Archive for February, 2012

Movie Review: Act of Valor

Posted in Reviews! with tags , , , on 02/24/2012 by Taylor Holt

With Call of Duty and Battlefield and whatever other war games you have nowadays that are pushing realism to it’s fullest extent, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood jumped on board and gave it a go. What follows is a movie that will be hated by the critic in us, but loved by the patriotic side. The film itself, so-so; while the attempt is an admirable one.

Act of Valor is the story of a Navy SEALs team sent to rescue a CIA agent taken hostage by a terrorist cell. The terrorist’s leader is a man not to be taken lightly and always seems to be just out of reach. After the rescue, the team realizes that their mission was just the beginning, as a plot to do far worse damage begins to unravel. Continue reading

Movie Review: This Means War

Posted in Reviews! with tags , , , , , on 02/18/2012 by Taylor Holt

When I was a kid, I used to pretend to be a super cool secret agent sometimes. After watching James Bond and the first Mission: Impossible enough, I was pretty sure all you needed was to be cool enough. That’s kind of how the CIA plays out in this movie. Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are grown up kids using all the people and tools their agency has to offer to get the girl. Continue reading

Movie Review: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Posted in Reviews! with tags , , , , , on 02/17/2012 by Taylor Holt

Pictured Above: What Hollywood did on my dreams of a good Ghost Rider Movie.

Ever had a friend that just kept messing up? They really were your friend but it seems like they just can’t make a good decision to save their life. Maybe you grew up with them and maybe a lot of people generally like them, as they seem like they want to do better but when all is said and done, you really keep hanging out with them because of how they were and how you want them to be, hoping that one day they’ll realize they’ve been screwing up and just better themselves. This is exactly how I feel about Marvel movies. Ghost Rider: SOV is maybe the best example of this feeling. Continue reading

This Movie Suuucks: Torque

Posted in This Movie SUUUCKS with tags , , , on 02/14/2012 by Taylor Holt

As I sit here in front of this fire, with my feet on this bear skin rug, I think to myself: What’s the movie equivalent to getting punched in the ear? Torque comes to mind. It completes the not-so-easy task of making you want to scream and puke at the same time in hopes that something more interesting will fly out. And I’m sure it will.

Think about that. Soak that image in. You’ll want time back that you can’t have and that’ll just make you even more mad. Puke it out Buddy, puke it out. Continue reading

You Gotta See This: The Frighteners

Posted in You've Gotta See This with tags , , , , on 02/13/2012 by Taylor Holt

Rated R for violence, some language, terror throughout, 110 mins, 1996

Compare to: Zombieland, Idle Hands, Evil Dead 2

I really don’t know how popular this movie is. I’ve loved it since it came out in ’96, but a friend recently told me that in his film class, nobody but him could name a Peter Jackson movie before Lord of the Rings. And after he named it, these kids still weren’t familiar with it. What are they teaching kids these days?

The Frighteners is the story of Frank Bannister (played by Michael J. Fox in one of his last roles), an all around strange guy. He’s in the business of ghost busting more or less, barely getting through life by exorcising ghosts/ spectres who just won’t leave suburban homeowners alone. While some think of him as a fraud, the catch is that he is a fraud because he actually works with the ghosts he’s supposed to be getting rid of, making a sweet, albeit rare, paycheck. Trouble starts when familiar murders begin happening around town and Frank might be the only one who can stop them. That is, if he’s not the one who takes the blame first. Continue reading

This Movie Suuucks: The Room

Posted in This Movie SUUUCKS with tags , , , on 02/11/2012 by Taylor Holt

To describe The Room is not that disimilar to getting in a car wreck: No matter how much or how well you explain just what it’s like to be in that situation, no one can truly understand until they suffer through it themselves. And Lord, do you suffer. Continue reading

Movie Review: Safe House

Posted in Reviews! with tags , , , , on 02/11/2012 by Taylor Holt

I can figure out whether or not you’ll like this movie in a question: Do you like Denzel “I’m Always in Control” Washington? I find it funny when he plays a role that’s supposed to be a “regular guy” more or less (Taking of Pelham 123, 2009, Unstoppable, 2010). He just can’t do it. He’s too cool and has that commanding screen presence, if you will. A friend and I were discussing this before the movie came out and decided that putting him in a role where he’s not the lead investigtor or the guy who just knows everything is like when Clark Kent wears his glasses and suit. Come on man, we know you’re Superman. You’re not fooling anybody. Change into the outfit and be the guy that’s way more fun to watch. Thankfully, this is that movie.

