Category Archives: Movies

Movie Review : The Cobbler (2015)

m_TheClobberSynopsis - A cobbler stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way.

My Take - For the past few years, just like many 90s A-Lister actors, the quality Adam Sandler movies have been deteriorating. Filled with potty humor or inappropriate jokes or basically the whole premise is based on him & his actor friends on a vacation somewhere! Even though, unlike most people I actually liked his recent Blended (2014), it was comparatively better (I guess).  Judging by the trailer of this film, it didn’t seem like a typical Adam Sandler movie, well yes it has it’s jokes but it’s not his typical shtick as some of that is thrown in for good measure, but much lighter. With an interesting premise in hands, as the opening credits rolled in, I was hoping for a nod to his previously well made family flicks like Click (2006) or Bedtime Stories (2008), well it wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t good either. The story follows Max Simkin (Adam Sandler), a cobbler who repairs shoes in the same New York shop that has been in his family for generations. Disenchanted with the grind of daily life, Max stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way.

Adam-SandlerSometimes walking in another man’s shoes is the only way to discover who you really are. Frankly, I have no idea what director Tom McCarthy was going for here. The film starts off as an old-fashioned comedy with some drama thrown in, but it eventually becomes jumbled in a bunch of subplots that involve saving the neighborhood a murder plot involving gangsters & a real estate conspiracy! With a mix of a dramedy, fantasy comedy, and crime thriller that never mash together leading to the film having a major identity crisis. The main reason why the film fails is because of it’s script. As previously mentioned, the film is an uneven mess. McCarthy and Paul Sado are the only writers, but it feels like they had several people write various subplots that were all mashed together. This could have easily been a PG-rated family film if it hadn’t been for brief moments of unnecessary violence that don’t serve any purpose. Aside from the unevenness of the whole film, the writing itself is pretty poor. Some of the dialogue is laughably awful and incredibly forced, most of which comes from Melonie Diaz and Method Man‘s characters. Despite all of it’s missteps, The Cobbler does have a few factors that keep it from being a complete disaster. Sandler himself does a decent job in the lead role. It’s not a particularity memorable one despite going out of his comfort zone, but he fits the role and uses that to his advantage. Despite being wasted, the film does feature a great cast including Steve Buscemi, Dustin Hoffman, and Dan Stevens who while given little to do, are nice to see on screen. Even though the story itself is pretty predictable, I never found myself bored during the film’s run time. I’m not sure if it’s because of how bizarrely awful some of it is, but the strangeness of the whole thing is enough to keep you amused just to see where it will end up next.

COBBLER_STILL3A.JPGEven though I didn’t laugh once throughout the entire film, there are some occasional chuckle worthy moments such as a montage early on of Sandler discovering his new ability. The film does have a lot of heart and it has morality tale spun in for good measure. With that said, none of the dialogue is clever or good. There is a point where it seems like the film could take a route of having a message about the way a community interacts with one another, but nothing ever comes of it resulting in a rather predictable story in which the twist can be solved about halfway through. I found it strange that they chose to show the other actors in the roles of the side characters when Sandler is “in their shoes”. It would have been funnier and much more enjoyable if it had been done the other way around. On the whole, after a long string of bad comedies, The Cobbler seemed like a right direction for Adam Sandler, but thanks to the poor direction & all the above mentioned, the film turns into a cluttered mess of a film. Well yeah this is no Jack & Jill (2011) or That’s My Boy (2012), but just a missed opportunity to use a interesting premise to spin off a potential franchise.

Overall Rating: 4/10

Director - Thomas McCarthy

Starring - Dan Stevens, Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi
Rated - PG13
Run Time - 99 minutes

 

Home Wins the Box Office

home-banner2A kids movie featuring an alien and an African American girl led the box office, giving a win for inclusion! Home was top of the domestic box office earning a solid $54 million in its first weekend. Its debut was similar to other animated films this year.

Coming in second with an estimated $34.61 million was Get Hard, which undoes all of the positive steps forward Home represents. The film was savaged in reviews, and got blah scores from those seeing it. The film was also accused of playing on stereotypes and homophobia.

In comic movie news, Kingsman: The Secret Service was in fifth place, earning a little under $3.1 million. Domestically, the film has earned $119.4 million and globally it has earned $327.7 million.

Big Hero 6 continues to earn at the box office, bringing in $89,000. Domestically, the film has earned $222.1 million and globally the film has earned $651.7 million.

