Friday, May 30, 2014

Quick Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past


I love the X-Men movies. They're probably my favorite superhero franchise. I love how it's less villain-based and more of an "us against them" theme, which in turn creates and drives the inner conflicts within the mutant world.  And this new installment is far from the exception. It was awesome--the special fx, the set pieces, the consistent pace, and the unique formula and storytelling. You can't really go wrong with time travel films because it's in their nature to not be formulaic.

However, unlike every other time travel movie where the character who travels back in time is the one who is developing throughout the course of events, that character in this film (Wolverine) is the only one NOT developing. I know that in the nature of the film it's "not important" that he develops, but I'd like to think that on a macro scale it is important. And as for the characters that DO develop, it doesn't even really matter (with maybe the exception of Mystique) because we've seen it all before. In fact, they spend several films arcing these characters into who they are before this movie. The actions in this film are just serving the plot--not the characters within it--since they all would have turned out fine anyway. I sure know that the audience didn't need to see Professor X and Magneto become who we've already seen them become. The filmmakers just relied on the character depth that they had already developed in the previous films. I'm not saying that Wolverine going back in time wasn't important, because it was necessary for the future of the mutant world. All I'm trying to say is that this plot didn't serve well for the progression of any of the characters within the movie because we've already seen where they end up and it's not too bad. Don't get me wrong, the characters definitely give you the ability to feel for them, it's just that in the long run, what about their character is at stake? But I guess we will see what happens with the future of this franchise and where they decide to go with it. You can't just help feeling that the conclusions of all the past X-Men films now become void and obsolete.

Now, although the plot is self-serving, it's still very entertaining and fairly original. I'm just saying that pretty much 100% of the issues in this film lie directly in it's inability to further its character's depths past where we've already seen them. We are simply just getting an origin to a story that we are unsure of now. 

Twizard Rating: 93

Monday, May 26, 2014

Quick Movie Review: The Bling Ring


This is a film about the rich stealing from the rich. There is a lot of social commentary expressed in the details of this movie. It parallels these kids aspiring to live the lives of celebrities and needing to have it all. Chasing something that they don't have and never realizing that it's still not there--even though the audience does. And the lack of privacy in the celebrities lives is how they end up being so "good" at burglarizing their homes, but it's that lack of privacy which ultimately does them in at the end. 

There was depth in these characters as a group through the nature of the story, however I found myself wanting a little more focus on their individual development rather than focusing too much on what it's trying to say about our culture. Although, maybe this lack of depth streamlines the point of the film even better. And either way, this is the decision of the filmmaker and maybe that was the route that she wanted to take. But even still, it could have used just a little more critique of the rich and famous lifestyle than it gives because it finds itself teetering at times.

Although the script wasn't all that great and there wasn't a whole lot of meat, the way the plot developed was unique. It's not quite the Social Network/Spring Breakers mashup that it strives to be, but it does tell the story well. And Coppola's direction isn't perfect, but I do like how she allows the actors to have a very natural free-flowing behavior as they interact with each other. 

Overall, this isn't really my taste tone-wise, but I did really enjoy the story that was told and the statements that it made

Twizard Rating: 74

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Godzilla (2014)


As much character depth as they tried to display in the beginning, it's mostly gone once Ford's father (Cranston) dies and we begin to even forget that. Towards the end i stop being attached to whether or not Ford makes it back to his family as the film doesn't really become about that anymore. My girlfriend said that she didn't even feel like crying and "it doesn't take a lot to make me cry in a movie." There wasn't a whole lot of development. The script was fine, as was its execution. However, at the end I felt like they could have really milked the moment where Godzilla gets up and walks back into the ocean by having everyone in the stadium cheer for him finally recognizing that he is not a monster but a hero. I mean, it gave me goosebumps, but I just wanted a tad bit more. The film felt stretched a little bit thin at parts, but I didn't feel too crammed with overly scientific banter.

The acting was great, but the highlight of this film is the title character--as it should be. And surprisingly he's the one that you actually get attached to the most. 

But if you're looking for amazing effects then this is your movie. It was really spectacular. Some of the coolest that you will ever see. 

Overall, the film was fun and exciting, and I might be a tad bit biased because it takes place in the Bay Area, where I'm from. We don't get a whole lot of disaster films that feature us as the main city.

