Oscars 2017

Art is subjective, I’ve said that quite often. However, it’s nice to see a work of art be recognized. And one of the highest honors (arguably) is the acclaimed Academy Awards, the Oscars. 2016 had some amazing films and some big duds. You can check out the Razzie nominations for those. This time around, 9 films have been nominated for best picture.

La La Land – 14 nominations: Picture, Actor, Actress, Directing, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Cinematography, Costume Design, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Original Song (2 – Audition and City of Stars), Production Design

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I’ll be the first to admit that musicals are not a genre that I enjoy. As much as Anne Hathaway brought me to tears singing I Dreamed a Dream in Les Miserables, the movie itself was torture. La La Land was an exception, Emma Stone plays a struggling actress who falls in love with a struggling jazz musician, Ryan Gosling, in modern Los Angeles. As they work to make their dreams a reality, they are faced with tough decisions about their relationships. La La Land is essentially an ode to classic hollywood musicals and classic films giving nods to such films like Singing in the Rain, Sweet Charity and even Rebel Without a Cause. The songs are catchy (I have City of Stars downloaded on my phone), the acting is intriguing, the visuals and set pieces are gorgeous, and the screenplay is well-played out. I think what resonated with me the most was how it gave me hope and purpose to continue my pursuit as an actor. “Here’s to the fools who dream”.

Hell or High Water – 4 nominations: Picture, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Film Editing

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A sleeper hit of the summer coming out at the tail end of the summer blockbuster series, though not a blockbuster type movie by any means. A modern western tale of 2 brothers (Chris Pine & Ben Foster) who pull off a string of bank robberies in order to save their family’s ranch. On their tails, a Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) and his American Indian partner (Gil Birmingham) work together to foil the next potential robbery. What makes this picture amazing is the combination of a great script and great acting. Bridges earns his supporting nomination in his phenomenal acting bringing a down to earth relation to his surroundings and his partner. The diner scene with the “what don’t you want?” waitress is one of those scenes that I’ll remember for a long time.

Arrival – 8 nominations: Picture, Directing, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Production Design

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When 12 mysterious spacecrafts suddenly appears around the world, it’s up to a language expert to interpret the language of the alien visitors and unravel the mystery of their sudden appearances before mankind slips into a global war. Arrival is not your typical alien invasion sci-fi flick. It’s really not even about the aliens. It is more about human nature; the good and the bad (mostly bad). Arrival is a strong intellectual, unlike most alien invasion flicks, that focuses on heady themes and provokes very strong emotions especially in terms of dealing with understanding language and what happens when we don’t work to understand. Amy Adams shines as the linguist specialist leading a small team to try to decipher the strange symbols projected by the otherworldly visitors. I’m actually surprised she wasn’t even considered by the Academy for best actress. With stunning cinematography and a solid screenplay, director Dennis Villeneuve adds to an impressive, growing portfolio which consist of Incendies, Prisoners, and Sicario. And we’ll be expecting big things from him in the upcoming Blade Runner sequel.
Manchester by the Sea – 6 nominations: Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Directing, Original Screenplay

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Manchester by the Sea strongest point is the actors. From the extras to the lead Casey Affleck, all of them were spectacular. Not a single talent was wasted and that is a rare quality. Manchester is a simple story of grief. We follow Lee Chandler who is shocked to find after his brother’s passing, that he is the sole guardian of his teenage nephew. And with that, he is forced to face his past that has estranged him from his wife and the community where he grew up in. It’s a sad movie with a lot of heart and, despite what you may have heard, a bit of humor. The beauty of it is that none of it feels forced. Yes, there’s tragedy, but there’s such a strong believability aspect that sits along with the everyday. Casey Affleck plays his character masterfully, as well as the supporting leads Lucas Hedges (nephew) and Michelle Williams (his ex-wife). The nominations for acting are well deserved.

