Looper (2012)

Looper

Release Date: September 28, 2012

Director: Rian Johnson

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt

Runtime: 118 min

Tagline: Face your future. Fight your past.

Johnson brings us action, and science fiction, moviegoers one heck of a unique ride.

It is the year 2042, where time travel hasn’t been invented quite yet. Thirty years in the future, though, it has been – and criminals send back people they no longer want to deal with. They send them back illegally to a group called ‘Loopers’, where a Looper awaits the victim with a gun. Joe is one of the best Looper’s there is, despite his drug problem. One day, Joe’s future victim turns out to be his future self. In turn, it puts both Joe’s on the run from their once trusted group.

Looper offers a fairly unique experience, and a lot of great action sequences. The character development is pretty awesome, too. It’s a fairly awesome story that can drag on in areas, but is still quite enjoyable.

There isn’t a lot of material that has been done before. This time travel story is fresh and unique. There are a lot of moral dilemmas thrown into the screenplay, so that makes for really good character development.  Jeff Daniels’ character of Abe was sort of awesome; he had the whole nice-crime-boss-who-could-be-ruthless-when-he-wanted-to-be bravado going on. Some of the subplots are a little tired and not explored quite enough.

The performances from the cast are really good, and the whole thing is easily enjoyable and entertaining. Bruce Willis definitely brings his great badass-ness to the feature. Looper brings together elements of great action, science fiction because of the time travel concept, thrilling moments, and there are even a few laughs to be offered.

Even some of the supporting actors did well, like Paul Dano as Seth, Noah Segan as Kid Blue and Pierce Gagnon as the cute child, Cid. The numerous antagonists tended to make some parts of the screenplay a little crowded. It is a film that has a cool concept and it executed itself quite well. That’s admirable because a lot of films have cool concepts, but wasted the opportunity – like Clockstoppers, for example.

Looper stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (with some really cool makeup on to make him look like a younger Willis), Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Pierce Gagnon, Qing Xu and Garret Dillahunt.

Looper offers quite an action experience that should be cherished because of its unique entertainment value, along with a memorable story and characters. It is one of the finest action films of the year thus far, and the only other great action film so far this year that is nearly as good as this is The Dark Knight Rises. Looper may beflawed because of its crowded areas, numerous antagonists and sometimes lack of non-stop carnage.  It really can be quite easy to follow despite one scene, but I was back on track in a hurry. I thought that was impressive because it seems like a concept that could easily confuse if it got much too complex. The concept is intelligent, and it doesn’t aspire to be any smarter than it has the right to be. Its action sequences are extremely memorable, and don’t drag on too long. It’s a flawed film, that nonetheless offers one of the most entertaining action experiences of the year.

88/100

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Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World review.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2D TV Screening)

Release Date: August 19, 2011

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Stars: Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Joel McHale

Runtime: 89 min

Tagline: Saving the world is their idea of family time.

 

Robert Rodriguez: Director, often great screen writer, some of his best work  includes Sin CityGrindhouse, Planet Terror, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, those sort of darkly atmospheric flicks. He has also entertained children and adults alike with the first two Spy Kids films – they’re sort of like the James Bond for kids. Though, he also is capable of inducing torturous films for adults, that pass itself as entertainment – and even some kids may not enjoy. The prime example is The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. I’ll give him that Spy Kids 3-D was bearable in most areas, but it wasn’t anything special. This film is just one of those movies where you can say confidently: “Oh, this crap is just terrible.”

Marissa Wilson (Jessica Alba) has been married to Wilbur Wilson (Joel McHale) for about a year now, and they have had one baby together. There’s a nuisance for Marissa: Wilbur’s twins. Cecil (Mason Cook) isn’t all bad, but the real trouble is the daughter, the pranking Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard). She has a sore spot for her [Marissa] because Rebecca thinks she’s trying to replace her real mother, and most of all – she thinks Marissa is hiding something. She is correct, Marissa is a retired OSS agent. After the Timekeeper escapes from prison, he threatens the world with an upcoming apocalypse. He’ll do this by speeding up time to the point where there isn’t any time left in the day. Marissa is called back to action to stop the Timekeeper, and her new family is tossed into the mix in the process.

