Monday, October 27, 2014

Sex Tape

Sex Tape - 94 min - R

Blink, blink....Um....Blink. I have no words for how bad this film is. Obviously a red light film. However more disappointing: this is proof to the contrary of a point I have been making for years. If you enjoy working with a group of people on one film, don't do a sequel--make a new movie. This turd burger is brought to you from the makers of Bad Teacher. Thank you for giving me an hour and thirty minutes to reevaluate my life and enjoy the fact my life is way better than the characters you showed us. Bask in the red glow of the light you have earned.

Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) are in the time of their lives when you and your spouse get wrapped up in life and responsibilities you forgot to carve out some time for yourselves. So to break out of this pattern they decide to make a sex tape on the new iPad Jay has just gotten. This will bring passion and excitement to their otherwise dull boring sex life.

We thankfully don't get to see this evening of debauchery we just see the afterglow moment when they are both drifting off to sleep. "Don't forget to delete that file?" ..."Hum..Ok. I won't." Well the auto back up to the cloud happens in the morning and the rest is hijinks history.

See Jay has this habit of sharing his old iPads with friends and family. Why a person would have more than one is beyond me. He likes to keep them linked to his cloud because once he discovers great music play list everyone gets an update.

We now have the setup and like any traffic accident we see the problems coming way before the participants do. There is one person who has seen the sex show and keeps sending mysterious texts and is threatening to upload a copy to the web. So Jay and Annie spend the night trying to get all of the iPads back and deleting the offending film. Too bad they couldn't get to the production office before this movie was released.

One of the most painful scenes is the section where they try and get the iPad back from Annie's prospective buyers of her parenting blog. His company is focused on wholesome family values. She gave Hank (Rob Lowe) an iPad with a power point slide on it. Who are these people who can just toss around iPads like business cards? I want to be that rich. Well maybe not--it apparently makes you dumb.

Hank is enjoying a quiet night at home with some heavy drinking and cocaine. Annie distracts him by doing a few lines and spending time while Jay wanders through the maze of a house trying to find the iPad and avoiding the attack dog pet. This is turning point for Jay who decides to not pay the mysterious blackmailer because of his horrific experiences with the dog.

A copy goes to a porn sharing website. The only funny part in this film is Jay's attempt to watch it to judge how bad it is because they never watched it. He gets about 30 seconds in and freaks out. Their big plan is to go to the website servers and break the internet. They get caught and the owner just tells them, why didn't you just send us an email and tell us to take it down because they didn't give permission to use the tape?

The writing crew has got a lot of good work under their belt. I can't explain why this film flops so supremely. This just goes to show you even when you have a good cast and crew and talented writes sometimes they fall flat.

Like The Hangover, at the end we get to see the tape in a manner of speaking. We get to watch how bad the night was. There are no naughty bits because of creative prop placement and shot composition. This movie is not really anything. Not funny, not titillating and not worth a look. If you are locked in a room and you have a choice between watching this film or being locked away in solitary confinement for two years, think long and hard on your choice. The two years will seem like a bargain compared to the lasting damage this film could do you.

If you are a person who enjoyed this movie, first I am sorry. Second please leave a comment and tell me why you enjoyed it. I promise not to judge you.

Jason Segel looks like he is going to be ill, I know how you feel man.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Expendables 3

Expendables 3 - 126min - PG13

The first two movies of this franchise were red light films, the second one being particularly bad. It was beyond bad. It explored new depth of suckage. You can read my reviews of two it falls into the same catagory as one. However even a broken clock is right twice a day. This one was their closest attempt at a story beyond campy catchphrases and cheesy references to previous film glory. I give this a Yellow light as a marked improvement but still not high quality.

We open on a mission in progress. Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is freeing fellow Expendable Doc (Wesley Snipes) from imprisonment. Doc was an original Expendable. Apparently once an Expendable you are always an expendable, which means you are not ummm... expendable? They need him to stop the sale of a missile by a arms dealer. So, I guess ex-Expendables are only expendable until they are needed.

The arms dealer is Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) and he and Barney have history. Conrad proves to be too much for the team and our heroes are thwarted. They return to base to lick their wounds where they are met by their new handler Max Drummer (Harrison Ford). Their new boss tells them they screwed up and need to go after Stonebanks.

