Saturday, December 28, 2013

The World's End [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright are a comedy dream team. Ever since Shaun of the Dead, we knew there would be a trilogy to come out of these three guys. It's come to be known as The Cornetto Trilogy, and The World's End is the final installment. Coming off the heels of This Is The End, this was the second big name world ending comedy to come out over the summer. While This Is The End focused on full on outrageous humor, The World's End is a comedy that has more than a few areas of thick, emotional moments. I'd been waiting for this all year and after a couple viewings, it's cemented itself as one of the best comedies of the year.

The World's End follows the story of Gary King (Simon Pegg), a middle aged man and a recovering drug addict. He recants a story of him and his friends attempting The Golden Mile, 20 years earlier. The Golden Mile is a pub crawl covering 12 pubs in Gary's hometown of Newton Haven. Gary, alongside Andy Knightly, Steven Prince, Oliver Chamberlain and Peter Page (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan) have since grown apart since that night, and Gary is looking to get the gang back together. Not long after beginning the crawl, they are met up with by Oliver's sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), whom Gary and Steven still pine over. The groups ends up at the fourth pub where Gary excuses himself after a disagreement with the group. In the bathroom he encounters an abnormally strong teen, after engaging him in a fight, he kicks his head off exposing him as a robot. The rest of the group come into the bathroom to confront Gary, as does the rest of the group the teen was with. They engage in a fight, and Gary and the rest of the guys, breakdown and beat the robots. Gary, Andy and the rest of the group decide to continue the crawl as to not raise suspicion of what they've done. They end up discovering more than they ever thought possible, as Newton Haven isn't quite how they left it 20 years earlier.

I'm going to split this review into two parts. The more serious aspect of this film and also the more obvious, comedic and Sci-Fi action side of everything going on. Wrapped up in all this comedy, there's a serious movie about addiction and pain going on with the well written character of Gary King. We opened the film with Gary, played amazingly by Simon Pegg, sitting it what looks to be a help group circle, reminiscing about his glory days (doing The Golden Mile for the first time) and remembering the all the hope he had for the future. We get into the meat of the film and he beings lying to his friends, not changing his ways, and generally trying to keep the past alive. By the time we got to the 12th pub, it was revealed that not only did Gary have substance abuse problems, but that he also tried to kill himself. Wrapped up in all the bravado and charisma, Gary King is severely hurting deep down. I think we could all relate to Gary in some way, and I loved the reliability, even on the dark side of things, his character brought to the film. On the flip side this movies also gives a fair amount of hope. How you can be a damaged person, but still be upbeat, still look forward to things and that you're still able to change in yours ways. By the end, Gary discovered, that even when you "mess up" your whole life, there's always that option, whether forced upon you, or a decision you made yourself, for everyone to change. This movie is so well written by Edgar Wright, that amidst one of the funniest film of the year, there's so much emotion behind everything. 

Then we get to the less emotional side of everything in The World's End. Which at times is side splitting and at others you into well choreographed action sequences. The timing between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is impeccable. They work off of each other so well, and it's almost automatic when these two get together. The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan round out an ensemble cast that is all business. Everything from callbacks and puns to fast talking back and forths, these guys know how to deliver a line. There's never a scene, even with all the seriousness, that there's not a one liner or a funny moment. The writing going into everyone, especially Gary King, is top notch. With all the performances being great as well. Edgar Wright did a fantastic job writing this all around, and it's hard not to hail his writing. The Sci-Fi aspect is pretty solid as well. The idea of a otherworldly being sneaking in and assimilating itself into a small town, to start a "takeover" that with ultimately make everything on earth better. More bland and faceless, but better. The ending is a bit wonky admittedly, but it still works overall. Finally, I wanna touch on the odds and end of this movie. The music is great and never detracts, while the action sequences and fighting montages are pretty will done. At just under two hours, it never feels long or draggy, which is always a good thing watching a film.

