Spring Breakers Movie Review

Four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work.
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The super short review: Spring Breakers was bizarre, sexy, funny and unique. If you are not a fan of the naked female form, perhaps you should opt to watch Safe Haven instead.

Spring Breakers is not the movie you think it is. It is far more “artsy” and “deep” than you could possibly expect from its title and premise. In this case, it was mostly a good thing.

It helps to know what to expect going in to the movie, so pay attention. If you are looking for a lighthearted comedy or mainstream flick, look elsewhere. Spring Breakers has its funny parts and some mainstream good times, but it is far more than that. You will frequently find your brain melting, for example. Not from stupidity but rather from trying to comprehend the insanity you are watching.

Overall though, the movie works. It depicts a life that few of us ever live — the true “wild side” of life — so it is impossible to watch expecting the plot points to be normal. The direction helped add to the bizarre feel of the movie which seems to cause eye-glazing among the general public. A hit with the critics; less so with the general public. If nothing else, Spring Breakers is a very unique movie and should be appreciated for that.

Prudes beware: nudity abounds. Spring Breakers earns its 18A rating within the first 2 minutes with more breasts in the movie than there are aliens in Alien. Although there is no doubt that the nudity helps appease the male audience, it is used in such a way that it actually adds to the validity of the setting. Some nudity, of course, has been thrown in to increase word of mouth.

James Franco does a surprisingly good job playing a drug dealer/rapper/straight-up gansta. His performance was very refreshing after The Great and Miserable Oz. The ladies (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) were great performance-wise as well, though they were largely eye-candy.

In summary: if you go in expecting a weird but unique movie with a lot of boobs, you will not be disappointed.

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Oz the Great and Powerful Movie Review (Only one spoiler: It was bad)

A small-time magician arrives in an enchanted land and is forced to decide if he will be a good man or a great one.
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The super short version: Oz the Great and Powerful was quite bad. Skip it.

My expectations were not very high for Oz, but I was greatly disappointed nonetheless. Despite being bankrolled and produced by Disney, with quite the record of success, Oz failed on so many levels.

The most notable failure was the acting. James Franco’s performance was predictable good for much of the movie but terrible off-base for others. He just never seemed to really find his place in the movie except for a few scenes. All of the actors, including each of the witches were painful to watch during most scenes. I felt like I was watching a highschool play at times, forgetting for many segments that the movie cost many millions.

Mila Kunis was most disappointing of all. Her first appearance onscreen was very painful and unnatural to watch. She didn’t improve throughout the movie either. She may not be Anne Hathaway but I expected much more from her acting skills.

Despite not being the primary target audience for Oz, I was unimpressed by the lack of universal appeal. Pixar, for example, is very successful at making movies that can entertain both kids and adults alike. Unfortunately, Disney has a long way to go in this respect, Oz being a great example. Many scenes were rather childish and played out too far as a very cheesy fairytale.

The one saving grace was the visual appeal, although it still fell far short of comparable visual masterpieces like Alice in Wonderland. Despite the fantasy landscapes being well put-together, other visual effects were not. The witches moved unnaturally in several scenes – so much so that you could easily picture the ropes and pulleys pulling them into the air.

I found myself laughing awkwardly, sighing, and rolling my eyes throughout at least half a dozen scenes. Oz was easily one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time. Viewer beware!

Django Unchained Movie Review

With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
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Movie Poster - Django Unchained CastDjango Unchained is both very intense and very good. Be warned, however, that the movie has many uncomfortable scenes, even by my standards. Racism runs throughout the entire movie and, although uncomfortable, appears to be an accurate depiction of the monstrosities of the past.

Django Unchained is a movie that does not hold back in any way. Quentin Tarantino seems to fear no one, not even mixed reactions from the audiences, so he does not hold back. This is what separates Quentin Tarantino from other directors — the fact that he has a back bone.

What has always stood out to me about Tarantino movies is the amazing balance he is able to find between dead-seriousness, ridiculous over-the-top violence and pure comedy. As dark as some scenes in Django Unchained were, many were hilarious. And do not get me started on the witty dialogue!

