Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Film Review: Point Break (2015)

Point Break (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"The plot and characters leave a lot to be desired, but this isn't a bad blockbuster action movie."

Rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) infiltrates a group of extreme athletes suspected of committing a string of high-stakes heists...

First and foremost, Point Break is a remake of a film that doesn't hold a special place in my heart. I think I've only watched the original once and I've forgotten most of it, so I didn't have any sort of expectations before watching this. The film follows Johnny Utah as he infiltrates this group of self-righteous, pseudo-intellectuals who are on their path to "enlightenment" – yes, they are as unbearable as they sound. The group is led by Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez), a Robin Hood-like figure, who immediately kicks it off with Utah for a good ol' fashioned bromance. The problem with the story is that it doesn't really have a good 'flow' – for want of a better word. The characters and their relationships are never properly developed and there are too many music/stunt videos scattered throughout. The ending also felt way off - I was kind of left baffled.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Film Review: Joy Ride (2001)

Joy Ride (Review)
United States/2001
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"... an incredibly suspenseful, exciting, and frightening thriller."

On a road trip from Colorado to New Jersey, three young friends are harassed and stalked by a trucker after pranking him...

Joy Ride is a film with a simple but effective concept. University students Lewis (Paul Walker) and Venna (Leelee Sobieski) prepare to head home for summer vacation. Instead of flying home, Lewis offers to drop by Venna's school and drive her home – and she agrees. Lewis' plans are derailed when he has to bail his brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), out of jail. Unfortunately for Lewis, Fuller is a bit of a douche. Being a douche, Fuller decides to agitate a trucker over a CB radio – a trucker who ends up being a vicious killer. So, the friends are relentless pursued by the trucker. Simple, right? It's all very effective, though. It leads to a very strong ending, too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Film Review: 13 Cameras (2015)

13 Cameras (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It's not a bad film to kill 90 minutes, but it is disappointing considering its potential."

A newlywed couple move into a new house to start a new life, oblivious of the cameras their landlord has secretly installed in their home...

13 Cameras is a very simple horror/drama film. The film follows our newlywed couple, Claire (Brianne Moncrief) and Ryan (PJ McCabe), and their eccentric landlord (Neville Archambault). So, Claire and Ryan move into this new house and live their lives while their landlord watches every moment. It's almost like watching two different films: in one movie, Claire and Ryan are having extremely cliché marital problems – needy/moody pregnant wife, cheating husband, secrets that can break their relationship, etc; in the other, the landlord watches them while they have these problems. It follows this repetitive cycle – marital issues, landlord watches or visits the house while they're gone, marital issues, and so on – until the very end. The ending was a bit creepy, but it was a tad disappointing. It didn't really hit home or leave an impression.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Film Review: 22 Jump Street (2014)

22 Jump Street (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Starz
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"The plot might be more of the same, but the humor was effective."

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) head to college to track a drug known as "WHYPHY."

22 Jump Street is more of the same – and the film is well aware of that. With a bigger budget, Schmidt and Jenko head off to college to find the distributor of WHYPHY – a drug that makes the user focus for several hours, then causes them to hallucinate. So, Schmidt and Jenko go to class, investigate, have some relationship problems... Like most comedies, there's really not much to say about the plot. It goes through the same ups-and-downs as almost every other comedy plot out there. It's not horrible, but there's nothing else to say. I'm done with the plot. Move on.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Film Review: Deliverance (1972)

Deliverance (Review)
United States/1972
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It is truly an unsettling experience."

Four men enter the Cahulawassee River to experience nature before the area is flooded by the construction of a dam. The trip, however, quickly takes a turn for the worst...

This is my first time watching Deliverance – a critically-acclaimed drama. I know, I know: Jonathan, what the hell took you so long? I don't have an answer for you, but I have a review. So, the plot is fairly simple. You have a group of men – Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Ed (John Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty), and Drew (Ronny Cox) – who go canoeing on this beautiful, isolated river. They experience nature in its raw form. Things go south when Ed and Bobby run into some hillbillies. The horrifying experience leaves one man dead and four men scarred. The group is forced to continue, fighting for survival amidst the surrounding chaos. It really started to lose steam towards the third act, though. It felt like the film was repeating itself – it just didn't know when to end.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Film Review: Creed (2015)

Creed (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's everything you could want from a Rocky film."

Adonis "Donnie" Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the illegitimate child of Apollo Creed, seeks to create his own legacy as a boxer...

Creed is a sports-drama film – a sequel to Rocky Balboa, actually. The film follows Donnie, a young man with a troubled childhood, a decent adult life, and an uncertain future. Donnie ditches his 'safe' life, which we can only assume is very luxurious, to pursue a career in boxing. So, he leaves California and moves to Philadelphia to train with the legend himself, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). From here, it follows many of the same boxing drama beats – training montage, obstacle/defeat, motivational speech, training montage, and so on. It's a very familiar formula, occasionally to a fault, but it's not horrible. It leads to a climactic final fight and a solid ending.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Film Review: The Wave (2015)

The Wave (Review)
Norway/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the most unnerving and terrifying disasters films I've ever seen."