For me The World's End is easily of one my favorite films of the year. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright hit another one out of the ballpark. As I've said in twice before in this review the writing is fantastic. The comedy is great and it's accompanied by surprising emotion and a decent Sci-Fi story with fun action. I don't know how much more I can say about this film. The Cornetto Trilogy may be done, but I really hope that Pegg, Frost and Wright get together more in the future. I like comedy and I like movies that are more than one dimensional. In the end, The World's End is just a great movie.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Don Jon [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Joseph Gordon Levitt has been on the rise the past few years. Starring in huge movies like Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and Looper. But, this is his first time in a writing and directing role. It's a romantic comedy, but far from the traditional one you'd expect it to be. Don Jon follows the story of Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Jon lives his life according the things he most cares about, "His body, pad, ride, family, church, boys, girls, and porn." He explains that even though he gets girls, he gets more gratification out of porn. His best friends, Bobby and Danny (Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke), call him "Don Jon" because he always goes home with at least an eight out of ten girl. One night Jon spots a ten out of ten, in Barbra (Scarlett Johansson), and fails to land her. Jon can't get her out of his head as he takes the time to track her down and ask her out. Brabra wants a traditional relationship and Jon will ultimately have to choose between her and his porn.

This is a fun little movie, and even after all these months waiting, it was a fun watch. Joseph Gordon-Levitt really embodies his role as Jon. Who could blame him, this was his debut as a writer and director. The acting is fine by the rest of the cast too, especially Julianne Moore. Her character almost serves as a unwanted moral conscience to Jon throughout this movie. Scarlett Johansson is fine a over-bearing Barbra, while Jon's best friends serve as decent comedic relief. There's a moment near the end of the film, where Brie Larson utters one profound line, her only of the film, and it got to me. Mostly because I'm a fan of Kevin Smith, and I love when Silent Bob gets his moralistic moment to shine in his films. Also, because it was just a damn good line. The story is pretty fun too. A man so entrenched in his addictions, porn, sex, working out, etc, has to really find out what's important to him in life. It's fun to watch his transformation as he breaks out of his own shell and branches out a little more in his life. The comedy is pretty solid as well as there a few laugh out loud moments and lines that will bring a smile to your face. I also loved the cameos from celebs, like Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum, in his fakes movies shown in the film.

The marketing, in case you hadn't heard, was genius. As Joseph Gordon Levitt got teaser trailers to run on sites like PornHub before videos. But, enough of all the talking. Don Jon is a movie that had a ton of potential, but didn't quite live up to all of it. While it's a fun take one romantic comedies, I found myself to be kinda bored in the middle portion of the movie. The rest was good, between the story, acting and humor. This is a movie I'd been waiting awhile to see, and I'm glad it (mostly) lived up to expectations.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Internship [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson comedies, whether together or apart, are pretty hit and miss for me over the years. Obviously movies like Zoolander, Wedding Crashers and Old School are pretty good comedies. But, they've both had their share of stinkers. From the trailers alone I was pretty skeptical of The Internship, but it never stopped me from giving it a shot. The Internship follows the story of Billy McMahon and Nick Campbell (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson). They are laid off from being watch salesmen after their boss goes out of business. Billy signs the two up for an internship with Google. They get in due to their highly unorthodox answers to their interview. They learn they will be spending the summer in a competition of sorts for the positions. Billy and Nick must band together with a group of upstarts, and learn how to make it in the age of the computer.

Let's just get right to it, the movie is mostly unfunny and very lazily done. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson can usually get a few laughs and even more with a great script. Every comedy film always has a few good moments, no matter how bad it may be. Everything in this is so forced it hardly ever works. As much as it's cute to brandish older people for not being tech savvy, it gets old after it goes on and on for a full movie. The acting is mostly fine for what it is, but don't go in thinking anyone's getting awards for this. Obviously Owen and Vaughn lead well, but it's hard to even remember the supporting cast of this film. As I said above this just feels like a lazy comedy. Mostly used to promote Google and any other brand wanting to throw their product into the film. I don't know what stars see in these types of scripts, maybe they need some extra money, or maybe they really think these movies are worth it. Either way, I don't want to sound condemning, more inquisitive.

The Internship is a comedy film that is light on the comedy. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are fine, in a comedic role as usual, but the material wholly lacking. The story is formulaic and boring, while the constant "Google" bombardment isn't fun. If you want a throwaway comedy to put on in the background on a Sunday afternoon, this is your film. If you want to make a movie night out of this, I would not, as this isn't a very good "comedy" at all.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jobs [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

I'm not a huge fan of the Apple business practice of  "Let's release the iPod Touch 5 for $200" and then two months later "Here's the iPod Touch 6, with a few new features, you've gotta pay $300". I'm either over-simplifying or blowing what I just said out of proportion. That's not the point of this post. Moving on, there's still no denying that Steve Jobs was a great mind in world of technology. Always striving for the best product for consumers to buy. So the best option to play him in a biopic is...Ashton Kutcher? What's done is done I suppose. Jobs follows the story of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad) as they form Apple Inc. and turn it into what we know it as today.

