Locke: Review

Skepticism is the first feeling that rose in me upon deciding if I should watch the film Locke. A drama which follow the story of a construction worker in his car. The entirety of the film takes place in his car, with only the main character Ivan Locke ever getting any screen time. How in the world would this movie work? So many things could make this movie be a disappointment but in the end Stephen Knight did an admirable job directing this piece. What kept this movie interesting was the constant flow of dialogue and story.

You’re witnessing the movie as if it’s in real time. You aren’t bombarded with too much artsy overdone cinematography or wide shots. You’re literally being taken on a ride with Ivan. I really enjoyed Ivan’s character. Even though Tom Hardy’s character has done wrong by his wife and he has royally screwed up in his professional career, he goes over and beyond to make things right. The feelings of empathy I felt for his character actually surprised me. I know he did some things that would be very hard to be forgiven but I’d have to actually think about how I would feel if I was him. Tom Hardy really makes you want to forgive him. His actions can’t be undone but he hopes that he can redeem himself and prove to himself  and possible to his father that he  is a good man.

A pretty  good indication of acting quality can be derived from how well an actor can bring forth intense feelings without any other real actors/actresses to physically relate to. This was  a great job for  Tom Hardy and a great casting decision as well.  Just him,the camera, and raw emotion. Movies like this do wonders for actors. Of course he could do super fun and high paying jobs like being Bane in the Dark Knight but taking a role in a independent film like Locke is just as important. It’s much more challenging and rewarding. Locke actually exceeded my expectations. I found myself almost cheering for the cheating British lad and that says a lot. Or maybe it says nothing at all. Maybe I’m just brainwashed after all the film business is an industry dominated by male protaganist who can literally get away with anything. All I know is, it was really interesting to watch and I’d go as far as recommending it.

The Counselor: Review

From the writer who brought us The Road and No Country for Old Men, comes the tale of a naive lawyer who tries his hand in the dangerous but lucrative business of drug running. This is a film that had sparks of brilliance but ultimately failed due to having a  plot that doesn’t effectively translate to the big screen.

The screenplay is full of witty and intelligent dialogue. Sadly it was hard to suspend belief while watching because this attribute applied to almost  every character. Almost  every member of the cast was too smart for there own good, It was bit hard to follow the narrative when you are bombarded with long winded conversations. These extended scenes of dialogue paid off at times but on the other hand it just seems as if the characters were just going off on tangents. This really threw off the pacing of the film.

The focus on the characters of the story is trademark Ridley Scott. His direction in the film really allowed for the development of some interesting personalities. We are treated with some some impressive lighting and camera work. The dark scenes set in mexico offer a great visual and atmospheric contrast to what is happening under the surface.

The movie sports an impressive and ensemble Cast. Javier Bardem, is always an interesting guy to watch on screen. Bardem plays the role of Reiner; a drug dealer who invites the counselor in on some of the action.  He  brings a unique flare to the characters he portrays. He exudes an exotic essence of culture and his personality was one of the more memorable in the film. And he also manages to bring to the film what is becoming a signature attribute of his; his knack for having the wildest hair-dos. The most technically impressive acting which shouldn’t come as a surprise, was the performance from Michael Fassbender. He has an ability to portray some varied and powerful emotions.

Brad Pitt gives a good performance but I think he needs to work on a new accent because it seems like its been dragging on for a couple films now. One of  the biggest surprises for me though comes from the casting decision of Cameron Diaz as the antagonist. I have to give it to Diaz. She really portrayed the cold and calculating girlfriend of Reiner expertly. My blood was boiling just about every moment I saw her on the screen. She might be known for more lighter  roles but she definitely has more potential then being the usual pretty face in romcoms.

The Counselor is a clever and sexy drama but probably won’t provide enough thrills to keep the average movie-goers attention. The film has moments of suspense but it is overshadowed by some bad decisions in its pacing. With all the talent attached to this film Its surprising this film wasn’t better. The pieces just didn’t fall together. The dialogue occasionally felt like the characters were showing off. The story was convoluted and ended in a somewhat abrupt manner. The Counselor was saved by splashes of humor, violence, and some utterly superb writing for most of the dialogue. In the end, I’d say definitely pass on this one until the Blu-ray or digital release.

Score: 6/10

The Conjuring | Review


This film succeeds where many other horror movies fail at miserably. This creepy story is  based on true events. The story revolves around the haunting of a house recently purchased by the Perron family. Two paranormal investigators, Ed Warren and Lorrain Warren reluctantly take the case. The Warren’s find that this is not the typical hoax they usually receive and is actually one of the worse cases they have seen in a long time.

When I think of today’s horror movies, I automatically get bad ideas.  I just imagine cliche scenes of cheap scares from ridiculousy loud and shrieking bass with monsters magically appearing. That’s why I usually stray away from the horror genre unless I hear some good word of mouth.  The Conjuring is a film that redefines my idea of what a horror movie should be.

