Monthly Rewind for March

Hello, everybody!

The third edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing March! (aka my birth month)

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

Mother

The Runaways

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Thoughts: Looking back, it’s hard to believe only three movies stood out to me this month. The first is the Bong Joon Ho-directed crime drama Mother, which followed a mother who desperately searches to clear her son’s name after he’s accused of murdering a girl. It was Joon Ho’s first movie after The Host, and is led wonderfully by Hye-ja Kim as the character of Mother. If you want your Bong Joon Ho fix, search out Mother.

Next up is The Runaways, the biopic about the teenage all-girl rock band The Runaways, led by Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart), and what they went through as the band grew. It was the first thing I knew Stewart in after Twilight blew up, and see her and Fanning together was fun to watch. Granted, I didn’t know too much about that actual Runaways themselves, it was nice to see it play out on screen.

Finally, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The original Swedish version that blew up overseas and then here in the States, and it also made Noomi Rapace a household name among film nerds. The film, based on the bestselling novel by Stieg Larsson, introduce us to the popular character of Lisbeth Salander and her anti-hero ways of taking down men who take advantage of the system. It was one of the rare movies that shook me and had me buzzing to anyone that would hear me after I watched it.

 

2011

I Saw the Devil

Battle Los Angeles

Sucker Punch

Thoughts: Oh, 2011, what was going on? Let’s start with the Zack Snyder-directed action movie Sucker Punch, which is probably the definition of cool, badass trailer that doesn’t translate into a good movie. It’s also the prime example that Snyder is more of a visual director than a plot/story-driven director since the action scenes were great to watch, but everything else was rather, blah.

Next is Battle Los Angeles, the sci-fi action movie that follows a squad of marines as they fight to an alien invasion in Los Angeles. I’m going to admit that I’m actually a fan of the movie. There’s enough familiar faces in there like Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Pena and Bridget Moynahan to get to connect, and some somewhat familiar faces to keep you fully invested in the action. The action is also pretty fun, and it gives off a more toned down Black Hawk Dawn with aliens.

Finally, another Korean film, I Saw the Devil directed by Jee-woon Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good the Bad the Weird, The Last Stand). The movie sees a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a twist. A special agent, played by Byung-hun Lee, tracks down his fiancé’s murderer, a dangerous psychopath played by excellently by the great Choi Min-sik, and deploys his own level of torture. This movie is FUCKED UP. I don’t want to say anymore, but this, go watch this with the information I just gave you, and that’s it!

 

2012

John Carter

Silent House

Casa de mi Padre

The Hunger Games

The Raid: Redemption

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start off with the big one here in John Carter. Disney really dropped the ball on this one. What should have started a franchise for Disney – again – was instead a heavy mix-bag of descent to good CGI and borderline mediocre. It’s a shame since the books were a heavy inspiration of sci-fi and fantasy movies that we all know and love. John Carter is, arguably, one of the biggest “what happened?” movies in Hollywood.

Next is the Elizabeth Olsen-led Silent House. A remake of the film La Casa Muda (The Silent House), the movie is shot like a one-take and follows Olson’s Sarah, who is trapped inside her family’s lakeside retreat by a supernatural force. The movie is okay, mainly held together by Olson, who’s in every scene in the movie, and was only her second film (Martha Marcy May Marlene had gotten a limited release and a film festival run at this point). The movie’s ending also loses every bit of the film’s overall story, which is why people probably, in the end, didn’t enjoy it.

Case de mi Padre was a Spanish comedy starring Will Ferrell (yes, speaking Spanish) where he was trying to save his father’s ranch, with his brother (played by Diego Luna), who ends up going head-to-head with Mexico’s most feared drug lord. The movie is utterly ridiculous, including a “sex scene” that you’d expect out of a Ferrell, but you know what, I remember liking the movie when I saw it.

Next up is The Hunger Games, based off the popular book series by Suzanne Collins (who also co-wrote the script), the movie starred Jennifer Lawrence and basically launched her into super stardom. The movie itself was fine, but it was one of the rare instincts where I doubled-down on the phrase “the book is FAR superior than the movie.”

Finally, The Raid. Directed by Gareth Evans and starring Iko Uwais, the movie took audiences by storm. Everyone called it the best action film is years, and you know what? They were right! The story might be unoriginal – elite SWAT team gets trapped in a building by the bad guy they are trying to take down – difference is, these guys beat the hell out of each other instead of shooting each other up for two hours.

