pitt had to embody a man that was very rough on the outside, but also compassionate. Collier was a man that acted as if he was fueled by anger, while trying to balance being reasonable. Pitt is able to deliver on all of those points perfectly.

The true highlight of the cast has to be the 22 year old Logan Lerman. Lerman was remarkable in his ability to step out of the shadow of Percy Jackson, and his other “teenish” roles, and step into a role that is far and away more complicated and mature. Lerman was asked to play a young man that was forced into the role of tank crew member from his previous role as a desk clerk. The character, Norman, is forced to change from meek and cowardly into a machine that would fight and kill for his team without question. In the end, Lerman delivers a performance that should elevate him to more roles that are mature and rich.

As a whole, Fury is one of the best movies that I have seen this year. As disturbing as it was at times, I found myself enjoying every moment. The incredible acting talents on display, the look and feel of the movie from being shot on 35mm film with an anamorphic lens, and the compelling characters all made for a movie that should give even more strength to the already impressive resume of David Ayers’.

Annabelle – Review

Posted: October 3, 2014 by MichaelSmithNC in All, Movie Review, Movies, Trailers
Tags: , , ,


John and Mia are a young Catholic couple in California that are starting out their lives together in the late 1960s. John is a med student about to start his residency and his wife Mia is an expectant mother. One night their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult bent on killing someone. While the cultists are killed by police before they can do any apparent harm, they manage to leave behind something that is far worse than any physical harm they could have inflicted.

Annabelle is a spin-off / prequel to the super successful horror hit of 2013, The Conjuring. The story is written by Gary Dauberman and directed by John Leonetti and stars a couple of TV actors in Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton. Also appearing in supporting roles are Alfre Woodard and Tony Amendola.

The movie is a thinly veiled attempt to capitalize on the huge financial success of The Conjuring. Sadly, it is nowhere near the movie that its predecessor is. That being said, it wasn’t a bad movie; it just didn’t live up to my preconceived expectations.

For the first 45 minutes of the 98 minute movie I was genuinely uncomfortable in my seat. Each scene brought something unnerving to the table; whether it was the imagery of Mia sewing with her fingers much too close to the movimg needle of the sewing machine, the way the camera focused on the doll and you expecting it to move, or the various regular household sounds that were distorted into something sinister. It was scary in a way that made you feel like Leonetti, the director, was using a scalpel to slowly cut away at your defenses to really “get” you later on.

At about the halfway point in the movie something goes horribly wrong and Leonetti abandons his scalpel and goes for a machete. From that point on, the “scares” stop being scary. The scenes that should be thrilling or exciting feel more like the filmmaker trying too hard to be shocking. The great uses of sound and imagery that made the first half of the movie great are all but abandoned.

In the end, the movie that had such potential ends up being, “just another demon/possession movie.” You have you a witless victim, her doting husband, the Catholic priest, and the helpful expert. Of course the priest has a bad day and the witless victim makes every clichéd mistake that has ever been made. No real surprises in the story telling at all but I guess, all things considered, it could have been worse.

If you feel like you simply have to see this movie, take a step back and look at the $25 you were about to spend to see it in the theatres and think of some other way you could use it. You will only need about $1.50 to see it in Redbox in about 6 weeks.



Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are all spoken of as movies that are well worth seeing for their stories. All of them feature plotlines that appear to be straight-forward and otherwise uneventful when thought of in the scope of movies that have been made. What makes them different and noteworthy? The short answer… David Fincher calling the shots.

The last time we saw a movie directed by Fincher was back in 2011 when The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo made its big screen debut. Since that time, he has done a couple of TV endeavors and even a music video, but nothing truly worthy of his pedigree. That all changes now.

Fincher has brought another work of genius to the table for us all to marvel at and drool over. His newest offering, Gone Girl, is a wickedly smart adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s New York Times Best Seller of the same name. Gone Girl is the story of a relationship that goes bad in the worst possible way and how we as a society can hang onto the lies that reside in appearances and accept them as truth.

