The Flash Suffers From More Quick Exits

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Seth Grahame-Smith, known for writing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as well as his involvement with The Lego Batman Movie, Beetlejuice 2, and the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It, has left The Flash over “creative differences.” This comes to no surprise on this end as WB deals with the heavy hit Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice took critically and even somewhat financially.

As this writer wonders more and more about why Zack Snyder was given such a long branch by offering three more major releases for the DCEU after the meh performance of even Man of Steel, I am not surprised that they are playing restructure. I don’t believe that Grahame-Smith was right to direct here, and if WB agrees, then they have to adjust. But perhaps, they dug themselves this grave and need to be strong enough to dig out.

So what do you think? Is The Flash in trouble? It already suffers from comparisons made with the very popular television series, and now behind the camera trouble before the camera even rolls? I want the DCEU to make it, but it hasn’t been an easy road.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Secret in Their Eyes (2015)

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Director: Billy Ray

Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris, Michael Kelly, Joe Cole, Alfred Molina

Screenplay: Billy Ray

111 mins. Rated PG-13 for thematic material including disturbing violent content, language and some sexual references.

 

Secret in Their Eyes is an American remake of a 2009 Oscar-winning foreign language film. The original 2009 film is a celebrated masterpiece (honestly, this writer has not seen the original film, but hey, I just watched the remake), and the remake stars three big players in the acting world. What could go wrong?

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Ray Kasten (Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave, Triple 9) and fellow investigator Jessica Cobb (Julia Roberts, Notting Hill, The Normal Heart) respond to a report of a body found near a mosque they are monitoring back in 2002, three months after 9/11. When the body found is Cobb’s daughter, their lives are forever strained and torn as Ray finds his allegiance to a counter-terrorism task force pulling him away from uncovering the truth about the murder. He is further tormented by the love he has for superior Claire Sloane (Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge!, Before I Go to Sleep). Years later, Ray’s lust for answers brings him back to the case and a shocking realization he isn’t quite ready for.

Secret in Their Eyes starts out interestingly enough. I really wanted to uncover the truth after a fantastic scene where Julia Roberts becomes hysterical at the sight of her daughter’s body. After that powerful sequences, the film comes to a crashing halt as the film seemingly goes nowhere for the next ninety minutes. Damn, it got boring real fast.

Ejiofor and Kidman are barely awake in their roles, and Roberts bounds between incredible performance and out-of-tune dialogue that she cannot latch onto. It would seem that Secret in Their Eyes has everything going for it, and yet nothing here works. Writer-director Billy Ray (Shattered Glass, Breach) has a poor screenplay and cannot seem to handle his actors, even while maintaining moments of sheer beauty in the cinematography and the occasional gripping sequence.

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Overall, Secret in Their Eyes struggles to find a purpose, even after having tailored itself to a tragic period in recent American history. The film scours for reason and just cannot find it. Everything that it tries to accomplish is outdone by a similar film Prisoners, which came out back in 2013. The performances are bland and the story goes nowhere. A true disappointment.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

First Official Trailer for Snowden Showcases Anticipated BioPic

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Well, it showed up on my most anticipated list for 2016, and the trailer is here for Oliver Stone’s Snowden. Not much is still given about how much the film will cover, be it the entire biography of the man of just the most publicized events of his time with the CIA, though the trailer suggests more to the latter.

I personally enjoyed what I saw in the trailer. I think that the Snowden story, even though it was highly important and often discussed, still has a lot of mystery for the average filmgoer. Oliver Stone definitely picked some very important material for the film and his star Joseph Gordon-Levitt completely disappears into the role. Here he showcases again his knack for developing accents and voices to suit his characters, and it works well in the trailer.

Snowden is the story of Edward Snowden, a man who discovered and leaked tons of classified information to the general public a few years back.

So what did you think of the trailer? Will you be seeing Snowden? And what’s your favorite Oliver Stone biographical film? Let me know!

 

Snowden leaks into theaters September 16.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

First Trailer for Stephen King Zombie Film Cell Drops the Call

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Okay, folks, now you all know that I love Stephen King. He inspired me to be the artist I wanted to be and he continues to prove that a master storyteller takes no breaks. Though I hadn’t read his novel Cell just yet (going through his work chronologically like a super fan), I was very excited for the upcoming film adaptation from director Tod Williams. The trailer dropped this week.