Twizard Rating: 85

Quick Movie Review: Brick Mansions


It's another movie where the bad guys suck at shooting the good guys, but only when it's convenient. Paul Walker is a great on-screen presence as always, and although never the greatest actor, he still brings a warmth and charisma to everything that he's in and makes his films that much more enjoyable. 

This film has a clever and interesting story with a good twist, and it's haunting seeing Walker on screen for the first time since his tragic death, but the script is absolutely terrible! So is the acting! And the directing! Also, the storytelling is a little sloppy. Don't get me wrong, this is a likable film, but it's saying a lot when Paul Walker and RZA are your best acting talents. It's obvious that they casted David Belle as Lino simply for his amazing stunts so that they didn't need to carefully edit around a stunt double. 

Why didn't they just give them a bomb that would blow up to begin with instead of having to go through this whole process. They didn't make you hate the government enough until towards the end--in fact, I forgot that they even existed throughout most of the film. I wish they had given a little more background as to how the brick mansions became such a crime filled area. And at the end Tremaine was saying that he would never have killed a cop and that he's a good guy--but are we forgetting that this guy killed one of his own men in cold blood and almost knifed another one of his men for no reason?? 

However, the thing that this film does the most right is that it never ever takes itself too seriously. 

Overall, it's definitely an entertaining experience, although unintentionally laughable on many occasions. But I would definitely watch it again.

Twizard Rating: 65

Quick Movie Review: Observe and Report


This movie definitely has its moments. Although the tone was very inconsistent throughout--sometimes even annoyingly. It has a lot of moments where it gets deep and meaningful, but it is also tries to be too irreverent by forcing jokes that are easy, but not necessarily warranted. The film is a borderline dark comedy. I'm not sure if that's what the filmmakers were going for, but they somewhat succeeded. However, there are too many off-the-wall jokes (a la Happy Madison) that keep pulling it away from that consistency which would make it a solid dark comedy. The kind that requires an acquired taste. It's not easy to love like Bad Santa. The 3rd act is actually brilliant though. It really makes you forget that the first 2 acts were all over the place. Probably because now it doesn't even seem like they set that much story up to begin with.

It's a good character study but Ronnie is a bit challenging to relate and warm up to at first. Seth Rogen was great. It was a bit of a different character than he's ever played before, and also one of the deepest. Although the other characters aren't quite as deep, it's alright because they aren't really the main focus. I wish we could've seen more of Aziz Ansari's character though. And a follow-up with the gang that Ronnie beat up after he got ditched by the cop.

Also, it has a killer soundtrack!

Twizard Rating: 73

Quick Movie Review: Neighbors


In general, there are two types of comedy films: unrealistic over-the-top ones, such as Anchorman or 21 Jump Street, and realistic ones, such as Animal House or The Hangover. Maybe in the realistic ones there will be a character or two who is, in fact, over-the-top, but in a unique way that is creative in respect to the film itself (e.g. Alan in The Hangover). However, Neighbors couldn't quite figure out which one it wanted to be. Here you are presented with a realistic premise but when necessary for the continuation of the plot, they sprinkle in some unrealistic characters and situations, as though straddling the fence between the two movies that they wanted to create.

Situation #1: The entire film is based on a plot hole. Teddy (the frat dude) makes Mac (the neighbor) promise that if he has a problem with the noise that he will call him first before calling the police. Teddy says that he values promises very highly--especially in his newfound friendship with Mac. So the next night when the frat house is having a party for the 2nd night in a row, Mac calls Teddy 10 times (although later he says 5) but Teddy is doesn't pick up the phone. They can't take it any longer so they finally call the police. The officer comes and then rats out Mac for calling him. Then Teddy goes over there with the officer and Mac tells him that he called him 5 times but he didn't answer. Teddy ignores this and proceeds to get upset and tells Mac that he broke a promise and that he is going to pay the consequence. Mac--who seems like a very aware and pedantic guy--doesn't even attempt to explain to Teddy that, in fact, he did not break any promise--if anything, he KEPT his promise. The entire rest of the film stems from this "breaking of the promise". 

Situation #2: The police officer lets the fraternity off the hook because of the fact that the complaint came from a guy (Mac) who partied with them before. So it's okay that there is loud noise on a work night in a residential neighborhood because the guy who complained has partied before??