Fences – 4 nominations: Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay

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If you want to see Denzel and Viola Davis at their finest, this is the movie to see. Set in the backdrop of Pittsburg in the 1950s, a hardworking African-American father tries to raise his family while secrets and suppressed emotions finally come to light. Fences showcases both Denzel and Viola Davis, they truly are at the top of their game. Denzel is ferocious as Troy Maxon, an ex pro baseball player struggling with the realities of racism of that time. It’s when he fights to keep his son from playing football is when we feel the intensity of the racial divide that plagued our history(and still playing out today). I know that it was adapted directly from the hit Broadway play, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that was precisely what I was watching, a play. Especially considering the majority of it was in their backyard. May have just as well separated the locales with curtains. Nevertheless, I expect Denzel and Viola to be strong contenders in the acting race.

Moonlight – 8 nominations: Picture, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Directing, Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Adapted Screenplay

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Spanning across three-time periods, Moonlight shares the life of a young black man in Miami as he struggles with a dysfunctional home life as well with coming to terms with his identity. Moonlight works because it’s an all around beautiful piece. It has great acting, beautiful cinematography, the score is captivating, and touching on themes that are rare in cinemas. Sure, we have movies on race, drugs, sexuality, poverty, and coming-of-age but I can’t think of a single story that blends each of these ideas into a single story without throwing the narrative out of whack. Moonlight is one of the strongest contenders out of the nine films for best picture.
Lion – 6 nominations: Picture, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score

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A powerful, moving true tale of a 5-year-old boy who gets lost on a train and is taken thousands of miles across India, away from home and his family. 25 years later after being adopted by a family in Australia, Saroo, with little memory, google Earth, and steadfast determination, he searches for his home and family. The first half is heartbreaking. The film does so well creating a sense of hopelessness, any glimpse of hope is a breath of fresh air. This is an incredible well done. The execution of the final scene is done so well, I wept. Like ugly man cry weeping. I wish I could share more, but I can’t think of anything else to say but to tell you to watch this if you get a chance to. And have a tissue box nearby.

Hacksaw Ridge – 6 nominations: Picture, Actor, Directing, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing

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A violent war movie about a non-violent combatant. Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who, during one of the bloodiest battles of WWII at Okinawa, saved 75 men despite having never carried, let alone fired a gun. Andrew Garfield goes above heroic clichés and takes us along the emotional journey, with strong direction from director Mel Gibson, of Doss enlisting into the army, going through boot camp, and of course the actual battle itself. Mel does a fantastic job of drawing a clear distinction between pacifism and the hell of war. I always have a soft spot for war films, especially true stories. I’ll be the first to admit, I wept in the car right after seeing in the theaters. A huge gratitude extends from my heart towards those who have served and are serving right now.

Hidden Figures – 3 nominations: Picture, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay

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We all know of American hero, John Glenn. The first man to orbit the Earth and safely return. What we don’t know, until now, the unsung heroes that behind that monumental event. Three African-American female mathematicians with undeniably incredible talent rises the ranks of NASA. Crossing racial, gender, and professional lines, they give hope to all people especially those who feel they have been oppressed for any reason. The three ladies who play the leads are outstanding. It’s a wonder only Octavia Spencer was recognized by the Academy. I certainly thought Taraji and Janelle were captivating in their respective roles. We also get Sheldon Cooper, but not as eccentric.

My top 3 favorite of the 9 films nominated are Lion, Hell or High Water, and Hacksaw Ridge, but I doubt any of them will take home the big win. Most likely it will come down to La La Land or Moonlight, with my money on La La Land.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what your thoughts are and last but not least here’s a video from one of my favorite channels I follow on Youtube, Honest Trailers.

Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Aquarius Films, A24, Pandemonium Films, CBS Films, Paramount Pictures, and Amazon Studios.

Silence

After nearly 30 years of development, Martin Scorsese finally finishes what is being dubbed as his passion project, Silence. Based on an acclaimed novel of the same name, a story of two christian missionaries who come to the ultimate test of faith in search of their missing mentor in feudal Japan during a time when Christianity was outlawed and those who practiced it suffered severe persecution.

Silence is a brutal look at the testing of faith. It will challenge your understanding of both the responsibility to God and human nature. Questions like, would you save others from persecution even if that means you renouncing your faith publicly. It challenges the very notion of martyrdom. It’s more than just asking if you will suffer for your faith. It is asking are you willing to let others suffer and die for your faith. Denying your faith to save those who you have devoted your life’s mission to is not an easy answer.

