Friday, November 25, 2016

Film Review: Sicario (2015)

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

"It is a disturbingly real, powerful, and suspenseful thriller."

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), an FBI agent, is enlisted by a government task force to aid in the war against cartels at the US-Mexico border.

Sicario follows Kate Macer, a starry-eyed FBI agent with a record of perfection – a by-the-books agent who must follow procedure. After discovering dozens of decaying corpses and setting off a booby trap in Arizona, Kate is enlisted by CIA officer Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to find and capture the real people responsible for the crimes – not the legs, but the heads. The couple are joined by Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro), Matt's enigmatic and skilled partner. Together, the task force begins to track the man responsible for the crimes – Manuel Diaz, a lieutenant of the Sonora Cartel. On the way, Kate witnesses atrocity after atrocity and struggles with the ethics of their operation. It's a very well-balanced thriller that shines light on the drug war in Mexico. It leads to a very strong ending, too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Film Review: The Nice Guys (2016)

The Nice Guys (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Whether you like black comedy or some old fashioned slapstick, The Nice Guys has a little of everything for everyone."

Private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) join forces to find a missing girl...

The Nice Guys is a noir mystery-comedy set in 1977 Los Angeles. March, a clumsy private detective, is hired to find Amelia. Amelia, who does not want to be found, hires Healy to scare off March – and it works. However, when armed men show up at Healy's home and ask about Amelia, he is forced to join forces with March to solve a very important mystery: who is Amelia and why are so many people after her? This mystery leads them into a conspiracy involving the auto industry, the porn industry, and the U.S. government. The plot always stays on its toes, upping the ante with each twist and turn. There is plenty of mystery, action, and humor to fill up the near two-hour runtime. And, it leads to a satisfying ending.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Film Review: Poltergeist (2015)

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

"It's perfectly watchable, but it's not exactly effective."

After moving into a suburban home, a family finds themselves tormented by apparitions attached to the land...

Poltergeist is a remake of the classic 1982 film – obviously. The plot is very simple. In fact, I'd say it's too simple for its own good as it often feels compressed and ineffective. Eric (Sam Rockwell) and Amy, a married couple, move their family – which consists of Kendra, Griffin, and Madison – into a new house. Strange things happen in the home, but the parents scoff at it. It isn't until Madison is captured by the apparitions that they all take it very seriously. So, they get help and try to rescue Madison. That's it. I wish there was more to talk about, but it doesn't do much else. Is it horrible? No, but, like I said, it's not as effective as it could have been.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Film Review: Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013)

Why Don't You Play in Hell? (Review)
Japan/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"If you're looking for a dark comedy with plenty of gore, laughs, and twists and turns, this is for you."

A Yakuza boss forces an amateur film crew to make a movie starring his runaway daughter...

Why Don't You Play in Hell? is a bizarre movie – a mixture of comedy, romance, drama, and horror. The film starts off a bit rough, simultaneously introducing us to several groups: the Muto crime family – which includes Mitsuko (Fumi Nikaido) – the Ikegami crime family, the Fuck Bombers, which is a crew of amateur filmmakers, and Koji, a young teen who falls for Mitsuko due to a simple commercial. Fast forward ten years, Mitsuko isn't a big star, Muto is trying to repair his family, the Fuck Bombers haven't made a successful film, and the Ikegami family is still active. So, without any options, Muto decides to make a film with his daughter as the lead actress, and he uses Koji and the Fuck Bombers to do so. It's much more complicated than that, but it eventually irons itself out. It all leads to a gory climax and a solid ending.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Film Review: Keanu (2016)

Keanu (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you're a fan of Key & Peele... then you'll likely enjoy the humor in this film."

Two friends attempt to rescue a kitten named Keanu from a street gang known as the "Blips."

Keanu follows Rell (Jordan Peele) and Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key). After a break-up, Rell is visited by an innocent kitten – who happens to belong to a gang leader, unbeknownst to him. He adopts the kitten and becomes happier. Unfortunately for him, the kitten is stolen by a gang known as the Blips. So, Rell and Clarence masquerade as stone cold killers known as "Tectonic" and "Shark Tank," respectively, in order to win the gang's trust. This, of course, leads to plenty of hijinks. It's a simple but effective plot that kept my interest from beginning to end. The ending was great, too.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Film Review: Martyrs (2015)

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

"It's just not frightening, compelling, or even brutal..."

Lucie (Troian Bellisario) enlists her childhood friend, Anna (Bailey Noble), to help her find the people who abused her as a child...

