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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, 21 February 2013

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill
Rated: PG
Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino,
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Rating: 0 out of 10
A guy must choose between his struggling career and the happiness of his annoying twin sister.

To start, this is one of the worst movies of all time. I am not saying this for effect, but it truly is. Sandler should have to monetarily compensate everyone’s movie ticket, rental, and DVD purchase of this film and offer an apology in the process. Adam Sandler has not made a good film in a really long time. Scratch that, Adam Sandler has not made an average film in a really long time. I defended him after films like You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and That’s My Boy, but I can do so no longer. When his friends are making better stuff (Grandma’s Boy, Bucky Larson) it is time to self reflect Mr. Sandler. Jack and Jill is the story of identical twins. Jack and his family have to entertain his annoying twin sister Jill for Thanksgiving. Jack’s nightmares are realized when Jill decides to stay on for longer than planned.

This film is thoroughly perplexing in its awfulness. Why Sandler even bothered with the playing two characters bit is beyond explanation. Playing multiple characters is almost impossible to do well in film. If there are any actors out there reading this review I have a tip for you. If you are ever forced to play multiple roles, just watch this and do the opposite. The film starts off and we are introduced to Jack as he goes about his everyday life. He has a loving family and he is a successful advertising executive. His life is about to be thrown for a loop though on both fronts. On the job front, his company is on the verge of losing their biggest client in Duncan Donuts. On the family front, he is about to entertain his obnoxious sister to the detriment of his family’s happiness. After a tepid beginning to the movie it quickly spirals out of control in all areas. Jack must procure Al Pacino (the actor) to star in his Duncan Donuts commercial while also entertaining Jill. This is not easy to do, but to complicate matters Al Pacino falls head over heels in love with Jill. So the story is blah but the love angle is deplorable and here’s why. Jill is a greasy, obnoxious, whiny, and any other negative adjective you can think of type of woman. She leaves gross sweat stains on the bed when she sleeps and kills small horses by sitting on them. She also can lift more weight than Brock Lesnar and play soccer like Lionel Messi for some reason. The film's story is noticeably stale because there is not a single laugh to be had.

Jack and Jill are played by the once funny Adam Sandler. He is vanilla as Jack, but words cannot describe how painful this film is because of his performance as Jill. I ask you honestly, is there a worse character in cinematic history then this? I would have rather watched Jar Jar Binks do stand up then sit through this film again. Her perpetual shrieking voice and childlike mannerisms are so grating that I almost had to turn this film off. Al Pacino playing himself in this, can look back on his performance as a paycheck and nothing more. His weird love interest in a woman (Jill) that looks like she could give a warthog dry heaves, (Hells yeah I just quoted Al Bundy) might be his lowest moment of his career. Pacino plays a character that makes Gary Busey seem normal in comparison. He seems out of place in this film and that is because he is out of place in this film. All of Sandler’s friends show up in this but I already have forgotten their oddball characters.

So the only thing positive about this film is when Jill is not on screen. It doesn’t make this film any better, but it is a relief from her migraine inducing performance. Jack is forced to make some tough choices in this with regards to his family and professional life. He needs to decide if landing Pacino for the commercial is worth his sister’s unhappiness. As he struggles to find the answers he gets estranged from his family in the process. They all seem to think Jill is charming and cannot see why Jack is so mean to her. It is an angle that has been used a thousand times before but in this it is just sickening. No one would ever like Jill, so why are there so many people in this who find her nice is beyond me. I will stop talking, but if you are going to watch this then be prepared for Al Pacino sexually assaulting Jill, Pepe Le Pew style. Be prepared for adults speaking in a secret language which is mostly gibberish. Be prepared for Sandler to recycle fart and poop jokes. Lastly, be prepared for a movie that is so shocking in its ineptitude, that it somehow ruins the memory of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore.

Director Dennis Dugan has to stop making movies or at least stop making movies with Adam Sandler. Grown Ups, Just Go With It, The Bench Warmers, and now this have ruined my faith in Sandler comedies. It is as if you can see the actors strolling from scene to scene, hating themselves for needing the money this badly. Truth be told, no director could have made this a good movie but it is little excuse. The films lack of energy and pace can be attributed to Dugan and he needs to take a step back from comedy for a while. Truly this a terribly put together film.

I cannot recommend this film and I am a little dumber for having watched it. I award it no points and may god have mercy on my soul.

T Factor + None

T Factor – None.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Benchwarmers, The Nutty Professor.  

Friday, 15 February 2013

Paranormal Activity 4

Paranormal Activity 4
Drama (Horror, Thriller)
Rated: R
Running Time: 88 minutes
Starring: Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherstone, Matt Shively, Brady Allen
Directed By: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Rating: 2 out of 10
A suburban family notices strange happenings around their house, after taking in a strange kid from across the street.

Ugh, even though I enjoyed the third film in this series, I am tired of this franchise at this point. This film was great for the environment because it was heavily into recycling, and reusing the same ideas from prior films. Now that I think of it, it also reduced the number of scares also. Paranormal Activity 4 is the story of a suburban family. Things are normal until a mother and her strange son move in across the street.

So this is the fourth installment, and first sequel in the Paranormal Activities series, and it was easily the worst of the bunch. That is saying a lot as the second one was nothing to write home about. The third movie was truly frightening, and offered new glimpses into the story and had fresh ideas for terror. This film offered nothing new, and frankly the unexplained happenings are not even interesting at this point. This film takes place five years after Katie and Hunters disappearance. If you forget the prior storyline do not worry as there is a brief synopsis to start this film. We are following a young teenager named Alex in this one as she films her younger brother and parents, as they go about their everyday lives. In her filming, she notices how odd the new kid neighbor is, and the film gets underway. For some reason the family has to look after the odd kid from across the street for a few days (which is ridiculous) and things start to happen around their house. The main problem with this film is it unfolds exactly the same way as the first three did. The slow build up of unexplained events around the house. The odd things caught on camera, like moving objects and ghostly figures. The almost identical looking house. The film is so predictable that you will know when everything is about to happen. The film is just a tired excuse for a horror. It offers up no explanations for these ghostly encounters, just more questions so the franchise can continue. Why does it take so long in every film for the entity to become malevolent?

The acting was okay in this but it isn’t that hard of a story to pull off. Alex is played by Kathryn Newton, and she is easy to follow as she investigates her house. The rest of the cast is unremarkable but not a distraction, so they get passing marks. The only blip was the odd kid Robbie, played by Brady Allen. First off, I didn’t like his look. Secondly, his character is unexplained for the most part, and he is so creepy that no one would babysit him. Not even if it was your best friend’s kid would you look after this freak. He is an unnecessary element in a film that needed more paranormal encounters and less physical frights. I hated him in this.

So prepare yourself for more of the same swinging chandeliers, same loud footsteps, same loud noises, same moving objects, same slamming doors, same weird symbols, same camera footage that no one would take, same stupid characters, and lastly, the same unanswered questions. Like seriously, can you tell us who the frack Toby is at this point? So the film tries some new things but they are all failures. They add a cat which is a cheap gimmick. They use a laser activated camera that offers really nothing scary to the film. Lastly, they offer up new creepy characters, that seem out of place in the overall storyline. So the family is traumatized by the unknown entity, and by the end of the film you will care less. This film is a fail across the board, and when characters don’t react more strongly to almost getting impaled, it is time to end this mockery of a franchise.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, took a huge step back in terms of career momentum. They did a fantastic job with the third film, by adding new camera shots and well thought up scares. They erased all that positivity with a film that is so similar to the first 3, that it is like they photocopied it. The new camera angle was pathetic and the frights even more so. This story is so all over the place that the Lost finale made more sense. Truly this was a disappointing performance that set this franchise back.

I cannot recommend this film as it is been there and seen that.

T Factor + If you are a fan of found footage films then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like films with great stories then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: V/H/S, The Apparition.


Drama (Sci-Fi)
Rated: R
Running Time: 119 minutes
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo
Directed By: Rian Johnson
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
A hired gun is forced to decide if he should kill a time travelling older version of himself, or face the consequences.

Looper, yeah right, more like Pooper. I am just playing, but I was hoping this movie sucked so I could legitimately use that witty line. However, the movie did not blow my mind like it seemed to with everyone else. Being a Sci-Fi nerd I am sure most people will be surprised with my take but I said I would only spit truth bombs while writing so here we go. Looper is the story of Joe, a mafia hired hit man. (Also known as Loopers.) In the year 2074, the mob sends people 30 years into the past so Joe can kill them. In executing one of his killing contracts, Joe is confronted with his future self and must make a decision to kill his older self. (Known as closing the Loop.)

So this movie is suffering from awesome syndrome. If you do not know what that is, then see how director Ron Howard ends most of his movies. Awesome syndrome is when a film has a few cool scenes that make you totally forget how slow and boring the rest of the film is. (See Dark Knight Rises as an example.) My outline above is pretty confusing/vague but they do a good job of explaining Joe’s job in greater detail in the film. I liked that about this film as it takes a hard subject to do well (time travel) and breaks it down so most people should understand what’s going on. The film introduces us to the hired hit man Joe, and instantly you get a taste of what his job entails. He takes a huge blunderbuss and kills anyone the mob sends back to him. He is a killer by day, and a party animal by night as he and his fellow loopers do drugs and spend money on call girls. Joe notices that many of his coworkers seem to be closing their loops lately until that fateful day when he is faced with an older version of himself. His indecision to kill his older self leads to a cool story line. The young Joe is a care free killer who wants to travel the world and see the sights. The older Joe is a settled down man who comes back to the past to complete an unknown task. Having to chase down the older version of yourself must be a weird feeling and that is not lost on the viewer. The two of them are locked in a death battle where every thought and memory affects each of them in different ways because of the altered timeline. If that isn’t enough they are both being chased by the mafia who want them both dead.

The younger Joe is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He is good in an action role but they have altered his face to make him look like Bruce Willis. Most people will find this a cool angle but I found it highly distracting. He looks like Bruce Willis in a manufactured type of way and I never got used to it. The older Joe is played by Bruce Willis and this dude never seems to age. He is almost 60 and he is kicking ass and shooting up bad guys like he is 20 years younger. The two of them work well together as they shoot their way out of many a tight spot.