A small Norwegian village is threatened when an anticipated rockslide causes an 80-meter tsunami...

The Wave is a disaster movie – a very familiar one. The film follows geologist Kristian (Kristoffer Joner), his wife, his teenage son, and his young daughter. Kristian is on the verge of moving away to pursue a new career. Unfortunately, we all know the worst things happen when you're near retirement. (The moral of the story: don't retire.) So, before Kristian can leave, signs show that there may be another rockslide on the horizon in an area prone to rockslides. Like many characters in past disaster films, he's told to settle down and move on. Well, Kristian was correct. I won't spoil any more of the film, but it generally follows a cliché formula using a set of generic characters. It leads to a strong ending, though.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Film Review: Dreamcatcher (2003)

Dreamcatcher (Review)
United States/2003
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It is flawed, but it also offers some entertainment."

A group of friends with strange abilities encounter a parasitic alien during a camping trip...

Dreamcatcher follows Henry (Thomas Jane), Jonesy (Damian Lewis), Beaver (Jason Lee), and Pete (Timothy Elephant Olyphant). When they were children, this group of friends rescued a mentally-disabled boy named Duddits from some bullies. In exchange, Duddits gave them the ability of telepathy. Fast forward to the present, the group arrive in a cabin in the woods for their annual excursion. All is well until Jonesy stumbles upon a disoriented man with a peculiar rash on his face. Soon thereafter, the military shows up in helicopters and the area is quarantined. Jonesy and his friends soon find themselves fighting against an alien dubbed Mr. Gray – a British alien to be exact. (The worst kind if you ask me.) It leads to a peculiar and abrupt ending.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Film Review: Cold in July (2014)

Cold in July (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"There is a sense of dread that really resonates with the audience..."

After killing an intruder in his home, Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) finds himself and his family targeted by the burglar's father, Ben Russell (Sam Shepard)…

Cold in July is a bit complicated to explain, especially without spoilers. The film begins with the home invasion. Richard kills the intruder and it's deemed an act of self-defense by the sheriff. However, Ben Russell, the intruder's father, doesn't believe it makes a difference. So, the old man begins to harass Richard's family. Things become complicated when Richard begins to suspect the police have hidden something from him – he believes he's been accused of killing the wrong person. So, without spoiling more, the twists continue to pile on. It doesn't quite make this a bad story. It does, however, make it feel like you've been watching two entirely different films by the time you reach the ending, which was decent too.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Film Review: The Unborn (2009)

Unborn (Review)
United States/2009
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It has some interesting scenes, some of the visuals are horrifying, but it ultimately falls flat."

Casey Beldon (Odette Annable) is haunted by a dybbuk, an entity seeking to enter the human realm...

The Unborn starts off running. The plot doesn't take time to actually develop its characters or set a scene. Instead, it hurls you into a nightmare sequence, then it hits you with scare-after-scare. It feels abrupt, like if I missed a crucial chapter of the movie. Anyway, it eventually irons itself out. Casey is haunted by a nightmare, then she begins to see a boy with bright blue eyes, then her eyes start to change... You get the gist. It's a fairly basic horror plot, but I did enjoy some of its unique aspects. I don't think I've ever watched a horror film with a dybbuk, so that caught my attention. It takes a few tumbles towards the end, though. The final 'twist' was also underwhelming. Like the beginning, the finale felt abrupt.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Film Review: It Follows (2014)

It Follows (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If the actual story and characters were on par with the horror elements of the film, this would have been a masterpiece."

After a sexual encounter, Jamie "Jay" Height (Maika Monroe) is pursued by a supernatural entity...

It Follows is a horror film with an interesting concept. The story starts off a bit slow, taking time to introduce us to the generic indie movie cast of characters. Eventually, Jay has sex with her boyfriend, Hugh. Except, Hugh is not really his name and he has "passed on" a supernatural entity that will pursue her to the ends of the earth – and, that's exactly what happens. So, Jay, with the help of her sister and friends, tries to outrun the entity. It really started to feel like the plot was being stretched thin during the second half of the movie. It becomes a bit more repetitive and the pacing becomes inconsistent. The ending was also disappointing. I wasn't expecting a full-blown explanation, but this just sort of ended. It failed to leave an impression.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Film Review: Standoff (2016)

Standoff (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a simple movie with plenty of suspense and action."

While visiting the graves of her parents, Bird (Ella Ballentine), a young girl, witnesses a hitman (Laurence Fishburne) killing people at the graveyard...

Standoff is a very simple and contrived thriller. The film follows Bird, a young girl who is attached to her camera. She visits the graves of her parents on the anniversary of their deaths, which happens to coincide with another unrelated funeral in the graveyard. From the wild, a hitman emerges and kills everyone – and Bird photographs him. So, Bird, being chased by the hitman, ends up at the house of a Carter Green (Thomas Jane, who I always get confused with Aaron Eckhart), who just so happens to be planning his suicide – convenient, right? Anyway, Carter is shot, but he survives. He brings Bird into his house and the pair retreat upstairs where they gain the upper-ground. From there, it's really a small game of cat-and-mouse in the house. Since the plot is so contrived, it leads to the ending you are expecting.