 

2013

Stoker

Spring Breakers

The Croods

Olympus Has Fallen

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start off with Spring Breakers, which I will whole heartedly admit, I did NOT like this movie. It didn’t matter how enthralling James Franco was as Alien, this movie felt like it was two-and-half-hours even though it was actually an hour-and-a-half. That should tell you what my experience was like watching.

Let’s move on to Stoker, written by actor Wentworth Miller and directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Thirst) which followed India (Mia Wasikowska), who finds out she had an uncle (Matthew Goode) she never knew about that comes to live with her and her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman). What follows is a mystery thriller of India trying to figure what her uncle really wants. It was a nice little solid thriller, but the problem was that not many people saw it. It also had an Asian cinema feel to it, which may have set people off too.

Now let’s talk about, a movie that I think gets a little too much hate, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Yes, Rise of Cobra was pretty much hot garbage, but Retaliation got the Dwayne Johnson push, along with it being a soft reboot. The movie also gave Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow way more to do, including that pretty cool mountain sequence. If you haven’t seen it in a while, give it another shot.

Next is Olympus Has Fallen, one of the two White House invasion movies that came out this year, but I much prefer Olympus Has Fallen mainly due to it going more action-centric and somewhat more serious. It also had Gerard Butler going back to the action genre after doing his romantic comedies stint.

Finally, The Croods. Coming from DreamWorks Animation, and having a voice cast of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Clark Duke, Catherine Keener and Cloris Leachman as the titular family of cave people who must find a new home after theirs is destroyed, and finding help from Guy (Ryan Reynolds). The movie was a lot of fun. I didn’t, admittedly, think the movie was going to be anything impressive, but the humor keeps the movie going from beginning to end.

 

2014

300: Rise of an Empire

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Need for Speed

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Noah

Sabotage

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which tells the story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious but ultimately doomed adaptation of Dune. It’s an amazing documentary about how all this work went into that adaptation of Dune, and what carried over to the version we all know.

Let’s now talk about Sabotage. Directed by David Ayer (Fury, Suicide Squad), it followed members of an elite DEA task force who are getting murdered one-by-one after they end up robbing a drug cartel safe house. It was lead by Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a supporting cast of Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Mireille Enos, Max Martini, Terrence Howard, Josh Holloway and Olivia Williams. This is honestly my least-favorite David Ayer film, and probably his worst. The movie is filled with unlikable characters and writing that is all over the place that makes the movie feel like it was a first draft.

Next is the somewhat controversial Darren Aronofsky’s directed Noah. The story of Noah, played by Russell Crowe, as he builds his ark before God’s flood. This story adds an army of people, seemingly lead by Ray Winstone’s Tubal-cain, who want to invade the ark and also save themselves, a group of fallen angels called Watchers who are rock creatures – the leader being voiced by Nick Nolte – and a less benevolent Noah that we’ve come to know. The film itself is okay, but it wasn’t something I’d recommend to everyone.

Moving on to 300: Rise of an Empire, a fourteen-year sequel to 300, takes the other perspective of the Battle of Thermopylae, the naval battle between the Greeks and the Persian army. The movie took the same graphic novel look and applied it to the sea battles which looked pretty cool. It also had a great villain in Artemisia, played by Eva Green.

Next is Need for Speed, based on the video game series, Aaron Paul plays a street racer who was framed for the murder of his friend by his wealthy associate, Dino (Dominic Cooper). When he gets released he joins a secretive and high-stakes race called The DeLeon, knowing Dino will be on the race, he takes part as a way to get revenge and redemption. Honestly, I was pretty surprised by Need for Speed, since I didn’t really expect much from it, but I needed up really doing the hell out of it.

Finally, The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson. Maybe not my favorite Anderson film, but a good one nonetheless.

 

 

2015

Chappie

Run All Night

It Follows

Thoughts: Let’s begin with Chappie, the third outing of Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium), which follows a police droid (motion-captured and voiced by Sharlto Copley) that gets stolen and reprogrammed to become the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. The movie was held together by Copley’s portray as Chappie, Hugh Jackman’s villain character Vincent, and surprisingly the supporting performance by singers Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja. The movie itself, so-so.

Next is Run All Night, the Liam Neeson-led action crime movie where he plays a mobster hitman, Jimmy Conlon, who needs to keep his son safe for the night when he becomes the target of a hit, placed by his boss and longtime friend Shawn (Ed Harris), after the death of his son. This was Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Sera’s third team up of their four movies together (Unknown, Non-Stop and The Commuter). The movie itself was okay, it wasn’t their best, but maybe their second best with Neeson playing up his age in this one and the on-screen chemistry he has with Harris.

Finally, the much-talked about and analyzed horror hit, It Follows. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, the film follows Jay (Maika Monroe, in her breakout role), who is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter, who only she can see. It Follows was one of the breakout horror films, if not just film in general, in 2015 for its themes and overall quality. In that time, a bunch of articles came out trying to break down everything, which from what I can remember, hadn’t happened in a while.

 

 

2016

Zootopia

10 Cloverfield Lane

Midnight Special

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Everybody Wants Some!!

Thoughts: First up, Midnight Special, the indie sci-fi drama about a father and son on the run from the government and a cult who want to use the child’s powers for their own good. The film had a great cast with Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Jaeden Martell, Bill Camp, Kirsten Dunst and Sam Shepard, which keeps you invested from beginning to end.

Next is the Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age college film Everybody Wants Some!! Following a group of collage baseball players in the summer before their semester starts. It’s like other Linklater films – expect Boyhood – with a mix of unknown and up-and-comers.

Next is Disney’s Zootopia, which took critics and fans for quite a ride when it came out. Setting it in a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie cop bunny teams up with a con artist fox to solve a conspiracy. If anything, it gave us plenty of meme, gif content.

10 Cloverfield Lane, which is arguably the best movie of the month, is set within the Cloverfield universe, at least for the last ten to fifteen minutes. The movie follows Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle, who wakes up in an underground bunker after a car accident. She finds out the bunker belongs to John Goodman’s Howard, who has also taken in John Gallagher Jr.’s Emmett, and won’t let them leave because of a supposed chemical attack that has turned the air toxic. The movie got an interesting article after it came out relating the movie to domestic abuse, which was an interesting way to look at it. Plus, it has Winstead battling aliens, so yeah.

Okay, finally, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice aka “Why did you say that name?” I’m going off the theatrical version and look, I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I was probably one of the few people that was onboard the Batfleck bandwagon, and the giving Gal Gadot a chance as Wonder Woman. But, oh man what a massive disappointment this was. Like, how do you mess this up? Seriously! The Trinity of DC Comics and you drop the ball heavily. Big no-no.

 

2017

Logan

Kong: Skull Island

The Belko Experiment

Power Rangers

Ghost in the Shell

Thoughts: Oh, Ghost in the Shell, what happened? Let’s move pass the “white washing” controversy (the character is a robot, not to take away the seriousness of the situation, but still), and talk about the movie itself. It was rather bland.

Next is The Belko Experiment, written by James Gunn, the movie takes a twisted social experiment with eighty Americans locked in their high-rise corporate office in Colombia. They are ordered by a mysterious and unknown voice from the intercom system that they must participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed. It’s a pretty descent movie, that can be a little mean sometimes, but given the material, I guess it makes sense.

Let’s talk about Power Rangers, Krispy Kreme aside, this movie would have blown little me’s mind away. Filled with, at the time, a relative unknown cast this reboot wasn’t really that bad. The characters are written well enough, although not all of them had proper time to shine. This movie towed the line at times from cheesy to serious, and it was truly something to hear the theme playing on the big screen again.

Next is Kong: Skull Island, the reboot/remake/reimaging of King Kong, saw a team of scientists along with a group of soldiers, a photojournalist and a personal tracker who venture to an uncharted island, where they encounter massive unknown creatures and Kong himself. I really enjoyed the movie and really liked what they did with Kong, and not trying to copy the original too much. The movie also had a cast of who’s who, and some disgusting imagery that you’d expect. It also opened the door for the new Kong vs. Godzilla movie happening.

Finally, let’s talk about Logan! The R-rated comic book, and the final run of Hugh Jackman’s Logan aka Wolverine. Set in the future, Logan, now a broken down version of his former self is found by Laura (Dafne Keen), a mutant child on the run from scientists and a group of enhanced mercenaries that will stop at nothing to get her back. There’s not a lot to hate or dislike about the movie, and it was one of those movies that took me a minute to process. And that last shot, oh man.

 

 

2018

The Strangers: Prey at Night

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Unsane

Ready Player One

Thoughts: Our last year we’ll start with Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel Guillermo del Toro’s great – at least in my opinion – first movie about giants robots, called Jaegers, against giant monsters, Kaiju. The sequel sees the son of Idris Elba’s character from the first movie played by John Boyega. Boyega’s Jake, a former Jaeger pilot gets recruited to the new Jaeger program to fight off a new threat. Del Toro did not return to direct or write, so it did lose the del Toro touch, and while the sequel had some cool moments, it just didn’t feel right. Plus, the ending kind of just happens.