Situation #3: The dean of the college uses every faulty argument you could think of when Mac and Kelly go to her to complain about the fraternity after their baby daughter put a condom in her mouth on their front lawn. She explains that there is a 3 strike policy when it comes to the frats and that the frat would have to do something "headline worthy" in order to earn them another strike. She also states that there should be a headline talking about how they are neglecting parents for "letting" their daughter put a condom in her mouth. It's not like they just let it happen. They're not expecting her to find that on their own front lawn. And they ran after her and got it as soon as they realized what it was...Also, at this point, the fraternity has extremely vandalized Mac and Kelly's home, and proceed to do so very illegally throughout the rest of the film. 

Scenario #4: How in the world is it possible that Mac and Kelly are the only neighbors that are filing noise complaints and are having problems with the fraternity. They are having parties every night! Sure, they are "buying out" their neighbors with gifts and favors or whatever, but no matter how many favors and gifts you give someone they are going to get annoyed if they are kept up every night because of excessive loud noise and partying.

Scenario #5: How in the world is Teddy even allowed to be in a frat--let alone the president. He says that his GPA is in the high 1s. That's barely enough to even keep you in school.

Although the pranks are pretty clever, the equality in the back-and-forth makes for a frustrating viewing because you really only want one side to win. Seth Rogen is the only main actor who is not completely annoying. I guess Franco is alright--he's not annoying, but he's also just not really that funny either. Rose Byrne is annoying and tries too hard and Efron plays douchey way too well. 

It has some decent bits, but even the jokes that are funny are hard to laugh at a lot of times because of everything else that is happening, and you become so mad at the antagonists that everything they do is just annoying and frustrating as if you hate them in real life.

The only other things that this film has going for it are the decent character development across the board and a thoughtful theme of growing up. However, these things are going to be overlooked by most of the people seeing it because everything else is way too distracting.

I wanted to like this film, but there really is no hope for me.

Twizard Rating: 54

Quick Movie Review: Draft Day


I feel like it would be tough to do a film about professional sports. It's like--who do you include? who do you leave out? Do we create a whole new league? It's tough because the people that follow these sports are fanatics. People who know the players, coaches, and personnel inside and out. These are the people that you have to trick into believing that these new made up players and coaches and owners are real for 2 hours. They know they're not real. These people are also your target market. I like what this film did by creating an alternate universe where the league and all of the teams in it are the same--even most of the history. What they DID change, however, is the names of everyone in the modern version of this reality. As though in the past couple years, this new film universe version of the league came to be. It provided a platform for the filmmakers to pretty much create and manipulate any stories and scenarios that they please. So as far as the target market goes--I think that they will be less annoyed and more excited about the upcoming draft and season.

It has an interesting style to it. The cuts and split-screens are effective for the fast-paced on-the-clock movie that it is. It helps create the urgency even when the urgency isn't really there. Although at times it makes if feel as if too much is going on with the narrative. 

The script also begs some questions such as why couldn't they have just traded for other first round picks for their future years. I mean, if the team is that bad, then they must have SOME players that they can use or combine to get more first round picks. However, I do like how the romantic subplot was delicately sprinkled in at the right times with the right amount of frequency.

I definitely liked this film--didn't love it per se, but liked it a lot. It may be predictable, but it's also surprisingly suspenseful. It has a fairly high redeeming value. 

Twizard Rating 83

Quick Movie Review: Noah (2014)


Awesome movie! Someone on here said that it had a weak 3rd act, but I totally disagree. I actually thought that the 3rd act is where we saw the most character development. We saw some of them making tough decisions for the sake of all of mankind, and others realized that although God may give you signs to complete a humungous task, He also leaves most decisions up to us--even the biggest of decisions.

It's probably one of the most thought-provoking blockbusters you will ever see. It makes you think hard about priorities in life. And although showing God's anger for us as a human race, it also displays His compassion and mercy towards us as humans whom He created in His own image. This film does so many things right and not that many things wrong, so I feel like the only way that someone would give it a a bad review is if it just rubbed them the wrong way.

Twizard Rating: 98

Quick Movie Review: The Other Woman


Throughout the setup of this film I thought I was going to completely hate it. I wasn't laughing at all and I was actually becoming annoyed with the characters--especially Nicki Minaj's. But it wasn't until Leslie Mann gets involved when it turns this stupid premise into a laughable movie. I've never been sure of how I felt about her, but her typical self-pitying character actually worked in this one, and I think she was at her career best with her role in this film. She was just hilarious. If it wasn't for her, I would have hated this movie. The jokes shouldn't even be all that funny, but her timing and wit make every gag that much better. You don't realize what she brings to a film until you see one where everything around seems to be caving except for her.

