Wednesday, December 25, 2013

American Hustle


It's no secret that my all time favorite director, and hands down the greatest director of all time is Stanley Kubrick, but David O. Russell makes films the way that I want to make films. There is such a brilliant subtlety about his pictures, that really conveys emotion and flesh out characters, through his tight and near perfect direction. This is a man who knows what he wants from his actors, and how to get it. American Hustle is a grown up film with very mature themes. Now when I say mature, I don't mean that it is dark and serious (quite the contrary), I just mean that it knows its audience and keeps it at an adult level at all times. It never panders or pulls an punches. It is very much a movie about its characters and the actors who play them. Jennifer Lawrence's performance is most possibly the most over-hyped performance of the year, and she was just okay, but everyone else in the film is fantastic. Christian Bale deserves another Oscar, but somebody else will probably get it. i will be absolutely shocked if he doesn't get nominated. This is a film for people that want to see an interesting character piece, that is a fictionalized retelling of the ABSCAM scandal of the 70's. One of the most entertaining films of the year, possibly in my top ten, and I think anyone who likes thinking should see this film.
   -L.K
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Batman Returns


Its been just over a year, since I have been doing this, and I want to bring you a special Christmas themed film review. One of my favorite films, and my favorite Christmas film, Batman Returns. Batman Returns is classic Tim Burton, and what I classify as the final film in the "Tim Burton Trilogy". Not a narrative trilogy, but a spiritual trilogy. The first being Beetlejuice, then Edward Scissorhands. It is sort of an unconventional blockbuster unlike the first Batman film, because it is told through the eyes of an artist, rather than a Hollywood director. This of course was made before Tim Burton is the "joke" he today. I put joke in quotes because Tim Burton isn't what he once was, but he isn't beyond saving (Sweeney Todd, Frankenweenie). There are a lot of really neat things in Batman Returns: a dark and bleak city, great action sequences, and a really cool take on the villains. Yes, it is true that the film is really campy, but I always figured this was Tim Burton's interpretation of the comic book aspect of Batman. I equate it to the Temple of Doom. There are a lot of really stupid moments in Temple of Doom, but there are a lot of dark and violent aspects. It's how I think Burton and Denise Di Novi were able to get away with the dark aspects of the film, like a plot of kidnapping and murdering all the first born children. I prefer Burton's interpretation of Batman more than Nolan's, because Bruce Wayne is conveyed through imagery, and is given to us through the language of cinema, as opposed to Nolan's overt approach. Just the image of Bruce Wayne sitting in his study, alone in the dark, and rises when the bat signal shines on him, tells me all I need to know about Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne is alone in the dark, but Batman shines in the light. Not that I am actually comparing the two franchises. Comparing Nolan's Batman to Tim Burton's Batman, is like comparing the films the Wrestler and Ready To Rumble. One is from a visionary artist, and the other is a blockbuster meant for entertainment. Both Batman interpretations work on their own level, Burton's Batman just works better for me because of the subtlety. All of this is set in the enchanting and snow filled Christmas setting, which perfectly compliments the film's theme of loneliness. And I actually believe that is the theme of the film. The lovelorn secretary, the abandoned child, and of course The Dark Knight, himself.  It all fits together as a film that is half artistic vision, but still a mainstream blockbuster. This is exactly the kind of film I enjoy: anyone can sit down and watch it, but you still appreciate it as a piece of artistic cinema from it's shot composition, production design, costumes, and its very somber score (my favorite score from Danny Elfman). Next time you watch it, look closer at all the detail, and if you haven't seen it, watch it twice.
Merry Christmas
   -L.K
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis


Art imitating life, in its purest form. Inside Llewyn Davis is a very simple film about a man playing folk music in the Greenwich Village scene in the 1960's, and about how life isn't always what we want it to be. We go to movies because its how we wish life was, but sometimes we like a story that we all can relate to. He faces real problems, makes hard decisions, meets strange and unique people, laughs, cries and all the things that real people do in real situations. All the story telling aspects aside, it is one of the best looking movies of the year, if not the most beautiful. It's very somber, beautiful and filled with great music (if you like folk music) and it is the most refreshing film I have seen since Take Shelter. Easily in my top 5 films of the year. It's also nice to see the Coen Brothers doing something that isn't the norm for them. They basically have 2 films; Raising Arizona and Blood Simple, and have been doing different forms of those films (Hudsucker Proxy and Fargo, The Big Lebowski and Miller's Crossing, Burn After Reading and The Man Who Wasn't There). Not that I am calling the Coen's a "one trick pony", but they clearly know what kind of films they like making and never in a thousand years would I imagine them making something like this, and I am glad they did, because this is film making at it's best and I can't imagine this concept being this perfect from anyone else. Because the Coen's know that their is a balance to everything, they get everything right. I recommend it to lover's of film, music, and someone who just wants a more real story about a real person with real struggles.
   -L.K
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues


I don't have much to say about this. I hate Will Ferrell, and I never found his over acting entertaining. I always found it annoying, so every scene that Ferrell flew solo was agony for me. If you like Will Ferrell, you will enjoy this film. I laughed a few times (because it does have some genuinely funny moments), Paul Rudd and Steve Carell are great, but other than that, I was pretty bored. I will say the last action scene is amazing and one of my favorite scenes of the year, and I would watch that over and over. But all in all, it was just sub par to me.
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Sunday, December 8, 2013

12 Years A Slave


12 Years a Slave is a film about a free black man who gets kidnapped and sold into slavery, for 12 years. Steve McQueen is England's answer to Paul T. Anderson, so every single aspect of this film is brilliant: A subtle score that perfectly enhances the sense of hopelessness in each scene. Incredible performances that heighten the tension, emotion and realism. Beautiful cinematography that craft tremendously powerful images. Memorable characters, that don't even get out shined among its incredibly talented cast, and basically Chiwetel Ejifor's solo act. I like that this film paints a picture of slavery that isn't as black and white. It showed that not all slavers were evil, and it was just life for some of them. Also, slaves were not treated as people, so there are some pretty horrendous scenes. This movie kind of feels like Schindler's List if it was from Ben Kingsley's perspective. Its an incredibly amazing story, and even at its 2 hour 15 minute run time, it never feels boring. The thing that really does it for me, as no surprise, is Michael Fassbender. His performance is so amazing, and it may be his best, or at least on par with shame. He is pure evil. Many characters in this film are bad people, but that is basically because they are raised "knowing" that slaves are worse than cattle, but Fassbender is a whole something else. It really is one of the best movies of the year and I am really pulling for some Oscars nods for McQueen, Fassbender and Ejifor.
And Benedict Cumberbatch is a hunk
    -L.K
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dallas Buyer's Club


Dallas Buyers Club is a film based on the true story of Ron Woodruff, a total piece of shit, who gets diagnosed with HIV, and decides to do something about it. He seeks out treatments for HIV and finds drugs that aren't approved by the FDA. The story is pretty awesome; just a guy making a profit off of people dying, but ends up making a difference in the world of AIDS/HIV research. What really gets this movie working, is Matthew McCaughnahey. Matthew McCaughnahey is a fucking badass. People don't really realize that he is a tremendous dramatic actor, but he just gets typecast in stupid movies, sometimes. His career isn't defined by Fool's Gold, Failure to Launch and Ghost of Girlfriend's Past. It isn't his fault he just has sick abs. Nay, the sickest abs. I do sense, at least, an Oscar nomination. He was as good as, if not better than Nick Bruhl in Rush. I do think Bruce Dern is going to get the Oscar this year, as a courtesy, but I really think McCaughnahey deserves it. He wasn't the only star, Jared Leto, playing his business partner, was so fucking phenominal, that at times, I wasn't sure who I liked more. Ultimately, McCaughnahey proved to be the more charismatic performance. At times, it isn't that easy to watch, it's gut wrenching, very emotional, funny at times and full of amazing performances, Dallas Buyers Club is in my top 5 of the year, so far
   -L.K
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Nebraska