The biggest problem with this biopic, compared to say 42 from earlier this year, is that Ashton Kutcher is completely miscast here. He isn't believable at all as Steve Jobs, and it doesn't feel like he brought anything to the table. You need to have a strong lead that can, embody almost, who he's playing. Kutcher did not do that in any way shape or form in this. Also the story, at least the way it's written, feels really sloppy and disjointed. Really focusing on the young Steve Jobs, while getting way rushed once he actually gets Apple going. Finally, this is a long movie that just feels lifeless. None of the performances by Kutcher (aforementioned), Gad, Woods, Simmons, etc, are memorable. All just plain boring and uninspired to me. It really just feels like a cheap cash-in attempt so quickly after the death of this man. Despite what you think of Apple and it's business practices now, it's really not something the industry needs to do.

Jobs is everything I just mentioned in the paragraph before, and none of it is good. I'm beating a dead horse here, but the story, performances, casting, and movie overall was bad. A quick cash-in, that even hardcore Apple fans should feel pretty bad about. After this debacle I hope Steve Jobs gets a real biopic in the future. Cause this movie didn't do this man any justice at all.

V/H/S/2 [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

I love me some horror anthologies. Trick 'r Treat, The ABCs of Death and V/H/S are good examples, and pretty solid all around. While not masterpieces of horror, they're fun watches that are easy to go back to if you want a good watch. Usually having at least a few good stories, these types of movies are never just completely bad. So when I heard V/H/S/2 was coming out, I was interested. V/H/S/2 follows the over arching story of a private investigator who is tracking down a missing college student. Larry (Lawrence Michael Levine), and his girlfriend Ayesha (Kelsy Abbott), who is also a PI, enter the student's house and find it full of VHS tapes. Ayesha begins to watch the tapes, as Larry investigates the house (finding more tapes and tons of notebooks). What they don't know is that a mysterious figure is watching them from the shadows.

Now I could go through each of the four shorts and nit pick and break them down. But I'm not gonna do that. These are low budget short films designed to bring out the best of these directors. In a couple of the shorts, "Clinical Trials" and "A Ride In The Park", the spirit of of these movie is evident. But they aren't as strong as better spots of the first movie. Then we get into the meat of this movie. "Safe Haven" directed by  Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans. It follows the story of a news crew who enters a Indonesian Cult. When things go south, all hell breaks loose as the news crew tries to escape the situation. It's the best this movie has to offer and should been seen by any fans of the horror genre. We end with a safe, yet still absurdly fun, story of a sleepover that turns into a story most people would never believe outside of Nevada, with "Slumber Party Alien Abduction". There's a lot of good and a lot of bad littered throughout this. There's a must watch short in here and it ends on a pretty good note. The early portion of this is very bland and forgettable and it really hurts the overall value of the film though.

V/H/S/2 is still a very solid movie overall, even with the stumbling at the beginning. These actual meat of the movie is really done well, even if all the stories aren't the best ever. The overall story-arch is creative enough too, and still leaves the door open for a third film in the series. There's not much else to say. Though, if you don't feel like trudging through the whole movie to see the best part, "Safe Haven", go give it a Google search. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Insidious: Chapter 2 [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

If you've ever talked with me about movies, more specifically recent horror films, you'll know that I love Insidious. While not a perfect film, it's one of the better horror films of 2011 that you can get excited about. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are pretty great as leads and make it a fun watch. Two years later, Insidious: Chapter 2 has been released, and looks to recapture the magic of the first. Insidious: Chapter 2 follows the story of Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) in the wake of the events of the first film. Something is a little off as Josh isn't acting like himself, and thinks a woman has taken over Renai. Meanwhile, Renai begins to see a woman in white roaming the house. Both will have to overcome the paranormal if they want the hope of getting back to a normal life.