The movie manages to flow very naturally and keep up the suspense to the very end. It helped a lot that the cast of the movie, all had solid acting abilities. Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of the clairvoyant Lorrain Warren was uncanny. Some scenes she didn’t even need to say anything. Just the look in her eye often showed many emotions and depth.

This film touches your primeval fears of darkness which everyone had growing up as kid. It becomes really easy to relate to the Perron family, when you yourself are kept wondering if any shadow in this film could hold a possible demon.  The young actress Joey King played the part of a terrified young girl to the tea.

In addition this film had some excellent special effects. The camera work and costume designs of the dead in this film helped me stay immersed into the movie and kept the hair on my arm raised. I haven’t watched a horror movie in a long time; that actually had me second guessing and left in anticipation after almost every scene. So If you’re sitting there about to put another random modern paranormal activity in your Blu-Ray player, Stop. Give this movie a try and you won’t be disappointed.

This movie is the definition of a good horror movie and solidifies my review score of

9.5/10

What did you think of the film? Leave a comment Below.

Carrie (2013) |Review

Sitting through this film was extremely hard. I seriously considered walking out the theater during this abomination but taking into account the ridiculous movie prices nowadays, I decided to sit it out for the  giggles.  This was seriously a movie that shouldn’t have been made.  With so many things wrong with this film, I think I’ll start first with the couple positives of the movie,  then go from there.

Julianne Moore plays the part of the religious and abusive mother of Carrie. Her representation of the devout and somewhat psychotic nature of Margaret White was disturbing and pretty much on par from what I expected from this Stephen King character.  The scenes of self mutilation were particularly disturbing,  Gabriella Wilde actually surprised me in her portrayal of Sue Snell. She didn’t have much dialogue in the film but her character actually did evoke some sympathy from me.

Stephen King said something along the lines of “why remake the film, when the original was so good?”. Why can’t Hollywood let good films and franchises die? This film didn’t add anything  substantial to the previous movie. What we do get is a performance from Chloe Moretz that is overacted and downright awkward. Yeah, shes supposed to be the kid that everyone hates but I haven’t watched a film and shook my head in embarrassment this much, since the first G.I Joe movie released.

The use of special effects was distracting to the story. The flashy Hollywood effects were decidedly unimpressive and pretty much ridiculous at times. It’s sad that the people who made this film focused so much on transforming Carrie into something that the masses could relate to.  More work should have been done on the casting and cinematography.

The direction of the film was pretty sloppy. Portions of the film just fall flat. Queue scenes of Carrie at the library watching a boy type at impossible speeds on a computer. Additions of modern day bullying and technology appear to be an after thought.  Even after everything that happened to her, the buildup to the finale was somewhat of a let down. While watching, I felt  that somehow she was overreacting to the whole situation.

All of this is from a woman who directed Boys Don’t Cry. I’m  pretty much dumbfound at her work here. She managed to take the beloved and tortured character, Carrie, and somehow make her motives seem flawed. I went into the film with a neutral state of mind and left somewhat irritable but mostly disappointed.  All things considered it could have been worse. Lindsay Lohan was actually considered for the role at one point…

Score: 3/10 – You’ll Cringe… for all the wrong reasons.

Spring Breakers| Review

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Just from the opening scene of Spring Breakers, I had this feeling that I would be watching a over sexualized teen-college film. I wasn’t entirely wrong. While the movie had some redeeming quality and acting moments,  the story wasn’t substantial enough for me to take seriously.  If I have to give this movie anything, it had some really visually stunning colors and of course plenty of eye candy to go around.

The cast of the movie includes four beautiful ladies(Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Corine) with a surprise role from James Franco as rapper and gangster.  The premise of the movie is a group of young girls head out on a journey of self-discovery and find themselves thrown into a world of crime and luxury. As the story unfolds, you are revealed how each of the girls deal with immersing in this new life. Selena Gomez perhaps played the best role out of the girls. That not being much of a compliment, considering…

But the girls all played their roles pretty good. If they were aiming to be superficial promiscuous Americans  than they hit the part right on the head. Ala- Some of these scenes were a bit cringe worthy, it seems they were aiming to teach some type of lesson from the mindless parties. I have a feeling some people will just find half this movie to be an overload to the senses.

I actually feel bad for James Franco. I was hoping to see him in some more serious roles that would broaden his acting spectrum. But not this one.., His portray of rapper and gangsta was actually enjoyable to watch. He brought some charisma even through his evil nature. Which made you kind of confused of how to react to his manipulation of the girls. He took on the role like a champ but even that  wasn’t enought to be the saving grace for this film.

