September 2014 Preview

I just want to get this out on the table. I have not seen any of the films on this list. This is only an assumption of the films’ merit based on the information I have on them. But, I should point out that I have a pretty good knack for this kind of stuff.

 

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Before I Go to Sleep

This is the story of Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge!, Paddington), who gets into a car accident which causes her to have deep memory loss. She awakens every morning with memory loss. Then, one day, the memories flow back to her, and she questions the nature of the car accident and what really happened. I can see this movie trying to do the kinds of things that Memento got away with. The problem being that this film would really have to have a unique style, and from what I have seen, it isn’t really there.

 

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The Identical

Twin brothers (both played by newcomer Blake Rayne) are separated at birth and lead different lives. One of them becomes a famous singer, the other struggles between his love of music and his place in his family. This movie puts a lot of faith in Blake Rayne, and he doesn’t have the ability to carry this movie. It has a nice supporting cast in Seth Green, Ray Liotta, and Ashley Judd, but can it carry? Probably not.

 

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Mary Kom

This is based on the real-life Mary Kom, a female boxer of Indian descent. I’m not saying this film will be great. I’m not saying it will be bad. I’m saying it will be meh. The plot should be very interesting, as Kom had a very interesting life, but the crew isn’t anyone memorable.

 

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Horns

I’ve been waiting a long time to see Horns, from the incredible horror film director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D). It also happens to have some really good source material with the novel by Joe Hill. Daniel Radcliffe rounds out this crew starring in the film as Ig, short for Ignatius, a man who awakens one morning to the discovery of two large horns protruding from his head that give him dark thoughts and powers. Horns has the potential to be the standout horror film of the year, and a great way to get into the mood for Halloween.

 

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Ned Rifle

Ned Rifle is the third film of a trilogy. No, I actually knew very little about the previous entries before discovering this third film. The first film is Henry Fool, and the followup is Fay Grim, and the the trilogy follows these same characters. Ned Rifle is the son of Henry Fool and Fay Grim, and this is the story of Ned trying to murder his father. From the footage I have seen, I wouldn’t mind watching this trilogy, but I would say watch the other two and if you like them, I have very good feelings about Ned Rifle.

 

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Dolphin Tale 2

Wow, this movie looks terrible. I mean it, really bad, but then again, I have been saying that about the first film for a while now. If you enjoy Dolphin Tale, you will probably still buy a ticket and have a good time, but I’m going to tell you that you are wrong.

 

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The Drop

I just want to point out that this is a beautiful poster. If the film is even partially as good as its poster, I’ll get chills. This is based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, and like everything else he touches, it will be good. Lehane is known for his crime stories and thrillers, and chances are, the plot will have some difficult and disturbing turns along the way, but this is worth the ticket money. It also contains the final performance of deceased actor James Gandolfini.

 

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No Good Deed

Don’t see it. See The Drop!

 

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The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner has the ability to be the next Hunger Games. It is the story of Thomas, a young man who awakens in a maze with several others without any memory of what exists outside the maze. Together with the other maze runners, he must escape the maze and discover the purpose. Someone see this and tell me how it is. I’m feeling good.

 

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This is Where I Leave You

This seems like a good one. We have Jason Bateman and Tina Fey leading a breakout cast full of interesting personalities as four siblings return home to sit Shiva after the death of the family patriarch. Honestly, it just seems like much more interesting dramedy concept than I have seen recently.

 

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Tusk

I’ve already spoken about my thoughts on this movie. It has so many talented people adding to it. I just have no idea how a movie like this is going to work. This is a risk.

 

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A Walk Among the Tombstones

Liam Neeson hunts a kidnapper…

I’ve gotten into this habit of understanding that Liam Neeson kicks ass. Not all of his films do, but Liam Neeson kicks ass nonetheless. In order to properly decide the merit of a Liam Neeson, look at the release date. Non-Stop came out in February. Not great. A Walk Among the Tombstones releases in September. I’m thinking a hit.

 

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Finding Fanny

Finding Fanny is a road trip movie, and a pretty generic one at that. Skip.

 

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The Equalizer

Damn, I loved watching the television series The Equalizer. That series was awesome. Denzel Washington is perfect in the role Robert McCall, an ex-spec op who wages war on the Russian mob. Antoine Fuqua knows this kind of film and it is going to rock. I’m pretty sure.

 

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Believe Me

This is the tale of a bunch of college students who fake a church group to use donation money to pay their student tuition. Man, this movie is going to piss people off. I have nothing against the subject material, but I have seen footage and am doubtful about the technical aspects. It doesn’t look very cleaned up. I’m leaning on skip.

