Thursday, July 31, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Sex Tape

It's definitely not as bad as people are making it seem. Actually, I didn't think it was all that bad at all. It wasn't perfect, but I found myself laughing a lot. Some viewers didn't like how sometimes it didn't hold true to it's vulgar-nature and wasn't as dirty as it should have been, but the film never lost sight of why the characters were going on their escapades. Although it was ridiculous and unbelievable at times, it made for a great farce.

Although not terribly sophisticated, the script addressed the potential plot holes and didn't leave you mad questioning why they didn't use simpler solutions. It just came down to the fact that panic and technological ignorance made them not able to think things through and not think of seemingly obvious solutions. 

All of the actors bring something strong and unique to the film--especially Rob Lowe who was a big highlight in this movie.

And even though the couple was going through a rough patch in their marriage, they didn't have them hating each other or even really questioning their marriage. You could tell that they really loved each other but life just furthered them apart intimately.

On a negative note, the film starts off kinda slow with the real comedy not coming until around the 2nd act when their trying to find a solution to their problem. Also, the self-contained switch really messes with the tone of the film--which towards the beginning is fairly risqué.

But overall, the movie is really engaging and although it leans towards family-friendly which may be somewhat of a contradiction, it's a film that I think people hate the idea of more than they actually hate.

Twizard Rating: 83

Quick Movie Review: Charlie Countryman

Shia LaBeouf is a genius in this movie. He is at 100% here and undeniably believable. And the rest of the actors are great as well. It knows when not to take itself too seriously and when to be dark while somehow keeping a consistent tone. However you just want it to be deeper than it is. Shia's acting makes you feel like we know more about his character, Charlie, but when you stop to think about it, we really don't. But you WANT to! He seems so fascinating! There are a few points in the script that cause you to ask questions, but none of them are too distracting and the alternatives won't change the outcome of the film anyway.

I do give credit to the script for its great theme of following your heart to the ends of the earth without any regrets and never doubting your love. I also commend the director for acknowledging these themes and succeeding in bringing them to life. I love a movie where you know that the director is getting his exact points across in the exact way that he had intended--and when its this obvious in watching the finished product.

Overall, it was really enjoyable to me and kept my attention thoroughly. It just makes me never want to go to Bucharest.

Twizard Rating: 92

Quick Movie Review: Ocean's Thirteen

It's definitely better than Ocean's 12, but slightly less phenomenal as Ocean's 11. While it's slightly harder to follow than the latter, I'm so glad to see them back in Las Vegas because that means the return of the glamour that the first one had and the second one lacked. The con is also catalyzed by revenge and nothing else--also like the first film. 

The jokes are still laughable and there is more character presence, but it's not as personable as the character who they're getting revenge for is hardly a presence in the film. So when it's over and done with we don't have as much to cheer about. But I will say that the con in this one is brilliant and I love how they're on a much more unselfish level this time around. That's pretty much the whole theme to the movie.

If you liked the Ocean's 11 and 12, then you're guaranteed to enjoy the 3rd installment in the franchise.

Twizard Rating: 88

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Ocean's Twelve

Ocean's Twelve is less direct than its predecessor and has you questioning if it's ever going to get pieced together. In the end it does, but it makes one feel as though they could have come up with a better story.

I understand that they weren't trying to have the same storyline as the first film, but this one couldn't figure out where it was going. The dialogue made it fun, but good dialogue doesn't always equal a good script. Although the first understandably lacked character depth (as do most big group caper films) this movie barely had any. This one focused more on Rusty's backstory, as the last focused more on Danny.

While the first film demonstrates exactly what a final act should be, this one shows you how to make the first two almost obsolete. But somehow it fits into the entire irony of the film. The heist happened in the second act, and the movie could have just ended after an hour. I mean, they could have just picked any moment for when they so easily snatched the egg. They weren't constricted to the limitations within their created world. Instead, they created a world that could or could not have had any relevance to how they accomplished their feat. When it's explained there is no feeling of amazement, but you just end up with a ton of questions. 

There weren't as many memorable moments as the first, however, the dialogue and characters were still entertaining enough to keep me interested. Although the Julia Roberts/Bruce Willis scene was a highlight of the film.

It doesn't have the glitz and glamour of 2001's Ocean's Eleven, nor the sting-like final act, but it's entertaining all the way through. You just can't daydream for a second or you'll miss a detail. It's extremely confusing at times and I'm still not sure why some of the things happened or even WHAT happened. It calls for way more explaining than it should. It makes you feel dumb for not understanding things, whereas the first film made you feel like you were helping out with the heist yourself. 

Throw in a couple of cool twists and the film really isn't all that bad as a standalone. It's just really really hard to compete with the one that came before it.

Twizard Rating: 79

Quick Movie Review: Ocean's Eleven (2001)

There's not much to criticize when it comes to this movie. When it has to do with con films, this one is close to the top. It's star studded, and while knowing that you can't possibly delve deep into every character due to the nature of the film, the balance is perfect. It's not action packed, but it keeps you on the edge of your seat. It has a way of making you feel smart when in reality it's quite easy to follow along and not overly-confusing. It's direct and to the point. I saw it at 13 and loved it then. As an adult I enjoy it even more as I get more of the jokes. 

