Category Archives: Review

5 Reasons Why Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior Totally Rocks!

The-Road-Warrior1

This post is part of MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur – Dystopian Movies. Be sure to check out all the reviews in this feature by heading over to MovieRob.

Before the days of smearing blue paint over his face and going commando in a kilt (hey, let’s not judge), Mel Gibson roamed the barren, post apocalyptic wasteland in a Ford Falcon.  Of course, this is a reference to Gibson’s breakout role in the Mad Max movies which launched the actor into stardom. Let’s put on the breaks for a minute and take a rear view mirror look at the most popular movie in the Mad Max franchise. Here’s why 1981’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is totally awesome.

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Genre Grandeur: Trance (2013) Movie Review

Trance James McAvoy

This month’s Genre Grandeur at MovieRob is all about British Thrillers! For all the reviews from many awesome movie bloggers head on over to MovieRob.  As always, I pick a movie that I’ve never previously watched. Here’s my take on Danny’s Boyle’s Trance starring James McAcoy:

Trance (2013)
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani

The set up to some of my favorite heist movies involve thieves making clever, elaborate plans only to abandon them when everything goes terribly wrong and as a result must rely on their quick wit to pull off a job against even greater odds. 2013’s Trance is a fresh take on the premise of a heist gone wrong; it’s a savy mixture of mind-bending twists and mysteries which are revealed to be increasingly more intricate as they unfold.

The beginning to Trance’s story is relatively straightforward. An art auctioneer (James McAvoy) gets caught up with criminals (Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani) and seeks the assistance of a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to uncover the forgotten memory of what happened when a stolen painting is lost during a heist.

One of the strengths of Trance is how hypnosis is conceptually integrated into the story. From what I’ve heard about hypnosis is that it can’t make a person do something against their will or against their moral fiber. However, it can make a person more receptive to suggestion. So it’s astute for the screenplay to play on the idea of control in the shifting power dynamics between characters and within. Not knowing whether a character’s deepest motivation is truly their own or someone else’s adds to the story’s intrigue.

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Genre Grandeur: Constantine (2005) Movie Review

Constantine keanu reeves as constantine

Constantine (2005)
Number Of Times Seen: 1 (June 8, 2014)
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Wiesz, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Tilda Swinton

A good idea can be hard to kill while some bad ideas just won’t die.  Based on DC/Vertigo’s horror comic book series Hellblazer, Constantine falls into the former category; a promising premise that’s been haphazardly adapted into a motion picture. Almost a decade later, Constantine gets another chance to prove its worth on-screen, this time resurrected as a television series on NBC beginning October 2014.

Co-creator Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) originally conceptualized John Constantine as an English streetwise magician with the looks of musician Sting.  Though the resemblance to Sting was removed by DC comics, Constantine is visually recognizable by his trademark trench coat and constant chain-smoking. In the movie version, haunted with the ability to see demons and angels, Constantine committed suicide as a teenager but is resuscitated. For the mortal sin of taking his own life, Constantine is condemned to Hell after death if unforgiven.

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Mini Movie Review: Foxcatcher (2014)

Foxcatcher 2014 Photo

Foxcatcher (2014)
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller

If there’s a missing link between director Bennett Miller’s Capote (2005) and his very different follow-up Moneyball (2011), Foxcatcher could more or less function as a cinematic bridge for those films. Like Moneyball, Foxcatcher is a compelling sports-based biographical pic but it’s more akin to Capote in that it’s a psychological drama based on a true story about a peculiar and ultimately disturbing relationship.

Three years after U.S. Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) won a gold medal at the 1984 games, he and eventually his older brother Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) are recruited by multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to operate a training complex at Foxcatcher estate.  As the story progresses, the initial question of why would the heir to the Du Pont family fortune would want to be involved with amateur wrestling evolves into a darker examination of the human psyche.

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Whiplash (2014) Movie Review

Whiplash 2014 Movie

Whiplash (2014)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist

Miles Teller is on a roll. A year after his critically acclaimed performance in The Spectacular Now, Teller’s latest film Whiplash is one of my personal favourite indie movies of 2014.

Whiplash is throughly engaging and entertaining. There’s genuine dramatic tension between characters, lines of dialogue that’ll either make you laugh out loud or marvel at its razor-sharp cruelty and an exhilarating ending.

Director Damien Chazell’s jazz music drama centers on a highly driven nineteen year old drummer named Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) and his music conductor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) whose bully like tactics can either make or break Neyman’s dreams for greatness.

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The Flash Series Premiere Review

The-Flash-TV-Show-Costume

CW’s The Flash 2014 TV Series: Spoiler Free Pilot Review

The opening scene to The Flash (8 pm, Tuesdays on CW) tells us exactly the kind of television show it is. It’s a fun, contemporary super hero series that asks the audience to believe that the impossible can be possible, if only for the next hour.