It's completely predictable and totally ridiculous--especially Mark's fit-throwing at the end--but if you bear with it for about 25 minutes it will become watchable from there on out. It could have taken a messy turn and become one of those films where three women all fight over the same man and then we're supposed to laugh at the great distances they go to in order to ruin the other woman. Instead, it showed how a terribly bad thing for 2 people can become something great for both of them mutually. 

Comedy wise, the jokes are not ridiculously clever or even memorable for the most part. Most of the things they did to "get back" at Mark could have been a bit more original. It's a true case of how solid delivery can make you blind to how unfunny something is. But in the meantime, at least you can enjoy some good delivery. With that said, I can clearly understand why people either loved or hated this film.

Twizard Rating: 74

Quick Movie Review: Rio 2


I really don't like when films are like this. You know the type--when it's all against one and everyone is opposing the main character. Kinda like Meet the Parents--except the humor in that film was way too good for it to matter, and the ending was so conclusive that it was worth the trouble. In THIS movie, the ending is all but heartwarming and it's definitely not worth all the trouble. I mean, when it gets to the point where even his wife takes everyone else's side it just makes you genuinely mad and frustrated, and it makes the film painful to watch. 

The script is below average and there are way too many subplots. The wife's attitude towards everything that's happening is too wishy washy and inconsistent. Nigel's scenes are too few and far between, as he is hands down the highlight of this movie. All of the scenes that are funny are the ones with him in it--which in itself would make me not completely against watching this movie again. Also, the songs are really fun.

Overall, there may be a nice message, but it just doesn't have the same originality that the first one had. Kids will love it because of the attractive visuals and colorful characters, but parents will mostly be bored with the exception of the toe-tapping music. 

Twizard Rating: 65

Quick Movie Review: Heaven Is For Real



I have not read the book itself, but I do wonder if there were as many people in the church that were against Colton's claims than what was depicted in this film. I agree that the opposition could have been a little more threatening, but this film wasn't really about that. The acting was great, though the script was pretty average. I thought that it was a little low quality in the editing, cinematography and sound areas. And I also agree that the film may have been more effective if the Heaven scenes were not shown...although, if they didn't show it, it would have left me curious as to what they would have made it look like. Along with that, there are some very unique themes throughout this film and some great character development.

Greg Kinnear is amazing as usual--along with his supporting cast. Honestly the smartest thing that the producers of this film did was to get Kinnear and Thomas Hayden Church on board. It immediately gives it credit as more than just a overly-biased Christian movie that people prejudge before seeing it. The boy who plays Colton is adorable. 

Twizard Rating: 85

Quick Movie Review: Stealing Harvard


I know most people hate this film, and I suppose I can see why. However, I personally liked it a lot. Although there's not much reason for the story and it is just a mashup of a bunch of funny ideas that are put into scenes, it actually has some really good bits. There are tons of quotables and running jokes in this one too. 

The humor in this film is found in the little things. Duff's mom, Elaine's gift baskets, Uncle Jack, John's lawyer, the non-sensical jokes. For a 13 year old boy this movie is gold, and for an avid moviegoer this film seems dumb and pointless. Well, it's definitely dumb and pointless, but that's the point. You might have to watch it a 2nd time to really understand it. I've seen this film 4 times I think, and I still enjoy it. I know it doesn't make much sense because we all know that the events in this film would never happen and the way the characters handle them are so unbelievable. And considering the ridiculous script, the acting is pretty impressive. The direction is kinda weak and there's almost no character depth, but if you take this film for what it is--an asinine farce--then you won't end up hating it quite as much.

Twizard Rating: 79

Quick Movie Review: Encino Man


This is a really goofy, quotable, off-the-wall comedy that I actually liked a lot. Sure, as a "mature" moviegoer I should probably hate it, but I couldn't resist laughing at the chaos of everything that was happening in this fish-out-of-water film. 

The reason why I marked it down so much is because the script and story are somewhat lacking. Most of the characters are pretty thin and there is never any real sense of tension. There's nothing much at steak. Also, there are no real rules in this film universe, and there are some things in the plot that don't make much sense and can be countered very easily. The third act is abrupt and doesn't even fully come to be. However, the performances by the cast were really well done in my opinion, and I especially found Fraser hilarious. 

