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Category Archives: Redbox: $1 Movies FTW

Oblivion: What more Science Fiction films should be like.

For all of you Tom Cruise haters out there, just because he’s a little crazy (like jumping on Oprah’s couch) doesn’t mean he can’t act or that his movies stink.  On the contrary, “Oblivion” was one of the few movies I really enjoyed, and which more would be like in the genre of Science Fiction.

The story takes place in 2077, after our world has been nearly obliterated almost 60 years before, and Tech 49 Jack Harper (not to be mistaken for Jack Reacher, which Cruise also did) is working with Vika to protect various power stations using the ocean to generate energy from a group known as “Scavs” that attacked and destroyed not only the moon, but caused nuclear weapons use that left the planet a wasteland.  Everyone is waiting for them on the a space station orbiting the Earth called the Tet, and once their mission is complete, they’ll go to join the rest of the survivors on Titan.  The two have had their memories wiped a few years back to security reasons, as if they got captured by the Scavs you wouldn’t want secrets to fall into their hands.  Though Jack keeps having visions or possible memories of him and a woman at the Empire State Building.

Enter Jack Harper fixing a drone that’s been damaged by the Scavs, which are used to protect the power stations on the ocean, and witnessing a crash of what look to be some kind of life pods.  A drone shows up and destroys all of the pods, except for the one that he is able to save by putting himself in its way and convincing it that the pod behind him isn’t there, and since it won’t fire on the Techs, he is able to protect a woman inside, whose name is Julia, and who claims to be his wife.  He eventually is captured by the Scavs, who are human and tell him that he needs to look at the lies that have been spun around his eyes.  And the story escalates from there.

The visuals are really amazing to look at, and the flying scenes in the Bubble Ships are some of the best I’ve seen in a while.  While the movie does have some predictable moments, which I’ll blame on me seeing too many movies and being able to find certain plots based on certain pieces being shown, it really is a well done science fiction piece that warrants a watch (and with Morgan Freeman not narrating, you know it’s important too).

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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Redbox: $1 Movies FTW

 

“Lincoln” – A Piece of History All Should See

Let’s begin our journey of “Lincoln” with taking a moment to remember this is not “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” but the Steven Spielberg film.

Now that we have that out of the way, “Lincoln” is the story of the last few months of Lincoln’s life, focusing on the passing of the 13th Amendment to United States Constitution, that abolished slavery.  What we’re taught in elementary school in history class is not the story we see here.  Lincoln did what a politician does, politic and work to get the votes he needs to get his agenda moved forward.  And while some of the tactics weren’t what we’d expect from Honest Abe, the movie shows the politics necessary to pass this important Amendment.

Spielberg, as always, is an amazing film maker who really allows the audience to not only enjoy the movie, and is clean and precise in his executions.  But of course, the real star of this, is Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays Lincoln.  When watching this movie, I do not see Daniel Day-Lewis, I see Abraham Lincoln.  Put aside all of the awards that he received that signal the industry’s approval and acknowledgement of his ability to completely immerse himself as a character, and just look at his performance, it truly is amazing.  And to be honest, there wasn’t a performance by an actor or actress that I did not enjoy in this film.

While the acting and directing were excellent, keep in mind that this is not your popcorn flick of the summer.  This is a very heavily dialogued, historical drama, that I originally watched while slightly tired and had to pause half way through because of the extensive dialogue.  And while it has elements that do not follow history exactly as it occurred, “Lincoln” is a movie that shows a significant piece of history, that really all should, and need, to see.

 
 

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Zero Dark Thirty

Usually I would put a clever name or something to bring about what I’m going to write, but I think the title speaks for itself clearly.

One of the few questions that you can ask someone and they can give you a definite answer is, “Where were you on 9/11?”  My answer is two fold; I was first walking to Drama 3 class, when a friend told me a plane crashed into the World Trade Center.  I thought it was strange that a plan would crash there, but kept walking to class.  As I got into the room I saw the portable television was on and had been wheeled out.  As I got to my chair and set my bag down, I saw on the live stream on TV, the second tower was hit a plane.  I was shocked, scared and even now I can remember the emotions that ran through me as this event took place.  The school went on lock down, and with us being only a few miles from Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, all ROTC students on campus were required to change clothing for their protection.

The beginning for “Zero Dark Thirty” brought back those emotions with the recordings of victims and responders during those attacks, and immediately set the tone that this movie was not going to hold back.  Put aside the controversy and political commentary surrounding the film, you have a very real look at what is done to protect our freedoms.  It is not pretty, it is not clean, but it is done.  People are tortured, through beating, water boarding, and other tactics, but the interrogation methods again are not softened or held back, so the viewer definitely gets a feeling of what exactly is done.

