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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Simon Pegg

Colossal (2017)

Sometimes, you don’t need to go home. Or anywhere.

After losing her job, as well as her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) in New York City, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) decides that it’s time to head on back to where she grew up in upstate New York, where she can hopefully find some time to get her life back in order and figure everything out. While there, she meets back up with an old friend from school, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who instantly remembers her and is so happy to have her back into his life. Gloria doesn’t know what she did to make him so happy, but for some reason, she’s willing to go along with whatever Oscar throws at her, like always drinking and even working at his local bar. For awhile, Gloria seems to be so very happy, but then, this weird thing begins happening: Somewhere out in Tokyo, a huge monster is destroying everything and everyone in its path. And the news in the U.S. is constantly covering this, with people either in total shock and horror, or just absolutely happy that it’s not them. Gloria doesn’t know what to think, except until she finds out that it may be her causing all of this death and destruction, somehow.

“Agent? Yeah, more stuff like this.”

When I first heard of Colossal, I remember it being pitched as a mixture between Lost in Translation and Godzilla. Interesting for sure, but could it work? Honestly, I wasn’t sure, but it was a bold, brave enough idea to take on and considering the current-day, big budget monster movies we seem to get, it would definitely offer a nice breath-of-fresh-air.

Which is exactly what Colossal is, although of course, it runs into its problem.

Most of the problems with the movie come from the fact that the idea, while interesting and definitely neat, also leaves a lot of questions when all is said and done. It all comes down to certain questions about sci-fi, how things would work, and what would happen, if say something such as this happened. It’s the kind of general questions that plague sci-fi and it’s honestly what bugged me for quite some time during Colossal; it wasn’t that I couldn’t give in to the idea and just run with it, it’s that it seemed to make itself more complicated as it went along, but without ever answering the questions it presented.

Still, for a movie about a bunch of hipsters and monsters, it still sort of works. Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo knows that he’s playing around with genres and tones here, but doesn’t ever make it seem too flashy; he knows he’s got something interesting on his plate, so rather than taking away from it, he gives us more to watch and be curious about. Sure, it’s interesting just how all of these monster shenanigans go down and play out, but Vigalondo’s also smart enough to know that having compelling characters make the monsters all the more compelling, too.

And with these characters, Colossal seems to be more interested in them, rather than the monsters, which is, once again, another smart move.

“Wanna PBR?”

Like, for instance, Gloria does, initially seem like a bit of a pain, but as time goes on, we begin to see that there’s more to her and her troubled-past. It also helps that Hathaway is pretty great in the role, allowing for us to Gloria as a bit self-destructive, yet also, at the same time, a smart and relatively independent gal who is capable of making her own decisions, as dim-witted as they can often times be. It’s a low-key and not all that showy role for Hathaway, but it’s the right kind of role for her and it shows why she can be so charming.

Sudeikis is also quite good in the role of Oscar, who seems like a very charming and sweet guy, but slowly begins to unravel into these sad, lonely and angry individual. His actions later on in the movie are questionable and make you wonder if it’s necessarily the right direction for him to go in, but there’s no denying that Sudeikis is actually quite surprising in the role. We grow to love him, but at the same time, pity him. He and Hathaway have a nice bit of chemistry, too, to where you can tell that they probably enjoyed working with one another, as it shows in their smaller, much more intimate moments.

You know, without all of the cool and kick-ass monster fighting, which, for a small, low-budget indie, is pretty good.

Makes you wonder why Hollywood tends to get it so wrong, sometimes.

Consensus: With an interesting idea to work with and a very good cast, Colossal is smart, even if it doesn’t answer all of the questions it lays down by the end.

7.5 / 10

There’s Anne, guys. Always charming and lovely, but for some reason, ya’ll hate her. Get over it!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Many galaxies from here will only know us by the Beastie Boys and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

After their near-death experiences with Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), everyone on-board of the Enterprise are finally ready to relax for a little bit and take care of whatever they need to care of. Spock (Zachary Quinto) is thinking about a career change, as well as is Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), and everyone else is currently thinking of what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Either spend the rest of their days on the Enterprise, or finally get that one chance to settle down and allow for the universe to go on without them in it. However, they run into issues when Krall (Idris Elba), a lizard-like dictator, takes them down and separates each and every one of them on a planet that they little to nothing of. But with the help of a local native, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). For everyone, they have to band together and take down Krall before his power takes over and ruins the rest of the galaxy.

The people's elbow, courtesy of Spock?

The people’s elbow, courtesy of Spock?

The first Star Trek reboot, was amazing and probably one of the very best movies of that very great year. Then, the second film came around, and even though it definitely divided a whole lot more viewers than the original, it still delivered the action, the heart, the emotion, and most of all, the sci-fi excitement that’s to be had with this beloved franchise. And now, after a few years or so of some starts and stops, Beyond is here and without J.J. Abrams, well, let’s just say that it’s not quite nearly as great as it once was before.

It’s not anywhere near being bad, either, but still, when you have to live up to those two movies, it’s pretty hard to defy expectations.

Then again, maybe Beyond isn’t trying to be as dramatic or as emotional as the first two. If anything, it’s surprising how the third installment of this franchise seems to be taking a lighter, more playful route than the first two; normally, you’d expect more heart-shattering, almost breaking twists, turns and breakthroughs, but instead, Beyond is more about bringing us back to these characters and showing us everything that they do best. And sure, while Justin Lin is no J.J. Abrams, he’s no slouch, either; he’s the kind of director that knows a thing or two about being able to balance out action, humor, and heart, all while staying true to the die-hard fans who will most likely look for every little thing to tear and pick apart because, well, they can and they want to.

And with this latest Star Trek reboot, the strongest and best aspect of these movies is the fact that these characters are so easy to love and be compelled by, even if they can seem a tad bit cartoon-y. However, Lin, as well as co-writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung know exactly what works best for them all: Give them their character trademarks to play-up, find a way to include them into the story, and yeah, let it all play out as smoothly as can be. It’s not the most challenging, or difficult formula to follow, but there’s something to be said for a movie where each and every character is as lovely as the last, and the cast, once again, is on-point each and every time.

The only thing that isn’t quite as on-point is the story, as well as our villain.

To say that Beyond is, for better or worse, episodic, isn’t all that difficult – in Kirk’s narration, he even mentions the word at the beginning. If anything, Beyond feels like an overextended episode of a Star Trek TV series (something that’s actually happening), where the good guys do their thing, carry their archs, run into problems, have to solve it, take down a baddie, and at the end of the day, come together where everything is all peaches and cream. Of course, that’s not exactly how Beyond plays out, from beginning to end, but it’s pretty close.

And yeah, there’s no problem with this because it does work out, but it also does feel a tad bit small, given the huge universe that’s surrounding this story and these characters. While the new addition of Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah is a welcome addition that will surely work out perfectly for the next few installments, it still feels like nothing really happens of any sort of importance. It’s fine and all, but really, did much happen when all was said and done?

Edgar Winter?

Edgar Winter?

Maybe, I don’t know.

What I do know is that, even after Khan in the second, Star Trek is back to where it started with the first movie, in having another weak villain, with a very good actor in said villainous role. First, it was Eric Bana, now, it’s Idris Elba, who is as charismatic and compelling as you can get, yet, is stuck behind a whole bunch of make-up here and meant to just yell and do bad things to people who probably don’t deserve it. Elba, like always, gives it all that he’s got, but the motivations aren’t really there and it’s an underwritten role, for someone who could have really made magic happen, had he been given the right material to work with.

But, once again, Beyond only suffers slightly because of this. The rest of the cast is great, with Quinto, Urban, Pine being the standouts, and of course, the late, great Anton Yelchin showing us why he was still fun to watch in a goofy role like Chekov, but so is everybody else. You really can’t say one person is better than the other, because they’re all here, showing us why they matter and why the Star Trek franchise deserves to keep on having more and more movies.

Hopefully with better villains is all. That’s all I’m saying.

Consensus: While a small step down from the first two movies, Beyond still offers up its fans plenty to have fun and cherish with the colorful, lovable characters, as well as a few exciting action-sequences, that are sure to make up for some of the busts we’ve had this summer.

7.5 / 10

God? Dad? Thor?

God? Dad? Thor?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

24 Party Hour People (2002)

PartyposterDrugs make everything better. Even annoying Brits.

Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan), from what most people thought, was just another TV anchor forced to do stories on wild animals and old people. But little did some of them know that, after all of the filming was done, Wilson was also a prominent agent for some of the biggest and best British bands of the early-punk and Madchester scene that spanned from the late-70’s, to the early-90’s. Not only did Wilson make the likes of the Sex Pistols, Joy Division, New Order, and the Happy Mondays big names in the music biz, but he also help pave the way for how most night clubs should be able to handle these bands while, at the same time, still make a profit. But aside from the business aspect, Wilson also encountered some issues in his personal life, whether he was bouncing from girl-to-girl, drug-to-drug, or band-to-band, he always remained focused on making the music his first and only priority. Even if, occasionally, the bands themselves were a bit too much to handle. But no matter what, Wilson always relied on something to get him through even the biggest hurdles: Drugs. And wow, a whole lot of them, too.

Oh, to be young and trendy again.

Oh, to be young and trendy again.

What’s perhaps the most interesting element of 24 Hour Party People that not only sets it apart from the rest of the musical biopic genre, but also enlivens things, too, is the fact that every so often, Wilson turns to the camera, lets us know what’s going on, what legend has said about a certain incident and mostly, just given his own voice and opinion on things. Not only does this make the movie self-aware, but it also helps make us realize that Wilson, despite his many negative personality-traits, is an honest and relatively understanding human being. However, what’s most interesting about what director Michael Winterbottom does here is that he doesn’t ever give us the full focus on Wilson’s life, even though that’s kind of expected.

Case in point, try the one scene where Wilson meets his ex-wife and child; while we’re expecting it to be a heartfelt, albeit sappy scene trying to make us see and understand Wilson as this kind, loving and caring human being, Wilson then talks to the audience, lets us know that he does have a kid, but also reminds us that this story isn’t wholly about him. In fact, it’s about the music he helped discover and bring to the masses, the parties that constantly arose, and just why it all matters these many years later.

And for that reason, 24 Hour Party People‘s kind of a blast.

Though Winterbottom has a hard task of trying to get the whole Madchester music scene into a near-two-hour-long film, without making it seem like he’s forgotten about anyone important, he somehow is able to make it all come together. Most of this has to do with the fact that Wilson’s constant narration and breaking of the fourth-wall, actually helps us connect the dots; some may say that it’s spoon-feeding the audience and pointing out the obvious, but I look at it as a way of Winterbottom letting us know that, don’t worry, no matter how many bands or names come into the foray here, he’ll still help us out. After all, the Madchester music scene was a crazy one, and if you don’t already know all of the bands and acts going into it, you’ll more than likely get lost in all the havoc and craziness.

