REVIEW: 300: Rise of an Empire

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Staring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, David Wenham and Rodrigo Santoro

Directed by: Noam Murro

‘300: Rise of an Empire’ isn’t really a sequel or a prequel. The events in this film happen during the same events of Leonidas and his 300 soldier’s during their battle with Persian God Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his many soldiers. The story revolves around Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and his battle against the Persian at sea, with the evil Artemisia (Eva Green) in Persian command.

‘300: Rise of an Empire’ relied a lot on it CGI blood and slow motion battle scenes, which wasn’t really a bad thing in the beginning. However, the battle scenes did seem a little over done by the end of the film. I did enjoy the film for what it was, but it was missing a lot of what made ‘300’ special in the first place. Gerard Butlers performance in ‘300’ was fantastic and I feel that a performance was missing in this film. Butler carried the film through most of its runtime and I didn’t feel Sullivan Stapleton rose to that occasion. However, Eva Green, who played Persian Commander Artemisia, stole the show for me with his over the top performance. She was bad and sexy at the same time.

If you are going to see this with a parent, be careful of the over-the-top sex scene. It was probably one of the weirdest, most awkward sex scenes I’ve ever seen. It just came literally out of nowhere. There will definitely be another 300 film and I’m praying it’s a direct sequel so we can get some resolution to the story. If you like action movies, than chances are you’ll like 300. I didn’t really want to see it as I was expecting it to be awful, but it wasn’t all that bad and is worth an I-MAX viewing.

Grade: B

REVIEW: Robocop

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Staring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Jackie Earle Haley, Abbie Cornish, Michael K. Williams, Jennifer Ehle, Jay Baruchel and Samuel L. Jackson.

Directed by: Jose Padilha

‘Robocop’ takes place in 2018 Detroit, where Omni Corp, a robot-bulding corporation wants to put robots on the streets to fight crime. However, the public doesn’t like the idea, so Omni Corp is unable to do so. When police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) gets critically injured from an assassination attempt, Omni Corp CEO Raymond Sellers (Michael Keaton) uses his robot technology on Alex and turns him into a half machine/half human for the rest of his life. With the help of Omni Corp Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman), Alex Murphy is back on the streets fighting crime, but was he kept alive for kindness or to be a prototype for Omni Corp to pass the law that will allow robots on the streets?

I’ve never seen the original ‘Robocop’, but I heard it was quite violent and pretty graphic. The remake is quite tame, but still has some pretty cool action scenes. ‘Robocop’ was a good popcorn action flick and looked good visually. It’s definitely worth the I-MAX viewing that was accompanied with my experience. What kept ‘Robocop’ from being a great movie was the fact that it avoided the chance to be more emotional. It had a chance to pack an emotional punch, especially considering Murphy’s wife and kid had to see him as a robot forever. I just didn’t feel connected to the characters as much as I wanted to. I understand it’s an action movie, but with the premise involving a family man being used as a prototype for a million dollar corporation, emotions could have been felt a little more often. I did feel for Gary Oldman’s character, Omni Corp scientist Dr. Dennett Norton, as I felt that his sympathy for Alex Murphy felt real.

The action sequences were pretty cool, but felt very PG-13 like. For fans of the original, don’t expect anything more than a lot of gunfire and robot kicking butt. No blood and gore in this one. For a film I thought was going to be nothing more than a crappy remake, I actually enjoyed myself more than I thoguht I was. Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a television personality who is all for Omni Corp’s decisions, makes a great appearance in the film. He plays his normal enthusiastic self. Probably one of the best parts of the film is when he goes on a swearing tirade, with a swear words being bleeped out, of course.

If you weren’t expecting much from Robocop, go see it and maybe you’ll be surprised. You don’t have many good action flicks out right now and it is a good time. I expect a lot more from action movies. I don’t go in just looking for good action sequences. Action movies, to me, need to keep me at the edge of my seat. Films like ‘Face/Off or Die Hard are great action films due to it’s great character development. I didn’t feel that Robocop did a good job with character development, however, it’s a good action film.