The story of “Zero Dark Thirty” follows the nearly ten year hunt for Osama bin Laden, and the person who works so hard to hunt him down, Maya.  Amid all of the hunting, the red tape of politics and twists and turns of all those standing in their path, you also see the emotional toll it takes on a person to do the things they do.  Every person has a breaking point, and the question of how far would you go, really shines through in the ending.

Most movies, I will admit, often have filler, some scene that’s not needed, or some shot that could be cut down.  But every single shot, in my opinion, was necessary and appropriate for this film.  This is a movie that people need to see, for it is not only a well executed film that is worthy of its Oscar Nominations, but is a piece of history for the actions that occurred, but more importantly, the cost for such actions.

 
 

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Silent Hill: Revelation 3D-The 2D Experience

So I shall begin with stating that I never intended to see this in 3D.  While I agree that most 3D films have that tacked on feel, it really just messes with my eyes and gives me a headache to watch the RealD 3D movies in theaters.  And this does include movies that were made for 3D viewing from the beginning, I just can’t watch them.

Silent Hill is the fictional town that is the subject of what was first a series of video games, which never owning a PlayStation, I have only played one installment, “Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams” on the XBOX.  The games revolve around a central character who ventures into this very disturbing town cloaked in darkness and you’re just trying to survive while fending off monsters and facing your own inner demons.

“Silent Hill” was directed by Christophe Ganes, who directed “Brotherhood of the Wolf” (one of my top movies) and I really dug the “Silent Hill” movie.  Though the trailers for this sequel didn’t seem to have the same mystery, but appeared to be more about gore and what sick things they could put on the screen.  Much like a number of forced sequels, this movie felt more about what shock and 3D factors could be shown versus what kind of story can we present that helps build on what we had from the previous movie.

Now, I know they pulled elements from a number of the games to make the movies and didn’t necessarily just do one game and translate it to screen, but from what I’ve heard from fans who have played the games, the first film did it a lot more justice than this last one.  To be quite honest, this is one of those movies that even though it was a free rental, I’d like my free code back please.

If you’re a die-hard fan, you’ll probably appreciate the creatures, which I’ll admit were well done, but overall the film just doesn’t have substance.  And while I try to appreciate a movie for what it was, I can’t appreciate this one.

[Edit: 11:39PM, 03-24-13]

My friend, @PendejoJoe did remind me of something I did not mention.  What Christophe Ganes did for “Silent Hill” was really set the tone and create a movie world worthy of matching the video game one.  “Silent Hill: Revelvation 3D” was able to match that same tone and atmosphere and should be applauded for that at least.

But don’t applaud too loud please…it isn’t worth it…

 
 

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Paranormal Activity 4: Are We Done Yet?

So again, we come to a place where we have been before.  A sequence of movies that tries to one-up the ante from the previous, has higher budgets, and uses more technology to bring it current.  And so far, we’ve done not too bad of a job.

For those unfamiliar with the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, you have a basic formula.
1) Take unknown actors, some with virtually no experience.
2) Have some mysterious past/issue with the paranormal.
3) Set up a recording device that monitors each night with increasing activities.
4) Make this seem like it’s all real.

We’ve seen that found footage films actually do pretty well with audiences.  Films like “The Blair Witch Project,” “Cloverfield,” “REC” and now tons of other ones are pouring out to help give a different perspective to the audience.

The story in “PA 4” is that several years after the events of “PA 2” we have some new neighbors who seem to have some shady stuff going around them.  One of the children claims to talk to an entity that does things, and a young teenager tries to be a big sister and also record the events through her laptop and other devices.  For those keeping score, “PA 3” was a prequel to the first and second installments, and did a good job with upping the ante.

The problem I have with PA 4 is that we’ve been down this road before, and the story is starting to get old.  Sure we have some new scare tactics and some pretty neat technology usage, but this one didn’t have the same substance as the previous.  And yes, while the first one had a number of major flaws, it succeeded on a very low budget and used a number of effects to really wow the audience, and made a lot of money, as did number 2, on a slightly higher budget.  I guess what probably is more off putting to me is that fact that they children are the ones being targeted and I just don’t like to see that.  Sure, it’s a central part of the story, the children being used for the nefarious/demonic purpose, but doesn’t mean I have to like it.

