Directed by Shane Black this time around, Iron Man 3 has a familiar feel to it but with a more serious overtone. The story is also more character driven by Tony Stark and less so by his metallic counterpart. The script was definitely stronger to me, there were some intense moments as well as lighter notes that gave you a chance to laugh a little too. That’s a tough balance to do well and maintain and they did that with this film.
Stark is threatened by a much more direct, well equipped and brutal foe this time. I won’t get into much detail in this review as I really don’t want to spoil anything for anyone…
My only complaint is how things resolved at the end and the way Pepper Potts was involved, seemed a little out of place and not consistent with character and abilities. That’s my inner geek speaking but it was enough for me to jump out of the film mentally, therefore suspending my suspension of disbelief long enough to distract me from the movie. Other than that, I liked the way things wrapped up and really enjoyed the storyline’s left turns, there were some surprising moments.
The effects and production are stunning to see on the big screen but not overly done. The acting is great to watch too with a strong cast across the board including Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, William Sadler, and the great Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin.
I’d definitely recommend seeing this in the theater if you’re into Iron Man, and be sure to stick around after the credits.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
I have to admit that I was curious why this film did so poorly in the theater since the Conan character and stories are pretty popular. Once I saw the film, I understood why…
So, this is another re-boot (although I’ve actually read that there was talk of Ah-nold actually stepping back in for another movie as well), but yeah, they did another version of the origination story here. Brutal warrior takes out Conan’s family and enslaves Conan as a child, Conan grows up and wants revenge. Ok, plot established.
The story isn’t really the problem (although the dialog is written rather poorly with some super cheesy one-liners and a number of hackneyed moments), it’s a lot of other things. Specifically, Jason Momoa as Conan was not a great choice. His delivery here is more something akin to a drunken fratboy who’s been juicing and has bloodlust issues. He’s unconvincing when he’s trying to be intense and just kind of goofy a lot of the rest of the time. He’s also got this weird smile when he’s dismembering foes that looks more like he just found a free keg of beer rather than trying to defeat the forces of evil.
The whole movie is kind of directed that way with relation to how Conan is portrayed, it’s as if the director had just come from working on a teen fart joke film prior to coming to the set of Conan. Basically, Jason Momoa makes Schwarzenegger look like Charleton Heston given the contrast between the 2 performances.
Then there’s the over-the-topness of the film. Such as when Conan’s born – just after Conan’s mom is stabbed (while pregnant with Conan) Conan’s father (portrayed by the excellent Ron Perlman) cuts his wife open while she’s still alive to pull Conan out into the world. So, it starts on that note to set the tone for the rest of the ridiculously gratuitous violence that follows such as when Conan cuts off a guy’s nose and then grabs him by the empty hole left behind. At least the violence in the first film had a point where here it’s one of those “let’s see what we can do to shock people” kind of thing.
The only redeeming qualities in the film for me were the set design, effects and performances of Stephen Lang as the tyrannical warlord and the luscious Rose McGowan as his crazed evil witch daughter.
The film tanked for numerous reasons so I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see it. If you’ve never seen Conan, watch the originals with Ah-nold first before you decide to waste a Friday night on this one.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
We haven’t posted reviews lately as we’ve just recently lost a staff member and we also switched web hosts over the last 2 weeks. We apologize for the delay and will be getting back on track with reviews next week.
Thank you for your patience, our next review will be posted by Friday, May 10th.
This film marks the third time this film has been made by the same people. Evil Dead 2 is Evil Dead with a better budget and this one is the remake of the remake. Confused? Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter as this film stands on it’s own…
The premise goes like this: 5 friends end up in an old family cabin for the weekend to help detox one of their friends who’s getting over a drug addiction. She turns out to be the least of their problems when one of the party discovers a book that leads them down a much darker path. One by one, the friends start to fall to a summoned demon there to claim their souls.
One of the things I really liked about the film is that it doesn’t try to be like the first installments. The earlier iterations were much more campy and at times humorous. This film goes straight for the jugular with a much more serious tone sans the camp. At the same time, there are some nods to the earlier versions as well as familiar camera angles a ‘la Sam Raimi’s style even though there’s a different director at the helm (Raimi was one of the producers as was Bruce Campbell). Speaking of Campbell, don’t leave before the credits finish, there’s something at the end you should stick around for.
The actors aren’t anyone familiar but all do well in their roles. The gore factor in here is pretty extreme and not for the light-hearted. As I mentioned, the tone of this film is serious and works to build up tension and some decent scary moments.
Where the film lacks is that it doesn’t quite have the disturbing creepiness that the other films were able to achieve and there’s some major holes in the storyline that conceptually hurt the film at times. There’s also some WTF moments when the main character makes some strange decisions during the climax and she does break character a little as well.
All-in-all, it’s a blast to see in the theater and a worthy installment to the series.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
I’m a big fan of animated movies like this and usually like them. For some reason, I just found Rango to be a bit flat and uninteresting…
The story unfolds with our reluctant hero Rango, a chameleon who’s thrown into the desert unexpectedly while traveling with his family. During his travels to find water, he stumbles onto the town of Dirt, which just so happens to be in the need of a new sheriff. Rango, being the hustler he is, manages to work his way into this position and win the hearts of the town in the process…
The story is ok, and this is perhaps where it fell a bit short for me. but it’s one we’ve seen a million times and this one in particular is no exception. It’s a very formulaic story without any major surprises. After about the first half hour or so, I found my attention wandering.