"If you liked Wayne's World" I'm pretty sure you'll find this movie funny.

Twizard Rating: 80

Quick Movie Review: Dazed and Confused (1993)


A pseudo American Graffiti that focuses more on teen life after the '60s got its hands on it, rather than before it took its naivety. It's a lot less innocent and not quite as insightful--although it does present the time period with the right amount of waywardness. It's somewhat depressing, but I think that's the point. It feels as though it's on the fence on whether or not it was good to grow up in that time. 

It lacks structure, but the point is to just observe, not to think a whole lot. Linklater wants you to just experience 1976, not get too deeply concerned with plot and it's cool that way. It doesn't really pinpoint all the characters into one or two types, but has a broad array. I did notice, however, that there was little use of some of the main characters names--possibly due to the fact that Linklater used real names of his own high school cohorts. 

Overall, this is a very enjoyable movie with plenty of laughs and a solid cast--highlights on McConaughey. It makes you wish that you were there with everyone. 

Twizard Rating: 83

Quick Movie Review: Dickie Roberts - Former Child Star


The premise is ridiculous, but this ode to former child actors is really a fun watch with some pretty entertaining references. The problems lie in the fact that half way through you forget that it's even about former child stars and the issues that come with it because it starts focusing too much on the relationship between Dickie and his new family. It relies too heavily on its saccharine resolutions and doesn't have enough deserved tension beforehand to make it as worthwhile as it should be. Basically, it's too heartwarming too often--don't get me wrong, it might bring smiles to your face, but in hindsight you wish that there was more at stake. 

It's also has a lot of plot holes--such as how did the mom know that Dickie used to play Candy Land with his dad? And if the Finney family doesn't have much money then how can they afford to fix the house when the water bed floods and destroys it? It also doesn't clarify Dickie's money situation and doesn't show him hitting the rock bottom that it could have. Not to mention much of the character depth is paper thin or uneven. Much of the film is completely unbelievable and caddywhompus. And David Spade plays the same pervy character that he always plays so much so that you forget that he's not playing himself. 

Films like this are enjoyable still because of their novelty. It's an idea that isn't really tapped into, and it does showcase David Spade's talent decently well.

Twizard Rating: 74

Quick Movie Review: Grandma's Boy


The story is not all that great and it's a pretty stupid movie. Over time you'll forget what it was even about. However, it's also pretty enjoyable--and it has that going for it if nothing else, which isn't a bad thing to have. There are no stars here (Jonah Hill wasn't a household name yet). It's truly a sum of its parts--which are a funny bunch of character actors all getting their time to shine in this egoless comedy. 

Twizard Rating: 76

Quick Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel




The art of the hotel is really cool, and so is the unexpected murder mystery twist in the hotel's backstory. However, the former may be a tad bit more interesting. Not that I didn't want to know how the story would resolve, but I just felt that, as a period piece, it would have been more entertaining if told through a different style. Anderson has a tendency to alienate his audiences through his too structured and thought-out direction. You feel like nothing just flows organically and that his hands are all over everything that you see. It definitely looks like a film that you SHOULD like, but you never end up truly liking it quite that much.

That aside, the technical aspects are close to flawless. The acting is superb, the set pieces are extraordinary, and the dialogue is excellent. The escape sequences and the shootouts definitely keep this film out of boredom territory and really keep the audience involved. I do wish, however, that there was more attachment to the characters. Not that there was none, but compared to how on-point everything else was, you expect to fall in love with the characters at that same level. Much similar to my sentiments about American Hustle. 

All of the aesthetics definitely raise up the rating on this one and prevent it from ending up in the 70-80 range.

Twizard Rating: 86

Quick Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier


This is definitely a tipping point film in the Marvel Universe. Everything is kindof happening and culminating in one film. There are a lot more plot twists than usual (besides maybe Iron Man 3), which makes for a really fun ride. While having a really cool concept of the whole big brother thing and even dating it back to the '40s, this new installment is probably the most relatable of the bunch. And as a much darker, more character driven piece, we finally begin to tap into the secret life of Nick Fury himself--although still only slightly. Operating more as a thriller that the typical Marvel film, Captain America The Winter Soldier definitely stands out among the rest. An awesome blockbuster that doesn't really do a whole lot wrong.

