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The Dark Knight Rises, but only so high

30 Aug

Everything comes to an end in Christopher Nolan’s ambitious conclusion to his Batman Trilogy. Set eight years after The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a guilt-ridden recluse content with his tarnished reputation. A powerful, new villain, Bane (Tom Hardy) has a complex plan to destroy Gotham.

The Dark Knight Rises is a good film, but not a great film. Nolan tries to do too much with Bane. A “revolution” of convicts running around didn’t work well in the first film and it doesn’t work in this one either. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was brilliantly played, but she became one of Nolan’s unnecessary moving parts, although she contribute in the end; she serves as Batman’s deus ex machina rather than something she can stick her claws in.  The expectations were unreasonably high for the third film, but it cannot be used as an excuse for some basic story problems. The Dark Knight Rises, but only so high.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade for IMAX: B+
Chuck’s Grade for Standard Screen: B-

World War Z adapts to the zombie genre

31 Jul


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.


Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: C+

Van Helsing doesn’t make it to dawn

25 Jul


Writer/Director Stephen Sommers attempts to follow-up his blockbuster success of the Mummy franchise by digging up two of the most famous undead characters, Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) and Frankenstein (Shuler Hensley) to fight Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), not to mention a cursed family championed by Anna (Kate Beckinsale) and her werewolf brother Velkan (Will Kemp). I was waiting for Abbot and Costello to show up since it is a Universal Horror film, but unfortunately they did not appear. The script becomes an alphabet soup of characters that are unable to come together and spell out anything that makes sense. There are some cool scenes and well-timed humor, but once the machine gun-like crossbow appears everything starts to go down hill. It would be one thing if Sommers was going for campy Evil Dead 2 humor, but the over-produced action sequences, high-profile cast and long run time kills such an idea from working.


Chuck’s Grade: C-

Adam’s Grade: C-

Inception questions our understanding of reality

28 Jun


With Inception, Christopher Nolan has established himself as one of the best writer/directors in Hollywood. His multi-layered plot filled with jaw-dropping visuals, adept acting from an ensemble cast, and well-paced action is like no other blockbuster to date. Nolan challenges his audience to think, as opposed to simply enduring one explosion after another. This has led to a love it or leave it response to this film.

Leonardo DiCaprio takes on one of his most complex roles as Cobb, a professional thief hired to commit corporate espionage by infiltrating the minds of his targets and leaving an idea that would benefit Cobb’s employer. Inception is an original film that successfully makes the “familiar strange and the strange familiar” by blurring the borders of the conscious mind with the subconscious dream world to the point audiences are questioning their own reality as they leave the cinema. We love it and hope to see Cobb again in our theater of dreams.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A+

Fast and the Furious 6 has too many miles on this vehicle

29 May


The latest installment of Fast and the Furious franchise has lost touch with reality. I admit the vault sequence in Five was improbable, but in Six it is downright ridiculous to the point I was laughing out loud at Vin Diesel’s super human stunts. Director Justin Lin takes on too much when he decides to resurrect Michelle Rodriguez (Letty) back from the dead. The soap opera script gets audiences to buy tickets, but there are too many miles on this vehicle.  There are plenty of fast cars and explosions to satisfy the summer blockbuster movie fan and I did enjoy Luke Evans and Gina Carano, but of their characters are inconsistent and the stunts are stupid.  Although, I was disappointed with the film I will put my seat belt on for part Seven because of the end credit’s teaser. Hopefully, Lin will take his ride into the shop and get it fixed in time.


Chuck’s Grade: C

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Iron Man (2008) is more American than Captain America himself

5 May


The first installment of the Iron Man trilogy is the best of the Marvel Comic movies.  Director John Favreau uses the most successful ingredients of a Hollywood big budget action film and allows Robert Downey Jr.’s talent to command the attention.  Favreau does most of the exposition before the opening credit are over, which allows him to start the film off on a high note and never look back with a brisk pace that mixes humor, action, and romance together seamlessly. Downey Jr. portrayal of Tony Stark has audiences loving him by the time he mentions the Playboy twins and his note-worthy character flaws are not made into a life-threatening crisis like so many other films in this genre. His fun first, and serious second demeanor in his personal and professional life creates an identity that makes him more American than Captain America himself. Stark Industries and Marvel Cinematic Movies have a promising future with this stylish suit of armor.


