Monthly Rewind of April

Hello, everybody!

The fourth edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing April!

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Kick-Ass

The Losers

The Good the Bad the Weird

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The Human Centipede

Thoughts: Alright, let’s start off with The Human Centipede, you know, the movie that has three people surgically connected to each other ass-to-mouth. I do kind of get why so many people like this movie, but honestly I can’t get behind it myself. I saw it with a crowd that really dug it, and while the movie promised it was the “most grosses movie you’ve ever seen!” it really wasn’t. It fact, beside the general concept, it’s rather tame compared to other movie with a concept like this.

Next is the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, and oh man did I NOT like this movie. Like at all! While the movie had some descent imaginary, oh man did I NOT like this movie. Like at all! While the movie had some descent imaginary – the only standout to me is the scene when Rooney Mara’s Nancy is “micro-dreaming” in the pharmacy as sees Jackie Earle Haley’s Freddy coming for her – and that is most likely thanks to music director Samuel Bayer (who hasn’t directed another movie since), who gave the movie a grimy feel. The movie itself, from what I can remember, was very generic, with no real bigger standout moments – at least for me. Haley was a good “replacement” for Robert Englund, but the script didn’t do him too many favors.

Kick-Ass, based off the comic of the same name, brought the superhero movie genre to the ground level and made them a little more edgy than what we were getting. It’s also our lead getting the crap beat out of him and having to be saved by a kid, who actually knows what she’s doing. The movie was a nice little breather from other comic book movies, especially with Chloe Grace Moretz’ breakout performance.

The next movie, also a comic book adaptation, is The Losers. Honestly, to me, one of the under-appreciated comic book movies out there. Simple concept, a CIA special forces team are betrayed and they want payback, but it’s definitely held together by the cast and how they all play off each other, the humor, and how ridiculously fun it is. I mean seriously, look at this cast; Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Oscar Jaenada, Holt McCallany and Jason Patric.

Finally, one of my personal favorites of all time, the Korean hit The Good the Bad the Weird. Set in 1940s Manchuria, two outlaws and a bounty hunter clash over a treasure map, while also being pursued by the Japanese army and a group of bandits. I first saw this at the Chicago International Film Festival, and immediately fell in love with it. The three main leads, the score and the action just blew me away when I first saw it, and still does to this day. Highly recommend if you haven’t seen it yet.

 

 

2011

Insidious

Fast Five

13 Assassins

Thoughts: Let’s start off with Takashi Miike-directed (which should tell you what you’re getting into already) 13 Assassins. The film followed a group of assassins who band together on what is basically a suicide mission to kill an evil lord. I saw this at the no-longer film festival Actionfest, in a packed theater who was already rowdy before the movie even started. That did play a factor in my enjoyment of the movie, but the movie itself is a huge buildup to its massive third act where we see the titled assassins let loose on the lord’s men, and to take a line from the movie it was a “total massacre.”

Next, is the James Wan-directed horror Insidious. This is one of the more modern horror movies that made me audibly gasp in a movie theater along with the whole theater – the famous scene of the lipstick demon behind Patrick Wilson. It’s also James Wan, who at this point I was wholly behind as the new master of horror.

Finally, Fast Five! The movie basically took the reboot route here as the movie was no longer about stealing DVD’s, or working with a crime lord, but instead started becoming heist movies. It introduce Dwayne Johnson to the series and had a, still to this day, exciting and thrilling final act with the Brian and Dom dragging the vault across the streets of Rio.

 

 

2012

The Cabin in the Woods

Lockout

Headhunters

Thoughts: Let’s keep the Actionfest trend going here with the Swedish film Headhunters. The film followed an accomplished headhunter who obtained a valuable painting from a former mercenary (played by Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and the cat-and-mouse game they play afterwards. To the best of my memory, Headhunters was the third Swedish film I had ever seen, and it was in the dark, mystery drama genre like The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo that I loved.

