Written by Contributor
By Matt Mungle
Title: Evil Dead
Believe it or not but there is a large number of movie fans that salivate (literally) over this genre and any mention of the original Evil Dead. So it only makes sense that the new film, produced by the original film makers, would be all the buzz. Granted these types of movies are never for the squeamish or faint of heart. And many would find them almost repulsive. But I have to say that even with all of that, there is something quite splintered tongue in carved out cheek that make them in some way, fun.
The script is pretty close to the same as five friends get together in a remote cabin to try a drug intervention of a young woman. As with most cabins in the woods, there is a book of the dead inside with a horrific curse that should never be spoken aloud. And as with most young people, they heed no warning but speak it anyway. This summons a demon that begins killing them all off one by one.
Evil Dead offers so much for the fans of this genre. The look and feel of the cabin, and the way the scenes are shot just dare you to try and not look away. Then when the killing begins you start to wonder how in the world they thought this stuff up. A person’s mind can assume the worst, but this film has the ability to take it even farther than you can imagine. If Hollywood had a quota of the gallons of blood, dismembered body parts, and outright gore that can be used in a year, it is safe to say that this would be the last horror film of the decade. They used it all up on 90 minutes.
Evil Dead is rated R, strongly, for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language. There is no nudity which makes this not an 80s horror film. They rely strictly on the gore to make this another destined cult classic.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 09:23
Written by Contributor
By Matt Mungle
Title: G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Seems a little early in the year to talk about huge blockbusters, but even though we are barely into April, we get a film that could easily run with the big boys of summer. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is an action filled thrill ride from beginning to end and does the franchise proud. Normally there would be excuses made for plot holes, script issues and over acting. But not this time around. Every aspect of this film can stand with its head held high.
When the Joe's are ambushed on a routine mission, they have to once again face their enemy Cobra as well as find out who is pulling puppet strings in their own government. If they do not succeed, it could be a nuclear holocaust like no other. This one has many of the familiar characters, and even if you aren't up to speed on who is who, you can still enjoy the ride along with the pros. Die-hard fans have even more reason to celebrate as the movie gives them a nice dose of G.I Joe action.
The cast was engaged and treated the script with respect. Dwayne Johnson (Roadblock) especially has a lot to do in this film and balances military with humility and humor. Sure there a few too many testosterone oo-rah moments, but the film is called G.I. Joe so it is expected. But it also overpowers that with comic styled characters, so that you feel you are watching a superhero film more than an army flick. Bruce Willis may be getting old, but he still has that steely gaze that helped propel his role. At the same time, he acted his age and didn't try to convince us he can do the same moves as the youngsters. This made it real and helped the sense of believability.
Like your adventure wall to wall? This one has it. The choreographed fight scenes were as good as any I have seen. The mix of armory, martial arts and sword play gives something for everyone. Normally 3D is horrible in a non-animated film but not here. It was crisp and added depth. The on location shots were stunningly vast and awe inspiring. These are words rarely associated with films of this genre and especially in this series; so kudos to the movie makers.
G.I. Joe is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language. This is mainly due to action violence. There is a lot of gun play, sword fighting, and hand to hand combat that might be a little too realistic for your younger viewers. The language is not as big an issue with only a few mild expletives popping up from time to time. This film really does fire on all cylinders and even with all the rumors of rewrites, filming issues, and cast problems, it manages to succeed greatly. You can’t rate this movie on a normal scale, because it is totally intended for the action, superhero, fan boys out there. For the genre, I give it a solid 4 out of 5 ninja poses. It is a nice addition to the action adventure family.
Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 09:34
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Matt Mungle
There seems to be a trend these days with romantic comedies trying to add a bit too much drama. The viewer ends up confused as to which emotion to engage. In the end, both genres suffer slightly. In the new comedy Admission, I wanted more laughs and less emoting. Not to say it isn’t still a solid date night film, just warning you that it isn’t wall to wall hilarity. For some that might be a bonus.
Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) is a Princeton admissions officer working hard at weeding out the undeserving freshman entries. She is on the fast track to head up the department after 16 years of dedicated service. When visiting an alternative school in search of new recruits, she finds a young man (Nat Wolff) who is not only incredibly bright but may just be the son she gave up for adoption years ago. To complicate her life even further she is dealing with her eccentric mother (Lily Tomlin), a struggling dating relationship, and an overzealous school administrator (Paul Rudd).
Tina Fey is one of the funniest women on screen today who is awkwardly charming with perfect timing and a relaxed delivery. She carries a smirky smile that lets you know that nothing she says is 100 percent serious and actually does a nice job in this role. The dramatic moments are nailed right along with the funny ones. Fey carries this film from start to finish. It is her character’s journey and each scene belongs to her. Rudd is another comedic actor with a laid back personality and novel charm. I will not go so far as to say that their chemistry on screen was delightful, but it was believable enough.
There are a lot of messages in this film about adoption. That is where most of the dramatic moments take effect. It isn’t preachy or agenda driven, but still the point is made; adoption is better than many alternatives. The message and story are very positive though many might want more laughs and Tina Fey goodness. Yes you get involved with her on the journey, but you sort of long for more of the admissions side of what she does. Even that gets a little serious when it becomes about “who should be eligible for education”.