I really enjoyed the deep questions Silence proposes. From someone who was once deeply entrenched in western evangelical ideologies, its movies like Silence that reminds me of the importance to be open-minded, and see through the eyes of another person regardless of their beliefs.

On the technical side, one of the first things I noticed was how incredibly gorgeous each shot was. Each frame is artistically shot. Definitely a contender for best cinematography in the upcoming Oscars.

Andrew Garfield is continuing to prove his caliber as an actor in a lead role. From 2015’s 99 Homes to Hacksaw Ridge and now Silence. I expect to see Garfield’s name added to the list of oscar nominees for Best Actor.

If the film struggles in anything, it would be that its run time is over two and half hours. I can imagine with some moments, some people may feel like it’s a bit somnolent. But with Scorsese’s long successful career consisting of many iconic films like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Oscar-winning The Departed, and before Silence, a highly praised DiCaprio led Wolf of Wall Street. I don’t think Scorsese really cares what people think of his runtime, and Silence kind of proves that.

 

Featured image courtesy of Paramount pictures.

20 Most Anticipated Movie of 2017

It’s the new year and time to look at whats ahead coming to the big screen.

Here is my top 20 most anticipated movie for the new year. Our lists may differ but in no way does it mean that you’re wrong. Unless it’s the upcoming animated Emoji movie. *kidding* I asked my peers on social media on what their most anticipated film would be. Their vote is included by the asterisks next to the title.landscape-1469303639-justice-league-poster

20. Justice League *
If last year’s crop of DC films didn’t bomb as much as they did, Justice League would be much higher than this.

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19. The Shack **
I normally hate watching faith-based films because they are usually terrible for many reasons. Bad theology, painting anyone who isn’t a christian as evil, etc. But the book that the movie is based on is far different from the western evangelical fundamental ideals that the world has recognized Christianity to be like. And I’m hoping that it is portrayed in that in the way that it was written. We’ll see.

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18. Power Rangers
I’m incredibly excited but also worried that this could be horrible. This is my childhood here. I’m still not convinced of the new looks, but at least we have Bryan Cranston as Gordon.

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17. Lego Batman Movie
One of the biggest oscar snubs of recent years was Lego Movie for best animated feature. Hopefully the Academy voters will recognize this one.

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16. Beauty and the Beast ***
The trailer does look pretty magical. Disney continues their successful run of animated to live action features.

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15. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Luc Besson flicks are a hit (The Fifth Element) and miss (Lucy), but this movie looks incredibly stunning.

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14. Pixar’s Coco
Pixar always delivers, especially when it comes to original story telling.
( No official trailer yet)

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13. Blade Runner 2049*
The cinematography looks stunning as it should be with Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Prisoners, and Sicario) at the helm.

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12. John Wick Chapter 2
The first movie was an incredible adrenaline rush. Keanu Reeves can make a pretty sweet action flick.

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11. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales *
Anything with Javier Bardem as a villain is worth seeing, and now having him as a ghostly pirate hell-bent on taking down Jack Sparrow, sorry I meant Captain Jack Sparrow. Hopefully they can mend the disaster that Stranger Tides was.

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10. Thor: Ragnarok *
Hulk joining Thor in what is considered to be an intergalactic buddy road trip. Fans of Marvel should be very excited, also Doctor Strange is slated to make an appearance. How involved Strange will be, only time will tell.
( No official trailer yet)

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9. Wonder Woman *
It’s about time we get a female superhero who leads her own movie. Hopefully the movie is as good or better than the trailer shows, unlike last years DC films.

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8. Kong: Skull Island
I couldn’t help but think of Apocalypse Now with some of the teaser shots. At least it’s not a tired rehash of the early 1900 exploration of the island and bringing Kong back to New York.

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7. Logan *
Finally a rated R Wolverine movie. The Last of Us anyone?

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6. War for the Planet of the Apes **
Andy Serkis is king of Mocap, and his role of Ceasar is testament.