Twizard Rating: 98

Quick Movie Review: Muppets Most Wanted


While the plot is middle-of-the-road, the hilarious jokes and constant self-awareness that have always made the Muppets an amazing wonder are still present in this sequel to 2011's eponymous The Muppets. The songs in this one are on par with the ones from the first film. And although the story is slightly weaker than Segel and Stoller's, and not as uplifting and exhilarating, it's a pretty enjoyable follow up altogether, yet would have served fine as a stand-alone film.

Twizard Rating: 92

Quick Movie Review: Bad Words


What an amazing directorial debut for Bateman, who has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with in this industry. Although it leaves you wanting a little more redeeming value from the third act, the story as a whole definitely takes quite a few unexpected, and at times hilarious turns. The acting is tremendous, especially from youngster Rohan Chand. Yeah, I guess I can see the similarities to Bad Santa, except for there being actual motives for Guy Trilby in this film as opposed to the unexplained poor judgement of Willie Stokes in Santa. And although not AS perfect of a film, it is just different enough to still be enjoyed for its own reasons. It will offend many, but those who find intrigue in character analysis or pure vulgarity will enjoy this thoroughly.

Twizard Rating: 94

Quick Movie Review: The Girl Next Door (2004)


The reason why I enjoyed this film actually wasn't because of its humor, but because it was really intriguing. I was so curious the entire time as to how it would unfold. Although it's not laugh-out-loud funny throughout, it really keeps you guessing as to what will happen next. For a sub-genre that is known for inexpensively shot films, this one was actually really nice to look at and it never made you feel like you were watching a high school comedy about pornography. The acting was pretty impressive--especially Timothy Olyphant. Yeah, the sudden and semi-random change of character for Matthew (Hirsch) seemed a little too convenient and somewhat unbelievable, but if you put that aside, this film was consistent from beginning to end with some cool callbacks. 


Twizard Rating: 86

Quick Movie Review: National Lampoon's Van Wilder


With tons of one-liners, a great main character, and an ending that will make you smile, Van Wilder is very much a product of the early 2000s. It also happens to contain probably the grossest scene I've ever seen in a movie (you'll know what it is when you see it). Although I was impressed with the direction, the story is middle of the road and the acting is just average. However, I do like this movie and would not hesitate to watch it again if I had the chance--especially to let some of the lines sink in my brain better for my own personal use.

Twizard Rating: 75

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Lovelace


Not sure why this film got such mediocre reviews. I liked it actually. The story telling was really cool how they told the same story twice in a row showing it in a different light each time. It helped to juxtapose what everyone else saw with what reality was. To some, this way of showcasing events may have been this film's downfall as they felt as though it should have used all of that time to gradually show the rise and fall of Linda Lovelace instead. I'm not sure I agree 100% because the rise and fall wasn't gradual at all--it was only 17 days. It's supposed to feel somewhat quick, otherwise we would feel fooled that the timeline was a lot longer than it actually was. The filmmakers do a good job ot expressing their opinions at first and letting the story speak for itself, remaining unbiased. Then as events unfold, the audience is as surprised as the readers of Ordeal probably were. Linda's own introspect was fully realized until her monologue at the end. But I think that was slightly the point--it's not that the filmmakers didn't want to show Linda addressing how she felt about everything that was happening, but they knew that she DIDN'T address how she felt because she felt like she couldn't. This is why the story was told in such a unique way--to be as muted as Linda had to be back then.

I think this is almost as good of a film about this story that we could get--until someone comes along and proves me wrong. Amanda Seyfried was amazing in her best role yet. No matter if you like it or not, I guarantee that you won't feel like it was a waste of time watching it.

Twizard Rating: 86

Quick Movie Review: The Lords of Flatbush (1974)



Apparently this is a classic, but I guess you had to be there. The cast is likable and it's supposed to show a glimpse of an era passed, although nothing very substantial happens and you really want more from it. The dialogue is pretty good, but much of it is a dead-end and seemingly lost introspect. It's not as raw as it should be and it's not as warm as you want it to be. It just kinda falls in the middle somewhere. It's very low budget, so you can excuse the quality. I just really wish there was more Henry Winkler in this. 

A better alternative can be found anywhere between American Graffiti and Diner. 