Christoph Waltz is without question, one of my favourite actors and the way he delivers his witty lines is nothing short of amazing. Those that believe they are not familiar with Christoph Walz, may remember his spectacular performance in Inglorious Basterds as part of a hilariously bizarre opening scene (see video below). Needless to say, Waltz is an incredible actor that I hope to see take on many more roles — currently he is primarily a favourite of Tarantino’s.

Django’s character, played by Jamie Foxx, was more simplistic than Waltz’s, however Foxx still crushed the performance. It certainly seemed like the entire purpose of the movie was to first build-up how atrocious slavery was and then have Foxx come in an make up for the harm that was done in glorious fashion. This, he most certainly accomplished.

The plot was simplistic but did not hinder the movie in any way. In fact, I tend to think it a characteristic of some of the best movies – following the Keep-It-Simple-Stupid principle. Instead of a convoluted plot, Django Unchained focused all of it’s attention on Tarantino’s signature blend of action and dialogue and the outcome was very satisfying.

To finish up this post, I figured I would leave you with a checklist that can help you decide whether or not you should see this movie. You should definitely watch Django Unchained if any of the following are true:

  • You are a Tarantino or Christoph Waltz fan
  • You enjoy a movie with a blend of action, comedy and dialogue
  • When you see gore you do not hide in a corner and cry

SkyFall Movie Review | Bond is back. James Bond.

Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
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James Bond is back and he is kicking ass and taking names! SkyFall is action-packed but it is not the action that carries this movie. Instead, it is nostalgia and overall utter brilliance – as the British would say.

For those who are unaware, our favourite agent 007 is celebrating his 50 anniversary and for his birthday he gets an amazing gift — without question the best Bond movie. Sure, you may argue that an older Bond film is better because you prefer a particular portrayal of James Bond but there is no arguing that SkyFall is one of the most perfectly put together movies of the franchise. Here’s why:

  • Action. But unlike many other Bond movies, action is not all she wrote.
  • A perfect blend of nostalgia and throw-backs combined with graceful modernization
  • A storyline that, while simple, is very engaging and restarts the franchise (much like Batman Begins)
  • Performances that are likely to be remembered for years to come

Much like Christopher Nolan’s revamp of the Batman franchise, SkyFall succeeds in transcending James Bond movies of the past in terms of relevance, polish and a level of “seriousness” that was absent from many of the mainstream-action iterations of the past. You can hear it amongst the group of moviegoers as they exit the theatre. Not only the joy of having witnessed such a great movie but pure excitement; already eagerly anticipating the next movie in what will hopefully be a whole new era of Bond. An era of high expectations and delivering upon those expectations.

SkyFall also toys with a unique bond girl setup in which there is not a specific woman of interest. Although still present, sex appeal was used more sparingly than previous Bond movies, if my memory serves me correctly. This is not a sour point, however, as I believe that many bond girls in past movies have merely served as a distraction from the plot and little else (a significant visual distraction). Instead, Bond interacts with the women in the movie in a much more progressive way. Perhaps as a means of appeasing a changing female demographic or perhaps to eliminate distractions from the main story. After all, Bond never really spent a great deal of time building relationships in the past so any character contributions made by “romance scenes” in previous movies were negligible.

SkyFall is the best iteration of James Bond in a long time and probably ever. Everyone will find something about this movie that will truly catch their attention. Die-hard fans of the original movies will enjoy the many inclusions of nostalgic elements, while new-comers to the franchise will enjoy the modernization of the story and the removal of many “cheesy” elements that are no longer acceptable in great modern movies.

I tend to rate movies rather favourably, however, exaggerations aside, SkyFall has likely found its place in my list of Top 10 Movies of All Time.

Looper Movie Review

Looper Movie Review with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.
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Looper is as close to perfection as a movie can get. This will certainly be one of the most one-sided movie reviews I have ever written. Spoilers are included in a separate section at the bottom with fair warning.

Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, is an extremely well-rounded sci-fi/action/drama movie that takes place in the future. What impressed me the most about Looper, was how director/writer Rian Johnson was able to incorporate time travel in a way that is easy-to-follow. I have seen many movies fail at this in the past; either trying to explain how it works and failing miserably, or ignoring how it works completely leaving enormous plot holes. Instead, the movie is “self-aware” with the actors acknowledging that time travel is complex, spending some time explaining the basics of the premise and then moving on.

