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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Trailer and Impressions

So, this is pretty much just Tim Burtons take on the X-Men, isn’t it? i mean come on, it’s about a group of children with special (or should i say “Peculiar”) powers they get from birth who are rejected from society so they stick together in a school just for them…. Yeah, this is just Tim Burton trying to make a X-men movie in his trade mark style. Personally, i can deal with that. While i easily tire of Burton’s style i still think he’s one of the most interesting film makers working today. Plus he also had the good sense to give the  “Charles Xavier” to Eva Green, which means i’m going to see this eventually because I’ll watch just about anything she’s in becuase i’ll take whatever excuse i can to look at this woman…i mean watch her amazing talent as an actress (in all honesty, she really is just as talented as she is pretty and it’s a shame she’s not in as many films as she should be).

As far as the movie it’s self goes, it looks pretty ok. It’s clearly aiming at a younger audience, which may dapen my enjoyment of the film, but it looks better than most of the “young adult” garbage that’s being pumped out. So yeah, i’ll probibly end up giving this a look but can’t see it making it past the “good, but not for me” camp.

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 2 and Impressions

I have two complaints with this trailer: 1) i wished they had cut just after Cap’s shield gets taken away an the end and left the Spiderman reveal for the movie itself and 2) i think they gave just a little too much away. I’m pretty sure nothing here is “shocking” for the fans that have been keeping up to date with the MCU, but even then this trailer comes off as a plot-line highlight reel. I’m sure the film will still be worth the price of addition, but i almost wish i could go in knowing less.

Ghostbusters 2016 Trailer and Impression

This looks bad. Really bad. This doesn’t even come off as being a movie, it feels more like sitcom. From the 90’s. Right from the start things look bad. Not only is the trailers first joke a puke joke, but the puke effects and the ghost effects don’t even look like they belong in the same movie. Then when  Melissa McCarthy starts talking after that she sounds like she’s acting in a kids show on the Disney channel. Both the “let’s go” and “is it the wing or the hat” jokes both go on to long. And neither one is even that long. I will say that i rather like the looks of the ghost. They remind me of a more family focused version of what Del Toro did in “Crimson Peak” which i absolutely loved.

I wanted this to be good. I really did. I wanted this too be a huge win for women in film, but if this is representative of the overall quality of the film, that’s not going to happen. In fact, this trailer makes me think this will be the biggest disappointment of the year. Not the worst movie, just the one that wastes the most potential. Maybe with the next trailer we’ll see something better, but i have to ask: if there is something better, why lead with this?


Deadpool Review

By William Shelton

Director: Tim Miller
Screenplay By: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Release Date: February 12, 2016
Run Time: 108 minuets
Rating: R
Score: 3.5/5