Barney decides his team needs to retire and calls them all together to let them go. The next section of the film is dedicated to hiring new recruits. With the help of Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer), a retired mercenary, they go looking at potential candidates.

The problem here is we have no investment in the new characters they are the ones who will be going in and failing so the real heroes can come in and save the day. So like clockwork, they fail but Barney survives and plans to go it alone to save the new team. His old team shows up and they work together to free the new guys and work together as a team to complete the mission.

We have the lone hero going in to get the newbies because it was his fault they were captured. The tenacious Galgo (Antonio Banderas) finally talks and talks and talks his way into getting a chance because Barney needs some backup. But as they are about to fly off to save the new crew, the old crew is standing on the runway. They are not going to leave Barney to deal with this on his own.

We now have twice the number of Expendables going up against an Army lead by a madman. A spectacular battle scene ensues which I can't even begin to describe. Suffice it to say this battle, suspension of disbelief in hand, is one of the better fight scenes I have seen in a long time. Well worth the price of renting.

None of these movies ever take themselves seriously. This one is the probably the best at toning down the "Hey Look at us we are still making movies laugh at us" aspect. They depend less on the catch phrases and cutesy interactions and more on trying to tell a story. It's not a great story, but at least they are heading in the right direction.

This film's shortcoming is its attempt to lengthen the franchise with fresh faces and a poor attempt at making this a father and son picture. One of the new recruits is Barney's son. They drive this point home with all the subtlety of a sledge hammer.

The freshness of this story is the fact they don't take time to beat the old tired punch lines and make fun of themselves. This could be the movie which opens this franchise to new generation of action heroes.

One point I noted was the fact Stonebanks as a leader started shooting his own troops who were not performing to his standard. As a leadership tactic that's a good way to get yourself shot in the back of the head. It doesn't play as well in real life as it does on screen. I have no idea why that stood out. Even in a completely unrealistic picture there needs to be some basis in reality.

My final verdict is this is still not a great movie but they are defiantly getting themselves under a better formula and hopefully a new batch of fresh faces could bring this franchise up to a decent film. When you have as much money and time as Mr. Stallone does you can make movies because they are fun to do and care less for the reviews of the press.

If you agree disagree let me know about it drop me a comment or tweet me. I am always up for a good movie conversation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner - 113min - PG-13

The Maze Runner is equal parts Lord of the Flies and LOST. As a Young Adult (YA) movie, it was well done for the target audience. The Lost format is a gamble because if the audience gets, um.. lost you run the risk of disengaging them if the questions are not answered to their satisfaction. As enjoyable a ride as it was, the eleven-year-old boy in me was filled with questions. They wrote the film in a way that keeps the audience ignorant of much of the history. The viewer has to be left in the dark because they are laying down a new universe and they get information at the same time as the main character. The action and the setting were enough to keep me engaged, but only just, thus I give this movie a Yellow light for its Meh 'Sokay kind of a film.

Thomas (Dylan O'Brian) is on an elevator deep underground. He has no memory of why he is there or who he is. He finds himself in a place called The Glade with other young boys who also arrived in that same fashion. Every month a new boy is sent to the surface with supplies. All of them are mind wiped.

The Glade is at the center of a maze that changes nightly. At night the Maze closes up because deadly creatures known as Grievers roam the maze. At first light, a team of boys known as runners get ready to explore the maze looking for a way out. At night they come back to the safety of The Glade.

The boys have been living like this for three years. Now with the arrival of Thomas things start to change. The tribe of boys is led by the oldest, Alby (Aml Ameen) \ with Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) as his second in command. The muscle of the tribe is called Gally (Will Poulter).

Thomas is different than the other people who arrived by elevator because he is notably more curious than the previous boys. Gally doesn't care for Thomas because he is different and his arrival coincides with other changes in the glade so he believes that Thomas is a harbinger of bad things to come.

A few days later another elevator arrives with a girl, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). She has no supplies, only a scrap of paper in her hand declaring "This is the last one EVER".

The boys panic because the walls open up and the Grievers attack. The boys have to choose between staying and fighting or making a push to get out of the maze.

The end of the movie resolves some of the questions we have and in true LOST fashion they are coupled with more questions that hook you to the sequel to get the answers.

