‘Southpaw’ Review

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Dir: Antoine Fuqua

Writer(s): Kurt Sutter

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, Oona Laurence, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Miguel Gomez, Skylan Brooks, Beau Knapp, and Naomie Harris

Synopsis: Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Willis to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

 

Everyone loves a great redemption story and director Antoine Fuqua with first-time feature film writer Kurt Sutter (FX’s Sons of Anarchy) have bought just that to us with Southpaw. The film goes through the motions and even hits the usual clichés we see in usual comeback stories, but it’s the performances by lead Jake Gyllenhaal and the direction of Fuqua that keep the movie enjoyable and powerful.

 

The film starts with Billy “The Great” Hope (Gyllenhaal) beating a boxing opponent retaining his victory record. When doing press, an up-and-comer boxer Miguel ‘Magic’ Escobar (Gomez) taunts Billy saying he wants a shot at him. However, his wife Maureen (McAdams) worries about Billy and tells him he should take a break and spend time with her and their daughter Leila (Laurence). Billy considers it, but Escobar continues to taunt Billy at a gala and the two go at it. In the chaos, Maureen gets shot and dies leaving Billy alone and going on a tailspin that eventually ends up with Billy losing everything and putting Leila in child services.

 

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However, not wanting to lose his daughter, he slowly tries to clean up his act and goes to a local gym that is run by a former boxer, Tick Willis (Whitaker), who reluctantly agrees to let Billy train at the gym. Eventually, Billy gets a chance to get back in the game and possibly get Leila back if he takes on one huge fight.

 

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One of the things that bothered me, as well as others, is the fact that the first trailer gives away that McAdams’s Maureen dies. It’s one of the pivotal plot points in the movie and essentially starts off the real story of Billy’s rise after everything is taken from him. It probably would have been hard to get around it, since it does happen early in the film, but it did take away a little bit from the scene, especially even more, because the actual scene is really strong. Also, if you go in thinking to see a lot of boxing action in Southpaw, you’ll probably be a little disappointed. There is some great boxing action in the film, which I’ll get to in a little bit, but Southpaw is a drama through-and-through. In fact, it is a bit hard to watch sometimes. Not because it’s bad, but because Billy is constantly having to push through both physical beatings and emotional beatings. If Sutter was trying to prove how resilient Billy is as a boxer and a person, he succeeds for the most part, although it takes some time to get to that point.

 

However, the only reason is works is because of Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance. Make no mistake, this is Gyllenhaal’s movie and is one of the only reason the film works so well. Gyllenhaal has pulled out some great performances as of late and Southpaw is no different. He is able to bring out every emotion in Billy that makes us sympathize, root and even relate to him.

 

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The rest of the cast is hit-or-miss. Forest Whitaker’s no-nonsense Tick Willis is tail-made for the actor and nails every scene he’s in, with a standout scene near the end of the movie. Rachel McAdams, who doesn’t have a ton of screen time, still manages to bring a nice mix of charm, attitude, and toughness to Maureen. Oona Laurence’s Leila Hope has her moments to shine, but is otherwise an outside driving force to Billy’s actions throughout the movie. However, make no mistake, when she’s onscreen, it is great to see – in a non-creepy way.

 

“50 Cent” plays a greedy and morally questionable manager who you’ll love to hate, but think “yeah, this kind of guy probably exists in real life.” Miguel Gomez as Escobar pretty much disappears through the middle of the movie, and only pops up at the end of the movie for the unavoidable final fight of the movie. It’s no fault to Gomez, he’s only doing the best he can with what he’s given. The movie isn’t about him, it’s about Billy and his road to redemption. Unfortunately, Naomie Harris gets the short end of the stick playing a social worker assigned to Billy and Leila’s case. Harris does okay, but an actress of her talent and caliber being reduced to a small supporting role kind of sucks.

 

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Like I said, Southpaw is a drama through-and-through, but the boxing scenes are great to sit back and enjoy. Fuqua really tries to put us the viewer in the ring with the characters and what is going in their head. The boxing scenes feel almost raw and brutal and are probably some of the best scenes in the movie, camera-work wise.