Some would say that making a movie from a novel as compelling and complicated as Gone Girl would not really translate well to the big screen. For one, the level of detail needed would be hard to capture on screen. Second, the complicated nature of the story would have to be confusing. Finally, the “twists” in the story are too widely known to really keep audiences engaged.

Fincher not only overcomes those issues, but he does it in a way that leaves you wanting more. Even after sitting through the full two and half hour runtime. His take on the “unreliable narration” that is so critical to the story is done in a way that will truly keep you guessing about what is real and what is not. Gone Girl is truly some of his very best work.

The cast of this soon to be classic consisted of Ben Affleck in the center-piece role of Nick Dunne with Rosamund Pike as his wife Amy. The supporting cast of Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens filled out a group of actors that all lived up to the hype that has surrounded this movie.

Seeing the performance that Affleck gives under the direction of Fincher makes you really question if that really is the same guy that starred in duds like; Jersey Girl, Gigli, Daredevil, and the many others that have poisoned his acting reputation.

As the story unfolds, Affleck goes from aloof, to incriminated, and even to victimized, all with a screen presence that has you really guessing about his character. The mystery surrounding Nick Dunne is masterfully held by Affleck all the way until the truth is fully revealed. The range of emotion that he demonstrates with his facial expressions alone gave me a new found appreciation for him. Affleck has to be considered one of the top contenders for the Best Performance awards during the upcoming awards season.

If Affleck is going to be given a nod for Best Performance, then Rosamund Pike has to also receive some serious consideration for Best Supporting Actress. Her performance was equal parts; sexy, demented, and endearing. She perfectly brought to life the character that Gillian Flynn introduced to us in the novel back in 2012.

Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris are both able to shed their more commonly known comedic characters of Madea and Barney to really contribute to the story in a meaningful way. Rarely can you say that an actor with less than 10 minutes of screen time can play a pivotal role, Perry and NPH can say it with pride.

Overall, during a time when superheroes and guys with “special sets of skills” seem to be filling up the theatres, it is very refreshing to see a movie, like Gone Girl, come along and be truly different. What this film brings to the table has been missing for quite a while, intelligence and originality. I can only hope that Hollywood will take a long hard look at what Flynn, Fincher and Affleck have done and do the best they can to follow-suit.



As a kid back in the late 1980s I was a big fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. From 1987, when I was around 10 years old, to 1996, when I graduated high school, I would do all that I could to make sure that I was in front of a television whenever an episode would come on. The newest 30 minute adventure of Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael were a highlight to my week.

Naturally, being the fan I was, I was also not going to miss the turtles’ big screen debut back in 1990. I saved up my money to make sure that I could go to the theatre with my friends to see my heroes on the big screen. When 1991 and 1993 brought sequels I couldn’t miss those either. Every offering got my attention; and because I was a kid that didn’t know any better, I loved them all.

Based on my history, I am the exact person that Michael Bay was after when he decided to make this new Ninja Turtles movie. I have the history with the brand to be inclined to come to the theatre and drop $10 for a little bit of nostalgia mixed with some cutting edge technology. In Bay’s eyes, if all goes well I will drop the cash on this movie and then several sequels.

In order for Michael Bay and his team to get me to love this movie, there were a few things that needed to happen…

1: The turtles had to be “right” as I remember them.

2: The story had to fit the characters and be in line with what I wanted out of a Ninja Turtles movie.

3: The origins of the characters that I fell in love with as a child could not be screwed around with.

4: The action scenes had to be truly bad ass!

I know that my list is rather short, but I think that despite the length it is a valid set of criteria for Michael Bay’s new movie to live up to. So, how did he do?