Thankfully, like I said, Wilson’s narration helps us all out. And due to this, the movie’s a whole lot of fun. As usual with Coogan’s productions, there’s a lot of humor that comes out of some very dark and serious situations, while at the same time, the movie doesn’t forget about the harsh realities that this music scene brought on. Of course, with the movie featuring Joy Division, it’s obvious that they’d shine a light on Ian Curtis and his suicide, but other than that, there’s still plenty of other sad things that happen. People break-up, people get back together, people gain fame, people lose it, and most of all, people lose sight of their humanity.

Ian Curtis dances weird? You don't say!

There goes Ian Curtis giving hope to all white people who think they can dance.

But no matter what 24 Hour Party People is entertaining.

Maybe it’s not as heavy as it should have been, but considering it’s a musical biopic that doesn’t try to preach any ideas about drug addiction, or fame, or money, it’s definitely “different”, for lack of a better term. Yes, it’s funny, but it’s also got a nice bit of insight into how the world of music works, how people get into place when a certain craze is beginning to take over, and just how easy it is for people to get wrapped up in all of it. Though Wilson loves good music, first and foremost, he also loves money and making plenty of it, which is why it’s neat to see his perspective on what one has to do to ensure that their nightclub makes as much profit as it should. While this definitely takes the movie away from the music, and more towards the business of what went on around it, it still adds up to creating this whole scene and why it was so great to be apart of.

And like I made a mention of before, Coogan is definitely a fine source for us to follow and see all of this happen around. Coogan’s great at playing level-headed a-holes, but here, there’s a bit more to Wilson that makes him seem more humane than usual. Still though, this movie isn’t a biopic on his life, as much as it’s about all those countless bands and people he met, which is why the ensemble has some of the finest heavy-hitters in England. The likes of Paddy Considine, Sean Harris, Andy Serkis (not in mo-cap gear), Lennie James, Shirley Henderson, and of course, plenty more, all give their two cents here, are fun, lively and round out a party worth being apart of and checking out.

Even if, you know, you didn’t get an invitation to it in the first place.

Consensus: With a smart, attentive eye to detail and facts, 24 Hour Party People isn’t just an insightful piece, but also a very funny, exciting film that perfectly captures the Madchester scene, the bands and all the other people who are alive and well during its reign.

8 / 10

Steve Coogan? Happy! You don't say!

Steve Coogan? Happy? You don’t say!

Photos Courtesy of: Stand By For Mind Control, Now Very Bad, VH Corner

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Scientology be damned when Ethan Hunt is on the case!

Now that the IMF has been disbanded for the fact that they are considered unreliable and dangerous, superstar agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is forced to go rogue. However, Ethan believes that he has got another mission left in him that will take him to ultra shady group that is “the Syndicate”. Ethan has an idea that the Syndicate is apparently up to no good and is planning on wiping out the entire globe, but in order to stop this from happening, he needs to get to the head of the group (Sean Harris) – which, considering how top-notch and professional this group is, is a lot easier said then done. But Ethan is inspired enough to take matters into his own hands, even if that means bringing some of his old friends and colleagues around one more time, even if that means that their jobs will be at-stake in doing so. However, another problem standing in Ethan’s way is a fellow agent by the name of Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who he isn’t quite sure of which side she’s actually on. Which not only spells problems for Ethan’s mission, but also his heart that seems to be taken a bit with this mysterious lady.

Unlike most movie franchises out there, each installment of Mission: Impossible feels as if they are their own kind of movie, rather than just a carbon-copy of the one that came before it. With the first, we got Brian De Palma’s version of Hitchockian Bond movie, filled with all sorts of gadgets, twists and turns; in the second, we got John Woo’s wild and crazy action-thriller, chock full of explosions, fire, and yes, even doves; with the third movie, we got another one of J.J. Abrams’ frenetic kind of thrillers that seemed so intense, that they were about to blow-up from all the intensity; and then, with the fourth movie, we got Brad Bird’s version that hearkened back to the glory days of old school blockbusters, where times were a lot simpler then. Now, with the fourth movie, as being directed by Christopher McQuarrie, we get a slightly gritty-take on the Mission: Impossible story, which is what most people know McQuarrie to do well with.

Look out, Bourne!

Look out, Bourne!

However, at the same time, it’s still a solid action-thriller in its own right, regardless of if it follows some sort of style-pattern. Sometimes, all you need is a whole heck of a lot of action and fun thrown into your sometimes confusing story, just to make sure that everything works out as fine as can be. The Mission: Impossible movies, from what it seems, will continue to last on for another couple of years (so long as Cruise continues to sign-up for them), and honestly, I’m fine with that; it’s constantly finding new and interesting ways to re-invent itself, pick up some neat tricks along the way, and continue to set the bar for action-thrillers in its same vein.

Sort of like the Fast and Furious franchise, except for the kind of crowd who prefers wine, as opposed to Colt 45.

And in no way is that an insult to either groups of these movies; not only are those franchise’s movies fun, but they can be enjoyed by practically anyone who decides to check them out and see what they’re working with. You don’t need to see all of the Fast and Furious movies to enjoy just one, just like you don’t need to do the same for these Mission: Impossible movies – they sort of just work on their own. That’s how most action movies should be, and while it sounds incredibly easy, it’s a whole different story when watching a bad thriller and realizing that the action stinks, the story stinks, and basically, just everything else about it stinks.

If you can’t do an action movie right, then what can you do?!?

Because even though these movies have something of a plot to work with, it’s really just about the set-pieces and how far they can keep the audiences invested, regardless of how far-fetched they can get. This happens many of times in Rogue Nation, where we see scenes of Hunt holding his breath underwater for nearly three minutes straight, dangle above a French opera without a single person taking notice, or, as famously-known, hang on quite loosely to an airplane as its taking air. There’s plenty more where these examples come from, and while they may all sound ridiculous, they’re still a whole bunch of fun to sit through, watch, and think of what’s going to happen next; even if, you know, it’s already fully well-known what’s going to happen to some of these characters by the end of the tale.

There's definitely more than a little Captain in her.

There’s definitely more than a little Captain in her.

And even though Rogue Nation may be a bit of a step-back for the franchise (especially after the fantastic and very surprising Ghost Protocol), it still is, once again, a very solid action-thriller. It gets just about all of the beats right in terms of the action-department, is just long enough to not overstay its welcome, and seems like it’s still staying true to its heart by giving us the character moments in between all of the running around and explosions to make things seem a whole lot more human for the meantime. Do we really need them? Not really, but they’re fine to fall back on if you need to take a chill pill and just watch as a bunch of people talk to one another, spouting all sorts of exposition that don’t mean much else other than just, “We need to catch the bad guy and this is how we do it”.

That’s literally what every line of dialogue in Rogue Nation ends up leading towards, but there are a few surprises to be found along the way.

But the surprises don’t necessarily come from the likes of Tom Cruise, or Jeremy Renner, or Simon Pegg, or Ving Rhames, or even Alec Baldwin – they’re all fine, it’s just that who they’re playing (with the exception of newcomer Baldwin), has been done before and doesn’t feel like any sort of variation. They’re are all perfectly serviceable in a movie that’s more or less concerned with how deep of a situation it can throw its hero into, only to allow for him to break out of it in some miraculous way, nearly ten minutes later.

Nope, the real surprise of this cast comes from the likes of Rebecca Ferguson, someone I haven’t seen before, but here’s to hoping that now, that’ll change. Ferguson not only acts the part of a bad-ass, femme fatale that may or may not be playing both sides at the same time, but also looks like it, too. Much has already been said about how the Ferguson’s image is getting sexualized by the advertising for this here movie, but honestly, I think it works in her favor. Not only is Ferguson gorgeous, she’s also in incredible shape to where when you see her riding a motorcycle in tight leather, you don’t just automatically think of how hot she looks, it’s more about how much she could probably kick your ass. Also, the fact that Ferguson is something of an unknown actress to most of the mainstream media, works in her character’s favor as she could literally go anyway; there’s no pre-made clause that states she has to be the hero at the end, or gets the man. She’s not a huge actor just yet, so therefore, the mystery stays in her favor.

Although, let’s hope that she doesn’t continue to stay a mystery for too long.

Consensus: Rogue Nation is another exciting crowd-pleaser to add to the Mission: Impossible name, even if it’s not nearly the best the franchise has had to offer.

8 / 10

Never forget.

Never forget.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)

Dude, you’re married to Rosamund Pike. How much more happiness do you seriously need?

London psychiatrist Hector (Simon Pegg) feels like his life isn’t as fulfilling as he would like for it to be. Sure, he’s got a nice job, a nice house, and an even nicer wife (Rosamund Pike), but for some odd reason, he feels like that there’s something more to his life. And if he doesn’t find out what that is, he won’t fully be happy. So, of course with the permission of his wifey-poo, Hector sets out an globe-spanning adventure that takes him all around the world and allows for him to meet some of the most interesting people he’d never have the chance to meet, had he stayed in his boring, posh life in London. However, whenever one travels to a new place that they’re not quite familiar with, they of course run into certain problems with people who don’t take too kindly to tourists – aka, exactly who Hector is. This leaves Hector in many life-or-death situations where he has to take into consideration that sometimes, the life you’re dealt, isn’t so bad at all. So stop whining!

Most of the reviews I’ve read for Hector and the Search for Happiness have been basically calling this, “the indie Secret Life of Walter Mitty“. And while that’s not entirely incorrect, it’s still ill-advised for someone who was actually a fan of Ben Stiller’s piece (such as myself); while the movie wasn’t perfect, there was a certain layer of sweetness that helped the movie get by some of its more dodgy spots. Not to mention, it also had me look at Stiller, the director, in a different light than ever before.

Such an adventure ahead of him. And yet, I could care less.

Such an adventure ahead of him. And yet, I could care less.

But that’s besides the point because Mitty is definitely a better movie than Hector, which isn’t to discredit the later’s leading-man at all. In certain aspects, Simon Pegg is a lot charming and lovable than Stiller, but for some reason, he’s absolutely insufferable here. Pegg’s not doing anything different from what we’ve seen him do before, but the character of Hector, is so dull and thinly-written, that there’s a certain feeling of anger I began to feel with this character. He’s already a whiny mope as it is, with practically everything one could want in life, and yet, he still finds enough time to piss and complain about it, acting as if there’s more to life than living in upper-class society.

Just saying, bud, but many people would be happy to live the life you’re living.