There is a lot to like about Deadpool: it’s funny, action packed and a rather nice change of pace from the more family oriented superhero films we’ve been getting the last few years. The biggest issue is that most of what there is too like has been in the trailers. Most of the best jokes and action stunts were featured in at lest one of the trailers, which made watching the actual film not as entertaining as it could have or should have been. It also doesn’t help that the movie just isn’t as funny as I was expecting. Yeah, I said it.
There were chuckles throughout the film, don’t get me wrong, but the films best joke comes right at the beginning with the opening title crawl, and nothing afterwards hits that same high mark. This could be due to overexposure from watching the trailers as much as I did, but even then it’s hard to excuse the movie as the film makers should have known better. Even Deadpool’s trade mark 4th-wall breaking was done in such a traditional manner that I have to ask how uninspired the creative team had to have been to not do more with it. Sure, lines about Fox’s X-men time line being a mess and a jab about the low budget of the film were funny enough, but more could have been done. A lot more.
At it’s core Deadpool is really only two extended action scenes with bits of back story to break up the action and to make sure Deadpool’s comedy shtick doesn’t begin to grate, and I found this format to be rather effective. At the heart of the whole thing is a rather touching love story. While the film tries to toe the “Guardians of the Galaxy” line where they undermine any scene that comes close to “sweet” or “sentimental”, I found the chemistry between Reynolds and Baccarin’s to be so good that this sincerity undermined the films attempt at undermining itself. It’s even pretty progressive in the area as (mild spoiler warning) Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa enters the film as a sex worker. It could have been easy for the film to make jokes about the relationship between her and Wade (the tired kind that assumes that strippers and prostitutes don’t feel any kind of real emotions ever), the film never goes there. It does make 3 or 4 rape jokes that I could have done without tho.
While the central romance is all well and good, it’s the action that keeps this movie firmly in the realm of entertaining to me. Again most of the big stunts were shown in the trailers but unlike with the jokes, what wasn’t already shown was just as good. Even just a few little things that got cut from scenes in the trailer made those bits better than I was expecting.
Everyone in the cast does a great job with Reynolds obviously being the best thing in the movie. As far as I’m concerned this more that makes up for “X-Men Origins” and “Green Lantern” (both of which the film lampoons). However, special mention must be given too Brianna Hildebrand as “Negasonic Teenage Warhead”. Not only does she do a phenomenal job in the role, but having the character there in the first place was a pretty bold move. Her entire presents is just about having a teen age character (what I’m sure will end up being the core audiences of the film) who “gets” Deadpool and just does not give a shit about him. Her entire job is to lampoon the film itself when it starts getting too pleased with itself. My favorite example of this is when Deadpool refers to her as “Ripley from Aliens 3” and her respond is simply “f**k you’re old”. Her presence forces Deadpool, both as a character and as a movie, to up his game and not rely on overly worn call-backs and pop-culture references. While I still stand by what I said about the movie just not being as funny as I wanted it to be, I can only imagine how much worse it would have been had the creative team not thought in advance to have this character.
I can’t lie, I wanted more out of Deadpool than what I got, but I still enjoyed myself. I don’t think anyone other than the underage kids sneaking into the theater will think of this as a classic superhero movie in time, but it’s well worth seeing. It’s an enjoyable film, just not a great one. And for a movie coming out in February, i’ll take “just enjoyable” over what we normally get this time of year.

The Purge: Election Year Trailer and Impressions

“The Purge: Anarchy” was a great B Action movie that got held down by people expecting it to be a sub par horror film like the 2013 original. Leaving behind any pretense of being a horror film allowed for some fun action in a while variety of scenarios that helped the film reinforce it’s core theme of wealth and class disparity. “Election Year” seems to be aiming to do more of the same, and i’m totally on bored. While the franchises satire has never been subtle (they did name the woman running for president who is going to make things better “sanders” after all) it’s a message i’m on board with and i like my message movies to be stuffed with as much blood, guts and explosions as they can fit in. So yeah, i’m looking forward to this one, big time.

Mile Ahead Trailer and Impressions

I neither like Jazz nor music biopics, so why does this work so well for me? Maybe it’s the complete lack of foreknowledge on the subject that allows me to look over the genre’s tropes, or maybe it’s that Miles Davis (as the character portrayed here, i know nothing of the man in real life and thus wont make any assumptions on him) is so obviously unhinged that just watching him go through the well worn paces of the stereotypical music biopic seems like it would still be a fun ride. In either case this seems like a good time. But i have too ask, what made Don Cheadle think the thing he’s doing with his voice was a good idea? Maybe that’s the way the guy really spoke but… even so it got old fast. I’d still be willing to sit through it too see where the film goes, but i can’t imagination that not being a major criticism for the film upon release.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Director: J.J. Abrams
Screenplay By: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
Release Date: December 18, 2015
Run Time: 135 Minuets
Rating: PG-13
Score: 4/5

