Movie Reviews

ABOUT DAMN TIME!!! Alien – Covenant Trailer

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How long have we waited?  Too long.  Be careful…I think this trailer has a fair amount of spoilers.  You cannot entirely put together the plot point by point BUT you see some characters expire and the means of their expiration.  Very happy they are going with a hard R rating for this.  Image result for alien covenant Alien: Covenant trailer

I must confess…this is the bloodiest trailer I’ve ever seen outside the buckets of blood stuff from the 80s and 90s with Freddy and Jason etc.

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They have no idea…

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They have no idea…

I was one of the many many’s to watch the latest Star Wars trailer last night during half-time of the Monday Night Football game.  And I weathered the annoying duo of  overrated Mike Tirico and the even more overrated Jon Gruden I might add to do so.  Thankfully the slings and arrows I endured were worth it for the trailer…well it left me and my wife in tears.  Nostalgic.  Inspiring.  A promise of a taste of home cooking!  I was just absolutely enraptured by the sights and sounds.  If the film is even a tenth of quality of the 2+ min trailer then I have to say it will be a difficult film to beat in my eyes as movie of the year.  I simply can’t wait to see if this holds true!

Today I showed my students the trailer during a break in the festivities of learning what needed to be known on the upcoming state test (never mind learning anything useful).  Most had not yet seen the trailer.  And most had only the more recent (m&*#^$FU^%#&g) prequels as a reference point.  Few, a sad, sad few, had ever seen the originals.  Now talk about what is wrong with America!  Throw aside all the criminals that are running for or currently holding office…we need everyone to sit down and watch the originals…oh and then burn the prequels afterwards!

Trailer Episode VII
Trailer Episode VII

After viewing the most recent trailer with my class I then went on to field questions.  One of the questions was regarding the Disney purchase of the brand (a few of my kids pay attention to the news even if just the celebrity and entertainment sections).  I shared that the good thing about the evil empire (Disney) is that they have A LOT OF MONEY.  Mountains of it in fact and like American politicians they are willing to throw tons of it at an issue hoping for a solution.  The solution for Disney with the faltering Star Wars franchise it to make more movies…and more…and more.  I told the kids that they have no idea what is ahead of them.  I then briefed them on just what was in store.  For at least the next 6-years they will have a Christmas or summer Star Wars movie to attend.  Three movies in the series and three films in the anthologies (monsters of the week – so popular in an established series because it focuses on one smaller story normally alluded to in the greater canon and context in the series whole).  They were stunned.  “We get to see something like this…every year for the next six years!?”

Yes.

Originally I was concerned that director J.J. Abrams would bring along his friend from the Lost series Damon Lindelof (ruiner of Prometheus – shame!!!) but when I found Lindelof was not attached to SW oh boy was I excited.  I can only hope I and my student are subjected to what Star Wars could be and not what it has been over the past decade.  I can only hope…you listening Obi –Wan Kenobi?!  You’re my only hope!

P.S.  This movie better begin with the Millennium Falcon flying overhead!!!

http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3343889177

Review: The Awakening – Period Piece Ghost Film That’s Better Than Most

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J. W. Kurtz

Film Review:  The Awakening (2011)

My Rating:  5 craft beers on a 6-pack scale.

Genre:  Horror/Thriller

Rating:  R

Runtime:  107 mins

Directed by:  Nick Murphy

Writers:  Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy

Stars:  Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton

Note:  English language film, a UK production.

So I write this a day after watching The Awakening.  Looking at the film a day later I almost wonder at my initial high rating.  Perhaps too high in fact.  When compared to the IMDP and Metascore ratings I see I’m indeed a little elevated.  Perhaps my 5 craft beer score has more to do with the fact that I was on my 5th beer by the end of the movie and again I’m on my 5th brew as I write this now.  Perhaps.  I’m sticking with the rating however so here we go.

IMDB The Awakening

IMDB The Awakening

There will be no spoilers so don’t…

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Drive – Listen to the sound of awesome. A Movie Review.

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J. W. Kurtz

Film Review:  Drive (2011)

My Rating:  5 craft beers on a 6-pack scale (5 ½ if you have an awesome 7.1 sound system).

Genre:  Crime/Drama

Rating:  R

Runtime:  100 mins

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Writers:  Hossein Amini, James Sallis (book)

Stars:  Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston

First off I’m compelled to share that it is my belief that anything featuring Ryan Gosling should be considered guilty pleasure entertainment.  I don’t know why that is exactly.  He’s far from the greatest thespian to ever grace the silver screen.  He delivers dialogue like he’s ordering a pizza and he has one move: a slowly forming smile coupled with a squint.  Still I have enjoyed nearly everything I’ve ever seen him in.  I wish I could put exactly why into words but I can’t at this time so I won’t even attempt the hunt.

On to Drive.

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Terribly ugly awfully perfect film.

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J. W. Kurtz

Film Review:  Snowpiercer (2013)

My Rating:  5.9 craft beers on a 6-pack scale (no such thing as a perfect 6-pack!).

Genre:  Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller

Rating:  R (not finding a rating but, yeah, I’d give it an R)

Runtime:  126 mins

Directed by:  Joon-ho Bong

Writers:  Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson (others as well but I didn’t want to turn the page)

Stars:  Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, and John Hurt!!!

Note:  English language film, also Korean, Japanese, French

IMDB Snowpiercer IMDB Snowpiercer

Terribly ugly awfully perfect film.  Yeah you read that right.  Wrap your brain around that!

As usual there will be no spoilers in this quick and dirty review.  There may be allusions and feelings (yuck…feelings) but no spoilers herein lie.  

Synopsis:

Silly humans destroy the world.  Only a train with an engine that seems to be able to run forever allows the remnants of silly humanity…

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REVIEW: The Returned – A different kind of zombie movie.

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J. W. Kurtz

Film Review:  The Returned

My Rating:  4 ½ craft beers on a 6-pack scale.

Genre:  Drama/Horror/Sci-Fi

Rating:  N/A

Runtime:  98 mins

Directed by:  Manuel Carballo

Writers:  Hatem Khraiche

Stars:  Kris Holden-Reid, Emily Hampshire, Claudia Bassols

Note:  English language film, shot in Canada, production company based in Spain.  Watched via stream from Netflix.

Want to see a very different take on the zombie apocalypse and the impact it would have on the world?  Well, look no further than the excellent indie film The Returned.  There are NO spoilers below so don’t be worried.

The Returned on IMDB The Returned on IMDB

This is nota movie with buckets of blood (the first 3-minutes of the title segment notwithstanding), deeply flawed and yet lovable survivors, and nor does it feature the lost child looking for someone to protect and adopt them as their own.  The Returned is a movie about how the world, which survived an…

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Interstellar: A review/critique of a NOT so stellar movie.

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Interstellar: A review/critique of a not so stellar movie. SPOILER INCLUSIVE!

Film:  Interstellar (2014)

My Rating:  .5 craft beers on a 6-pack scale (I took the 6-pack back for a refund – skunky beer!).

Genre:  Adventure/Sci-Fi

Rating:  PG-13

Runtime:  169 LONG mins

Directed by:  Christopher Nolan

Writers:  Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan

Stars:  Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, others…kinda

Interstellar pic

Yes, this film has been out for a while now obviously.  I missed it in theaters and that was on purpose.  I don’t go to the theater because I want to be completely engrossed in a film (especially one I’m paying $$$ to see – remember when movies were $2.50 a ticket?!).   I want to be immersed completely into a film, the sights, the sounds, which is extremely difficult when there’s a drunk couple screaming at the screen while sitting a row or two in front and of course there is always the person on their cell phone sitting but a seat away from you.  The theater experience sucks these days despite the technologies available to show film.  The human element pretty much ruins it so yeah I’m a little behind in seeing Interstellar.  Thank God for Netflix and thank God I was able to hold out for the disk to arrive in the mail rather than buy the dang thing.  I managed to sit through the nearly 3-gruelling hours last night but I was too drained to follow up with an immediate write-up so instead I went to bed and had some really bad dreams.  You know a film is bad when it leads to nightmares and it isn’t a horror film!  (Note: I don’t have nightmares at all regardless of the genre of film I’ve watched so the negative impact Interstellar had on my sleep is indeed scary).

Okay, okay, so that was a long opening paragraph that has let you know I didn’t like the movie.  Now you must be asking exactly what was so bad, right?  The answer would be pretty much everything.  Everything except the Hans Zimmer score which from what I’ve read is something that the positive reviewers for Interstellar have pooh-pooed as the ONLY negative.  Funny.  I found the score to be different.  Very different.  But at the same time it was a refreshing change from the usual score associated with such films.  I’m not bagging on the scores of other movies of the genre.  I’m just saying that this was a welcomed departure from the norm.

SPOILERS BELOW – I don’t usually do the spoiler thing but it couldn’t be helped.  Why?  Because this film bothered me so much that I really wanted to pick apart some of the more prevalent flaws (fatal flaws) in this thing.  SPOILERS BELOW

 

You ready for this mess?  I know you read the script.  It's too late to turn back now.
You ready for this mess? I know you read the script. It’s too late to turn back now.

 

Now what didn’t work?  EVERYTHING else.  I don’t want to write a novel here but the last time a sciency doctor was played as bad as the Dr. Brand character of Anne Hathaway was Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) in The World Is Not Enough.  I will not dignify Hathaway’s character by calling her “Dr.” anymore in this review/critique.  It would be an injustice to the scientists of the world.  Why was Hathaway’s character even included in the film especially when she had no power on the mission, other than to be annoying, as Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a pilot, who seems to be in charge of humanities destiny because he can fly a ship?  A ship that seems to also be able to be flown by the talented and underutilized monolithic robots I might add.  Just dumb.  How convenient by the way that the secret NASA base where the saviors of humanity were busily working on things like solving gravity and building circular concrete structure underground was just an evening drive from Cooper’s farm.  A secret NASA base where old friend/boss/professor Michael Caine was in charge and wasn’t surprised that Cooper just wandered on in.

One more thing about the robots; what exactly are they made of?  They seem to be constructed of nothing but titanium, level III bullet proof Gorilla glass, and unobtanium/adamantium because they take a beating and their electronics don’t have so much as a hiccup.  My wife spills a little water on her ipod and it’s toast.  I really wish all electronics were built like those robots.

I know.  I know.  There's only 2-more hours left...of crap!
I know. I know. There’s only 2-more hours left…of crap!

Another thing that absolutely didn’t work was the universe where this was all going down.  If the planet was starving and in such miserable shape like we are led to believe, and the governments were unable to provide security (as mentioned with “there are no more Marines” and the lost Indian air force drone sequence which contributed next to nothing in the story by the way) there would most likely not be the safe little farming communities and industrial capabilities to keep folks using heavy machinery or gas powered vehicles.  If you look at the vehicles used in Interstellar there are gas cans everywhere.  Where are they getting the gasoline especially if the world can no longer maintain security?  It comes down to this: people will be fighting and fighting everywhere.  I saw no evidence of this.  If you’ve seen Looper you’d see a more realistic near future sci-fi representation of what farming would most likely look like in a depressed future.  Everyone in that universe is armed to the teeth and paranoid paranoid paranoid and rightly so.  They aren’t the type to take in a baseball game in between massive dust storms that are slowly choking them all to death.  It would be fantastic if they did though as there are few things I love more in this world than baseball.  I believe I would be all but alone in the stands watching a game if the life of humanity was at stake like it was every day in the Interstellar universe.

Need more of what didn’t work?  The explorer Romilly, who volunteers to stay behind and research the singularity (hoping to solve gravity) only to be rejoined with the returning Cooper (McConaughey) and Brand (Hathaway), seems pretty well-balanced despite 23+ years of being alone in a tin can.  That’s not to say he wasn’t just a little bit off but he looked to handle their return a lot better than I expected him to.  I know he slept a little but even if he slept for 80% of the time they were gone that’s still 4-5 years of solitary confinement the guy had to endure.  By the way…they are flying these ships all over the place, near a black hole which is a pretty significant body of gravity (understatement), and they are worried about fuel all the time but I wonder just what is propelling and fuelling these craft here and there and without a heavy and long acceleration how to they figure on getting anywhere?  Tremendous plot holes.

Another whacky thing is the Matt Damon character of Dr. Mann.  I wonder if Chris Nolan was stoned out of his mind when he thought any part of that idea was good.  Things big and large about this entire sequence bothered me to no end like how Dr. Mann sealed himself up in the hibernation tank (funny that if people are in that liquid for years they don’t have even a little bit of the prune look, right?).  The system doesn’t look like a very good one when you have to rip open the bag to get someone out like Cooper had to do by the way.  So Dr. Mann is awake and happy he isn’t dead and he explains his robot in a jumbled pile just broke down and they all seem to buy it pretty quickly and move on to the exciting data that makes them believe on the surface of this cold, cold planet they can breathe!  Yay!  We can’t grow SHIT here but at least in certain parts of this ice cube of a world you can breathe the air.  Cooper and Dr. Mann go for a long walk to see this breathable surface (why didn’t they fly there??) and Cooper has part of his helmet broken by Dr. Mann so Mann can kill him and escape the planet.  Cooper of course survives though it shouldn’t be such an issue because the pressure of his suit should have kept the toxic air out of the suit for a time being…nice that the suits don’t have some means to affix an emergency patch by the way.  If he’d only brought some futuristic duct-tape foam patch kit thingy he would have been just fine.  Of note is that Matt Damon isn’t billed in this film and I think for good reason.  Why would he want his name associated with it?

Anybody, with all our technology and stuff, notice the GIANT approaching waves?  Nah...me neither.
Anybody, with all our technology and stuff, notice the GIANT approaching waves? Nah…me neither.

Wait…there’s more!  Dr. Mann has had the foresight to rig his robot to explode if the secret information he hid was accessed.  Yep.  What if someone accessed it while he was sleeping?  He’s okay with killing everyone including himself?  And the robot helping poor Romilly, a super advanced robot by the way, can’t go “hmmm that looks like a bomb?”  Fine so Dr. Mann steals a ship, flies through the ice clouds (I’ve never seen ice able to float by the way) to the mothership but he cannot dock because the automatic docker has been turned off by one of the super robots as a precaution.  Precaution against what!!!??  Against what!?!?  AND THEN the super smart Dr. Mann doesn’t think much of opening a pressurized door into the vacuum of space.  What could go wrong he thinks as he is shot out like a cannon point blank into the unsecured airlock hatch?  By the way the computer during all this is telling him he isn’t in a secure dock but close enough seems to be okay with the good doctor.  To me this was Chris Nolan and his brother (the co-writer) deciding it was time for something else to blow-up and give Cooper a chance to save the day by daringly docking with the spinning ship while Brand passes out.  I’m going to drop the mike here because it hurts my head to think about anything else concerning this trainwreck of a film because thinking on how Cooper survives the black whole (WHICH NOTHING CAN ESCAPE!!! Except maybe love and good intentions) and is then found floating in deep space with minutes of air left in his little space suit which seems to be able to both keep him warm despite the incredibly cold reaches where he is found and also shielded from the Hawking radiation (and other neat killy things) from the singularity he was hanging out in to then meet up with a bunch of people just cruising around in giant space cylinders while Brand sits alone on their new world just hanging out.  Glad they had all these ships and technology at hand but didn’t think to send anything to help her.  Cooper of course then steals a ship with relative ease (great security by the way for a pretty valuable resource smart guys) and with probably not so much as a snickers bar with him he flies off to hook up with her so he can start farming on their new world no doubt.

Blah!!!!  What a bunch of junk this all was!  Do not use the IMDB.com rating on this one.  This is NOT AN 8+ film.  Not at all!