All in all, it’s the weakest of the story, and with a fifth installment coming out in October of 2013, I hope the writers and others involved can get a better story out there and make a movie that closes out the franchise with a powerful stroke.  But something tells me if the studios can keep making money, they’ll draw it out as long as they can…

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Redbox: $1 Movies FTW

 

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The Boring Bourne Legacy

Let me begin by saying a few things:

1) I LOVE the original Bourne Trilogy.  They are some of the only few movies that I will watch without any issue multiple times, and even with owning them all, will still watch them at any point that they are on TV.
2) I enjoy Jeremy Renner, especially in movies like “The Hurt Locker,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” and “The Avengers.”

3) I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve regularly posted, things have been crazy to say the least, but I have a number of write-up coming soon that should help fill the gap.

With all of that said, I really found “The Bourne Legacy” to just be boring.  As action movies get further and further along, they find new ways to use a newspaper or magazine to beat the crap out of someone.  The original Bourne movies showed that with Matt Damon and I still cringe each time the guy gets beat up with the magazine.  The problem with “Legacy” is that they tried to stretch on a story that was had a nice and clean wrap up, but also make a guy who was more badass than Jason Bourne.

For those who haven’t seen or read the movies or books, respectively, Jason Bourne is a super spy whose name is not really his and was trained to be a really awesome operative.  And when I say awesome, I mean the best.  Even with all of the stuff that goes wrong, he’s still on top of his game, and constantly has to fend off so much stuff and does it all with the increasing difficulties with a style that just rocks.  Again, did being able to beat the crap out of someone with a magazine not clearly paint a picture of how awesome he is?

Now take that image.  Hold it, smile a little, and then say, “Well, he’s good…but we have better…And all of that nicely wrapped up plot we had?  Yeah, we’re going to mess that up and intermix stuff while also debunking all that happened.”  Now sure, with the government, we can believe the coverups and debunking, but to take a nicely wrapped package and tear it apart, not cool…The plot moved along in predictable patterns, with characters you didn’t care or feel for.  And what’s sad about this is that Tony Gilroy, who wrote the screenplays for the original Bourne movies, wrote this one.

It’s probably because I enjoyed the first ones so much that I just couldn’t get in to “The Bourne Legacy.”  There are stories to tell in the Bourne universe, this wasn’t one of them.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Redbox: $1 Movies FTW

 

The Expendables 2: Return of the Movie Testosterone Treatment

Many of you have heard at some time or another the many commercials promoting therapy for men dealing with low testosterone.  Well, you may not need to spend hours at a clinical facility or spend tons of money on these treatments.  My course of treatment, I submit to you, is watch “The Expendables” followed by “The Expendables 2”.  Why, you may ask?  Well, the following review should help enlighten and show why these movies can help fill that void for you.

For those of us who grew up in the 80’s and even the 90s, we had such action heroes like Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, Lundgren, Willis, among others, and to this day we love to watch their movies.  The movies are filled with massive explosions, impossible scenarios, and enough violence and one liners to keep your manliness flaring.  For the most part, these actors have been able to keep a steady stream of movies, with some deviating to different genres over the years.  But at the end of the day, we love to see them blow stuff up, plain and simple.

“The Expendables 2” gives you a story, sure…I mean, every movie should have a plot right?  But you came to see all of these big guns come together to smoke cigars, use some really big guns, and continuously fight the bad guys to save the day.  Ask and you shall receive…

What makes the movie successful is the fact that they don’t try to be something they aren’t.  They don’t try to throw a long lost love story into the mix, or have some elaborate addition of some supernatural force to an already fine sci-fi story element (yes, I’m talking to you “Looper”).  The movie has it all, massive explosions, huge blood splatters, and also does what more films need to do, be fun!  There is some really great humor, and probably the best times are the lines where they are making fun of each others old one liners.

Trench (Schwarzenegger): “I’ll be back.”Church (Willis): “You’ve been back enough.  I’ll be back.”
[Church leaves]
Trench: “Yippee-ki-yay.”

Their exchanges made the movie for me, oh…and Chuck Norris…

*EXPLODES FROM THE LEVEL OF AWESOME THAT WAS JUST EXPRESSED*

Yes, Chuck Norris has what I thought a rather humorous cameo and even has the time to make a Chuck Norris joke.  Though you’ll have to see it, or cheat and google it, you cheater you…

So if you were a fan of “Predator”, “Die Hard”, “Universal Soldier”, “The Punisher” (not to be mistaken with the fairly decent remake with Thomas Jane), or you just like to see guys with guns and bombs, then this is the movie for you.

Disclaimer: And your testosterone levels may or may not increase while or after watching this film.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Redbox: $1 Movies FTW