 

All in all, Southpaw feels like a familiar structure and fits into some clichés and common threads in other redemption/underdog films we’ve seen in the past. However, Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance and Fuqua’s direction in some of the bigger scenes make the film pop and standout in its own right. Southpaw may not the easiest movie to sit through, because of the drama, but it is highly enjoyable at the end of the day.

 

Southpaw

4 out of 5

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‘Pixels’ Review

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Dir:  Chris Columbus

Writer(s): Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling

Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Matt Lintz, Jane Krankowski, and Brian Cox

Synopsis: When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

 

Based on the 2010 short from French director Patrick Jean (which I highly recommend), Pixels extends the idea of classic video games attacking major cities to aliens disguising themselves as classic video games to attack. I was pretty excited to learn they were making a movie based on the short, but was less excited when I heard that Adam Sandler was involved with his Happy Madison Production company. I’ll even admit that the first trailer didn’t do much for me and wasn’t even looking forward to this. The second trailer came out and I was warming up to it. Now, watching the movie itself, well my mind was changed. Pixels is not perfect, but it still is pretty enjoyable.

 

The movie starts off in the early 80s when friends Sam Brenner (Sandler) and Cooper (James) go to a grand opening of an arcade. Sam becomes a local favorite because he’s really good at the games and Cooper tells him to enter a championship league. There they meet Ludlow (Gad) and Eddie “The Fire Blaster” Plant (Dinklage). Skip ahead to the present and Cooper is now the President of the United States, while Brenner works as an installation guy. However, Cooper soon has lot on his plate when a military base is attacked overseas in the form of Galaga.

 

Cooper and Lt. Col. Violet van Patten (Monaghan) – who early on in the film had already meet Brenner and the two don’t completely get along – bring in Brenner and Ludlow, who is a conspiracy theorist and is the one that actually brings up the notion of aliens disguising themselves as classic video game characters, in to help the military lead by Admiral Porter (Cox) to take them down. They also need the help of a now jailed Eddie to take down the aliens.

 

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Like I mentioned before, I wasn’t really looking forward toward Pixels. I, probably, like many of you, thought this was going to be another unfunny, dumb, lame joke (although there are flat jokes in there) movie by Adam Sandler. Also, like I said, Pixels is not a perfect movie. Once you get past the notion that Kevin James is playing the President somehow, they never mention how he became president, and how everyone somewhat accepts the idea that it is aliens disguising themselves as classic video games OR even that they bring in civilians to deal with the situation, Pixels is enjoyable for the most part. All that sounds nitpicky, but it’s hard to avoid it once you watch the movie.

 

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The idea behind the aliens thinking that the capsule that was sent up to space to make communication them was an act of war is pretty interesting, but it is never really fleshed out. It is bought up, but they way they handled it was off to me. Even some of clichés the movie brings up didn’t bother me so much as it will probably other people. The clichés, dare I say this, work for the movie, but only to a certain extent. Some of the references are dated, but considering the concept of the movie you don’t necessarily have to forgive it, but it helps you experience the movie better. I’m not making excuses for the movie, but at the end of the day it is an Adam Sandler movie.

 

Speaking of Sandler, he does okay here. Although, I haven’t really watched a Sandler film in a long time, it does look at times like he’s phoning it in sometimes. Josh Gad has his funny moments and plays a bit the role a bit over-the-top, but the role calls for it and Gad nails it. Peter Dinklage looks like he’s having fun playing the role and even has some scene stealing lines as the arrogant and egotistical video game player. The personality fades away a bit near the end unfortunately, but he will no doubt be a fan-favorite, if not for the character then at least for fact that it’s played by Peter Dinklage.

 

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Michelle Monaghan, the only real female actress of the movie besides Jane Krakowski who doesn’t really do anything than being the First Lady, has her own moments to shine as well. Although, without spoiling it, the character feels a bit inconsistent when you first see her to later in the final act. Still she holds her own with what she’s given. Kevin James also doesn’t get a lot to do here, sure he has a couple good moments, but for the most part he’s a supporting character that pops in every now and then.

