Sunday, December 30, 2012


Moon is the first feature film from writer/director Duncan Jones, who also happens to be the son of David Bowie. This is one hell of a debut and I was pumped to see this movie when it was released a few years ago.     It was too bad that it was released within a few weeks of both Avatar and District 9, so it ended up being ridiculously overlooked during award season. Most science fiction movies strive to be as good as this movie and it would be an accomplishment is they were able to have 1/10th of the heart and soul that this movie has.

Moon tells the story of Sam (Sam Rockwell), a worker for Lunar Industries on the Moon based mining operation. He runs a mostly automated operation and the only other "person" in the base is the Artificial Intelligence known as GERTY (Kevin Spacey). Sam is coming to the end of his three year rotation and he is eagerly counting down the days until he is reunited with his wife and daughter. On a routine assignment to collect ore from a harvester he gets distracted, crashes, and is knocked unconscious. He awakens to see that he was brought back to the base by another version of himself. From there on out both versions must find out their origins and find a way home.

This movie would have been nothing if there was someone else in the lead role besides Sam Rockwell. He brings an every-man sensibility to this role that is just outstanding. There is no point in the movie that I felt like he was acting, every reaction feels natural and nothing is forced. He plays both versions of Sam completely different and each has their own strengths and weaknesses, which come i handy throughout the course of the movie. Rockwell has become one of Hollywood's great characters actors and this is the movie that really hammered home that point for me. His performance in this movie was as good as any other performance in the last 20 years and is on the short list of my favorite performances of all time.

The story itself is also incredibly original and Duncan ones did a wonderful job with the entire script. The dialogue is sharp, characters are great, and the story is wonderful. This was a home run on every level. Moon is a blue collar movie, and by that I mean that it works to do all of the little things correctly. The idea of mining the Moon for resources is plausible and is being researched currently by NASA and the way Sam reacts to his situation is written perfectly. Jones and the visual effects team took the time to make sure that all of the effects were realistic and plausible. They were even able to give personality to the AI played by Kevin Spacey, who acts as Sam's guardian, with simple things such as different smiley face emoticons on his screen. This was a movie for the ages in my mind and it will be extremely tough for Jones to replicate this type of success again.

Moon is one of those criminally overlooked movies that with a bigger studio push could have been on the same level of District 9 or Avatar in the mainstream viewer's eyes. Sam Rockwell gives a performance as good as anyone has in the last 20 years and even that was overlooked, which is a shame. You can see this on Netflix, DVD, Blu Ray, or Redbox, and the main thing is that you go and see this as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Game

The Game is a movie that I have been dying to see for such a long time and simply never got around to seeing it until today. This movie is simply stacked with talent from the director, David Fincher, to the talented cast consisting of Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. This was also the follow up to Fincher's ultra successful movie, Seven, so my hopes were really high. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed with this movie and it is a worthy follow up to Seven.

The Game follows Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a very wealthy and successful investment banker, who seems to be 100% invested in his work at the expense of his personal life. The movie opens on his birthday and he meets with his estranged brother, Conrad (Sean Penn), who has a very special birthday gift for him. Nicholas is given a voucher to CRS (Consumer Recreational Services) for a "Game" that Conrad describes as being "life altering". He goes to CRS to redeem his gift and he soon comes to learn that this gift may be more than he ever bargained for.

Michael Douglas may be billed as the star of the movie but that honor really has to go to David Fincher. Every frame of the movie is infused with Fincher's visual style from different color palettes to the frantic action in some scenes. He creates a palpable sense of paranoia that builds as the movie goes and finally comes to a head in the last 15 minutes of the movie. I feel like this is where he really refined his ability to create the perfect mood in a movie, because he has been near flawless in every single one of his movies since this one. Michael Douglas is also excellent in this movie as well and this was his finest performance since his appearance in the first Wall Street. His character's "game" has to to with having him face his worst fear, which is being not in complete control of his life.

The cinematography is spot on throughout the entire movie as it usually is in a Fincher production. Who knew that a clown doll laying down in the middle of a driveway could be so terrifying? Little moments like this are signatures of Fincher and litter this movie. This is a dark movie that takes place mostly at night and there is never a time that the scene is consumed in darkness. You are always able to tell what is going on but there is a sense of dread that permeates every scene that keeps the viewer on edge throughout the entire movie. If a movie is able to keep me guessing and on edge that is a win in my book.

The whole theme of the movie is facing your worst fears and overcoming them. Van Orton's journey takes him from a selfish self-obsessed asshole to a man who actually values his life and the people around him. There is always something that we are afraid of and are unwilling to face no matter how up front and center in our lives it is. Sometimes we need a push to make a major change or to just simply get back on track. This movie is about an over the top attempt top fix someone's life and it is a great movie. I found a lot of myself in the movie because I tend to seclude myself from people and shield myself from certain things. I get wrapped up in something and I ignore things that are staring me right in the face. Those are somethings that I need to fix and that is probably what made this movie really effective in my eyes because it was personal to me.