Nebraska is basically a happy version of Eraserhead. It's a nice piece of Americana. Nebraska is the story of a grumpy, lonely old man named Woody, who thinks he won $1,000,000 in a sweepstakes, so he decides to head from Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. His wife, and both of his sons know it isn't real, so they try to convince Woody to give it up. His son David, (played by Will Forte) decides to humor him and drives him to Lincoln. This is where the story begins. This film has a lot going on. Its about family, loneliness, coming to terms with age, and it is filmed beautifully in black and white. Not everything looks good in black and white, but this film wouldn't have the same impact in color. The overall film is shot in a very simple way that perfectly compliments its blue collar scenery, and I feel it is anything but pretentious. Bruce Dern is the star of the film, but Will Forte is the anchor. While I don't believe that Will Forte will win an Oscar, but his performance was very natural and charismatic. The thing that Alexander Payne really excels at is great characters, and this film had no shortage of that. The characters were all very memorable, and this portrayal of Blue Collar America was nowhere near as offensive as Beautiful creatures. The performances were good, it was touching, sweet, very funny, and it all wrapped up with a perfect ending, that was kind of atypical of Alexander Payne. It is one of the best movies of the year, but is still not as good as Rush
   -L.K
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

5 reasons David Hayter should remain Big Boss


I haven't been to the movies in a while because I haven't really cared about many things in the theater (apart from 3 films on my most anticipated list), so as an alternative, I thought I would weigh in some of my feelings as to why David hayter should remain the voice of Naked Snake/Punished Snake/Big Boss. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Metal Gear, for it is probably the greatest fictional war ever told. The war I am referring to is, of course, the war between Big Boss and the Patriots, which is the epicenter of all conflicts in the Metal Gear series. But what really keeps me invested is the emotional connection I share with all the characters. And in the center of it all is Snake, voiced in English by David Hayter. So here is my list of 5 reasons why Big Boss should stay as David Hayter.
5. Sutherland lacks the pizazz of Hayter. He just sounds like tired old grandpa. granted, I understand that Big Boss is getting older, but Ground Zeroes is only a few months after the Peace Walker incident
4. Sutherland and Downes lack chemistry together. This is a minor point, but in the English Ground Zeroes opening, Miller and Big Boss are conversing, and the dialogue between the 2 seems very flat. There is a much stronger emotional connection between Hayter and Downes, and those emotional connections are what make MGS thrive.
3. Akio Otsuka is Big Boss in Japan. If the slate is going to be wiped clean, then it should be done on both sides. Because of this fact, Hayter is clearly being excluded for being Hayter, otherwise there would be a new Japanese voice actor providing the voice for Big Boss.
2. We as an audience have an emotional connection to Hayter as Big Boss. You could make the argument that Sutherland can do a better job because he is a better actor, but we know Hayter as Big Boss, and Sutherland is an outsider. The change in character this late in the series is so jarring, that
1. As the last entry in Metal Gear Solid, it would be a shame to exclude Hayter. It's not only a shame, but it is disrespectful. Thanks for the years of service, now go away
These are just my personal opinions, you can agree, disagree, I really don't care. I am still holding onto hope that Kojima and Hayter will surprise us with an announcement that Hayter will be Punished Snake/Big Boss, but every day, it seems less and less likely.
I didn't feel the need to include my next point on the list, as I felt that the others were a bit more relevant, but Kojima did state that Hayter's version of Snake was as close as possible to what he imagines Snake should sound like.
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    -L.K

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thor: The Dark World


There is actually very little to say about this film. It's generic marvel fare; good villain, neat visuals, great humor, and all the characters play off each other very well. One thing worth noting is that the supporting characters have a lot more to do this time around. I'm glad I say it, but at this point, there isn't really much new that a blockbuster can bring to the table. It isn't the same story structure as say Spider man, or Back to the Future, but it works as a very good fantasy fable. That's why these Marvel movies are acceptable. Even though they are all basically the same, there is something different that each brings to the table. Big budget fantasy films are always a welcome addition, in my book, especially if they are done right. This isn't as good as The Avengers, Iron Man, or Iron Man 3, but it is much better than the other Marvel films. This is a bit of a missed opportunity, in the sense that it could have been a much darker film, but it is punctuated with light-hearted humor all throughout the film, preventing it from reaching that "total darkness" that sequels really should have (Empire Strikes Back, Godfather 2, X2, The Dark Knight). It also features my new favorite cameo in a Marvel film. And, as always, Loki is the best. So, yes Thor: The Dark World is a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even if it doesn't really bring anything game changing to the table. Of note: there are 2 post film scenes; mid credits and post
    -L.K

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rush


Rush is a film about a 2 formula 1 race car drivers: One is a crazy, reckless party dude, and the other has Aspergers, and the rivalry between the 2. Rush is THE BEST film of the year, so far. There is a difference between me saying something is my favorite, and me saying something is the best. Rush is the most well made film in every regard. It was intense, the story was really gripping, the characters were amazing (accompanied by perfect performances), the camera work was incredible, and it flew by at a perfect pace. It didn't go by super fast like JJ Abrams Star Trek films, rather it glide by at a smooth and comfortable pace, allowing the audience to take in everything that happens in a comfortable manner. The main character in this film is the sport itself, and Thor and Aspergers are just merely the players. Daniel Bruhl really steals the show. He plays such an asshole. As the film nears the end, you gain a certain admiration for him. He isn't an asshole, he is just professional. The fun to him is being the best, and you really respect that. Chris Hemsworth enjoys life, and racing is the perfect compliment to his live fast die young lifestyle. Both people have a certain respect each other's lifestyle, but neither would live as the other. What brings them together is the love and respect of the sport, regardless how each one views it. Rush is an exciting and amazing sports drama about real life Formula 1 racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, and the rivalry between the 2 and may, in my opinion, be the best work from Director Ron Howard, and is certainly his best film since Apollo 13. I won't be losing any sleep if the film doesn't win best picture at the Oscars, but I will be really pissed if Daniel Bruhl doesn't win. Unless, of course, Michael Fassbender wins for 12 Years a Slave. So go see it if you haven't. If you aren't satisfied, you are an asshole
    -L.K

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Don Jon


Don Jon is a film about how young, good looking woman are unsatisfying cunts, which leads to "Don" Jon watching porn as a substitute for what those girls fail to offer him. I don't have much to say about this film, other than it was very competent. It was well written, directed, acted, shot and edited, but I really didn't care for the story. Don Jon was a likable guy, Scarlet Johannson played such a cunt, but the best character in the movie is Jon's sister. She was essentially silent Bob; she just durdled around on her phone until the end of the movie where she had some strong emotional input about Scarlett Johannson's character. I have the same feeling about this as I did with Jack the Giant Slayer. Don Jon is a very well made film, but it just wasn't for me. It didn't say anything that I didn't already know, but I was a bit unsatisfied with the ending. I thought it pulled some punches, for the sake of pandering, but that is just my opinion. I say either wait for the dollar theater, or just rent it, unless you really want to see how ripped Tony Danza is now
    -L.K

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Curse Of Chucky

My first review of the month and it is only fitting that I should start off with a horror film. Curse of Chucky is the newest film in the long running Child's Play franchise, about a doll that is possessed by a serial killer that says funny things. This is also the first film in the series that went straight to home video, which is why most of you probably never heard of it. I, personally, am a big fan of the first Child's Play movie. It's dark, its funny, its violent and has one of the most iconic villains in all of horror. The only reason we keep coming back to these movies is because of Chucky and the amazing job that, Academy Award Nominee, Brad Douriff provides. Chucky is the really king of the one liner horror anti-heroes, and he is back providing the voice again, which is refreshing. This film is very comparable to Riddick, in that this is the product of a film that is made by people who care about the franchise and just want to keep the saga going in a way that pleases the fans. Curse of Chucky is especially pleasing to its fans. Its a very back to basics film, with a simple premise, minimal locations, and taking place over a small time frame to get a bit more believable emotion and reactions from characters, which is usually neglected in horror fare. The movie isn't perfect, it could have had more blood, but what it lacks in violence, it makes up for with Chucky dialogue, and this is probably the funniest of all of them. Like Riddick, this film isn't for everyone, but if you are a fan of this franchise or even horror, I say give it a watch. It isn't the best in the series, but it is a pretty close second
Oh, and watch the post credits scene for some much desired closure
     -L.K