So yeah, already this movie’s not working for me, and then, the plot continues on and once I realize that everywhere Hector goes to, he’ll be involved with some sort of life-threatening situation, my interest was lost. Not only was it unbelievable that Hector himself would just randomly get thrown into these deadly situations for no reason or another than to move the plot along, but the movie never treated them as seriously as they should have to really make it feel like, holy crap, Hector could literally die, right in front of our faces, and we’d be spending the rest of the day in absolute shock and despair. But nope, instead, the movie cracks a smile, even when there’s an AK-47 directly staring them in the face.

For instance, take the whole sequence in the later-half when Hector ends up in Africa – a region of the world that movies such as these love to show as desolate, crime-ridden war-lands. Without getting into the intricacies of what lands Hector there in the first place, basically, he gets kidnapped and taken in by a bunch of thugs, where he is then imprisoned, questioned about his recent whereabouts, and threatened with death, so much so that he’s actually thrown into an execution position. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sort of stuff is not funny. Just go on LiveLeak and you’re bound to find plenty of real, downright disturbing videos of the same thing happening to someone, for no reasons whatsoever.

You're leaving that at home?!?!?

You’re leaving that at home?!?!?

However, the movie thinks differently. Much rather, it thinks that coming close to executing someone is rich with humor, so they treat it as something of a joke. As a result, too, Hector himself does the same and spends the rest of the movie acting as if it had never happened; as if, oh, well, you know, it was all a pure coincidence that was meant to happen so that he could understand and appreciate life a whole lot more. Being dumped by my girlfriend and being kicked out of my apartment has me understand the meaning of life, as well as appreciate it a whole heck of a lot more, and that’s about it for me. I don’t believe I need to be blind-folded, kidnapped, threatened, and have a gun pointed in my face to make me think that.

But hey, that’s just me. I’m not Hector and thank heavens for that.

Basically, in case you haven’t been able to tell already, there’s not a lot going for Hector and the Search for Happiness. There’s hardly any comedy to be found whatsoever (even though the movie insists that there actually is), the melodrama is suffocating, and the message, isn’t just obvious, but ludicrous, especially when you consider all that Hector, the character, had to go through to get to that point in his life. The only moments of actual entertainment that can be found within this movie is whenever some odd-ball from the supporting cast shows up, and even then, they clearly seem to not have much to work with. The only one I can think of off the top of my head that really left any sort of impression whatsoever was Christopher Plummer and even then, I still wondered whether somebody shot him with tranquilizers beforehand to make him numb to the utter garbage he was forced to deliver.

Nobody should have to deliver this junk. Not Christopher Plummer. Not Simon Pegg. Not anybody.

Consensus: Everywhere it goes, everyone it meets, everything it experiences, Hector and the Search for Happiness wants you to enjoy the ride with them, but instead, it’s the kind of trip you wish you took alone, with no annoying Brits found anywhere in sight.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Drink up, Simon. And save me some. By the end of this, we'll both need it.

Drink up, Simon. And save me some. By the end of this, we’ll both need a few.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

The Boxtrolls (2014)

Had this movie just been about actual “trolls“, it probably would have been a lot scarier. Missed opportunities.

Underneath the town of Cheesebridge, a small population of trolls live and oddly enough, they have adopted a young boy (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) as their own. The name he’s given is “Eggs”, which mostly has to do with the fact that the box he is dressed up, was previously one used for containing eggs. Another box contained fish, so the troll now filling that is called “Fish”. So on and so forth, you get it. Anyway, Eggs and the rest of the trolls all run into a problem when a nasty, mean and cruel pest exterminator by the name of Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) who plans on getting rid of every Boxtroll there is to be found. He also hopes that this will make him look like a hero to the rest of the townspeople and therefore, give him a shot at becoming mayor, or at least, a man of higher-power. So obviously this puts the Boxtrolls into some real, major danger of being extinct, but once Eggs joins the real world and meets the quirky, spunky daughter of the main mayor (Elle Fanning) things change and he might just find a way to save his lovable friends and so-called family once and for all.

Pictured from left to right: Generic Boxtroll #1, Generic Boxtroll #2, Generic Boxtroll #3, Generic Boxtroll #4, Generic Boxtroll #5.

Pictured from left to right: Generic Boxtroll #1, Generic Boxtroll #2, Generic Boxtroll #3, Generic Boxtroll #4, Generic Boxtroll #5.

Laika, as they had done with both Coraline and Paranorman, have proven that they’re able to deliver on both the visual-department of their movies, while also with the story as well. Sometimes, their stories get a little too dark for even the target-audience these movie seem so keen on attracting in the first place, but for what it’s worth, they’re one of the very few animation-companies that strive on giving every demographic a little something to chew on and appreciate. I don’t want to say they’re one of the few ones left, but considering the slide Pixar has recently plummeted down, I can’t help but put most of my hope and faith into another group of animators out there.

And with that said, it should be noted that the Boxtrolls is as pretty-looking as any of the other Laika movies. The combination of hand-made creations and thinly-done CGI works, especially so here. Everything and everyone inside this small town of Cheesebridge seem as if they either need a shower, or live in a place as screwed up as everybody around them thinks. Sure, you don’t get too many points for looking strange, but you do get credit for making the strange actually look nice and well-done. Here, that’s what Laika does and it’s totally a compliment to the types of talents that they have working in their studios.

But, when all is said and done here, there’s just not much of a story and ultimately, that ends up tearing the whole piece apart.

It’s one thing to introduce your never-done-before, relatively interesting characters and not really have them be interesting other than just socially awkward, or plain and simply weird; however, it is another whole thing entirely to have these characters and hardly ever focus on them at all. Much rather, what adds insult to injury is to spend most of your movie focusing on the human characters involved with the story. Which honestly, wouldn’t have been so bad to begin with, had the human characters here actually been the least bit interesting or believable in terms of their intentions and why they deserve to be paid attention to in the first place. However, what happens here with the characters in the Boxtrolls, is that they fall for being thinly-written at first, and hardly ever given a second, or third, or maybe even fourth glance at to see if everything adds up well enough,

Take, for instance, the villainous character of Archibald Snatcher, the one who wants to be rid of all these Boxtrolls so that he can get going with his term in office and live happily ever after, eating cheese for the rest of his days. It’s obvious that we’re not supposed to like, or even care for this character – he’s the evil son-of-a-bitch who wants to basically kill those little, cuddly characters we get introduced to early on as not just nice creatures, but ones that aren’t at all what the rumors he’s been spreading around about them say at all. You feel bad for them as a result, of course, but there’s also an idea that’s supposed to be here where we feel some sort of sympathy for our lead villain here, even if he is just being a total dick. Surely, there must be at least some sort of reasoning that would put all of his evil, immoral actions to light?

A match made in Laika-heaven.

A match made in Laika-heaven.

Nope. Not at all, actually. This dude’s just a dick, for the sake of being a dick. Which, once again, wouldn’t have been so bad to begin with, had we not been given so much time to spend with just him and only him, but we get that and it hardly ever seems to end. The scenes with him, as well as the rest of the human characters, feel like they are never-ending and only add insult to injury. Not because we, the audience, actually decided to see this for fine animation (which we get), but because we wanted to actually see the Boxtolls (you know, the titled-chaarcters), and hardly get any of them.

Sure, maybe the characters of Eggs isn’t so bad, especially considering that he’s a weird, little boy who continues to be as such, but honestly, there’s nobody here that’s really keeping it altogether. Even when the movie does focus on the infamous, but hardly-seen Boxtrolls, it’s hard to ever be able to tell any of them apart. Maybe Fish and that’s it – every other Boxtroll just feels like a carbon-copy of the one that was created before it and only add less to their appeal. They’re meant to look and seem ugly, but they’re also supposed to be charming, funny, and the types of creatures we’d actually want our kids going to sleep with plush dolls of. But not these Boxtrolls. They aren’t really fun to begin with, but they’ll probably give your kid nightmares.

And honestly, what parent wants to pay for all that therapy? Especially all for something like this, no less?

Consensus: As usual with Laika films, the Boxtrolls benefits from looking crisp and inventive, but the story is anything but and instead, lingers on certain plot-threads nobody cares about. Not even the kiddies.

5 / 10 = Rental!! 

Of course the leader of these Boxtrolls had to be white!

Of course the leader of these Boxtrolls had to be white! What? No dark-skinned men and/or women in Cheesebrigde?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The World’s End (2013)

Well, if we’re all going to die soon, might as well go out with a bunch of drunken nerds.

After failing to complete “the Golden Mile”, some 20 years earlier, old high school friends Gary (Simon Pegg), Andy (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine), all reunite to try to recreate, and hopefully finish, their epic pub crawl. However, time hasn’t done any of them any good, and they’ve all found themselves losing connection with one another, becoming working members of society, getting old, getting responsibilities, getting kids, getting wives, and etc. Except for Gary, who is a recovering drug-addict that practically forces them into this whole reunion of sorts, which, surprisingly, seems like it’s going well for quite awhile; that is until they all begin to realize that something is rather amiss with their hometown. Not only is everybody acting weird, but everybody they ever knew is still there. What could be the cause to all of this? And hell, what are they going to do to make sure they stay alive throughout the whole night? Eh, just keep on drinking.

Well everybody, there does it! The World’s End marks the end of what everybody knew as “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”, and what a trilogy it was! Shaun of the Dead started things off perfectly, not just making fun of horror movies, but showing the heart and the fun that could be had with those certain movies if you took them seriously; and Hot Fuzz pretty much did the same thing, but instead of it being horror movies, this time it was buddy-cop movies, male-testosterone and all. And last, but sadly least, we have this movie and it’s surprisingly different from the other two, and not because it’s a lesser-product, but mainly because it isn’t spoofing any sort of movie genre or idea. It’s basically it’s own wild beast, and for that, it deserves a whole slew of credit.

There's a reference on that map somewhere. I can just tell.

There’s a reference on that map somewhere. Way too much significance placed on it to not be.

But also, more credit should be given to this flick because it’s exactly everything you’d expect from Wright, Penn, Frost, and co.: quick, funny, full of sight-gags, action-packed, witty, and best of all, has an underlining heart and soul to it’s final-product that really helps even it all out. Nothing here in this movie will necessarily surprise you in terms of its sense of comedy, action, or where the story-line goes and why, but what it will surprise you with is how damn dark it can somehow get. And I don’t mean to use the word “dark” in a bad way either, it’s more of a welcome addition to a trilogy that needed some serious dosage of it, especially for the last installment.

For instance, if you take the whole character of Gary King into thought, he is essentially a very damaged, sad and messed-up person, yet, is able to get past on the sure with and charm of Pegg. Gary has not only become a loser ever since his grand days of high school were up, but he’s become something of a explosive device, just waiting for his time to blow up and disintegrate into the air. We see that he misses his lads, he wants to relive those glory days, and will stop at nothing to get them back, but yet, also doesn’t have an ounce of morality located anywhere in his soul, which therefore, makes him a hard character to really root for or connect with. Yet, he’s a human, and you can tell that out of everybody involved, he needs this reunion the most, as if it’s sort of a way to give his life some meaning and a reason to live.

