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Movie rating system (0-2) The movie is balls (2-4) A few moments but mostly bad (4-5.5) Entertaining film but lacking something to make it good. (6-7.5) A recommendation meaning a good solid watch. (8-10) must watch films, they are usually leaders in their respective genre. I can also be found on Facebook or follow my blog at the bottom of this page. THERE MAY BE MINI SPOILERS AHEAD!!! But there will be no endings/twists/cameos/or large plot reveals given.

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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Total Recall

Total Recall
Action (Sci Fi)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 118 minutes
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy
Directed By: Len Wiseman
Rating: 4 out of 10
A factory worker discovers he may be a spy after going to Rekall a place that imbues false memories for fun. He is on the run from the law as he tries to discover the truth about his past.

I have never understood why Colin Farrell is not more of an action star. He has the look and the capability to lead the big budget action movies in the right direction, and should have been the next Cruise or Arnold. After watching this movie crash and burn I finally realize this is not his destiny. He should stick to the indie films like Tigerland and In Bruges which he seems to excel at. The original Total Recall may not be known as a cinematic masterpiece but it certainly is a Sci-Fi favorite of many people. That coupled with trying to recreate a role played by Arnold and you have your work cut out for you. This film crumpled under the intense pressure. Total Recall is the story of Douglas Quaid. He is a factory worker and after visiting a place called Rekall (they implant fake memories for pleasure) he finds himself on the run from the law when it doesn’t go as planned. His memories are in shambles as he may or not be a trained spy.

Just like Douglas Quaid questions his own sanity in this movie, I find myself doing the same thing as I write this. It is not bred from anything medical more how can I not recommend a movie where there is a woman with three breasts in it. The movie starts off with a pretty cool opening scene where Quaid is running from the cops. While the strobe lights in the background may be epilepsy inducing it is a good start and sets the pace of the film. Unfortunately this pace never seems to slow down. There is fast paced and then there is frantic and out of control like this film was. If you have seen the first Total Recall movie you will be pleasantly surprised this story is not scene for scene the same. It pays homage with the odd thing here or there but is its own entity which was the right call. The film races along at a breakneck pace but at least the surrounding scenery is nice while that is happening. This is a visually pleasing film if I can say anything positive about it. The sweeping city, flying cars, and futuristic look make this a good looking movie if not a good movie.

The acting for the most part is either bad or unremarkable. Starting with Douglas Quaid played by Colin Farrell, he has the action chops but does absolutely nothing with the character. Next we have Melina played by Jessica Biel. Talk about doing nothing with the role. Biel could be good and has the right physique for action but it is hard to even remember her in any scene in this movie. The only good acting job in this movie was Lori Quaid played by Kate Beckinsale. She is kind of over the top in her delivery but she dominates the screen during her hand to hand fight scenes. She took her action chops from Underworld and translated it into a decent job with this film. Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy are in this movie as well if you are fans of theirs.

As the film roles along it is clear that this was an unnecessary remake. It doesn’t really offer anything new on the original and it is like it is asking the viewer to like it for its look instead of substance. Here is what I took from the movie. First, running is the key to escape the law in the future. Second, police will never hit you with bullets no matter how many cops there are shooting or how sophisticated their weapons are. Third, falling 20 feet onto concrete or metal surfaces does not hurt or leave scratches and can be done time and time again. Fourth, if you hope for an escape route it will always appear in the least likely of places, no matter how many times you find yourself at a seemingly dead end. Lastly, robots may be stronger, faster, deadlier, but humans will never lose in a hand to hand fight against them. All of these things added together and just made for a film that was tiring to watch. Because there are so many stupid things happening on screen the story seems to take a backseat to this endless chase of good guys versus bad guys or vice versa. When the end of the film comes, things explode but there will be little interest in it.

Director Len Wiseman seems to like style over substance and keeps delivering films Michael Bay style to the audience. He has put together a nice looking film but really doesn’t do anything to make it special like the first film. The casting, the pacing, just the tone of this film will not capture anyone’s imagination or even attention. He might have left Mars out of this film but he also left out passion. People say Wiseman is ruining our childhood movies one by one. I won’t go that far but he needs to get back to the basics like the first Underworld movie he directed.

I cannot recommend this film as it is one long chase that will leave you tired and disappointed by its anti climactic end.

T Factor + If you do not need a strong story for your movies this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you want this film to be anything like the original then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Fifth Element, Blade Runner. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Raid: Redemption

The Raid: Redemption
Action (Martial Arts)
Rated: R
Running Time: 101 minutes
Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian
Directed By: Gareth Evans
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
A SWAT team is trapped in a building and must fight its way out or die.

When I liken a movie Die Hard meets Ong Bak you know this is going to be a pretty bad ass flick. This movie was bad ass and more. Not since John McClane was stuck in Nakatomi Plaza has a cop movie been this awesome. The Raid: Redemption is the story of a cop SWAT team trying to arrest the local criminal kingpin. The problem is he is locked at the top of a high rise building and there are many floors of criminals to pass to get to him.

A film with a story that is basically a real world telling of the Donkey Kong video game could never work right? You will quickly find out that is not the case. This film has the simplest of intros before the SWAT team heads to the building to capture the criminal boss. There are no extended dialogue scenes. There is very little relationship story. It just gets right to the point and that is more than okay.  Everything is great in this film. The apartment building that the cops are raiding is old and derelict and criminals can be behind virtually any door. This rundown building is a perfect venue for close quarter fighting, be it with hands, stabbing implements, or guns. This film will hit you like an EpiPen to the chest it is so action packed and adrenaline producing. What was supposed to be a routine raid quickly turns into a battle for survival as the cops must find a way out of the building. The action, just to warn you is quite realistic, so cut throats, blood spray, stabbings, and any other type of injury you can imagine will probably happen at least once in this film.