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Riddick


Riddick is the (surprisingly) much awaited sequel to 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick, starring Vin Diesel as space Conan. Riddick is the third film in the cult "Riddick" series about a man named Richard P. Riddick who is every male's fantasy; a badass, tough as nails, stoic, silent but deadly, sexy and mysterious man, with shiney eyes, who is good at everything and even gets the girl. Now, with an introduction like that, you may think that I think very little of the character, but it is actually the contrary. I think what makes all the Riddick movies so watchable is how classic of a character Riddick is. He is a macho 80's action hero, which is really a lost art. In the 80's we had action heroes like Arnold, Stallone, Van Damme, and even Chuck Norris to a lesser extent, who all played characters with these cliches, but as the 80's ended, these cliches became taboo, and action heroes lost these dynamics. These stereotyped characters only became a product of the 80's because the market was so over saturated with characters like this, and like anything that is used to much, it becomes boring. Riddick is a breath of fresh air in this regard, and it is all the more comforting because he is portrayed by a man that really adores this character. This film is very aptly named, because Riddick is the best part of the film. He is a character you really can't hate, even if you try. He is a well written, and well established sci-fi anti-hero that hearkens back to the days Kyle Reese and Snake Plisken. We don't need a complex backstory, (granted we got little bits and pieces in the previous films) as long as we see his actions tell his story. He is a bad mother fucker and he doesn't need to explain himself to anyone but the audience. The film, as a whole, is entertaining, but its all the little things that make it great. For instance: a rugged anti-hero, an R rating, a simple premise, Karl Urban, nudity, cool creatures, cool guns, and a modest production. The aliens themselves had a pretty cool design, despite being CG and CG can only look so good. Its a film that doesn't betray its roots and is much closer to the original film, Pitch Black, thematically and story wise.
  Its leaner, sleeker, and tighter. The low budget shows at times, but that is almost more refreshing, because the studio put out a movie that would rather give the fans what they want than crank out some pretty looking crapfest. Riddick is the reason we go to the movies. It is highly entertaining. Its corny at times, but in a way that we love. Like the movie Commando, which in all respects is a "bad" movie because of its ridiculousness, and over the top one liners, but for those reasons, we love it, and that is what makes it a good film. We watch it, we enjoy it, we watch it again, and we love talking about it. Riddick is exactly the same. It is a film that is made for people that enjoy these types of movies. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Sci Fi or action, and it is one of my favorite movies of the year
    L.K

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The World's End


The World's End is (sadly, but in a good way) the final chapter in the blood and ice cream trilogy from Director Edgar Wright, and it is a film, much like the other 2 about growing up. Five childhood friends decided to reattempt a legendary pub crawl that they failed to finish in their teen years. As the five unite, out of either guilt for the state of the man that brought them together (Simon Pegg) or just for a chance to see the other 4 one more time. As the night goes on, they realize some things never change, but as the 5 delve deeper into the pub crawl, they realize that it's the town that has changed. It has a lot to say about friendship, camaraderie, letting go of your past, reliance on technology, keeping up with the Jonses, and accepting people for who they are. Edgar Wright is one of the finest story tellers working today. His movies have so much subtlety that it puts Citizen Kane to shame. Not that I would make that comparison. This film is not as action packed as the last 2 entries, which I thought was a strange surprise, but that is okay, because all of the characters and the dialogue were great, which was expected. It also had some fun role reversal, where Simon Pegg was the man child and Nick Frost was the grown up. Even though Pegg's character was a huge piece of shit, I still really cared about him and sympathized with him, because he just wanted to accomplish something. He was clearly living in the past because his life was never as good as it was the last time they tried that pub crawl. Once the sci fi started kicking in, I almost forgot it was that kind of movie, because I cared so much about the relationships and the interactions between the characters. Of course having fun action scenes with A.I creatures is always fun. This is one of the best films of the year and a perfect way to both end the summer, end the cornetto trilogy, and wash the taste of You're Next out of my mouth. And like Hot Fuzz, it features James Bond. Highly recommend it, and it is a good time for all
   -L.K

Home Alone 5


Home Alone 5 (also known in North America as You're Next) is a basically the same plot as the other Home Alone movies, where invaders invade and somebody sets traps to deal with them, except this time, the main character is Kevin McCallister's girlfriend, who is an ex-green beret, for some reason. So the plot is, the McCallister parents are celebrating their 35th anniversary, so all the kids are gathered around, as are each child's respective squeeze, bickering ensues and then the wet bandits make their strike. Except this time, in order to get the McCallister's money, they are just planning on killing everyone in the house. So, like all pointless sequels, everything is recycled from the previous Home Alone entries, and they even go as far as shamelessly robbing ideas from 80's slasher movies. The score is forcibly 80's synth, the deaths are uninteresting, Kevin is a pussy, his girlfriend is likable, even though she manages to kill every single person by herself, but all the other characters are so unlikable, that I couldn't wait for them to die. The gore wasn't even good. All the deaths were off screen, followed by a shot of a prosthetic tool inside someone's body. After all this time, you think they would just let the Home Alone franchise die, but instead they had to make a new one "dark and gritty". It actually felt like Silent House, if somebody forced the director to direct a script with coherence. I hated just about every aspect of this film: the characters sucked, the camera work was obnoxious (sooooo much shaky cam) the editing was poor, the deaths weren't gruesome enough, and it just felt like a series of recycled ideas that didn't work as intended. It was all a bunch of Hipster bullshit, and I don't like it
    -L.K

Friday, August 9, 2013

Elysium


Elysium is a Science Fiction film, that takes place in the future; where the wealthy live in the apple store (here called Elysium), in space, and the poor live in Mexico. The wealthy consist of attractive white people, and the poor are Mexicans, Filipinos and Matt Damon. The plot is that wealthy people get to live in a utopia, and the poor live in...Mexico, and the poor want to get to the utopia, because there is a cure for everything on Elysium. Matt Damon gets poisoned and, as a last ditch effort, returns to a life of crime in exchange for an illegal ride to Elysium. After that, the film becomes standard blockbuster fare, and not in a modern sense. It was actually very entertaining. It moved along very nicely, the action scenes were cool, Sharlto Copley was incredibly scene stealy, but the best part of all was the look to the film. Aside from some questionable slow motion shot, they film was always pleasing to look at. I really get the impression that this was meant to be a summer blockbuster, as opposed to the much deeper District 9. Its really nice to see a summer blockbuster that is rated R. I like seeing blood in my action films. It's almost a lost art. Its rare to see films like that nowadays. The 80's are over, so we are all out of Robocop, Rambo, and The Running Man. Instead we either get a superhero movie, or some other crappy brand name with an inflated budget and way too much CG. This was a nice in between modern blockbusters and 80's action films. It wasn't deep, but it had a certain visceral punch. I really didn't care about any of the characters, but at the time when I realized that I didn't give a shit about any of the characters, I realized that I really liked all the tech. The guns were really sweet. I don't normally care about guns, but these were really cool. I liked that instead of making shiny and polished CG effects, they actually decided to make the guns, armor, robots and such creative and cool. The stuff on Elysium was really pretty and shiny, but all the instruments of war were gritty and reflections of the world they were a necessity for. One thing worth noting, that I think is very funny, is that this film has the exact same ending as Jason X. I say, give it a watch, because I think good R rated films are worthy of your support, instead of shit like Grown Ups 2 and We're the Millers.
    -L.K

