Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of (2015)

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Director: Stephen Kijak

Cast: Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean, Kevin Richardson

101 mins. Not Rated.

 

The Backstreet Boys kind of just disappeared in the mid-2000s. Like many boy bands, the formula just stopped working after a while. The new documentary Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of chronicles the band reuniting for the 2013 album In a World Like This and the ups & downs associated.

Featuring rare footage of the many songs being worked on for the album mixed with a history of the band’s highs and lows and emotional scenes discussing the band’s difficulties in the past years since originally forming.

My big problem with the film is that we get a lot of people that seem to be upset but I wasn’t convinced by the tribulations of their lives. I understand that during the history of the band segments we see how they were screwed by management, but these performers still came off as over-privileged complainers. They bicker amongst each other over who is to blame for this or that and who should get lead vocals.

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I imagine the film would be impressive to hardcore fans much in the same way that the many Twilight documentaries outlined the terrible series that it was. It just didn’t work for me.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

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Director: George Miller

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton

Screenplay: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris

120 mins. Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.

iMDB Top 250: #68 (as of 7/10/2015)

 

How often does a film get a good sequel 36 years after its initial release? Not often. That’s the answer, and it was my worry when I heard that Mad Max would be continuing the franchise with a fourth installment, Mad Max: Fury Road featuring a new Max in Tom Hardy (Inception, Child 44). In this new chapter, Max Rockatansky is captured and used as a blood bag by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Moby Dick, Sleeping Beauty) and his War Boys. When the War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult, Warm Bodies, X-Men: Days of Future Past) takes Max along on his hunt for Joe’s missing wives, stolen from him by his Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron, Prometheus, Dark Places), Max gets caught in a war on Fury Road and his alliances to only himself must be put into question.

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Director George Miller (Happy Feet, Babe: Pig in the City) proves that age is only a number as he controls the most high-octane action spectacle that I can recall in recent memory. His unique blend of story with nonstop action gives audiences a personal tale of freedom, redemption, and the ability to survive in a world without laws.

Tom Hardy is a great new Max. He doesn’t need to speak often to convey the complex emotions and depression that Max struggles from after the loss of his wife and child. His leadership struggle with new ally Furiosa, played excellently by Theron. Just like the previous films, this film isn’t entirely about Max. It’s a Furiosa movie all the way. Many have complained that the focus should be on Max, but what they should realize is that this series is rarely ever focused on Max. Each adventure is usually told as a legend from another’s perspective and in Fury Road, that perspective is Furiosa’s.

Hugh Keays-Byrne and Joe’s brides, including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) and Zoe Kravitz (Divergent, Dope), all do great work as well, with a standout crazy performance from Nicholas Hoult as Nux.

The usage of 80% practical effects over computer-generated images helps create an astoundingly realistic yet overwhelmingly fantastical view of the apocalyptic landscape. The screenplay, a combination of sequences storyboarded and story written to format it, works so well. And then there is Miller’s reliance on trying new things, like hiring wife Margaret Sixel to edit the film. Sixel has no experience editing, but he entrusted her to use her novice skills to create something new and interesting, coupled beautifully with the furious score from Junkie XL.

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Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best times you will have at the theater this summer and contains some of the best action sequences ever put to the screen. Miller’s creative decision to devise something new rather than fall back on remakes and rehashes helps to bring in fans of the original while attracting new attention from non-fans.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of George Miller’s Mad Max, click here.

 

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

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Director: Leigh Whannell

Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Hayley Kiyoko, Lin Shaye

Screenplay: Leigh Whannell

97 mins. Rated PG-13 for violence, frightening images, some language and thematic elements.

 

Horror sequels are often looked at as a lesser film than the original. Horror prequels have it even worse. So how does Insidious: Chapter 3 (a sequel that is actually a prequel) stack up?

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Set two years before the haunting of the Lambert Family, Insidious: Chapter 3 follows Sean Brenner (Dermot Mulroney, TV’s Shameless, My Best Friend’s Wedding) and his daughter Quinn (Stefanie Scott, Wreck-It Ralph, No Strings Attached). Quinn has been trying to contact her deceased mother, but something else has reached back. She needs the help of gifted but retired paranormal investigator Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye, There’s Something About Mary, Ouija).

Being a prequel limits this installment to certain franchise pitfalls. Many prequels make the mistake of referencing future events in a tongue-in-cheek way. This is one area where, for the most part, the film doesn’t disappoint. There are two scenes at the end that make this mistake, but the earlier sequences of the film that make reference to the Lamberts and the haunting. It is a smart decision to tell an original story within the series as opposed to tell a story that leads directly the opening of the first installment.

New director Whannell, known for writing the first three installments of the Saw franchise, Dead Silence, and all three Insidious films, takes over for directing partner James Wan who makes a cameo known but was busy on Furious 7 at the time. He does a somewhat mediocre job handling the many hats of a filmmaker, but there is some serious potential here. The film’s scary sequences are hit-and-miss, but Whannell shows that he can learn from mistakes, so I have faith in his abilities.