The film is subtitled and so it is hard to gauge if the acting is exceptional or below par. What I can tell you it is very passable for a film like this. While there may not be an as memorable scene where a cop drags his cut up feet and yells Hans!!! This film is no less than awesome. The lead character a cop named Rama is played by actor Iko Uwais. He will be a person to be remembered as I am sure he will be showing up quite frequently throughout the next few years in action films. He is quick, has the look, and can pull off virtually any action sequence. Other action stand outs to take note of are actors Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, and Yayan Ruhian. These guys all have the fighting techniques to have great action careers.

The film can be a little repetitive and some of the scenes seem to go on longer then they should. That being said, what you’re watching are visually stunning high action sequences so it is never hard to watch. The camera work is phenomenal. Instead of hundreds of edits like most North American film action sequences this film lets you enjoy the shot. Very few cuts are imparted on the viewer making the fight scenes incredible. The story is weak but who cares when everything else is going on. You follow the cop Rama and his team from floor to floor and eagerly anticipate the next fight scene. It is shocking to me that people don't get hurt making these films as they are literally bouncing off walls and differing types of furniture. At the end of the day this is one of the best action films in recent memory. There are scenes in this movie that make the Old Boy (movie) hammer scene look PG-13. As the body count piles up and the broken limbs and vicious wounds multiply you will wonder why all movies don’t follow this formula to greatness.

Director and Writer Gareth Evans has put together a fantastic film. His use of high impact action sequences and great camera work is second to none. The fight scenes are amazingly choreographed and the casting was no less than perfect. The story or lack thereof will be hit or miss but I liked its simplicity. The film has you gripped from the first fight scene and doesn’t let you go until the last drop of blood has been spilt.

This movie is a huge recommendation especially to action and martial arts lovers.

T Factor + If you like Kung Fu movie this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need a strong story in your films this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Protector, Ong Bak 

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve
Comedy (Romantic)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 118 minutes
Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Josh Duhamel, Hillary Swank, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Cary Elwes, Alyssa Milano, Jessica Biel, Seth Myers, Ashton Kutcher, Carla Gugino, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi,  Sofia Vergara, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Russell Peters, Lea Michele, Ludacris, Ryan Seacrest
Directed By: Garry Marshall
Rating: 2.5 out of 10
This movie is the stories of many couples and singles as New Year’s Eve approaches.


We have the financial success of the movie Valentine’s Day for this new garbage genre of mega ensemble casts. Because there are only a finite amount of holidays I am sure we will be blessed with the films Flag Day and President’s Day at some point. This movie follows multiple people with intertwining stories as midnight quickly approaches on New Year’s Eve. Love, family, and friendships are all explored in these jumbled timelines.

I hated this movie and I find it such a gimmick. I hope this fad fades quickly of movies having these super casts. This film is more about star gazing then telling a meaningful story. I found myself naming celebrities instead of enjoying or even getting into the movie. As the film gets underway your mind will never get out of that mode. Why is Cary Elwes in this? Or why would Alyssa Milano do this role? For people who are not sure who I am talking about it is the dude from Princess Bride or the girl from Who’s the Boss. That’s as deep as my thoughts went as I watched this so called film. The film starts off quickly and introduces you to plethora of characters and their stories. One person is a backup singer, another is a bike courier, one is a mother, another one a television producer and so on. Because there are so many stories going on it is hard to care about anyone of these people or there so called perceived trials and tribulations. It tries to tug on the viewers heart strings but all the stories seemed forced and contrived. A film where all these stories and characters are intertwined makes love seem common instead of magical no matter what the so called day.

Right across the board the acting is subpar. I am not sure if this is because virtually every character in this film is a known actor so you are noticing them more? Or if they were all told to be over the top in their deliveries? Either way the acting is shockingly bad with Robert De Niro the only person to seem to know what acting is about. He plays a sick patient in the hospital quite well. Ashton Kutcher, Josh Duhamel, Hillary Swank, and Sofia Vergara are the worst of the group and that is saying a lot. On a side note Russell Peters should just give up on acting. I like his stand up but his acting is epically bad.

What I will say positive about this film is that is flows in and out of the different stories quite easily and so it is not hard to watch. Besides that it is like this film is trying to make you hate it. I don’t want to ruin anything in case for some reason you are going to watch this film but this movie is upsetting. It is like they try and match the wrong people up on purpose so you are just feeling perplexed. It seems all the love stories are between people of vastly different ages and or looks. I get that they were trying to make New Years Eve a magical night but the relationships they were proposing were voodoo magic in nature making this film kind of uncomfortable. On a side note the Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer story was a cute angle and you will find it is the only one remotely worth following. This film can’t end quickly enough and it will leave you with something akin to a New Years Day hangover.

It is hard to knock on a director like Garry Marshall as he has been making women laugh and cry for years. Movies like Pretty Woman and Beaches and many more are proof he has more than a few supporters. Let us face facts though; this is not a good movie more of a cash grab. His placing of known celebrities as smaller and even extra parts is clearly a product to make money. This film was an elongated edition of Entertainment tonight. Sure Katherine Fugate wrote this terrible film but Marshall did virtually nothing with it to make it remotely watchable.

This film is not a recommendation and has all the appeal of going to a New Year’s party sober and not knowing anyone.

T Factor + If you like ensemble films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need strong chemistry between your actors then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Valentine’s Day, Raising Helen 

Sex Drive

Sex Drive
Rated: R
Running Time: 109 minutes
Starring: Clark Duke, Amanda Crew, James Marsden, Seth Green, Josh Zuckerman
Directed By: Sean Anders
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
A guy and a couple of friends head cross country to meet a girl he met on the internet.