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Wolverine


The Wolverine is a 2013 comic book/samurai film about a Hugh Jackman who goes to Japan because he can't find his purpose in life. The Wolverine is the biggest missed opportunity in cinema in a very long time. But that isn't to say that it is a terrible movie. The film is a very strong look at Logan/Wolverine and is the closest we have to come to seeing him portrayed correctly on film. Hugh Jackman is at the top of his game, and is as good as he ever was, but there are 2 major flaws that really prevent the Wolverine's teeth from fully sinking in: The first one is the rating. We never fully see how savage Wolverine can get. We come pretty close, but people needed to be a bit more sliced and diced. Sure there was blood on his claws and he did stab a man in the throat on screen, but he never once raged as well as he did in X2. And the other is its stupid audience. This could have been a very deep and philosophical samurai film, but because modern film goers are fucking retarded, the film had to have a big dumb action sequence at the end. The action in the film was good, a lot of it was very good, in fact, but this is the perfect example of "less is more". I would have been more satisfied with a simpler and smaller ending. Actually, the ending almost ruined the movie, because it seems so forced and abrupt. I can't blame the film makers, because the aren't making a Wolverine film for me, they are making one for the general public, and the general public has to see big dumb spectacles. The film is enjoyable, mostly for its first 2 acts, and its button scene, which was my favorite scene of the year, but I can't let go of the fact that it could have been more. I still recommend it to anybody who likes the X Men movies or just Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, because it is still a competent film with a cohesive beginning, middle and end. It's entertaining enough, and it is a large step up from the last Wolverine solo outing, but it could have been a masterpiece, if studio executives were more trusting. The Wolverine may not be the best he is at what he does, but he he does is pretty fun
    -L.K

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Conjuring


The Exorcist for a modern age. While it's not completely original, it is the scariest film in many, many years, if the the scariest since Alien. The Conjuring is the most refreshing film in years. That is said from the mouth of a horror fan. I was raised on horror, and it is my favorite genre. But like anything else that becomes tired and stale, I found myself looking for other genres to explore. There haven't been many good scary movies over the years, let alone original ones (remakes, sequels, reboots). I will admit that I prefer to see independent dramas, but that is only because I can trust the quality of the film making more from those types of movies, than say a new verynormal activity movie. In fact, one of the worst film's I have seen in recent years was the "horror" """""film""""""" Silent House. If anyone remembers my 5 rules of horror, this one only met one of the rules, but it was the most important rule: It was SCARY. It was scary in a practical sense, too. Not cheap fucking jump scares, or just loud noises. There were about 2 jump scares in the entire film, and both of them were very appropriate. Nothing was cheap in this whole film. This is the most competent and technically impressive film I have seen this year, and I was so surprised by that. This is the first film I have seen this year that I think is worthy of a "Best Achievement in Directing" nomination from the Academy. Mud was close, but this one is a sure thing and I would give my vote to it. The cinematography was the best of the year, and the sound was super tight. All the performances were believable, and nobody felt out of place or hammed it up. James Wan is what people thought M. Night Sucksatfilmmaking was going to be. He knows how to tell a story, knows how to set up a scene and can deliver a satisfying climax. He doesn't rely on cheap gimmicks and is a very intelligent filmmaker. Sure he missed with Dead Silence, plenty of great filmmakers have made some flops (Jack, Revolutionary Road, Alice in Wonderland, Spy Kids 3-D). Insidious was very much the prototype to this film. Every flaw that Insidious had is now fixed, and every positive element about Insidious is improved ten fold. I'm tired of saying "favorite movie of the year" or anything related to the sort, so I will just say, if you are a fan of horror, or even a fan of cinema as an art form, go check out The Conjuring.
Fucking Annebell
     -L.K

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pacific Rim


BAM. BOOM. FUCK YOU MONSTERS! Pacific Rim is a giant robot creature feature, that is all spectacle and almost no substance. It is pure science fiction action. There are two ways to make a movie, in my opinion: You can tell an interesting story with philosophy, deep metaphors, strong characters and a plot that can be personal and relevant to the audience, or you can forego that in favor of a giant spectacle that leaves the audience on the edge of their seat and is pure dazzling entertainment. Pacific Rim is Guillermo Del Toro's love letter to Godzilla. Sure it has a strong anime influence, but it is very much him just trying to make a big monster movie that is all jaw dropping entertainment, and boy was my jaw open. This was the first film in almost 15 years where I really felt like I was rooting for a super man. There was a constant sense of danger, tension and the monsters were so vindictive, that I really wanted them to get their ass kicked. It was like being a kid again. The story was by the numbers, but it didn't matter, because of how it was told and the man in charge. Del Toro really cares about interesting visuals and puts it very high on his priorities. The main character sucked and pretty much every character is a top gun stereotype, with the exception of scene stealing Charlie Day and Ron Perlman, but none of that bothered me because I was constantly engaged in what was going on. Normally a lead character is in place to guide you through the film and keep you emotionally invested in what is going on, but this time it was all about the robots. Michael Bay pretends to be the go to visual effects splendor guy, but he lies about that like he lies about everything else he is involved in. Del Toro understands the appeal of visual effects, it is not about how much money you pump into the CGI, its about what you can do with them. The monsters were really interesting looking and had really cool powers, but the thing that stole the show were the robots. The robots were also perfectly made to reflect the nation that created them. The Chinese bot was sleek and lean, the Russian bot was a clunky crappy looking machine, and the Australian bot was an English convict. I was invested in everything that this film fed me, and even though it was by the numbers blockbuster, it was still the most refreshing action film I have seen since X-Men in 2000. I give it a perfect rating and recommend it to absolutely everyone. It is my third favorite movie of the year and it is easily my favorite action movie in years.
       -L.K

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Top 10 Video Games of All Time



Only one game per franchise. That's the only rule
10. Super Battletoads: STOMPIN TIME!!!!!!!! Awesome sound, sweet graphics and no other game lets you grab a rat by his giblets and punch away at his no no parts. Everyone loves Battletoads, but only Super Battletoads is a playable game. Violent, crude and over the top manly, Super Battletoads is the best sidescrolling arcade game ever made
9. Onimusha 2: The first game I really got emotionally invested in, was Onimusha, but it wasn't until Onimusha 2 that I had decided that I am invested in the future of this franchise. Essentially, Resident Evil with Samurais, Onimusha took the clunky hack and slash gameplay of Resident Evil and fine tuned it into a game with beautiful set pieces, legendary heroes and Kurosawa-esque story telling of epic proportions. Easily the best single player game of its generation from Capcom, and definitely the (tragically) most overlooked
8. Mortal Kombat (2011): This is roughly my direct link to film because of the gore, and the early entries of this series are some of the most fun I ever had playing a game, but it took almost 20 years, but they finally made a game that put others in the genre to shame. Appropriately violent, fast paced, and with all the fan favorite characters and Sheeva, Mortal Kombat did what Capcom only dreams it could do now.
7. Diablo 2: As much as I love D1, D2 is the better game. The combat is better, the game is longer, and you can fucking RUN! Diablo 1 has a better story and a darker atmosphere, and randomized quests, which make the game feel fresher on replay, but the expanded classes and the improved multiplayer, along with the visuals of hell make D2 a memorable, and still played, game. While the first one has better atmosphere, the cinematics in D2 still haunt me to this day, and has some amazing monologues. If only the would finish the trilogy with Diablo 3...Oh wait...
6. Perfect Dark: The superior Goldeneye. It's just a better game. It's a better cinematic experience, (which it is loosely) the gameplay is tighter, the graphics are better and the multiplayer is far better. The only thing that Goldeneye has that PD doesn't have is overwhelming nostalgia. Besides, I'd much rather fuck Joanna Dark than Pierce Brosnon.
5. Mega Man X3: The pinnacle for the Mega Man franchise. Mega Man X3 makes Mega Man X sleeker, stronger and provides a really steep learning curve which was missing from The Mega Man X series. As a bonus, for the first time, you get to play as Zero. Zero is fucking badass and we all love Zero. The game has a surprising amount of depth for a Mega Man game. There is so much for the player to do. You can pilot mechs, get crazy amounts of upgrades, fight secret bosses, and a Guns and Roses song. But that last one is a con.
4. Super Mario RPG: This took the slot for Final Fantasy. This is one of the most beautiful games I have ever played, with absolutely jaw dropping graphics, not just for the time, but it still looks like a good game. Simple combat, and a great story, equal the most unparalleled Mario game ever created. Too bad Square sucks so much, or else we might get a sequel to this gem.
3. Metal Gear Solid 4: This is the only game that I want to put the whole series on. The greatest thing about Metal Gear Solid is the story, and the most satisfying conclusion to any story I have witnessed is Metal Gear Solid 4. It is a heavily emotional, and sometimes tragic tale of a legendary hero's final fight in a world that has moved past him. Metal Gear Solid 4 is easily the best entry in the series. It has great graphics, amazing sound and some of the best gameplay I have ever had my hands on. Anyone who says MGS3 is the best is lying to you, and to themselves.
Marvel Vs Capcom 2: The devourer of Quarters. No fighter got the competitive, arcade style of Street Fighter tighter, and, quite frankly, more fun than Marvel Vs Capcom 2. 3 on 3 fighting, and an impressive 56 character roster, Marvel Vs Capcom 2 is the perfect sequel. It took a great formula for a game and just made it better in every way. It plays the same as the previous entries in the franchise, but different enough so that it doesn't feel like a rehash. Bigger, faster, and bolder, Marvel Vs Capcom 2 is actually the best fighting game ever made. Hopefully Capcom will pull whatever strings it can and hurry up and release Marvel Vs Capcom 3. Oh...wait...
And my number 1 game of all time....
1. DOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