Next let’s talk about the Steven Soderbergh-directed Unsane, which he reportedly shot on an iPhone, which is impressive in itself. The movie followed Claire Foy’s Sawyer who is involuntarily committed to a mental institution, where she is, maybe, confronted by her stalker. The movie plays up the mystery of whether or not it’s real or not, but the real thing here is how Soderbergh was able to pull it off. The movie itself is fine.

The next movie is The Strangers: Prey at Night, the sequel to the first movie from 2008. This time instead of a couple, the sequel follows a family staying at a secluded mobile home park where they are hunted by our three masked psychopaths. The movie is very different from the first movie, mainly since the movie isn’t just isolated to a home, it gives everyone more space to play around. It’s also got a 80s vibe to it, which really made the movie work. I would highly recommend this if you haven’t watched it yet, and you don’t really have to watch the first movie to watch the sequel.

Finally, the ambitious adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel, Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg. The movie took us into the future and the world of OASIS, a virtual reality where people can be whoever they want to be, and when the creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind Easter Eggs. Anyone who finds them, through his series of puzzles, gets completely control of the OASIS, and the creator’s fortune. The movie itself was quite the experience watching on the big screen, mainly because of how chalk-full of references and video game characters are in the book, and how many of them are on the screen at the same time.

It’s rather impressive that Spielberg was able to get all of this together, and more importantly, get it to really work for the majority of the film. Especially considering how much they changed from the book to the movie, mainly the sequence paying homage to The Shining.

 

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?

‘Need for Speed’ Review

Dir: Scott Waugh

Cast: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, Ramon Rodriguez, Harrison Gilbertson, Dakota Johnson, and Michael Keaton

Synopsis: Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins.

 

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

 

Need for Speed, based on the popular EA racing games, follows Tobey Marshall (Paul) is a former racing star who’s now struggling to make the payments on the auto shop he inherited from his dad.  When his rival Dino Brewster (Cooper) offers Tobey and his crew 25% of the profits on a restored Mustang and they, of course, take the job.  After the car sells in a way Dino doesn’t like, he wagers with Tobey and Tobey’s friend Pete (Gilbertson) an all-or-nothing race.  Tobey takes the wager and is about to win when a desperate Dino nudges Pete off the road, and kills him.  Tobey gets blamed for the crash and is sent to jail for two years. Once he gets out, he chooses to get revenge on Dino by beating him in the prestigious De Leon race held by Monarch (Keaton), an ex-racer-turned-Internet phenomenon.  The Mustang buyer’s assistant, Julia (Poots), provides the restored car and the two head across country while dodging cops and a bounty put by Dino.

While some will probably say the movie is trying to copy or be like The Fast and The Furious franchise, Need for Speed is kind of its own thing.  The movie does have its comedic moments, one scene in particular with one of Toby’s crew members Finn (Malek), but aside from that the movie is very much grounded. The movie has prided itself on using actual stunts instead with few CGI as possible, does make the car chases a bit more thrilling to watch and gives the movie a bit more creditability at the end. Of course, reviewers look at this as a mistake and some even say that the seriousness of the movie ruins the whole movie entirely. While there are some scenes that do prove that it doesn’t change the experience, well at least for me.

On the acting side, Aaron Paul, of Breaking Bad fame, does what he can with his role as a man looking for revenge but other than that he doesn’t really do anything else.  He does have good chemistry with Poots’ character Julia, who is more than just a pretty face. Toby’s crew include; a pilot, Benny, who keeps an eye of them, and mechanics Joe and Finn. All three of them are the comic relief of the movie and while some of the jokes do feel forced there are some real genuine moments that make you feel like they have been friends for a while.

Dominic Cooper’s villain Dino is nothing more than a cocky former pro-racer who wants things done his way and will do anything he can to get it.  Michael Keaton chews up a bit of the scenes he’s in as Monarch, but I think people will be happy to see him on the big screen again.

But let’s face it, the reason people will watch this movie is for the car sequences.  Like I said before, Need for Speed prided itself on using actual stunts with a touch of CGI, which does make the car chases a bit more thrilling to watch and enjoy. Thankfully, Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) went that direction otherwise the movie could have gone in another direction for the worse. Waugh even brings some descent POV shots and puts you in the car sometimes. Like the game, the races all build up to the last race which is Monarch’s pride-and-joy, the De Leon, where the winner gets millions of dollars and the fancy cars.

All in all, Need for Speed isn’t a great movie but it isn’t as bad as the reviewers want to make you think.  Paul, Poots and Keaton are the better parts of the movie but in reality the car chase sequences are the best part of Need for Speed.

 

Need for Speed

3.5 out of 5