Tobin Frost (Washington) is a rogue CIA agent that is nowhere and everywhere at once. He was the greatest agent in the history of espionage until he decided that doing whatever he wanted with his talents would be a better use. We don’t find this out until he falls into the lap of up-and-coming agent, and safe keeper, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), who feels as though he’s ready to get into the field and see some action. He soon gets what he wished for and more when rebel fighters interrupt the not-so-legal interrogation to get Frost. The rest of the film is filled with car chasese and fistfights as Weston does his best to keep Frost out of everybody’s reach. What’s worse is that Frost’s specialty seems to be mindgames, as he toys with Weston making him feel as though there’s no one he can really trust.

Critics seem to be confused about this movie, and I understand it to a point. The story isn’t anything too spectacular, and they seem to be especially tired of Ryan Reynolds. I understand this as well, after he helped destroy the onscreen presence of one of my favorite comic book characters, Deadpool, in 2009’s Wolverine movie. They also pan it for it’s use of frentic camera work and all out action with no pauses in between. This is not entirely disagreeable as I had to remind myself two or three times as to what was actually supposed to be happening in this gunfight.

But even with this being a Denzel movie (meaning of course, that’s it’s going to do well), I still don’t see the need to judge it that harshly. When I watch an action movie, I don’t care about the story as much as I do the set-up, which I appreciate here. Everybody plays their part as well as they always do, even if it’s a role we’ve seen time and time again. Brendan Gleeson, Vera Fermiga, and Sam Shepard all do a good job as Reynolds’ superiors who aren’t sure whether or not Reynold’s character has turned adding to the suspense of what will happen even if Reynolds completes his mission of bringing Washington in. Director Daniel Espinosa does a great jobof focusing on Frost psychologically demoralizing Weston in between action scenes, letting us believe the subtitle “no one is safe.” Heck, I’m only security at a movie theater and I don’t trust anyone there, so I can imagine being in the CIA would make a man one paranoid mofo. Is Frost telling Weston the truth of how his bosses really handle things behind the scenes? Or is he just really screwing with him? With Washington’s slick smile, it’s hard to tell.

Fares Fares (Yep, that’s a guy’s name) is also great as the leader of the team that’s killing EVERYONE that stands between him and Frost. I’m not sure if he said more a two words in the entire movie but with his somewhat distant stare, you get the idea that while not a terminator, he feels no sympathy for anyone that gets in his way. Once again, I don’t particularly care for the roles Reynolds usually portrays: cocky and sarcastic. Pow, you’ve got all of his movies. But that’s not the case in this film, as you really do get the feeling he’s not just trying to survive, but prove himself in a world where nobody seems to take him seriously. The fight scenes are done especially well too as gunshots are startling and the hand to hand combat makes the characters seem more like rabid dogs than agents. As for Washington, what do you say? He’s Alonzo Harris’ (Washington’s training day character) morals with Creasy of Man on Fire’s abilities. I dug it, and I’m sure others will too. It’s not going to change the way you look at movies, but it doesn’t have to for you to enjoy it.

Stars: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Fermiga, Brendan Gleeson

Rated R for violence and language, runtime 2 hours, Action/Adventure

Plays Like: 16 Blocks(2006), Training Day (2001)


You’ve Gotta See This- The Warriors

Posted in You've Gotta See This with tags , , on 02/07/2012 by Taylor Holt

This article and others under the above title will be referring to films that I like/love, or I believe just don’t get enough attention. I looooove Inception, but seeing as how it made close to a billion freaking dollars, suffice it to say that you’ve probably seen or know of it. What you see on here might not be as popular. First up is The Warriors.