 

The rest of the supporting cast don’t do much and play into the clichés that I briefly spoke of earlier. Brian Cox’s Admiral Porter is the tough and no nonsense-type that doesn’t believe in “the arcaders.” While Ashley Benson’s Lady Lisa doesn’t show up until the final act and doesn’t even speak a line of dialogue. A nice surprise is fan favorite Sean Bean pops in a small role as another military leader that also doesn’t believe in the “arcaders.”

 

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If you don’t like the story or the characters then the action sequences should at least be fun for you. The heavily promoted Pac-Man chase scene is pretty fun to watch in its entirety and the King Kong fight is probably the next highlight, if not the highlight of the movie. The special effects is pretty cool and during the action sequences really elevate the scenes a little more.

 

All in all, Pixels was surprisingly enjoyable. Some of the jokes fall flat, but for the most part you’ll laugh for sure at some of the jokes. The movie does seem targeted a bit toward families, but pay attention to the rating, it is PG-13 for some language. If you’re a video gamer, especially the old-school games, you’ll enjoy some of the references scattered throughout. Pixels isn’t going to win any awards – maybe some Razzies – but go and judge for yourselves. Pixels is a lot of fun for the most part, and this is coming from a guy that wasn’t looking forward to it.

 

Pixels

3.5 out of 5

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‘Ant-Man’ Review

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Dir: Peyton Reed

Writer(s): Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, & Paul Rudd

Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, T.I., Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson, Hayley Atwell, and John Slattery

Synopsis: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Land must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There are two post-credit scenes*

Marvel finally released Ant-Man. Yes, Marvel has been working on an Ant-Man film for years now. For those that don’t know, Ant-Man was one of the first films announced back at Comic Con during the very first Iron Man movie. Edgar Wright was attached and working on it for so long, and of course, the big thing was that Wright left due to creative reasons, which is why Peyton Reed came onboard. Thankfully – and rightfully – Marvel kept some of the story details from Wright and Joe Cornish’s script. So, does this long awaited movie work? Or do we feel the delay in the final product? Let’s shrink and see what’s inside.

Ant-Man starts off rather interestingly in that it starts off in the past with a young Hank Pym – played by Michael Douglas in the best looking “de-aging” effect I’ve ever seen – coming into the board of what was once S.H.I.E.L.D and says he’s leaving, for reasons that I won’t obviously get into because of spoilers. The movie then jumps ahead to the present to show Scott Lang (Rudd) getting out of prison after serving serious time after he hacked into his old job’s network to right a wrong. He reunites with his old cellmate Luis (Pena) and tells him about a job, but Scott doesn’t want to do it.

Scott wants to turn a new leaf and go clean so he can be a better father to his daughter, Cassie (the damn adorable Abby Ryder Fortson). It turns out to be harder when his ex-wife, played by Judy Greer, wants him to be a better person and her new husband (Cannavale) is a cop that doesn’t like Scott too much. Scott being an ex-con has a hard time finding a new job and turns to Luis, who says he has an “easy job” for Scott and their crew –Dave (T.I.) and Kurt (Dastmalchian)– little do they know, the easy job happens to be connected to Hank Pym.

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Meanwhile, Hank is dealing with his mentor Darren Cross (Stoll), who has taken over his company and is on the brink of breaking his tech to create the Yellowjacket suit. To make matters worse his estranged daughter Hope (Lilly) is by his side. Or at least it would seem that way. While Hope and Hank don’t get along, they know that if Darren succeeds in getting his suit working, it could cause total chaos. The two work together with Scott, although Hope at first doesn’t believe in him, to help Scott learn how to use the Ant-Man suit and stop Darren at all costs.

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I know that’s pretty vague and comic book fans will probably read over that and say why aren’t telling us everything. Here’s the thing. Ant-Man is a pretty much lesser known property. Yes, there are fans out there, but to the “mainstream” audiences Ant-Man is at the very bottom of list. One of the things that I liked about the movie is that is works a bit as an origin story, but also a passing of the torch story. In the comics, Hank Pym is the original Ant-Man and the mantle of the character has been passed on to others, with Scott Lang being one of them. Here, we see Scott Lang not only becoming the Ant-Man, but also go through a journey that takes him from low-level criminal to a man looking to do good by his daughter and become a hero. I guess you can also call Ant-Man a bit of a redemption story, although it more about Scott finding redemption in the eyes of his ex-wife – in terms that he can be a good father and has left the past behind him.