Next is the forgotten about, Escape from New York knockoff, Lockout. Starring Guy Pearce as an ex-CIA operative who may or may not have committed espionage against the U.S, but instead of going to prison, he’s given a chance to earn his freedom by going on a mission to rescue the president’s daughter from outer space prison that has been taken over by its violent inmates. I’ll be honest, it’s not all that great, but it was rather enjoyable seeing Pearce play it a little more loose and as an action hero for a change.

Finally, The Cabin in the Woods. The meta-horror film that you could make the argument is the be-all-end-all horror film. The cliché horror trope of college kids going to a cabin in the woods and they start getting attacked, until they learn that they are part of something bigger. It’s honestly a super smart horror film with great characters once you really dig deep into it.

 

 

2013

Evil Dead

Thoughts: The rare month where only one real movie stood out to be, and that was the remake/reimaging of Evil Dead. I, like many, was very skeptical about the remake considering the legacy of the franchise already, but DAMN did Fede Alvarez do this movie justice! The gore, the griminess, the dread of it all, I was all for it.

 

 

2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Oculus

The Raid 2

Brick Mansions

Locke

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the remake of District B13, Brick Mansions starring Paul Walker and original film star David Belle. The movie takes the action from France to Detroit, following the bare bones premise of the original; a cop teams up with a resident of the blocked off city run by a crime lord to stop him from devastating the city. Problem is the movie doesn’t have the same flare and substance like the original. Which is a shame since Brick Mansions was the last movie that Paul Walker completed (having shot most of Furious 7 at that point).

Next is the Tom Hardy-led, and really only star of the movie, Locke. The movie followed Hardy’s Locke, a construction manager who gets a call that makes him drive from Birmingham to London at night. So yes, it’s a movie about Hardy sitting in a car driving all night as he takes constant phone calls trying to keep his family life intact. It’s a rather enthralling performance by Hardy, and one that proves Hardy can indeed carry a movie himself.

Moving on to the horror-drama Oculus, directed by Mike Flanagan (Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House series) which starred Karen Gillan as a woman trying to prove that an evil mirror has been behind her families deadly past, and trying to clear her brother’s name. I remember watching this and immediately loving it. It was the first movie I saw with Flanagan’s name on it, and I loved how he edited scenes together almost seamlessly. On top of that, the family drama aspect was good “filler” in between the horror moments.

Next is The Raid 2, the sequel to the heavy-hitting action film The Raid. The sequel takes a different approach by taking the action outside, and upping the ante on the fight scenes, introducing the now famous Hammer Girl, and the awesome final fight between Iko Uwais’ Rama and Cecep Arif Rahman’s The Assassin in a restaurant kitchen. It does have some pacing problems, and takes a more story driven approach for the most part, but The Raid 2 is a wholly worthwhile action sequel.

Finally, let’s talk about, arguably, my favorite movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: The Winter Solider. Directed by The Russo Brothers, who then took over the MCU directing wise, took a more spy 70s thriller approach to the sequel, giving the movie a completely different feel, and the result worked. I honestly only have one thing that I “dislike” and that’s the return of Toby Jones’ Dr. Zola.

 

 

2015

Furious 7

Ex Machina

Thoughts: Let’s start off with Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, the sci-fi thriller that was the talk of the town and year for those that ended up watching this in theaters. The film lead by Domhnall Gleeson as a programmer who is selected to participate in an inclusive ground-breaking experiment involving A.I., played by Alicia Vikander, created by Oscar Isaac’s Nathan. The film was completely thought-provoking, and all of that was because of the cast who one-hundred percent committed to everything in the film, including a dance sequence by Isaac and Sonoya Mizuno.

Then we have Furious 7, the last Fast & Furious film that starred Paul Walker, and one of the more personal films in the series. The thing that everyone remembers from the movie is the tribute to Walker and his character at the end, which is fair, since it was a touching tribute. The movie was also directed by James Wan, which was refreshing (he did have a non-horror movie at this point in Death Sentence), and it was the last movie directed by series writer Chris Morgan (who started writing the movies since Tokyo Drift).