Twizard Rating: 64

Quick Movie Review: Cocktail


This is one of those guilty pleasure movies. It's bad and you're not sure why you like it--but maybe that means you could call it somewhat good. I dunno. The downfall is in the direction and the script. Many of the scenarios seem ridiculous and odd. Like, how does he go from not knowing what's in a martini to perfecting the skill of bar tending within what seems to be all of 2 days. But that's what the norm is in this film--everything is too rushed. It could've actually used some more scenes in my opinion--especially towards the beginning--so that we feel as though we are actually on the journey with Tom Cruise's character, Brian (although most would probably say that it's 103 minutes too long to begin with). The depth we see in Bryan Brown's character, Doug, is actually the most intriguing aspect of the script. Other than that, the characters are paper thin. Brian is so hard to tack down that it's almost annoying, and there's no background on him at all so it's not like you can deduce much. None of his actions fall in line with the actions that he makes prior to that and vice-versa. It also doesn't make much sense why Brian would be best friends with the biggest backstabbing douche in the world (Doug) and value his friendship as much as he does. 

The acting isn't bad--just very poorly directed. Cruise smiles at all the wrong times and it makes you want to slap him constantly. Some of his ad libs that they kept in the film are painful as well. Elisabeth Shue has so much potential that if she was paired with even a decent director, she would have shined very bright in this one. 

This film has a killer soundtrack, fun banter between the characters, and enough one-liners to last me a whole night at my highschool reunion, but the rest of the script that is supposed to be substantial is just laughable. 

It's nothing too original as far as the story goes, but with a better script this film could've really been something other than just a guilty pleasure and a motivational tape for someone wanting to start his or her own bar. I'm gonna get shot, but I honestly think that it has the potential to be like a Wolf of Wall Street with the result being closer to a Johnny Be Good. Maybe they should remake this film.

Nevertheless, I would watch this film again next week. 

Twizard Rating: 76

Quick Movie Review: 300: Rise of An Empire



300: The Rise of an Empire--or 302--is the follow up to 2007's film 300. I've never been too high on 300 and thought that it was always about the visuals instead of the story itself. However, over the years I have learned to appreciate the story a little bit more. With that said, I didn't hate this film. It was actually pretty decent. Although we aren't as shocked and awed at the visuals this time around as we already know what to expect, it is still cool to watch. And because the filmmakers know this, it becomes less reliant on aesthetics to carry this film along and more on story--maybe that's why I wasn't as annoyed this time around. Unfortunately it's not an earth-shattering story, but the way it's told is very unique. It tells of the events that happened before, during, and after the events of the first film. It expands the universe of the film and therefore makes for a pretty cool experience for those who loved 300.

Although not the best film in the world, this movie creates a very good compliment to the first and doesn't feel unnecessary in my opinion. I may favor the watching this film over the other, but the appeal may not be quite as magnetic while watching it and the casual fan might feel slightly jaded by all of the visuals.

Twizard Rating: 74


Quick Movie Review: The Change-Up



The story is unoriginal and the setup is very much rushed, but where it lacks in the screenplay it makes up for in its amazing talent. Reynolds is at as close to the top of his game as I've pretty much ever seen him and Bateman taking a break from the straight-man and does an excellent job being the second banana for once. I mean, a lot of the character depth was told to us via other characters rather than actually shown to us, but when it was shown to us it was really funny. 

Although most people have drawn the recycled body-switching story to the likes of Freaky Friday, I feel that although similar, the two films serve a very different purpose. Instead of stepping in someone else's shoes to better understand who they are as a person and where they are coming from, this film allows the characters to step into each other's shoes so that they can come to a better understanding of themselves and what they need to do different in their own lives. It makes the characters more self-aware and challenges them to see what those closest to them feel that they need to do differently. Sure, it's not as world changing, but just as important to the individuals and in making others in their lives really appreciate them more.

I will say, however, that this film does tend to ignore much of the morality that has come into question when switching bodies and seems to leave the audience still concerned about how they were resolved. And this film suffers some minor plot holes very early on, such as the fact that when Dave's wife is asking him questions that only he would know, she asks him what her favorite color is and when their anniversary is. Not sure why she would think that his best friend wouldn't also know these things, but it seems as though the whole scenario with them trying to convince her that their bodies switched was forgotten about too quickly by her character and that she should have started reconsidering it at some point throughout her husband's crazy and out-of-character antics. Also, towards the end, why was she so willing to let "Mitchell" kiss her when she still didn't know what was going on. 

This film may not be perfect, but I was laughing pretty consistently throughout and never found myself bored or uninterested.