The last strike for this movie would have to be the ending which was too ludicrous to appreciate. And that brings me to my review score of

6/10.

Captain Phillips | Review

Paul Greengrass, best known for his work on the Jason Bourne series, bring us another compelling thriller to the cinemas with his latest work Captain Phillips. Stories based on true events are usually a dime a dozen but this film succeeds in creating a suspenseful and interesting film through his signature documentary style film work, a great cast, and solid screenplay.

The film got some flack for portraying Captain Phillips as a bit too much of a hero. In truth, he was a bit of a stubborn and smug guy who ignored countless warnings from his crew. Despite some criticisms, the film successfully toes the line between staying somewhat true to the story and yet bringing us a Hollywood script that is actually interesting to watch.

Tom hanks brings one of his top performances the the film. He portrays  the moralistic and stoic character believably. His accent took a bit to get use to but as the film progressed it began sounding a little a less John F Kennedy impersonation and more Bostonian. The real star of the film however is Barkha Abdi who masterfully steps into the role of Abduwali Muse. Abdi a Somalian taxi driver made his acting debut in the film and was chosen from an extensive 700 man cast pool. He brings to life the desperate nature of Muse’s situation and his way of life.

The film had some impressive production values and felt exceptionally grounded. Paul Greengrass thoroughly researched Somalian piracy and the events that happened on that day. Greengrass and the crew filmed on an actual ship and life boat instead of a green screen. And to further accurately recreate the location of the story he filmed the Somalia portions of the film in Malta. Paul Greengrass’ attention to detail and signature documentary style camera work paid off immensely for the authenticity of movie.

The film kept me on the edge of my seat. The dialogue for the Somalian cast was truly effective and some of the improvised lines really brought the characters to life. The film was a rare example of how to do a film based on factual events. Reasonably paced, a fine cast, good cinematographic techniques, and a interesting script to boot; there isn’t hardly a criticism to be found here. Besides a seemingly overused and somewhat Hans Zimmerian-ending track for the finale I can’t really think of any flaws. Captain Phillips is an intense and engrossing film and I highly recommend.

Score : 9/10

Elysium: Review

The last summer blockbuster has arrived in Elysium. District 9 director and writer, Neill Blomkamp ‘s continued run in the sci-fi genre provides an enjoyable experience. The setting of the story, is 2154 on a severely over-populated and diseased world. The rich and powerful abandon earth for an man-made utopia named Elysium. Elysium entertains with visceral action sequences and a futuristic and unique story that keeps you on your toes.

Matt Damon who portrays the main character of the film, delivers another good performance in his role as Max Da Costa; a man with nothing to lose. Matt Damon is no rookie to action films. He is widely known for his tough bad boy persona in his roles in the Bourne films. He trained four hours a day to get physically and aesthetically equipped for the film. He certainly shows that he isn’t out of practice in the art of asskickery. The weakest performance in the film came from Wagner Moura who played Spyder; a human smuggler who takes people to Elysium. It wasn’t that he had bad acting necessarily but there was an apparent and jarring language barrier. Just seemed sort of forced and a better option probably would have been to to have him speak his native portuguese/spanish tongue especially considering that Max actually had an Hispanic ethnicity.

The highlight of the film came from Sharlto Copley who plays the vicious and psychotic character C.M Kruger. Copley gives a powerful performance and steals the spotlight from the rest of the veteran cast. Even the cold and calculating Jodie Foster, who plays the secretary of defense of Elysium, doesn’t stand a chance to his ruthless and unhinged personality. He takes command of his role and puts a choke-hold on every scene he is in. Even though he is a mercenary who gets paid for his job he he takes pleasure in it all. Neill Blomkamp might be one of the only people in the film industry to acknowledge his talent so far, but that’s sure to change.

The dense over populated and dirty sprawls of Earth are visually stunning. Wide angle shots of the swarming city of Los Angeles on Earth offer a stark contrast to the perfect and clean-cut nature of Elysium. The use of handycam is present in the film but it doesn’t distract me as much as it did in District 9 . The security/surveillance drones are masterfully crafted and have a sense of realism to them. Their design balances just the right amount of finesse, stiffness, and weight to be believable. The highlight from the cinematography and VFX team had to come from the combat and weaponry of the film. It was a truly a blast to watch the way some of the guns and gadgets worked.

The plot and setting of story takes a look at the hardships of a possible future without proper medical care. This system only affords the wealthy and those with influence. Neill Blomkamp was quoted saying that this story was not an alternate future but it was actually a look at the present. Though the story was probably a bit more action oriented then District 9 its still offers some room for thought even if isn’t as deep as his previous work. All in all it was thoroughly entertaining. It’s the one of the best sci-fi films of the year and I recommend it.