In about a month, the first major comic blockbuster will hit theaters, Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Movie Review : Home (2015)

Home-Banner2Synopsis - Oh, an alien on the run from his own people, lands on Earth and makes friends with the adventurous Tip, who is on a quest of her own.

My Take - Dreamworks Animation has been in a downfall for a while now, sparing How to Train Your Dragon series, every film from the studio have failed in exciting the audience & the critics alike. Frankly, compared to what Disney has been churning out (except Frozen of course), Dreamworks have been providing us quality films especially the unfairly rejected  Rise of the Guardians (2012) and Turbo (2013). Even the much anticipated Penguins of Madagascar (2014) couldn’t repeat the magic of the trilogy, OK I agree that movie wasn’t good. Between all this commotion, they have another film releasing with literally no hype or hullah, despite the presence of some known stars in it. The story follows Oh (Jim Parsons best known as Sheldon from The Big Bank Theory) – a disastrously clumsy member of the Boov race led by Smek (Steve Martin), who come to earth and displace its human population in order to make the planet their own hiding place. The Boov, best known for their cowardly attributes, are on the run from a formidable-looking enemy, but when Oh invites everyone to his house-warming party, he accidentally sends the E-Invite to the entire galaxy. Becoming public enemy #1, Oh goes on the run from his own people, hoping to find escape in Antarctica, after fantasizing about a group hug with a bunch of penguins! However, Oh bumps into Tip (Rihanna), a young girl who has managed to elude the Boov invaders whilst searching for her mother (Jennifer Lopez).

H9NQKThe two social misfits team up, and through their amazing adventures, discover the meaning of finding Home. The opening ten minutes of Home promise a fantastic premise which is utterly engrossing – the idea that the human population could so easily be ejected from their own home into a land of ice cream and picket fences, whilst the invading alien force sets up shop is genius. A truly sci-fi animation caper would be greatly appreciated across all ages, and the scope for imagination is enormous. However, where the story journeys to is a little flat in comparison, relying on a typical buddy-road-trip formula with added modifications – such as a car completely transformed by items you would find in a grocery story (there is even a lottery-ticket dispenser, how awesome would that be?). I was fortunate enough to see a early screening of this film and I was quite surprised! The film is a delight to watch! There were so many laugh out loud moments thanks to the slapstick comedy which is just pitch-perfect! Some of the characters are excellently developed – in particular Captain Smek (voiced by the legend Steve Martin), whose firm leadership of the Boov people is undermined by his ridiculous fascination with human artifacts (such as bubble-wrap and a wheel-barrow). Jim Parsons delivers a wonderful vocal-performance as Oh, in particular a scene where he involuntarily dances along to human pop-music, which proves Dreamworks can still provide animated gold. Color is used with splendid ferociousness, especially the Boov who change color when feeling different emotions.

vihdoinkotonaThe visual depth is not only great to watch, it also adds pathos to their characters in an ingenious way.The music will appeal to the younger generations, and acts as a sales pitch for both Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez, whose songs populate the movie like an everlasting bubble machine of pop-tastic ooze. Although, on balance, the original music which is provided by Lorne Balfe creates some entrancing and moving moments in the film, with its enriched emotive score. The voice acting is overall great; Parsons is as geeky here as he is as Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, while Steve Martin is hilarious. What surprised me most, is Rihanna; I hope she gets more voice acting rolls in the future. This is one big name star with a lot of promise in this field. Jennifer Lopez doesn’t have much to do. I think everyone with a family and even adults need to get up and see this movie. The morals are good; there is such a thing about being too positive or negative, you have to balance the two, take a chance and have some faith and hope. I learned a thing or two from this film, you could too. On the whole, Home is a wonderfully imaginative and genuinely funny film which proves Dreamworks can still compete in the razor-sharp leagues of animation. While the plot may at times seem cliched, this is still a hugely enjoyable family film that lands a lot of laughs, and boasts a bunch of bubbly & colorful brilliance.

Overall Rating – 7.5/10

Director - Tim Johnson
Starring (voice of) - Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin
Rated -  PG
Run Time  - 94 minutes

Movie Review : Dragon Blade (2015)

Dragon-Blade-Chinese-PosterSynopsis - One of the most expensive films ever produced in China, the historical action epic Dragon Blade takes place during the Han Dynasty. The story centers on the commander of the Protection Squad of the Western Regions (Jackie Chan), who joins forces with Roman general Lucius (John Cusack) to protect China’s sovereignty as power-crazed Tiberius (Adrien Brody) seeks to defeat Lucius once and for all.

My Take - Right from the trailer to its title, this film has a bad direct to DVD swords & sandals action movie vibe written all over it! That may be contributed also due to current B movie status of John Cusack & Adrien Brody! But It’s not everyday that you see movies like these coming out of Hollywood or mainstream media. Apparently its one of the most expensive Chinese produced films ever! Granted there were some mistakes and plot holes like how in the heck did a Roman Legion on the run from the very center of the empire make its way all the way through the Silk Road? Or the lousy background of keeping a fragile sense of peace among the 48 nations contesting the route. Or even the Romans enlisting the help of its lifelong enemies the Parthians. Suspension of belief and historical inaccuracies aside, this film is actually a heartwarming story of loyalty & sacrifice, about rising against all odds and true friendship that encompasses all nations and creeds that everyone will understand. It’s a portrayal of what it means to truly be a friend and a man who sticks by his principles. Maybe that’s why this film gets flack, because our standards today have become so dull that it’s now a sin to be a human and to act like a human.

videoasiamediacom4128f033-4d31-3374-917b-607c813365f6_FULLThe film may be considered as an odd endeavor in epic historical film, it copies too many aspects of already known formula in hope that the success can be transmitted here. It has choppy direction and all sorts of issues, but the movie sometimes brings some good elements, which might just be enough for light entertainment. The story opens with a prologue set in the present day, when two archaeologists (Vanness Wu and Karena Lam) set out to find an ancient city known as Regum hidden high above the mountains in the Silk Road region. As the opening title is presented, we are taken back to 480 BC, when peace was as precious a commodity as gold in the restive region, which saw a total of 36 nations fighting to claim their rights over the land. On the brink of a war between two of them – the Huns and the White Indians – General Huo (Jackie Chan) & his Silk Road Protection Squad, a small but fiercely loyal band of men given the seemingly impossible task of keeping the peace. Even at the risk of danger to his life, Huo An resolutely refuses to pull a weapon against the Huns’ icy warrior Cold Moon (Lin Peng). Framed for treason, Huo An turns the other cheek and readily accepts his and his men’s punishment to be sent away to a ravaged city known as Wild Geese Gate. And when conflict breaks out amongst the various factions of inmates within the city, Huo An steps in to urge peace, even though everyone else seems to be itching to get at the others throats. After being set up for illegally transporting gold, the squad are imprisoned & banished for the rest of their sentence as labors to build Regum. Things start going crazy, once General Lucius (John Cusack) shows up with his cavalry. Lucius is fleeing the eldest son of one of the two serving Consuls, who had murdered his father and intends to murder his younger brother Publius (Jozef Waite) to claim the throne. Needless to say, Lucius’ alliance with Huo An brings the Roman conflict to their doorstep, in the form of the villainous Tiberius (Adrien Brody). The film delivers on its promise of sprawling battle scenes, meticulously crafted sword fights, intriguing culture clashes, and budding bromances, where its giddily high concept and unlikely casting may so easily have seen it fail. It’s an unparalleled meeting of Eastern and Western talent. This kind of film truly reminds me why I enjoy Asian cinema. This take here the mix of martial arts and Jackie Chan, kind of sword play (typical Chinese which as awesome), mixed cast from various nations to throw in so many nations and trifles in just 2 hours and without rushing anything.

ST_20150218_WYDRAGON_1076176eNow that is something I find truly impressive and extremely refreshing. Maybe there is a couple of flaws here and there, like the ruin in the very beginning of the show that’s not old enough and for another keen eyes, this might kill the mood, because basically, we were promised a story that (might) happened thousand years ago. But truth be told, it was not really a problem, since the ruin itself is just a fake one, created to fit into the real story of Silk Road. Story-wise, some of you might find it cheesy and predictable. Some of you might even say that the character Chan played (Huo An), was unbelievably too kind, like he was just character from a fairytale. Is it really like that? If you follow the story and try to delve into the character of Huo An, to every tragedy ever happened to him (told in the story), you might understand why he always talk about peace. Jackie Chan is a star in his own right. He’s not that well versed in acting, but audience would know what to expect at this point. Or maybe how Cusack was not cut out for the role of Roman Empire general, Lucius? Don’t think so. He actually played the role real good, he could showed how it feels to be betrayed, to hate and to trust. Brody as the villain Tiberius, has also done a very great job. You could see his character in a whole new way, the way he lust for power and ambitions. The twisted way of a mad man ready to betray (and kill, as already told in the trailer) his own family. A beastly antagonist, he delivers a menacing on-screen persona. To me, Jackie Chan along with director Daniel Lee has managed to pull this out quite remarkably. On the whole, in a time of remakes & reboots, a film like Dragon Blade feels refreshing, a homage to the film of 90s & early 2000s. With sincere performances & enjoyable cinematography, this East meets West adventure film is a great popcorn watch!

Overall Rating – 7.5/10

Director - Daniel Lee
Starring – Adrien Brody, John Cusack, Jackie Chan
Rated - PG
Run Time - 124 minutes

Ben Affleck Confirms Senator Leahy will be in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Actor Ben Affleck, who will be donning the cape and cowl as Batman in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, confirmed at a Senate hearing that Senator Patrick Leahy will indeed be in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Affleck is a co-founder of the Eastern Cong Initiative and was testifying before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Diplomacy and National Security about the situation in the Congo (alongside Bill Gates) where he said:

To Senator Leahy, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my co-star in Batman. The role is marginally smaller than mine but I understand you’re quite good.

Senator Leahy is a diehard Batman fan, and has appeared in numerous films and voiced characters which led some to speculate if he’d be in the latest film to feature the Dark Knight. Leahy is also a vocal proponent for Hollywood (especially when it comes to intellectual property), often fighting their battles for them in the Hill, which calls into question his numerous appearances.

(via ABC News)

Ryan Reynolds Shows off the Deadpool Suit. But Who Did the Pose the Best?

Actor Ryan Reynolds went to Twitter to show off what you can expect he’ll look like in next year’s Deadpool movie.

The pose is rather familiar, so we had to ask, who pulls it off the best? Deadpool? Burt Reynolds? Stan Lee?

Vote in our poll!

Deadpool movie burt-reynolds-on-bear-skin-rug1 stan-lee-centerfold

A Short History of Turning Disney Rides Into Fiction

Tower_of_Terror_VideoCoverOne of the common criticisms of modern media is that people have run out of ideas, and that everything that we see is a repetition of something that came before. While this is a contentious enough claim based partially in an over-analysis of tropes and truisms, it is true that those looking to create popular culture stories for movies have looked elsewhere for inspiration in recent years. There have been movies based on blogs for instance, which is a form of media copying another.

In terms of media, many people don’t consider theme park rides to be a form of media, but under certain circumstances they can be. Of courses roller coasters are not really a form of media, but some rides are. After all at Disney World and Disney Land many of the rides consist of a moving vessel which undergoes some mild thrills in the form of chutes or slides, and a story of sorts being told through the depiction of various themes.  In short it serves as a sort of moving theater without a real plot, and is thus is kind of its own form of media (or at least a weird version of theater).

Country_bearsWith the crossover of almost all forms of media from on into another, it thus stands to reason that eventually that someone at Disney would get the idea to base some stories on their own rides, which doubled as extra incentive to take children to the theme parks (if they actually needed more incentive). Surprisingly though, with one notable exception, the transfer to other forms of media has been pretty mediocre, yet recent developments with Disney and Marvel might indicate the path forward for these ventures.

The first movie in this short history of Disney attractions is the Tower of Terror, released in 1997. Featuring Disney staple Steve Guttenberg and pre-Spider-Man Kirsten Dunst, this is the only film of this kind that was released directly to television. It is also notable for its use of the actual ride as a set for the filming as opposed to the other movies which have relied on different settings. This features a fairly typical ghost story and was filmed for a younger audience as it originally appeared on the Wonderful World of Disney.