This movie franchise seems to have potential. The Director (Wes Ball) has a diverse résumé but for direction this is his first feature length film. This project is challenging because you have to balance a lot. I haven't read the books so I am taking the journey right along with the main character. I am willing to follow along at least for another film. However if it continues down the LOST path and resolves and creates more questions I am out.

Most of the answers come in the last 15 min of the movie. I'm sure that most of what I am wondering can be found in the book. That transition from book to film can be challenging because you can provide lots of information to the reader. A movie has a harder time of relaying information in an entertaining way. A story told on screen needs to be just as strong as one in print.

Each story is going to be about the same thing but told in a different way and both have to stand on their own merits. This story is another attempt to cash in on The Hunger Games like franchise. It too was a YA book and rides along the wave of like-minded stories from that genera. We've seen a lot of books to movies ever since the Harry Potter franchise ended and created a vacuum in the YA books and movies.

As far as The Maze Runner goes, I was only mildly interested until the big questions came in at the end. So as written they did their job as hooks for a sequel. I am only in it until they show me what they can do on the next film. You got a foot in the door, impress me.

If you want to go into more detail about the movie and how the end affected the story please drop me a line at we can talk about it away from this blog.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy – 121 min – PG13

This movie is based on a comic book that started in the sixties, then had a revival in 2008. I know this because I had to look it up. I never followed this title so going into this movie I was a blank slate. I enjoyed the ride this movie took me on. It was something that tied into the Marvel universe but it was like nothing I have seen before. It’s not my favorite film from Marvel Studios but it is good enough to make the top 5. I gladly give this movie a green light.

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a human from Earth who was abducted by aliens as a child. He was raised by raiders and has grown up to become Star Lord, a notorious thief, at least in his mind. He steals an orb that an evil warlord, Ronan (Lee Pace), wants for himself. Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an assassin, is sent to retrieve the stone for Ronan. Before Peter has a chance to sell the stolen artifact he is attached by Rocket and Groot (Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) a couple of bounty hunters. They all get arrested for causing a fight in the middle of the city. In prison, they meet Drax (Dave Bautista), a criminal who is seeking revenge on Ronan for the death of his daughter and wife.

This crew joins forces for financial reasons to start out with but as they work together they develop a relationship that builds the team. And thus the Guardians are born. Their friendship is tested as they try and unload the artifact and find out that it is really a weapon that can destroy worlds.
The most enjoyable part of this film is the pop culture references that completely baffle the aliens who Peter comes in contact with. Some of the colloquialisms that we don’t even think about would be completely alien to beings form a different planet.

A friend of mine said this reminds him of a live action Heavy Metal. I would agree, aside for a lack of sensuality it was a completely fitting the gritty science fiction setting that you would find in that magazine.

I did feel the length of the movie at times. It could have been tighter, but it’s easy to see why the filmmakers would have a hard time cutting things out. The story itself could be trimmed, but visually, each scene looks great. This is an origin story so we need to do some slogging through exposition and exploration of the characters. Now that’s done we can go straight to new story arc in the sequel that has been announced.

It will be interesting to see how they tie in this section of the universe with the heroes that we have already seen. There are a few items that cross over like the Tesseract and Thanos (Josh Brolin). Where we go from here is going to be spectacular. It is wonderful to see movies being made by people who are creative and know how to tell stories. This film is another example of the business model of studio heads just running a business and the creative people telling the stories.

Guardians of the Galaxy is this generation’s Star Wars. This is an epic space story that has heroic acts and exotic locations. It’s not the retelling of the hero’s journey but it has a lot of similarities to the themes and flavor.

James Gunn directed this film and his bawdy humor is watered down but still apparent. For Marvel films this one has the most questionable language of all of the films. It’s a fine line between just the right amount to give the environment depth and being offensive. He picked the right amount.

Like any Marvel movie you need to stay until the end. You will see an old face that we have not seen since he was managing Beverly Switzler’s band. Seth Green performed as this character in the end stringer and I am guessing that Marvel is going to try and pretend that the other film this character was in never happened.

One thing we do know for sure is there will be another movie and like everything else we are seeing from Marvel I know it’s going to be big.

What should Marvel do next?