This film is predictable from the get go, or at least when you meet the central characters. I don’t know how good the 3D was, but it was fairly obvious what could have been in 3D – and it didn’t look like it would have made any good 3D effects.

The film bares the same message as the first three: family is the most important thing. The first three did this well, so this film is just so unnecessary. Also, the fact that family comes first is practically just generally believed to be true.

Some good things about it… I guess it offers a fairly nice sense of nostalgia. Some of the gadgets are sort of cool, but they weren’t as cool as in the other films. Alexa Vega’s cameo was good, but she has gotten a bit too old to play her character.

It was nice to see Danny Trejo in this, in his extremely brief cameo as Uncle Machete, but I didn’t care for it very much. Nor did I care for the extended cameo by Daryl Sabara as Juni. He just didn’t work very well.

The story is just really stupid. Who cares about this guy taking over the world? Did Rob Rodriguez not learn anything from having Sylvester Stallone play numerous roles? The villain is just so ridiculous.

The film is just rather unbearable, the acting is horrid and the attempts at comedy or any sentimental moments fail miserably. How this did not get nominated for a Razzie, I have no idea.

Alexa Vega was really the only person in this film I could tolerate. All the other performers are awful, and the children are mighty annoying. The performers do horribly: Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Jeremy Piven, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook and Daryl Sabara. Though, the voice work from Ricky Gervais as the sarcastic mechanical dog, Argonaut, was decent.

Spy Kids 4 is a completely unneeded sequel that offers no entertainment value, has a stupid plot, and should not be seen by anyone who appreciates a good movie. Watch it only if you’re curious to see how bad it really is.

25/100

Holes

Holes

Release Date: April 18, 2003

Director: Andrew Davis

Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver

Runtime: 117 min

Tagline: The adventure is down there… start digging April 18.

 

It’s a nice and unpredictable children’s flick that even adults can enjoy.

Stanley Yelnats the Fourth (Shia LaBeouf) is a poor young teenager who has a pretty unique family. The Yelnats family has been blaming their no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather for years, who brought a curse upon their family a while ago. Stanley hasn’t exactly always had the best of fortunes, and his bad luck is just beginning. After a pair of stolen shoes, belonging to a former speedy baseball player called Clyde ‘Sweetfeet’ Livingston, fall on his head from walking home one day; he gets sent to a juvenile detention camp called Camp Green Lake. The Camp doesn’t really have a lake at all, and the runners of the camp believe that digging holes everyday in the hot sun will strengthen the campers’ character. Stanley builds strong friendships along the way, and must solve a several year-long mystery of why they are actually digging there.

The characters are really good and the cast bring something great to the table, sometimes the screenplay feels a bit messy, but it all works pretty well together.

There are a few reasons why the film doesn’t work as well as the novel; there are just so many subplots that it can make the film pretty crowded. The subplots really are all interesting, so it isn’t a total loss. In the book, it is obviously divided by chapters so it is much easier to follow.

Some of the subplots include: how Stanley’s no-good (well you get the idea!) great-grandfather came to put a curse on his family; the story of Kissin’ Kate Barlow; and how actual Green Lake used to be a town and how it looked before the lake turned into desert. They are quite interesting and they all very much relate to each other in the end.

There is some comedy, adventure, drama and mystery all mixed in here. There are some solid characters, like Stanley who just wants to fit in as the new kid – and soon assumes the nickname of ‘Caveman’. Zero is also a great character, a seemingly quiet and troubled character who can really talk once he’s interested. All the characters add something nice to the film, even if you don’t really like them – they’re charismatic either way.