The second movie in the sequence is the Country Bears, a film based on the ride/show Country Bear Jamboree. This film was released in 2002 and mixed animatronics with real life actors to tell the story of one of the youngest of the Country Bears who discovers his true destiny after being raised by human parents. This was another Disney movie aimed at a younger crowd as it contained rehearsed dance numbers by children and a silly enough premise. Not surprisingly the film grossed back less than half of its budget in ticket sales.

piratesOut of two mediocre films that were either failures or forgettable came Disney’s greatest success. Although it might have seemed absurd at the time, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a film which ventured well past what was offered in the ride. Although the plot was perhaps a little basic in certain respects, it was equally a movie that was full of a lot of elements that make a movie exciting. Special effects provided a realistic enough supernatural element, but the movie is tied mostly to the over-the-top role played by Johnny Depp, which resulted in an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Additionally the movie helped to make stars out of its other two leads, Oralndo Bloom and Keira Knightley, who while already known well enough in Hollywood, had not yet been considered to be proper A-list actors. The 2003 film was followed by sequels in 2006, 2007 and 2011 with another sequel expected in 2017, with the latter to each featuring one half of the married couple of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.  It is by far the most successful of the Disney rides turned into movies, with gross ticket sales surpassing $3.5 billion.

haunted mansionAfter the success of Pirates of the Caribbean, some thought that Disney might be entering into a period of success for these adaptations, but the follow-up to its big hit was another poorly received movie as the Haunted Mansion failed to gain critical success, even if its box office draw was not as bad as the others. Starring Eddie Murphy in a story that was once again loosely based on the ride, many criticized it for now being scary enough, or funny enough considering that Eddie Murphy was involved. Despite its lackluster final product interest rests in retelling the story by Guillermo del Toro, who might be able to realize a stronger concept considering some of his previous works.

In a bit of a twist, the next movie in the Disney catalog, is not one based on a ride specifically, but rather an entire section of the park, known as Tomorrowland. Although it is still unreleased, it holds a great deal of promise, telling a broader story as Pirates of the Caribbean did, and it doesn’t hurt either that big names like George Clooney and Brad Bird are associated. While there are also rumours of a movie based on “It’s a Small World” (which would presumably be somewhat Carmen Sandiego-like), this is maybe not the way forward for Disney films.

big thunderSince 2009 Disney has owned Marvel Comics, and while speculated on what that might mean for the future of Marvel, it has mostly remained unchanged in terms of the Marvel universe of superheroes. What is in interesting possibility though is the new miniseries Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. After the hit-and-miss (though mostly miss) run of fiction based on rides, this is a chance for Disney to test ideas in a safer market without investing millions of dollars into an idea that might make back less than half of the money invested.  If this is the case, Marvel could also act as an incubator for movie ideas which Disney thinks might fail on the big screen, and this could be a place to see if they could succeed and to fine tune the idea before putting it into production.  Thus maybe if there is to be a “It’s a Small World” movie, it might show up at Marvel first.

X-Men: Apocalypse Finds its Jubilee.

Director Bryan Singer has announced on Twitter the latest addition to the apparently still growing cast to X-Men: Apocalypse. Lana Condor will be the latest actor to portray the character in the film. We couldn’t find much, actually nothing, as far as her previous roles.

Condor is the fourth actress to play the character in a live action film. Heather McComb played the character in the Generation X television film, Katrina Florence was her in the first X-Men film, and Kea Wong played the role in X2 and X-Men: Last Stand.

I'd officially like to welcome our newest mutant #JubilationLee, #Jubilee @LanaCondor to #XMEN #Apocalypse

A photo posted by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on

Our First Look at Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor

A first look at actor Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor has been released to Entertainment Weekly. The character will appear in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which will hit theaters March 25.

Director Zack Snyder said of the character:

He’s not any of the Lexes that you’ve seen, that’s for sure. Other than him being a captain of industry and one person to the world and another person to himself. And bald, of course….Our Lex is disarming and he’s not fake. He says what he believes and he says what’s on his mind. If you can unravel the string and decipher what he means, it’s all there.

So what do you think of the look?

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor

 

Insurgent Surges to First, Kingsman closes in on $300 million

The Divergent Series InsurgentThe second movie in The Divergent series of films was in the top spot at the box office this past weekend. The Divergent Series: Insurgent brought in an estimated $54 million over the weekend. That is really close to what the first film opened up with.

The film’s audience was 60% female, slightly more than the first movie which was 59%. The movie also earned an “A-” rating from CinemaScore.

The comic book adaptation Kingsman: The Secret Service inched towards $300 million globally. The film earned an estimated $4.6 million in its sixth week. The film has earned $114.57 million at the domestic box office. Right now it has earned $295.2 million globally, and has yet to open in China.

Big Hero 6 still continued to earn after twenty weeks in theaters and brought in $175,000 this past weekend. It has earned $221.97 million at the domestic box office and $644.8 million globally.

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