Rated R for violence and language, 93 mins, 1979

Plays Like- Assault on Precinct 13, 300, any movie that features a few against everybody

Best Enjoyed: With a few friends who understand you don’t need production value to make an awesome movie.

NOT Enjoyed with People: that can’t get into corniness

If you’ve known me long enough to hear me talk about movies, you’ve probably heard me talk about this one. This is on my Top Five of all time, without a doubt and just one reason it’s the first I’m bringing up. Plot goes like this:

“In the near future, cities are all but run by gangs. All kinds of of them. On a hot Summer night, the leader of the biggest gang in the city calls a meeting that’s to include nine members from each gang. After a rousing speech with talk of a truce, The leader is shot and killed, and the Warriors are framed for it. Now they have to make their way across an enemy-infested New York City where every cop and every gang in the city are looking to “bust their heads.” Continue reading

Movie Review: The Woman in Black

Posted in Reviews! on 02/03/2012 by Taylor Holt

PG-13 Horror usually isn’t my thing. I find the audiences to be mostly immature teens taking full advantage of the fact that they can get into a serious movie that adults are also viewing. But the audience alone doesn’t deter me; when I think of PG-13 Horror, I think of a watered-down piece of cheap-scare crap that doesn’t have a cinematic soul. It’s guaranteed to have been cut-down from it’s original R-rating so the aforementioned kids can get in, therefore making triple the profit and extremely lacking in quality. Does Woman in Black follow in the tradition of PG-13 Horror? Not entirely.

The film begins as Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a lawyer who has to leave his young son to go to this creepy town to finalize paperwork that somehow involves this gigantic, creepy house. There’s a woman who (ta-daa!) dresses in black and seems to scare the doo-doo (yes, I went there) out of the town-folk whenever brought up. That is literally all I can tell you before I start giving things away. From there on out, the title character endlessly terrorizes our protagonist while weird images and shadows are seen throughout. You know the drill.

The “plot” I just laid out isn’t to be mocking, it’s just that we know how these things go: A “who cares” set up is given so we can get our hero into his mess. The question isn’t so much “What’s the story?” so much as it is “How freaky is it?” And I have to give the filmmakers credit where credit is due: our villains are cliched in their design, yet not in their delivery. I didn’t know too much going in, so I’m not going to spoil much here. I will say that I’m glad that when the terrorizing starts, they’re not cheap. I’m pretty sure I counted a total of two cheap scares (Aah! A small animal jumps in the way when we’re focused on something else! Eek! The next scene starts loudly and abruptly!). The rest of the weirdness is pretty legitimate. A dark face looking down on us from a window in a supposedly empty house becomes extremely eerie. A small figure crawling out of the mud in a torrential downpour is pretty strange altogether. I looked at them as punches that weren’t constantly being pulled.

If you’re wondering how good of a job Radcliffe played from someone who doesn’t care about Harry Potter (I just couldn’t ever do it), I can honestly say he does his part well. On one hand, I could say there wasn’t much to the role but on the other hand, I think of one scene I liked in particular that showcases his talent. A loud banging noise is going on in a locked room as Radcliffe tries desperately to open the door; heading downstairs, he grabs a hatchet and rushes back, ready to hack his way in…only to find that the banging is still going on but the door is now open. Radcliffe’s expression is great as we can see his face become even more pale in silent fear, realizing he should have been careful what he wished for. I don’t see him as Harry Potter like most people will I’m sure, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to refer to him as that in this article. I think most will agree that he doens’t come off as “The Boy who Lived” in this so much as he does “The Guy who wanted to do something besides Harry Potter.” Subtle things are done well here and the house in the marsh is a cool, but the watery pathway that leads to it is a character in itself. I also enjoy it anytime a male is the lead in a horror movie. Yes, it’s a given that we should feel sorry for the main woman in peril, but taking a male who is thought of as being the tough, rational type and having him fear for his life gives a whole new spin on the genre. Maybe that’s why I liked The Thing (1982) so much.