Twizard Rating: 77

Quick Movie Review: Once Upon A Time In Mexico


Not as mindless as it probably should be, the final act in Rodriguez' Mexico Trilogy is only slightly better than the previous film, Desperado. The movie has some really good scenes and lines, but the screenplay is full of things that don't make sense at times. Like, why were they fighting with Marquez to begin with? And when and why was Carolina with Marquez? And why was there hardly any emphasis on their daughter and her being murdered? El Mariachi seemed more concerned about his wife and appeared to have forgotten that his daughter was also killed. A lot was happening in this film and there seemed to not be enough initial motive for the characters besides the fact that this film was about to happen. However, Once Upon a Time in Mexico was more enjoyable than the 2nd act of this trilogy and the acting and characters were amazing. This is definitely the creepiest of all three films. Depp stole the show as Sands and a lot of the supporting characters were very interesting and good. However, the main character hardly seemed to get very much screen time. Also, I kinda wished that they had revisited the boy from the 2nd film that El Mariachi saved and brought to the hospital. It would have been nice to see some of that carryover from the previous movie.

After so much being wrong with this film, I still couldn't help but get into it because Rodriguez has strung together a technical masterpiece here.

Twizard Rating: 78

Quick Movie Review: Desperado


Not as consistently entertaining as the first installment and feeling a tad bit recycled in the plot area, Desperado is still a fun movie in its own right. Highlights include some scene-stealing bits from Tarantino and Buscemi. However, its hard to favor this film over El Mariachi since the only improvements in this sequel are the acting, the visual aesthetics, and slightly more appealing dialogue. The 2nd act feels very repetitive and even unexplained at some parts, but the setup and resolution are what makes you not help but further your appreciation for this franchise. The characters are much thinner and it doesn't seem to have quite as much heart, but Desparado is still worth the watch!

Twizard Rating: 75

Quick Movie Review: El Mariachi

                                                     


I know that most people know this, but I still find it amazing that it only cost Rodriguez $7000 to make this film! It's incredible and it's proof that storytelling and the writing are the most important things in engaging your audience. Although pretty violent, El Mariachi is a pretty clean cut movie that is a lot of fun to watch and free of a lot of BS that most other action films contain. The acting isn't great, but it works with the low budget feel of this film. There are a lot of awesome scenes in this unforgettable movie. After watching it you'll feel like everyone who hasn't seen it is missing out. Above all, the movie has a lot of self-awareness and never takes itself too seriously!

Twizard Rating: 88

The Twizard Rating System


So I have been developing my own system of reviewing films by giving them a score out of 100 instead of the 1-10 or the 5 stars approach. There is so much that goes into movies and so many details to consider when critiquing them that how can we just grade them out of 5 or 10 points. Wine is graded using the 100-point system, so why shouldn't something that is equally as complex, such as film, do the same?

I'm still open to tweak so that it's at its best, so let me know if you have any suggestions! Here's how I broke it down:


1-60 pts = How much I personally like the movie. Let's say that I would give a film an 87% based off of my personal taste, I would calculate it so that it would come out to a portion of 60 points ((87 * 60)/100 = 52.2, but I would just round to 52). I'm still trying to figure out if this number (60) is too high. However, the amount that a person likes a movie is a really huge part of their final consensus. And I'm trying to find a number that would be acceptable while not taking up too big a fraction of the total.


1-10 pts = Script


1-10 pts = Story. I've dedicated 20 points to the script and story because I feel that it is the most important aspect to a film being technically sound. The script and story greatly contribute to the film as a whole, as they are the foundation. As for the story specifically, its points may also reflect the direction of the movie.


1-10 pts = Character depth and development. I usually break it up as 5 points for the depth/complexity of the character and 5 points for the overall story arc of the character. Like you said, some of this also reflects how well the actor portrays the character (which is another category on its own)


1-5 pts = Acting.


Other Categories: These are 5 categories that are allocated one point each if they succeed at doing a good job. If they do a great or exceptional job, they can be given 2 or 3 points, respectively. These categories are Directing/Editing, Cinematography, Art, Sound/Music, and Fx. So, although a film could technically get up to 110 points, it will just be rounded down the the 100 point ceiling.


So, the total point values are equal to a school-like grade. In other words:

94-100 = A
90-93 = A-
87-89 = B+
84-86 = B
80-83 = B-
77-79 = C+
74-46 = C
70-73 = C-
67-69 = D+
64-66 = D
60-63 = D-
59 or lower = F



*Detailed breakdowns for each film are available upon request.