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5. Spider-man: Homecoming *****
Spidey’s back and now a part of the MCU. Don’t worry, there will be no rehashing Spidey’s origin.

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4. Dunkirk
Because Christopher Nolan

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3. Star Wars: Episode VIII ******
Once they drop the first official trailer, I’m sure this will quickly take the number one spot.

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2. Alien: Covenant *
Just look at that teaser poster!
https://youtu.be/BJ6RX8YBpI4 (nsfw:language)

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1. Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 ******
Seriously, how can anyone think this movie wouldn’t be any fun. And how bout that Baby Groot?

Some other movies to check out since they have been voted in by others but didn’t make the top 20 list.

Transformers: The Last Knight
The Fate of the Furious
Rock Dog
Puerto Ricans in Paris
Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Did I miss any? What are you excited for?

Wrapping up 2016

It’s funny, I started writing this out talking about box office numbers, and how this has actually been a good year despite all the other crappy things that has happened. Then I went on making cases about how the box office numbers don’t really matter because a movie can have a horrible turnout and still be considered one of the all time greats, like Shawshank Redemption.

Really, it comes down to personal preference. And the last thing I want to be seen is narcissistic about movies. Just passionate. And the art of film, like any medium, is subjective.
This blog post is an end of the year review highlighting some of the best (at least from what I’ve seen) of the year of 2016 at the movies.

Rather than digging at what’s wrong with the movies and spending hours writing giving you guys more than you would probably care to read. I’ve broken down the films of the ones I quite enjoyed this year into lists under their respective genres. Along with my top picks with some favorites of my fellow friends and cinephiles. I did a survey on Facebook asking my fellow peers their favorite films of the year. So when you see an asterisk next to the title, that would be their recommendation. The more asterisks, the more people voted for it.

Action/Adventure/Blockbusters
– Captain America: Civil War **
– Star Wars: Rogue One
– Doctor Strange *( My wife’s favorite)
– Deadpool
– Magnificent Seven
– Star Trek Beyond
– Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them **
– Jungle Book*
– 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
– The Nice Guys
– Central Intelligence
– Passengers*
– Deepwater Horizon*

Horror/Thriller
– 10 Cloverfield Lane
– Don’t Breathe
– The Conjuring 2
– The Shallows

Oscar potentials
– Hell or High Water ***
– La La Land
– Manchester by the Sea
– Arrival *
– Captain Fantastic
– Sully
– Hacksaw Ridge *

Animation
– Kubo and the Two Strings
– Zootopia
– Finding Dory

Comedies (These are movies that literally had me laughing out loud.)
– Masterminds
– Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
– Keanu
– Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
– Swiss Army Man

Movies I need to see
– Silence
– Moana
– Fences
– Nocturnal Animals
– Moonlight
– A Monster Calls
– Allied *
– Midnight Special

My personal top five, and I spent quite a bit wrestling with this because I feel like I’m comparing apples and oranges. Also, it’s in no particular order.

– Hell or High Water
– Doctor Strange
– Manchester by the Sea
– Captain America: Civil War
– Hacksaw Ridge

Part of the movie magic is being swept up in a particular performance. And I mean like, oscar worthy performance. Just emotionally gripping that yanks at the heart-strings and makes you leave the theater somewhat changed. So here are some noteworthy performances from my fellow peers and myself

Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water (really everyone in that movie)
Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (and probably Silence)
Tom Hanks in Sully
Amy Adams in Arrival
Both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land
Denzel Washington in Fences
Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad
Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool
Eddie Murphy in Mr. Church

I was going to put a poster of each movie or maybe a trailer. However, who wants to watch an hour worth of various trailers to movies you probably already seen? So here’s a supercut made by YouTube’s Screen Junkies

Have a happy New Year and keep an eye out for the next blog. I’ll be getting back into reviewing the films as I get a chance to see them. Also coming up Top Anticipated film of 2017 and a review of the Oscars nominees as they are announced in the coming weeks.