I would have been disappointed if a movie titled Sex Drive wasn’t funny. Although it was an unoriginal blend of American Pie meets Road Trip it still was a good time. Sex Drive is the story of Ian. He is a virgin and will do anything for his first sexual conquest. That includes driving cross country with a couple of friends to meet a girl he found on the internet.

The film has a very original opening scene (yes sarcasm) where Ian is caught masturbating in front of the family. After that though the film settles down into a pretty decent comedy. The story is decidedly stale with the virgin trying anything to lose his V card. But besides that this character driven comedy has enough laughs to make it viable. When Ian and his two friends, Lance, and Felicia start to drive cross country the film is at its best and the crazy shenanigans ensue. This film works for your laughs and while at times the humor is forced like a scene involving a hick and his genitalia showing. Most of the time the humor is spot on, like when the three of them rage with the Amish, or when Ian puts on a hilarious doughnut costume.

This film is all about its well played characters. The lead Ian played by Josh Zuckerman plays a great virgin. He wasn’t especially funny but he allows his solid co-actors to bounce their jokes off his nerdy straight laced character. His best friend Lance played by the hilarious Clark Duke keeps the movie going always in the right direction. While he does not have the looks to play the ladies man he is portraying, it is almost funnier because of that fact. His random comments and advice on love had me laughing right through the movie. Ian’s other friend Felicia played by Amanda Crew also did a nice job. She also wasn’t the funniest but had a believable look and added to the film more than subtracted. The highlight of this movie for me was Rex played by James Marsden. Picture Stifler from American Pie meets Chet from Weird Science. This guy is a homophobic, car loving, foul mouthed, bully of epic proportions. He is fantastic in this role and it is great to see that from a guy who is known for being the "other" guy from the Notebook. Lastly I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Seth Green’s cameo as a sarcastic Amish guy called Ezekiel. He doesn’t have a huge role but he kills it with his awkward double meaning talk.

So the film takes you all over the map as they head cross country and really there aren’t very many poor scenes. While some things are funnier than others this film is never boring and provides ample laughs. The story is forgettable and the whole angle where Ian is looking for love instead of just sex was miserable. Forgive this movie its faults and just sit back and enjoy a film that has everything from giant black dildos to catfights.

Director and writer Sean Anders should be commended for putting together a solid if not spectacular comedy. He gets ample laughs from a virtually unknown cast and this film is never boring. While he took the easy way out on an uninspired script he never the less makes up for it with outrageous situations and funny characters. Overall I thought he did a good job when it easily could have been terrible.

I give this movie a surprising recommendation and while the story isn’t the greatest the characters are certainly worth the watch.

T Factor + If you like crude humor this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need original storylines for your movies this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: American Pie, Road Trip 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Descent

The Descent
Action (Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time: 99 minutes
Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone
Directed By: Neil Marshall
Rating: 7 out of 10
An all women caving expedition goes wrong when they realize they may not be alone in the impenetrable dark.

Thanks to Gandalf from LOTR I always think of the quote “there are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world” when it comes to caves and horror movies. The Descent follows the story of six women who are adrenaline rush seekers. They decide to spelunk in a tourist cave system for their next adventure together. They soon discover they may not be alone in this isolated place and have little hope for survival.

What I liked most about this film was its blend of cheap scares, legitimate horror techniques, and finally campy and over the top violence and blood. Most horrors pick a style and stay with it. The Descent maneuvers its way quite deftly between scare tactics so I found it worked quite well for the most part. You must forgive the slow start of this film as it is in place to meet the women and incorporate a rather idiotic storyline of mistrust between them. Gone are the days of simple movie stories. Why can’t the women just head into the dark without contrived drama is beyond me. After the slow start the women descend into the cave so the fun or bloodshed can begin. The setting like all cave movies is a fantastic place for carnage. This film with limited lighting and ultra thin tunnels and passages gives a great sense of claustrophobia. The film takes the usual buildup of things half seen and creepy noises from the dark. That is until the evil in the dark is thrust terrifyingly on you and it is a fight for their lives.

The little known cast of women all do solid jobs in the acting department in this film. They have a believable camaraderie and are quite convincing. Some of the dialogue between them is weak but you can literally feel the rising tension between them as they battle for their very lives. I also liked the fact that these are not your typical female portrayals of women in horror. They don’t take passive roles when they are faced with adversity. They plod on and make sensible decisions in tight spots which leads to a more realistic watch.

The films slow build up is perfectly timed. A slow dramatic film quickly degenerates into a quick paced action/horror. The creatures in the dark are well thought up and while not super creepy as one would like, they are still better than average. I liked that the film also added terror with not just the creatures but also uses the spelunking aspect for full effect. Dark tunnels, sheer drops, tight spacing, and eerie sounds are all used to create a great overall effect of fear. The recurring tension between the girls is a little out of place and not needed but can be forgiven. The women literally try to scrape and claw their way out of this hell and it is a journey you want to take with them. Blood flies by the bucketful and it will have you on the edge of your seat because at any moment something can jump out at you from the dark.

Director and writer of this film Neil Marshall put together a horror film worthy of praise. It shows you do not need a big budget (7 million estimate) to make an effective film. He uses strong camera work and a great cast to keep the viewer engaged. Making the women capable and strong was the right choice for maximum effect. The film has a little of everything so if you like horror there is a little something for everyone. This is a great job on a horror film in a cave that so many people have gotten wrong before.

I give this movie a recommendation especially for people looking for all sorts of frights and lots of blood.

T Factor + If you like creature horror this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like great dialogue in your films this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Deep Star Six, The Cave

Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
Action (Sci-Fi)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 136 minutes
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ray Park
Directed By: George Lucas
Rating: 5 out of 10
Two Jedi Knights are in charge of peace talks between the people of Naboo and the Trade Federation. While signs that the evil known as the Sith maybe back after a long hiatus.