Can I say something? I’m kind of disappointed. The trailer did nothing for me. The look of the film was very cheap and didn’t push me in a good direction, even with the inclusion of my personal favorites John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.

The problem with the trailer? It doesn’t do anything to sell itself. You need to say more than Stephen King and show zombies to convince moviegoers, mostly because adaptations of King’s work don’t do so well. And Cell needs to sell itself as “not just another zombie” property. There are far too many of those floating around right now.

I’ll leave the trailer at the bottom here. Give it a watch and let me know if you are interested in Cell. I’ll just sit here hoping the second trailer is better.

 

Cell hits theaters July 8.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Green Room (2015)

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Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart

Screenplay: Jeremy Saulnier

94 mins. Rated R for strong brutal graphic violence, gory images, language and some drug content.

 

I’m hardly the first person to see Green Room. It premiered last year at Cannes to solid reviews. But, I was lucky enough to be a part of an advance screening last night, and let me tell you, it was worth it.

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Green Room is the story of a band called “The Ain’t Rights” as they, desperate for income, pick up a quick gig near Portland, which they quickly discover is a skinhead Neo-Nazi bar. When Pat (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek, Burying the Ex) goes back to the green room to collect a cell phone, he unknowingly stumbles upon a horrific scene, and now, he and his bandmates are in for the fight of their life, holed up in the green room as the skinheads, led by Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart, TV’s American Dad, Ted 2) attempt to tear them apart in order to cover their tracks.

Green Room is absolutely intense during the entirety of its 94-minute runtime. I found my hands shaking and sweating as I reeled in my seat. Anton Yelchin is a great lead as the de facto brave leader of the band. His guttural performance left me with chilled to the bone. On the other side, Patrick Stewart plays a monster in a man’s body as the ruthless villain Darcy. He gives such a creepy and nuanced performance without falling into cliché.

Imogen Poots (Need for Speed, Knight of Cups), who also appeared with Yelchin in the Fright Night remake a few years back, plays Amber, another witness to the murder in the green room, and she finds herself joined up with The Ain’t Rights for survival. Poots gives great work as Amber and provides an uneasiness to her unhinged character.

I saw director Jeremy Saulnier’s early film Murder Party, and while it has been some time, I recall enjoying that one quite a lot, though in tone the two films find themselves somewhat distanced. Saulnier’s screenplay gives out some awkward chuckles that relieved me in between the moments of sheer animosity. Even with the comedic elements, the shock and horror felt unrelenting. The faults with the film line up with a simple setup made somewhat more confusing at the beginning. It took me a bit longer than it should have to put the pieces of this film in place, but it didn’t detract from my viewing.

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I’m happy to say that Green Room is one of the best horror films I’ve seen in a theater in some time. I really enjoyed myself and cannot wait to see what this filmmaker has next. His use of top notch performances with a terrifying environment in a film I’m not sure I can even compare to another. It was a great time at the movies and an exhilarating experience overall.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

In Memoriam: Cultural Icon Prince Dead at 57

 

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Hey everyone, sad news to report today as I’m sure you’ve already read. The purple one is gone. Prince, a music, fashion, and all-around cultural icon, is dead at age 57.

This hits me pretty close to home, both as a fan of his music and film and as a resident of Minnesota, where the famed musician rose to fame. I currently reside in Minneapolis, and was floored by the sudden and shocking passing of the musician. I know there had been reports of an illness or flu recently, but nothing that spelled out this endgame. I am terribly saddened right now.

I last saw Prince in an episode of New Girl two years back, and he was just as amazing there as he had been anywhere else in his career, enthusiastic and weird and brilliant.

What are your memories of Prince? How will you remember him most?

 

RIP Prince.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Alright Alright Alright Movies] Pineapple Express (2008)

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Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Danny McBride

Screenplay: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

111 mins. Rated R for pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence.

 

I thought we’d have some fun today with the movie selection and inject a little stoner movie into the mix with 2008’s Pineapple Express.

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Dale Denton (Seth Rogen, This is the End, Sausage Party) is a process server with one favorite past time. He loves getting high. But when he witnesses a murder committed by drug lord Ted Jones (TV’s Veep, Office Space) and drops a roach at the scene of the crime, Dale surmises that Ted Jones can link him and his dealer Saul (James Franco, TV’s 11.22.63, 127 Hours) to the weed, known as Pineapple Express. Now, with Jones and crooked cop Carol (Rosie Perez, The Road to El Dorado, Pitch Perfect 2) hot on their trail, the two stoners must outrun danger and find out who can be trusted and how to escape death.