 

 

2016

Hardcore Henry

The Jungle Book

Sing Street

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the “one-shot” first-person view action movie Hardcore Henry. The movie’s concept came from the viral music videos from the band Biting Elbows like “Bad Motherfucker” which was also directed by the movie’s director Ilya Naishuller. So yes, the movie is basically like a video game. The action scenes are pretty well thought out, and you could actually tell what’s going on for the most part, but it’s definitely not for everyone, especially the easily motion-sickness people.

Let’s go from one ambitious movie to another one in Disney’s The Jungle Book. I didn’t have the same connection to the animated movie like a lot of people do, so I was pretty much going in freshly minded. Thankfully, the movie surprised the hell out of me, cause I really dug it. The big takeaway was of course what Jon Favreau was able to pull off with the special effects, which were highly impressive and groundbreaking, and something Favreau brought with him to do the new Lion King movie this year.

Finally, let’s talk Sing Street. This was one I didn’t know too much about before watching. I had seen the trailer once, and thought it looked okay, but the movie itself was great! The film is set in Dublin during the 80s, and follows a group of kids start a band, mainly done by one kid who wants to impress a girl (of course), at a catholic school. It’s a very well done coming-of-age story with an amazing original soundtrack. Look for it if you hadn’t seen it.

 

 

2017

Colossal

The Fate of the Furious

Free Fire

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start off with The Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, but it’s on here not for the reason that you think. I, like some I’m sure, saw Fate of the Furious as a massive step down from the last movie, and you can make the argument that it was because it was hard for the franchise to continue without one of the franchise’s leads. It was a huge question mark, and for the most part, they really didn’t execute it too much. Then there was some of the behind-the-scenes stuff between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, and Diesel with Universal. Unfortunately, we now have to wait a little longer to see if the series can bounce back since F9 is now delayed a whole year (Hobbs & Shaw doesn’t count since it’s a spinoff).

Next is the Anne Hathaway-led Colossal, which followed Hathaway’s Gloria, an out-of-work party girl who is forced to leave her lifestyle in New York and has to go back to her small town home. While she gets accustomed to her now new life, a giant creature ends up attack Seoul, South Korea and eventually she learns she had a connection to it. And if you haven’t seen the movie or read anything about, DON’T. Go watch the movie just with that information, because Colossal is one of the prime movies that lives us to the motto “the less you know, the better.” I will admit that the reveal and what follows is kind of wacky, but director Nacho Vigalondo is known for wacky concepts (watch is other great film Timecrimes from 2007)

Finally, Free Fire, which immediately jumped to my favorites of all time list after one watch. The movie is set in Boston during the late 70s, where two gangs meet at a warehouse to make a deal, but of course, it goes wrong and a shoot-out ensues. The movie is held together by its impressive cast of Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor and Sharlto Colpey; to name a few. Highly recommend.

 

 

2018

A Quiet Place

Isle of Dogs

Avengers: Infinity War

Thoughts: Now, to probably and arguably, the best April of this list, we’ll start off with Wes Anderson’s stop-motion/CGI film Isle of Dogs. I know Anderson isn’t for everybody, and I really just started getting into Anderson myself. I did like Isle of Dogs, but I’d be lying if I said I preferred this to The Fantastic Mr. Fox, because I love Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Next let’s talk about A Quiet Place, directed by John Krasinski, which followed a family trying to live in a post-apocalyptic world that is haunted by monsters that are ultra-sensitive hearing. The movie itself is almost like a silent-movie, and movie experience was something that really took people by surprise. People took online to say that their theaters were absolutely silent as to not ruin the experience, and when a movie can do that, especially a horror movie, that’s saying something.