The Flash doesn’t set out to redefine the genre which is not a bad thing at all. The show embraces its comic book origins in a way that is accessible to new and old fans alike.

What sets The Flash apart from other comic book based shows such as Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and even Arrow is that its lead character has super powers. It’s refreshing that while the amazing feats of The Flash aka Barry Allen are not grounded in realism, his personality and emotional reactions feel genuine.

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13 Sins (2014) Movie Review

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13 Sins (2014) Movie Review

Director: Daniel Stamm
Starring: Mark Webber, Devon Graye, Rutina Wesley, Ron Perlman

13 Sins is an American remake of a Thai psychological thriller/horror movie, taking elements from David Fincher’s The Game and some bits & pieces so to speak from Saw with varying degrees of success. Here is the synopsis:

 A cryptic phone call sets off a dangerous game of risks for Elliot, a down-on-his luck salesman. The game promises increasing rewards for completing 13 tasks, each more sinister than the last. (Source: IMDB)

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Battle Of The Movies: Captain America: The Winter Soldier vs Guardians Of The Galaxy (Spoiler Free)

Time to kick back and put on your favourite superhero pajamas! It’s the battle of Marvel Studios’ blockbusters Captain America: The Winter Soldier versus Guardians Of The Galaxy. After going head to head in several categories such as Story, Characters and Overall Awesomeness, we’ll turn the floor over to the all important people’s decision (that’s you!) for your pick for the best Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two movie of the year.


 Story

Captain America: The Winter Soldier avoids the trappings of a mindless spectacle of fights and explosions because at its core it’s a clever espionage thriller wrapped up in superhero awesomeness. As with many great spy-genre movies, a lot of tension comes from not knowing who to trust. Trust, loyalty and betrayal are big themes which are explored on the personal and political front. Because Captain America is more grounded in the real world, it’s easier to make a connection to the broader ideas of the film, in particular to people’s trust/distrust in their government. Story wise, the rug gets pulled out from under the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a spectacular manner and it’ll have lasting implications in future movies.

Only several months after The Winter Soldier hit theatres Marvel Studios premiered Guardians Of The Galaxy. If you’re not familiar with this movie, check out Guardians Of The Galaxy: Everything You Need To Know for the synopsis and why Marvel is expanding into the cosmic universe. It’s a compliment to say that Guardians feels less like a typical comic book movie and more like a Star Wars meets Indiana Jones type of sci-fi action adventure film on steroids. The story shares a common thread with Marvel’s Avengers, it’s essentially about larger than life individuals who butt heads before coming together as a team although there’s nothing generic about Guardians. Director James Gunn’s vision is bold, lots of fun and manic.  Buckle in your seatbelts because the story quickly immerses you in another galaxy, far far away, yet it’s the same universe inhabited by Captain America. Driving the story is the macguffin but what’s makes the movie entertaining are the likeable characters and how dangerous situations are subverted with humour.

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Mini Movie Review: Shame (2011)

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Shame (2011)
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale and Nicole Beharie

Shame didn’t hold my attention until about the 15 minute mark when Brandon’s (Michael Fassbender) sister played by Carey Mulligan unexpectedly shows up at his New York apartment and throws a wrench into his cycle of sex addiction. Up until then, the movie is a vignette of emotionally numbing sex acts and shameless shots of Fassbender’s dangling member. My renewed interest wasn’t because of Mulligan’s performance either, she’s not nearly as captivating as the lingering camera shots would suggest. But her character’s off kilter presence is an inadvertent catalyst for Brandon to confront his inner demons, giving this movie a compelling, worthwhile direction. Having said that some of the strongest scenes didn’t involve Mulligan but with Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow). To a certain extent, Beharie’s character sees through the cracks in Brandon’s dysfunctional façade and calls him out on his bullshit in a way that he can respect. She could be the healthiest if not, least destructive relationship in his life if he can only overcome his debilitating aversion to real intimacy.

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Genre Grandeur: Constantine (2005) Movie Review

Constantine Keanu Reeves 2005 Movie

Hope everyone’s summer is off to a rocking start! For this month’s Genre Grandeur at movierob.wordpress.com, it’s comic book / superhero movies. If you would like to share your thoughts on a comic related movie, it’s not too late. You have until the 25th to submit your entry. So far, there’s been many great reviews including Iron Man, Dredd (2012), The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Man Of Steel and The Punisher.

There’s a whole bunch of new comic based television shows coming this fall. NBC’s Constantine is one that I’m not familiar with so I thought I’d check out the movie version for the first time.

Head on over to movierob’s site for my take on 2005’s Constantine. Thanks to Rob for being a gracious host and remember to follow his great blog!

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