I'm a sucker for tongue-in-cheek banter. The dialogue is fun and it keeps the pace moving along nicely even when you're waiting for something to happen. 

The final act is near-perfect with all the motives being revealed, just like turning over a royal flush. Everything came full circle and fit in perfectly like the last piece of a puzzle. 

Overall, it's a great movie that everyone should watch. It has a way of making you feel like you have a piece invested in the big con.

Twizard Rating: 96

Quick Movie Review: Boyhood

What I just got through watching was one of the most unique films I had ever seen. For those of you who are unaware, the process of filming this movie was 12 years in the making. It used the same actors to play the same characters and the sad thing is that about 5 or 6 years ago I had actually thought of doing something like this without any knowledge that Boyhood was in the process.

I was so excited going into this movie and was ready for a phenomenon. I won't say that I didn't get that, but let's just say that the expectations slightly overshadowed the film itself. Don't get me wrong, it was a great film and I could talk for days about it, but I wanted a little more. At times it felt as though the plot was unfolding along with the filming. Many themes could not have been realized way back in 2002. It makes some really great points and unveils them well, but that wasn't the issue. There are two things that I wanted more from this movie. Number 1 is better acting. Besides Ethan Hawke--who was brilliant--the acting was average or below. Number 2 is that it was tough for me to attach myself, or to even like the main character, Mason. He was kind of a dick at times. I felt more for his father than I did for him. I mean, yeah, he came from a screwed up household but he was so arrogant and self-righteous that it was hard to see through all of that. 

It may sound like I hated this movie but I really didn't. I actually liked it a lot! I love how you can see the change in filmmaking between 2002 and 2013. I like how different characters came in and out of the movie just as it happens in real life--where people are present and seemingly important at the time, but in the grand scheme of things they turn out only to be referred to years later. But this doesn't discredit their important--yet subtle influence on who you come to be. 

The narrative was the part of this movie that I loved the most. It had no real 3 act structure. There was no climax and they didn't harp on any one event for too long. And when it ends, it doesn't feel finished. But it won't ever feel finished. Just like real life. 

This didn't feel like a film at times, and at a near 3 hour runtime it didn't feel tiring. I wanted to see what happens next in Mason's life. Although I wasn't necessarily attached, I was invested in the story. 

Although Mason could be kind of a dick at times, you never wondered why he was like that. You still see how, although we'd just witnessed 12 years of his existence, he still has a lot to learn about life.

I encourage others in the future to use this process as well. I hope that this is not the last film made in this way. There's so many ways to use this concept. I'll be waiting for Manhood.

Twizard Rating: 91

Friday, July 25, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Mighty Joe Young (1998)

Maybe at the time this was released it wasn't all that appreciated by some older viewers. However, I love a good '90s movie. 

While not seeing the original yet--although I plan to soon--I can't compare the two. But all I know is that I really enjoyed this film. I was 9 when it was released and hadn't watched it until just now. I have to say that I wish I had grown up with this movie. It's a great family film! It's predictable even when you think they might stray away from it--but it's good clean fun that never becomes too apparent that it's catering to the children. Although the script may not be the strongest, it will do just fine. I wish the characters had been a little deeper, but other than that I think it serves its purpose. Charlize Theron is great and the scene where Joe terrorizes Hollywood is well worth the price of admission. Add the beautiful scenery and the more-than-acceptable effects for 1998, and it's an easy movie to like! Apparently a little TOO easy for some.

Twizard Rating: 89

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quick Movie Review: 22 Jump Street

While this wasn't as great as the first one, it wasn't too far off. The jokes weren't as consistently hard-hitting the second time around, but the ones that hit were really funny. As the first one kept the ball rolling the whole time, this one seemed to slow down in the middle of the 2nd act a little bit. Hill and Tatum's chemistry was still at an all-time high and the two have proved to be this generation's strongest comedy duo. 

I personally think that the high school atmosphere created a little bit more of a small world feeling where everyone around the two leads were noticing what they were doing and it made everything that much funnier. But just like making the leap from high school to college in real life, you begin to realize that you can do virtually whatever you want and can still maintain anonymity. Basically, the juxtaposition of the "innocence" of high school to what the bad guys were doing was greater than the wild stereotype of college was.

There weren't as big of "a-ha" moments when figuring out who the suppliers were, and I wished that the villains were given a little bit more depth--much like they did with Dave Franco's character from 21 Jump Street. The self-awareness was still there and the jokes were in the same spirit, but it seemed like everything was just a tad step lower than the first film. However, I do like how Ice Cube's character was used a little bit more in this one.

Overall this film is a fun ride, albeit not AS rewatchable as the 21 Jump Street. I hope they continue this franchise. 

