Tag Archives: movie review

American Sniper: Remembering our heroes

If you haven’t seen “American Sniper” yet, then go out right this moment and watch it.“But I have homework to do and a paper due tomorrow!” Excuses! Homework can wait. This movie is directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. The film received a 7.6 out of 10 rating on IMDb and we all know how harsh their rating system is! “

Chris Kyle takes up arms after seeing a terrorist attack on TV and heads overseas with only one mission in mind: to protect the brothers that stand beside him. As time goes by, Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy with his sniper rifle brings him recognition and praise from the countless soldiers he saved. He earns not only the nickname “Legend” but also notoriety from a growing number of Iraqi enemies in the shadows. Kyle not only has to deal with the enemies trying to cash in on the price on his head but also the demons that plague his mind. Upon returning home, Kyle’s military experiences and his duties as husband and father clash because he’s unable to find a balance between the two. The movie gives a beautifully realistic view of the struggles Kyle faced during and after each of his four tours. From suspenseful action scenes to humorous ones, this film has all the components to keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle in American Sniper. Graphic from IMDb
Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle in American Sniper. Graphic from IMDb

The action scenes all take place overseas, naturally. The first scene opens up with Kyle perched on a housetop looking for abnormal individuals. A young boy and woman step out into the street and the woman gives the young boy (no more than 13-14 years old) what looks to be a pipe bomb. There is no visual confirmation of the pipe bomb, so Kyle must choose whether to shoot the boy or not. If that’s not a stressful situation, then I don’t know what is. The action scenes are so intense, you’ll feel more overwhelmed than disappointed.  So, to all my action movie lovers, I suggest you bump “American Sniper” to the top of your need-to-watchlist.

The scenes where Kyle is stateside hold the audience’s attention much like the action scenes do. Bradley Cooper perfectly depicted Kyle’s feelings of uselessness and failure when he’s home. As I mentioned earlier, Kyle’s one mission is to save the lives of his brothers-in-arms, and he feels he can’t do that if he’s not out there fighting the enemy. Watching his friends die around him only strengthens his resolve and as a result pulls him farther away from his family. The struggle between family and duty have been romanticized (cough, cough Love and Honor) in countless movies. However, Clint Eastwood finally put his foot down and showed the real pain that is embedded in the conflict.

“American Sniper” is a movie that every U.S. citizen needs to watch. It’s easy to go through life forgetting the men and woman laying down their lives in order to keep our country safe. This movie serves as a reminder that war is not an easy thing to carry on your shoulders and those who carry this burden deserve not only our respect but also our remembrance. Wow, that got deep. “Yeah it did but it was a good deep.” The moral of the story is to go and watch the movie based on Chris Kyle’s biography! “Buying my ticket now! Thank you Fandango!” SPOILER: As the movie ends, take notice that no one will be saying a word as they leave.

“Insidious: Chapter 2″ impresses horror fans

“Insidious: Chapter 2” outdoes the average horror movie and then some. Film director James Wan and scriptwriter Leigh Whannell have created and executed a plot that allows the original story arc to come full circle by explaining some of the freakiest moments from the first movie.

Continue reading “Insidious: Chapter 2″ impresses horror fans

“Paranormal Activity 4″: And so it goes on

“Paranormal Activity 4″ is yet another sequel to the franchise which started off as a low budget, independent film that earned national release. After the first movie, the writers tried to create a more streamlined plot involving a haunted family and their different lives. Now in the fourth movie, we are introduced to a brand new family but with repetitious moments. Continue reading “Paranormal Activity 4″: And so it goes on

“The Possession”: Welcome back exorcisms

Released Aug. 31, “The Possession” went straight to the top of the box office charts. Now granted, it was the only movie that had nationwide release that week, but with that being said, was it actually good enough to earn that spot?