James Wan knocked it out of the park earlier this year with The Conjuring, a movie I highly enjoyed. I was pretty hyped for this, but then I started watching it and things didn't quite click for me. The costumes and CGI were alright, but a ton of jump scares a quick cuts doesn't give you a lot of time to soak it in. I love jump scares and that whole old school vibe behind it. Unfortunately, that's all it felt like this movie was. It also felt like the story was phoned in. A ton of questionable at best dialogue brought this down as well. The story jumps around a lot until it settles in for the second half. Then a lackluster twist takes over. While better than the first half, the second half is nothing to write home about. The performances by the leads, yet again Wilson and Byrne, are fine, but it doesn't stop this from being just average. I can honestly say the best part of this movie is the music. It brings the creepy, old school horror film vibe. It also gives you a great reason to let the credits roll, if only to soak in the score.

If you liked the first movie, you should still check out Insidious: Chapter 2. It has all the style of the first, but with a noticeable drop in substance. Also for the fact Insidious: Chapter 3 will release in 2015. I still like the first, and hopefully after a bit of falter with this one, the trilogy can round out well. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson are great leads, and the lore this series is creating is pretty solid. Oh and the music, for the love of God, make more of this. It really does make a very mediocre film, almost passable.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Spring Breakers [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

This movie about spring break may be more than what it seems to be. Sure it's filled with young starlets going wild during spring break, but apparently it's a social commentary as well. I guess I'm not the brightest movie goer, as this was lost on me. Spring Breakers follows the story of four college friends, Faith, Brittany, Candy and Cotty (Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Rachel Korine). They begin to do traditional party type things, along with some illegal activity, during spring break. They then get arrested and bailed out by Alien (James Franco) as they learn about the darker side of spring break.

This is a movie that everybody says is one of social commentary. You can argue between misogyny with the use of the leads and the general atmosphere of spring break. You can also argue that the female leads set an example of women's empowerment. I want to argue the I didn't like this at all, and I don't see the point of this comedy. Or was it a drama? I'm still not sure, because I don't remember much laugh out loud stuff. While the drama can be queued up to party girls in over their heads. This is a movie highly reliant on sparking conversation I think. Cause this brings up so many questions about society, and the way we perceive things. Such as why people lose their minds for seemingly no reason when it comes to spring break. Bringing up questions and conversations about movies, isn't a bad thing at all. But, the way this movie is presented and done is so off putting. The story is not memorable at all, while none of the characters are likable to me. 

Spring Breakers is a movie, I think. It's a highly stylized look at what can happen when everything goes south during one of the biggest party times of the year. This offers no redeeming qualities story or character wise. It also baffles me how anyone could sign on for this. I still think sparking discussion is always a good thing. But ,you can spark it in about a million better ways aside from this film.

World War Z [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

We all love zombie movies! Right? Well, as of late it's turned into a tired sub-genre that produces way more bad than good. Every year though, or at least every few years, there's one or two really good zombie movies. World War Z is this year's attempt at big budget zombie. Adapted from the acclaimed novel of the same name, World War Z follows the story of Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family as the zombie apocalypse begins. Being a former UN employee, Gerry's recalled in an effort to go into ground zero and try to find a cure for this pandemic spreading across the world.

I may be a little biased, but I tend to enjoy zombie movies more than most and this one was really no different. This really gave off a 28 Weeks Later vibe. Now despite the early praise, World War Z, isn't a tour de force. Brad Pitt commands the screen and plays Gerry well. The CGI and effects are done well in this too. There's also a fair bit of action mixed in this as there's a lot of stuff, mostly panic and zombie killing, going on. The story is fairly pedestrian, and there's not many memorable characters either. That's one of the bigger problems this has. Brad Pitt is the star, everyone else supports him. At two hours this can feel kinda draggy too, but I was fairly engaged throughout. If you're not a horror fan, don't fear, because "zombies" really feel more like a plot device, than something out to scare you.

World War Z is a good "zombie" movie. Though it was hyped through the roof, and may have fallen short in people's eyes, this is a very solid movie. You could do much worse than watching this on a Sunday afternoon. Brad Pitt does well as the lead of this apocalyptic film. The story is fine, while the acting, action and CGI are all okay. This is a zombie movie, that doesn't force the fact it is one down your throat.