The design and animation are beautifully crafted with a great amount of detail. They did a great job capturing the desert / wild west kind of vibe. The characters are also well done making them fun to watch. It was cute to see the character of Beans freeze into her defensive stance whenever she felt threatened.
There’s some great talent in here too; besides Johnny Depp as Rango, the lineup includes: Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone and Timothy Olyphant among others.
Even with the amazing cast involved, the film still was boring at times and just kind of un-interesting all around. It’s worth seeing just for the sake of the artwork behind it but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi play best friends and partners in a magical act that has become a bit stale. The owner of the casino they perform in (James Gandolfini) eventually closes them down and gives them
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (who also directed the first version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), Dead Man Down has a bit of a European feel to it, which made the film feel different and fresh. The themes of the film overall for me were revenge, love, and self-love, all played out through the crime lord, the henchman, and the former beauty. It’s an intriguing story that played out well through an interesting story, pregnant pauses and some great action sequences.
Revenge drives the storyline with the players in the game including Colin Farrell’s Victor (the henchman), Noomi Rapace as the victim of a drunk driver and Terrence Howard as the crime boss Alphonse along with a lot of other henchmen. There’s some interesting characters in here along with some unexpected left turns in the storyline; the writing and directing really kept the film interesting the whole time.
The actors turn in passionate, diverse performances, each one is compelling to watch. Noomi Rapace and Colin Farrell were the standouts to me, it was also nice to see more of the range of Terrence Howard who manages to look uncomfortable when facing his boss in the form of Armand Assante. I’m used to seeing Howard playing more a calm/cool kind of character, this time around he’s being shaken up by his tormentor and his unnerving shows.
I’d definitely recommend seeing this film, it’s entertaining to see in the theater with some great visuals and interesting cinematography in addition to a strong group of talent and a solid story.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
The vampire genre can be tough to make interesting since it’s been done so many times now. Daybreakers takes a unique approach in the storyline in that instead of the vampires living in the shadows, they’re out in the open and the regular humans are the ones in hiding. So imagine your normal world, only everyone’s a vampire. Humans are now hunted to end up like cattle; they’re the food source (ie, blood providers) hooked up to machines while living in what seems like a coma. From there, instead of restaurants serving food, they serve different blood types on the menu, there’s blood in the coffee, etc.
Trouble is, the blood supply is running out and the vamps that are out there starving are transforming into monsters with wings, more bat-like and vicious to boot. Ethan Hawke’s character works as a scientist for the biggest blood supplier in the world (think the blood version of Exxon); his goal is to come up with a synthetic substitute to save the human race. He goes on to find out that his company doesn’t necessarily have the best of intentions. Through his trials he stumbles on to a solution for the blood shortage but not one his company will be happy about. And the story goes from there…
Fairly well written, I say fairly because it does have some slow parts that are a little long to get through. It’s also very “A-typical” vampire-ish which was a bit disappointing. There were some cool innovative moments like the cars that have shields and video monitors for day driving since the sun is a bit of an issue for vampires. I guess I wanted more of that. Aesthetically it just wasn’t very innovative when they could’ve really gone for it with this concept.
The acting is OK, but no real standouts for me. Ethan Hawke is good but nothing we haven’t really seen before, same with Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill. Each character felt pretty generic.
All-in-all Daybreakers is worth a viewing but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
I’m just going to put this out there and say be sure to see Argo. It’s a really good film and totally worth the awards it’s recently won. Here’s why:
The story is based on actual events starting in 1979 when Iran took people hostage during the Carter administration. I was about 11 years old when this happened and I remember this event pretty well. This particular film focuses on the 6 people that escaped capture and took refuge with Canadian ambassadors living in Iran. Ben Affleck’s character Tony Mendez is brought in to help figure out a way to get the 6 out without getting caught. This was a VERY dangerous time for Americans in Iran so pulling this off was dangerous and difficult.
The plan is hatched to pose a film company scouting locations with Iran as a possible backdrop. The idea is that Mendez comes in as a producer and leaves with the 6 as the rest of the crew after convincing Iranian officials that they’re all part of this production.
The writing and dialog keeps the film moving along and interesting from the first frame to the last. The only thing that stood out to me as being a bit odd was the amount of swearing they wrote in. I’m not offended by foul language but this just seemed a little gratuitous. Other than that, the tension that’s built into the story keeps you gripping the arms of your seat even though you know how things are going to turn out.
Affleck is a damn good filmmaker and does a great job directing this. The scenery, props, costumes nail the time period down really well and the pacing has a great sense of peaks and valleys in terms of timing and tension; really well constructed.
The actors are all at the top of their game with standout performances that include Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman and Tate Donovan. The whole cast is really good overall, no complaints.
Again, great film, you can’t go wrong seeing Argo.
Reviewed by Sean McKnight