If you haven’t been able to tell just yet, yes, this is some very dark stuff, but Wright uses it to his advantage by touching on all of the emotional-notes that worked so well with the past two, and to make matters even better: The dude seems to really be living it up behind-the-camera.

It’s fairly obvious that Wright is the real deal when it comes to fast-paced, punchy, and movies that MOVE, but here, he shows total and complete in control in his material, and allows for his it to get even weirder and weirder as it runs along. What starts out as a movie along the lines of Beautiful Girls, somehow becomes Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and it’s as bizarre of a transitioning as you’re expecting, except that it’s more fun and entertaining to watch here, rather than what’s probably playing in your head. Once it gets revealed to us just who these “things” are, it’s an all-out fest of jumps, thrills, chills, and epic throw-downs (especially the first scene in the bathroom where it’s 5-on-5, no holds barred), that will probably bring you back to what Wright did 3 years ago on his own with Scott Pilgrim. Just goes to show you that as time goes on and he gets more projects under his belt, Wright is growing into being his own type of director, and showing us that he will continue to do so, regardless of if it’s with his fellow, British pals or not. All we have to do now is wait for what he has in store with Ant-Man, and then he will totally be the finest director working today.

But as I said before, this is sadly the lesser of the three, and I think that reason is because the switch in tone is so obvious and a bit jarring, that it’s too hard not to get past. I won’t give away what happens, or what’s revealed to us when we realize what’s really going on underneath it all, but I will tell you that it definitely changes the way the movie works, and how it becomes serious. There’s an sense of seriousness and heart to this material that shines through in certain spots, but once we realize that something’s wrong with the night’s proceedings, then it gets very serious and dare I say it, “melodramatic”. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was still fun, exciting, and full of yucks and chuckles, but the tonal-change in the middle that we’ve come to see and expect from Wright’s flicks isn’t as subtle here, and it definitely changes the mood and the overall outlook of the rest of the flick.

With that said, it’s still an Edgar Wright flick, and with that being said: The cast is still full of a bunch of heavy-hitters that show they can be dramatic, but still hilarious as well.

"Aye! We're British, and we're here for a couple of pints and a few smokes, lad!" British enough?

“Aye! We’re British, and we’re here for a couple of pints and a few smokes, lad!” British enough?

Case in point: Simon Pegg. Everybody knows that Simon Pegg is a funny guy, and everybody knows that he can use his British wit and charm to his advantage, but what really surprised the hell out of me here was how deep he went with this character, not just showing us a damaged-soul, but one you can feel an ounce of sympathy towards, even if he would never, ever feel it towards you. Pegg really gets to the bottom of who this guy is, why, and where he will most likely be going with his life, but while he’s at it, also seems to be living it up, dialing it up to 11, and totally letting loose on his comedic-chops. Everything the guy says, does, and even thinks about is hilarious, and it shows that not only is Wright growing as a director, but Pegg’s growing as an actor, one that can get to the root of any character, given the right material, time and place.

Same goes for Nick Frost who, believe it or not, is actually playing the straight-man to Pegg’s crazy and wild antics as Gary. Frost has never really shown us resilience in his acting, but he shows it here and makes us realize just what we’ve been missing out on all of these years. He’s funny, sweet, a bit sad, but also a bit bad-ass when the movie needs him to be. and it just goes to show you that Frost is growing up alongside his fellow mates as well. However, Pegg and Frost are just the beginning of what’s a very good, very well-equipped, and very attuned cast to the material they’re working with here, as it seems like everybody else involved knows what they’re getting themselves into with this movie, how to play it off, and why they have to give it their all, and never let up. Not for a second. It’s kind of strange actually, because yes, even though I have seen Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan all be funny and light with some of their roles, I’ve never quite seem them as much in a full-on comedy-mode as they are on in here, and it allowed me to see them in a different light where they can do this funny stuff, but also allow for us to take them in as actual characters as well. Not just a bunch of goofballs, but people, and I think that’s a smart decision on Wright’s part on casting these highly-acclaimed, “serious” British actors. Or at least just Marsan and Considine; Freeman’s more of a clown than those two.

And don’t be fooled either, just because Rosamund Pike is the only gal of the group, doesn’t mean that she goes down without a fight. In fact, just the opposite. Not only is she as knowing of the humor as the dudes are, she also shows that she can mess-around with the best of them, and even get her hands a bit dirty if need be. She’s funny, very sexy, and also, very fiery, and reminds me of the type of chick I wouldn’t dare to mess with. Also, I highly doubt it needs to be said, but I’ll go for it anyway, just be on the lookout for everybody in this cast, because they’re all familiar-faces you’ve seen before and will surprise the hell out of you here, as they are all having a great time, and allowing you to enjoy the whole movie even more than before.

Consensus: The World’s End, or as others will know it as “the inevitable finale to The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”, may not be as polished as the two prior installments, but is still full of the same madcap hilarity, fun, excitement, action, and typical glee that we have come to love with these movies, while also offering us some real heart and emotion to the proceedings as well.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

They're all drinking in-sequence! See, I told you they were all buds!

They’re all drinking in-sequence! See, I told you they were all buds!

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Whoever thought that walking, flesh-eating, pieces of meat could be so darn humorous!?! The Brits, that’s who!

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is your typical, 29-year-old Brit: He has a lousy job that nobody respects him at; he’s got a loser best friend named Ed (Nick Frost) who doesn’t clean up after himself and pisses off the other roommate; he’s having problems with his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) who just wants him to grow up and take charge for once; and his mum (Penelope Wilton)’s annual-visit is coming up, which he doesn’t mind showing up for, except that he hates his step-dad (Bill Nighy). And yet, as if his life couldn’t have gotten any worse or depressing enough, now human-beings are starting to keel over and become reanimated as zombies. No reason is given, but everybody is told to stay in their houses, lock all of the doors, and keep away from the zombies. However, Shaun and Ed do otherwise, and decide to fetch up all of their friends and family, go on down to the pub where they can stay safe, and also have a few pints and smokes as well. Sounds like the perfect plan, except they’re SO MANY ZOMBIES.

With The World’s End coming out this weekend, I thought it’d be best for me to not only catch back up on two of Edgar Wright’s movies that I haven’t seen in awhile, but review them and remind myself why I should be as hyped-up as everybody else in the world (especially the Brits) seems to be for the end with the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. So, with all of that out of the way, why not go back to a day when nobody outside of America knew who the hell Simon Pegg or Bill Nighy were, and when every horror-comedy had to live up to An American Werewolf in London.

Cause we've all needed a good reason to get rid of that dreadful mix-tape you got from your high school sweetheart.

Cause we’ve all needed a good reason to get rid of that dreadful mix-tape you got from your high school sweetheart.

I almost want to say “the finer days”, but they really weren’t because this movie came around and shook things up like never before. And believe it or not, but the horror genre hasn’t been the same since. Screw the comedy aspect, this is a horror movie through-and-through. It’s just done by a bunch of Brits, so obviously it’s got to have wit and sly humor! Duh!

Anyway, this is probably the 5th viewing I’ve had of this flick and I have to say, I could go 5, 10, hell, even 20 more times of seeing this flick and never getting bored or tired of it! One of the main reasons behind that, and with all of Wright’s flicks, is that there is always something new or inventive to spot-out, especially when you’ve seen what goes down and know what happens. Sometimes the lines are so ironic and so full of foreshadowing, you’ll wonder how in the world it got past you originally, but such is the talent of Wright and Pegg. I mean, Christ, it only took me to my 3rd viewing until I realized that the whole “Queen, pool-stick fighting sequence” was all choreographed to go along with the song. Call me slow, call me an idiot, call me a Yankee, call me what you will; but it slid by me, and you’re only a bigger fool if you don’t admit to at least missing a few jokes here and there. Even some of the most loyal natives of Britain will find themselves scratching their heads at a few references and that’s the beauty behind it all.

It’s hilarious, but in a way that doesn’t take any cheap-shots. Yet, it’s still able to make you hold your gut with the most simplest forms of comedy like slapstick, like farting, and even the simple, dart-accidentally-sticks-into-someones’s-head joke. Even then, it’s still very, very funny and continued to make me laugh, while also holding my attention up on the screen, just hoping that I didn’t miss out on something that everybody else seemed to understand or be laughing at. So glad I didn’t see this in a movie theater with a bunch of smarter, more-sophisticated people, or else I would have felt like an even bigger idiot than I originally did when I first saw this. But, nonetheless, it’s still funny any way you write it, and that’s some big, effin’ credit to Pegg and Wright, aka, the two script-writers who understand the horror/zombie genre, yet, at the same time, know its limitations to where it can get serious, as well as jokey, but also be quite effective.

And that aspect behind this whole movie is what really separates it from the rest of the pack of horror-comedy flicks, and will continue to do so until a better one comes along down the drain-pipe (highly doubt it, at least not for awhile anyway). Everything starts off all goofy and witty, as if everybody involved knows how far-fetched it is for these things to actually be waking up from the dead, and start eating/infecting others, but with also a smudge of realism, where the people involved (you know, the ones not zombified) could easily be doing the same things in real life, had this actually ever happened. They realize that even though the rest of man-kind may be screwed for eternity, you might as well suck it up and have a good time while you still can; hence why they go to the pub, plan on getting blitzed, and enjoy whacking the shit out of zombies whenever one gets in their way. However, it also gets very serious by the end, and you realize that not only is this a satire of what we expect from a horror movie, but it’s also its own horror movie in and of itself. Wright and Pegg not only conquered the unimaginable by having us laugh our assess off by the way these characters interact and make jokes, but also by having us scare our pants off and actually care about these people once they begin to kick the bucket, and get eaten alive. It’s not just a funny-take on the horror genre, but it’s also a love-letter as well; one that makes me really glad to know that George A. Romero actually loved.

When you’ve made that man happy and give his seal of approval, then you know you’ve done something right in this world.

Quite your moaning! *Reference

Quite your moaning! *Reference

Hell, while I’m speaking about these characters, why not just talk about them right now, rather than wasting all of your time! It’s great to see how big Simon Pegg hit it after this movie, because not only is he very funny with his dry wit and humor, but he’s also very capable of coming off as the everyday, kind of loser that anybody could relate to or cheer on. Shaun is a bit deadbeat, but he’s a nice guy that you care for right away, and can’t wait to start seeing lay down the law when the dead begin to come alive. Same goes for Nick Frost as Ed, who keeps things light and punchy, whenever it seems to get all dark, cold, and surprisingly scary. Both have a lovable chemistry that makes me no less surprised knowing that it all came from their real life friendship. Good for those two, cause lord knows I would not be able to get along with any of my friends when I’m going all “method”.