Amazingly, Looper manages to avoid almost every sci-fi cliché in the book, adding to its self-awareness. One thing that I would consider a common cliché is assuming too much of the future. If there is one thing we look back and laugh at, it is old sci-fi movies that assumed that we would be all living in hover cities with flying cars, or things of that nature. Looper portrays a much more realistic future with a number of advancements but nothing completely out to lunch. Of course, sci-fi purists may actually think this is a problem, perhaps to them the more far-fetched the future the better, however I most certainly prefer writers that don’t take every liberty available to them.

The plot was highly unique and thoroughly enthralling, however it was the acting and the character development that was the biggest draw. Instead of the movie revolving entirely around a single character or two, Looper introduces a number of characters that are followed throughout the movie. Flawless acting helps sell these well-developed characters and bring the movie together like few others. Emily Blunt’s performance stood out in particular, despite a smaller role than Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Bruce Willis was probably the weakest acting piece but his style served a pivotal role for his character. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, on the other hand, shattered my expectations of him. It is now clear to me that he will be a strong A-list actor that we can expect to see much more often.

In summary, the movie was flawless. See this movie.

It there anything after the credits? No, there are no extra scenes at the end of Looper.

** Warning: Spoilers below**

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There is one thing that is throwing me for a loop (hahaha, I’m soooo funny): the movie very delicately touched on how time travel works and explained everything well, except for at the very end. How is it possible that Joe is trying to kill Cid because someone turned him bad in the future and yet it was Joe himself that killed said. Hard to explain, but I’ll try again:

How would Joe not know that he was the one that killed Cid’s mother causing him to turn into the future killer that he is?

I welcome any theories in the comments below.

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The Dark Knight Rises Movie Review – Surprises!

Surprises and Spoilers - Dark Knight Rises Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

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The Dark Knight Rises was a phenomenal conclusion to a phenomenal trilogy. I refrain from using the word perfect because there were a few things that held it back from the unheard of, “perfect” status. The Dark Knight Rises does what few trilogies have done before it – ended in a satisfying way. Many trilogy conclusions are, well, unconclusive; leaving loose ends and many unanswered questions. The third movie in the batman series does no such thing.

I cannot thank Christopher Nolan enough for taking the idea of Batman and seeing it through to its true potential. No more horrible movies meant for children with no depth; Batman rises from the ashes of those atrocities to what will likely be legendary status for years to come.

It all started with Batman Begins, where Christopher Nolan established a new vision for Batman, instantly banishing all previous movies, and TV shows to the past that we all want to forget. What makes this new incarnation truly amazing is how Nolan is able to take the notion of a superhero and turn it real. The original comics were written to make Batman out to be a normal guy, albeit a very rich and resourceful one, and Christopher Nolan takes this to this fitting extreme. Everything is explained in such a logical way. Can Batman fly? No, he simply glides using special technology. Does he have super strength? No, just great armour and gadgets. Nolan also successfully eliminates all cheese from the movie by envisioning the “batmobile” as something that looks much closer to a tank and by “explaining” Catwoman’s cat ears as being a part of her special goggles.

As for The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan pushes ahead with his realistic and timely vision for the series. The main theme is the average joe versus those with money; more commonly referred to as the 99% versus the 1%. This is of course a very relevant theme for today’s troubles and is woven through the movie overtly, yet gracefully. The story was superb and tied up every single loose end I can possibly think of. What is truly noteworthy, however, is what truly surprised me:

Spoiler alert!

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Batman not dying at the end

I thought it would have been poetic to have Batman make the ultimate sacrifice to save everyone. It would have been the one way to truly define himself as a hero. The ending was still satisfying but seems like he survived only to provide the cliché happy ending.

When Miranda turns out to be the villain – the ultimate cliché

This bothered me a lot when it was first revealed that Miranda was the mastermind behind the entire evil plan. My fiancée even said that she was the bad guy but I shrugged it off thinking it would just be too obvious. Of course, I was wrong and rather upset at the cheap twist. However, it did tie in fairly nicely with the first one, but it was certainly my least favourite plot point of the entire Batman triology.

