Archive for January, 2017

The Impossible

by on Jan.29, 2017, under Movie Reviews

the impossibleThe Impossible is based on the true story of an unfortunate/extremely fortunate family that was on vacation in Thailand when it was hit by a tsunami in 2004. I say unfortunate/extremely fortunate because they had to go through such a terrible experience but that they all survived it. There were numerous families that didn’t survive or that lost members from this tragic event…

The film is told in a very compelling way with the opening of the film revealing the family on vacation at a beach front resort for Christmas. There’s some minor backstory revealed here and there to establish character but the main event is when the wave hits. You hear stories of such things and you see the footage afterward but the way the film delivers what it might have been like is truly extraordinary. And to see how everyone hit by the wave was just carried away and pounded with debris like glass, cars (not kidding, cars), street signs, etc. was terrifying.

Naomi Watts plays Maria, the mother of the family and she apparently had the worst injuries, especially to her legs. Don’t forget the circumstances here, not only were her injuries grave but everyone and everything was effected by this devastating wave, which means hospitals, ambulances, medical staff and so on. The family was separated multiple times throughout this chaotic experience in a country where english isn’t the primary language. That alone can be intimidating but then work in 3 young boys into the equation too.

Suffice it to say, you should see the film and let it stand on its own. The whole thing is crafted with expertise, care and passion. From the engaging script to the powerful delivery of the actors to the outstanding design and effects, the film is top-notch all the way. It’s hard to watch at times due to the realistic nature of it and the trials that the survivors had to go through to make it out alive. I found myself glad the film was over but relieved for the ones that made it.

The cast just nails this one and includes Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland (the new Spiderman!), Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast. Directed by J.A. Bayona.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Jaunt

by on Jan.22, 2017, under Movie Reviews

jauntFrom time to time I’ll be venturing into the VR world when there’s some new content out there and this week I bring you Jaunt! Jaunt is a new VR network that’s delivering content across multiple platforms including PSVR, Vive and Oculus. Within was the VR platform I reviewed last time around and is definitely worth checking out but Jaunt is taking things to a new level…

Jaunt offers more in terms of content with a wider array of VR choices including short films, music videos, documentaries, sports specials, educational offerings and recorded live events. There’s even a VR TV series called Invisible, so the amount of content is blowing up. The films I checked out included short experiences like A Violent Morning and A Violent Afternoon which were 2 shorts that equated to about 5 minute action sequences that included a lot of gunshots, explosions and general craziness. Then, there’s the Zoolander No.2 short in which you got to hang out with Derek Zoolander during a fashion shoot.

Going further down the rabbit hole, the horror content offered puts you in the thick of it rather then just safely sitting by as an observer. Among the films in line with this kind of storytelling are Escape the Living Dead which is basically a run-for-your-life exercise in scary madness while The Black Mass Experience sets you up as a human sacrifice in a dark ritual.

This is basically the next level of storytelling folks. This kind of immersion is beyond anything you’ve seen with 3D. 3D doesn’t even come close. No. This is no longer just sitting idly by, enjoying your popcorn in the comfort of your home. This, this is being inside the experience, being directly addressed and acknowledged like you’re there and you share in the responsibility of seeing the story through like the rest of the participants.

Forget the smart phone VR by the way, this isn’t that. Be sure to check out the big 3 listed above instead. This is way better, this is the next wave of storytelling, just waiting to take you to new heights of cinematic experience and it’s a great ride.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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They Live

by on Jan.15, 2017, under Movie Reviews

they liveThis week we review the John Carpenter directed They Live starring wrestler Roddy Piper. It’s always interesting to see what holds up in films from the 80s and what doesn’t. The story is the thing that holds up best in this film, some of the other elements, well…

The story revolves around the concept that us poor, dumb humans are constantly being manipulated through subliminal messages that are coming from advertising, TV and the media in general. All of this is being carried out by aliens who live among us and are using a secret broadcast signal that keeps the humans “asleep”. A group of rebels who have uncovered the plot are working to expose the aliens and bust the whole thing open. The script is pretty well written (with the exception of some really bad dialog here and there) and does offer a film that makes you want to sit and watch how everything plays out.

The film falls a bit shy in a few spots. The effects are looking pretty low-budget compared to how they looked back in ’88; the flying saucers and the effects make up look like something done on a college level now. Some of the action isn’t great either as it’s not as intensely and realistically choreographed as films are now. The one scene that still works here though is the fight scene between Piper and Keith David in the alley, that’s still a blast to watch and just when you think the fight is over, somebody throws another punch and it keeps escalating.

Then there’s the acting. Piper is the anchor here and has some decent moments. Like I said there, some decent moments which also means some not-so-decent moments as well. He’s often very wooden, forced and not so wide in terms of emotional range. He makes for a better wrestler than he does action movie hero. There are some moments that still ring true and are enjoyable such as when he walks into a bank ready to confront the alien scourge and declares: “I’ve come here to kick ass and chew bubble gum. I’m all out of bubble gum.” Classic.

While it’s not up there with The Thing or Escape from New York, They Live is worth a viewing if you can get past some of the cheesy acting and effects.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Office Christmas Party

by on Jan.09, 2017, under Movie Reviews

office christmas partyThis is one of those movies that you go to just for the fun of seeing a movie like this. Your expectations go down, which can be nice, and you just sit back and let the entertainment wash over you. It’s also the kind of fun film you can go to family with during the holidays…

The premise is formulaic as one would expect with competing siblings who inherit a company from their father bump heads as to how the family business should be run. TJ Miller runs a failing branch of the company and wants to set up an office Christmas party to both rally the disgruntled employees who might be losing their jobs as well as win over the salesman of a major company with which a major contract could be scored that would save the day. His sister, played by Jennifer Aniston, is the uptight president of the company that wants to trim the fat by eliminating jobs and closing branches.

As you can imagine, the main event is the party and once it gets going, it gets really, really going. Every time you think they can’t take it much further, well, then the jousting with shopping carts and flaming christmas trees happens. Suffice it to say, things get pretty outrageous, the main characters learn lessons and everything turns out mostly ok for everyone. Overall it’s a enjoyable throwaway kind of film you can enjoy but will probably think viewing it once is enough.

The actors all hit their marks well playing their roles effectively. Noone is redefining the wheel here but they fit the typical characters they portray well. The lineup consists of many familiar faces including some from SNL with Kate McKinnon, Rob Corddry, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Courtney Vance, and Vanessa Bayer.

If you go into this film with no expectations other than just having a good time without a ton of substance, you’ll probably enjoy Office Christmas Party.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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