I really loved this movie and I related to it on a personal level in many ways. Not so much the being rich and successful but the idea that you can seclude yourself from people and lose a lot in terms of lasting relationships. David Fincher did an absolutely incredible job and this should stand alongside Seven as being his best movies. Check this out in Criterion Collection form on Blu Ray of DVD, it is just incredible.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Crazies

The Crazies is one of the rare cases where remakes is far superior to the original. The original was created by George Romero after he made Night of the Living Dead and was a high grade B-movie at best. It was remade by Breck Eisner and stars Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, and Danielle Panabaker. This is one of those movies that was on my radar as soon as it was announced because I'm always down for checking out a remake no matter how horrible it is and it had Timothy Olyphant in the leading role which means the movie was a must watch for me anyway.

The Crazies tells the story of the small town of Ogden Marsh in rural Iowa and how it was consumed by madness and death. The sheriff of the town, David (Olyphant), is enjoying a high school baseball game when a man walks onto the field with a shotgun and David is forced to shoot him when he raises the weapon. Following the shooting, people in the town start to become afflicted with some sort of disease that slowly drives them into madness only leaving mindless killers. David bands together with his wife, his deputy, and several other survivors to escape the madness.

This is one of my favorite horror movies of the last decade, and it due to how solid everything is in the movie. Timothy Olyphant finally got a chance to star in a movie and he carries the movie on his back with a great charismatic performance. He plays the sheriff in the movie and is great in the role as he tries to protect everyone around with varying levels of success. This was the first time that a majority of the public was exposed to his talents and he has gone on to make one of the best shows on TV with Justified. He really needs to be pushed by Hollywood. Joe Anderson also delivers a quality performance as Deputy Russell Clank, and his role ranges from being David's protector to being completely unhinged all within the same scene in some cases and he really is a standout in the movie.

The story is fairly basic, town is poisoned by a virus and then the military comes to clean it up. What makes this movie rise above others is that this seems like it could actually happen in our modern day society. With all of the different types of biological weapons developed by this nation and others there may be something exactly like what we see in the movie in our own world. It is some scary shit when you actually take the time to think about it. More movies really need to start taking a real world approach to their stories because it makes them exponentially more terrifying if you can see them actually happening. It also helps when you have a director who makes every set piece in the movie an event within the movie and there is rarely anything that falls flat in the movie with the exception of Danielle Panabaker's performance. she just couldn't hold her weight against the superior actors in the movie and she is falling into the "all I can do is horror" class of actresses, that is a place you never want to end up.

This is the way that remakes should always be approached. Take an existing story and instead of trying to duplicate to word for word or shot for shot, make it your own. I have seen the original and the remake blows it out of the water. The acting is better, production values are higher (of course), and the story is more engaging. Acting and story are what hook you and the effects are the icing on the cake in my opinion. This is similar to the way the remakes for The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were approached and it is no wonder why they are the best of horror movie remakes to this point.

This is one of my favorite horror movies of the last decade and is one of those movies that I will always take the time and sit down ad watch when it is on TV. Timothy Olyphant simply kills it in this movie and his performance is one of the main attractions of the movie. Check this out on Netflix, Redbox, or on Blu Ray, either way just go see this.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Return of the Living Dead

The Return of the Living Dead is one of those movies that a lot of people have heard about yet only a few have actually had the chance to see. It is often confused with George Romero's classic zombie film series and for good reason the co-writer of the original Night of the Dead was the writer of this movie. I had heard great things about this movie and finally had the pleasure of seeing it a few years ago and have since seen it 5 or 6 times and I love it just as much as I did the first time I had seen it. The movie features some great performances from veteran horror actors such as Clu Gulager, James Karen, Linnea Quigley, and Don Calfa.

The Return of the Living Dead tells the story of a two medical warehouse workers (James Karen and Thom Mathews) who unknowingly release a toxin that can bring the dead back to life. Cadavers come back to life, dissected animals as well and even the dead begin breaking out of the ground in the local graveyard. The two are joined by their boss, a mortician, and a group of young punks in the local funeral home as they try and escape the living dead. These zombies are smart, fast and out for brains at any cost. Will the military be able to save the group or will the living dead get to them first?