Twizard Rating: 89

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Explorers

Growing up watching this movie several times, it holds a special place in my heart. It contributed greatly to every dream that I had, for every adventure that I wished to go on, and for every project that I had. It was always in the back of my mind, and it's safe to say that it still is. I relate to Ben (Ethan Hawke) a lot in the sense that I approached every adventure with eyes wide open and always believed in something big no matter how impossible it seemed. I'm also a sucker for nostalgic pop culture references, of which this film has tons of.

The script is very good and so is the direction by Joe Dante. The characters may not be extremely deep, but they each have very distinct archetypes. Most people say that the issue with this film is in it's 3rd act, which seems kind of unfinished. However, this is not a knock on the filmmakers as this was the studios fault for rushing the editing for an early release date. The filmmakers weren't happy about this and claim to never have gotten the film out that they had wanted to make. They didn't get the ending that they wanted and moreover, the characters didn't get to fully develop as the director had wanted. This is unfortunate, but just imagine how amazing of a film this would have been if that actually happened. It's already entertaining enough as it is. 

Some may say anticlimactic, but I say a fun journey with a mysterious climax. Nostalgic and all, this film holds up pretty well. 

Twizard Rating: 92

Friday, July 11, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Nothing much to say about this movie except that it's amazing! The original 5 Planet of the Apes films are some of my favorite and this prequel trilogy definitely lives up to the spirit of the old stories. If you liked Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) then you will definitely like this one. I loved the first one and this one may be even better. Besides the first 10-15 minutes where the story is being setup, this film is really fast paced and energetic. It keeps you on the edge of your seat as well as evokes emotion. Fans of action movies and fans of movies that are more character driven will both have something to eat with this one. The most perfect movie we've seen this year.

Twizard Rating: 100

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Earth to Echo

When juxtaposed to E.T. this will seem like a much lesser film. It holds many of the same themes and has generally a similar story line. However, the script and the acting isn't quite at the same level. But Echo should be able to hold it's own as a really entertaining film. 

It's relatable on a different level than E.T. The kid's relationship with Echo parallels and helps to ease their pains of leaving each other when the neighborhood is forced to move. The audience's attachment to the human characters may swerve in and out throughout the film, but in the end it comes back strong.

My main criticism with this film lies in its narrative. While not terrible, the found-footage style still makes it difficult to establish perspective. 2012's Chronicle did it very well. This film made it hard for the audience to know which character's eyes to see things through as it wants to make us pity all of them.

Overall, I was thoroughly entertained and would definitely watch it again. It holds some nice messages for the younger audiences. Compared to other live-action children's films, this one is towards the top of the list.

Twizard Rating: 84

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Tammy

Although Melissa McCarthy's schtick can get played out at times in this film, the script isn't completely terrible--the movie's just not as funny as I had expected. While the story is intriguing, there's just a ton of huge comedic droughts. And there may be one or two isolated scenes of laugh-out-loud humor, but it wasn't consistent enough for this to be the self-proclaimed comedy that it persists to be. Don't get me wrong, it tried to be funny, but the jokes often landed flat. I suppose it may have relied a little TOO much on McCarthy's improv rather than well-written jokes.

Susan Sarandon is a big highlight of this film and she really shows a different side of her acting--so much so that you forget that it's even her. And the relationship with her character and Tammy is also really captivating as it operates, at times, as a pseudo-character study. And although the character development wasn't completely apparent, it was still there under all the irreverence. But overall none of it was really enough for me to go out of my way to watch it again.

Twizard Rating: 70

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction OR TransFOURmers

I never understood why the first 3 Transformers films are hated as much as they are. Personally, I'm a big fan. I'm also a big fan of Shia LaBeouf--all controversy aside. People may not like the first three, but whether you realize it or not, Shia made them watchable. His relationship with Bumble Bee, his parents, and his girlfriend(s), his personal struggles, his unique comedic timing--but ultimately his vulnerability and charisma made it work. They weren't bad movies. People just like to be nitpicky about things that they grew up with I guess. But with the thought that this new trilogy was created by Michael Bay to "make everyone forget" about the first three films, I soon realized that if that was his intent, he failed miserably. Not only was this film not as good as the original trilogy, but it was just not a good film altogether. 

First of all, there were way too many antagonists and way too much going on. Add on the subplots about Mark Wahlberg's character's personal issues and you have yourself a cacophony of a script. There was a point towards the final battle scene where I literally asked myself "Why is all this happening again??" out of legitimate confusion. You know it's bad if the robots had more depth than the humans. The characters were thinner than the paper they were written on. I just found myself completely detached. The one story line that actually could have made you feel for Cade (the issue between him and his daughter) was instantly predictable--not to mention forced and unbelievable. The only characters that weren't completely annoying were Cade and Joshua (Stanley Tucci). For such an action packed movie it shouldn't have you looking down at your watch--save that for the art house films. 

It had its moments, but just not enough of them to warrant giving it a great rating. The only thing left that would have given this film bonus points for coolness would have been if it made a good connection to the first trilogy--or at least gave us some easter eggs! But with a runtime of over 2 and a half hours, it should have everyone realizing that Shia wasn't all that bad after all.

Twizard Rating: 64