The introduction of Robin

This I just really didn’t see coming. At the end when it is revealed that is name is Robin I was truly stunned, for two reasons: 1. they did a great job not giving away that he was Robin throughout the movie and 2. they did a great job with Robin. Robin was so lame in all the original Batman incarnations yet they managed to integrate him so well.

What do you think about these twists?

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Ted Movie Review: Seth Macfarlane is A Genius

ted-movie-review-2012 As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett’s teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John’s side ever since – a friendship that’s tested when Lori, John’s girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship.
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Seth MacFarlane never ceases to amaze me. Everything he does is pure gold. Well, maybe not the Cleveland show or American Dad . . . but everything else. MacFarlane plays the role of writer, director and (voice) actor in Ted – the first live-action movie to feature his antics.

The movie had everything that people have come to love from MacFarlane: obscene  hilarity, random cut scenes, and a great story. The random cut scenes I am referring to are extremely prominent on Family Guy and if you are not familiar you can check out a compilation here:

Family Guy “Cutscenes”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmt1rTKjpCI

Amazingly Macfarlane was able to incorporate several random cutscenes into the movie staying true to his family guy style. Speaking of style, the movie reeks of it! Every joke is delivered brilliantly and there are countless unexpected laugh-out-loud moments.

If you love Family Guy, you are going to love this movie, plain and simple. Macfarlane includes a number of voice actor cameos from the show along with a bunch of references. My personal favourite was the voice actor for Joe Swanson, the wheelchair-bound cop from the series. By the end of the movie you can tell he pretty much sourced all talent for Ted from his friends working on Family Guy. Of course, this isn’t at all a problem.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and see this movie! Be warned though, word is travelling about it and the theatres are packed!

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The Avengers 2012 Movie Review: Joss Whedon vs. Michael Bay

the-avengers-movie-review-2012-joss-whedon Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.
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Okay, so I’m super late on reviewing The Avengers– both because the movie has been out for weeks and also because I actually saw the movie weeks ago. However, I couldn’t not write about it. After all, it was one of the best movies I have seen. Period. So why am I so ecstatic about this movie? Mostly because it could have been “Michael Bay’d” like Transformers but it wasn’t. Instead it was turned into so much more.

Josh Whedon vs. Michael Bay

On the surface, The Avengers seems like a fairly straight-forward super hero movie, but upon closer examination you will notice that there is much more going on. Unlike a Michael Bay movie, which transplants any semblance of a story with non-stop explosions, Joss Whedon’s works tend to bring much more to the table. For one, The Avengers was a very dialogue-driven movie. Any regular reader of my movie reviews knows how much I like finely crafted dialogue and The Avengers surprised me with witty and hilarious dialogue throughout the movie. This dialogue often served to reconcile the ridiculous with reality and makes the characters much more believable (despite being crazy powerful superheroes, of course).

Michael Bay movies, by contrast, are littered with comedy as well, but unfortunately they are of a grade 4 level and extraordinarily low-brow. The Avengers on the other hand offers non-stop hilarity, combined with the necessary special FX and surprisingly deep characters. This, of course, is all thanks to Joss Whedon. A recent article in Wired, “With The Avengers, Joss Whedon Masters the Marvel Universe”, tells the tale of Joss Whedon like I never could. I highly recommend a read through the rather lengthy article because it truly gives you a new perspective on his works and The Avengers as a whole. The short version: he is brilliant and brings both depth and entertainment to anything he directs.

Okay, so you get it, Joss Whedon is superior to Michael Bay as a director but what about the movie? I mentioned the witty, hilarious, and believable dialogue previously but the movie also did a great job tying in a series of separate superhero movies in such a way that I thought was impossible. From the very beginning when Fury is attempting to assemble The Avengers, each scenario is believable and the characters get along just as you would expect them too (initially hating each other’s guts and then eventually coming around).

Apart from that, the animation was great and not just constant explosions. The cutting was not overdone (very common in action movies when they don’t want you to see much of what is actually happening) and I felt that the story moved along in such a way that I didn’t even realize that the movie was almost 2.5 hours.