And everybody else in this small, but effective cast is great, too. Kate Ashfield is a nice fit as Liz, Shaun’s present/ex-girlfriend that just wants him to grow up and stop being such a boob, which makes it easier for us to actually care about her, as well as them, since they not only seem good for each other, but may even make it out of this thing alive, together; Penelope Wilton is funny, but also quite endearing as Shaun’s clueless mum; Bill Nighy is a great fit as her husband/Shaun’s step-dad (and don’t get it mixed up!), proving to us that he’s got the comedic-chops to make this strict, weird dude work, but also give us a scene that touches us on more levels than we’d expect from a horror-comedy, especially because it happens so early in the game; Lucy Davis is fine and snappy as Liz’s roommate, who is also is a wannabe actress; and Dylan Moran is her sheepish, deuchey boyfriend who can’t stand up for himself, or anybody else for that matter, but seems to be taking Liz’s side the most out of everybody else’s. There’s plenty more cameos and hidden-roles here as well, but way too many to get into, just make sure you keep a close eye on some of these zombies; some may be famous faces, hidden underneath layers and layers of blood and gore, aka, make-up and prosthetic, but you catch my drift.

By the way, “Sorry”. Thought I’d leave it at that.

Consensus: Still funny, still smart, still quotable, and still able to be taken seriously enough as a full-on horror movie, regardless of how many times you see it, Shaun of the Dead did the horror genre a favor 9 years ago, woke everybody up out of their conventionality, made them work for their laughs and violence, and it hasn’t quite been the same since. Hallelujah!

9.5 / 10 = Full Price!!

Wait, did they steal this scene from Warm Bodies or something?

Wow! Like rip-off Warm Bodies, much?

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Khan or not, it’s still STAR TREK!!! So, shut up!!

The crew of the Enterprise is back! But this time, they are under the guidance of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). Whether or not that’s a good thing, people believe in him and will go about his every word. However, his leadership is put to the test when the Fleet is wiped out by a mysterious enemy (Benedict Cumberbatch). Kirk and his crew don’t back down and instead, lead a manhunt to capture “a one man weapon of mass destruction”.

4 years ago, J.J. Abrams did something that no person in their right mind thought was possible: he made Star Trek cool. Yep, that’s exactly right: the dude who brought us Felicity, brought us the most-accessible, and by far, most entertaining Star Trek movie of the whole franchise. I know I may be making some mortal-enemies with that last statement there, but let the record state that I am not a big Trekkie, have watched the show on numerous occasions  and have seen about three or four films (at least what I can recall anyway). So yeah, I’m not the biggest Trekkie out there in the world, so yeah, maybe my opinion doesn’t matter in terms of what’s the best and what isn’t of the whole franchise, but do you know who’s opinion does matter? The regular, movie-going audience that got hooked with the last one, and can’t wait to see what this one has got going on, that’s who!

And I think it’s quite safe to say that they are going to have a great time with the latest check-up. Or, at least I hope, because I sure as hell know I did.

The odd aspect behind this whole movie it’s that Abrams doesn’t go balls-to-the-walls with changing anything up here. Instead, we get sort of the same formula for the first one, except a bit of a darker tone. However, I don’t want to really say it’s darker just because the stakes of human-life are a bit higher, but I definitely want to say it’s more “emotional” than the first one, which was more happy-go-lucky in the way that it didn’t want to bother people too much. Basically, this movie is just like the first, but do not take that as insult whatsoever, because I loved that about this movie.

I hate to say it, but Shatner never looked THIS stunning while holding a laser gun.

I hate to say it, but Shatner never looked THIS stunning while holding a phaser.

Abrams knows the type of movie he wants to make, and he knows that he’s got to have a little bit of everything for everyone. Yes, even those damn Trekkies get their shout-outs every once and awhile too, and it’s not just the obvious ones neither. There’s a shit-ton of action, some romance, a lot of humor, some sexiness, some drama, and a bunch of scenes that actually may scare you, just by how unexpected they are. But no matter where Abrams takes this movie, it always remains fun in the type of way that you almost feel like you can’t keep up with this movie. It’s sort of like when you’re running, and your friends show up next to you in their hot-ass ride and challenge you to a playful, but somewhat-serious running vs. driving race, and you continue to run your heart out, even though you know at the bottom of your slowly-dying heart you don’t have what it takes to beat the car, let alone even come close to catching up with it. You know what I mean? Kind of? Well, that’s what this flick reminded me of: running-up against my friend’s hot-ass ride.

Don’t get me wrong, neither, because that is nowhere near being a bad thing, especially during the beginning of what seems to be an already-promising Summer. Abrams always gives us something new to view, whether it be some beautiful visuals or something popping-out us in 3D, it doesn’t matter, because it’s always thrilling. In some cases, you could almost say that this movie has too much action, but to that, I’d probably say, “ehh.” The reason I’d say that is because you wouldn’t be wrong with that statement whatsoever, however, I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind their action done when it’s always electric, entertaining, tense, and can keep me as glued to the screen as I was here.

Seriously, even though I know everything’s going to be cool with each and every one of these characters, and whether or not they’re fates will be decided in a gloomy-way by the end, I was still on-the-edge-of-my-seat, just wondering what was going to happen next, to whom, and how the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise was going to feel after all of the tears have been dropped. Okay, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but it was what I was feeling, while I sat all crumbled-up with my large-ass soda and popcorn. I was feeling comfy, cozy, and all easy inside, and then this movie came on and had to ruin everything for a simple man like myself. However, that’s not a negative either. I had fun with this movie, no matter what Abrams decided to throw at the screen and see what stuck, and it just goes to show you that this guy really does have the mastery and the craft to voice a new generation of Star Wars fans for many, many years to come.

Still though: what’s going to happen to his Star Trek franchise? Who knows? Only time will tell on that one, my friends.

"Don't worry, I have all this shit planned out."

“Don’t worry, I have all this shit planned out.”

Just like the first movie, this Star Trek entry may have the explosions, the cool-gadgets, the Klingons, and the fireworks to catch your pretty, little eyes, but in reality: it’s all about the characters and which ones mean the most to each other. Just in case you were questioning whether Spock and Kirk made up, hugged, and got over their differences, no need to worry; because they haven’t. Yup, they still bicker, argue, and trade quips against one another about choosing logicality-over-impulse and it’s as enthralling to watch as it was in the first movie. It never gets old, despite them having a fight about five or six times here, and you always wait to see what layer of this character is going to peeled-off next, so that the other can capitalize on the vulnerability of the other and show their strength. It’s not all serious though, it’s played for fun and games, but there’s something still really strong between these two that obviously keeps them on the same ground, united, and, well, “friends.” Believe it or not, these two are friends, and this movie shows that many-upon-many of times, all of which, are as compelling and heartwarming as the last. No, Kirk and Spock do not start making-out, but if they did, the reaction would have been filled with more claps than boos.

The two cats playing those iconic characters, respectively, Chris Pine and Zachary Qunto, are still amazing at what they do and show that they have fully grown into these characters with much ease and skill. Pine is as brass as he can get as Kirk, but still shows some ounces of humanity every once and awhile that has us feel like the kid is learning as time goes on, and the stakes continue to get higher for him, and his crew. Quinto is also great as Spock, showing just how smart and thought-provoking he can be with what he says, what he stands for, and what he stands against. Quinto has pretty much mastered the hell out of this role by now, and it’s no surprise that once things start getting a little hectic for Spock in the end, Quinto owns it and makes us feel like Spock will, and forever always be: a bad-ass. I mean, after all, I do own this t-shirt, so I think I know when the guy’s bad-ass and when he’s not. Rarely ever is he the latter.

As for the others along for the adventure, not all of them get as much screen-time as they did with the first movie, but still show each of the acquired-skills and how they all come into play with this story, at least once or twice just to remind us that they are there. Zoe Saldana is good as Uhura, as her and Spock’s relationship is once again, tested to see if they really are worth sticking around and getting all hyped-up over, or if they should just focus their attention on space, and shit like that. A bit obvious for a story like this to go down that route, but both stars handle it like professionals and easily make it a relationship worth caring about, even when danger stares both of them in the eyes, even without a blink. And yes, we all know that Alice Eve’s Carol will eventually play a bigger-role in the franchise sooner or later, but for right now, she’s just here for this and this alone. She’s good when she is called on to do something, but that’s very rare when she isn’t just posing in some misogynistic movie-scene. Not a huge feminist by any stretch of the meaning, but I do know when unneeded is exactly that, and that scene was. At least she’s hot, though.

"No need to fear, baby, I got this. Oh, I mean, uhm....don't worry female human-organism, I will conquer this predicament."

“No need to fear, baby, I got this. Oh, I mean, uhm….don’t worry female human-organism, I will conquer this predicament.”

Even though they don’t get as much adoration and love like they did in the first one, everybody else seems to get their one moment in the sun, and milk it for as long as they can. Simon Pegg is a bigger-part in this story, than he was in the last, and has a great time with the role, but isn’t his usual jokey-wokey self. Yes, Pegg’s definitely funny as Scotty, but the guy helps out a bit more with these plans that makes him less of a fool, and more a smarty-pants, that does smarty-things. Karl Urban is a laugh-out-loud riot as Bones, and shows why his comedic-timing is a thing to behold, even in the darkest of situations. I guess it’s still nice to see when the guy isn’t judging drug-addled crooks, the dude’s still got time to patch everyone up. John Cho gets to have his moment to play in the sun and sand as Sulu, but is mainly there to steer the ship when it needs that ripe-steering, and Anton Yelich is barely even here as Chekov, but I think that’s on-purpose for the whole fact that not many people really care for the dude. Chekov, I mean, not Yelchin. Although, I wouldn’t be too sure that the Trekkies don’t have it out for that guy either. Those mofo’s are crazy.

Most of the hooplah surrounding this movie isn’t about whether it’s good or not, or even better than the first; it’s mainly been all around if the main villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, will in fact be Khan or not. Without diving into any more about this character that may land me in some hot lava, I just want to say that the man is great with this role as he always seems to be one step ahead of everybody else on the Enterprise, and does whatever the hell he can to keep his name, his pride, and his destination clear in sight. The guy’s got some real scary eyes that demand your attention, and it works. You never quite feel like this dude’s going to get away with anything he plans, which in it’s own right, doesn’t make all that much sense to begin with, but you don’t care. All you know about this dude is that he’s a baddie, doing baddie things, and not so much as leaving a post-it for saying “sorry.” Yeah, I know, right? What a total dick!

Has to be Khan, right? I don’t know. I’ll leave that one to you, my friends.