The big winner here is Lin Shaye, who has an exploding career so far into her career. She carries this film so well that it is easy to overlook many of the failures, and it is fun to see her initial interactions with Tucker (Angus Sampson, TV’s Fargo, Mad Max: Fury Road) and Specs (played by Whannell).

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Insidious: Chapter 3 is the third best film in this franchise. It stumbles at times but shows definite talent for its cast and crew. I can see the forward trajectory of this series making its mark. Fans of the series should enjoy themselves; everyone else need not apply.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

So what did you think of Insidious: Chapter 3? Did it take you Further or did you sleep well after? Let me know!

 

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

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Director: Steve Pink

Cast: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, Chevy Chase

Screenplay: Josh Heald

93 mins. Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nudity, drug use and some violence.

 

After being pushed back each year, 2015 finally saw the release of the anticipated sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Was it worth it?

Left to right: Clark Duke is Jacob, Rob Corddry is Lou, and Craig Robinson is Nick in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2, from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. 

After changing the future by fixing the past, Lou (TV’s Children Hospital, Sex Tape), Nick (Craig Robinson, This is the End, Get on Up), and Jacob (Clark Duke, TV’s Greek, A Merry Friggin’ Christmas) have been living the good life. That is, until Lou is attacked at a party and his friends are forced to travel through time to save him. The plot only gets more convoluted as it goes.

Hot Tub Time Machine is one of my all-time favorite comedies. I was absolutely shocked by how enjoyable the film ended up being. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 didn’t give the same reaction. This film took everything great from the first film and inverted it into something upsetting. First of all, the loss of John Cusack, who would’ve cost more money but would’ve been worth it. The way he was written out is all the more upsetting as they just sort of don’t know where he is but there are all clues that point him out as a possible villain. It just doesn’t make sense in the context of the story. John Cusack does return in a two-second cameo in the unrated version but it doesn’t help.

Without Cusack, we end up with a story led by Rob Corddry’s Lou, a wholly unlikable character. The only reason he works in the first film is that Cusack’s Adam is the more likable lead. Even Craig Robinson comes off as a less-likable person, which I thought was impossible.

As far as new characters go, Adam Jr. (Adam Scott, TV’s Parks and Recreation, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) is the underutilized son of John Cusack’s character that we meet in the future. The timeline is confusingly placed here and only furthers the unlikable way we view Adam Sr. The normally comedic Adam Scott in the role is wasted as his character comes off as too stupid to be funny. He doesn’t get the opportunity to flex his acting chops.

It’s hard to blame these actors because of the horribly confusing and ever-increasingly-convoluted screenplay. This is some bad writing put forth into a bad movie. Director Steve Pink (Accepted, About Last Night) seems to have lost what little good ability he had since the original film.

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Hot Tub Time Machine 2 has a few moments that feel like they are about to redeem the film, but each time it happens, the film falls back into the minutiae of regrettable choices that serve to demean the film and leave one with a horrible taste in the mouth. Do with that what you will.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Steve Pink’s Hot Tub Time Machine, click here.

 

[Top 250 Friday] #58: The Shining (1980)

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Director: Stanley Kubrick

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd

Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson

146 mins. Rated R.

iMDB Top 250: #58 (as of 6/12/2015)

 

In today’s visit to the iMDB Top 250, we take a look at The Shining, from director Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket).

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Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson, The Departed, How Do You Know) has just been hired to care after The Overlook Hotel during the offseason of the winter alongside his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall, Annie Hall, The 4th Floor) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd). Danny meets the hotel chef, Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Aristocats), who teaches him about an ability they both share called the Shining. As Danny encounters some of the ghostly apparitions of The Overlook, father Jack sinks deeper and deeper into madness as cabin fever takes him over.

I’m not a fan of Danny Lloyd, but the rest of the cast performs admirably and very well in the film, thanks to Kubrick’s unwavering ability to get the best out of his performers, whatever means necessary. His relationship with Shelley Duvall turned an okay performance into a good one, but it was through an entire movie shoot of ridicule and fighting.

Kubrick gives this film some truly incredible cinematography. He has some of the most impressive shots and lighting I’ve seen in a film, due to his imperfect perfectionism. Because of this, The Shining has been and will be forever analyzed.

I love this film, but I hate this adaptation. So did Stephen King, who wrote the incredible novel that the film is based on. I think the book was better and I would love to see a straight adaptation one day, but the film is pretty incredible nonetheless.

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There are so many great pieces about this film that fit so well together. It is truly the high point of an already terrific career. Stanley Kubrick has made a list of notable films, but his abilities to direct what is essentially a horror film prove his prowess among the greats.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more iMDB Top 250, click here.

 

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

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Director: George Miller

Cast: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence

Screenplay: Terry Hayes, George Miller, Brian Hannant

95 mins. Rated R.

 

Back when Ozploitation was making its way to America, a property known as Mad Max went with it, but many Americans hadn’t seen the original film. So the American distributors decided to drop the Mad Max 2 title and go with an original title, The Road Warrior. It helped to create a modern day post-apocalyptic classic.

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Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson, Braveheart, The Expendables 3) has been drifting across the wasteland of the remnants of the Earth for five years since the loss of his family. When he comes across a Gyrocopter Captain (Bruce Spence, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, I, Frankenstein) and meets a group of survivors being terrorized by the villainous Humungus and his team of gas-hunting murderers. Now, its up to Max to help the survivors get to refuge and protect their gasoline.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior takes the best parts of the original film and elevates them to a new level while simultaneously fixing the flaws of the first film. Mel Gibson absolutely kills it at this role in his second film of the series. We also get the terrific inclusion of character actor Bruce Spence.

The best parts of the film are the tonal shifts and the mood of the film. The sparingly used dialogue allows for the carnage to be fully realized and displayed.

Now apparently some have questioned the real identity of Humungus that was originally a large part of the story. I’ll let you know about it some time.

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Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is one of the greatest post-apocalyptic spectacles of all time. The notable chase sequence with the gas truck is a fantastic sequence that left me breathless. It would be nearly impossible to top this film (although Mad Max: Fury Road was able to accomplish the feat decades later). You don’t have to see The Road Warrior to fully appreciate this year’s reboot to the Mad Max franchise, but it is a film that demands respect.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of George Miller’s Mad Max, click here.

 

First Trailer for David O. Russell’s Joy Releases, Jennifer Lawrence Packs Heat!

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The trailer has been released for the newest David O. Russell film, Joy. In it, we get to see Jennifer Lawrence as inventor of the Miracle Mop, Joy Mangano. The film seems to be another upcoming wonderful collaboration between the director and Lawrence after their previous work together.

I loved Russell’s The Fighter and his first film with Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook. American Hustle was also pretty good but I was less keen on it than the other two. I am very excited to see Joy and get some early Oscar buzz rolling.

The film’s trailer also features fellow collaborators Robert De Niro as Mangano’s father and Bradley Cooper as an HSN exec. The trailer is on youtube, so take a look and let me know your thoughts.

Joy opens on Christmas Day.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

So what do you think of the first trailer for David O. Russell’s Joy? What’s your favorite film from the notorious director?

 

[Comic-Con] Trevorrow moves from Jurassic World to a Galaxy Far Far Away? Rumors Circulating the Convention Floor

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Colin Trevorrow gained wide acclaim for capturing Jurassic World so well for the 2015 sequel to the mega-franchise started in 1993. It seems that the fates may be aligned to move him to another even bigger franchise as rumors have been circulating his helming of Star Wars: Episode IX. We already have J.J. Abrams on Episode VII, Gareth Edwards on Rogue One, Rian Johnston on Episode VIII, Phil Lord and Chris Miller on the as-yet untitled Han Solo Anthology film, so adding Trevorrow to the mix seems like an exciting endeavor. With the recent news of Ben Affleck directing the standalone The Batman film, this has been a crazy week for projects on the convention floor at Comic-Con.

I’m excited by the possible inclusion of Trevorrow to the Star Wars Team. What worries me is that his Jurassic World was tonally very different than Jurassic Park, so I worry he may not be able to connect tonally to Episode IX. It’s a small worry, however, because I trust Kathleen Kennedy’s judgment thus far, so I’m interested to see the final announcement. It is nice to see Star Wars taking the same creative route that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was so successful with. The formula seems to be working well for them, so I can’t wait to see this franchise kickstarted this December.

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What do you think of Colin Trevorrow’s possible helming of Star Wars: Episode IX – TBD? Who else would make a great addition to the Star Wars director’s guild? Let me know!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

[Comic-Con] A Farewell to The Hunger Games

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So last night kicked off San Diego Comic Con 2015 in style, featuring what would be the last Hunger Games panel before the big finale The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 due out later this year.

We were treated to the first trailer for the film twice, and it looks epic.

Jennifer Lawrence also mentioned to fans that her favorite scene from the franchise appears in the upcoming conclusion.

There was a lot of fun fan moments during the panel as well as some heartfelt sadness for the end of the franchise. The cast practiced whistling, there was some playful banter concerning the difference between longbows and crossbows, and the cast spoke fondly of their final shooting days together.

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Mockingjay – Part 2 hits theaters in November. The trailer should go live soon for the rest of the world to see.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

Alvin and the Chipmunks go on a Road Chip; I’ll Drive Separately

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After three films, I was under the impression that the Alvin and the Chipmunks trilogy (there, I said trilogy) was dead and thankfully buried. As it turns out, the mighty train keeps rolling and today, a teaser released for the newest film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip, and the internet went crazy. Wait, no it didn’t. Because nobody cares. Who is actually seeing these still? What is the deal with this horseshit?

Anywho, the teaser can be viewed on imdb or Youtube. Check it out and give me your thoughts? Should this series still be running? Should Jason Lee be ashamed of himself? Should I give the films another try? Let me know!

 

-Kyle Goethe