Director Spotlight: Roland Emmerich

This weekend we have a release of Independence Day: Resurgence, set 20 years after the original. Which was exactly 20 years since the release. I’m not sure if I’ll find time to squeeze in the world annihilation popcorn flick of the summer this weekend so we’ll see if I’ll have a review out by the end of the weekend.
Every director has some signature features that every one of their movies have. A few months ago I did an expose on Michael Bay. There’s a lot of similarities between Emmerich and Bay, most noticeably is the amount of explosions and special effects driven destruction. (By the way. I’m literally writing this while I’m watching 2012.)
Emmerich loves to destroy landmarks in his films. “Disaster porn” is what has been dubbed when it comes to Emmerich’s work. Independence Day has a very famous white house destruction scene that is even used in other movies. Even Godzilla, had specific scenes of destroying key New York City landmarks. As I’m watching 2012, I’m reminded on how much destruction that Emmerich unleashes onto the screen. He doesn’t hold back. And honestly, I expect nothing less. Below is a short list of films directed(that I have currently seen) and is probably most known for. The percentage is the critics rating according to the tomatometer.

Independence Day (1996) – 61%
Synopsis – The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind’s best weapon is the will to survive.

Of course, this is probably Roland’s most popular movie. That riveting speech from the President before launching an assault on the alien warships will always be one of the best president speeches to grace the big screen. And who can forget Will Smith’s charismatic performance and punching an alien in the face then greeting him with the iconic line, “Welcome to earth”. Not only that, probably one of the most memorable part of the film is the destruction sequence that the aliens unleash onto the major cities like New York, L.A, and D.C. I still think that dog should have been dead. Independence Day will always be one of the best summer blockbuster thrills.

The Patriot (2000) – 61%
Synopsis – Denny Gibbons, a peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.

This would be Roland’s highest critic rated film, and I believe its historically inaccurate in most if not all of its aspects. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this. What I remember most is Mel Gibson taking down a group of men with an ax, that epic slow-mo scene of the guy trying to erect an American flag when everything is exploding around him, and when that cannon ball taking out the one fella’s leg. All that pretty much says how I felt about that movie.

Godzilla (1998) – 16%
Synopsis – A giant, reptilian monster has surfaces, leaving destruction in its wake. To stop this monster (and it’s babies), an earthworm scientist, his reporter ex-girlfriend, and other unlikely heroes team up to save their city.

I remember when this came out in theaters, I begged and begged for my dad to take me to see it. By the time he time he caved, it was pulled out of theaters and instead we saw Michael Bay’s Armageddon. I did end up seeing it when it came out for rental and as a kid, i really enjoyed it. Nevermind, that the giant lizard look nothing like the original Japanese monster. I watched it again a few months ago, and never realized how cheesy it was. For what it’s worth, a giant lizard tearing up New York makes for a fun popcorn flick, but I wouldn’t call it Godzilla.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – 45%
Synopsis – Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.

New York gets all the spotlight when it comes to Roland’s disaster flicks. This time, New York gets hit with a tsunami then blasted with an ice age temperature that kills almost instantly if someone wasn’t near a heat source. Except for those random wolves that show up when the students, for whatever reasons, had to go to the big ship that was left onto the streets of New York after the tsunami pulled away.

Stargate (1994)- 48%
Synopsis – An interstellar teleportation device, found in Egypt, leads to a planet with humans resembling ancient Egyptians who worship the god Ra.

Stargate was one of those films that wouldn’t be classified in Roland’s disaster line, but more along the lines of an original cult classic for the sci-fi genre. It spawned a long running series Stargate SG-1 with a few direct to video movies and tv spinoffs. The original movie starring Kurt Russell nearing the end of his prime, although recently he has returned to co-starring in films like Tarantino’s Hateful Eight and the recent Furious 8. Now, we know that there will be a reboot to the franchise, but what’s interesting is Emmerich will be rebooting his own movie.

White House Down (2013) – 51%
Synopsis- While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the president from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.

I get this one confused often with Olympus has Fallen which was released a few months earlier. The premise is pretty much the same. Though, this one may be a little less serious with Channing Tatum than Gerald Butler. Also Jamie Foxx was a better livelier president than Aaron Eckhart was, but that’s just my opinion. The destruction I believe was more catastrophic in Olympus with the Washington monument taken out, but the same time White House Down had obliterated Air Force One. If anything Olympus was rated R, so there was a higher on-screen body count.