Chuck’s Grade: A

Adam’s Grade: B+

Transformers takes shape

19 Apr


In 2007, Transformers made its way to theaters and instantly became a blockbuster hit that would go on to spawn three sequels (Transformer 4, June 2014). Director Michael Bay is a master of movie magic with his adept applications of CGI technology. His special effects are amazing and the combination of the stunning visuals and precise sound editing have placed him at the top of today’s summer blockbuster directors. However, his adaptation of the Autobot’s arrival needs revisions. The dialogue is laughable at times and the film feels like it is about twenty minutes too long. The military is one-dimensional and Shia LeBeouf yelling can be tiresome. The big budget spectacle and Megan Fox helped distract audiences from these flaws and entertained audiences while a barrage of product placements littered the screen. Bay must be a mad scientist genius of action films because I was still entertained by the movie and looked forward to the sequel, in spite of my criticisms.

Adam’s Grade: B-

Chuck’s Grade: B

Jurassic Park

11 Apr


Once again, Steven Spielberg changed the cinematic experience by bringing  old and  young audiences together to witness the ground-breaking special effects created to bring Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park dinosaurs to life. I remember the original King Kong fighting and killing a T-Rex. At the time, it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen, and in 1993 many young people share that same feeling when they saw their generation’s T-Rex.   John Hammond (Attenborough), creates a theme park on a remote island that feature living dinosaurs spawned from prehistoric DNA. Before opening the attraction, he invites a paleontologist (Neil), paleobotanist (Dern), a mathematician/theorist (Goldblum) and his two grandchildren to visit the park. During their visit, the security system fails and the dinosaurs are free.

Though the story lacks developed characters and the absurdity of the security system is far-fetched, no one can deny the impact that it had on revolutionizing CGI technology. Jurassic Park is adventure and suspense at its finest.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: A-

Die Hard still has a pulse

16 Feb


The original Die Hard introduces action movie fans to John McClane’s (Bruce Willis) brand of endless ammunition and memorable one liners. Unlike many of its contemporaries, Die Hard is still a good movie that entertain audiences  of from start to finish. McClane remains relevant because he is the “Everyman” of action heroes. Unfortunately, the sequels have not lived up to the first film’s billing, mainly because none of the villains have been as engaging and intelligent as Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). His accent and his patience with McClane while he attempts to steal 640 million dollars from the Nakatomi Tower. Most of Willis and Rickman’s dialogue takes place over walkie-talkies. The anticipation of the final showdown between the good guy and bad guy crescendos unlike any other action film from its era. The climax is bigger and better than anyone was expecting while Willis’ popularity explodes into stardom and several sequels over the next twenty-five years.


Chuck’s Grade: A

Adam’s Grade: B+

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol still entertains, but it does not save the world.

14 Feb


Tom Cruise once again accepts the mission to star as Ethan Hunt in the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible franchise. Ghost Protocol adds some new members, Jeremy Renner (William Brandt) and Paula Patton (Jane Carter), which do a good job complimenting Cruise, but it is obvious that the villains do not share the same fire power. The story is straight-forward with no twists. There are some amazing stunts that keep the film in the conversation, but the action is not good enough to save the story. If Hunt is going to continue to accept missions, then it is time the franchise find a new a star to take on the role. I am a big Tom Cruise supporter, but he does not have the same explosive presence he did in the earlier films. He looked tired and undersized for the role standing next to Renner. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol still entertains, but it does not save the world.


Chuck’s Grade: B-

Adam’s Grade: B+