Both the adult actors (like Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver and Tim Blake Nelson) and the younger actors each act their parts very well. Voight plays Mr. Sir (whose real name is Marian), who is very irritable after quitting smoking, and is pretty-trigger happy with those CGI yellow spotted lizards (“If you get bitten by a rattlesnake, you won’t die, usually. But if you get bitten by a yellow spotted lizards, you will die, a slow and painful death…always,” my favorite monologue of the character). Weaver plays the lazy Warden, who hogs all the damn shade on the whole camp. Nelson plays Dr. Pendanski, the pretty stupid doctor of the camp.

Patricia Arquette also performs her role well as Miss Kathryn.

The film stars Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver, Tim Blake Nelson, Khleo Thomas, Bryon Cotton, Henry Winkler, Siobhan Fallon and Patricia Arquette.

Something I found pretty interesting: Richard Kelly originally wrote an extremely dark and violent post-apocalyptic version of the story which proved much too mature for a children’s audience. Louis Sachar, also the writer of the novel, wrote a screenplay as well and the studio chose that one in favor of his over Kelly’s.

There’s also a really good book sequel to this, called Small Steps that’s a spin-off [of the first book] depicting Armpit’s life outside of Green Lake, and how he’s trying to merge back into society, befriending a mentally disabled (I believe she was epileptic) young girl on his street. Though, of course, a character from his life at Green Lake has to come and screw it all up with a business scheme, and who better than X-Ray to do the trick? Hey, Sachar, I’m still waiting on the movie! I say hopefully…

Holes offers a great and unpredictable experience. Adults can enjoy it, too, as well as kids and it is completely durable and sometimes comedic. The film can be pretty messy in some areas, but it makes up for it in the charm of it all. It’s a childhood favorite of mine and I still enjoy it to this day. It can get a little lengthy, but it doesn’t drag on too much. The cast do an incredible job, and there is a great music video at the end. The film is just really well done. It hasn’t been worn out yet after a large amount of views.

     88/100

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises

Release Date: July 20, 2012

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway

Runtime: 165 min

Tagline: A fire will rise.

This one was quite impressive.

   Eight years after Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes, a new terrorist leader has come to the surface in Gotham. There hasn’t been a spotting of Batman for eight years, and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse around the same time. Wayne must overcome his own personal turmoil and once again protect the city that has branded him an enemy.

It’s a great summer blockbuster that offers many incredible thrills great plot execution, some great twists and turns, and great direction and writing from Christopher Nolan.

The character of Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) wasn’t all that great. She offered a nice presence, but she wasn’t developed well enough as the other characters. The other new characters, like Bane or Officer John Blake or Miranda, are really good, and got solid character development. Although, other new characters like Daggett or Stryver, weren’t very interesting at all and weren’t extremely well-developed. The old characters are, as expected, as great as always.

The usual great Nolan atmosphere is offered, and it is one heck of a super-hero film. Its only possessive flaw is the sometimes slow build-up, and the plot feels a little too overused. Of course, what can you expect from a super-hero film? It will obviously have the whole hero vs. villain play-out, and this one has an extremely memorable climax. Its length may also feel like a flaw to some, but really and truly it doesn’t feel nearly as long as it actually is. Also, some of the realism of the whole thing feels off in areas.

This was obviously highly anticipated, and it really does live up to its hype. The cast is stellar, and Tom Hardy delivers a great performance – considering all he must act with are his eyes, voice, and gestures. His British drone and sometimes barely-audible dialogue make his character cringe-worthy, but the majority of his dialogue was understandable – if you listen very well. The subtitles should be helpful to those who will watch it on home media.