Grade: B

REVIEW: ‘That Awkward Moment’

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Staring: Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Imogen Potts, Mackenzie Davis and Jessica Lucas

Directed by: Tom Gormican

‘That Awkward Moment’ is about Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), three best friends who make a vow to stay single after Mikey is cheated on by his wife. They find that staying single is harder than it looks after the other two friends fall for what seems to be the girls that will alter their lives forever.

If you didn’t tell from the synopsis or the trailers, the movie is basically about a bunch of jerks (more or less Miles Teller and Zac Efron), who get into funny situations and have their lives changed when they finally meet the girls they will actually call back after a night of sex. Unfortunately, the movie isn’t all that funny.

I’m actually one of the few guys out there that doesn’t mind watching a romantic comedy with his girlfriend. Usually, I’m okay with the cliches and the predictable endings. This is the first romantic comedy I wished the main character didn’t get the girl in the end. I didn’t seem to care at all for the characters that were in the situation. Of course, after all the crappy situations the guys put the girls through, they come back to them.

Zac Efron had this emotionlessly straight face throughout the entire movie that kept me from laughing from any joke and situation he threw at me. I don’t think he’s a very funny comedic actor, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he didn’t have much to work with. Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan are talented actors that are worth a lot more than this. Miles Teller was fantastic in the comedy-drama ‘The Spectacular Now’ and Michael B. Jordan put in an Oscar-worthy performance in ‘Fruitvale Station’. Fresh off films like these, you know that they are way better than this. Although, they don’t stray away from their usual characters, they don’t have much to work with such a weak script.

There’s no doubt that women will find this film appealing. Zac Efron is naked for a good minute or two of the film, which is probably one of three scenes that were actually funny, but was shown in the trailer. If you’re over 16 and want to see a good romantic comedy, skip out on this one. It was not romantic nor was it funny. Also, skip the outtakes at the end. They are also not funny.

Grade: D+

Warner Bros. sets release date for ‘Lego Movie’ sequel

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For those who saw ‘The Lego Movie’, I bet you’re dying to see more. Well, fortunately for you, Warner Bros. wants to see more too. ‘The Lego Movie’ sequel will be released May 26th, 2017. Jared Stern and Michelle Morgan have been brought on to write the script. Warner Bros announced 4 days before the film opened that there would be a sequel, which was a good move considering ‘The Lego Movie’ has made over $200 million worldwide and has been universally loved by fans and critics. No word on who is going to return for the sequel, but my bet is everyone will come back for a second helping. If you haven’t seen ‘The Lego Movie’ yet, please go check it out. It’s not something you have to see with your kids. Just go in and have some fun.

REVIEW: ‘The Lego Movie’

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Staring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Nick Offerman Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum

Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

‘The Lego Movie’ is about Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an ordinary construction worker who is mistaken for “The Special”, a master builder who will save the world from Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell), who plans to use ‘The Kragle’ to freeze everyone in place. From the help from his friends, Emmet must prove to everyone that he is “The Special” and defeat Lord Business.

Remember when you were a kid and you were playing with your toys? Your imagination would run wild with ideas with what your toys would do and what situations they’d be in? ‘The Lego Movie’ takes you back to those days where your imagination meant everything. Those were days when nothing else mattered. That’s how I felt watching ‘The Lego Movie’. It seemed that nothing else mattered as I was watching what was transpiring on screen. You are brought into a Lego world with these characters and it’s probably the best time you’ll have at the movies.

The film is full of surprises that mostly older people will find hilarious. I’m not going to give much away, but the film is a hoot. This isn’t a film that’s geared for one audience, as there is some adult jokes. I actually found the film more for adults, which was evident considering my sold out theatre did not have a kid in sight. Visually, the film is stunning. My eyes were glued to the screen because the visuals were just so breathtaking.

The voice cast was perfect in this film. especially Chris Pratt, who continues to surprise me, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for him. He was the perfect choice to play the role of Emmet. He was hilarious and charming and Emmet is basically the heart of the film. Morgan Freeman was great as Vitruvius, another God-like Character for him to sink his deep God-like voice in. Will Ferrell, who I’m not a huge fan of, was a great choice for Lord Business, the villain in the film. You also have Liam Neeson as the “Good Cop/Bad Cop” character, Will Arnett as Batman and Charlie Day as Benny, a spaceman who only wants to make a spaceship.