The problem here is that the first thirty to forty-five minutes are just boring. Kipps goes here in the rain. Kipps goes there in the mud. After a while of wording it like that, I start to think of it like a children’s book written by Tim Burton. While I want to defend it by saying that it has to be that way, lulling you into a false sense of security until POW! The movie REALLY starts! But that’s a trite stereotype we’ve grown used to in movies like this. Not every scene has to be crap-yourself scary but it doesn’t have to be mind-numbingly slow either. Better balanced movies have had me entertained even when the shark/ monster/ demon isn’t present. I actually found myself falling asleep in a couple parts. There’s also the ending which had me confused and while I won’t necessarily say why here, I will say that it left me with a few questions I don’ think the filmmakers even had in mind or maybe just didn’t care to answer. They had an ending and to a lot of people, it’s all about the ending. And it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good.

Great scenery, good acting, and even better costume design (I wouldn’t normally bring it up, but three piece suits and pocketwatches are just cool), this movie has a lot going for it and destroys the competition when it comes to many other PG-13 dreck, but better pacing and a better ending would have done a lot more for as the viewer.

Plays like: Insidious (2011)/ The Haunting (1999)


Movie Review: Chronicle

Posted in Reviews! on 02/03/2012 by Taylor Holt

While I originally intended to use this site solely for my story, lately I’ve been thinking that putting only my story on here and then just leaving it alone is not taking fully advantage of this creative outlet that is the internet. So I’m ALSO going to use it to praise or lambaste recent films. Write that down- “lambaste.” Our first movie to discuss is “Chronicle.”

Chronicle is the story of three high school students, Matt, Steve, and Andrew straying from a party one night to find a particular object that gives them superpowers; or a superpower, specifically telekinesis.  After a good bit of fun and games with their newfound skill , the trio become more experienced, eventually leading the abused and bullied Andrew to wonder whether or not a limit to his abilities even matters.

Shot in “Mockumentary” style, Chronicle follows in the tradition of its celluloid predecessors by slowly letting you get to know the characters just well enough before the story kicks in. And when it does, you don’t want it to stop. One might think that after so many Comic book movies, three kids with superpowers wouldn’t have enough meat to it, but the way Chronicle handles the story, it instead makes you realize how careless other Comic properties have been; merely washing over the aspect of being able to do something cool instead of savoring such a severe, supernatural gift. Tormented Andrew, who documents most of the story through his own camera, made me especially glad that such limitless abilities aren’t in existence for fear that some butthole teenager might get ahold of them and get revenge on people that have made his life a living Hell (or maybe just made him mad). What’s worse is to think that they’d even get away with it. Dane DeHaan, who plays sad lil Andy fills the role quite well in my opinion; having you feel sorry for him as his alcoholic father treats him like a punching bag, while in other scenes making you hate him for abusing his gifts and taking his frustration out on his friends. By the way, a couple shots in the film look as though DeHaan REALLY does get slapped in the head, causing me to cringe, even if just for a moment.

My real issue with the film isn’t the acting or story, so much as it was the special effects: The CGI here ain’t exactly state-of-the-art. I was occasionally taken out of the moment with how noticeable the digitally rendered baseballs, legos, or people were. I guessed the budget before looking it up, and wouldn’t ya know it, I was right on the money (ha!) at 15 million. For the style of film making, that’s pretty high up there, considering the original Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch was shot for 1 million. But the story here is much too ambitious for that small a budget. Objects and people are constantly flying or thrown, floating or demolished. Blair Witch had people running in the woods and hanging out in freaking tents. In all honesty, I’d have to elaborate on something a friend said in that it should have been shot as a regular film and just given a decent budget. Still, I have to give it up to director Josh Trank for putting a unique spin on the home camera approach by using not only Andrew’s camera, but others’ cellphones, security cameras, and various recording devices.

All in all, I liked this movie. It explored the possibilities of what a decent kid might do given the option of never being caught, while not getting so dragged down in the melodrama of what makes you care in the first place. I also like that the Mockumentary Subgenre has another decent fim behind it because the prospect of seeing abnormal things from a “real” perspective onscreen is still intriguing to me. When it’s done right of course. And Chronicle has done it right.

 Devil Inside or The Last Exorcism? Not so much.