To start, the Turtles themselves looked more like monsters than the lovable group of teenagers that I remember. Instead of the soft and cartoonish mutants from the first incarnations of the characters on the big screen, we got 6 foot tall bundles of roided out musculature. I got the impression very early on that this version of the boys was going to be edgier and more “grown-up” than the versions seen in the past. Their movements, expressions, and demeanor fit with what I remember and expected but the overall visual impact of the characters really hit me in a way that I didn’t expect.

Putting the looks of the turtles aside, the worst looking of the characters has to be Shredder. He looks like the love child of a Swiss army knife and a cheese grater. Instead of being a martial arts master in a suit that emphasized various blades, he is a faceless dude in a robot suit that has remote controlled knives that he shoots out; blah.

On a positive note, I was happy with the voice actors that were brought in to give life to the turtles. Leonardo was voiced by Johnny Knoxville, Donatello by Jeremy Howard, Michelangelo by Noel Fisher and Alan Ritchson as Raphael. All of them did a good job with the respective personalities that they were assigned. To compliment them, there did seem to be an effort from the writing team put toward having the guys say what you expect and behave as they should even if they didn’t look right.

Next, the story was also not what I expected. Going in, I knew that Megan Fox was playing April O’Neil. I actually didn’t have any real issue with that casting choice considering the character of April was a supporting one only. Megan Fox can only do so much damage in playing a supporting role right? Well, about that…

It seems that the writers, Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daughterty, missed the memo about April being a sidekick at best. They went out and wrote a story that could have been titled, “April and Her Turtle Buddies” as she was the central figure in the story. So much for Fox being in a supporting character role with minimal damage potential.

Third, everyone knows that Splinter is the teacher and father figure of the turtles’ right? But where did he come from? Apparently, that detail was up for revision from the original story, and not for the better. Gone is the backstory of Splinter being a Japanese master of the martial arts that gets exposed to the ooze that causes him to change into a human sized rat. Now he is a regular old lab rat that gets mutated into a human sized rat that can teach himself to read. Once he learns to read, he teaches himself and the guys Ninjitsu from a book he found in the sewers. Way to screw that one up guys. As for the turtles’ origins, I’m not going to spill that here, but suffice to say, April is pivotal to that as well.

Finally, we get to the action scenes. Here was the opportunity for Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman to really shine. Everyone knows the background of Michael Bay and action movies, but Liebesman is no stranger in that area either. He most recently directed Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles from the action flick genre. I hate to say it, but I was not given what I expected in this area either.

The fight between Shredder and Splinter that happens early on in the movie looked okay, but the follow-up battles involving Shredder all looked incredibly cartoonish. There seemed to no attempt at making the movements of the fights look authentic in any way. To be honest, it looked like a scene from the Nickelodeon TV show and not what should be seen in a big budget summer action movie. The icing on the cake is the scene that can best be described as downhill skiing meets the movie Speed; very hard to watch.

If you have not caught on yet, I was very disappointed in this new incarnation of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I am sure it is going to make a boatload of money and spawn a couple of sequels, but it is nothing like what those of us with memories of the past would want or expect. The new generation of fans will probably jump on board with the franchise without missing a beat, which is all Bay and company really care about anyway. I guess I will just sit back with my action figures and remember the good ole days on my own.


James Brown was a musical icon; a true artistic revolutionary. He was an innovator in regards to his musical style and a genius when it comes to the live performance. He overcame circumstances that had him born into extreme poverty to a violently dysfunctional family with little opportunity for education or success. He found success in a time when black people were struggling for equality in America. His story is a rags to riches story that we all can be proud of.

That is, if you can bring yourself to overlook the pattern of domestic abuse, prison sentences, and crazy drug use that also made up a huge part of his life.

Get on Up is a biographical story of James Brown produced by Mick Jagger (of the Rolling Stones) and Bryan Grazer. Tate Taylor, who most recently directed the acclaimed movie The Help, was brought in to direct a screenplay written by the team of Jez and John-Henry Butterworth; The Edge of Tomorrow was their most recent work. Fresh off of his performance as Jackie Robinson in 42, Chadwick Boseman was cast in the role of “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.”