The father of all shooters. The game basically defines horror and FPS. It's challenging, scary and brutally fun. The replay is monstrously high, because the experience is so satisfying. Nothing beats running through walls chainsawing demons. Fuck hell!!! There is a certain sense of satisfaction from kicking Evil's ass. But you don't always kick it's ass. Remember, behind every walls, lies certain...DOOM
There you go. My favorite games. They may not be your favorite, but they are certainly mine. They have stuck with me for years and I still play them and enjoy them thoroughly. If you haven't played any of these, download an emulator and give them a go.



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Man Of Steel


Man of Steel is the new reboot of the American Icon, Superman, which features dazzling action, loud noises, redundant exposition and some acting. I must admit that I am a huge fan of Superman, and I think that Superman: The Movie is one of the most important films of the 20th century, but my expectations for this film weren't high. I do like Zack Snyder, but he is not a great film maker. He is essentially a director for hire, but he easily makes his films look good. The film did lack subtlety and hit me over the head with annoying amounts of exposition, but, from what I understand, the point of the film is to show a big budget action spectacle. Normally this would bother me, but in the case of Superman, I gave this a pass this time. Most of the good big budget blockbusters have a story to tell, (The Avengers, The Dark Knight, Terminator 2) but a lot of the time they are just lousy, clunky excuses to show visual effects (Transformers, Transformers 2, Transformers 3). Man of Steel kind of meets in the middle. It tries to tell the story of an alien sent to earth from a dying planet who tries to find his place in a world that may reject him out of fear, but really uses character development, and exposition as a means to get to the next action scene. The first act feels like all the scenes are slapped together just to rush the story along. It was a very choppy and sloppy transition. The film also had some very questionable shots, that were obviously lifted from other action films. The visuals, as a whole, were taken from The Avengers, Star Trek and Prometheus. The script was also very questionable, with a lot of puzzling one liners that were laughable at time. Trust me on this, this was not a well made film, but it is watchable. Overall the acting was good, even if a lot of characters were shafted on development, but the best part of the movie, which was my main reason to see this, was General Zod, played by Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, Mud). He was the only character that really had depth. He was the most likable character, because he was the only one who was creatively written. My favorite scene is the fight with Superman, Faora, and Nam Ek. There was some pretty cool things that they did with the Kryptonians, especially Faora. Overall, the film is a generic blockbuster, but it is better than most blockbusters, and I thought Superman needed the big, dumb action movie treatment, just to get him back on the map. I say give it a watch, but don't expect something deep.
    -L.K

Monday, June 3, 2013

Before Midnight



Before Midnight is the final chapter of the "Before" franchise created by Richard Linklater. It's been 18 years since we first encountered a young Celine and Jesse, and they have grown up a lot, but they are more or less the exact same characters we know and love. Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Handsome Hawke) are just as charming and intelligent as ever and they have some of the best on screen chemistry I have ever seen in cinema. Their relationship is really natural and you can tell that they really love these characters, which is evident by them writing their own dialogue. The "Before" trilogy is less a thematic or spiritual trilogy, and is more of a three act play. Before Sunset is about the inception of love, Before Sunset is about the journey love leads us on, and Before Midnight is about the destination. Its hard to believe a film about two people talking would be as magnetic and intellectually (as well as emotionally) stimulating. It has been a great journey seeing these characters where we all hoped that they would end up, with a very satisfying resolution. Admittedly, I can not decide which film of the first 2 I like more, but this film is slightly worse that the others, but not by much. It's still a fantastic film and I enjoyed it more that any other film I have seen this year, but that is because the first 2 are among my favorite films and I'm glad I got to see resolution in this series, finally. The direction isn't as subtle this time around, but the direction is a metaphor for their relationship. It matured as Celine and Jesse matured. Not that Richard Linklater matured. He has always been a very intelligent and well rounded film maker, but he took careful steps as symbolism in his "Before" films. The film is clever, emotional, intelligent and well written, acted and scored and touches on themes of love, parenthood and regret, and its all told to us by two people that feel as real as life. I won't say go out and see it if you haven't seen the first two, but I will say go see the first two, then go see this, because if you like your films to make you think, it may not get much better.
      -L.K




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness is the sequel to the 2009 reboot of the classic Star Trek franchise. It stars people, has a plot and even an ending. This will be such a brief review because I had so many problems with it as a Trek fan, but as a film on its own, its a thrilling and tense summer blockbuster with some dazzling special effects, high octane action sequences, a breath taking performance by Benedict Cumberbatch and I would equate it to the likes of Die Hard, and Speed. In fact, I jokingly stated that the third film will be titled "Star Trek With A Vengeance". I loved the first 2 acts. The film glided along at a smooth and competent pace with  some very appropriately stylish cinematography. It really felt like the halfway point between classic Trek and the J.J Abrams Trek. Its a good mix, but my major complaint with the film can't really be discussed without spoiling the film. But I will say, they could have done something really clever and taken a big risk that I think would have rewarded the filmmakers and the studio, but instead they tried to please the casual Star Trek fans that have minimal knowledge of the franchise. The filmmakers tried to do some fun role reversal, but it came off as forced and stale. The 2009 Star Trek felt really fresh, because Star Trek was presented in a way we haven't really seen it before, whereas this one recycled far too many previous ideas. I rolled my eyes so many times at all the missed attempts, or as this film called them "homages". I could go on and on for hours about how I could make this a better story, but that isn't the point, because the film, as it stands, is a well directed, well written (as a blockbuster) and very well acted sci fi action film, with just the right amount of action, emotion and drama to make the film work as a whole, even if the third act suffers from "should have ended syndrome". So, if you are looking for a fun summer blockbuster made with competency, check this out, or Iron Man 3. The first 2 acts are really great and surpass that of its predecessor, but I can't help but feel wanting and wondering "what if?" at the third act.
    -L.K

