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Oblivion is a mixed bag

22 Sep

OBLIVION-FILM

Oblivion is a mixed bag that is going to receive a mixed review from FastForwardFilmReviews.com. On the one hand, Adam found the film to be unoriginal and disappointing on many levels. His major criticism is the story and its predictable twists, as well as the under utilized characters, Malcolm Beach (Morgan Freeman) and Julia Rusakova (Olga Kurylenko). Anytime a film has to rely on flashbacks it is in trouble and Oblivion finds itself pressing rewind in many places. On the other hand, Chuck did not mind the story and doesn’t think it clones other films. Joseph Kosinski’s riffing on common sci-fi subjects is not a big deal. Oblivion is noticeably slow-moving and Chuck agrees with Adam about the supporting cast. However, he did not see the twist coming, which has him liking the film much more than Adam, although Chuck was disappointed with the final product. Both agree the visual effects are amazing and Claudio Miranda’s cinematography is gorgeous.

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: C+

Chuck’s Grade: B

Insidious: Chapter 2 is lost in the after life

17 Sep

INSIDIOUS-CHAPTER-2

James Wan may have now established himself as the King of modern horror with SAW, Insidious and The Conjuring under his belt. He knows how to keep his audiences on edge and screaming for more. The sequel to the 2011 surprise horror hit brings back the cast and pick up right where they left off at. The Lambert family (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) seek to uncover the secret that has them attached to the supernatural.

The film does give some better scares than the first one, but also makes some predictable choices that would bore the avid horror fan. Writers Wan and Leigh Whannell bring some welcomed creativity to the story but at the same time overreaches and leaves too many unanswered questions. John Leonetti deserves some recognition for his brilliant camerawork as he frames the film’s haunting atmosphere. Insidious: Chapter 2  will frighten audiences, but the story does not live on in the “after life” of Chapter 1.

WORD COUNT: 157

Adam’s Grade: C+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Kick-Ass 2 gets its ass kicked

19 Aug

KICK-ASS-2

The original Kick-Ass surprised audience with its funny story, gratuitous violence, and vulgar language from a cute cast of kids. Three years later, the kids are not as cute and the violence is cartoonish, and the language seems appropriate for your typical high school teenager.

Dave aka Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) joins forces with a group of costumed vigilantes led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), while Mindy aka Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) attempts to live a normal life. Elsewhere, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), seeks revenge against Kick-Ass.

The film mainly lacks a good story. The script tries to set up emotional moment after another and fails miserably. However, the action is entertaining and like the first film, Hit-Girl steals every scene she is in. Kick-Ass 2 gets its ass kicked by the original because it cannot defeat the expectations of its fans and ends up like most sequels, which is not much.

WORD COUNT: 152

Adam’s Grade: C+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

World War Z adapts to the zombie genre

31 Jul

WORLD-WAR-Z

World War Z wastes no time. The exposition is about five minutes, and then all hell breaks loose as Gerry (Brad Pitt) and his family find themselves in middle of mass hysteria and death as the infected run wild through the city. Gerry is a former UN investigator that is forced into tracking the origin of the virus with a small team. Most good zombie films have been attached to some social/cultural/political metaphors to describe the contemporary condition. There are hints of all of these ingredients in the film, but rabid consumption and depression from lack of stimulus resonated the most with me. I am not a zombie fan and I have not read Max Brooks’ novel, but I will pick up the book and I look forward to the seeing a sequel. It is a serious story that equals 28 Days Later, but like its predecessor finding a suitable ending that will satisfy everyone is its biggest shortcoming.

WORD COUNT: 158

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: C+

Sleepy Hollow is lost in a Grimm-like fairy tale

10 Jul

SLEEPY-HOLLOW

Director Tim Burton’s imagination takes Washington Irving’s remarkable short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and changes the tale to fit his aesthetic leanings, but that is no surprise because Burton’s career has demonstrated his visual imagination is much stronger than his ability to deliver a narrative story from start to finish. The film is headless like its infamous villain because it is far from complete. The new direction is spooky, but the melodrama becomes too much to bear and Sleepy Hollow is lost in a Grimm-like fairy tale of witches and dark forests. Johnny Depp (Ichabod Crane) and Christina Ricci (Katrina Van Tassel) are the perfect actors for production designer Rick Heinrichs and set decorator Peter Young’s taste for the macabre, but their performances reminded me of porcelain figures stuck in a diorama.