But it doesn’t start off that way. Ant-Man starts off and keeps the beats of a heist film. Hank and Hope want Scott to go in and “steal some shit.” You have the crew each with their own unique skill set and quirk. They lay out the plan and have to overcome an unexpected obstacle during the plan. More importantly, they all have their part to play and they look after each other. However, it’s not the perfect heist film, and some of the other aspects and themes overpower the heist film arch that you sometimes forget that is one the main points of the movie.

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However, if I was going to let you guys know what to expect from Ant-Man is, and you can probably tell from reading so far, is that this is different kind of Marvel movie. The movie is set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe – with an Avenger showing up in what is easily one of the best scenes in the movie – and makes a reference to the future of the MCU. But, director Peyton Reed, who deserves a hell of a lot of credit for pulling this off, does manage to make this movie a smaller (pun intended) movie. Yes, the action sequences are awesome – more on that in a moment – but the people of the movie are what stands out. The relationships they all have with each other matter and play a role in not just the movie, but with who they are and what they will become.

Now the action in the movie is pretty damn cool. The first time we see Scott use the suit is a pretty great wild ride. But it’s when Scott starts to learn how to use the suit and is able to communicate with the ants is when it becomes even better. There is one highlight for me when Scott is dodging bullets and it sounds like he’s in war zone. Honestly, anything with the ants was great. I almost don’t want to give anything away just so you can enjoy it yourself. But, I will say the heavily promoted Thomas the Train Engine sequence is fun to watch. It’s not just the action that great, it’s the humor. I didn’t think I would laugh as much as I did, but I did. The great thing is that Ant-Man isn’t cracking jokes every second, as one would assume since Peyton Reed is known as a comedy director. The humor comes naturally and doesn’t feel forced.

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However, Ant-Man wouldn’t work without its cast. Rudd is likeable and someone you can root for in the movie. Michael Douglas doesn’t phone it in but brings some levity to Hank Pym, a man that is dealt with a lot and finally has a chance of his own redemption. Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne is pretty feisty and her relationship with Douglas’ Hank is one of – if not –the emotional core of Ant-Man. The supporting cast of T.I., David Dastmalchian and Michael Pena was fantastic and Pena is easily the scene stealer of the movie. Seriously, Pena is a highly underrated actor and if people didn’t know about him before, they will now.

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As for Cory Stoll’s Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, Stoll does the best he can with what he has. It’s been said by many that with exception of Loki, Marvel’s movie villains don’t work or are lackluster. Personally, they are only half right. Marvel nailed it when they casted Tom Hiddleston as Loki. Stoll, however, isn’t a close second, but is pretty unnerving in his own way. There is one scene, early on, that shows you who Darren is and how far he is willing to go to get what he wants. His motivation and actions are somewhat clear, but Darren is more of threat and menacing before he puts on the Yellowjacket suit. Don’t get me wrong, if I saw someone in the Yellowjacket suit and using it, I’d run in the opposite direction as fast as I could. But by the end, Yellowjacket is just there for Ant-Man get fight.

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All in all, Ant-Man is a different kind of Marvel movie. Instead of the jam-packed action – there are some of those in here – we get a more grounded and human story with great relationships. Ant-Man won’t be for everybody, but it shouldn’t take away how great and different it is, especially after all the trouble it took to get it made.

Ant-Man

4.5 out of 5

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‘The Gallows’ Review

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Dir: Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing

Writer(s): Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing

Cast: Reese Mishier, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, and Cassidy Gifford

Synopsis: 20 years after a horrific accident during a small town school play, students at the school resurrect the failed show in a misguided attempt to honor the anniversary of the tragedy – but soon discover that some things are better left alone.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t feel comfortable reviewing horror movies. Not because I don’t like them, because I do, but because half of the fun of watching a horror movie is experience it and no matter what people tell you – myself included – that experience does need to be experienced and not told. Moreover, it’s harder to review a movie that you also didn’t like entirely. If I don’t review a movie on here it is for a few reasons. One, I feel like it needs to be experienced. Two, I don’t have time or Three, I don’t like. However, since I’ve skipped a few reviews on movie I’ve seen and never really posted a review to a movie I didn’t really enjoy, here’s my review of The Gallows. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be a complete bash.