Review: The Purge

The year is 2022 and unemployment and crime is virtually gone. This is achieved by an event called The Purge. For one night a year all crime is legal. A fantastic premise for a horror movie in a stagnating genre. The film stars Ethan Hawke  an actor who is having a bit of resurgence especially in this genre.  He is the highlight of the film when it comes to the acting with Lena Headey(Cersei Game of Thrones) coming in a close second. Their family in the film are trapped in the house on the day of The Purge.  After their son feels sympathy and lets a man looking for refuge into their home, a group of hunters vow to break in if they do not release him.

The setting of the film is unique. A possible sci-fi like future where the poor are seemingly eradicated because they do not have the means to protect themselves. It’s a good thing this film skates over the socioeconomical implications of the Purge. It probably would have somehow led to a race fueled controversy. It’s an interesting topic and it certainly caused me to debate what would happen to my neighborhood if that did happen.

Some of the dialogue from the leader of the hunters was jarringly flat. Maybe he should have just kept his mask on for a creepier effect. It felt very forced at times. The actual events that transpired after  him  and his lackeys breached the house were very satisfying. The film did have to suffer from the typical horror tropes. We have the usual heads peeping out at the edge of screens in the background, clumsily falling in chase scenes, hiding under beds, sneaking around in the dark, and the suspense even hits a rock bottom low when an extremely predictable kid hiding in the dark behind an object in the basement forgets his flashlight is shining out of his hiding spot.

There’s a reason I usually don’t watch horror/thriller movies by myself. Horror movies generally just don’t work.  They are usually way to similar and all follow the same formulaic plots and devices. Yet we still go to watch them with friends. There’s something about that horror movie audience atmosphere that is just special. There’s nothing particularly good about the movie The Purge but its still fun to watch. That’s pretty much all that matters for horror movies. I generally don’t go into horror films with high expectations.  If you file this under a category I like to refer to as popcorn flick then you’ll be fine. It’s mindless fun. A film you go to watch and laugh at, especially at the moments that are suppose to be serious.

After Earth: Review

Originally, I didn’t know how I will feel about watching a movie where Will Smith and his son are in the same movie. It sort of felt like self-promoting on Will Smith’s part to try and get his family name out there. After watching it, It wasn’t that bad I suppose. It had some decent cg but some of the green screening looked weird. Example- When Will Smith was saluting the guy in the floating wheelchair. The background looked really fake. Besides the visuals, the movie was mostly about Jaden. Will Smith didn’t play a major role. The ending wasn’t climatic as I thought it would be. Besides that it was a solid movie with decent acting by Jaden but I would wait for this movie to come out on bluray/dvd. It’s a good movie if you have a family but nothing you would want to watch alone. Me personally, I can’t watch movies with child actors and take it serious.

‘Argo’ Review

I’m not a big fan of  the whole “based on a true story” idea in cinema for many reasons. Hollywood tends to dramatize events and sometimes lie altogether. Argo may be a little guilty of this and have some other small annoyances but didn’t bore me to death like most films in the genre. The movie follows Tony Mendez on his quest to extract 6 U.S diplomats from Iran during the Iran hostage situation in 1979.

Argo uses some very interesting camera filtering techniques to create a very authentic vibe that gives the illusion that your witnessing the past.  The opening animation and narration was a bit unnecessary in my opinion and served little purpose. Most of that information was elaborated on during the following scenes and close ups on television sets.

The film is based on a true story but it is apparent that certain elements of the plot were added for suspense. The big Hollywood film producer Lester Siegel(Alan Arkin) didn’t exist in real life and neither did many other aspects of the plot. There was also the fictional airport scene, in which their was a cat and mouse between the diplomats and the revolutionaries. These events were used to build suspense and heighten the sense of relief felt when they were home free. (Do I need a spoiler Alert for a true story?)

The film has some flaws but is saved by some casting decisions. Bryan Cranston’s role as Mendez’s CIA supervisor was pleasant to watch. He offered humor and as expected can turn on the intensity if need be. There should have been more screen time for the diplomats. I thought that preparation for immigration at the airport was bit glossed over.

Affleck not only directs the film; he is the bright spot. I’ve never understood the hate for Affleck’s acting.  I really enjoy his presence on screen. The bearded but ruggedly handsome Affleck, comes across as a genuine and caring man, who is devoted to the lives of the 6 diplomats trapped in Iran.

The film is broken up by comedic relief during several scenes. This was one aspect of the film I didn’t really think belonged. It might seem silly to root for a darker film but for the sake of lightening a relatively grim situation, I suppose it was necessary.

Ben Affleck is establishing himself as a true man of his craft. After watching his directorial work in ‘The Town’ it is becoming evident that this once overlooked actor may have more ability then he is given credit for.  With solid performances from Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin; Affleck has created an enjoyable film which also to happens to be informative. Whuddya know?

Review Score: 7.5/10