I’m not going to lie, I went into The Force Awakens with lower than average expectations. I was sure the film would be…okay……tolerable……competent…..but nothing more. Most of this came down to one major issue: J.J. Abrams. Abrams is, by far, the most uniquely bland director I’ve ever known. He may be a better director than some one like Michael Bay, but from watching his films alone I can tell you more about Michael Bay than I can Abrams (like, for example: Bay as a clear hard on for Americana and the US Military especially). This is most clearly seen when focus is placed on Abrams one true strength as a film maker: mimicry. Abrams is always at his best when he’s trying to be another director, but once he tries to put his own spin on things, that’s when everything falls flat. The best example of this was, in my opinion, “Super 8”. When Super 8 was trying to be a Spielberg film, it was really enjoyable. Once Abrams had to rely on his own creativity, the entire film fell apart. This was a long form way of saying that I was expecting this to be the best Star War movie George Lucas made scene “The Empire Strikes Back” until it becomes yet another uninteresting, underwhelming Abrams film.
And I was totally wrong. While I still feel Abrams
shouldn’t have to lean so much on ’70s era Lucas to make a good film, I think this is the best film he’s made thus far in his career. So, with all that out of the way: lets talk about the movie.
We open, as Star Wars films always do, with a text crawl setting the scene. After “Return of the Jedi” and the fall of the Empire, and new foe called The First Order has surfaced to bring down the newly founded Republic and trying to reinstate the empire as it once was. We also learn that Luke Skywalker has gone missing. The film proper opens with a rebel pilot named Poe (Oscar Isaac) being given a map that leads to Luke’s position, but the First Order has found him before he could get the information to General Leia (note the “General” there. Leia has always been a badass, people seem to forget) so he gives it to his droid, the incredibly adorable BB-8, and sends it off so the information doesn’t fall into enemy hands.
As the enemy lands and attack the village Poe was in, we see a lone Stormtrooper cower from battle and unwilling to fire at the unarmed civilians. We learn that this is his first battle, and it’s clear a life of war isn’t something he is cut out for. So when the New masked Villain, Kylo Ren, abducts Poe to learn the whereabouts of the map, our Stormtrooper, Fin (John Boyega) decides to break him out. The two men manage to escape and even start becoming friends, but are shot down and land on the same planet they had just left.
As this is going on BB-8 runs into Ray, played by Daisy Ridley, and the two decide to team up and look for Poe in a near by town. It’s hear that Ray and Fin meet up and decide to escape together as the First Order soon attacks the town knowing it’s about where Poe and Fin’s downed ship would have landed.
Once the two are free they come across some old friends, Han and Chewy, who decide to help the two of them get BB-8 to someone who can take the droid to the rebel HQ. Unfortunately, once they get there they are spotted by both First Order and rebel spies and a full on battle breaks out. Ray is kidnapped and taken to the First Order base. Fin, Han and General Leia go back to theirs, using Fins first hand knowledge of the enemy base to get in, rescue Ray and destroy the enemy HQ once and for all.
Now, you may have noticed something in this description of the films story. Barring a few details, this sounds an awful lot like the plot of the first Star Wars (i’ll rot in hell before calling it “A New Hope”), and you’d be right. However, this didn’t really bother me much as it truly felt more like an homage rather than rip-off. The new beats keep things feeling new and unless you’re really looking for the similarities between the films they’re not all that noticeable.
However, there were two major issues (and a few minor ones as well).
The first is how much of the film relies on coincidences. Poe just happened to be on the same planet as Ray, Ray and Fin just happen to meet up, they just happen to run into Han and Chewy and so on. While i’ve heard some say that this is “the force” leading these people on their path, but I don’t really by that. Nothing about how the force has been depicted, even in the prequels, makes it seem like the force is some kind of conscious being.
The second thing, unfortunately, deals with this films relation too the prequels. As much as I hate the prequels, I will defend them as cannon. So, with that in mind, how does no one seem to remember the fact that the Jedi were real? How has Luke and his journey become the stuff of legend when it would have happened within most of their lifetimes or just before it? I’m sorry but if the Jedi were aiding the republic only about 100 years ago, especially in such a technologically advanced society, there should be some evidence for it, right?
Those were the two things that bothered me to the point were I had to doc the movie. But then there was Captain Phasma, who only shows up three god damn times and doesn’t do shit in the film. Sure, that didn’t make the film any worse, but so much could have been done with her. (if she doesn’t show back up in 8 or 9, I’m going to be pissed).
Pretty much everything else is top notch. While the film may not be as jaw droppingly beautiful as this years Crimson Peak, there are still a ton of amazing shots throughout, like one early scene where a laser blast is being force held in place. Fin and Ray are two of my favorite leads in a long, long time and Ray is probably the best female lead in a genre film scene Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens” (sorry “Mad Max: Furry Road” Fans, I like Ray a bit more)
And going back to Abrams: one of the reasons his work fails is his “misery box” crap which never pays off well enough for it to be the big selling point for his films. However, there is a twist in the film that I honestly never saw coming. It’s not a story twist, but when it comes, you’ll know and it is beautifully well done.
In the end I’d say this is my second or third favorite film in the franchise. It’s not better than “The Empire Strikes Back” but I may have enjoyed this more than either the original or “Return of the Jedi”. I am absolutely looking forward to seeing where this new trilogy goes from here (although this “one new movie a year with a main installment every two years” thing kind of bothers me). If you haven’t seen this yet, just go do it. But don’t bother seeing it in 3D as it just does not add anything to the over all film.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 Trailer and Impressions

The one good thing i can think to say about the abomination that was 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was that the advertising was spot on. The creative and marketing team knew just what to show to make me think that maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t be all that bad. Remember that as i begin talking about the positives of the trailer.

First off, the trailer already makes this look like a better, more interesting film than the first. Alien invasions, Bebop and Rocksteady, and the Foot Clan are Ninja’s again. All of that with a tone that’s screaming out “we want this too be a fun movie” add up to a trailer that looks like the film makers took to heart the criticisms fans had of the first film and really made an effort to make this a better film (though i’m disappointing they are still letting Megan Fox act but hey, baby steps). Unfortunately, there are still a lot of issues. The Turtles still look awful and the CG on Rocksteady and Bebop look unfinished. But those are only minor complaints.
The real issue is that this franchise seems to be suffering an identity crisis. The entire climax of the first film was ripped off form The Amazing Spider Man (the second worst spiderman movie, beat only by it’s sequel) and the climatic looking scenes look to be taking it’s cues from The Avengers (at lest they’re ripping of better films this time). While i am more than okay with reference and homage and the like, it’s hard to escape the feeling that no one working on this franchise has a clear vision of what they want the films to be. Personally, that’s what i think is going to make this franchise.

Intro to Film: Pulp Fiction Review

Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction is, quite frankly, a master piece of American Cinema. While the writer/director has been putting out consistent quality work since his 1992 debut “Reservoir Dogs”, there is a reason why Pulp Fiction is widely considered to be his best film. With it’s great characters and writing, subversive take on violence and deconstruction of the traditionally “macho” image of most mafia films, this more than earns it’s place in the American film institutes top 100 films of all time.
The film tells three separate but intertwined stories: The first deals with two Mafia hitmen, Jules and Vincent how were sent to collect an item from some low level goons who tried double crossing their boss, Marsellus Wallace. While the two are running this earn for their boss they are shot at from near-point blank range, yet neither one is harmed. This leads Jules to have an existential crisis, questioning both his faith and his choice of profession. The films second story is about Vincent taking his bosses wife, Mia Wallace, out for a night while Marsellus is away on business. While the night starts well it ends in chaos as Mia overdoses. Vincent is forced to find Mia help, going to his drug dealer who begrudgingly assists. The last of the films stories revolves around an aging boxer named Butch who was paid to throw a match by none other than the films favorite crime lord, Marsellus Wallace. However, one the night of the fight Butch ends up killing his opponent. Naturally this causes some conflict between Butch and Marsellus, but when the two men finally come to blows it’s hard to say either of them are truly “victorious”.
While each of the films three stories have their own main characters, Jacksons “Jules” I both the most interesting and the most clearly representative of the films major themes. As the film starts Jules and Vincent are on their way to collect an item from one of Marsellus’ cronies not knowing exactly how many people are in the apartment they’re headed into nor how well armed they are. Both men even state that they “should have shotguns” for the job. However, while the two men talk about being undermanned and possibly outgunned, the films tone is relaxed. The viewer watches as the two engage in work place gossip and light prodding at each other. Even once bullets start flying, the film treats the violence humorously, more akin to Saturday morning cartoons rather than a typical Mob movie. But when the movie ends Jules, believing he just lived through a miracle tries not to kill a man robbing the diner he and Vincent just so happen to be visiting. This scene is one of the most tense of the film. Two people have their guns aimed at Jules, and though he always has the upper hand, the viewer know that at any moment some one could snap and end the film in a blood bath. The viewer also knows Jules could kill both robbers with out a second thought or breaking a sweat. Yet the tension comes from Jules’ decision not too kill and the viewers wish to see him fallow through on it.
This is part of what makes the film so great. While the violence is always entertaining it’s rarely if ever suspenseful. The real suspense comes from an added grandiosity towards the mundane. For example, when Mia overdoes and Vincent takes her to his drug dealer for help, the viewer spends little time with Mia, but instead watch as the dealer and his wife argue. The stress of the scene and the viewers concerns are not with the woman slowly dying in the living room, but the couple quarreling. For another example, look to when Vincent shoots Marvin in the face. The cavalier attitude take towards the meaningless death on another person makes the scene funny and not something the view is not meant to give much thought too. However, when Vincent makes an off hand remark to Mr. Wolf, the man sent in to help clean up the mess, that’s when the scene becomes tense. That’s when the viewer is meant to start asking “what’s going to happen next”. This could be, in part, why the film is so highly acclaimed.
But an interesting theme and lampooning on the necessity of violence to sell movies wouldn’t mean much if the film making behind it wasn’t strong enough to back it yup. And here again, Tarantino shines. His script can be funny to the point of causing the viewer pain from laughing too much, but he also knew when to tone it back and allow from the darker moments to really shine. And while his use of racial epithets can seem like childish shock fodder, it’s arguable that these had a very specific purpose. Too many people confuse movies about awful people are being endorsements of their vileness. Look at Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Walstreet”, a movie showing that the American system is so broken that a man like Jordan Belfort could be as evil as he was and still not be penalized for it like he should have, and then look at the controversy surrounding the film where people complained that Belfort was portrayed too positively for an example of this. With Tarantino’s use of racist slurs it’s arguable that this is a constant reminder to the audience “please, laugh at the jokes I wrote, but remember that these are not good people”.
Aiding in the films production is that Tarantino plays both screenwriter and director, allowing him total control over the films content. It’s well know by now that part of Tarantino’s identity as a film maker is referencing pop culture, film in particular, and being able to dictate how each scene is shot offers him more room to move in this regard. Had he been limited to writing the scrip, the film could have been little more than an “R” rated “Shrek”, drowning each line in pop culture lingo as a wink to the audience. But as he was also the director, he was able to visually reference the films he loved and the film making style he is paying homage too as well. And as film is inherently visual, this adds more to the experience that simply repeating a line or referencing a well known peace of American culture.
And that is what makes Tarantino stand out as a film maker. His obsession with exploration era film and pop music is something an audience can only get from him. While Tim Burton’s obsession with German expressionism is similar, the differences in the era’s are reflected in what kinds of films these two men make. In the end, the best thing a film maker can do is give an audience a reason why they need to focus on their work. And Tarantino does this with ease.

Score: 5/5

My Grade: 10/10