The only thing that prevented the movie from being perfect was the inclusion of two characters that suck as superheroes. I’m talking about Black Widow and Hawkeye, of course. I can’t blame that on Whedon though since he was sticking true to the original cast of characters but they sure do feel out of place from the rest. I can’t complain much about Black Widow though, since Scarlett Johansson is always a welcome addition.

If you haven’t yet seen The Avengers, watch it. And if you have, watch it again. 5 stars all the way.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

P.s.

Don’t even get me started about how cool Iron Man is. Throw together a witty and hilarious genius with a super suit that can fly and shoot lasers and you’ve got yourself a character. Best. Superhero. Ever. (Batman is a very close second). They’re particularly awesome because they are not overly farfetched (they stretch reality but they reside within it unlike other superheroes – ahem, Superman).

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Lockout Movie Review

Lockout-Movie-Review A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president’s daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.star-whitestar-whitestar-white

Perhaps I just like movies way too much and I’m just easily entertained, but it seems like every movie that I expect to be total garbage has been surprisingly me lately. I expected Lockout to be an action movie with nothing but a couple good action scenes yet it turned out to be so much more. Here goes nothing – my Lockout movie review.

Firstly, the movie was very clever. The dialogue was very witty and every utterance was a quip. This was definitely the case for Snow (the main character played by Guy Pearce). His careless attitude had him making jokes about every situation he got into. It added a great touch of humour to the movie, although it was somewhat overdone causing his character to be entirely one-dimensional; one of many factors holding my rating to three stars.

The second impressive aspect of the movie was its originality. The concept of a prison in space is novel (at least to me) and many of the plot twists were somewhat original as well. Most importantly, the movie veered away from some of the most stereotypical elements. Like the witty dialogue, Lockout may have taken this too far by trying a little too hard to be surprising, but for the most part it worked well.

In summary, Lockdown was far more than I expected with its originality, sophistication and originality. Several aspects of the movie held the movie back, including the fact that some of the aspects mentioned above were overdone, however, all-in-all it is a better-than-average action movie. It is worth watching, but waiting to rent it is probably the best move.

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The Hunger Games Movie Review

the-hunger-games-movie-review Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.star-whitestar-whitestar-whitestar-white

The Hunger Games wins on so many levels that it will be hard to touch on everything in this movie review.

The Hunger Games is based on the super-popular book series of the same name written by Suzanne Collins and both the movie and books bring something to the table for a variety of audiences. Although the primary target appears to be teens, the movie has universal appeal – for both young and old as well as male and female (unlike some movies *cough* Twilight *cough*). The movies has a good balance of both male and female roles as well as a balance of character types, including a  race-balance (some racists disagree about the casting of some characters). To reiterate, this creates a diverse experience that will be enjoyed by many.

The movie is based in a society in which the government fully oppresses the lower classes and forces impoverished citizens to engage in vicious fights to the death in order to maintain peace. The theme of the movie is extremely relevant given today’s current power struggles (the 99% vs. 1% and the 99% vs. the government) much like In Time. The movie even goes as far as to depict protests as a result of the hunger games that can be mistaken for having turned on CNN.

The Hunger Games was clearly written to illustrate the many problems plaguing modern-day society. Apart from the most obvious message –“watch out for an increasingly powerful government” –the story also spends considerable time illustrating the struggles of the lower class for the audience. It becomes apparent that the upper class is unaware of, or wilfully blind to, the struggles of the oppressed. All they care about is the “reality show”. The reality show idea was taken to the max as the producers of the show were willing to do anything for the ratings – not at all different than in real life (although with less extreme consequences, hopefully). The number of truly relevant modern-day themes written into The Hunger Games is truly incredible.

The movie itself was well-filmed with some interesting camera shots. The editing kept the movie alive even during some of the slower parts (of which there were not many). The music was well-suited throughout and the theme song during the credits was particularly great. Most surprising of all were some of the actors cast. It was a pleasant surprise to see Woody Harrelson; always a welcome addition. There were other surprises that I will leave out in order to avoid spoiling the movie.

Overall, the movie was highly engaging, very timely, well put-together and appealing for a variety of audiences. I cannot wait for the follow-ups.

What did you think?

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