Now, here come the inevitable comparisons to the first two films, and the villains before Bane. The Dark Knight Rises isn’t nearly as great as The Dark Knight, but it is much better than Batman Begins. The atmospheric action was greater in D.K., and it had more memorable scenes. Though, this was still amazing. In this Nolan trilogy, Bane is better than Ra’s Al Ghul (as Ken Watanabe), but not Cillian Murphy’s The Scarecrow, Two-Face or especially not The Joker. All Bane has really is a frightening stature, strength, and the whole mystery of why he’s wearing that freaking eerie inhaler thingy-ma-bobber. That isn’t very scary, right…? He’s probably not the best villain because he doesn’t use a whole lot of psychological warfare. Heath Ledger’s The Joker used that all-too-well, and he was downright terrifying with his extreme psychopathic nature. The Scarecrow was just really cool, and he obviously used psychology as a weapon as he poisoned his victims with that gas to make them hallucinate like crazy.

This flick stars Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, with Liam Neeson and Juno Temple.

The Dark Knight Rises is an extremely impressive piece of cinema that may be flawed, but still awesome. The length may threaten some, but it is an experience that should be had, and even people who don’t like super-heroes can enjoy this. It isn’t as great as The Dark Knight, as [it was] expected, but this is still quite must-see. This is a summer blockbuster at its finest which should snatch up an extremely respectable amount of awards.

90/100

Editor’s Note

Apparently, I’ve reached 55 reviews on here! I missed the 50 review mark, oops. 55 reviews and 50 followers (WordPress and Twitter combined). Sweet.

Also, I’m going to take off my ‘Upcoming Film Reviews’ page, because I just fall behind on updating it for the week. And the element of surprise can be pretty nice, am I right?

Unpolished Review: 50 First Dates

50 First Dates

Release Date: February 13, 2004

Director: Peter Segal

Stars: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider

Runtime: 99 min

Tagline: Imagine having to win over the girl of your dreams… every friggin’ day.

[Note: I wrote this review early on when I wasn’t writing a whole lot for reviews, so I’m calling those an unpolished review, which I’d like to rewrite in the future, I’ll explain it more when I make a category for it. I’m too drained to make a page right now]

It’s actually a pretty good romantic comedy, as far as the standards of Sandler films go (plot-wise).

Adam Sandler plays a ladies’ man named Henry Roth, and wants to change his ways after meeting the wonderful Lucy. What he finds out the next day is that Lucy was in a terrible car accident, which gave her short-term memory loss, where her memories of the day get wiped clean when she wakes up the next morning. Now, Henry must make her fall in love with him every day, if he wants her to stay in his life.

It’s usually very cute, funny and sweet. It isn’t a horrible plot at all, and has some great on-screen chemistry between Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.

It also stars Sean Astin, Blake Clark and Rob Schneider.

If you’re a fan of Adam Sandler or romantic comedies, check it out. It isn’t bad at all, and is really worth one or more watches.

 75/100

The Experiment (2010)

The Experiment

Release Date: August 12, 2010

Director: Paul Scheuring

Stars: Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, Cam Gigandet

Runtime: 96 min

It’s a decent film based on the Zimbardo experiment.

Twenty-six men are chosen to participate in a psychological prison experiment. Half of them are appointed the role of guard, and the other half the role of prisoner. Travis (Adrien Brody) is a Hindu activist, who is the voice of the prisoners. Barris (Forest Whitaker) is often a cowardly man, and when he is given power as a guard, he turns into a power hungry maniac; playing the role of the  main guard.

Eventually, the whole experiment spirals out of control – as the prisoners just want to escape and the guards use force to try to contain them to their cells.

It’s a pretty interesting film, that analyzes the effects of roles that would psychologically affect a person. The whole film plays out in a pretty sweet fashion, the acting is good, the movie can be a little disturbing; but at times it is needed.

The historical accuracy is inaccurate in some aspects, as I think there were twenty-four prisoners in the actual experiment; and one of the playing-outs of the film didn’t actually occur in the real experiment.

Other stars of the film are Cam Gigandet, Ethan Cohn and Maggie Grace.

Overall, it’s a decent, but sometimes predictable, thriller. Not theater worthy, but it is pretty good for a straight-to-video release.

70/100