The Great Gatsby [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Ahhhhh adaptions. The age old tradition of taking writing, whether it be a book or other written piece, and turning it into a film. This time it's another try at F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic work, The Great Gatsby. This is pinned by Baz Luhrmann and musically produced by Jay-Z. As you may have already assumed, The Great Gatsby follows the story of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he retells the tale of a mysterious man named Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). He describes Gatsby as the most hopeful man he's ever come across. Thus begins the tale of one of richest and most powerful men of the 1920s.

The problem with this highly visually stimulating movie, is that it really focuses on the style rather than substance. The CGI is fun, the costumes are good and the predominately hip-hop score somehow blends well with the parties of the 1920s. Then the problems begin as there is a ton of voice over are narration (all by Tobey Maguire). When not narrating he gives a very pedestrian performance. I honestly can't remember who else is even in this movie aside from Maguire and Leo DiCaprio. But speaking of Leo, he's the anchor of this movie and gives a very good performance as Gatsby. He has that ability to adapt to most of the characters he plays and Gatsby is n different. More problems incur as this movie is really slow at times. Combine that with the fact that this is a really long movie (well over two hours) and you've got tons of boring stretches.

The Great Gatsby is a problem filled movie you'll either love or hate. There's a very even split of good and bad that comes with this. Even with the problems, this is still good enough for a watch. If you can stand being bored for a good portion of this, you'll get to hear some fun music and see some good visuals and CGI.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Coffee Town [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Coffee Town is the first movie from famed video site CollegeHumor. You've probably not heard of this, but the leads of this star (or are supporting cast) in, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Parks and Recreation and Eastbound & Down. Coffee Town follows the story of a website manager named Will (Glenn Howerton), who uses the WiFi at a local coffee shop to do his work. Upon learning that management may be turning the place into a bar, he hatches a plan with his two friends. Will, Gino (Ben Schwartz) and Chad (Steve Little) set off to try and convince the higher-ups not to go through with the change.

The reason I really like this movie, is the fact it doesn't try to be what it's not, a raunchy comedy. Sure there are topics and scenes, most wouldn't touch, or are considered "too edgy." But, this was made by site that will post most any video for a laugh. Couple that with the fact you have two leads from shows that disrespect every aspect of life (It's Always Sunny and Eastbound & Down). It's had to get Dennis Reynolds out of my head when I see Glenn Howerton, since I love It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia so much. But, Glenn does indeed do pretty well as Will, leading these misguided characters. There's no shortage of laughs out of Ben Schwartz and Steve Little either, as these three have pretty good chemistry. This is a small budget movie, that has a capable story-line that plays out nicely, with tons of laughs in between. Coffee Town is a perfect turn your brain off and laugh comedy.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Bad Grandpa is a movie that's a spin-off of the ever popular Jackass series. In the series, at points, Johnny Knoxville dresses up as an old man, Irving Zisman, to do stunts. But, this is the first time we've seen a character from the Jackass universe with it's own movie. Bad Grandpa follows the story of Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) as he takes his grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll), across the country to his father. He is ordered to do it after Billy's mother was jailed. Along the way, the two bond as grandfather and grandson. All while zany and out of place things keep happening to Zisman.

Imma get right down to it, if you're a fan of the Jackass series you're going to like this movie. It doesn't have the charm of the whole crew just paling around and maiming themselves for our pleasure. What it does have is a semblance of a story, a bit of actual emotion, fun stunts and the traditional Jackass comedy we've come to get used to over the years. To me this is nowhere as funny or outrageous as the original trilogy. Johnny Knoxville is fine throughout as Zisman, and Jackson Nicoll is oddly charming as Billy. The story of a grandfather getting to know his grandson for the first time is a nice touch in this type of film. Bad Grandpa succeeds best in bringing a story-like element to a hidden camera movie. If there's a Bad Grandpa 2, I'll welcome it with open arms.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Wolverine [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I posted a X-Men Superhero Franchise review way back in August when I was going through the X-Men series. You can click the link right there to go view it. In it I remember touting that I was looking forward to a real Wolverine stand alone movie (this film). Also that X-Men: Days of Future Past, could be the best superhero film next year. But this is now, and with The Wolverine getting ready to make it's home release, I thought I'd give you all a little review of it. Ya know, to keep up with all the other X-Men reviews I've churned out. Hugh Jackman is back as the iconic Logan aka Wolverine. There's only one familiar character in this from the previous movies as The Wolverine set out to right the wrong that was the abysmal origins story. It think they righted the ship well enough.

We open The Wolverine with Logan (Hugh Jackman) being imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp near Nagasaki in 1945. After being freed in the wake of the atomic bomb being dropped, he saved an officer name Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) from the blast. Present day, Logan is living the Yukon, tormented by hallucinations of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). He is found by Yukio (Rila Fukushima) a mutant who is able to foresee people's deaths. Yukio was sent by Yashida (now CEO of a technology corporation in Tokyo) to get Logan and bring him to him, so that he may repay his debt. When Logan arrives in Tokyo he meets Yashida's son, Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto). Yashida, who is dying of cancer, proposes that he transfers Logan's healing abilities to himself, giving Logan the freedom to live life until a timely death. Logan refuses and prepares to leave the next day. That night however Yashida's physician, Dr. Green (Svetlana Khodchenkova), puts something into Logan's body. Logan dismisses this as a dream. The next morning Logan finds out that Yashida has passed away. At his funeral a group of Yakuza gangsters attempt to kidnap Mariko. Logan saves her and is shot, but his wounds aren't healing like normal. Logan begins a journey to not only protect Mariko, but also to find out who (and what) he's become and why Mariko is in grave danger.

Let me start by saying, this movie, location and sometimes story-wise, is all over the place. We got Logan's head games, the Yukon, 1940s Japan AND present day Japan. With all of this scenery in this film, it's less of a jumbled mess than you would think it to be. On the flip side of that it can be confusing what's going on at times. Also the flow feels weird, disjointed at times almost. The action sprinkled in is fine, but the main story around it, feels pieced together like a torn piece of paper. While it fits together in theory, when you're adapting a movie every detail, moment, line doesn't have to translate. Also characters feel rushed. You get good performances out of Hugh Jackman, Wolverine, and Tao Okamoto, Mariko. But everyone else feels like they're just around. Jean Grey is a plot device and doesn't really carry the film. Yukio was is an interesting character that feels like she just drops off the face of the earth from mid-film to the end. While Dr. Green turned out to be one of the enemies that barely has any screen time until the end. All while Yashida is a nice addition and character, that felt bland to me and was highly forgettable. This is a long movie and to have so much that is seemingly forgettable, really brings down the movie. Also, the overuse of Japan can hurt this at times. From the traditional scenes in old style homes/palaces, to the Pancinko building and the Love Hotel. It's feels like they crammed in Japan just because it was the setting. While some of the more traditional places are fine, the bells and whistles are unneeded. Some things like said Love Hotel, jack it up to the umpteenth degree, and at times leaves you with that "Why did they do this?" feeling.

This movie does improve on just about every aspect of it's predecessor. The action is fun throughout. Integrating ninja and samurai, are a little more inviting than the, "Look out, mutant attacks!", we've become used to with the X-Men franchise. The hand to hand combat is fun, Jackman is used well as Wolverine, as you'd expect. This isn't a R-rated film, but I like when a movie can feel brutal and real with fight scenes. The final battle, while clunky, is in a great location and delivers over the course of the battle. Like I said above the story can be confusing and jumpy, but it's a pretty good one. Again it deviates from the traditional X-Men like narrative. It really gives us a glimpse into what adaptions can look like when they use the comics in making a movie. This is excites me cause X-Men: Days of Future Past, is an adaptation and it gives me high hopes that is can be even better than this. I touched on this above, but they also did well for the character development on Logan/Wolverine. We've all gotten used to the gruff and tough, fight first ask questions later aspect. With this we get the softer side of Logan. Battling with his inner demons, and helping those in need selflessly. We finally get that much needed dimension to a character that sorely needed it. Another interesting character they introduced, and my or may not keep around going forward, was that of Mariko. Not a mutant, and not Jean Grey, she is the catalyst throughout the movie that helps Logan get past his issues. She's the pseudo love interest that never really feels like one, but never feels out of place as damsel in distress. They're the anchors of the movie and are played quite well by Jackman and Okamoto. This is a long movie, a little over two hours, so hunker down. At times it feels draggy, but if you can get through the bad, the second half is smooth sailing. The score and music are pretty solid as well, nothing distracting. With the more intimate or action filled sequences sounding fine. Finally, there's a pretty sick mid-credits scene that with get any fan pretty hype.

