Category Archives: Trailer

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – Movie Review

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Director:  J.J. Abrams

Writers:  J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan

Stars:  Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Carrie Fisher

IMDb Logline:  Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.

Pros:

  1. Old pros Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Carrie Fisher (General Leia), and new arrivals Daisy Ridley (Ray), John Boyega (Finn), and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren)
  2. Han Solo and Kylo Ren character arcs
  3. Chewbacca
  4. Major emotional character plot point handled deftly and in service to both the story and another character arc
  5. Made you forget, and did not reference the Prequel Films
  6. Pratical Effects

Cons:

  1. Too many characters–underutilized characters could have been introduced in later films
  2. Too many call-backs to the original trilogy
  3. Too many coincides (i.e. how Han & Chewie get back the Falcon; BB-8 all of a sudden being there at different scenes)
  4. Did not emotionally connect with the movie until major character plot point

Review:  Star Wars is back and in good hands.  The story is linear, has characters you love, and an emotional punch that leaves you reeling.  The film moves fast–sometimes too fast–covering a lot of new ground while trying to catch you up on the last thirty-five years of events.

Rating = B+

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Click on image to view trailer


“Inherent Vice” (2014) – Review

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Writer/Director:  Paul Thomas Anderson

Stars:  Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Joanna Newsom, and Katherine Waterston

IMDb Logline:  In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

Pros:

  1. Martin Short’s performance
  2. Owen Wilson
  3. Period Setting

Cons:

  1. You don’t care about the characters
  2. The relationship/history between Doc (Joaquin Phoenix) and Big Foot (Josh Brolin) does not make sense, and is not sufficiently explained
  3. Martin Short’s character is superfluous

Review:  Inherent Vice is the rare film that feels both too long and not long enough.  While you feel the entire 148 minute runtime of the film, you also feel like the filmmakers left too much on the cutting room floor–with vital information left out while non-pertinent scenes were left in.  For a better detective film that makes you think, watch Brick again or for the first time.

Grade = D

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.


“Space Pirate Captain Harlock” (2013) – Review

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Director:  Shinji Aramaki

Writers:  Leiji Matsumoto (Manga), Harutoshi Fukui & Kiyoto Takeuchi (Screenplay)

IMDb Logline:  Space Pirate Captain Harlock and his fearless crew face off against the space invaders who seek to conquer the planet Earth.

Pros:

  1. Excellent CGI work
  2. Steampunk look of the Arcadia and its crew and technology
  3. Fairly well-developed characters

Cons:

  1. The train comes off the track in the third act with some head scratching developments
  2. The protagonist is Logan and not Captain Harlock

Review:  A very surprising update of another late 70s anime cartoon based off the manga of Leiji Matsumoto; fun for the whole family even though the finale doesn’t live-up to the build-up.  The characters are well-defined with both the protagonist and antagonist having complete story arcs.  The look of the film is incredible as well as well detailed.

Grade = B

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.


“Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) – Review

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Director:  James Gunn

Writers:  James Gunn and Nicole Perlman

Stars:  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel

IMDb Logline:  Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.

Pros:

  1. Great character development for all the protagonists
  2. Impressive voice work from both Bradley Cooper (Rocket) and Vin Diesel (Groot).  Cooper for his lightning fast and surprisingly emotional performance, and Diesel for delivering expressive and emotive readings of his one phrase of dialogue throughout the entire film.
  3. James Gunn’s, the director, world building is a balance of the original series Star Trek with humanoid painted aliens & story telling, and the adventure & fun of the original trilogy Star Wars films.
  4. Action packed third act the audience can follow sprinkled with moments of comedy and sacrifice
  5. General Eddie Murphy action comedy vibe similar to Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs but with much less cursing

Con:

  1. Generic principal villain

Review:  Much like Raiders of the Lost ArkGuardians of the Galaxy knows how to make an audience enjoy itself.  Released from the sometimes heavy burden of established comic mythology, Guardians lets loose with a band of misfits that learn to love & care for each other.  In turn, this allows the audience to love & care for them.  From its impressive special effects, camaraderie & chemistry among characters, easter-eggs for comics and 80s fans, and genuine emotion at the end of the film, Guardians of the Galaxy does no wrong.

Grade = A-

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.

 

Other great Guardians‘ images:

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“Boyhood” (2014) – Review

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Writer/Director:  Richard Linklater

Stars:  Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Lorelei Linklater

IMDb Logline:  The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.

Pros:  

  1. Interesting idea excellently executed
  2. Outstanding performances from Ellar Coltrane (Mason), Patricia Arquette (Mom), and Ethan Hawke (Dad)
  3. Refreshing to see a role played by someone who is actually the age of the character they are playing
  4. True to life

Cons:

  1. Weak performance from Marco Perella (Mom’s second husband) nearly derails the middle-school years
  2. Some years feel flatter than others–as life sometimes is
  3. Lorelei Linklater’s ambivalence to the project in the middle years of shooting also comes across in her performance

Review:  Boyhood is a well crafted, acted, and scripted film.  And though the story is immediately relatable, I personally felt a disconnect with the film.  But something about the film stays with you–little details you remember or conversations between characters.  The rawness of some scenes is very affecting; the tenderness between characters genuine.  Though I do not agree with all the high praise the film is currently garnering, I have a feeling that upon a re-watching in a year or two I may change my tune.

Grade = B-

Click on image to view trailer

Click on image to view trailer


“Maleficent” (2014) – Review

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Director:  Robert Stromberg

Writer:  Linda Woolverton

Stars:  Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, and Sam Riley

IMDb Logline:  A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.

Pros:

  1. Angelina Jolie
  2. Special Effects
  3. Three Fairy God Mothers

Cons:

  1. Turned one of Disney’s most evil villains into a sympathetic character

Review:  Though a feast for the eyes with a great performance by Jolie as Maleficent, in the end the film is mostly forgettable.  The idea of providing Maleficent a reason why she becomes evil is a good one, but giving her a “Disney” ending just feels wrong.

Grade = C

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Click on image to view trailer


“Only Lovers Left Alive” (2013) – Review

Click on image to view artist work

Click on image to view artist work

Writer / Director:  Jim Jarmusch

Stars:  Tilda Swinton & Tom Hiddleston

IMDb LogLine:  A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.

Pros:

  1. Tilda Swinton & Tom Hiddleston as vampires
  2. Set design and use of Detroit
  3. Sticks with basic vampire mythology

Cons:

  1. Glacial pacing
  2. Uninteresting dialogue
  3. Superfluous sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowaska), and Marlowe (John Hurt) characters

Review:  By the end of Only Lovers Left Alive, you ask yourself what the point of it was.  The premise is good, but the execution fails.  How does a vampire exist in a time when humans pollute their own bodies and you cannot easily dispose of bodies without an investigation?  How does an artistic, gifted, and undying vampire get his voice heard?  And what happens when he no longer cares?  For such heady questions and two such long-lived and intellectual characters, Eve (Tilda Swinton) and Adam’s (Tom Hiddleston’s) dialogue is amazingly vapid.  Though the film looks good, it does not stay with you.

Grade = C

Bonus:  If The Sandman project is an actual thing and not a pipe-dream, then the filmmakers should use Tom Hiddleston as Morpheus.  His performance of Adam is basically channeling the Dream of the Endless character.

Click on image to view trailer

Click on image to view trailer