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 is a fucking awesome summer blockbuster and god damn this is the best movie I've seen this year and that was hard for me to say. This is the most well rounded comic book film I've seen in a long while and I think it is as good as History of Violence and Sin City. Every single thing in it is fucking perfect. Everybody has a job to do, and they do it well. Tony is great, duh, Pepper is great, Happy is great and Rhodey is great. The first act is so riveting, and is the best first act of any Marvel film, ANY Marvel film. It has one of the coolest scenes in recent history and is chopped full of so many small little intricate details. It certainly has more tension and better drama than the Avengers, and may be the best in the series. Downey is as good as ever, and it's always a pleasure seeing him in the role that reinvigorated his career. You'd think that after seeing him in the same role 4 (5 if you count The Incredible Hulk?) that the novelty would wear off, but he is better than ever. It's nice seeing an actor that really cares about the role that he is in for a long haul. He is the core of this series, and frankly, its why I keep heartily coming back to it. Iron Man 3 asks, "does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?", and boys and girls, the man makes the mother fucking suit. Tony kicks a lot of ass in this and does some pretty sweet James Bond work. The villains have never been better, with the exception of Loki, and are a highlight of the film, which is a good change of pace considering the other Iron Man films. Jeez, give Ben Kingsly another oscar. His performance is so amazing in this, and its so much more than you think it would be. I really think Guy Pearce steals the show, though. I really felt bad for him. He became a villain because Tony is/was an asshole and he needs to pay for the person he used to be. Granted he learned his lesson in the first film, but that wasn't enough for Killian (Pearce). He is a personal favorite of mine, anyway, and he is such a fucking bastard in this. While the action scenes are bigger than ever, they never feel extensive. I feel Marvel finally got the formula right for everything in this film, which may be in part to Shane Black's perfect direction and brilliant writing. Joss Whedon is the fanboy's writer/director, but Shane Black is the filmmaker's writer/director. So much is crammed into the film, but it never feels overstuffed. I really never wanted it to end. It is definitely the best of the Iron Man movies, and it feels a bit more mature, not that The Avengers was immature, but this story is a bit more adult. It has a lot of pretty good twists and is the least formulaic of main stream super hero films. Each act is steadily better than the previous and it flows at an exciting and gripping pace. And the third act, ohhhhhhhh boy. I'm really getting tired of saying how great this movie is, so I will just say the third act is brilliant and badass, full of fun quips, some clever surprises and a giant, dazzling action spectacle. It more or less comes full circle, from where the trilogy began, and even includes a cameo from a great character that is no longer with us. It actually plays out like a standard trilogy. All the staples are there: higher stakes, bigger baddies, bigger action, and as always, the past bites the hero in the ass. The whole thing is wrapped up in a nice way that can truly be the end of Tony Stark's adventures as Iron Man, but who wants to believe that? I adore this film and will gladly endorse this as the best film of the year so far, and one of the better movies of this decade. It opens Friday and everybody go see it. One really awesome thing about it, is that it begins with a narration, and it is really cool who he is telling the story to.
    -L.K
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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mud

Mud is a coming of age drama about two boys that come across a man who turns out to be a fugitive. It is told through the eyes of the boy named Ellis who's life is just beginning to come into focus. The film is actually perfect American story telling and I would call it an "instant classic". The story is relatively straight forward and it's a tale we have all heard countless times, but it is told in a way that is fresh and clever. It is classic southern melodrama told from Jeff Nichols, who is one of the best directors in the game, and absolutely understands cinematic story telling. Cinematic story telling isn't about using a camera to get a person from point A to point B, figuratively, its about using all that a camera can capture to bring everything to life to submerge the audience in a fictional and magical world. This is what makes Jeff Nichols such a great director, and in fact, it separates a good director from a great one. A good director can tell an original story in a good way, but a great director can take something that is tried and true, and make it feel fresh. I'm not even going to bother going into details, because there are so many things about this film that help it reach its perfect mark, so I'm just going to sum it all up as brief as I can. The whole film seems to have a running theme of perspective, because how it paints all of its characters, and nobody appears to be right or wrong, just coming from a different point of view. Ellis meets Mud and almost looks up to him, so as he starts heading down the path to manhood, its up to him to choose the correct way to go, either end up like Mud, or end up someway else. Because Mud isn't exactly a bad guy, he just got caught up in the heat of passion, and like I have said before, passion kills. The film is very serious, but Ellis' best friend, Neck bones, brings everything down to Earth with impeccable timing and fantastic comic relief, but not in a wacky way that will take you out of the film. It's almost like The Goonies, but realistic (meaning no pirates). Just kids on a real adventure to help them decide who they will be as men, and along the way learning lessons about life from who ever they can. This is also the inverse of that "movie" beautiful creatures, in that the picture that it paints of the south is very humble, yet it packs a sharp bite, without blatantly making everyone a one dimensional stereotype. The transitions show the surroundings with a majestic grace and really make you appreciate the American heartland in a way Duck Dynasty really wished that it could. This rivals Side Effects for most rounded and tightest film of the year, and may even be better than that, with perfect writing, amazing cinematography, beautiful transitions, and great acting (featuring a brief, but unforgettable, Michael Shannon) that doesn't surpass Take Shelter, but nobody ever wanted it to. It was completely satisfying, and just because its simple, that doesn't mean it isn't complex. My number two film of the year, until I can watch this and Side Effects next to each other. And the message that the film really sends to the audience is that nobody is going to draw you a map, and you have to walk your own path.
     -L.K

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same

What a title, huh? Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same is the story of an alien race that's emotions are literally destroying the ozone of their planet, so they go to earth to get their hearts broken. It is an interesting look at love from the perspective of foreign creatures. Despite all quirks, love is still handled in virtually the same capacity. It has a constant theme of relationships, and not just in a romantic way. The whole film seems to present dating overall as alien, especially how people don't know how to deal with their emotions, but by coming from a lesbian woman's point of view, it dares to try something new and branch out against the norm. Rom Com doesn't have to be isolated to just beautiful 20 something white people with white collar jobs. There are other people in the world. The main draw of the film is the way it is made. It utilizes its low budget like a champ, and is filled with all sorts of charming props, costumes and sets. The directorial style is very much in the vein of Clerks. It has some noticable technical flaws, but it is easily forgivable considering the low budget. It also has a certain surrealistic feel like Living in Oblivion, but comes across like a love letter to Ed Wood like The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, but it has a little more heart. There are two kinds of independent films; There are the standard arthouse films that can be deep and emotionally captivating with powerful imagery and strong metaphors that can be very off putting to the casual viewer, ala David Lynch, or there are films that are just more bold and extravagant with the risks they take that can easily be accessed by the mainstream audience, usually they just fly under the radar, for instance, Take Shelter. This film meets somewhere in the middle. It really feels like a perfect blend of Living in Oblivion, and Ed Wood. It is very much an arthouse film, but it has humor, heart, its a lot of fun, and its a very original story. It may not appeal to everyone, but I say give it a shot, its pretty good, and even though we are all different in how we live and emote, we all love the same way.
       -L.K

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Moon

Oh my god, it's even fucking worse


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Friday, April 5, 2013

Evil Dead

Evil Dead is a remake of the 1981 masterpiece from director Sam Raimi. This is the perfect example of why you do not remake a good movie. Not because the remake itself is a bad film, it just doesn't measure up to the original. Leaving this film, I couldn't help but feel that I wanted to watch the original and I have no desire to revisit this film ever. It had a lot of positive elements to it, but overall was just overindulgent. It was like eating a plate of frosting. Wouldn't you rather have a nice balance with cake? It was just too much frosting. It felt too long and had a sever case of "too-many-endings-syndrome". The characters (overall) were weak and nobody measured up to the charismatic performance of Bruce Campbell. Two characters were good, but the film as a whole felt like it was less about the characters, and more about paying tribute to The Evil Dead. There were nods galore, and it definitely stood out from the original, but the experience isn't as satisfying as the original. There was so much blood and gore, but it was really light on the scares. The story did kind of seem like a metaphor for detox, which I thought was very clever, but then it turns to carnage, pretty quickly. The violence was a bit uncomfortable at times, and that was the high points of the film. In all honesty, the film delivered what was promised, but why did it feel so hollow? Because you are constantly reminded of the original Evil Dead. The perfect example of a good remake is the remake of Fright Night. It pays tribute to the original, but it stands on its own 2 legs, and it does a good job with it. Fright Night isn't constantly reminding you of its source material, and has a decent enough story and fun characters to keep you constantly interested. There were a lot of positive things about this film, including the make up/overall effects, the camera work, the set up and obviously the gore. A LOT OF GORE. But it really needed a Bruce Campbell type to keep us interested throughout the end. The first 2 acts are good, and the third act is tedious. My consensus, if you are looking for a fun horror film this season, you aren't going to do better than this one. It has some pretty disturbing imagery, good gore, and some chilling atmosphere, but the filmmakers should have learned from Gus Van Zant on why you shouldn't remake classics. When you spend too much time paying homage, you lose out on essentials like character development, original story and scenes that stick with you. The film isn't too memorable, but as a horror film, it is above and beyond the average mainstream fare that is released every year.
    -L.K

