Craig Daniels (Pat Healy) is a mechanic and a family man. At least, he was a mechanic. Then he got fired. On the same day that he received an eviction notice. As he scrubs his grimy hands at the end of his short last day, a closeup reveals the wedding ring on his finger. A finger that is tensely tapping against the sink with the knowledge that its owner has fallen into dire straits.
Enter Vince (Ethan Embry), the sleazy but well meaning high school friend of Craig. Vince is a debt collector. The off-the-books type of debt collector. Then enter Colin (David Koechner), a seemingly well-off stranger who just wants some drinking company on his wife Violet’s (Sara Paxton) birthday. As per the genre’s usual tropes, something seems off about Colin and Violet. Colin is uncharacteristically charismatic and friendly. Violet is uninterested in almost everything.
As the night moves on and the drinks start flowing, Colin starts engaging Craig and Vince in a series of bets. They are innocent bets, but they come with tempting Continue reading Cheap Thrills (2014) Movie Review
Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is a child with a dream: to create a teleportation device and change the world for the better. After his prototype device is disqualified from his high school science fair, scientist Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) hires him to work on a government funded device of the same ilk for the sake of accessing a nondescript alternate dimension dubbed “Zero.”
From there, Fantastic Four is a haphazard jumble of plot points inserted abruptly with no sense of pacing or flow. The opening sequence with Continue reading Fantastic Four (2015) Movie Review
In 1982, savant children battle for the fame of becoming an arcade game champion, an event being filmed for the sake of a time capsule that will be shot into space. Brenner (Adam Sandler), the savant-iest of savant gamers, gets a tie score with hot shot Eddie (Peter Dinklage) and must face off against him in a round of Donkey Kong. Brenner loses by a nose, which seemingly demoralizes him into leading a washed up life of attending Mississippi Institute of Technology and becoming an electronics installer.
Meanwhile, Brenner’s dopey friend “Chewy” Cooper (Kevin James) is President of the United States. That’s right, Continue reading Pixels (2015) Movie Review
And now, a dramatic interpretation of a how a hypothetical pitch meeting for the As Above, So Below script might have started:
“It’s The Descent meets [REC] meets Grave Encounters meets Buried meets National Treasure.”
“Love it. I bet we can get that guy from Cloverfield for the male lead.”
“But we can still terrorize the sole black character by putting him in the most danger early on, right?”
“Of course! What else are horror movies for!?”
“Huzzah! Let’s make movies!”
All right, so I have no idea how pitch meetings actually work. Nonetheless, that’s a fairly accurate description of As Above, So Below. The movie wraps a plot largely reminiscent of Continue reading As Above, So Below (2014) Movie Review
In this sequel to the surprising 2012 A Capella-themed hit comedy, the three time national champion Barden Bellas are banned from competing after a graphically embarrassing performance during the President’s birthday celebration. Despite this, they are still allowed to compete in the world championship that they have already qualified for (which begs the question as to why the initial scandal was necessary in the first place).
This movie has everything. A racist minority character. A cliche supporting male character who literally can’t Continue reading Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) Movie Review
In the horror sequel The Purge: Anarchy, a group of innocent people get caught outside during “The Purge:” a period of 24 hours where all crime in the United States is legal. A mother and daughter, a couple in a tumultuous relationship, and a rogue man with some unclear mission find themselves banding together, running from an army of armored men in trucks and a gang of masked outlaws (and later a third group of murderers).
From premise alone, this film is superior to its predecessor. Where the first Purge film took place largely inside one home, Anarchy Continue reading The Purge: Anarchy (2014) Movie Review
In comedian/actor Jason Bateman’s feature length directorial debut Bad Words, Guy Trilby (Bateman), a grumpy competitive adult, takes on a room full of children in the national spelling bee, having found a loophole in which anyone who has not completed 8th grade by the cut-off date can compete. Meanwhile, Jenny (Kathryn Hahn), Guy’s journalist sponsor, tries to get his story out of him for her online newspaper. Guy is a tough shell to crack, telling us that Jenny will get her scoop once the climax comes.
Guy and Jenny also engage in an unnecessarily strained and awkward sexual relationship, a Continue reading Bad Words (2014) Movie Review
The ABCs of Death: Short-by-Short Review
The ABCs of Death is an anthology horror film that gave 26 directors from around the world free reign to do whatever they wanted with one simple word: Death. Each director was given a letter and had to create a short subject surrounding around a word of their choosing starting with that letter. What follows is Continue reading The ABCs of Death (2012) In-Depth Movie Review
The Lazarus Effect is a thriller/horror film from director David Gelb. The film stars Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, and Donald Glover as four grant researchers testing the effects of a special serum on dead animals. During their research, the manage to revive a dead and blind dog. The dog, miraculously healthy (even regaining his eyesight), shows extreme activity in his brain from the serum, which doesn’t seem to be decaying from his body as the scientist’s expected it would. Clay (Peters) points out that the increased neural firing will have an adverse affect on the aggression center of the dog’s brain, causing the animal to become dangerous.
When a pharmaceutical company takes over their research, Continue reading The Lazarus Effect (2015) Movie Review
Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic romance film adapted from E.L. James’ novel of the same name. In it, nervous lip-biter Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is subbed in to interview billionaire playboy Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for a graduate school newspaper. During the interview, sparks fly (I’m using this phrase loosely) and they become romantically involved. But Mr. Grey is oddly distant and afraid of commitment. Ana soon finds out Grey’s secret: a hidden life of playing out a sexual domination fantasy. Virgin innocent Ana doesn’t know how to handle this news at first, but soon becomes wrapped up in the “taboo” world of BDSM, falling for Christian in the process.
From the title sequence, we are immediately flooded with exorbitantly sleek mise-en-scene, namely with shots of Christian’s wardrobe. We are also given beautiful landscape shots of the Seattle skyline. All the while, Annie Lennox singing “I Put a Spell On You” fills the scene with soulful body. This lush opening is enticing and inviting. It is only when characters begin to speak that problems arise.
Continue reading Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) Movie Review