Biographical stories are often difficult to get “right” when making them into movies. Some people have stories that are incredibly interesting, but don’t translate well when put on screen. Other stories are just too complicated to make into a movie without having to really get “creative” with the subject matter. I think that the life story of James Brown is one of those stories.

What did the movie get right?

Chadwick Boseman is amazing in the role of Brown. He perfectly pulled off the appearance of the icon; down to the protruding lower jaw and varying hair styles that defied the laws of genetics. His physical performance was also noteworthy; the dances moves and general mannerisms that James Brown made so famous looked perfect. In the opening and closing sequences, we see the silhouette of Boseman walking through a poorly lit tunnel on the way to the stage, the way he walks, the way his hands and fingers twitch, and the overall swagger that he conveys screams, “I am James Brown.”

Nelsan Ellis, of HBO’s True Blood, filled the role of Bobby Byrd. Ellis and Boseman had a great on-screen chemistry that led to some dynamic scenes of the two of them performing Brown’s stage routines of the 60’s. He also served as the anchor, or balance, to the often over the top performance requirements that were required of Boseman.

Dan Akroyd played Brown’s longtime promotional/management partner, Ben Bart. Akroyd, who is best known for his comedic roles, was a pleasant surprise in the dramatic role. Although, Akroyd did end up being a source of comedic relief as his character developed.

What did the movie get wrong?

If the intent of Get on Up is to be a movie about James Brown the musical icon, then mission accomplished. The story depicts his start of being discovered by Bobby Byrd and his gospel quintet The Gospel Starlghters, the group that eventually morphed into The Famous Flames, in the early 1950s. It then progresses through the Mr. Dynamite era of the early 1960s when Brown found his first success as a “solo” act. The transition into Soul Brother No. 1 where he introduced the world to his sound and style that would eventually be referred to as Funk Music was also well done. As the story progresses into the 1970s and the time of The Godfather of Soul you see his steady decline and eventual fall from relevance in music. As the movie ends you see his return to the musical scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s that followed his last prison stint that he rode until his death in 2006.

Throughout the entire story, Brown is portrayed as the consummate performer and demanding perfectionist when it came to his shows and bands. What you don’t see really see is the rampant use of PCP and cocaine that took over his life in the 80’s. His first arrest and imprisonment were well covered, but the 15+ times that he was arrested before his most famous one in 1988 are all ignored. His history of domestic violence was also barely referenced. As a matter of fact, the wife that he abused the most, Adrienne Rodriguez, isn’t mentioned at all in the whole movie. Overall, many of the negative parts of his life were completely glossed over if even referenced at all. It was a story with a singular vision of “James Brown the musician” that largely ignored “James Brown the troubled man.”

As I left the theatre after seeing the screening, I was initially impressed with what I saw. The performances of Boseman’s, and the rest of the cast, really stuck out in my mind. The music was great, I don’t know how much post-production was needed to get it to the point where it is, but it sounded awesome. The direction was solid; the way Tate was able distinguish between the various eras of Brown’s career and also reference his history was very effective. Even with all of those positives, I just can’t seem to get past the oversights and glossing over of the darker parts of Brown’s life. The story, as entertaining as it is, just feels dishonest.

I am not going to say you should skip this movie, because, in reality it is really good if you can suspend your knowledge of history for 2 hours. But, if you are the type that needs accuracy and thorough authenticity in this type of movie, it might be a bit rough.





The wait is over, Guardians of the Galaxy  is here! The summer of 2014 finally has a big budget winner!

Okay, so there have already been a couple of good movies this summer. Godzilla was good, Rise of the Planets of the Apes was good, Lucy was good.

How about this instead?

Hooray! Marvel has finally given us a big budget winner this summer!