 

The Gallows is shot in the found footage style so the movie opens up in an old video tape playing from 1993. The recording is from the high school play, “The Gallows” which ends in the accidental death of lead Charlie (Jesse Cross), as he’s being hanged in front of an audience and what we assume is his family. We jump forward to 2013, and the current students at the school somehow managed to convince the school board to revive the play in honor of Charlie.

 

We are introduced to our main characters from here. Reese (Reese Mishier), a former football player who is the lead in the show in the part that killed Charlie. Pfeifer, the leading lady of the play and the “theater girl”; Reese’s friend Ryan, who is a “joker” and the movies camera guy at the beginning of the movie, and Cassidy, Ryan’s cheerleader girlfriend. Reese is having a hard time getting into character and delivering his lines so Ryan gets the idea to ruin the set for the play the night before the play is set to, each means going in the middle of the night. Reese is reluctant, but eventually agrees and Cassidy tags along. While there they experience weird banging and then find Pfeifer. Of course, everything goes to hell.

 

It very clear from the drama club involved and some of the parents that Ryan “interviews” early in the movie that Charlie’s death has become something of an urban legend – the movie says it’s based in Nebraska – in terms of the school having weird things happen like; locked doors, weird noises, lights going on-and-off, etc. That already sets us up for what’s to come.

 

Thankfully, The Gallows is only 81 minutes long, because the movie doesn’t have a lot to offer. The movie is like your run-of-the-mill found footage movie. It follows the same beats and fake-out moments that we’ve seen in other movies with the same concept, but doesn’t do anything to make it their own. It does nothing to reinvigorate the subgenre and even with its “different” approach in terms of cameras, which could have been a good way to try some awesome stuff, all it does is make the process of watching the movie harder with overused aspects.

 

What made the movie harder to watch is the cast. The filmmakers probably tried to add something to them by making them use their real first names, but their delivering in lines is just bad. They clearly feel scripted and at some points the characters and the actors playing them feel wooden. The only expectation really is Pfeifer, who is by the default the best actor in the movie. Even worse than that, the characters are unlikable – especially Ryan. He doesn’t come off as funny or cool, he actually comes off as a dick and bad friend. Reese is conflicted, but you can tell with a scene at his house why he’s supposed to be distance, but that’s an excuse. Cassidy is just kind of there.

 

I will give The Gallows some credit. There are a few, and I do mean a few, cool and eerily shots that I really liked and worked well with the environment. One scene in particular worked really well with the lighting and the sudden visual that you know is coming, but when it happens it surprisingly works.

 

The execution of story, if that’s what you want to call it, is frustrating. Some of the setup never pays off, maybe to the fast pace and short runtime, but none of things that are supposed to be surprising work because of the weak story and the fact that it is so contained within itself and the characters. The Gallows has very brief moments of what could lead to great storytelling or even a cool moment, but then it takes it away and goes back to the genre’s tropes which make you angry because you want to see how that could be done.

 

My main problem with the found footage subgenre is that, most of them, are the same. Without getting too much into, The Gallows has what we’ve seen in other films before it. And if you’ve seen enough found footage movies, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You even forget about it, because it reminds us at the beginning and, of course, with the constant recording. But, the worse part is the rushed endings, which The Gallows suffers from.

 

All in all, The Gallows doesn’t bring anything new to the found footage subgenre. The few good visuals are far-and-between in what is a easily going to be a forgotten movie by the end of the month.

 

The Gallows

2 out of 5

‘Terminator Genisys’ Review

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Dir: Alan Taylor

Writer(s): Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyl, Byung-hun Lee and Matt Smith

Synopsis: John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a brief mid-credits scene*

 

 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of my favorite movies of all time, and dare I say one of the best actions movies ever. Of course I’m not the only person to share that feeling and it’s because of that reason that the Terminator series holds a special place in many people’s hearts. However, after Terminator 2 the series took a bit of stumble with the lackluster Rise of the Machines, and the not reaching its full potential with Salvation, so when it was announced that another installment was coming fans were right to be weary. However, when news that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be returning, some of those fans become a little less weary and curious to what they were going to do.