First things first, these zombies are unlike any zombies in any movie before. They are quick, retain all of their smarts, and are out for one thing only, brains. They are not the slow moving rotting corpses of the past and they are the zombies that inspired the creatures in such movie as 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, and the Resident Evil movies. The main thing that stands out to me is the retention of their mind because it opens up so many possibilities because the zombies become characters and not just devices to show off gore like in some other movies.  These are probably my favorite zombies in any movies due to that fact and it is awesome how utterly ruthless they are in order to get that next fix of brains. They are like junkies but instead of crack, their choice of drug is brains.

There is not an over abundance of gore in the movie but when it is used it is pretty solid. The acting was actually solid for a horror movie made in the 80's where they used to just cast any hot young person and any girl with a decent rack. But here we get solid turns from genre veterans and the young actors do a good job playing the group of punks. Clu Gulager, Don Calfa, and James Karen carry this movie from start to finish and they are never hokey in their roles. Linnea Quigley gives a solid stripping performance in the movie and its easy to see why see was cast in so many horror movies as the young woman who gets naked. The story was one of th high points because while being a comedic horror movie, it treats its source material with a tremendous amount of respect and they even treat The Night of the Living Dead as a factual event in the movie's world.

More zombie movies need to inject a little bit of B-movie madness into their story and action. The idea of zombies is inherently ridiculous and when you try and treat them seriously it sometimes comes off as goofy. The Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead are some of the only zombie movies that were able to successfully pull off the serious angle. Return of the Living Dead blends humor and seriousness to make a great combination where as movies such as Resident Evil fail miserably. The idea is not to take yourself too seriously and then the movie will have a natural charm to it because nothing feels forced.

This is a classic zombie movie and one of the best horror movies of the 80's. The Return of the Living Dead is a movie that deserves to be seen by more people because it is truly great. Wonderful humor and great horror action make this a great horror comedy fusion. Get this on Blu Ray or stream it on Netflix, just see it as soon as possible.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Lost Boys

After seeing this movie for the tenth time, I felt like it was the right time to sit down and right an actual review for it. The Lost Boys is a classic 80's movie and is one of the greatest vampire/horror movies of all time. A cast that includes Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, Jason Partric, Dianne West, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jami Gertz will more that likely lead to good things. I saw this years after it originally came out because it came out the year I was born and I love it just as much as the first time I saw it.

The Lost Boys tells the story of brothers, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), who have recently moved to a coastal California town with their divorced mother (Dianne West). Sam stumbles upon a comic book store run by the Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), who warn him about vampires in their small town. Michael is then taken in by a new group of "friends" who have a lot of dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy the lives of Michael and his family.

This is my favorite vampire movie of all time, it is not technically the "best" one that I have ever seen but it is the most memorable and exciting one that I have ever seen. The mix of humor and horror is just perfectly done and the two pairs of brothers in the movie are fantastic, each with their own creative dynamic. Jason Patric and Corey Haim anchor the movie and their performances are great and are probably the best of their respective careers. Kiefer Sutherland plays a great role as the main antagonist of the movie and really sells the fact that he is a manipulative bloodthirsty creature of the night. The action scenes and the gore in the movie are also top notch and the movie is devoid of any CG which is a plus considering how crude it was back in the 80's.

The story may seem simple on the surface but it does a lot of things that vampire movies don't do in general. They use a lot of the old myths about vampires to set the rules of what affects the vampires and how they act where as movies these days completely disregard vampire myths in almost every way possible (I'm talking about you, Twilight). The use of the hellhound, garlic, wooden stakes, holy water, and no reflections are done in an awesome way and really add to the movie. The Frog Brothers standing in as the Van Helsing characters was an awesome choice because they kind of know what they are doing but they get caught by surprise at almost every turn. The main thing about the movie is that it is fun, it never takes itself too seriously and plays up the inherent humor of the situations the characters are put in. This is just a great movie.

The Lost Boys is as close to a perfect vampire movie that you will ever get. It combines horror and humor to create one of the best movies of the 80's and in my opinion the best vampire movie of all-time. If you haven't seen this movie yet you were either born after 1995 or have been living under a rock since the 1980's. This is a must see movie for everyone because there is something that everyone can enjoy in this movie. Stream it, buy it, or pirate it, just go and see this movie as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I will start this review by letting everyone know that I loved the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter novel. It was a great alternate history novel that was both serious and silly all at the same time, the perfect blend. Seth Grahame-Smith did a wonderful job with the novel and he wrote the screenplay for the film as well which was a great idea. The main thing that got me pumped for this film was the involvement of Timur Bekmambetov, creator of the movies Night Watch and Day Watch.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter tells the alternate history of one of our nation's greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker)  and his "life" as a vampire hunter. He feels responsible for his parents' deaths and he vows to avenge their deaths by killing all of the vampires. He is trained by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), in the art of tracking and killing vampires. He also meets his future wife, Mary Todd, and has to balance his life as a vampire hunter and a rising star in the political world.