Oh Wait, I almost forgot about Captain America: The Winter Soldier which was sort of awesome too.

All kidding aside, the much anticipated Marvel Comics movie The Guardians of the Galaxy is finally in theatres. Since the movie was first mentioned back in 2010, fans have been buzzing about this new entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now that Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax have all taken their place on the big screen for our enjoyment, peace and order may now return to the world.

Before I jump into my opinions about the movie, I have to confess one minor sin that the fan-boys might rip me over. I have never read one single issue of any comic that the Guardians appear in. I knew absolutely nothing about the characters before sitting down in the theatre. I think I did myself a favor in that.

The Guardians of the Galaxy consists of a group of heroes and villains that are all highly entertaining with a perfect cast to portray them.

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/ Star-Lord is great; his portrayal of the 80s music obsessed space pirate is almost equal parts, Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark and Harrison Ford as Han Solo.

Gamora is an assassin as well as the adopted daughter of galactic nut-job Thanos and is played by Zoe Saldana. She was solid, not spectacular or anything, but definitely solid.

Dave Bautista is a pleasant surprise as Drax; the super-literal revenge driven alien warrior. Bautista is able to overcome his WWE attached stigma to offer a performance that is enjoyable and often very funny.

Rocket Raccoon is a 3 foot tall genetically engineered, wise-cracking, slightly emotionally unstable, galactic bounty hunter. Bradley Cooper was brought in to supply the voice work for the raccoon, and he is perfect in the role.

Groot is an 8 foot tall lovable, yet easily enraged to the point of homicide, tree creature that is the partner in crime to Rocket. Vin Diesel was cast as the voice to the character. Honestly, Diesel has to have the easiest gig ever in playing Groot, his total on-screen dialogue consisted of a grand total of FOUR words!

As for the villains, Ronan the Accuser is the main baddy. Lee Pace had the job of playing the genocidal alien maniac. Ronan is a very dark and brooding character; he is far darker than any of the other villains Marvel has presented so far. Ronan was aided by the expert hunter Korath, played by Djimon Hounsou, and Gamora’s adoptive sister and fellow assassin Nebula, played by almost unrecognizable Karen Gillan.

There are also several other notable actors that play substantial roles in the story like; John C Reilly as Nova Corpsman Dey, Glenn Close as Nova Prime, Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, and Michael Rooker as Yondu. All of them contributed to the movie and story is a very positive way, especially Rooker.

The story itself takes place in the same universe as the rest of the Marvel movies that have come out to date. It is also clearly related to the rest of the movies and will, obviously, contribute to the story arc that is currently in progress. Despite that commonality with the other movies, this film is able to stand completely on its own. By the end of the movie, the story is complete and at the same time open-ended for the upcoming sequels and related movies.

This cast of characters and actors kept my attention and kept me happy from beginning to end. The story moved along at a great pace and was a good mix of action, humor, and seriousness. The high points of the movie easily outweigh any negatives, the final battle with Ronan being a low for me. There are also a few surprises in the movie if you are paying close attention and can stick around long enough. Overall, I absolutely LOVED this movie. Get off your butt, go to the theatre and see this movie!

Lucy – Review

Posted: July 25, 2014 by MichaelSmithNC in All, Movie Review, Movies, Trailers
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French director and screenwriter Luc Besson has been on the scene since the early 1980s. He is the mind behind some of the better movies that I have seen come out of Europe. Le Femme Nikita, The Professional, The Fifth Element, and Taken are a few that I have really enjoyed. While screenwriting has proven to be a constant source of success for him, Taken is a recent example; direction seems to be a bit of an Achilles heel for him. He has not a directed anything that I would call “good” since The Fifth Element and The Professional back in the mid to late 1990s. Lucy is his most recent endeavor to get back on track as a relevant director.

Besson’s new sci-fi actioner Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson as Lucy, is the story of a young student in Taiwan that is forced to work as a drug mule by Chinese drug smugglers. The smugglers surgically implant a kilogram bag of a designer drug that is ruptured while in her abdomen. After the exposure to the massive dose of the drug, Lucy begins a transformation that results in her unlocking the full potential of her brain. The action follows Lucy across Asia and into Europe as she evolves from a normal slutty looking blonde that uses less than 20% of her brain into a near god that has control of 100%. With the full potential of her mind unlocked, Lucy quickly discovers that she has the ability to things that are equal parts amazing and scary.

The movie has several things going for it and few things working against it. The visual presentation and effects are impressive are definitely a positive. Besson pulled out all of the stops to make the movie as visually striking as possible. As the story progresses and Lucy gains more and more power over her brain, the images that you are presented with give a concrete feel to the abstract changes that Lucy is going through. Near the end of the movie, as Lucy approaches 100%, the montage of the birth of the universe that she gains an understanding of puts the whole of the movie in perspective without a single word being spoken.

The acting as a whole was also impressive. I have seen and heard others say that Johansson seemed flat and/or clunky in the delivery of her performance. I could not disagree more. When you consider what is happening to the character and the perspective and freedom that she is granted the performance is perfectly suited. Morgan Freeman is his normal self, so no criticism is needed; he was a great casting decision. The rest of the cast is mostly unimportant so their performances can be overlooked.

The main negative of the movie is in the complexity of the ideas that are presented and in the way they are relayed to the audience. Once Lucy gains the vast knowledge that she acquires, the changes to her personality and behavior lead the audience to believe that as you get smarter and more mentally powerful, you lose any sense of right or wrong. Also, Lucy tries to explain what she is going through in such a way that it was nearly impossible to wrap your head around. At one point she even says, “your understanding of the universe is like a dog understanding the moon as he stares at it.” The concepts are going to be WAY over the heads of the Average Joe and will, probably, end up being a detractor from their ability to enjoy the movie as a whole.

As I walked out of the screening, I felt like I had just seen a really good movie, but I also felt like a total moron because of how complicated it was. If you can go into the movie, turn off the part of your brain that needs to make sense of things, and just enjoy what you are seeing; Lucy is going to be a 100% awesome experience for you. If you are the type that needs to “get it”, then I would advise you to skip it or bring aspirin for the headache you will get. Either way, Luc Besson has finally made a movie that he can rest his directorial hat on and say, “Yep I still got it.”

Sex Tape – Review

Posted: July 18, 2014 by MichaelSmithNC in All, Movie Review, Movies, Trailers
Tags: , , , ,


Annie and Jay met in college and immediately discovered that they had a great sexual chemistry. That chemistry turned them into a pair of evenly matched nymphos. They loved sex with each other more than anything. They would find themselves having sex everywhere and anywhere at the drop of hat, ANY HAT.

The sex led to true love, that love led to marriage, and marriage led to kids. Now Annie and Jay are your typical American married couple with kids. Their days start with getting the kids ready for school before they rush off to work themselves. Their evenings and nights are often spent doing “family stuff” and then passing out in order to be ready to repeat the process again the next day. They are living the American Dream.

Wait, what happened to the sex?

Sex Tape is a hilarious comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as Annie and Jay. The couple answers the question, “what happened to the sex?” by making a homemade porno in the hopes that it will rekindle the sexual chemistry that has escaped them. After “going the whole Lincoln” and making the three hour movie, the couple passes out. While asleep the video, accidently, gets uploaded to the all-knowing entity that is known as “The Cloud.” The couple then has to go on a mission to collect and destroy every copy of the homemade porno that exists. Hilarity ensues…

The story is almost too funny to describe in words, it is the worst case scenario for any couple that has ever filmed themselves having sex. How the couple chooses to deal with the situation leads them into situations that can only be described as ridiculous. A vicious German shepherd, cocaine, extortionists, and even porn kings all stand in their way of stopping the spread of this movie.

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel make a great comedic team. They have great chemistry and balance each other very well. Also, to pull off a movie like this, you have to have actors that have the right balance of comedic ability and true sex appeal. Even at 42 years old, Cameron Diaz has on-screen sex appeal to burn. The scene of her in that roller-girl outfit will be in the minds of men forever.

As a word of caution, this movie is the definition of what it means to be Rated R, don’t let the lack of a frontal nude scene lull you into a false sense of security. It should go without saying that there are MANY scenes depicting some form of crazy sex. There is also a bit of drug use and even a porn reference riddled soliloquy from a surprise cast member that is probably the icing on the cake of social inappropriateness.

If you are in need of a laugh this weekend, make the trip to the theatre and give Sex Tape a try. You will not be disappointed.


Some movies are good enough all on their own, the story is complete and the issues resolved; the proverbial bow has been tied. Other movies are made with the intention of becoming a franchise or series. The unwillingness of Hollywood to tell a difference in the two scenarios leads me to a real problem in Hollywood; needless sequels. Based off of the success of last years movie, The Purge, director James Demonaco and his group came back to make an obligatory, unnecessary sequel; The Purge: Anarchy.

Last year, I got a taste of excitement with The Purge. It was something different, not amazingly good or anything but different. Before it came out, I looked for a graphic novel for it, a foreign version, an old TV show, anything that might fit the typical Hollywood process of finding ideas. When my efforts came up empty I went to the theatre full of hope that maybe DeMonaco and his group had found something that could break up the un-originality that plagues movie-making today. I left the screening pretty well satisfied, not awe-inspired or anything, but entertained.

Enter the sequel… What part of The Purge made you think a sequel was needed? After watching The Purge: Anarchy I pulled out my DVD of The Purge to see if I missed anything in the story, nope. I also looked for any commonalties between the two movies outside of the setting, still nothing. Finally, I looked to see if any of the characters somehow slipped my attention and appeared in both movies without me noticing, strike three. It is official; The Purge: Anarchy is a money-grab only.

The story is set in the same reality of the first movie. It is one year later from the events of The Purge and people in the downtown areas of the city are preparing. They are all preparing for the one night of the year when laws and morality are suspended and society is encouraged to “release the beast” and “purge for the greater good.” We are introduced to a mother and daughter in their apartment, a husband and wife driving through town, and a very disturbed man suiting up for war. Each is doing what they can to ready themselves for the 12 hours of carnage that are on the way. Once the horn blasts and the purge begins the three different perspectives all come together through circumstances outside their control and are forced to face the night as a team.

The cast of actors in The Purge: Anarchy does not contain a “big name” to anchor the cast like Ethan Hawke did in the first movie. As a matter of fact, it does even have a “bigger” name supporting cast member like Lena Headley. Frank Grillo who played Agent Brock Rumlow in the most recent Captain America movie and Zach Gilford from the TV version of Friday Night Lights were the most well-known, or recognizable, members of the cast. The casting of a large number of, primarily, TV actors will make you think, “I have no idea who that is, but I have seen them somewhere else.” Even considering the cast’s overall lack of big screen experience, no one really stood out as a negative. On the other side of that subject, no one really stood out as that good either.

The main weakness that I found in the movie was the dump truck load of political and sociological undertones that were dropped on my head. I get it! America is a violent country with lots of guns and a disregard for the poor. Can we not just move on with story and not try to solve all the problems of the country with a movie?

The Purge: Anarchy was not a bad movie. I went in knowing full well that it was a money grab sequel, I was right. If you liked the first one and wondered what else you could do in the story, then you will probably enjoy this installment. If mindless violence for the sake of violence, intense political undertones, and ambiguous morality in your heroes is a turn-off for you, then I would advise you to skip this one. Overall, when it hits Redbox, throw a dollar at it. Don’t purge $10 from your wallet at a theatre on this one.