 

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The Good Lie

No. Nope. I don’t think so. Probably not. No.

 

So there you have it. Here is a final tally.

Best Bets: Horns, The Drop, This is Where I Leave You, A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Equalizer

On the Bubble: Before I Go to Sleep, Ned Rifle, The Maze Runner, Tusk, Believe Me

Likely Misses: The Identical, Mary Kom, Dolphin Tale 2, No Good Deed, Finding Fanny, The Good Lie

 

As before, these are the tools. Use them however you wish. What do you think of this month’s releases? What do you want to see most? Let me know!

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Non-Stop (2014)

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Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Jason Butler Harner, Anson Mount, Lupita Nyong’o

Screenplay: John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, Ryan Eagle

106 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references.

 

Liam Neeson gets on a plane…

I watched Non-Stop with the expectation to see Taken again. What I got was more like a rip-off of Taken 2. I found the film to be a bit of a bore, unlike normal Neeson fare. The movie tells the story of Bill Marks (Bryan Mills?), an alcoholic federal air marshal who hates planes. Perhaps this is the first indicator that you picked the wrong career. Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, A Million Ways to Die in the West) portrays Marks as he boards a flight and discovers that a killer is on the plane, but who is it? This is essentially the plot at its most intricate. Julianne Moore (Magnolia, last year’s Carrie remake) is Jen, a passenger on the plane who might want to bone the air marshal. The rest of the somewhat first-class cast are given coach roles and little wiggle room to stand out.

I’d like to point out that I don’t know how many flights allow vigorous make-out sessions and dry humping during flight, but maybe I need to switch airlines.

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I have very little to say that is good about this movie. It all comes down to a weak antagonist (literally a pop-up bubble text message that is sent to Bill throughout the film but does very little to convey menace), characters we don’t care about (live or die, who cares?), and a motive that is so over the top that it makes one laugh out loud at real tragedy and just downright pissed me off. I didn’t like this movie. For my money, I’ll hold out for Taken 3.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

What did you think of Jaume Collet-Serra’s Non-Stop? Did Liam Neeson save you on this film, or would you like a pillow for this flight?

Greatest American Hero will fly again! Classic Series Reboot on the way!

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I grew up watching old reruns of Greatest American Hero which told the story of Ralph Hinkley, played by William Katt, a teacher who gets a suit that bestows superpowers. The show was camp, but it was also a lot of fun and full of kookiness. It sounds like we will be seeing the suit making a return to the small screen courtesy of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, directors of this year’s 22 Jump Street and The Lego Movie.

Personally, I think that, if anyone can get this project off the ground, it is these two. I have been a fan of their work, which pleases all kinds of fans. 21 and 22 Jump Street should not have been good. Neither should The Lego Movie have been. But they were.

The two were also behind the immensely popular Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

As much as I believe that this show should return, I would like to see it as a reboot, with ties to the original, much like the new Dallas. I think the best way to show respect to a previous installment is not to ignore it, but that’s just me.

So, goat herd, what do you think of Greatest American Hero returning, walking on air, and all that? Let me know.

For now, though, enjoy these…

The Lego Movie (2014)

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Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Cast: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

Screenplay: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

100 mins. Rated PG for mild action and rude humor.

 

The Lego Movie has a simple enough premise: an ordinary everyday man (mini-figure?), Emmet (Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy, next year’s Jurassic World) discovers that he may actually be the Special, a Master-Builder who can save the Lego world from the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell, Step Brothers, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), who plans to unleash a weapon known only as the Kragle. Joining Emmet in his quest is Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games, Walk of Shame), another jealous Master,a Lego-ized Batman (Will Arnett, Despicable Me, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), a cyborg pirate named Metal Beard (Nick Offerman, TV’s Parks & Recreation, 22 Jump Street), a princess unicorn/kitty (Alison Brie, TV’s Community, The Five-Year Engagement), a hyper-active astronaut (Charlie Day, TV’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Horrible Bosses 2), and a wizard with a prophecy (Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption, Lucy). Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, A Million Ways to Die in the West) is Good Cop/Bad Cop, an unhinged enforcer working for Lord Business is hot on their tails.

This movie shocked me by how much I enjoyed it. After it began raking in the big bucks, I assumed it was at least something of merit, but originally, I laughed it off. I had seen toys/board games turned into really bad movies before, and I just knew that this would be one of them. After all, do Legos have a plot? Not really. In fact, they are meant to be a tool for imagination in a lot of ways. Little did I think that this would be the resounding theme of the film.