There have been many memorable movie characters throughout cinematic history. Unfortunately for us Jar Jar Binks is memorable for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps the most anticipated movie in nerd history, the Phantom Menace came into our lives and quickly will leave it making a very little impression. The Phantom Menace Episode 1 details the rise of the evil menace called the Sith. It also details the fight between the peaceful people of Naboo and the corrupt Trade Federation. Lastly it details the finding of a boy who is supposed to bring balance to the universe or what is known as the Force.

To start off no matter what this movie was like director George Lucas was probably not going to appease his monstrous geeky fan base. However, did he put his best effort forward? The answer is most definitely no he did not. The film starts off with the signature words rolling down the screen in space detailing the story of the film. If this doesn’t make you giddy with excitement it means one of two things. You either have a girlfriend or you are single and never seen the original Star Wars movies. (If you are single and haven’t…my god.)  I know, I know, women and kids watch Star Wars to but they never seem as fervent in their devotion (obvious exceptions). The film quickly introduces us to the main characters who are the Jedi’s, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. We get to see them in action and show off their multitude of skills including telekinetic object manipulation and proficiency with a lightsaber (a Jedi sword). From the cool opening introduction the film inexplicably falls apart. With the introduction of each new character I couldn’t help but feel like Lucas incorporated them for their massive toy appeal instead of movie appeal. The film is bogged down with multiple scenes of childish humor and uninspired script. This film felt like nothing more than a cash grab for today’s youth instead of trying to capture their hearts like the original trilogy did for my generation.  

The film has too many characters to review with out being obnoxious so I chose the best three and the worst three to talk about. The good characters: Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn played by Liam Neeson was perfect. His demeanor, voice, just overall presence worked on every level for me. Next was his Padawan or understudy, Obi-Wan Kenobi played by Ewan McGregor gives a solid performance as an emotionally unstable Jedi. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were great together, with their calm banter, to their expertise in Jedi fighting techniques. The film worked best when it was just the two of them on screen. Darth Maul was played by Ray Park was the final standout. He is exactly what you want in an evil bad guy. Now most of that is due to phenomenal make up and design, Park still owns this character during his small screen time. He was a pleasant surprise.

The Bad: There were a plethora to choose from but I took the worst of the worst. Digitally created Boss Nass who was leader of the Gungan people was terrible. His slobbering mannerisms, coupled with an obnoxious voice were hard to sit through. Thankfully he has only a small role in this film for he was awful. Next was the kid Anakin Skywalker played by the pug faced Jake Lloyd. He was annoying to look at and more annoying to listen to. By himself I could have forgiven his portrayal but coupled with the digitally created Gungan named Jar Jar Binks this film had no chance. I hate to get on the hate band wagon for this character but he is easily on the worst characters in cinematic history list. Jar Jar is indescribably bad as he reminded me of Pauly Shore as an alien (if that isn’t the case already) with a strange accent and doing slapstick. When he wasn’t spouting off cheesy catch phrases like “How rude” or “exsqueezeme” his tongue was getting caught in laser streams and his feet tangled with droids. I won’t give the honor solely to Jar Jar for ruining this movie but he was a huge factor.

The film is visually great and the landscapes and setting show a lot of care and thought. The story is haphazardly put together though. A scene where Anakin races a bunch of aliens in his pod racer (something akin to a space go kart) was visually stunning and sounded great but out of place in this film. There are many more of these inane scenes then good ones but when the good scenes do come you will be enthralled. These are no 1980’s lightsaber duels in this film. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon battling Darth Maul will be in your memory long after this film is done. When this film ends instead of being elated you will be left more puzzled and unsatisfied. One last thing I have to say is giant droid armies is nowhere near as cool as giant stormtrooper armies.

Director George Lucas will not be crushed by my review as he is counting his hundreds of millions of dollars generated from this film. He clearly put this film together as a cash grab for the sundry merchandise that will be put out with a multitude of images. I get he was aiming for kids but this film was too childish and downright cheesy at times. Visually it was amazing and seeing old characters like Yoda and R2-D2 is great but not enough to save this film. I was more disappointed in Lucas then I was with this film.

I cannot recommend this film and while it is cool (cough) and entertaining for nostalgia sake its childish nature ruins the fun.

T Factor + If you like quirky characters this film could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you were expecting anything like the original trilogy this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations are: Star Trek, Serenity. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Batman:The Dark Knight Rises
Action (Comic Book)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 165 minutes
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Matthew Modine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
8 years have passed and Batman not only a forgotten hero he is a criminal. A new evil is heading to destroy Gotham city and only Batman will be able to stand in its way.

So people have been hounding me to watch this movie and get my review on it so here it goes. This will probably not be one of my more popular reviews, as I have heard nothing but praise for this movie. Just to note, I am not knocking this movie to go against popular belief or to stir conversations. The long awaited finale to one of the most successful franchises has finally arrived, and I couldn’t have been more disappointed with it. This film was suffering from Transformers syndrome, meaning too much is happening to fully enjoy this film. We find ourselves following the story of Batman 8 years after the conclusion of the Dark Knight. Gotham is a city of peace for once but the tide is about to change. The city is on the precipice of disaster with a new bad guy on the scene called Bane. The only person that can stop him is the absent outlaw vigilante Batman, but time is running out for his reappearance.