Younger Joe ends up on a farm as he contemplates his next move and the film just drags and drags as the storyline unfolds. You forget the awesomeness of the film and try to keep your eyes open as they explain the older Joe’s task. While the story lulled me to sleep I got to thinking about how poorly the Sci-Fi in this film is put together. The writers just thought up of cool things that would look good visually but were odd choices when you really think on it. Humanity invents time travel, they invent cool mind altering drugs that are administered through the eyeball, and they even have hovering motorcycles. Then on the flip side they use old fashioned guns like a blunderbuss to kill people? The most confusing story angle is for some reason a small percentage of the population gains small telekinetic properties that is haphazardly added to the film. It all meshed together to make and odd story. However, everything can be overlooked as the film plays itself out. Young Joe kills some people and old Joe kills many people.The intertwining timelines allows for some cool effects to happen, like new scars and memories that weren't there before. As the film winds down to a classic confrontation it will impress most people in its execution if not its design. So in conclusion the gunfight and Sci-Fi elements were awesome, but the film was slow and the story seemed forced.

Director and writer, Rian Johnson, did a great job with this film even though he made some odd choices. He was able to make a time travel movie with few inconsistencies and made it fun in the process. The two stories of a younger and older version of the same man was genius. The film was a mish mash though and very slow for long stretches. He is fairly new as a director so with some polishing hopefully he can shore up some of those issues in the future. Overall the effects, story, and action were cool so ultimately he did a good job.

I give this movie a recommendation to people looking for something outside their normal comfort zone as it will appeal to many.

T Factor + If you like Sci-Fi then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like long built up stories then this could score lower on the rating scale.

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

Saturday, 2 February 2013

End of Watch

End of Watch
Drama (Action)
Running Time: 109 minutes
Rated: R
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick
Directed By: David Ayer
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Two young LAPD cops are on the rise in the department until they reach a little too far into the wrong criminals circle.

One of my buddies took his grandmother to see this movie in theatre. I thought sitting next to my mom watching the film Knocked Up was bad. So he wins the battle of awkward watches until I can watch the movie Hysteria with my great grandmother in theatre. Anyways End of Watch is the story of two young LAPD officers who are partners and best friends. It follows them through their daily lives and police shifts until they encounter criminals that are way above their level.

Filmed as a documentary this movie is both raw and gritty in scope and design. While I don’t see the need to have all the cameras and their angles explained to us, it is no doubt the right call for this movie. The movie starts and it introduces us to the two young police officers Taylor and Zavala. They are involved in a high speed pursuit and it gets the adrenaline pumping. The film then settles down into a slower paced watch as we follow them around in their daily lives. It basically combines a drama with the most super intense episode of COPS ever. The film is cool in so many aspects and although the movie is super exaggerated in the calls they answer. It is offset by all the down time the two of them spend together in their patrol car. It is this flip flopping from their personal conversations to them dealing with criminals that you will really get into this movie. One minute they are discussing Zavala’s wife or Taylor’s girlfriend, and then the next moment they are answering a domestic disturbance. The next moment they are talking about having children, and then they are pulling over a suspicious vehicle. The film is brilliant in it always is building the two of them up through their friendship and through their success at arresting violent criminals.

This film wouldn’t have been half as good if Taylor and Zavala were not played so well by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena respectively. Their banter and easy friendship is so polished that you start to buy into their performances early on. They go from super friendly to deadly professional in the drop of a hat. Their rising status in the police force only bolsters their aura of invincibility, and their familiar conversations only bolster their human element. The two of them have a police officer bromance that is great to watch. The casting decided to go with unknown actors as the criminal element and it was the right call. The authenticity factor is way up there with real looking people from the street. Haggard looking crack addicts and tattooed gang members makes the areas the officers patrol super menacing.

Just a warning the film is alarmingly violent and bloody. Fist fights, gun shots, and drive bys are infused liberally with multiple cases of murder. Personally I thought it added to the story but they do not leave anything to the imagination. The camera work that I mentioned before is incredible. It switches from cameras on the patrol car, to a handheld camera carried by Taylor, and finally to camera pinned to their shirts. The cameras switch constantly and even flip to POV style as the cops round corners with their guns drawn. The two cops always seem to be in the right place at the right time. Their stock in the department rises but when you start poking a dragon it is going to wake sometime. In their daily beats and constant meddling with the criminal element, Taylor and Zavala uncover something way over their heads. Do they have the smarts to lay low and survive the hornets’ nest they have stirred up? Watch it to find out.

Writer and Director David Ayer has a spotty resume (Harsh Times, Street Kings) but he gets it right with this film in all aspects. It is slow at times and the story is over exaggerated but that is the only complaint I really had about this film. You will really care about what happened to these two police officers because the casting was spot on. The films documentary style makes it feel like you are on a ride-along with the cops as they bust criminals. The violence is real, the criminals believable, and the body count high which makes it one intense ride.

I give this movie a recommendation but please do not watch it with your Nana.

T Factor + If you like violent crime movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like cop movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Training Day, Pride and Glory.