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The breakout voice work here is from Pratt, Arnett, and Neeson. The former two for their great comedic timing, and the latter for his ability to play straight-laced with absolutely wacky. I can tell from this performance that we will see a lot more headlining from Chris Pratt in the future (and that isn’t all that much of a prediction with Guardians of the Galaxy just recently released and Jurassic World on the way for 2015).

The cinematography in this movie is astounding. Get a look at this visual perfection. The Lego-style brick animation looks very stop-motiony and mixes perfectly with the lush landscapes in a very unique way that I’ve never seen before.

The music is another major win here. This score is very mechanical and, forgive my pun, building the entire story in a way that just pumped me up for the action and mayhem still to come. Let’s not forget the song “Everything is Awesome!” I could probably spend another article just analyzing this incredible piece that not only is very catchy, but also adds an entirely new dimension to the story.

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What more can I say? The Lego Movie is absolutely astounding! From the Octan references that harken back to my childhood to the overtly meta-storytelling we could get from Writer-Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, I cannot recommend this movie enough, both for children and adults, it works on just about every level, and it just so happens to be one of the best films of the year. Look for it in the Best Animated Feature category at next year’s Oscars.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

What did you think of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s The Lego Movie? Was Everything Awesome? Did the film just not snap together for you? Let me know!

Guardians of the Galaxy is the Best Marvel Movie Ever! -So Says Tony Stark

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Hey there, sport fans. According to Entertainment Weekly, Robert Downey Jr., during an interview with the Toronto Sun, called Guardians of the Galaxy “the best Marvel movie ever.” Wow, Tony Stark. That’s saying something. Considering that Downey himself has appeared in five of the MCU films in some capacity, with next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron making it six. Look for my review of “Guardians of the Galaxy coming up, but for now, personally, I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, but the best MCU movie ever? Close, but I feel there are a few that rise slightly higher. Guardians, for me, felt like it didn’t feel as full as it could have. I wanted…more, which I guess is good for a starter to a new franchise.

So what are your thoughts on Mr. Stark’s personal review? Is Guardians of the Galaxy the best film in the MCU? If so, does Avengers: Age of Ultron or Ant-Man have a chance of topping it? Let me know!

Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon set to Appear in “Inferno”, Shooting Begins in April

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Some news for you folksies today. According to an article posted by Entertainment Weekly, Tom Hanks will be returning to play symbologist Robert Langdon in the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Now, this part gets a little chronologically confusing, so bear down with me here…

Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series of books goes as follows:

  1. Angels & Demons
  2. The DaVinci Code
  3. The Lost Symbol
  4. Inferno

The soon-to-be trilogy of films directed by Ron Howard consists of:

  1. The DaVinci Code
  2. Angels & Demons
  3. Inferno

Now, for the most part, these stories are interchangeable, no one of them has any consequence on the others, but it is interesting to note that The Lost Symbol will (as of this blogging) not be adapted. I read it. It’s the fourth best of the books.

 

Ron Howard will be stepping behind the camera again in April.

What do you think? Is this exciting news or do you find it quite meh? Tell me.

Under the Skin (2013)

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Director: Jonathan Glazer

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Mackay

Screenplay: Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer

108 mins. Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language.

 

For all you folks who think that ScarJo is secretly a sexy alien seductress bent on eating you alive, boy do I have a film for you! It’s my review of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin!

Under the Skin is kind of simple. We have an alien or humanoid creature (Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation, Lucy) who arrives on Earth in Scotland, steals a van, and tours the streets, picking up lonely men for means of consumption and sustenance. That’s really what I can say on the plot, there isn’t much else to it. Oh, and spoiler alert, you get to see a naked ScarJo. Also, get ready to see some wieners.

Johansson is an incredible force of mood in this picture. She says very little, but you can certainly feel her journey. It isn’t easy to make you feel for this woman, but she pulls you in. Her and the camera are the driving power of this film. Glazer’s cinematography is amazing here. He put a lot of homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey; in fact, there is a lot of Kubrick in this film. Not just his strengths, but also a few weaknesses. For example, there are stretches of this film where I find the plot repetitive and nothing new. It drags……..on and on. I personally feel as though the director of a film is the captain of the ship, giving us a tour of the surrounding areas. He decides which directions we will take. He tells us to look out to the starboard side to see this or the port side of the ship to see that. I feel as though Glazer, just like Kubrick often did, gets up and jumps off the boat, leaving us to fend for ourselves. His presence is just gone from the middle of the film and he doesn’t come back until the incredibly disturbing finale.

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Under the Skin has a lot of wins, and a lot of losses. Either way, this film is at least worth a viewing. Check it out at least once, and stay until the end.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe


Under the Skin (2013) on IMDb

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Endless Love (2014)

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Director: Shana Feste

Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick

Screenplay: Shana Feste, Joshua Safran

104 mins. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying.