 

Fast forward – or time travel? – to earlier this year and one of the biggest twist that could have probably happened in the series was ruined in all the marketing. So what happens when you know the big twist to a highly popular series and once-was anticipated movie? You go in and try your best to enjoy it. So, was Terminator Genisys good? Terrible like the majority of film reviewers are putting it? Or something else? Well, bit of everything actually.

 

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Terminator Genisys isn’t just another installment to the series; it acts as a prequel, sequel and reboot. So in case you’re brand new to the series, don’t worry you’ll be thrown into the world that many have enjoyed for years. The movie starts with letting us know the events that led to our downfall: The day Skynet became aware and the day Judgment Day happened. We hear the story of one man that lead a resistance against the machines, and that man was John Connor (Jason Clarke). We see him leading the resistance with his right hand man, Kyle Reese (Courtney) to take down a harvesting farm, which is a cover for a weapon that John knows is there: The time machine.

 

Fans know the story: John sends Kyle back in time to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), who is targeted by Skynet as they send back a Terminator model T-800 to kill her before she can give birth to John. However, something happens when Kyle is sent back and it changes the timeline in a dramatic way. When Kyle ends up in 1984, Sarah isn’t a fragile and scared woman instead she is a strong fighter that knows about Terminators and the future. She also has someone that has protected her, a model T-800 Terminator that she happily calls Pops (or named Guardian in the credits). Kyle is of course confused about this and Sarah tells him that everything has changed and that they have been preparing for him. Another problem they have is a new T-1000 (Lee) is there and is hunting them down.

 

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However – again ruined in the marketing – Kyle and Sarah eventually come face-to-face with John himself. The reunion is cut short when Pops shoot John to reveal that John is in fact some sort of new Terminator. Kyle and Sarah make it their mission to not only save the future, but also try figure out what happened to John.

 

Like I mentioned before, the twist of John being a Terminator is a pretty big and nice twist to the series, and it would have been awesome to see it play out on screen for the time first. Instead marketing – and not director Alan Taylor – made the decision to give away the big twist to the movie killing any sort of tension to not only the scene, but for the rest of the movie. Yes, it is commonplace for studios to show off or reveal a few of their key sequences to make sure you go buy a ticket, and some studios have even tricked the audience into going to watch the movie by showing a really cool moment, that just so happens to be the end of the movie. But giving away the “John is some sort of new awesome Terminator” twist really hurt the movie going in.

 

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Also, we’re dealing with time travel. Just know going in that you’re going to deal with three different timelines that thankfully don’t get too murky. At one point, it’s explained by Pops that the timelines have changed and thankfully it doesn’t stop the movie dead. The alternate timeline does change a few things up and it should be interesting to see where they go with things from this point forward. Although at this point I’m not sure how many fans want to stick around after the new “twist.” Yes, there is another twist to the movie that only starts off in the third act and is obviously set up for future sequels. I’m not going to get too into it because it does go into spoiler territory.

 

So let’s go in the cast. Arnold steps right back into the role without fault. Yes, he is older and the movie goes into why that is, but there is a lot more to his character this time around. Like I’ve mentioned, Sarah calls him Pops and his official character name in the credits is Guardian, by that you know a lot of things have changed. On the other side of the coin, Jason Clarke as John Connor/new Terminator – no official name, just his quote that he’s “something more” – has to pull double duty as the John Connor legend, who gives a pretty impressive speech at the start of the movie and has a great relationship with Kyle before he sends him back, and the Terminator, who is like he says “can’t be bargained with.”

 

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Again, the twist would have been really cool to see for the first time while watching the movie, not only because it’s a massive spoiler, but also because it changes the dynamic of the character that we’ve known is the face of resistance against the machines and the mythos of the series. John Connor is no longer the good guy, the man that we root for. Instead he is our primary villain out to kill our heroes and has fallen into become a machine!