Consensus: Regardless as to whether or not it fully fits in line with the die-hard Trekkies or not, Star Trek Into Darkness is one hell of a ride that’s jam-packed with thrills, emotion, humor, beautiful special-effects, and a feeling that this franchise can, and just might go anywhere and it will always be awesome. Let’s just hope that J-squared doesn’t get too wild ‘n out with Star Wars.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

"Don't worry guys, in 2 more years, I will have totally forgotten about all of you."

“Don’t worry guys, in 2 more years, I will have totally forgotten about all of you. But anyway, while we’re at it, CHEEESE!!”

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Ethan Hunt is back once again, and he’s freakin’ cooler than ever.

Tom Cruise stars once again as IMF agent Ethan Hunt who has to go undercover along with his team (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg) to clear his organization’s name after they are implicated in a global terrorist plot.

After a year or so of this movie, coming and going at the theaters, I still feel pretty guilty that I missed out on it. I missed out on it for many reasons, but the main, which one being that I just didn’t really care for the series all that much and didn’t even bother catching up with any of the other movies. As you all have probably been able to see, I’ve reviewed all three and rather enjoyed them all, but none stand anywhere near as close to this one. I’m still pissed I missed out! Damn you my broke ass from last year!

All of the M:I movies seem to have been all about the cool gadgets, the high-tech stuff, the crazy stunts, and the incredible amounts of punishment that Hunt was able to take. All of those factors, are still here, but they are given more class and pizzazz this time around that feels more like James Bond movie, rather than another, useless cash-grab for the audience. In a way, it is gunning for the wallets of moviegoers, but at the same time, it’s still offering us more than what we are used to seeing in action-thrillers of this caliber, and I think that’s all thanks to the one, and the only, Brad Bird.

After making animated-flicks like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Bird took his chances with live-action filmmaking and even though taking a popular-series like this seems awfully risky for a guy who’s never directed humans, up until now, he still over-comes the task of not only allowing us to have a bunch of fun with the material, but do it in a more sophisticated, smarter way that’s easier to believe and understand than most action movies. I know, it’s crazy to actually think a M:I movie would actually have us believe in some of it’s crazy stunts and action, but that’s what Bird does, and he does it oh, so freakin’ well here. But, what’s even crazier is how much fun Bird seems to be having, despite giving this flick a new look and feel that we haven’t ever seen before. Sorry J.J. Abrams, you tried, but the Bird will always fly higher.

Yeah, we all know what you're looking at in this photo. Can't blame you.

Yeah, we all know what you’re looking at in this photo. Can’t blame you.

There’s a couple of stunts and set-pieces that really mess with you and make you realize exactly why you love action movies so much in the first-place, that is, when they are done well and done the right way. The one scene that always sticks through my mind is when Hunt is climbing the walls of that Skyscraper, as if he was Spider-Man himself, and what’s so breath-taking about that sequence is not only how breathtaking it is to see on-screen in such a way that makes you wonder how somebody didn’t slip-off and plummet to their death, but more or less why you are so on the edge of your seat. I mean, think about it: we all know Hunt is going to survive this stunt, we all know he’s going to live, and yes, we all know that he’s going to end-up saving the day and doing all that cool, action-y stuff that we are used to seeing him do, but yet, we are still on-edge as in wondering if this guy is going to end up becoming a splat on the ground below. Seriously, the palms get sweaty, the hairs on your neck come-up, and the tensions get higher and higher, and it just continues on throughout each and almost every scene/sequence that Bird plays around with, and that’s what I missed so much with action movies, let alone, M:I movies.

The amount of effort that Bird puts into this movie and the material is outstanding and I can’t believe that this guy hasn’t done more live-action movies in his career. Hopefully, just hopefully, this will be the one flick that gets his name out-there for all of the major studios to finally take notice of and give a shot, because who knows what other animated directors are out there, just looking to get their notice for being able to direct actual people. Well, I guess we can all forget about Andrew Stanton for now, but hey! That was one time and one time only! Just choose wisely next time.

No matter how much people may hate or criticize his wild and crazy personal-life, when you get right down to it, Tom Cruise is still, and forever always will be a movie star and his fourth-outing here as Ethan Hunt, shows us once again why we all love him to begin with. Make no means about it, Cruise was born to play Ethan Hunt and no matter how lame or strange the past 3 movies have been in terms of plot, characterization, or action, Cruise has always prevailed in being the best of all and always being able to keep us happy and pleasant enough to watch him go around, kick-ass, and always bring out the best one-liners we can imagine in certain situations. Even the fact that Cruise does his own stunts is something to revel at, especially here, where it seems like it would be so much harder for a man who’s pushing 50 to do. However, like always, Cruise proves all of us nay-sayers wrong again and it just makes me hope and wish to see more of him in this role.

Probably the best remake of Vertigo, ever.

Probably the best remake of Vertigo, ever.

The rest of the crew that Hunt works with, all do great jobs as well, especially Jeremy Renner who, with this role and The Bourne Legacy, seems like the perfect guy to take over an action role, when the reigns need to be passed-down. Renner adds a lot of sensibility to this role and not only gets to flex some of his action-muscles every once and awhile, but his comedic-ones as well, and you know what? The guy’s pretty damn funny when you allow him to be. Just another reason why this guy is a total diamond in the rough when it comes to casting. Paula Patton’s role as Jane Carter may be a tad unbelievable  mainly because she’s so young and brass that handing over a top-secret, professional-operation would seem almost too volatile to whoever assigned her, but yet, Patton prevails. Not only is the gal unbelievable sexy beyond belief, but she also gets a chance to kick some ass as well and show the boys a thing or two. Simon Pegg is always fun and nimble to watch as Benji, aka the comic-relief of the movie, but he’s not over-bearing and at least allows a lot of the tense scenes to just calm you down with his jokes. Overall, solid cast that actually gets to take-over the movie, more than Hunt ever does and that’s not so bad considering all of the characters are fun and interesting to watch.

My main gripe with this movie was that despite there actually being a villain, played by Michael Nyqvist, there’s no real-threat that ever seems to stand in the way of our lovable crew. After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s superb job in the last movie, it seems like it would be damn near *ahem* impossible to do anything as good as that, but at least give us the chance to have a villain that at least poses a threat to Hunt and everybody else. Instead, the guy is barely around and even when he does show-up, he doesn’t do shit and most of the time, just gets his ass-kicked. Where’s the real threat in that? It’s also even lamer that the show-down between the two never really occurs and even when it somehow does, it feels almost anti-climactic. Real, real bummer, especially since I can now say that Dougray Scott was probably a better villain than this chump. Does Jon Voight even count? Or Jean Reno for that matter?

Consensus: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the best in the series for many reasons, the main one being that it always keeps you excited, always allows you to have a good time, and never loses your interest for a second, and just goes to show you that Tom Cruise can still make any movie he wants, and have it be as successful or as entertaining as his last one. Long live, Tom. Fuck you, Katie!

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Seriously, who the hell is this guy?!?

Seriously, who the hell is this guy?!?

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Come on Ethan, I thought you didn’t need women.

Super-spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has retired from active duty to train new IMF agents and start a life as a married man with his new squeeze (Michelle Monaghan). But he is called back into action to confront the toughest villain he’s ever faced, named Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an international weapons and information provider with no remorse and no conscience.

If you have seen the first two Mission: Impossible movies, liked them, had a good time with them, and didn’t get bored watching Cruise play cool, then chances are, you are going to like this one, have a good time with it, and not bother one-bit that Cruise is playing cool, once again. Actually, I could just use that one-sentence to sum-up my whole review and be done with it, but since I am a critic and I just spent 2 hours of my life watching this thing, I’m going to take away 5-7 minutes away from your life, just so you can read what I have to say. It’s a sort of domino effect, but trust me, you don’t really have to read this. I’m probably just going to go on and on about Katie Holmes and how right she was. Seriously, take a drink every time I mention her name. The review will be a lot better.

Anywhoo, after highly-stylish directors like Brian De Palma and John Woo took over the last two installments, J.J. Abrams comes up on-board and gives his first-shot at directing a full-length, feature movie. Before this, Abrams was known for creating Alias, Lost, Felicity, and other popular TV-shows that people loved and fan-boys went oogle over, which makes this movie all the more interesting to watch now, considering this is also the same guy that went on and brought Trekkies back to life almost three years ago. It’s great to see a director that obviously loves these old-school action movies, but yet, doesn’t forget to throw some of the newer-stuff in as well to fully get us going and have us feel like we’ve gotten the best of both worlds.

"Felicity's graduated, bitch."

“Felicity’s graduated, bitch.”

Thankfully, that is exactly what Abrams brings to the table here and right from the first-sequence where Hunt and his gal get tied-up and interrogated, you know you are in for a real, real action-treat. Actually, after that scene, the movie doesn’t really ever seem to slow down. We get a bunch of non-stop, tense action-sequences that seem to pull out something new each and every time, and a couple of twists and turns that are sure to have you wondering what’s going to happen next, but in the good way that actually makes sense and not confusing like the first-one. Basically, it was a great choice to bring Abrams along for the ride on this one and it’s obvious that the guy knows how to stage a tense, suspenseful action-scene that will have you gripping your seat, even if you do know how it’s going to end. That’s the sign of a good action director, actually, let alone, director none the less.

However, if you do not like these movies chances are, you’re not going to like this even more. It’s not as stupid as the others, that’s for damn sure, but it definitely feels like a plot-line that wasn’t really thought-out well enough for an action movie of this caliber. For instance, it’s never really brought to my attention what was so bad about this Davian guy in the first-place. Yeah, he’s got weapons and materials of mass-destruction, but I never really saw any of that put to test nor did I really see him actually go to work on any of that whatsoever. I just heard that the guy was bad, realized he was a bit of a dick, and I guess, just assumed that he wasn’t a guy that plays on the good-side. There’s a whole bunch of other problems with this plot that didn’t seem to really make all that much sense to me but in the end, I soon realized that it didn’t matter a lick and all that did matter was watching Ethan Hunt be as cool, as he might as well can be.

Faster than a speeding bullet coming from an Chopper, he's Ethan Hunt dammit.

When you have Scientology on your-side, you can out-run anything. Even speeding bullets.

Once again, Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt like he always does: cool, swift, witty, sneaky, and most of all, smart. Cruise plays this role like no other, has no intentions on leaving, and you know what? I don’t really mind it all that much, either. Yeah, the dude’s getting old and a bit funny-looking in terms of botox but the guy still can play this role in his sleep and have us love him, no matter what crazy shit he does or says in his personal life. At the time of the release of this movie, I know that was a bit hard to get by but to me, it doesn’t make much of a difference now and never really did.