I have to say, I absolutely love this movie. I love the stoner straight man persona that Seth Rogen perfectly embodies here. I love the loose tonal combination of action and comedy that Pineapple Express functions with. James Franco is an excellent Saul and is joined by the untrustworthy dickweed named Red (Danny McBride, Your Highness, Rock the Kasbah) who is the middleman between Saul and Ted. The movie is hilariously written by Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg.

There are a number of great sequences in the film, from the cold open of the film exposing the government tests conducted on marijuana to the action-packed finale. I personally enjoyed the car chases and the fight at Red’s house, but you can’t fault the film for its strange surreal look at living on the lam and the forced friendships that we create out of sheer need for survival. It is a terrific package deal for a film.

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I can completely understand this not being everyone else’s cup of tea, but Pineapple Express deserves a chance as it made some solid money but doesn’t really garner the kind of praise it earned. Spend this 4/20 by enjoying a fantastic stoner comedy that continues to make me giggle almost eight years after its initial release.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of David Gordon Green’s Your Highness, click here.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

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Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot

Screenplay: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer

151 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality.

 

So, after countless years of waiting for DC to officially make a move at creating a cinematic universe, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has arrived. Now comes the real question: Can DC create a universe from some of the most popular characters in comic book history? And what exactly is this film?

Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck, Argo, Gone Girl) has been obsessed with one thing over the past eighteen months: Superman (Henry Cavill, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Cold Light of Day). After witnessing the damage done to the city of Metropolis due to Superman’s fight with General Zod, and seeing one of his own buildings filled with his employees come down in the battle, Bruce does not believe that Superman should be allowed to do as he pleases, and he’s not alone. Senator Finch (Holly Hunter, The Incredibles, Manglehorn) and billionaire playboy Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network, American Ultra) completely agree. Bruce’s caretaker Alfred (Jeremy Irons, The Lion King, Race) becomes increasingly more concerned about Wayne’s mental state as the obsession grows. Meanwhile, Clark Kent’s life is moving in the right direction: He is in love with Lois Lane (Amy Adams, American Hustle, Big Eyes), he has a great job at the Daily Planet, but there is a problem. He too has become worried about a masked vigilante frequently called The Bat, but Clark finds that the world seems to be more concerned with Superman’s doings than this Bat character. When Lex Luthor sees an opening, he begins planting the seeds to bring these two heroic titans to blows, and hopefully take them both down at once.

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Well, we have a lot to discuss, so let’s start at the beginning. The title of the film is very strange. The decision to excise the “vs” in favor of a “v” implies a court case, which confuses me as I don’t understand why you want a superhero movie to be a court case, but I’ve already started to digress.

This movie’s plot seems to want to go everywhere but doesn’t actually get anywhere. It seems like two screenplays jammed together: one is a Batman v Superman movie, the other a Dawn of Justice movie. The problem here is that the glue used to stick these movies together is weak and flimsy. The Batman stuff is great, particularly their dealing with the origin, which is fleshed over the opening credits like how The Incredible Hulk treated theirs. Since this is the second Batman of this decade and the third iteration of an origin, I’m glad they decided to go this route, citing that Batman Begins did it the best it could ever be done. And what a Batman they picked! Ben Affleck owned this role. I learned from my initial criticism of Heath Ledger’s casting for The Dark Knight when Ben Affleck was selected to don the cowl for the nest Batman. I pulled back and thought, let’s just wait and see. And I was right, folks! Affleck’s performance was real and yet unlike anything we’ve seen from the Caped Crusader.

How’s the Superman stuff? Eh, not all that great. Henry Cavill doesn’t have the acting chops to do much, and his character is wasted on a convoluted plotline anda misunderstanding of the Man of Steel. I read countless times that this isn’t so much of a Man of Steel sequel but rather a backdoor pilot for the Justice League, which isn’t true. This is in fact a direct sequel as it fits every plot point of the previous film into this one, even the finished plot threads, and the movie bloats because of it.

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Now onto the Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, Fast & Furious 6, Criminal) of it all. Wonder Woman is great. With only 16 lines of dialogue, Gal Gadot does her best to leave a presence here, and she does. It’s a great introduction to this character and truly excited me for the next installment featuring her.