 

The Academy needs to create an award for Most Clichés Fired Off in a Single Film. If they do, I would be able to see the filmmakers behind this year’s Endless Love, a bad movie, would have a chance of winning awards this upcoming season. This is a bad movie. It is a remake of a 1981 film and also an adaptation of a novel of the same name. This film deserves the lowest possible score based on the fact that they tried to deploy the Token Black Man. When I saw that, I shockingly gasped. I digress, though…there is a plot in there somewhere.

Endless Love tells the story of Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde, last year’s Carrie, The Three Musketeers), a privileged youth ready to jump-start her life, and her romantic entanglement with David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer, I am Number Four, The Butler), a mechanic’s son and all-around sexy man. Jade’s mother (Joely Richardson, The Patriot, Vampire Academy) loves her daughter’s new infatuation, but her father (Bruce Greenwood, Star Trek, Flight) sees something different in David, something not great. David’s father (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Identity Thief) is the rock to David, the man who inspires him to always be striving for better, and David tries to show Jade’s family what he is really capable of. Now, enjoy a game with me. Remove all these character names and actor information. Then, pick another generic romance film and fill in the blanks. Now, does the plot still sync up? Of course it does!

There is virtually nothing enjoyable about this film except for the drinking game I started working on while watching it. That, and the performance by Bruce Greenwood, which isn’t too bad, but I feel when I watch scenes with him that he is acting to a cardboard cutout of other attractive people. Maybe he actually is.

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So, don’t see this movie without booze. Do you have a great drinking game for something this terrible? Have you seen Shana Feste’s Endless Love? What do you think?

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe


Endless Love (2014) on IMDb

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

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Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, Keira Knightley

Screenplay: Adam Cozad, David Koepp

105 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language.

 

Jack Ryan has lived a lot of lives. First, there was The Hunt for Red October, where Ryan was played by Alec Baldwin. This was the first in a series of films based on Tom Clancy’s popular character. The chronology continued into Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, where Harrison Ford took on the Jack Ryan role. Years later, the character was revived in a reboot called The Sum of All Fears, starring Ben Affleck. Apparently, that reboot didn’t go over too well, and now Director Kenneth Branagh (1994’s Frankenstein, Thor) has revived him yet again in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, a generic and somewhat cliché reboot that is sure to be rebooted yet again in a decade or so.

Chris Pine (Star Trek, Rise of the Guardians) is Jack Ryan this time around, and this reboot focuses heavily on his first mission and inciting character moments. Jack is recruited by Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner, Dances With Wolves, Draft Day) to work for the CIA, complicating matters with girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightley, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Laggies). The relationship dynamic is completely void here, and Knightley comes off like a wasted draw. I’m far more convinced by the connection between Cathy and Viktor Cheverin, the film’s central villain, played by Director Brannagh.

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The plot here is more suited for an hour-long spy television show from the 1960’s, and has few scenes even worthy of remembrance. Brannagh gets some nice cinematography which compliments the action set pieces nicely enough, but there just isn’t much here to go on. A beginning to a franchise this film is not, the screenplay is more like several stories weaved together, with dialogue and random character development scenes thrown in. For your money, see something with more Oomph! This just isn’t it.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe


Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) on IMDb

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Philomena (2013)

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Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan

Screenplay: Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope

98 mins. Rated PG-13 for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references.

 

At this point, I’ve seen each of the ten Best Picture nominees from this past year’s Academy Awards, and I will admit this: the surprise win of the year is Philomena, a delightful little film about a woman on a search to find the son she gave up decades previous and the writer looking for a story who joins her. It is a simple premise with an extraordinary path waiting to develop. Judi Dench (Skyfall, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) is Philomena Lee, and easily deserves the nomination she received for her performance. Her character is equal parts comedic genius and devastating regret. I recall the connection I had with this woman just watching her struggle with maintaining a positive outlook on her often dismal journey.

Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge, Despicable Me 2) is Martin Sixsmith, a disgraced writer who takes on Philomena’s life as a possible return to success. Their relationship is what makes this film so magical. The way Philomena views life and the discussions between her and Martin, I could listen to them discuss TV Guide. In fact, there is a sequence in which Philomena explains the plot of a romance novel to Martin, and I couldn’t stop giggling.

This is a film with the ability to be both the feel-good movie of the last year and the film to make you reflect on the regrets that you have made. It is thought-provoking, it is beautifully crafted by director Stephen Frears, and it is watchable.

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Philomena may be one of the most perfect unwatched movies of recent memory. Now why haven’t you watched it?

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe