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47 RONIN are turning over in their graves

30 Dec


The film’s director, Carl Erik Rinsch is probably kneeling before a room of executives at Universal and offering to perform seppuku for the dismal 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves. Everyone knew the film was in trouble long before its eventual Christmas release date, but I (Chuck) am a martial art film junkie and wanted to give the film a fair viewing. Unfortunately, the film lived up to its bad press by putting together a poorly assembled re-interpretation of the legendary story about Japan’s most famous samurai. There was no cohesion from scene to scene because the production is unable to balance the fantasy with the real story. Rinsch tries to honor both ideas, but it simply does not work. The special effects are distracting and predictable. Also, Universal Studios should be ashamed of themselves for thinking a  story about a group a men known for gaining honor through mass suicide would be a successful holiday blockbuster.


Chuck’s Grade: D

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Gravity is out of this world

7 Oct


The most anticipated film for me this year was Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity.” With his first film since the 2006 sci-fi drama “Children of Men,” Cuaron has broken new ground here, creating an experience unlike anything audiences have seen before. When a routine repair job on the Hubble telescope goes awry, a medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and a mission commander, Lt. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), must work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.

Believe the hype, this is one of the most visually stunning films ever, with its groundbreaking CGI that features jaw-dropping single-shot sequences. Clocking in at 90 minutes, Cuaron wastes no time in moving the story along. Bullock ventures outside of her normal orbit of roles and gives an amazing performance while Clooney is great in his supporting role. This is masterful technical achievement with Cuaron, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and Visual-Effects Tim Webber creating a movie going experience worthy of Oscar consideration.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Pacific Rim is a monstrous mess

28 Jul


Acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is finally back behind the camera in the enormously disappointing Pacific Rim. Giant monsters versus Giant humanoid robots. There really isn’t that more to tell as far as the story is concerned. It lacks emotion, humor and character development. I love Idris Elba (Stacker), but he is out of his element, along with Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh) and Rinko Kikuchi (Mako).  They are forced into relationships that don’t work and a rivalry that comes out of nowhere. The only thing that saves this film from becoming one of the summer’s worst is the astounding visual effects and the cinematography. I wanted to like Pacific Rim, but it is a monstrous mess.


Adam’s Grade: C

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Star Trek Into Darkness

21 May


In 2009, J.J. Abrams’s vision of Star Trek revolutionized the sci-fi franchise for an audience much larger than its “Trekkies” faithful. His second attempt does not disappoint either group. Star Trek Into Darkness is filled with thrilling action driven by a story that goes warp speed to the point that spectators cannot help smile as the force of the film pushes heads back to take in the universe of amazing visuals.

Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is faced with a formidable enemy named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a terrorist within Starfleet who’s especially good as a villain. Kirk and the Enterprise crew must embark on a manhunt and be prepared to go where no man has gone before. The story is not completely original, but it is a blockbuster summer hit that will leave audiences wanting to beam up to Scottie and give him a high-five for taking them for one hell of a ride through the final frontier once again.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Resident Evil: Retribution

19 Feb


I have come to the realization that the Resident Evil franchise is unstoppable and will never end. As long as Paul W.S. Anderson has zombies to kill and half of script there will be more to come. I expect the installments to reach the teens, and even surpass the Friday the 13th films. The most recent film, Resident Evil: Retribution delivers a blood fest inside of the Umbrella Corporation’s secret facility. Alice (Milla Jovovich) is still up for the challenge and her marksmanship has not diminished. Also, returning to the fold are Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), Boris Kodjoe (Luther West) and best of all; back from the dead, Michelle Rodriguez (Rain). The film has some cool scenes, but overall it is an abbreviated version of the first couple films.


Chuck’s Grade: C

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Hugo detours into early film history

29 Nov

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is a homage to early film history. It is not surprising that Scorsese would be interested in working on such a project. He is an advocate of film preservation and his efforts have has saved over 500 films, including some of the earliest films ever made.

The story follows a young orphan named Hugo (Asa Butterfield), who lives in the walls of train station in Paris 1931. His only keepsake of his father is a strange looking automaton that needs a key to unlock a secret message. Hugo befriends Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), the god-daughter of bitter shop owner, (Ben Kingsley) that knows something about Hugo’s machine.

Visually, the film is gorgeous, but its 128minute run time may turn off some audiences because this film detours from Hugo and delves into the history and life of the bitter shop owner. Film lovers will find this movie fascinating, but average audiences may not be as excited about the finished product.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Immortals will not live on forever

17 Oct

This film has some wonderful moments, but not enough to place it into Hollywood’s pantheon of Greek God inspired classics.  I get excited every time Hollywood decides to explore Greek mythology, but lately contemporary films have abandoned the traditional reverence for the Gods and focus its attention towards an approach that presents the mortal characters in positions of defiance. The scenes featuring the Gods are memorable and exciting to watch, but unfortunately audiences must wait patiently for their appearances.

Director Tarsem Singh eye for design helps this 3-D film become an aesthetic wonder, but that’s about it. The film’s main shortcomings are the dialogue and the casting of the film’s protagonists. Theseus (Mark Cavill) is unable to match Mickey Rourke’s performance as the evil King Hyperion. Actually, all of the principal actors are outclassed by Rourke’s presence in the film. Also, the film’s graphic violence can be off-putting and distracting at times. Unfortunately, Immortals will not live on forever.


Chuck’s grade: B-
Adam’s grade: C-

The Amazing Spiderman

21 Aug

Why reboot a movie we just saw ten years ago?  That question was answered early on this film with the director’s fresh approach to the old story of  Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), as opposed to the familiar, Mary Jane.  Parker finds a picture from the past with his father and Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans), a one-armed scientist working at Oscorp. Soon Peter gets bitten by a radioactive Spider and receives Spider like abilities and after the death of his Uncle, he dawns his Spiderman suit to fight against crime. Not to be outdone, Dr. Connors turns himself into a giant lizard during a botched experiment and wreaks havoc on New York City.

The action sequences fall flat compared to Sam Raimi’s versions and the plot does get a little murky, but the emotional journey Parker goes through is what works in the film. This is where director Mark Webb’s script and his actors really shine.


Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: B