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

L.A. Confidential

L.A. Confidential is a crime drama that was released in 1997 and ranks in the top 5 best films of the 1990's. What really makes this film stand out above all others in this decade is the care and attentive detail that was put into the entire project. Each scene feels like a work of art, with such lush cinematography to compliment its glamorous facade. The film is a modern day golden age noir film, and noir is a pretty dated genre. It truly belongs in the 1950's because gangsters were somewhat relevant to the times. Not many gangster films were made long after the 50's, let alone films that were set in the 50's. It's easy to forget that Chinatown is set in the 50's, unlike this one. This isn't exactly a gangster film. It's more of a police drama, and the gangsters are a red herring. It is largely an ensemble piece that jumps between the perspectives of three police officers, Sargent Kevin Spacey, Officer Russell Crowe, and Lieutenant Guy Pearce. It really captures the essence and decadence of the 1950's. In many ways, it is an allegory for the 50's themselves, meaning that nothing is ever as good as it looks, seems or feels, and in fact things are actually shit despite a shiny surface. The 1950's were actually a terrible time to live, but people were expected to believe nothing could be wrong and if you want to do it you can, and all the bad stuff was swept under the rug, which absolutely parallels the plot of this film. After a robbery/shooting in a cafe one night, a case is opened that leads three unrelated members of the L.A.P.D into something much bigger than they all realize. The film appears relatively strait forward in the first two acts, but things slowly come together and the twists keep coming. The overall look to the film is gorgeous, and the look is so genuine, that they easily could have added some tricks in post production to make it look like it was released in the 50's and nobody would ever know. Authentic clothing, haircuts, vehicles and weapons. Not that I would prefer it looking like a classic film. The colors used add a much more lively feel to it, the way black and white can't. Black and white is good for putting emphasis on shadows, but color can add character to the scenery, and even help the scenery in being brought to life. Because, in all honesty, the real main character in the film is the city of Los Angeles. At night with all those lights, it's real pretty, but it's so bright that it can't help but show all the dirt that is hidden in the shadows. It's kind of like Pulp Fiction, where the scenario is the main character, except this is much more focused and narrative, and I think is a superior film.
 With a brilliant script, fantastic set and costume design, alluring cinematography, and dynamite performances from its well rounded cast, L.A Confidential is one of my all time favorite films, and it should damn well be one of yours too
    -L.K

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Companions; Finely and China Girl
Oz: The Great and Powerful is a fantasy adventure film about a con man magician who finds his destiny as the savior of the land of Oz. The film is both a dazzling spectacle, and a well made film with great attention to detail and some truly great performances. No many family films are made, that everyone can enjoy, that aren't made by Pixar, and this is a very rare exception. To be fair, it is very formulaic, but given that it is a PG rated Hollywood blockbuster, that is almost a given. It never broke any new ground, but it didn't have to. In many ways, it was what Avatar should have been; a 3D blockbuster experience, with eye popping visuals, that is fun for the whole family. It never tried to force feed me any messages, not that it lacked themes. It had a recurring theme of goodness, but it wasn't preaching it. Now the film, like I said, is formulaic, meaning that it is about a guy who is a regular Joe who wants to be something better than he is. He gets caught in a tornado after he flees, from a man that he had an altercation with, in his hot air balloon. When he gets to Oz he meets some friends, and foes, and his destiny is revealed to him, although he is skeptical. All the inhabitants of Oz think he is a great and powerful wizard, and at first he uses it to sleaze his way into the throne of the Emerald City, but then he learns he has to kill a witch to gain the throne. This is where his arc begins. He learns that he actually has to be a savior and not a selfish dick. What makes this film so great is all the little things. Stuff is set up in the beginning and it pays off in the end, he idolizes Thomas Edison and models tricks after him, so he doesn't use magic, he uses science, and all the little Wizard of Oz related nods. But the guy that really steals the show is Finley, voiced by Zack Braff. Everything he says and does is hilarious, and delivered with such perfect timing. All the characters were really likable, and I attribute that to Sam Raimi's direction. He made Ash from Army of Darkness likable (So fucking likable) and he was a complete asshole. There were a lot of Army of Darkness nods in this film and Oz himself kind of came off as Ash when he first arrived in The Land of Oz. I compare this to the lackluster Dead Man Down, everything that failed at, this succeeds. Now, just because I'm talking this up so much, doesn't mean that it is the best movie ever, it is just exactly what a Hollywood blockbuster should be. Its fun, has good performances, consistent laughs, and a beautiful world to look at. I also am a huge fan of The Wizard Of Oz and it was nice returning here and not having it be a disrespectful bastardization of the source meant to just capitalize off the name. This is as well made as Jack the Giant Slayer, except the story being told is something that we care can care about because we are constantly interested in what is going on. I strongly recommend this one, and I am already putting this on my "to buy" list. I am so glad that one of my top 10 favorite directors didn't let me down and it really relieves a burden of unease about this movie season. I can't wait until the summer starts, because if this was this good, just imagine how other blockbusters will fare.
     -L.K

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dead Man Down

Dead Man Down is the story of a woman, named Beatrice, who coerces a man, named Victor, into killing another after she witnesses him murdering somebody in his apartment. The 2 live across from each other and communicate by waving in a very forced and awkward manner. Just from the beginning of the film, I knew something was going to be wrong. The opening scene is a very dull and lifeless action sequence, and it was very reminiscent of a Renny Harlin film. The overall look to the film was very flat and sterile, too. All I could think about was the movie Mindhunters, in that there is a very good film buried deep within this one. The cinematography was very Kevin Smith. Nothing in this film really stood out. There were a few key moments that were very interesting, but not enough to warrant a viewing. Instead of going into depth on why this movie fails, I'm just going to reference the Director, Neils Arden Oplev, the Director of the original "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". Clearly, after seeing this, he is a director for hire, and it lends credence to my comparison between the two Dragon Tattoo films. He had a really good story, leading lady and producer to work with, so it was hard to muck that up, where Fincher is an amazing director and knows how to make a good film, so he can make an interesting story out of generic material. Dead Man Down is a neat story, but it is told in a poor way. Colin Farrell wasn't a character, he was a plot device, and I truly believe this was unintentional. I, like a lot of people, do not like Colin Farrell at all, but given a good director, he can give a pretty good performance. The only character that had character was Noomi Repace's Beatrice, and that's because I think that was the limit of Ardev Oplev's story telling capabilities. The whole film comes off like a deep story about a relationship between two vengeful outcasts who have fallen from grace, that has been neutered to appeal to a wider (and American) audience. The characters (or surrogate characters) are all exaggerations and superficial, and I only actually liked Beatrice, I didn't care about anyone else. With that being said, the film does have some truly interesting concepts, but it is ruined because the source is too big for the director to handle. In the hands of a better director, this could have been a truly great film, but as it stands, it is just slightly below average
    -L.K