“The Possession” takes your normal exorcism film and adds its own little spin and flair to it. The story is simple. A recently divorced father buys an antique box at a yard sale for his daughter. The box holds a violent ancient spirit and the family searches for a way to end the curse. The plot is nothing spectacular, but the film succeeds in nearly every other way. Continue reading “The Possession”: Welcome back exorcisms

“The Hunger Games” hits theaters and pleases readers

It’s a trending topic, to say the least, and to say you haven’t heard of “The Hunger Games” means you must be living under a rock, or you’re simply cut off from the free world. I’ll admit it took me a while to get into it, and 4 years after the book’s release (the film is based on the 2008 novel of the same name written by Suzanne Collins) I finally jumped on The Hunger Games bandwagon. My only regret: why did I wait so long? Continue reading “The Hunger Games” hits theaters and pleases readers

Daniel Radcliffe escapes his Harry Potter image in “The Woman in Black”

The film opens with three young girls playing together in an attic nursery, surrounded by their petite tea sets and delicate porcelain dolls. Suddenly, the girls are caught off-guard by an unseen presence and take on a somewhat mesmerized state as they begin to walk over their toys, crushing them under their small feet, only to jump to their deaths out of the nursery window. Continue reading Daniel Radcliffe escapes his Harry Potter image in “The Woman in Black”

“Immortals” is not something to die for

Released on 11/11/11, the movie “Immortals” had many moviegoers waiting with bated breath for this new 3-D action film by the same people who made the box office hits “300” and “Sin City.” Unfortunately, many were surprisingly disappointed.

"Immortals." Movie poster courtesy of Creative Commons.

The power-hungry King Hyperion is marching all over Greece, conquering leaders and leaving a trail of blood and corpses in his terrifying wake. The Gods, portrayed as young and beautiful but somewhat careless, are always watching, but are forbidden to interfere. Enter Theseus, the bastard child of a peasant woman, who has learned to fight without fear. After Theseus witnesses the murder of his mother at the hands of King Hyperion, he sets out to avenge her death with the help of the virgin, or the Sybelline Oracle, Phaedra. She is a young lady who, as long as she remains pure and untouched by man, can see the future. Both Hyperion and Theseus are on the hunt for the Bow of Epirus. This bow allows whoever possesses it to release the Titans who are buried deep in Mount Olympus. The Titans are the only beings capable of destroying the Gods. Theseus seeks the bow only so Hyperion can’t release the Titans because if they are released, mankind is doomed.

Theseus in battle. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

There were only two “epic” battles that this director is so well known for, and though they are both bloodbaths, only one is the gory, action-packed bloodbath that was expected. The other fights are short, mostly clean and leave something to be desired.

It’s revenge with some Greek mythology thrown in, but overall it’s pretty stereotypical. There’s nothing surprising here, no twists in the plot and no unbelievable ending. It all gets wrapped up nice and clean. The characters don’t have enough time to develop. Theseus and the virgin oracle fall in love and well, let’s just say she gives it up pretty easily considering her visions were a gift from the gods. She just shrugs her clothes off and says “OK, let’s do it.” Theseus has no real personal ties besides his mother, who dies early on. He doesn’t have much personality either.

The acting is OK, but the characters’ relationships with each other are sub-par. Everything moves too quickly. Even the relationships between the Gods are drab. Plus, there’s only five of them and this is not true to Greek mythology. Hyperion is portrayed as a ruthless leader, but his character has no dimensions. He has no weaknesses, no love and no soft side, not even when it comes to his position or the people who follow him.

The effects were good, but nothing spectacular. The scenery was really nice and eye-catching, but other than that, nothing impressive comes to mind. Blood and gore were minimal compared to the director’s previous films, and though it was high-tech, the viewer was left wanting something more. Having it in 3-D was completely unnecessary. It didn’t add anything to the movie except a few wasted dollars.

Redbox this movie, but don’t keep it for more than a night.

Rating: 2/5

Cutting loose from the original or sticking to it?

I told myself I was never going to see the remake of “Footloose” out of principle. Who are they to try to mess with the original? But when it started getting rave reviews, I figured I had to check it out to see what the buzz was about. If you’re taking the movie at face value, it isn’t half bad. But if you’re comparing it to the original, don’t even bother; nothing will ever live up to it.

Photo from Creative Commons.

Kevin Bacon had already been in a few films, but his career skyrocketed once he appeared in “Footloose.” He owned the role and lit up the screen, and people fell in love with him for it. I’m sad that I can’t say the same for Kenny Wormald. I had high hopes for him since he looks the part (attractive and brooding), but he didn’t have enough personality to make it work. The original movie was obviously about Ren, with Ariel acting as a supporting role, but people can argue that Ariel was the focus of the remake because she was much more memorable. Also, even though he grew up in Stoughton, Mass., he had the worst Boston accent I’ve ever heard. Or maybe Boston accents are just that terrible sounding; I’m going with the latter.

Julianne Hough was a pleasant surprise and an utter disappointment at the same time. Her acting was much better than I expected it to be, but where were her dancing skills? We all know the “Dancing with the Stars” two-time champion has got the moves, so why didn’t they let her show them off? They spent too much time focusing on her ass and not enough time on her assets.

Photo from Creative Commons.

Many of the scenes in the new “Footloose” feel like they’re forced and were only included in an effort to make the new film mimic the old one. This is mostly evident in Ren’s angry/sad/drunken warehouse dance. Sure, it didn’t make any sense in the first film, but we were all too busy swooning over Kevin Bacon to notice (and those who noticed were too busy swooning to care). But in the new “Footloose” it makes even less sense, and we aren’t as attached to Ren’s character to care about why he’s frustrated — we just watch and laugh as he prances around trying to be Kevin Bacon.

The movie couldn’t make up its mind when it came to music choices. There was hip-hop almost forcefully inserted into some of the dance scenes to keep up with the times. They also tried to keep it true to form by including some of the same songs as the original film, whether they were the same track or a shitty modern version of it. Maybe it’s just because I’m a fan of ’80s music, but I like the original tracks much better than the redone ones. Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero” was made for dancing (as is “Footloose”), and Ella Mae Bowen’s bores me to tears. And why was Victoria Justice allowed to record music for this soundtrack? Her version of “Almost Paradise” with Hunter Hayes is awful and the chorus is at least an octave away from the original. There’s a difference between paying homage to something and totally ruining it. If they were going to completely kill these songs then they shouldn’t have used them at all.

The one advantage I will give the new “Footloose” is that the storyline made a bit more sense. It offered more detail about Belmont, why the dancing ordinance was issued and how to get rid of it, which made for a richer (albeit more predictable) plot. It also added the tidbit about Ren’s mother dying from cancer, which was the only thing that kept Ren interesting.

The new “Footloose” wasn’t bad, but I’ve got to give it to the original; it’ll be hard to make something as good. If you want to see the new one, just go into it with no expectations and you might enjoy it.

Rating: 3/5

You won’t want to miss “The Thing”

Photo from Creative Commons.

“The Thing” is a science fiction horror thriller, released around Halloween. This film was not as well advertised as many of the other horror films premiering in theaters recently, but still generated a buzz among viewers. “The Thing” is a remake of the 1982 movie of the same title, very similar in its plotline and dialogue. The new film simply adds a flourish of special effects and fresh faces to the high-resolution screen, much to the approval of viewers.

The film details the exploration of Norwegian scientists into the thick Antarctic Ice and the strange discovery they make. Things quickly begin to go awry and they find themselves in more trouble than they bargained for. Nowadays, many films use a similar apocalyptic theme where some inevitable disaster threatens the security of the world. In many ways, that makes this film somewhat unoriginal, but because it’s a remake of an older film, perhaps “The Thing” can be considered a trend-setter.

Screenshot from the movie "The Thing". Photo from Creative Commons.

This film had a really good plotline and it holds attention throughout the entire movie. By the end, the audience was on the edge of their seats, waiting to see who would survive the peril and who would be next to go. There’s an underlying effect of mystery to the film that keeps those intellectuals focused as well as the scare-seekers. “The Thing” is not only thought-provoking, but provides the startling moments that make viewers jump in their seats. Overall, this movie is a good investment in some thrilling fun if you’re looking to get out of the cold.

Rating:

“The Room” where almost everything happens

Photo from Creative Commons.

“The Room” is not a horror movie that is set in a single room. It is filled with terror, just not the kind you might expect. The movie starred the film’s writer and producer, Tommy Wiseau. With that sort of star power behind the film, you know it’s going to be good.

The movie focuses on a love triangle that develops throughout the film between Lisa (Juliette Danielle), Johnny (Wiseau) and Mark (Greg Sestero). The story is a winding tale of betrayal and deceit as Lisa and Mark start a torrid affair. The film is set in San Francisco and the title of the movie seems to play little role as the film takes place in multiple San Francisco locations, such Lisa and Johnny’s apartment, a flower shop, a coffee shop and the roof of the apartment complex where everyone apparently lives.