10,000 B.C. (2008)- 8%
Synopsis – A prehistoric epic that follows a young mammoth hunter’s journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his tribe.

When the trailer came out, I thought this movie was going to be so cool. Man, was I wrong. Sorry if you happen to like this movie, but I thought it was a major disappointment. The only highlight was the opening mammoth chase sequence. Then everything went downhill fast. I still remember being hugely let down with the fight with the sabretooth. Maybe someday soon in the near future, someone will come up with a better script and pitch a movie set in the prehistoric era.

Universal Soldier (1992)- 19%
Synopsis – Private Luc Deveraux and his sadistic sergeant, Andrew Scott, got killed in Vietnam. The army uses their bodies for a secret project – reanimating dead soldiers as deadly obedient cyborgs. However, their memories come back too.

I remember seeing this when I was a little kid, and all I remember is that it stars Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. I may need to revisit this film. I’m aware that there has been sequels to this film, so there is some merit.

2012 (2009) – 39%
Synopsis – A frustrated writer struggles to keep his family alive when a series of global catastrophes threatens to annihilate mankind.

The one thing I couldn’t shake while watching this movie is how damn lucky John Cusack’s character and his character’s family is throughout the whole movie. The way they managed to escape every single falling debris, ground splitting open, outrunning flaming clouds and tsunamis that literally covered mountains is beyond me. When he was getting his family out of LA, I laughed about half way through that sequence because there’s no way anyone would have driven out of that catastrophic disaster. But alas, we wouldn’t have our protagonist had he and his family not survive. I felt like 2012 was Emmerich pushing the limit on just how much destruction he can fit into one movie and see how the audience responds.
There you have it, a look into Roland Emmerich and his movies. Last but not least, Emmerich has pitched a movie idea which seems be gaining interest called Moonfall, which is exactly what it sounds like. Coming very soon is the review for the latest film, Independence Day: Resurgence.

Featured Image courtesy of Fox Pictures.

Summer Blockbusters 2016

This coming weekend officially kicks off the 2016 summer blockbuster season. School is nearing an end, finals are being completed, and summer is coming. All that being said, it brings a lot of people to the cineplex. So those in the movie making business knows this is the time (not that it couldn’t happen any other time) to make the most entertaining popcorn thrill for the big screen.  Here are my top nine anticipated film of this summer season in order of their release date. (Yeah, i chose 9, not 10)

Captain America: Civil War
For the past few years Disney’s Marvel has kicked off each season with a bang like last year’s Avengers Age of Ultron, and prior to that Captain America: Winter Soldier. Dubbed Avengers 2.5, Civil War picks up after the events of Ultron and Antman (sort-of). We find our heroes face off against each other. Loosely based off the comic series Civil War which pits heroes against each other by the superhero registration act. The film version will have some form of that registration act but more political accountability. I’ve been diligent to avoid spoilers so we’ll wait and see fully on why they are against each other. But what we do know is Spidey is back, plus a new addition of the Black Panther. Seriously can’t wait to see this movie.

The Nice Guys
I have always been a huge fan of Russell Crowe but in the past few films, he hasn’t come out with anything decent, though I haven’t seen his last movie and his directorial debut Water Diviner, which has fairly decent reviews. Crowe partners with Ryan Gosling in this buddy cop film set in the 70s. Falling into a chase of conspiracy of supposed suicide death of a famous adult actress. Not much is known from this movie except from what I’ve seen of the trailer, but it looks entertaining and funny. Though it may not be completely original but it will be somewhat different from the onslaught of sequels and reboots we are treated to every summer. (Not that I have any issues with them)

X-men: Apocalypse
With Bryan Singer back at the helm, and the prequels/reboot/fixing the mess that was made by X3 and Wolverine’s Origin, the xmen franchise is on a hot track and especially with the big success of Days of Future Past. This time around we are heralding the arrival of Xmen’s big baddie, Apocalypse. Professor X, played by James McAvoy, will lead his team of students will new and familiar faces like Nightcrawler, Cyclops, and Jean Grey to fight against Apocalypse and his four horsemen, comprised of Magneto(Fassbender) Storm, Psylocke, and a pretty sweet looking Archangel.