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Jack The Giant Slayer

Can't get enough
Jack The Giant Slayer is a Hollywood retelling of the classic Jack and The Beanstalk story, with magical creatures, a princess, and Spud and Renton from Trainspotting. What may discourage a lot of viewers from this film is that instead of it being a stupid and modern blockbuster, it is instead a classic fairy tale. It has all the essentials: a boy wanting an adventure, priceless treasures, a damsel in distress, underdog turned king, mythical creatures, and true love. I was actual pleasantly surprised with the direction that Bryan Singer has very talented hands and he knows much better than to let a film become Transformers or Pearl Harbor, instead makes a relatively simple story based on the jack and the beanstalk fable. The romance is very subtle, as well as the action scenes. This is the opposite of a Michael Bay film. What is important here is the story and all the other little things come second. Singer is a fantastic story teller and really knows how to create a scene and built some pretty impressive tension. If I had my choice (other than directing X-Men films for the rest of his life) I would have Singer direct a horror film. There were quite a few moments where I was on the edge of my seat. The writing is also very clever. The way the scenes pan out was some of most noteworthy in recent film history. On top of that, the charming performances elevated the already clever script into something that I really cared about. This is one of the few exceptions that I believe that it is ok for the actors to have Brittish accents in a fantasy film. I liked all the characters and was really hoping nobody would die, something that I rarely think. My favorite character was the Giant General. He was badass and had some depth to him, complete with some great voice work from Bill Nighy. The Giants overall were pretty neat villains that I don't see very often. And the action scenes perfectly enhanced the film, rather than becoming the only reason for its existence. The action was added almost as filler to keep it from getting boring, because it was basically the story of a common boy, who sought adventure, saving a Princess from big monsters. The scenes were shot well, tight, exciting and you could always see what was happening. The whole film was very low key and solid. There were only two problems with this movie, but they may end up being the deal breaker: The overall aesthetic of the picture. It has a very sterile and flat look to it. It was filmed in 3D and I think that is the way the producers intended for us to see it. Movies that are filmed in 3D generally look very stale in 2D. The whole film was way too bright and that is part of the 3D, because they have to add more light because 3D inconveniences everyone. And the other problem, and this is a big one, the overall story just isn't that interesting. Granted the film is superbly made and heightened by competent performances by top of the line actors, but there is only so much you can do with the Jack and the Beanstalk story. I'm not going to say that I was disappointed, because I got more than I expected, but the story overall isn't that compelling. That isn't the fault of the filmmakers. They genuinely tried to make a fantasy film that feels both fresh and classic at the same time. The overall film feels like a swashbuckling fable from the 30's and that is really something that I applaud the producers for trying. In a way, it failed, but I would say "A for
The man, the myth, the legend
effort" because everything about the film is so solid, and it really is the opposite of a lot of blockbusters. The filmmakers tried to make a quality film out of a tried and true property, complete with good performances and a smart attention to detail and it absolutely never once tried to be anything more than it is. In many ways, this is the anti Transformers. Another good comparison to this is Speed Racer; it works for fans of the source and I can see why some may not like it. I am a fan of Bryan Singer and I might go as far as to rank him as a tier 2 director up there with Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg, so I enjoyed this film, because it is a quality film, but it had no reason to be made. So I say give this a watch only if you need a fix of fantasy action films, or maybe you just want to see a film from a competent filmmaker. Otherwise, I won't be heartbroken if you give this a pass
    -L.K

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines


Aliens: Colonial Marines is an FPS game from fan favorite developers Gearbox Software, based on the highly popular Alien franchise. This game has received a lot of backlash since its release, and I'm here to address some of that. Does it really deserve all this negative feedback? Absolutely not. Is the game good? That is a different question and the answer isn't as black and white as the former. But after playing through the story and playing a few games of multiplayer I can honestly say that I had fun. I wasn't blown away, but at the end of the day, shouldn't that be enough? Unfortunately, with a price tag of $60, it really isn't. I'm going to try to keep this as simple as possible. And just point out the main aspects of the game as well as the pros/cons.
  1. The Gameplay:
The gameplay is actually good, as far as the control and mechanics go. The interface is pretty simple and adds to the experience of playing as a Colonial Marine, which is actually the point. There are 2 types of enemies; aliens and humans. Fighting the Aliens is always satisfying and makes you feel like a Colonial Marine, but fighting the humans is tedious, boring and makes you wish you were fighting anything else. There isn't a whole lot to do, because the concept is so simple, so you basically have 2 options: shoot or run. The overall goal of the game is to immerse you in the atmosphere and make you feel like you are in the world of Aliens, so most of the focus was on this, and the developers neglected some important mechanics of video game developing, like pacing. The multiplayer has a fun two round matching system where the players alternate between the standard FPS Marine or a third person Xenomorph, in a very generic matter. Its fun, but it doesn't bring anything that new to the, now staple, multiplayer format. The escape mode is incredibly fun, but I would much rather just play deathmatch. The multiplayer is one of the weaker aspects of the game, and I really enjoy the single player campaign

    2.   The Story

The story is relatively simple, with some ironic retconning. The thing I find the funniest about this game is that it tried to ignore the events of Alien 3 (somewhat) and this story was nothing special to begin with. It goes you are a marine, Weyland-Yutani is experimenting with Xenomorphs (as always) and tries to tie the loose ends (you) and you have to escape. Its really something we have seen before many times. The story for the film Aliens is nothing special, but what elevates it beyond mediocrity is the characters, the visual effects and the overall pacing. There was tension and humanity, whereas here its just an excuse to put you in familiar Aliens sets. So that is a failure of the game, but I don't find it as a complaint, because I'm playing the game because I had a legitimet want to return to Hadley's Hope, not for an interesting and complex story. This game isn't Heavy Rain or LA Noir, what matters is the gameplay, not the progression of the story

    3. Technical Aspects

Here are the actual problems that the game has. There are a lot of rough textures and syncing problems. The story is forgivable considering the development time because not all writers can crank out a script as good as Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, or even Amy Hennig with an extended period of time, but animators can polish graphics. This is very poor and I noticed it immediately and was disappointed greatly. The sound is actually very good though. Its what drives you through the game and carries that "Aliens" feel. It even features some cast members of Aliens that did some pretty good voice work. Overall, the voice acting was good, but some of the dialogue was bad, which I call Episode 1 syndrome, where a good actor has nothing to work with.

AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Now I realize that I referenced Aliens a lot, but that is the main point of this game. It was made for fans of Aliens. Maybe even at the cost of (ironically) alienating modern gamers. I believe that many people were just mad disappointed that the game took so long and it didn't fully deliver. But it was an Aliens game and felt as such. A good example of something in development for a long time and delivering sub par results is Episode 1. Its not bad because we waited a long time and its a disappointment, its bad because it fails as a cinematic experience. It may not be worth the $60 price tag, but its not worth the critical backlash that it has gotten. The way others have been reviewing this really reminds me of how others reviewed the phantom menace, in that they couldn't agree on what is exactly wrong with it, which leads me to believe that they were just disappointed and in turn are pouting like a little baby and just hate it. I played it as both a fan of the franchise and somebody who is not fond of first person shooters. The bottom line is that the game is entertaining, has fun Easter eggs, and is to Aliens what Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire is to the Star Wars franchise. Its just another chapter in the Alien canon. It has a few technical problems, and yes, for the amount of time it spent being developed, it should have been more polished than this, but its acceptable. From the get go it was almost definitely set up to fail just because it has such an important brand of Science Fiction attached to it, as well as the gearbox name. The perfect analogy is Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Its a franchise we care about, we have all kind of wanted to see what it has to offer after all these years, our anticipation was high, but it missed the bar. Its still a decent property, but it has a good deal of flaws. If you look at it under a microscope you will find far too many imperfections that you really didn't need to see, but from a far, its not so bad. But that maybe the problem, is that its average. With such an important title and Gearbox developing it, you can't help but expect more, but after the dust settles, I think people won't care so much. If you can get it for around $30, and you are a fan of Aliens, give it a go, otherwise, there are plenty of cool games coming out later this year
    -L.K