WORD COUNT: 134

Chuck’s Grade: B-

Adam’s Grade: C+

Equilibrium loses its footing

8 Jul

EQUILIBRIUM-MOVIE

History has a tendency to repeat itself and director Kurt Wimmer’s film, Equilibrium uses familiar subject material that has been introduced by the likes of literary greats, Ray Bradbury and George Orwell, while borrowing contemporary sci-fi style from The Matrix and THX 1138 in this futuristic tale about fascist governments and mood controlling drugs. I do not have a problem with the subject material, but the film’s script is not very good and actor Christian Bale (John Preston) finds himself mired in one predictable scene after another. Besides Bale, I thought the art direction, fight choreography, and stunts were the strongest points, but in the end it always comes down to a good story, and although this one had some great source material it does not deliver a word-of-mouth movie that I would recommend to my sci-fi geek buddies. Equilibrium loses its footing and falls into the pile of forgettable DVDs.

WORD COUNT: 150

Adam’s Grade: C+

Chuck’s Grade: C

Man of Steel fails to be super!

18 Jun

Man-of-Steel

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

The Man of Steel is a re-interpretation of the Superman franchise. Under the guidance of Hollywood’s own superhero, Christopher Nolan produces the latest version by employing screenwriter, David S. Goyer and director Zack Snyder to bring this all to familiar story back to life. I am not going to bore you with the story of Jor-El (Russell Crowe), his newborn son, and the Clark family. Henry Cavill’s (Superman) most amazing feat was landing the role in the first place. His past projects and stiff performances were nothing special to warrant the red cape, but his chiseled body and good looks certainly fit the part.

The film’s main strength is Snyder’s ability to deliver thrilling action scenes, but it is the same old story with a predictable ending and one of the most annoying romances in comic book history. Not so super.

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: C+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Ted is alive and well

31 Jan

TED-movie

At first, the idea to have an eight year old kid make a Christmas wish for his Teddy Bear to come alive is the dream of many children, but direct/writer Seth MacFarlane takes this idea and creates a mature comedy about a John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) thirty something guy that cannot get his life together because he spends too much time getting stoned with his talking and walking Teddy Bear (voice-Seth MacFarlane) while his girlfriend (Mila Kunis) is tired of her John going nowhere with his life. Most rational people are thinking this is not going to work, but MacFarlane must have made a Christmas wish because TED is a funny, laugh out loud film that entertains audiences and works on many different levels. Wahlberg and Kunis are great together and MacFarlane’s foul mouth Boston accent for TED is genius. There are some problems with the film’s third act, but most of it forgivable. Thankfully, TED is alive and well.

WORD COUNT: 159

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: C+

The Adventures of Tintin did not impress

4 Jan

the-adventures-of-tintin

The Adventures of Tintin was a popular stop motion animated film in 2011 that did well at the box office and was well received by audiences from around the world, but I don’t share the same enthusiasm about Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s animated tale about Belgian artist, Herge’s comic character, Tintin. To be honest, I did not see the theatrical 3D version of the film. I watch the movie on Netflix and I was not impressed.  There was nothing remarkable about the script and the story lacked suspense. Tintin is repeatedly upstaged by Captain Haddock’s volume and physical humor while Snowy (Tin Tin’s dog) becomes the most interesting character to watch. The film’s villan, Sakharine oddly enough looks like a young Steven Spielberg, which I found funny, but I realize this humor is lost on younger audiences. Although, most children will be satisfied with the film, I believe Jackson and Spielberg are capable of something much better.

WORD COUNT: 157

Chuck’s Grade: C

Adam’s Grade: C+

Haywire

3 Jan

haywire

Haywire is a fast paced action thriller that follows a betrayed covert operator that wants to exact revenge on her former employers. Director Steven Soderberg’s film features Hollywood’s next big action star. Her name is Gina Carano, a former mixed martial artist that has real fighting skills and good looks that gives her an on-screen presence not seen since Chuck Norris retired his black belt. Granted, Carano’s acting ability is rough around the edges, but there are moments that reveal her potential for becoming a natural. The fight sequences are great, but there are some clunky scenes, as well as some unrealistic logistics for the sake of pacing. Soderbergh puts together an interesting cast: Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, and Ewan McGregor. My main criticism is that these actors did not have enough to do because of a lean script. Hopefully, Carano will get an opportunity to turn this character into a successful franchise.

WORD COUNT: 159

Chuck’s Grace: B

Adam’s Grade: C+