The film has a great start and a great intro to our main bad guy Bane. Director Nolan knows his audience and hooks you instantly with an amazing opening scene on an air plane. From there the film splinters into a movie telling too many stories about too many characters. This franchise has taken a turn for the worse in my mind. Isn’t this film supposed to be about Batman? While Batman took a backseat to one of the most impressive acting jobs ever (Heath Ledger as the Joker) in the last film, his lack of screen time is more of a concern in this film, as there is no reason for it. Bane, Catwoman, Lucius Fox, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Miranda, Blake, are all taking up valuable screen time and not only will most people not care, it is boring to boot. Apparently all of their stories must be told, but did it all have to be crammed into one drawn out film? The film tries to go to a whole new level of darkness and depravity, but it falters along the way. Sure the new toys and gadgets are awesome but sometimes keeping it to the basics is just fine. There is nothing better than seeing Batman chase down bad guys on his motorbike, with his cape flapping behind him. Yes his plane is awesome but it is almost gratuitous at this point.

Since most of the players are back from previous films, I will instead focus more on the new players to this game. I will start with the main bad guy Bane, played by Tom Hardy. Hardy’s performance is determined mainly by his physique and his mask more than his acting ability. He is impressively massive and visually a great super villain for Batman to fight against. His voice was at times hard to hear which is frustrating, but overall he was an imposing character, and amazing during his limited fight scenes. Selina Kyle (Cat Woman) played by Anne Hathaway was a surprise performance for me. She can be cloyingly annoying at times in other films, but she brought her A game for this role. She was seductive, she held her own in the action sequences, and lastly she was underutilized (which is a good thing meaning I wanted to see more of her). She was great and I was really impressed by her performance. Police officer Blake played by the normally awesome Joseph Gordon-Levitt was off his game in this film. More so the character was so weak and yet he gets ample screen time. His less then stellar character gets thrown at you right through this film and Levitt does nothing with him to make it work.

Christian Bale as Batman was the same as he always is with these films. He has the personality and can pull off any fight sequence with ease. You either like him or hate him. I can get over his terrible raspy voice so I will miss him if he is truly done with this character. He also needed to have more screen time which is frustrating.

Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, are all back and great additions. Marion Cotillard was forgettable as businesswoman Miranda Hale.

With all of the multitude of story lines going on, it is like this film was preparing us for spin off films instead of dealing with the task at hand. Everything is lost in the mix, and this film feels like it has a running time of 4 hours as there is too much story. When Batman is fighting with Catwoman or Bane the film is working. When the film is focusing on Bruce Wayne’s inner demons, or officer Blake investigating crimes, the film is wretched. The film drags itself to a pretty cool ending, but even that seems abrupt and rushed as it flips from character to character so you never feel satisfied. This film's effects and action sequences are amazing and I would say the best of the franchise, but they are sporadic and fit unevenly into the story. Just because a film is darker and has bigger flashes and explosions, doesn’t make it a good film.

Director Chris Nolan’s resume speaks for itself. Memento, Batman Begins, Batman Dark Knight, and Inception, shows he is one of Hollywood’s elite directors. He missed badly with this film though. The film has too much going on and never seems to be heading in the right direction. This film would have been better served as two films so it didn't seem so cramped. Yes the action was amazing and the fight scenes were good except for some editing flaws, but it couldn’t save the movie for me. At the end of the day we want Batman, and he seemed like a supporting character in this film. It was a puzzling film and I am sad this is how it ends.

I cannot recommend this film, while it was entertaining and dark, it seemed Batman never fully rose to be the caped crusader we all love and admire.

T Factor + If you like Batman comics this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you want a lot of screen time for Batman in this film this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-man
Action (Comic Book)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 136 minutes
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, and Dennis Leary.
Directed By: Marc Webb
Rating: 6 out of 10
Peter Parker’s journey from becoming Spider-Man to fighting the bad guys of the city is detailed in this movie.

I am going to apologize to start this review. I really wanted to write this review with no comparison to the Sam Raimi directed Spider-Man movies. As I progressed though, I found it was inevitable that it has to be reviewed like this. They are too similar and filmed too close together not to compare. It really bothers me that we are watching a retelling of a film barely 10 years old. I was not a big fan of Sam Raimi’s first 3 Spiderman movies. I found them to be too cartoonish instead of comic booky (Yes I am sticking with the word comic booky). Spider-Man is back and his story is being retold. This story sees Peter Parker’s journey from becoming Spider-Man to having to save the city from the evil clutches of the Lizard.

I will say this about this film. This is what Spider-Man should have been from the start. Its darker cinematography and accompanying musical score make this film a much better watch. This movie will probably appeal more to people who have not seen the first Spider-Man movie from 2002. That is because this film was basically thrown into some sort of movie thesaurus and it spat out the same movie with the odd tweak of storyline here and there. Because of the non original storyline the first half hour of this film is insufferable as it is just repeated material. As the film progresses though you realize this films content and style is much better than the first three films. A scene where Peter Parker discovers his emerging spider powers on a packed subway prepares you for a much better shot action film. The film may be darker but Spiderman still spouts off his cheesy comical lines during tense situations which are a nice touch.

The original three movies were not my thing but I still really liked Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield has a tough job in reprising this role in this film and he doesn’t disappoint. He is charismatic in a super dorky way which is very easy to follow. He gave a very respectable performance. Spider-Man’s love interest Gwen Stacy played by Hollywood’s it girl Emma Stone was a great leading lady. The two of them have a painfully awkward love interest but seemed well suited for this film. The two of them are able to have the love angle story line but not have the movie overtly caught up in their romance.

Rhys Ifans as Doctor Curt Connors/Lizard Man is perfect with his quiet portrayal. He has a sort of Jekyll and Hyde thing going which was right for the role. He has a subtle sinister and evil quality to him that made his performance so great. Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Dennis Leary all have supporting roles if you are fans of theirs.

Once all the same tired back-story is fulfilled and Spider-Man is able to shoot his white stuff at will (keep it clean people) this movie really gets going. He battles bad guy’s right through the city. I was interested in the multiple storylines. I wanted to see Spider-Man get the girl. I wanted him to track down the blonde haired convenience store robber. I wanted to see him battle his inner demons. Lastly I wanted to see him battle the giant Lizard man. I got to see all these things so ultimately I felt this movie did its job. It was way too long and too similar to the first but I felt it got it right.

Director Marc Webb (he must have been chosen for his last name) was a strange choice for a franchise of this magnitude. He had only the small indie love story flick 500 days of Summer on his resume so it was a big risk. I must say he did a good job with this movie. He put a dark edge on it which is the rage these days and never went overboard with it. He took some chances with the cast but it paid off and the action scenes were for the most part crisp and enjoyable. He could have cut this film down by at least a half hour and had a more original script but he produced characters you cared about and that is all that mattered. Overall this is a solid job from a relatively unknown director.

I am going to give this movie a recommendation. It will be enjoyed more by people who are not familiar with Raimi’s version and overall it may not be amazing but it is certainly decent.

T Factor + If you like Spider-Man as a character this movie could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you have seen the original Spider-Man film this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Daredevil, Iron Man

My Best Friend's Girl

My Best Friend’s Girl
Rated: R
Running Time: 101 minutes
Starring: Dane Cook, Alec Baldwin, Jason Biggs, Kate Hudson, Lizzy Caplan, Diora Baird
Directed By: Howard Deutch
Rating: 7 Out of 10
A guy is hired to take out his best friend's ex-girlfriend on a bad date. It doesn’t go as planned and he needs to decide between a women and friendship.

If you were to tell me that a movie starring Dane Cook, Jason Biggs, and Kate Hudson was going to be funny it would probably make me snarf my diet coke. Then I watched this flick and was shocked at how entertaining this film actually was. My Best Friend’s Girl is the story of Tank and his best friend Dustin. Dustin hires Tank to take out his ex-girlfriend Alexis on a terrible date to prove to her how great Dustin really was. The problem being Tank starts to like Alexis and things get complicated.

I thought I would change up my review style in honor of this movie. The highlight of this film was Tank being a dick to a David Letterman inspired Top 10 list montage. I figured I would write what I liked about this film in that style for my review.

Number 10: Kate Hudson: Kate Hudson is known for her romantic comedy chops so it was nice to see her in something a little outside of her comfort zone. She played Alexis in this film and is a great leading lady. She has the experience and looks for such a role. While she could have been funnier she is still the queen of the Rom Com even if it is R rated.

Number 9: The Simple Story: Sometimes films try to do too much with the story muddying the flow of the comedy. This story is as basic as it gets and that is all it needed to be.

Number 8: Never Slow: This film had a great pace and very little wasted screen time. It allowed for a lot of nice situations for the actors to provide their comedy. While the jokes were not always funny this film was never boring.

Number 7: Jason Biggs: Jason played the good guy Dustin. I like Jason Biggs when he has smaller supporting roles like this one. You know what you are going to get with him which is a couple of laughs. He did a good job as the straight laced nerdy guy in this movie and has a great scene with a razor to prove he will do anything for a role.

Number 6: A Romantic Comedy for Guys: This movie has the cheesy romantic comedy vibe but with the R rating. It allows for a lot of jokes that guys will appreciate and a love story for the ladies. Obviously I am generalizing with that statement but it has a little for both worlds no matter what you like.

Number 5: Funny Situations: This film finds itself with a lot of funny scenes at random places. It takes place at Proms, Strip Clubs, Hair Dressers, Restaurant’s and many more. It just does a good job of bouncing from place to place to change it up.

Number 4: Lizzy Caplan: Lizzy has a small supporting role as Ami who is Alexis’s roommate. She is a foul mouthed and practical woman who tells it as it is. I found she was really funny in a limited role and added a nice touch from a woman’s point of view. It was a very nice role and performance from Caplan.

Number 3: Dane Cook: Yeah, I know I know, praise for Dane Cook. Don’t hate me because of this statement. He was awesome though and really threw this movie on his back. For some reason it isn’t a surprise to me he was so good at being a misogynistic pig. He plays Tank Turner this sort of anti Hitch (Will Smith character). He gets money from guys to take their ex-girlfriends out on horrible dates to show them what they had was so good. His persona as a narcissistic prick is awesome and really was funny for the entire film. He may be over the top but I found this only added to the role in a positive way.

Number 2: Alec Baldwin: Alec Baldwin has a small supporting playing Tank Turner's dad. This is one of the funniest supporting roles in recent memory. He is this sex starved older player, teaching Tank in the ways of love. He has a story for every sex occasion and really stole the show when he was on screen.

Number 1: The Top 10 list: The top 10 list was a great idea for this film. I was upset there were only two of them they were that funny. These lists showed Tank at his finest or worst depending on how you look at it. It showed all the tricks of his trade to make women hate him and really I could have watched a top 100 list. Tank was on fire during these lists and truly was a great addition.

I give this movie a surprising recommendation for people who like stupid sexual humor and can get over their hate for Dane Cook.

T Factor + If you like Dane Cook this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you dislike Dane Cook this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Tomcats, Buying the Cow.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Unborn

The Unborn
Action (Horror)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 88 minutes
Starring: Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, Odette Annable, Idris Elba, Meagan Good, Cam Gigandet
Directed By: David S. Goyer
Rated: 2.5 out of 10
An evil entity is trying to possess a young woman’s body.

There is something really unsettling when it comes to kids and horror movies. Some movies that have memorable evil kids are The Exorcist, The Omen, and The Shining. Years later these iconic kids are still fresh in our memory. Kids are supposed to be the world’s innocents and that is why it is so creepy when our children turn evil. The Unborn is a story about an evil kid but it is no way going to make the list of good films. This is a story about Casey Beldon. She is in college, has a great boyfriend, and things couldn’t seemingly be better. That is until she is plagued with strange dreams and occurrences leaving her questioning her own sanity. Casey and her friends must battle an unknown entity trying to slowly take over her body and their very lives are at stake.

The Unborn is a film that relies too heavily on imagery and not enough on story. The film never really gets going as there is too much happening with Casey. She has strange dreams, she hallucinates, her eyes change color, and she gets sick. All of this is happening and yet it is more puzzling then scary. The film bounces gummy bear style from scene to scene never fully explaining what in the hell that is happening.

Casey played by the beautiful Odette Annable does a passable job with the role. She is able to carry the film right through to the end. While this wasn’t a challenging role she still didn’t mess it up.

This film has a surprisingly strong supporting cast. Gary Oldman playing Rabbi Sendak and Idris Elba playing priest Arthur Wyndham must have owed someone a favor for showing up in a film like this. They stand out by being too good for these roles and actually were a distraction when lesser known actors would have sufficed. This movie also has Carla Gugino, Meagan Good, and Cam Gigandet in small supporting roles if you are fans of theirs.

As the film carries on the evil entity obviously gets stronger. Its powers are ludicrous in comparison to what it is trying to achieve. It seems to be able to control people, make monsters, kill at will, be everywhere at once, control insects, everything but possess Casey for some reason. The religious connotations and back story of this entity is extremely weak and seems only in place to incorporate an exorcism type feel to this film. Bottom line this film is a mess. It tries and fails to scare the viewer with a number of strange scenes but rarely succeeds. They even go as low as to incorporate a horror scene involving a glory hole but it comes off limp (yeah I did)

Director and writer David S. Goyer failed right across the board with this film. A surprisingly strong cast was never able to wrangle this confusing religious story into something remotely watchable. The camera work is decent but the script is so poor and has so many holes you will stop caring about the players in this film very early on. Goyer must learn that turning people’s heads upside down is not going to sell a horror movie to its audience when the plot is so weak.

I cannot recommend this film as the story is more fecal than fetal.

T Factor + If you like scary imagery than this film could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need strong storylines than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Omen, When a Stranger Calls. 

The Intouchables

The Intouchables
Drama (Comedy)
Rated: R
Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Audrey Fleurot, Anne Le Ny
Directed By: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Rating: 8 out of 10
An unlikely friendship is formed after a quadriplegic man hires a street thug to be his primary caregiver.

I rarely get to watch foreign films but when I do I am always upset I don’t get to more often. This is a brilliant film and in an ideal world would be nominated for best foreign film at the Oscars this year. The Intouchables is the tale of two men from EXTREMELY different worlds. Philippe is a rich older white gentleman who is paralyzed from the neck down. Driss is a young black street hustler just trying to make ends meet. Based on a true story Philippe hires Driss as his primary helper/caregiver and the both of them develop a friendship that society or each other never thought possible.

The Intouchables on the surface is a simple story that has been seen many times in books and in film. The story of two people from opposite sides of the tracks becoming best friends has been done before. Why this story differs slightly is the enormity of the differences between Philippe and Driss. The film starts off and seeing Driss in his street clothes at Philippe’s old fashioned mansion is funny in on itself.  The journey of these two men from start to finish is mesmerizing. The film is principally a dialogue driven film with very funny character interactions. Driss’s awkward start to his caregiver job and his interactions with the straight laced workers at the mansion is priceless. I also liked how neither man conformed to each other’s lifestyles, which is a nice touch.

Omar Sy played Driss and was remarkable. His emotional range and charismatic smile really sold you to this rough and tumble character. Philippe played by Francois Cluzet or the French Dustin Hoffman was also no less than great. He comes off as articulate and straight laced but can shatter that persona with a simple child like smile. The two of them together is a revelation and the film worked the best when they were bantering on screen. Their easy relationship while unorthodox was believable and what everyone looks for in a friendship.

Anne Le Ny playing Nurse Yvonne gets an honorable mention for an enjoyable and honest performance in the supporting actress category.

The progression of Driss and Philippe’s relationship is never boring to watch and in it you can find strength, honesty, humor, respect, and most of all believability. Philippe teaches Driss about opera, art, classical music, and trust. Driss teaches Philippe about love, living life, letting lose, and having fun. It is the simple things that make this movie so great. A scene where Driss puts a damp towel caringly on Philippe’s head when he is sick will stick in your memory long after this film is done. Trust me there are many more scenes I could bring up but please just watch this movie. I found I had a big grin on my face during this whole film but it still was able to bring a tear to my eye which is a rare trait in films today.

Directors and writers Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano shot a brilliant film that they can be very proud of. At times there is editing problems but I am basically nit picking. Their casting was spot on and the old fashioned house where most of this film is shot at is a work of genius. An always fun flick with such a serious topic proves these guys know how to make a great movie.

I give this movie a huge recommendation to anyone looking for a powerful film of trust and friendship (it is subtitled)

T Factor + If you like foreign films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like subtitles this could score way lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: As Good as it Gets, Bon Cop, Bad Cop

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


Drama (Sci Fi)
Rated: R
Running Time: 94 minutes
Starring: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able
Directed By: Gareth Edwards
Rating: 1.5 out of 10
A couple must make their way home through alien infested land.

The formula for a good monster movie is pretty straight forward. Cool looking monster + wanton destruction and or killing = a good time. There for it shocks me that so many monster movies get it wrong. This movie gets a failing grade in math as it used the formula, No monster + No killing or wanton destruction = A terrible film. Monsters, is the story of an alien invasion that has a huge part of Mexico fenced off to keep the monsters at bay.  Andrew a photographer has agreed to escort Samantha through the alien zone to get her home to her family in the States. The only thing stopping them from reaching their goal is many miles of harsh terrain and giant squid like monsters.