Finally, the last movie of the list is Avengers: Infinity War. The culmination, at that point, of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which is wholly remembered for the ending. The ending of a comic book where the heroes lose and the villain, although some make the argument that Thanos was the hero, so he’s the hero? Regardless, ten years of superhero movies, all coming down to this, what a way to leave the theater, and for Marvel to take the chance? Oh boy!

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

January Movie Releases

Happy New Year!!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we have a new year in front of us which means one thing: new movies! Now, January is usually referred to as Hollywood’s “Dump” Month. Meaning they will release movies that they don’t think will perform well or are not confident in. Sometimes that is the case, but sometimes a movie will shine through. January is also filled with expanded releases of movies that came out in December so there is also that to look forward to.

 

You’ll notice that I will put the companies attached and responsible for releasing the film as well. Just trying something new to expand the page a bit and instead of posters, now you’ll be seeing trailers. I’ll try to update whenever new trailers come out.

 

 

5th

Insidious: The Last Key (Universal Pictures & Blumhouse Productions)

In the fourth installment in the Insidious franchise, Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet – in her own family home. The Insidious movies have always been pretty creepy in terms of visuals and the spirits the characters have to face. Shaye’s Elise is undoubtedly the best character in the franchise, so it makes sense that they would bring her back to be the face of the franchise. However, it kind of feels like – at least in the trailers – that they are trying to pass on the franchise to a new character in presumably Spencer Locke’s character.  Of course, we could be wrong, but The Last Key looks like another creepy installment to the franchise that I can’t wait to watch. Insidious: The Last Key also stars Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Caitlin Gerard, Tessa Ferrer, Josh Stewart and Kirk Acevedo.

 

12th

Expanded Release: The Post & Hostiles & Phantom Thread

 

Proud Mary (Sony Pictures & Screen Gems)

Taraji P. Henson plays Mary, a hitwoman working for an organized crime family in Boston. Her life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes awry. I didn’t know anything about this until I saw the trailer, and I was indifferent about it. While I’m always for actors getting out of their comfort zone – Henson isn’t really known action roles – I’m not completely sold on the movie yet. That’s not to say I don’t think it won’t be any good, or I’m not going to watch it, but it’s something I’m not rushing out to watch. Proud Mary also stars Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Billy Brown, Neal McDonough, Xander Berkeley and Danny Glover.

 

The Commuter (Lionsgate, StudioCanal & Ombra Films)

Reuniting director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson – having done Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night together – The Commuter follows a businessman is caught up in a criminal conspiracy during his daily commute. The movie does have another added layer in that this could be Neeson’s final action movie – he did back peddle on that a bit, but still. The movie does look pretty good, despite the very spotty CGI of Neeson jumping from one train cart to another in the trailers. Either way, it’s Neeson doing what he does best, so I’m going to be sitting in the theater watching it. The Commuter also stars Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Sam Neill.

 

Paddington 2 (Warner Bros., StudioCanal, Heyday Films & Canal+)

Paddington was a surprise and smash hit back in 2014, so a sequel was going to happen. Now, the sequel follows Paddington (voiced once again by Ben Whishaw), who is happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community. Paddington picks up a series of odd jobs to by the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen, and the blame put on him. I haven’t seen the first Paddington even though I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. However, just watching the trailers, it seems like a good time. Paddington 2 stars Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Brendon Gleeson and Hugh Grant.

 

19th

Forever My Girl (Roadside Attractions & LD Entertainment)

Based on the novel by Heidi McLaughlin, after being gone for a decade a country star returns home to the love he left behind. Forever My Girl stars Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe.

 

Den of Thieves (STX Films, Diamond Film Productions & G-Base)

Den of Thieves follows an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Department hunting down the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the crew plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank. I didn’t really think anything about the movie until I saw the trailer, and I have to admit, this jumped to my watch list. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the gritty feel of it, but seeing Gerard Butler chew it up as a questionable lawman is probably worthwhile. Den of Thieves co-stars Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones and 50 Cent.