Bottom line: It is a strong date night flick. Nothing remarkable and once you see it you may not care to see it again. But it offers enough for both sexes to make it enjoyable. Rated PG-13 for language and some sexual material; there are no awkward first date moments or anything to offend viewers. The language is adult and frequent. There are a few expletives you would not like your teens repeating though most they have certainly heard. Admission gets 3 out of 5 waitlists. It needed more humor and better use of Tina Fey’s abilities.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 12:43
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Matt Mungle
Title: Oz the Great and Powerful
No doubt that The Wizard of Oz is one of the most watched and timeless classics ever. But did you ever stop and wonder how the Wizard got there in the first place or why the Wicked Witch was so wicked? Even if the answer is no you will have a blast watching the new family adventure film, Oz the Great and Powerful. Full of wonderment, action, humor, and well written wit, this has everything you would expect to see in a revisit to the merry old Land of Oz
The story starts with a struggling carnival magician named Oz (James Franco) who is a self-proclaimed con man and entertaining illusionist. He is used to slight-of- hand gimmicks to make a buck and has no problem sleeping at night. When a hot air balloon he is in runs into a Kansas twister he, like Dorothy years later, is swept away and lands in Oz. He soon discovers that the people think he is the fulfillment of an age old prophecy and that he will save them and their homeland from the wicked witch. Oz must now decide whether to help them or continue his life of selfishness.
In the original movie, you love to hate The Wicked Witch of the West. Her cackling laugh, green skin, and menacing stare make her a top ten villain. Here she is played quite wonderfully by Mila Kunis. We find her character early on as a sweet young witch who is waiting along with everyone else for the foretold wizard. But as the story progresses we find out what exactly makes her so evil and transforms her into Dorothy’s enemy many years later. Kunis seems to be having fun with the role and gets into the wickedness with fervor.
The humor comes mainly from a winged monkey named Finley (voiced by Zach Braff). Soon after Oz lands in Oz he befriends this little guy who swears a loyal service to the wizard. Their relationship is give and take and the monkey is always getting a laugh. The film also adds a jolly bit of fun characters including The Munchkins, The Tinkers and Quadling citizens. They are watched over by Glinda (Michelle Williams) who wants Oz to step up and do the right thing. Like always she sees the good in his heart and desires to help him discover it.
Oz the Great and Powerful is rated PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language. There is nothing at all offensive in this one, but parents do need to be aware of the scary images. The flying monkeys and the wicked witch are as scary in this one as the original. They become even more alive in 3D, so I would be careful with your tiniest moviegoers and maybe stick with the 10 and up crowd. I give this 4 out of 5 Winkie Guard spears. It is funny, action packed, and delightful for the entire family.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 12:36
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Matt Mungle
Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Ten years ago we watched The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and began asking ourselves when Peter Jackson would give us the adventures of Bilbo Baggins now that the trilogy had ended. It was clear then that no one else should be allowed to touch middle earth and the characters that dwell there. Now that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is finally here the bar is raised high and the results should as expected. Which leaves this reviewer a little disappointed.
In case you aren't aware of the story The Hobbit is the prequel to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It is a fascinating book full of marvelous characters and gives us the history of how the ring came to belong to Frodo's Uncle Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). The great wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) has volunteered Bilbo to help the Dwarfs in their quest to reclaim their home. Both sides are unhappy with this merger, yet they strike an accord and set off. The idea of a Hobbit on a trek with the wizard Gandalf, and a pack of Dwarves; fighting Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, and other such nonsense, makes for great movie adaptation.
What fans needed from Jackson more than anything was the beauty of the shire, the majesty of the other worlds, and the darkness of middle earth. The cinematography in the LOTR Trilogy was breathtaking in a time when 3D was unheard of in the mainstream arena. Now it seems this film relied heavily on 3D elements as if that would distract us from the lack of landscape. Most of the three hours had the characters walking around in what seemed like a PBS stage production or a cardboard maze. I kept wondering if Jackson was going to lead us to a place that suddenly exploded on screen, sort of like in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the black and white door to a land of color. But it never arrived.
The first thought was that Peter was making this for a different audience. The book is certainly geared to younger readers than the LOTR. So maybe the playful, almost Saturday morning cartoon sets and antics were part of the plan. But then when the Orcs show up and the battles occur, there is no question that they are too graphic and violent for anyone under 14. So the two worlds never seem to gel. The details given to the inhabitants of middle earth are incredible. They are fluid and dripping with grossness. I wanted that same detail in the lands traveled on in the journey.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has yet to be rated. Though the story, dialogue, and characters are easily a timid PG, the action, violence, peril and graphic imagery of the Orcs elevates it to a PG-14 or 15. You certainly need to know your kids with this one. I give it 3.5 out of 5 furry feat.
Yes the story is still as enchanting and Freeman is the perfect Bilbo. The nearly three hours fly by as you watch them all encounter trial after trial. It is certainly a film worth seeing, but you have to go in understanding that, like the little Hobbit, you might find it an unexpected journey.
Last Updated on Sunday, 16 December 2012 23:10