Among the film’s principal faults lie Jesse Eisenberg, who plays a very new and very different incarnation of Lex Luthor. He did one incredible feat in this film. He made me hate Lex Luthor, but not in a way that works. Eisenberg skewers every scene is in by playing some goofy and unhinged extremes. For a character who was apparently written with such realism, none of that comes to play here. I was arguing with someone who claimed to understand (but not like) Eisenberg’s portrayal of the greatest criminal mastermind of our time. He told me that I didn’t like the performance because I wanted Gene Hackman back. I answered back that I didn’t like the performance because it was a poor performance. There were multiple moments in the film that feature Luthor in public essentially having a mental break. I was sitting in the theater and wanted to see someone just look at him and think that this guy is absolutely insane. The worst of it was all this press that came out later and announced that Bryan Cranston had been looked at, as had Tom Hanks (based on his incredible work on the underrated Cloud Atlas), and yet Eisenberg had been selected in order to reinvent the character. WHAT?!?

Let’s talk some on the Dawn of Justice portion of the film, which does get us into some spoilery territory, so be warned. Batman v Superman is seen as almost a Justice League origin story in a lot of ways. It sets up Batman, Wonder Woman, and even introduces us to several other members of the team. A major problem here is that the audience is spoon-fed the Justice League. The references and setups are literally beaten over the heads of viewers. There are better ways about this. The introduction of the Justice League was terrible sans The Flash, who got a quick moment of reveal that actually worked for me. As for Aquaman and Cyborg…yuck. Cyborg even wasted the origin story on a poor expository flitter of a moment with no style whatsoever. Absolutely stupid. Now, the film does have some subtlety here when they dance around some of the dark past of Bruce Wayne, but it doesn’t do this enough. You could even have thrown some of this into a post-credits scene to get it out of the main narrative.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is, to me, a more enjoyable experience than Man of Steel, but as far as a cohesive story, it is not. This is a collection of some really cool moments squeezed into a movie that’s bursting at the seams. Ben Affleck gets great redemption from his previous Daredevil failure (in a world where Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans are also getting second chances) and is easily the best part of this film (Scott Adkins blames the Oscars for why Ben Affleck was cast, but doesn’t understand that Scott Adkins was not cast because he was Scott Adkins). I’m excited to see where this franchise is going (Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman) but I’m nervous that the DCEU is not getting off to a great start and can’t really afford to fumble anymore. Overall, the film is divisive and has some great elements, but there is just too much that is found guilty in this court case.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, click here.

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, click here.

The Birth of a Nation Teaser Trailer Drops, Can You Hear the Oscar Bells?

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Wow, I just saw the teaser trailer for The Birth of a Nation, from director Nate Parker. The film is the story of Nat Turner, who led a liberation movement in Virginia. I always found stories like this to be inspirational and interesting, as long as they are made well, and I’ve been hearing tons of praise coming out of the festival circuits, particularly from Sundance.

The trailer gives us the tone and scope of the film without dropping too much, and it definitely got me excited for the film, which releases later this year. We also get a look at Armie Hammer (The Social Network, The Lone Ranger) and Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, A Nightmare on Elm Street), who both only elevate the film for me. I cannot wait.

So what did you think? Will you be seeing The Birth of a Nation when it releases? Let me know.

The Birth of a Nation releases October 7th.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

My thoughts on J.J. Abrams’ Comments

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Good evening, everyone.

Yesterday, J.J. Abrams, director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, spoke with fans about the identity of Rey’s parents in the film. The mystery surrounding the parentage of the new star in the popular series has sparked new speculation and comments all across the interwebs.

Essentially, Abrams announced that Rey’s parents do not appear in Episode VII, and that Rey is probably wondering who her parents are.

Now, he has had to clarify that Rey simply didn’t meet her parents in Episode VII, even though the parents may be in the film.

So what do I think? I think Abrams did some creative backpedaling to get people guessing again. Whether or not Abrams is lying the first time he speaks or the second, it seems like he again gives the fans almost nothing to go on, and I personally don’t want to go on anything. I want to be surprised when I find out, even though I’m almost certain I know the true identity. Seriously. I’m almost certain.

So there you have it. You just read this post which, again, gives you nothing. For me, I’m just looking forward to more Star Wars.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

So what do you think? Who are Rey’s parents? Let me know!