A brief opening scene where the US army battles against these unknown invaders is just a cool tease. That is because from the end of the opening scene virtually nothing happens. It is amazing to me that they named this movie Monsters when you never really get to see any of the beasts. The films slow dramatic plotline will literally have you trying to stay awake. Andrew and Samantha journey across country to get home and the viewer could care less. The film seems to be building to a scene of epic proportions and frustratingly it never arrives.

Andrew played by Scoot McNairy and Amanda played by Whitney Able are actually portrayed very well. They seem tired and strung out from the stresses of travelling through frightening unknown territory. They are believable in their roles and the sexual undertones between them seem very realistic. That being said, because the movie is so uneventful the performances are lost in the mix.

When you do get to glimpse the Monsters you get to see they are well designed and formed. That's what is so devastating about this film is the potential for greatness is there. At the end of the day there is too much wasted film watching and boring dialogue for a film of this nature. It tries to suck you into the story with tons of character development and a non linear story line but trust me it doesn’t remotely work. I am not sure if budget restraints ruined this film but I found Kathy Bates in the About Schmidt hot tub scene a hell of a lot scarier than this film.

Director and writer Gareth Edwards put together a puzzling film of epic boredom. When I think I could have done a better job shooting this film you know you are in trouble. The script was terrible and the cinematography was awful in all the key moments. The casting and creature design was there but the action sequences and interesting plot was not. It was just a terrible job from basically the start to finish in this film.

I cannot recommend this film as it was more of a monstrosity then a film about monsters.

T Factor + If you like lots of dialogue in your movies this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like lots of action in your movies than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Mist, District 9

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Watch

The Watch
Rated: R
Running Time: 101 minutes
Starring: Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughn, Richard Ayoade, Will Forte
Directed By: Akiva Schaffer
Rating 2.5 out of 10
A group of guys form a neighborhood watch to fight crime but aliens are more of a concern.

When you see a trailer advertised way too much you know it isn’t a good sign. This trailer has been forced on us like an avalanche. It has all the funny bits (cough) of the film in the trailer so I hope this review saves you a couple of bucks so you don’t see this film in theatre. The trailer should have said please don’t watch this film for any reason. Now I am reiterating that by saying please don’t watch this film for any reason. The Watch is a movie based in suburban Ohio. After a gruesome murder, Evan a local resident decides to start a neighborhood watch to prevent crime. He and a ragtag bunch of guys patrol the streets trying to stop criminals but end up having to battle aliens for their town and maybe the world’s survival.

I thought it would be a while before I saw a comedy that was as bad as Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy, but Hollywood never disappoints. It turns out I only had to wait a month for another fecal comedy. The Watch is a comedy without any comedy. It was such a bad film I am having trouble reviewing it. The film starts off with a quick introduction to Evan and his neighborhood watch team. Of course they are an eclectic group of men, with varying personalities that have to mesh together somehow to fight crime. It occurred to me about half way through this film that I hadn’t laughed even once. I was worried my face was going to be left with a permanent frown after viewing this flick. They try joke after joke in this film but nothing works. I found the comedy, and would be jokes to be written for a PG-13 audience, but infused with lots of swear words and sexual references to make it adult. The result is as expected, which is lifeless and humor free. The story is nothing new and not compelling in the slightest. In fact because this watch team is so terrible you actually start pulling for the aliens to win at the end of this film. I can count the funny scenes in this movie on one hand. A decent scene of the watch taking a picture montage with a dead alien is quickly forgotten by the time the next unfunny scene rolled around. And that was the status quo for the whole film.

This film was clearly banking on its strong comedic cast to win over its audience, and it is a failing grade across the board for the lot of them. Evan played by Ben Stiller was easily the worst of the group. He plays a middle aged suburban dad and if you think you have seen this role before...you have. The awkward, bumbling, straight man routine is basically Greg Focker from Meet the Parents. He is awful and had no chemistry with anyone in the watch. Bob played by Vince Vaughn is a married dad looking to unwind, and he shows none of his famous quips that have made him a star. In fact I cannot remember anything funny that he did in this film. Franklin played by Jonah Hill is the young renegade in the group and he consistently missed with this role. Although he is the best of the bunch it is not saying much. A scene where he interrogates a skater kid with Ben Stiller is so bad I wanted to rewatch Superbad just to remember he can be great. Lastly is Jamarcus played by Richard Ayoade, who is the quiet British guy of the group. He is a new fresh face for comedy and he was remarkably ordinary in this film. He offered nothing to make me want to see him in another film. This group of actors was terrible together and terrible when by themselves.

The film drags along with NWA songs blaring in the background but fails to keep you interested. It is as if they knew this film wasn’t working so over the top scenes of things blowing up, and orgies are inserted with little care or thought to the story. The only really nice thing I have to say about the film was the aliens were well designed, and well thought up. When the watch engages the aliens in a few fight scenes they were neat and well put together. At the end of the day though this is supposed to be a comedy and when the end finally comes around you will breathe a sigh of relief that it is done. Unless you like copious amounts of stupid Costco jokes then this movie should be a pass.

Director Akiva Schaffer got his second shot with this film after a solid debut with Hot Rod. He did absolutely nothing with this movie though. He has a great cast, and a neat story, so it could have worked but the result was just miserable. He literally put together a comedy that had almost no laughs and that is hard to do. This film had jokes for young teens but speech for adults, it was very strange. This film easily could take worst of the year for comedies.

I cannot recommend this film. E.T stands for extraterrestrial but for this film it stands for extra terrible. This is truly a baffling film that can be passed on.   

T Factor + If you like Ben Stiller as an actor then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like overt sexual jokes then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations is: Evolution, Paul