The rest of the cast is pretty solid too, but the one I was really impressed by most of all was Philip Seymour Hoffman as Owen Davian, the main-villain that Hunt is forced to mess with. What makes Davian so different from the others, is the fact that the guy holds no remorse for the things he’s done or is about to do, and plain and simply looks at you in the face, tells you he’s going to put a bullet through it, and says so with no emotion or expressions whatsoever. You really feel like this guy will hold you up on his promise when he’s going to get right down to business and kill you, and that’s why this guy was so freaky to watch and most of all, actually seemed like a legitimate threat to Hunt after all. I will say that his character doesn’t meet the smartest demise of all, but before all of that, Hoffman is electric, fun, and very sinister to watch, in a way that makes me wish he played more villainous-type roles. In a way, I guess he does but oh well, doesn’t matter because the guy can act.

I thought I said no girls, Ethan!

I thought I said no girls, Ethan!

The only one in this cast who really stuck-out like a sore-thumb and seemed to bring everything down was Michelle Monaghan as Hunt’s new lady-friend, Julia. I don’t know if it was Monaghan’s acting, her writing, or just the shoddy-development for her character, but I didn’t give a crap that she was there, why she was there, or what really even was going to happen to her in the end. Abrams tries very hard to throw at us that Hunt is not only doing this mission for the safety of country, but the safety of his heart as well and as appealing and relateable as that may be for some audience-members watching, I for one, didn’t really buy it and give a single-crap whatsoever. If you want to know why, just go on back to my M:I-2 review and you’ll see why I don’t think Hunt should play around with gals. That is it.

Consensus: Mission: Impossible III is probably the best of the whole series because of it’s electric-direction from Abrams, tense action-sequences that never seem to end, and fun-loving spirit for both old, and new action-movies of the world and makes you feel like this is a series that will never run out of a steam, just as long as they stay fresh with new-directors coming on-board and keep Cruise in-line. Oh yeah, by the way, Katie Holmes. Drink up, people!

8/10=Matinee!!

"Employ me again, Tom. Please?

“Employ me again, Tom. Please?

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Land of the Dead (2005)

Yes, zombies are still freaky even if you can get away from them just by speed-walking.

A new society has been built by a handful of enterprising, ruthless opportunists who live in the towers of a skyscraper, high above the hard-scrabble existence on the streets below. But outside the city walls, an army of the dead is evolving. Inside, anarchy is on the rise and the zombies are about to take over.

In case you have been living under a rock since 1968, or just don’t know that much about horror films, George A. Romero is usually the only guy you can associate with zombies. The guy loves them, treats them with care, and always has the best things to say about them, even if they are only chomping people alive the whole time. However, it’s seems a bit strange that Romero would actually even be needed in today’s day and age of “the fast zombie”, but rest assured, this guy proves us wrong once again and shows us exactly why he and “the slow zombie” are always needed for the horror genre.

Romero, no matter what he’s working with, always has a ball with his stories and that’s abundantly clear in this flick. In my opinion, the film did take a bit too slow to start-up, but once it got moving, damn, did it ever get moving! Even though he keeps his zombies slow and stupid, Romero still shows that he is able to change with the times in a way and give us the blood, gore, and guts we need to be fully-satisfied with a Romero zombie-flick, and even though not all of the effects here are done naturally, they still look very, very good and will have plenty people probably going, “ewwwwww”. That’s what’s awesome about Romero flicks is how every movie always stacks-up on the action and gore, no matter how much of it is in good-taste or not because when you’re dealing with horror, there really isn’t anything that’s in good taste. It’s either in bad-taste or bad-taste. Yes, they are two different things.

However, no Romero flick would be complete with some ample observations about the world he sees through his own four-eyes, and it still works in 21st Century. Romero gets away with his social-satire a lot in by showing us how our culture and society, is a man-eat-man world where it’s all about who’s the bigger dog on-top, as apposed to who’s the guy that can fight the longest and put the most heart in. This satire isn’t as witty or subtle as some of his other flicks, but it’s still used here to good-effect and also allows Romero to have a bunch of fun with his humorous side as well. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be able to look a belly button stud the same way again.

The problem with Romero, and where most of his films seem to fail in, are actually having scripts that make you want to hear these people talk regardless of how fun and wild the action is. That’s exactly the case we get here as almost everybody in this flick talks as if they just came out of 4th-grade and all want to sound tough and cool while the zombies are attacking. Seriously, some lines just made me laugh my ass off and others made me roll my eyes just by how hard they tried to actually be funny. The one character that annoyed me despite his simple character conventions, was Robert Joy as Charlie. Right from the start when this guy shows up, you know Romero’s going to try his damn near hardest to make him the comedic-relief that always cracks us up in the most serious of times, but in reality, just annoys the hell out of us and sort of makes us wish he would just get eaten-up already. Once you see the character for yourself, you’ll realize I’m a dick but everything that came out of this guy’s mouth bothered me and I just wanted him away with.

As for everybody else, well, they’re all pretty lame too. Simon Baker under-plays his role as our hero, Riley, and just seemed a bit too detached for me to even care about him one-bit. Also, the guy gets all of these hit-TV shows but never really shows me exactly what he’s got to offer when it comes to the big, dramatic moments. Maybe there are some Simon Baker fans out there who can prove me wrong, but for now, I still remain unimpressed by what this guy’s got to show-off. Asia Argento is smokin’ hot as the bad-girl, Slack, and probably would have had me hate her if it wasn’t for her extremely good-looks that caught my eye just about every time. She’s nothing special either, in terms of acting, but damn does she look good.

The only two cast-members in this film worth recommending are the only two that seem like they actually give a shit about this junky-script. Dennis Hopper seems like he is having an absolute ball as the rich, wealthy, and highly-corrupt piece trash known as Kaufman, and you know what, so was I. Hopper has always been a favorite of mine and he can portray “oily” unlike anybody else and it’s still a shame that the guy isn’t with us today because he could still be bringing out a-hole roles like this nowadays. Then, there’s John Leguizamo who plays Cholo, and has the most energy out of everybody here. Leguizamo, no matter what crap he does, (and oh trust me, there’s a lot of crap he does) always seems like he’s on-fire and can’t be put-out. That’s exactly what we have here with him as Cholo, a guy that’s mean and despicable, but also pretty cool to watch in how he keeps his word with everything and kills those others who don’t keep theirs. Once again, nice showcase for two performers that always give 110% with every role they have, it’s just a shame that their talents are sort of wasted on a crap-script like this. No offense George, you’re still the man.

Consensus: Land of the Dead may not be anything new or original when it comes to the zombie-genre, but still features George Romero in top-form playing around with the zombies he loves by giving us all the blood, guts, gore, action, and chills that we need to fully be satisfied this Halloween season.

7/10=Rental!!

Hot Fuzz (2007)

Made me really want to watch ‘Bad Boys II’. I never want to feel like that again.

Police Constable, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is good at his job, so good in fact, he makes everyone else look bad. As a result, his superiors at the Met have decided to sweep him under the carpet. So it is that London’s top cop finds himself in the sleepy West Country village of Sandford, where everything is a little too nice…

That synopsis doesn’t sound like anything too special but trust me, when you have the creative minds of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg working together, special is what you get.

The film is an obvious homage to all of the fun-loving buddy cop films of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today, but it also seems like it has a lot of love for the genre too. What’s so funny about this movie is that almost every scene features something goofy going on whether it’s a slight visual gag, recurring joke that seems to pop up everywhere, and in-jokes that will test your movie geekdom to it’s full limits. You’ll hear somebody utter a phrase or line-for-line dialogue from another flick or you’ll even see a scene from another recreated here and if you don’t get it right away, it’s not that funny, but if you do get it (like I did), you’ll be laughing your ass off the whole time. What was also rare about this comedy was that almost every jokes stays here in this flick and somehow finds it way of popping up later on in the flick and tying altogether with the plot.

Everybody knows how a cop movie goes but this film loves to toy around with that idea and just make it even more fun to actually watch them. Of course they mess around with the cliches and conventions that usually come with these types of films but it’s not all about that, these guys really do love these films and show how much fun they can be even if they are referring to such “classics” as ‘Point Break’ or ‘Bad Boys II’. If you don’t get the joke with that last statement then this surely is not the film for you. Then again though, a lot of this humor is very British in its own way, which I usually don’t understand but other times I do and laugh my ass off at so it’s sort of strange with me.

My only problem with this flick is that when the action comes around here, and it does come around big-time, they over-do the whole “shaky cam” element a little too much. I get that this flick was obviously trying to make a little joke about the constant zooming in-and-out and the shakiness of the action movie cameras, but the action would have been so much better if they didn’t feel the need to resort to this and just give me a head-ache. It’s a minor complaint but a complaint none the less.

Simon Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, but not in a Simon Pegg-ish way though, he’s actually very much the straight guy and let’s everybody else do the humor which was a very smart idea. Pegg does have an occasional few moments where he lets loose just a bit but he’s not the usual, cheeky guy we all know and love him for in other flicks. He may not be the easiest to like here but that provides a lot of love for Nick Frost as his likable cop-buddy, Danny. Frost is such a joy to watch here and brings home the laughs just about every opportunity he gets and the chemistry between the both of them are always great no matter what flick they’re in and that’s no different here. These guys are pure comic gold when they are with each other no matter what it is that they do and I hope they never stop at it either.

The rest of the cast is also a lot of fun and features a lot of familiar faces playing against type. Former 007 Timothy Dalton was absolutely hilarious as the dude who owns the local supermarket, and drops down the lamest but funniest puns I’ve ever heard considering they go so well with everything else that’s going on here; Jim Broadbent is very goofy, as he should be with his performance here as the Sandford’s chief of police; and there are so many others here that make this flick work and I honestly don’t want to spoil them but you’ll see what I’m talking about once they pop-up.

Consensus: Hot Fuzz is a lovable, entertaining, and very funny homage to the buddy-cop genre with plenty of in-jokes and hilarious performances and cameos that will just make the film better and more impressive as it goes along.

9/10=Full Price!!

Star Trek (2009)

Just when I thought ‘Star Wars’ was so much better, J.J. Abrams has to just make me reconsider.

The film follows James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) aboard the USS Enterprise as they combat Nero (Eric Bana), a Romulan from their future who threatens the United Federation of Planets. The story takes place in an alternate reality due to time travel by both Nero and the original Spock (Leonard Nimoy).

The one thing that J.J. Abrams does perfectly here is that he takes everything that every Trekkie knows and love and doesn’t ignore it and act like it never happened, instead, he’s spiced it up with extra energy on everything across the board like action, story, mythology, special effects, and basically everything else you need in a film. Basically, J.J. Abrams is going to be the next George Lucas and hopefully that’s said with more praise rather than negativity, considering Lucas hasn’t been the most reliable sci-fi director in the past 13 years.