Martyrs is a remake of the 2008 French film of the same title. The plot follows Lucie and Anna. At ten years old, Lucie escapes from an isolated torture chamber and ends up in an orphanage where she meets Anna. Ten years later, Lucie shows up at the door of the people she suspects are responsible for her childhood torture, then she kills them. And, she drags Anna into her mess, too. However, it turns out that this friendly family held some very dark secrets. There are a few changes in the plot compared to the original, but it really doesn't stray far. At times, it is nearly identical to the original. The ending attempts something different, but it just comes off as sloppy – like the rest of the film.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Film Review: Eye in the Sky (2015)

Eye in the Sky (Review)
United Kingdom/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...it is gut-wrenchingly tense and unnerving."

Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), who is in charge of capturing Al-Shabaab militants in Nairobi, Kenya, finds her mission escalating out of control when a child enters the kill zone...

Eye in the Sky is a compelling war drama. The film follows several parties involved in a single operation. Colonel Katherine Powell is overseeing an operation to capture two British terrorists and one U.S. terrorists, all who happen to be on the most wanted list – and in the same house in Nairobi. These terrorists are, of course, planning a suicide bombing. She wants to kill the terrorists with a drone strike, but the collateral damage may be too much for their rules of engagement. So, Powell seeks approval from her higher-ups, which causes a game of hot potato amongst politicians and lawyers – no one wants to take responsibility. Meanwhile, a USAF drone pilot, Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) and his partner find themselves with their own moral dilemma when they spot a child in the kill zone. It's engaging, suspenseful, and compelling up to its strong climax and ending.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Film Review: They Look Like People (2015)

They Look Like People (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"The plot is thin, though, and it often feels like there isn't much going on."

Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews), a troubled young man, suspects the people around him are turning into evil creatures...

They Look Like People feels like a short story that was unnecessarily stretched into a feature length film. In other words, the plot is simple and thin. Wyatt returns to New York City where he reunites with his close friend, Christian (Evan Dumouchel). Christian invites Wyatt to stay at his apartment, unaware of his psychotic tendencies. The first hour or so of the film follows these characters as they essentially bond. Occasionally, Wyatt experiences a peculiar hallucination – usually in the form of a phone call warning him of an invasion. It spends quite a bit of time developing its characters, but it never really feels like the plot is moving. It leads to a tense climax, but the ending doesn't leave an impression. It's like watching a fuse for one hour, watching it speed up, then leading to a popper explosion.

Monday, November 7, 2016

31 Days of Halloween 2016 Review Recap!

My 31 Days of Halloween 2016 celebration ended last week with a review of Stephen King's It. Now, if you followed my previous movie marathons, I usually post these updates the day after the celebration. Well, this recap was delayed due to my very busy schedule. Anyway, thank you for reading. Below, you'll find a list of the movies I watched, their respective scores, and the average for the year.

10/01: Baskin (2015) - 6/10
10/02: Cabin Fever (2002) - 6/10
10/03: The Conjuring 2 (2016) - 9/10
10/04: Dark Floors (2008) - 4/10
10/05: The Darkness (2016) - 4/10
10/06: The Devil Inside (2012) - 4/10
10/07: The Forest (2016) - 3/10
10/08: I Spit on Your Grave (2010) - 6/10
10/09: I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013) - 4/10
10/10: I Spit on Your Grave 3: Vengeance is Mine (2015) - 3/10
10/11: The Midnight Meat Train (2008) - 7/10
10/12: The Other Side of the Door (2016) - 6/10
10/13: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015) - 2/10
10/14: The Presence (2014) - 3/10
10/15: The Witch (2015) - 7/10
10/16: The Children (2008) - 7/10
10/17: Feast (2005) - 6/10
10/18: Goodnight Mommy (2015) - 7/10
10/19: Halloween (2007) - 7/10
10/20: Halloween 2 (2009) - 5/10
10/21: JeruZalem (2015) - 4/10
10/22: The Purge: Election Year (2016) - 5/10
10/23: Sweet Home (2015) - 4/10
10/24: Tremors (1990) - 7/10
10/25: Wrong Turn (2003) - 7/10
10/26: Zombie (1979) - 7/10
10/27: 31 (2016) - 6/10
10/28: Deep Rising (1998) - 8/10
10/29: Jaws (1975) - 8/10
10/30: Lights Out (2016) - 6/10
10/31: Stephen King's It (1990) - 8/10

Average Score 176/310: 5.7/10 (estimated)

With an average score of 5.7 for the month, this is the lowest scoring 31 Days of Halloween in the four years I have been doing this. Again, it's not a terrible score, but it's not great either. I still had a lot of fun, though, and I'm looking forward to next year's marathon. If you want to see last year's recap, click here. Otherwise, thanks for reading and happy holidays!