Benjamin Walker does a great job in the role of Abraham Lincoln, not Daniel Day Lewis quality, but he is still very good. He is extremely charismatic in every scene that he is in and it is great to see him become both this incredible leader as well as a skilled vampire hunter. The is  fine line that he had to walk in the role because it could have become very silly but thankfully he plays the role with the right attitude and easily carries the movie on his shoulders. Dominic Cooper is also solid in the movie as the mysterious Henry Sturges. Cooper is great in almost every role that he is in and is slowly building up to being in leading roles in movies. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is as beautiful as ever and plays the role of the supportive wife of Abraham Lincoln.  She is just so sexy.

The story heavily altered from that of the novel and I can understand why but it still took away from my enjoyment of the film. If I had never read the book I would have liked this movie a whole lot more, but this was still a solid movie. The altering of certain aspects was a good choice to fit the movie, I just can't describe them because I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone. All I can say is that they should have kept the ending to the book, it was just so much better than the movie version. The overuse of CG in the movie was a little disappointing but I can't really count it against the movie because almost every movie these days overuses CG.

The main negative of the movie for me was the fact that Timur Bekmambetov did not take any chances with his direction. He used a lot of innovative techniques in his earlier films such as Night Watch and Day Watch. Everything from the use of subtitles to the innovative effects sequences are what made those movies great and different from anything that had been produced by Hollywood. None of those things that made his earlier movies great appear in this movie, he uses the most stock of his abilities and shoves them into the movie.  Ir is sad that a director with this much promise has fallen into the Hollywood trap instead of differentiating himself from the pack. He still has a lot of time to build on his successes and get back to his old form. I am in no way saying this is a bad movie it just pales in comparison to his earlier films. If you have not seen Night Watch, you need to go see that movie right now, just make sure that you watch it with the original subtitles. It is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

This a movie that failed to live up to its lofty expectations but it is still a solid and entertaining summer blockbuster. It has a handful of great performances and some really bad CG. But with movies like this, you take the good with the bad. Check this out on Blu-Ray or On Demand.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Lawless is a movie that I have been looking forward to seeing for a very long time. John Hillcoat made one of the best Westerns ever with The Proposition and has now made one of most solid crime movies in the last decade. Bringing in some of the best young talent in Hollywood really helped him bring the story to life. The cast consisting of Tom Hardy, Shia LaBouf, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, and Guy Pearce is one of the most star studded cast to be assembled in some time and makes this movie an instant Academy Award contender.

Lawless tells the real life story of the Bondurant brothers during Prohibition Era Virginia. The brothers, Jack(LaBouf), Howard(Clarke), and Forrest(Hardy) are bootleggers in Franklin County, Virginia and business is booming. The use their bar as a front for their operation and manage to keep a pretty low profile overall. Jack, the younger brother, witness a murder by a gangster and he begins to have aspirations of expanding the business to make more money. At the same time, Special Deputy Rakes(Pearce), is brought in to get a cut of the profits from all of the different bootleggers. Forrest comes into direct conflict with Rakes and the story becomes an epic crime drama.

The acting in this movie is off the charts good and is the real main attraction of the movie. Tom Hardy is as good as ever and he brings the character of Forrest to life with a ferocious intensity in every single scene that he is in. You can see how guarded this character is and how much he cares about the people around him and at the same time he has no qualms about killing rival gangsters who threaten his life. His story really was the most interesting in the movie and his chemistry with Jessica Chastain was impressive to say the least. Chastain seems to get better with every new role that she is in and even in her limited screen time she is still one of the best parts of the movie. The movie is also shot beautifully with Hillcoat handling action scenes as deftly as the quieter dramatic scenes.

Shia LaBouf is overshadowed by the greatness of Tom Hardy but he was still very solid in the movie. They did play up the occasional douchiness of his character but it really is a young man going through the growing pains of becoming a man. He does a great job of sharing the spotlight with Hardy and this is his first real "grown up" role in a quality movie. It was refreshing to see him acting alongside real people instead of crappy CG robots. Jason Clarke seemed to be the odd man out in the trio, because his character is the least developed and is relegated to the role of the protector in the movie. Clarke is an incredibly gifted actor but he has never really received his due but he seems to be getting close with roles in Public Enemies and Lawless.

After hearing all of the reviews of this movie, my expectations were a little bit lower than they originally were. Having seen this movie I can confirm that this movie is awesome and was one of the best movies that I have seen this year. Hardy's award worthy performance was the highlight of the film and again show why he is one of the top actor in Hollywood currently. Shia LaBouf also chimes in with a solid performance that would surprise most movie fans after seeing his other movies. Check this movie out On Demand, or on Blu-Ray.