 

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As for John’s parents, Jai Courtney – who I’m not a real fan of to be honest – does okay as Kyle Reese. He doesn’t really go beyond anything we’d suspect from his character. Sure he has a standout moment when talking to Sarah early in the movie, but other than that nothing stands out. As for Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor, I’ve seen some reviewers say she’s been miscast or doesn’t do anything special for the role, and I don’t think that’s the case to be honest. Clarke is stepping into big shoes yes, but at the same time, this is a different Sarah Connor from the original The Terminator. Instead we get the Terminator 2 Sarah Connor, the one that is ready to fight anything that stands in her way and Clarke holds her own for the most part. She does work better off Arnold than Courtney for the most part and but overall she’s does fine playing the part of badass warrior.

 

J.K. Simmons as a small supporting role that doesn’t really add much to the overall movie, but you can clearly tell his character will have some sort of role in the potential sequels. Sadly, Byung-hun Lee’s T-1000 character doesn’t get a ton of screen time and is underused. Luckily, his part is rather enjoyable but you feel his missing presence throughout the movie.

 

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The action in the movie is actually pretty enjoyable, and there is quite lot more than I suspected. The other thing the movie had that surprised me was humor. It’s not like the movie is cracking jokes every minute, but humor is sprinkled throughout the movie and it makes sense. Of course, the movie has many more references and subtle additions from the previous movies – and yes, even the TV show – that fans can appreciate.

 

One thing that will bother people – even me to some extent – is the movie has a lot of questions that it asks, but never really answers. If they do, they don’t give you the full answer. The movie suffers a bit from setting things up for sequels instead of making the movie stand on its own. Some things make sense, but for the most part, the studio makes sure that they want the audience back for another go-around.

 

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All in all, Terminator Genisys isn’t as terrible as many people out there want you to believe. There are some enjoyable moments scattered throughout and the action is pretty great to watch. The cast work well together for the most part, with Jason Clarke and Arnold being the standout. The movie may act as a prequel, sequel, and reboot, but make no mistake that it is another addition to the series. Let’s hope that fans will want to keep coming back.

 

Terminator Genisys

3 out of 5

July Movie Releases

Hello!

 

It’s July everybody! The Summer Movie Season is almost over, but it’s not going down without a fight. July has some great movies coming out, especially some anticipated movies for some. So let’s get to it.

 

1st

Terminator Genisys

I, like many out there, am a huge Terminator fan. Many have been critical of the series since Terminator 3, some of that criticism is justified, so when this movie was announced, some were off-putted, while some were looking forward to what they were going to do. Genisys looks to have changed the timeline of the well-known franchise with some twists. Sarah Connor is well-aware of Kyle Reese beforehand and saves him from a T-1000. She also has Arnold’s T-800 protecting her, but the big difference is the what the trailers have spoiled: John Connor is a terminator. It’s a rather odd – and stupid – move for a studio to give away a big twist like that, so my only hope (and some others) is that they studio has some more twists that they are hiding.

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3rd

Magic Mike XXL

Ladies! The sequel to Magic Mike is here for all your enjoyment. Guys, suck it up.

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10th

The Gallows

A new horror movie that has had some success on the festival circuit will haunt theaters finally. The movie takes places 20 years after an accident during a small town school play. Some students try to set the play back up-and-running during the anniversary, but of course things don’t go according to plan. The movie has gotten some more online traction thanks to the viral campaign of the “Charlie Charlie” game. The movie looks to have an atmospheric horror to it, which could hopefully set it apart from other horror movies.

 

Self/Less

Ryan Reynolds and Sir Ben Kingsley star in this sci-fi thriller about a dying rich man (Kingsley) who sees his chance to live “forever” as he transfers his consciences to a younger body (Reynolds). While he enjoys his younger body, something goes wrong and starts to see memories of his body’s former life and starts to look for answers. The film looks pretty interesting and I’m interested to see how they approach the material. The film also stars Matthew Goode,

 

Minions

A spinoff/prequel of the Despicable Me movies follows the loveable yellow minions before they meet Gru. The movie takes place during the late 60s and the minions are under the wing of Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), who is trying to take over the world. The minions were some – if not – they favorite thing about the Despicable Me movies, so fans will mostly likely pour into theater for this one.  

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17th

The Stanford Prison Experiment (Limited Release)

Based on an actual event that happened (look it up, pretty interesting stuff). The movie looks to follows the same events in where it takes twenty four male students and out of seventy-five that were randomly assigned to play the parts of prison guards and prisoners in a mock prison building experiment. The film stars Olivia Thirlby, Ezra Miller, Thomas Mann, Billy Crudup, Keir Gilchrist, Moises Arias, Callan McAuliffe, Ki Hong Lee, Michael Anagarno and Ty Sheridan.

 

Mr. Holmes (Limited Release)

Ian McKellen plays an aged and retired Sherlock Holmes who looks back at his life and grapples with an unsolved case, while leaving out in the country. Some early reviews say the film is very good and the performances are standout, especially by Sir Ian McKellen himself.

 

Trainwreck

Amy Schumer plays a writer for a big time magazine that has to do a story on a big time doctor, played by Bill Hader. Hader’s character starts to fall for Schumer’s character, the problem is that she doesn’t believe in monogamy and starts to have mixed feelings about dating him. The movie is directed by Judd Apatow from a script by Schumer herself.

 

Ant-Man

Marvel releases their next film in their Marvel Cinematic Universe, which isn’t without its own missteps. Edgar Wright was attached since its inception back in early 2007 when Iron Man was first announced and ready for release, but after many years Wright dropped out before the film was ready to shoot. The film has gone through some script changes, but Marvel and new director …. Have promised that the movie is still good and fans will be happy. I’m looking forward to it especially after the last trailer which showed it’s great mix of action, drama, and humor in the only way Marvel can.

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24th

The Vatican Tapes (Limited Release)

A horror movie that sees a priest and two Vatican exorcists doing battle with an ancient satanic force to save the soul of a young woman. I know what you’re probably asking, what’s so different from the other exorcists movies? Well one advantage is the cast. The film stars Djimon Hounsou, Michael Pena, Dougray Scott, Kathleen Robertson and Olivia Taylor Dudley.

 

Pixels

Based on the short that the movie takes its inspiration from, Pixels has the Earth attacked by aliens using 80s video games and the only way to save the world is video gamers that are masters of those video games. The film stars Kevin James as the President with Adam Sandler, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage playing his old friends and other video gamers set to save the world. The cast, with the expectation of Dinklage and Gad, had me worried (I’m looking at you Sandler!), but the last trailer I saw actually made it look like fun, and it could be at least enjoyable. Hopefully.

 

Paper Towns

John Green adaptation are now the “it” thing in Hollywood. The Fault in Our Stars was a smash hit and now Paper Towns may be on the verge of that success as well. Green’s other’s books are also getting adapted with Looking for Alaska looking like the next one coming. But, Paper Towns should hold over fans until then.

 

Southpaw

Jake Gyllenhaal is getting down and gritty – and freaking ripped – for this boxing drama. Seriously, look up pictures of him for this, he is jacked! Anyway, the movie looks like a great redemption and boxing family drama. Gyllenhaal has given a great string of performances lately and it looks like it’s going to continue with this. The film also stars Rachel McAdams, Naomie Harris, 50 Cent, and Forest Whitaker.

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29th

Vacation

A sequel/sort of reboot to National Lampoon’s Vacation that sees the youngest Rusty, played by Ed Helms, taking his family(Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, and Steele Stebbins) to Wally World and ending up in his misadventure with his family. The film also stars Leslie Mann, Keegan-Michael Key, Charlie Day and Chris Hemsworth. It also brings back original stars Beverly D’Angelo and Chevy Chase as Rusty’s parents.

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31st

A LEGO Brickumentary (Limited Release)

Simple stuff: A documentary on the legacy of LEGOs.

 

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

The series has always found a way to improve and even reinvented itself. It shows no stopping at that with Rogue Nation. I’ve always been a fan, so I’m looking forward to what they do here and with its great casting, I’m sure we are in for a fun ride.

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What are you looking forward to?