This is definitely one of the films in recent memory that has made me actually want to go out and be a kid again. Abrams injects this flick with a great deal of fun and energy to the point of where almost every single scene is as entertaining as the last. The constant space-ship shoot-outs, the hand-to-hand combat brawls, and the blowing up of just about everything in sight gives this film that epic feel of a thrill-ride that is sure to please just about anyone. So if you’re a Trekkie, a person who hates being called a Trekkie, a person who thinks that ‘Star Trek’ is a poor man’s version of ‘Star Wars’ (I can easily say that I’m one of them), or just a person who appreciates a good old sci-fi/action flick, this film will definitely entertain the hell out of you as it did for me.

It also helps that the special effects are by far some of the best I have seen in the past couple of years. The film is constantly moving around all-over-the-place but there are moments where this flick just stops and lets us sit back and look at these beautiful, CGI images of space, the space-ships themselves, or just what a planet looks like from space itself. There are even scenes where there’s a free-fall from space and it just looks damn near gorgeous but also make you hold your breath considering how real and stunning it looks.

Where this film also works is its script because it can handle just about everything perfectly. The fact that the writers didn’t want to offend any Trekkies out there is something definitely worth noting. It doesn’t just ignore the events of the first 10 films and almost pretend as if they never happened or start from scratch like that, it actually acknowledges them and say that they happened in an alternate time-line. Which in a way is restarting its series but also continuing it and giving them the right to do whatever the hell it is that they want with this material. Definitely the right way to give the series a reboot because it doesn’t offend anybody and doesn’t confuse anybody either.

There is a lot of humor here that works well and doesn’t feel shoe-horned one bit like many action-action flicks try to do. There’s plenty of funny scenes and moments such as a moment where Bones keeps injecting Kirk and he has an allergic reaction to it, a moment where Chekov messes around with the voice recognition computer, any plenty of moments of endless rejections of Kirk by Uhura, and just so many many more scenes that actually had me laughing my ass off and it didn’t feel like it was trying too hard by any means. There are also a lot of other emotional moments as well that will probably bring any real Trekkie to tears. Before the opening credits even pop-up, we are treated to an awesome space-fight where Kirk’s mother gives birth to him and his father is killed in a space crash. I don’t want to say that this made me close to crying but it is definitely a scene that feels genuine and starts off the film perfectly.

My only gripe with this flick was that the villains for this story felt terribly lame. These Romulan people have these Mike Tyson face-tattoos happening and looked like a bunch of angry cave-men. They are always grumpy and totally unforgettable and uninteresting but then again the film is really trying to just give us villains that will make this film work and no matter what, we all know what’s going to happen at the end so who cares really. It’s just a shame that they have a good actor like Eric Bana playing a role where he practically yells and hollers about something new the whole time.

I was also very impressed by how perfectly Abrams handled this ensemble cast as well. Chris Pine references but doesn’t do a parody of William Shatner but brings a lot of swagger, cockiness, sarcasm, and boyishness to the role instead. It’s a very fine line and he struts right down it and makes this one of the better leads for a sci-fi flick I have seen in a pretty long time. Zachary Quinto is also seamless as Spock, channeling Leonard Nimoy (who also appears in the flick as well), channeling both his logical side of things as well as human side to perfection. It’s definitely a great role for both of these guys considering the flick is basically counting on them to give more than just impersonations and it’s something they handle perfectly.

It was also great to see every other character here do a great job and get a chance to have their own moments as well. John Cho is good as Sulu and kicks some ass in a sword fight; Anton Yelchin is funny channeling his inner Russian, while saving the day with his math skills as Chekov; Karl Urban steals almost every scene he’s in as Bones, and just lets the comedic timing; Simon Pegg is also hilarious in a lot of his scenes as the quirky engineering genius, Montgomery Scott; and Zoe Saldana gets to strut her stuff every once and awhile as Uhura. There are so many other little performances here given by stars that you have seen somewhere else but this main ensemble is what really makes this flick work as well.

Consensus: Star Trek is a perfect reboot of the series with exciting action, humor, great performances from everybody involved, impressive special effects, and a fun-loving spirit that will not only entertain and be loved by Trekkies, but also will bring in others who aren’t that familiar with the material already.

9/10=Full Price!!

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

Apparently Tintin is famous everywhere else except for America.

Starring Jamie Bell as Tintin, the intrepid young reporter whose relentless pursuit of a good story thrusts him into a world of high adventure teamed with his little dog Snowy, and Daniel Craig as the nefarious Red Rackham.

I have never read any of the graphic novels that this film is based off of and going into this, I wasn’t expecting much considering motion-capture is just simply freaky and having Peter Jackson and Steve Spielberg giving it a go, doesn’t really make me feel safe about it either. However, I just looked at it like a young Indiana Jones with dead eyes.

Where this film really benefits from is the screenplay written by Steve Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish. With the script, you get a lot of mystery to keep your attention on the little details, the humor that will actually having you chuckling more than expected, and plenty of interesting motivations that really keeps the viewers interested in the plot even when it seems to dive into some real familiar territory that we have kind of all seen before, especially from Spielberg.

This film also benefits from the fact that Spielberg starts this films pace at a high of 11 and never lets loose once. The whole film you have hotels moving, guns shooting, fist-fights, pirate ships running into each other, Snowy moving from one vehicle to another, and just so many other exciting and fun things going on here that it’s actually a lot of fun. We get a lot of really fun action sequences that keep the plot moving and never stop as the camera constantly moves around each setting. This reminds me of what the 4th Indiana Jones film should have been like, if it weren’t for those damn aliens that George Lucas put in. That asshole.

The problem with this frenetic feel that Spielberg gives this flick is the fact that it is almost way too highly-energized and it feels as if Spielberg was just doing this to get away from the fact that the story itself is a little uneven. We never actually get a chance to rest and understand what is exactly going on with this plot, because every time they show us one clue, one crazy action sequence will just come by and follow it. Hey, I’m not against a film that just wants to be fun but what I do get annoyed by is when we never get a chance to just relax while watching it.

One of the other main problems that the flick runs into though is the fact that motion-capture still does not work for me. It isn’t quite on-par with certain films like ‘Avatar’ or ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and the film tries so hard to be just those epics, but instead comes off as a long video-game sequence that I would find in ‘Drake’s Fortune’ or even ‘GTA’ games for that matter. I also never understood why there were some characters in this flick that tried to look like real people, while there were others who looked exactly like a cartoon. I mean it is based on a graphic novel, so I can definitely see why they would have cartoonish-looking characters here but what I never could fully grasp was why they didn’t do that for every character in this flick.

This is what leads onto my next biggest problem and that was Tintin himself. I have never really read any of the graphic novels in the first place so I was kind of depending on Spielberg to give me a really cool look at this character, but I could never really stand behind this kid considering there was nothing ever spectacular about him when it came to how he looked and how he acted. Tintin’s face looks very flat, with his cheeks looking like he’s a big baby and he doesn’t really have the round noses that all of the cartoonish characters have either. The film really tries hard to make Tintin look like a real person which makes him stand-out as terribly creepy and just plain dull looking. Jamie Bell is also very good in the things that I have seen him in but he just doesn’t have the physical presence to get us by this problem or even really get us to stand behind Tintin. Thankfully though, Tintin had his dog Snowy to steal just about every scene. With this film and ‘Beginners’, it’s been a pretty good year for movie dogs.

The one character in this flick that I could get behind was Captain Haddock, played by the always great Andy Serkis. When we meet Haddock he’s a lot of fun, cracking one-liners left-and-right, and Serkis just always seems to be having a ball with this role considering he pretty much owns motion-capture performances. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost aren’t in this film as much playing Interpol agents Thompson and Thompson, but they are still a lot of fun every time and Daniel Craig is a pretty mean son-of-a-bitch as our main baddy, Ivanovich Sakharine.

Consensus: The Adventures of Tintin still seems weird with the motion-capture animation and constantly moving plot, but where this film makes up for that is in its script that is full of mystery and humor, and a Spielberg direction that calls back his old Indiana Jones days that still works all of these years later.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Paul (2011)

I hope that if aliens do exist, that there more like this dude.

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg star as two science-fiction freaks who, while on a quest to discover what lies at the heart of Nevada’s infamous Area 51, cross paths with an alien (voice of Seth Rogen) on the run from earthly authorities.

Looking at a cast like this, a premise like this, and a director like this, you would be expecting the funniest thing in years. However, it’s just pretty funny.

The screenplay that was written by Frost and Pegg has some good moments of humor that aren’t what I was expecting from these two, but that isn’t such a bad thing. The comedy is more broad for an American comedy, rather than the smart wit and cleverness of some of the British comedies that these two have been a part of.

My problem with this film was that it wasn’t funny enough, and I think the main reason why that is, is because of the non-stop sci-fi references. Maybe for me, since I’m not a huge science fiction dude, I didn’t get a lot of the references that they were using here, but at the same time they put way too many jokes to a certain crowd and almost abandon everybody else who isn’t familiar with these references. They seem to also be satirizing geek culture with this film, and although it can be cute at some times, it just doesn’t seem all that fun if you don’t get what their saying. Also, the film isn’t as daring with it’s jokes like I was expecting, because there are times where this does get a little bit predictable, and I just wish I had more times where I laughed my ass off, instead of a chuckle here and there.

Director Greg Mottola is a good director for this work because he does a great job of blending comedy, action, and a tad bit of sweetness to the story that actually works and doesn’t come off as fake at all. This isn’t like Superbad where all three worked so well, but for the most part he does a good job of keeping us watching and being entertained.

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as you could already tell, do well together. They have that great buddy chemistry going on well and has us believe them as these two sci-fi geeks. What really stands out in Paul is, well, Paul. Seth Rogen is fantastic here as Paul, because he’s not really doing anything different, he’s just playing Seth Rogen, and Seth Rogen always has me laughing. I didn’t look at Paul and see a piece of CGI like I often do, but as a real character. From a technology standpoint, the mo-cap is obviously not as groundbreaking or impressive as Avatar, but Rogen made the character convincing without any of that fancy expensive shit.

There are also others in this impressive cast that do amazing especially Kristen Wiig, who plays Ruth, the little Christian. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to see a hardcore Christian have their faith destroyed and Wiig makes it all the more funny. Jason Bateman is alright as Agent Zoil, even though he’s not really doing anything funny. Sigourney Weaver is bad-ass as The Big Guy, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio work perfectly as the two cops that can never do anything right, and Blythe Danner does a good job as well.

Consensus: People may not understand many of the many science fiction references that inhabit this film, but they still will get a chuckle out of this sweet, and funny screenplay, with a great cast. However, you do feel that it could have been better given the talent involved.

7/10=Rental!!