Warcraft
There has been a drought in the fantasy epic genre at the silver screen since Lord of the Rings. Warcraft hopes to bring back the draw for folks who love fighting elves, dwarves, orcs, and other mythical creatures. The one kicker is that Warcraft is based on a video game and there has never really been a successful game to movie franchise except for maybe Resident Evil, but even the quality of that franchise could be argued. Also, this looks to be a CGI heavy-laden movie, but if its done right and done well, it can pay off in a huge way. We’ll see, but for now I have a pretty high hope for it because I want it to be good. It’s a franchise that could be explored tremendously.

Finding Dory
If you know me well enough when it comes to film, you’ll hear me say this about Pixar is, “Pixar always deliver, except for the Cars franchise.” Last year’s Inside Out was a tremendous testament on the power of imagination and pure story telling that Pixar brings. The Good Dinosaur didn’t fare as well, but it still turned out to be a fun, entertaining movie with tear jerking moments. This summer we are returning to the ocean with a sequel to arguably one of the best stories in Pixar’s collection, Finding Nemo. This time around, we will follow Dory and her quest to find her family. Don’t forget your tissues.

Independence Day: Resurgence
20 years ago the world fought for the freedom to exist. Now, the aliens have come back with advanced forces and unprecedented vengeance. Can mankind survive the onslaught threat of extinction? Can Roland Emmerich give us the fun thrill that made the first incredibly entertaining even without Will Smith? Mixed feelings have been wrought on social media but I’m looking forward to this.

Free State of Jones
Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey leads the epic action-drama piece set in the American Civil War. A defiant southern farmer unites fellow farmers and local slaves and leads them against the Confederacy as Jones County, Mississippi fights to secede from the Confederacy creating a Free State of Jones. 4 time oscar nominee Gary Ross is at the helm as director. This could be an Oscar contender.

Star Trek Beyond
Growing up, I’ve never been a huge Star Trek fan though I’ve enjoyed the films and the tv series and I definitely had a massive respect for the franchise. When J.J. Abrams brought us a tongue-in-cheek reboot with the origin of the original crew, my expectations was blown sky-high. I had an absolute blast with Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness. This time with Abrams out working on the Star Wars films, Justin Lin will be the man at the helm. He is known for taking the Fast and Furious franchise to another level with the 4th, 5th, and 6th movies. It will be interesting to see his vision for the crew of the starship Enterprise in this new adventure. Also, Idris Elba is casted as the film’s main alien baddie.

Jason Bourne
Matt Damon has returned as former CIA agent with a hazy past, Jason Bourne.
The last Bourne with Jeremy Renner didn’t fare well at the box office which gave the impression that no one can really replace what Damon brought. The Bourne movies are known for slick story lines with incredible action sets and fantastic chase sequences. I expect nothing less.

Suicide Squad
DC’s team of super-villains are given a shot at the big screen. Set in the same universe as DC’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, the team of super-villains are given a shot at redemption by embarking on a heroic mission that would probably mean the death of them all. With the big screen debut of fan favorite Harley Quinn played by titular Margot Robbie and the new version of Joker played by outstanding oscar winning Jared Leto, fans are excited and extremely curious on how the new cast will bring the famed comic characters to life. We also know that Ben Affleck will be around as Batman. How Batman fits in with the movie, time will tell. BVS has been a bit of a misfire when it comes to criticism with fans and professional critics, Suicide Squad is hoping to set the record straight and establish DC cinematic universe as a viable franchise.

There are plenty of other films that may be incredibly fun and a worthy blockbuster, but those 9 are my most anticipated. Ghostbusters is one that I’m going to see regardless but have very mixed feelings about. The same goes for the new Ninja Turtles. Sound off in the comments. What are you excited to see?