If you want a good night out, go see ‘The Lego Movie’. It’s hilarious, heartwarming, fast paced and fantastic to look out. The moral of the story is a fantastic one as well and you’ll find yourself tearing up the last 15 minutes of the film. Movies like these are hard to come by, and I know it seemed like it was marketed for kids. It’s fun for everyone. Remember when your imagination ran wild? If not, watch ‘The Lego Movie’ and your childhood will come back to you.

Grade: A

REVIEW: ‘American Hustle’

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Staring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K. and Robert Deniro.

Directed by: David O Russell

‘American Hustle’ is about two con artists who are forced to work with an FBI agent to take down a corrupt mayor and some congressman. The farther they go in the investigate, the dangerous it starts to get. The film is loosely based on a FBI ABSCAM operation.

‘American Hustle’, in my opinion, is a film that was hype too much. The acting was great, as well as the wardrobe, script and hairstyling, but the story was confusing and boring at times. I enjoy David O Russell’s films. I consider ‘Three Kings’ and ‘Silver Lining Playbook’ to be two of my favourite films, with ‘The Fighter’ also being a fantastic film. Maybe I went in with too high of expectations, but I just didn’t enjoy myself as much as I wanted to.

The movie did have some redeeming qualities, like the talented cast and some very funny scenes, mostly involving Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. I am a huge fan of Jennifer Lawrence and her comedic relief to the roles she plays in. She was great as Christian Bale’s dim witted wife. Bradley Cooper has been a huge surprise for me since Silver Linings Playbook. It seems like just yesterday I saw him in The Wedding Crashers. He was entertaining to watch in this one, giving one of the most wildest takes of an FBI agent I’ve seen in awhile.

Needless to say, I did not enjoy ‘American Hustle’ as much as I wanted to. However, the actors and actresses deserve recognition for their roles, and I think that’s what saved the film from being a lost cause for me. It’s disappointing, considering how universally loved the movie is and how great the director is.

Grade: C+

*Nominated for 10 Oscars

Best Picture

Best Director-David O Russell

Best Actor-Christian Bale

Best Actress-Amy Adams

Best Supporting Actress-Jennifer Lawrence 

Best Supporting Actor-Bradley Cooper

Best Original Screenplay

Best Film Editing

Best Costume Design

Best Production Design

REVIEW: ‘Lone Survivor’

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Staring: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Ludwig and Eric Bana

Directed by: Peter Berg

‘Lone Survivor’ is based on a true story. The film follows 4 soldiers who go on a mission to kill a Taliban leader. When they are compromised by a few villagers and choose to let them go, the Taliban are alerted and the 4 men must take on a entire army in the fight for their lives.

What I loved about ‘Lone Survivor’ was it’s homage to the people the film is portraying. Photos of the soldiers at the end of the film made for a very emotional end to this roller coaster ride of a film. To me, it didn’t feel like a typical war film, full of propaganda and excessive violence. The film was a real life story about these men and the hell they went through in the battle of their lives. It showed the real effects that the war can have on someone and their loved ones. These men have people back at home who loved them, and it just makes me feel for the people fighting for our country.

‘Lone Survivor’ was a film that must of been hard to make. Knowing that the events took place 9 years ago, it must still be fresh in everyones mind. This was a lovely tribute to the fallen soldiers and the people that helped out that lone survivor. The actors played these characters with sensitivity and near perfection, and to go through all that training and knowing full well that you’re playing someone real must of been very tough. I would like to also point out the score by Explosions in The Sky and Steve Jablonsky. The score made every scene that much more emotional with it’s soft tone. Explosions In The Sky have also been a favourite of mine. They also scored Peter Bergs ‘Friday Night Lights’, which is one of my favourites.

You feel the intensity with every scene while watching this film. You full well know what’s going to happen, but you pray to God it doesn’t. What makes ‘Lone Survivor’ so brutal is the thought of how all this really happened. You now know what happen and what they had to do and what they couldn’t do, and they had themselves to live or die next to when most of them had family at home. So tonight, I think we should all pray for those overseas fighting for us while we are here with our loved ones. They do a hell of a job. Thank you.

Grade: A

 

*Nominated for 2 Oscars

Best Sound Editing

Best Sound Mixing