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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

The Prestige is an underrated film

14 Sep

THE-PRESTIGE

Christopher Nolan has been known to trick and challenge his audiences to think, but he explores new ground in the underrated film, The Prestige. Two magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) have turned a friendly competition into a bitter rivalry that consumes each of them with obsession and jealousy. Both actors give convincing performances. Their preparation for the roles of magicians are obvious and not lost on the audience.

Magicians are not supposed to reveal their secrets and Nolan continues to amaze audiences with his ability to direct or should I say misdirect the obvious from the mind and eye. Wally Pfister’s camera work and use of dark-lighting sets the tone for Nolan and his brother Jonathan to adapt a story that is full of mystery from start to finish. Every great magic trick consists of three acts. The Prestige has all three parts and has audiences leaving the theater asking, “How did he do that?”

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: B

The Dark Knight Rises, but only so high

30 Aug

THE-DARK-KNIGHT-RISES
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.

WORD COUNT: 159

Adam’s Grade: B+

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

The Dark Knight is a diabolical masterpiece

29 Aug

THE-DARK-KNIGHT

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight raises the bar and turns the sequel to Batman Begins into one of the most memorable action films of all time. It exceeded most audience’s expectations because of its complexity, rich story, exhilarating action, and Heath Ledger’s legendary performance as The Joker. No one should ever put on the white make-up again after Ledger’s diabolical performance. Gotham will never be the same and Batman (Christian Bale) had to use everything at his disposal to combat his arch-nemesis.

Even at a running time of over two and a half hours the story and characters have no problem holding audiences’ attention. The visual effects combined with adept sound design/editing elevate the film and become an integral part of the unforgettable masterpiece. The Dark Knight is not only the best superhero film, but one of the most entertaining and satisfying films of all time.

WORD COUNT: 146

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A+

The Impossible is an emotional journey

21 Jun

THE-IMPOSSIBLE

The Impossible is based on a true story about a family caught in the middle of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami devastation.  Director Juan Bayona’s storytelling brings this unreal event to a perspective that is rarely capture in a film. The personal moments between the characters are unforgettable and film’s emotional impact is long-lasting. Bayona balances  the story with strategic special effects and the choice to film sequences in real water allowed the cast to shine through and give some of the best performances of 2012. Watts garnered most of the attention with several nominations, but many would agree this little film showcased a formidable Ewan McGregor. Someone we have not seen for some time. Also, Tom Holland as Lucas (12-year-old) charisma and talent make audiences take note of great things to come from this young actor.

WORD COUNT: 135

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Source Code is a cryptic thriller

2 Jun

source-code

Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a U.S. Army Chopper pilot who wakes up in the body of another man, in order to figure out the identity of a train bomber. The film wastes no time with the action and the sci-fi technology is advanced enough to intrigue audiences to pay close attention.

Director Duncan Jones has tackled science fiction successfully before with his debut film Moon. He may become known for his ability to play mind games with people because Source Code is cryptic thriller that keeps audiences entertained like a good game of Sudoko . The script mixes elements of Quantum Leap, 12 Monkeys, and Groundhog Day together, but there is an original element because of Gyllenhaal performance and Jones’ direction. Source Code is a smart thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.

WORD COUNT: 135

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Happythankyoumoreplease has enough charming moments

14 May

happythankyoumoreplease

When this debuted at Sundance in 2010, I couldn’t wait to see what Josh Radnor had in store for his film debut as writer and director. I was impressed at his ability to tell multiple storylines while keeping the film organized and engaging.
Sam Wexler (Radnor) is a struggling writer, but his decision-making process is in question when he allows an abandoned young boy (Michael Algieri) to come live with him. Sam’s life is connected to his friends, Annie (Malin Akerman), who has committment issues, Mississippi (Kate Mara), a cute singer/waitress that catches Sam’s attention, and a couple, Charlie and Catherine whose possible move to Los Angeles is testing their relationship. Happythankyoumoreplease has enough charming moments to feel good about these characters trying to negotiate love, friendship, and one’s identity in New York City. Akerman, Mara, and Algieri’s performances stand out, but Radnor would have served the film better staying behind the camera. In the end, happythankyoumoreplease.

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Belly lives up to Hype’s vision

20 Mar

belly

Belly is one of the worst titles of all time for a contemporary urban gangster film featuring some of the music industries most popular talent from the 1990s.  Established music-video director Hype Williams makes his feature film debut with a challenging script about a pair of life-long friends attempting to break into the heroin drug trade.  Rappers DMX (Tommy)  and NAS (Sincere) make a deal with a ruthless shotta named Ox ( Louie Rankin). Tommy and Sincere are complete opposites. Their ying and yang relationship concerning right from wrong comes to a head when the police break up their operations and force Tommy to go on the run and for Sincere to follow his heart. Williams does not make an irresponsible film that simply glorifies this violent lifestyle. He provides options for his characters who essentially are attempting to find their meaning and purpose in life. Although,  their choices are extreme, the message is loud and clear.

WORD COUNT: 156

Chuck’s Grade: B-

Adam’s Grade: N/A

The Social Network is a hit

27 Feb

Social-Network

Facebook is a cultural phenomenon that has distracted much of the world into a “social networking” frenzy. A movie about a couple of Harvard guys creating a website does not sound like an engaging premise, but when millions of dollars are at stake and a friendship is put to the test, then Hollywood can “build” this story into an outstanding film by putting David Fincher in the director’s seat with a script from Aaron Sorkin.

It is hard to believe that Facebook has only been around ten years, but Mark Zuckerberg’s (Jesse Eisenberg) decision partake in cyber revenge turns into an unstoppable business venture where he becomes a shrewd businessman that eliminates his Harvard connections from the financial equation. Of course, this leads to a series of lawsuits that become the film’s stabilizing backbone for these intriguing characters.

Of course, this film exaggerates here and there but if you give this modern classic a chance I guarantee you’ll “like” it.

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Eyes Wide Shut is a forgotten dream

24 Jan

Eyes-Wide-Shut

Unfortunately, Stanley Kubrick died before his film Eyes Wide Shut was released. At the time, Warner Brothers feared the NC-17 rating because of the sexual content was too explicit for popular audiences. Set in New York City, Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) and Alice (Nicole Kidman) are experiencing marital problems. Bill unable to handle his wife’s “confession” meets an old friend that helps infiltrates him into a masked orgy party hosted by an affluent secret society. Bill is discovered, but allowed to leave unpunished at the request of a beautiful women he had befriended. A day later the woman is found dead and Bill believes the two events are connected.

Kubrick’s deliberate style brings audiences into this mysterious world slowly like a hypnotist holding a watch. Before audiences realize it; they are mesmerized by his skillful direction, but his open-ended story leaves many people unsatisfied. Like hypnosis, the subjects are awaken to bewilderment and the film is a forgotten dream.

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: B-