Batman V Superman Review

As spoiler free as possible I’m going to write my first film review for Batman V Superman.

If I can ever see a Batman project (film, show, or video game) without seeing the death of his parents I will give it an automatic co-sign. There is only so many times you can see Batman’s parents get shot and him fall into a hole. This time the movie starts with a slow-motion version of the murder that sparked the Knight. I did like how Mrs. Wayne’s pearls broke off her necklace, not sure if I have seen it depicted that way but it was an artistic spin. I didn’t like how Bruce escaped the cave that he fell into where he faces his biggest fear. This scene is no longer needed nor does it provide a sense of sadness or evoke the same emotion from audience as it used too. I’m sure not one person doesn’t know Batman’s origins and if they don’t the film can talk about in conversation and not show it over and over. Bruce can tell someone, or they can find a new article or something but not waste so much time retelling the same origin.

The new actors this time were hit and miss. Gal Gadot who plays Wonder Woman is such a beautiful actress and was amazing in the Fast and Furious franchise. She got an amazing amount if flack for her size, “she lacks the muscle, the tone, etc.” That may be a little true, she looked rather skinny but I saw Wonder Women watching her play the role. Ben Affleck as Batman is another one that received hate not only for his look but due to past role as Daredevil. I think he did great, I look forward to seeing an old Batman get progressively older with all these connected films coming out in the future. The big miscast was Lex Luther. Everyone is saying that Jesse Eisenberg is super annoying in this role. It’s not that, he usually plays that type of awkward, fast talking role. That’s the point, he isn’t doing anything new! I really thought at the end of the movie they would say his name was Lex Luther Jr and his dad was the real mastermind. He didn’t look like him with or without hair, he didn’t sound like Lex should sound. He didn’t act like Lex is known to be. Lex Luther is an ego maniac and this Lex wasn’t. Alfred seems cool, younger than usual, but he at least sounds and acts like Alfred should. Doomsday, was all CGI, but I really didn’t see anything too bad with it. What else could they do? Have an actor wear a costume? Change the look of the character completely? He is a huge adversary for Superman and for them to use him so early in the franchise and for such a pivotal plot point makes me excited for what bigger, badder, bad guys they have in the future.

The fighting with the two title characters was good. We have seen super heroes fight multiple times in Avengers, and X-Men, etc. It was good, no one ever really wins or loses those fights. The last fight was about the full last hour of the film. That was decent. I’m glad they took inspiration from Dark Knight Rises but they didn’t end the film the way that comic, and animated film, ended.

The movie was long, had scenes full of action but had a lot of slow, wordy moments setting up situations. It was really two films in one. In the first scene you see what Batman is doing, second scene you see what Superman is doing, etc. It wasn’t 3 hours of action, the last hour overshadowed the previous fight scenes. The crowd laughed maybe once the whole film, at the end. Many foreshadowing jokes and nods but don’t expect this film to be a laugh fest. The heroes spent most of time as alter ego, almost like it was Bruce v Clark not Batman v Superman.

You get cameos from a few of the league but not enough for some of the advertisements to be focused on them.

I, Christopher Yambo, co-sign this film as it is the start of a new book of DC live action films. It made its share of mistakes, but it isn’t unwatchable. It is long but it really was an attempt to lay the ground work for the franchise. You saw scenes from your favorite comics but it isn’t a full Dark Knight Returns film, no mutant gang, etc. The ending was extended from the comic but wasn’t how the comic ended which leaves it open for a few possibilities in the future to branch out. I didn’t agree with some of the casting but it was a decent film. Not one I recommend to re-watch 100 times as a feel good film but I’m looking at it as more to come and not as one and done. If it was to be a standalone, it left a little to be desired but that’s when we get into spoiler territory. The main team up could’ve been longer, but we will get that in Justice League. That’s why you have to think of this film as a stepping stone and not the whole flight of stairs.

Do not, I repeat do not wait for an end of movie clip, you won’t get any and the credits were as long as last fight scene!

 

[You will be getting a Timothy Noble review but I just wanted to write one as well in my style of writing, since i got to watch the Thursday screening, so expect his review some time this weekend]