 

12 Strong (Warner Bros., Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Alcon Entertainment, & Black Label Media)

Based on the true story and novel by Doug Stanton, the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban. The juxtaposition of the soldiers on horses going up against tanks is something that weirdly drew me in right away. The cast is also pretty damn great too. 12 Strong stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Pena, Michael Shannon, Elsa Pataky, Trevante Rhodes, Navid Negahban, Rob Riggle and William Fichtner.

 

26th

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Twentieth Century Fox, Temple Hill Entertainment & Gotham Group)

The final installment of the Maze Runner adaptation, The Death Cure follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) as he embarks on a mission to finally take down WCKD. I was surprised by the first Maze Runner but the sequel left me a bit disappointed. This looks like the big explosive finale that was built up in the last movie, so my only hope would be that they make it pay off. Maze Runner: The Death Cure co-stars Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Nathalie Emmanuel, Katherine McNamara, Walton Goggins and Patricia Clarkson.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ Review

insidious_chapter_two

Dir: James Wan

Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannel and Angus Sampson

Synopsis: The haunted Lambert family seeks to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world

 

*Reviewer Note: If you have not seen Insidious, which I recommend you do, then you maybe shouldn’t read this. There will be things from the first movie that will coincide with Insidious: Chapter 2. So if you don’t want to be spoiled by either movie then go watch them first and come back*

 

Picking up right where the first movie left off, Insidious Chapter 2 finds the Lambert family reunited after Josh (Wilson) ventured into the Further to retrieve his son Dalton (Simpkins). However, the hauntings continue to occur, and Josh doesn’t seem to be quite himself anymore. Josh’s wife Renai (Byrne) starts to be haunted again and Josh’s mother Lorraine (Hershey) enlist the help of paranormal investigator Carl (Coulter) and ghost hunters Tucker (Sampson) and Specs (Whannell)

In the first Insidious, Wan and Whannell’s story was mostly centered around the Lambert family, as Josh and Renai focused on getting their son back. With the sequel there’s more of a mystery element, and the cast is split into two core groups for most of the film. One is Josh, Renai and their kids and the other is Lorraine, Carl, Tucker and Specs, who try to figure out why the Lamberts are still being haunted and if there is something else going on.

The nice thing about the sequel is that it doesn’t hold anything back. We know the family, the story (to some extent), and who the characters are. So James Wan doesn’t wait until the half way point of the movie to crank up the scares and doesn’t build the tension or atmosphere because it pretty much starts off right away, and more importantly it works. But it’s also not necessarily a sequel either per se. The movie, with the exceptions of flashbacks, is told right after the first movie. So the “mythology” is in tact. We don’t have a “six months later” text which is nice. They make no apologies in trying to obscure any of the events from the first movie, they revel in them.

This is one of the reasons why Insidious 2 is different from your average horror sequel, because you actually have to know something about the first film before you watch the second. However, one of the things I keep hearing is that the movie is a bit tonally different from the first and in a way I have to agree.  Tucker and Specs’ roles are expanded in this and continue to provide the comic relief and some people feel it as a “campy.” I don’t know if I’d go that far since they really only showed up in the last thirty minutes of the first movie so they have obviously have more to do this time around with their Ghostbuster-y gimmick.

Meanwhile, Wilson does a fine job of portraying the inner struggle between Josh and the after effect of going into The Further in the last movie. Byrne does a good job as Renai again but it almost feels like her screen time is shorter here. While Insidious 2’s marketing would have you believe that Byrne is the leading lady, it’s kind of feels like its Hershey who has more screen time, which isn’t really that bad.

All in all, Insidious: Chapter 2 is once again a pretty good haunted house movie. It’s scary and intriguing and even puts a fun spin on what we’ve already seen. I wouldn’t say it’s as scary as the first movie, again with the exception of a few scenes, but still worth checking out to see the conclusion of the Lambert family mystery.

 

Insidious: Chapter 2

4 out of 5