The plot unfolds through the daily lives of Johnny and Lisa. We quickly discover, during a conversation with her mother, that Lisa is losing interest in her fiancé, Johnny, and her new love interest is Johnny’s best friend Mark. We are also introduced to the creepy and overly friendly neighbor kid, Denny, whose name changes to Danny a few times throughout the film. Denny does not play a significant role in the movie beyond being an additional character who idolizes Johnny.

Screenshot from "The Room." Photo from Creative Commons.

The story continues to unfold as Lisa slowly seduces Mark, to his continued confusion throughout the movie. Scenes where Lisa seduces mark tend to include a line asking Lisa what she is doing. Now, enter Johnny, who was up for a big promotion at the bank where he worked. He didn’t get his promotion, and to quote Johnny, “That son of a bitch told me that I would get it within three months.”

From that point on, the movie quickly spirals downward as Johnny discovers, through overhearing a conversation, that Lisa is cheating on him with Mark. He then concocts a plan to gain the evidence he needs to prove that she has been cheating on him. The film then transitions to its explosive conclusion.

Here are some lessons viewers may take from “The Room.” If you have breast cancer, you shouldn’t worry about it because your daughter doesn’t love her fiancé. According to the film, you really shouldn’t worry about anything. If you want to break up with someone, you should get them drunk and then claim they hit you. If you have a gun held to your head, it’s about time someone ganged up on you. It is vital to have establishing shots every three minutes because the audience may forget where the movie is taking place. If a character says something will never happen in a movie, it probably will. You better get that promotion or she won’t love you anymore. The creepy kid next door is doing drugs. These are all valuable lessons I learned while watching “The Room.”

“The Room” has become a widespread cult classic not because it is a great film, but because it is possibly one of the worst movies ever made. Audiences everywhere have enjoyed midnight showings of the film where they mock the actors, the writing and most of all, Tommy Wiseau. “The Room” is a must-watch if for nothing more than its poor production and acting turned it into an unparalleled comedy.

Whim Rating of 4.5/5

A Halloween season must-see: “Paranormal Activity 3″

Photo from Creative Commons.

It always fascinates me that scary movies are so popular. It’s a thrill to jump in your seat and anticipate what could possibly go wrong next. For scary movie lovers, the “Paranormal Activity” series has provided three prime opportunities for this to happen. The most recent is “Paranormal Activity 3,” a supernatural horror film focusing on the strange happenings in Katie and Kristi’s childhood. The film opened Oct. 21 with a midnight premier. The Regal Cinema in Christiansburg originally had two showings scheduled, but as the demand for tickets grew exponentially, it quickly multiplied into a total of five sold-out theaters. This movie was the most popular and, in many opinions, the best out of the trilogy.

Screenshot from "Paranormal Activity 3." Photo from Creative Commons.

The filmmakers did an excellent job with everything, from effects to music to casting. It was all perfectly pieced together to create an eerie story of Kristi and Katie’s abnormal childhood experiences. They were able to produce laughs while still focusing on the scares, a task not easily accomplished. Even the bravest audience members found themselves drawn into the plot, on the edge of their seats, anxiously awaiting the next supernatural appearance.

One criticism of this movie is that it’s all filmed through the lens of a home video. The beginning of the movie can make you kind of dizzy, following the bob of the screen, as someone walks holding the camera. It is, however, extremely impressive how the filmmakers manage to convey an extensively complicated plot through the first-person lens of a home video. Sometimes it’s not what is on the screen that creates the thrill, it’s what is just off of the screen waiting to jump out. By the end of the movie, I had completely forgotten my dizziness and was much more concerned with the welfare of the characters.

Just in time for Halloween, “Paranormal Activity 3″ is the must-see thriller of this haunting season. Whether you consider yourself a scaredy cat or not, you have to at least acknowledge the talent that went into making a supernatural horror film such as this. I highly recommend this film to anyone, just make sure to bring someone whose hand you can hold!

Rating: 4.5/5

Couples Retreat, a Retreat or Purgatory

I consider myself knowledgeable on a limited number of subjects. Film is one of them. All you moviegoers better know who the hell Vince Vaughn is. Old School and Wedding Crashers are two of my favorite movies, and Vaughn made his move into print by writing The Breakup and now Couples Retreat. This isn