The Wolverine isn't everything that Origins: Wolverine was supposed to be. But, it does set any future stand alone Wolverine movie in a better place. The story is a little average, and the characters can be forgettable too. But this was a bounce back for Wolverine, and Hugh Jackman, in what looked to be an ailing series. Fun action and a couple of great performances add up to an interesting movie. This is not a power house in the superhero genre, or even within the X-Men franchise. What this does well is set up future movies while keeping one of the series biggest character fresh. Next up, X-Men: Days of Future Past. I'm ready for ya.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You're Next [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Horror films were hitting hot at heavy and it wasn't even October yet when You're Next was released. It was coming off the heels of The Conjuring (probably the best horror film of the year) and heading right into Insidious: Chapter 2 (a film I'm still waiting to see). You're Next is a film, first shown in 2011, that has taken a lot of people by surprise. I include myself in this as well. I wrote this off as another movie fueled by hype, that would fall flat when I watched it. But as I watched it, I was thoroughly surprised, as I think was the person I watched it with. From the dark humor, to the bloody deaths, this is not only a horror film, but a fun one that you can truly enjoy.

You're Next opens with a couple engaging in sexual activities. Once finished, the man takes a shower, while the woman goes to get a drink. As the man gets out of the shower, he sees "You're Next" written in blood on his mirror, before he's killed by an unknown assailant. The next day a wealthy family is shown driving to a remote vacation house in Missouri. At said house the mother, Aubrey Davidson (Barbara Crampton), hears a noise upstairs and her husband Paul (Rob Moran) is about to check it out. Before he can, his son Chrispian (AJ Bowen), and his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson), arrive and the matter is dropped. The next day Chrispian's other siblings arrive. Drake (Joe Swanberg), his older brother, along with his wife Kelly (Margaret Kelly). Aimee (Amy Seimetz), his younger sister, with her boyfriend Tariq (Ti West). Finally, Felix (Nicholas Tucci), his younger brother, and his girlfriend Zee (Wendy Glenn) arrive that evening. At dinner tensions become high between Drake and Chrispian. As the two brothers argue, the rest of the family attempt to calm each other down. During the chaos, Tariq is shot in the head with an arrow, and this sets in motion the events of the movie. Where a family gathering turns grisly, as a group of animal mask wearing psychopaths terrorize them.

This is a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. That's one of the biggest strengths that You're Next has. The writing , by Simon Barrett, was a decent blend of mystery and thriller, combined with the brutal side of horror. There's dark humor inter-weaved throughout this, so it never just turns into a twisted mess. The story is pretty simple, no bells and whistles. Not that that's a bad thing, but it's nothing to write home about. The twist (and Spoilers, there is one) is pretty predictable. But, the way it's revealed is done in a good way. You get the tension builds, you get the scares, the blood and gore, all wrapped up in a convenient little package, so to speak. The acting is fine by everyone. I had just watched Drinking Buddies, so to see the director of that, Joe Swanberg, was pretty cool. But, beyond that it was mostly unknowns (to me). The characters were fine, again nothing to write home about. Everyone did their job well and played their part. If I had to single out the star, I'd have to give it to Sharni Vinson as Erin. She really carried the bulk of the movie once everything started to happen. Not to mention she has some sick moments throughout the film. Now this is the point where I'd usually break into a second paragraph about everything "wrong" and "bad" about the film. But, like I've been saying this is a very straightforward flick. Nothing is bad per se, more lacking, and all of the good really outweighs the lacking in this. The lack of character development is made up for with the brutality. The lack of a truly great story is made up for with the dark humor throughout. All things of this nature is really what appealed to me in You're Next.

I've had a lot of time to mull over this film and it's really hit me as a Cabin In The Woods-lite. Although Cabin In The Woods had great writing and a great cast, You're Next shines, though not as bright, in some of the same areas. Capable enough writing, and actors who got the job done help. The brutal kills and dark humor shrouding this movie are great. Really making it easy to turn your brain off and enjoy. I think if you're a fan of horror you'll be into this. Easily one of the best horror films of 2013, and who doesn't love a good movie done on a smaller budget?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thor: The Dark World [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

It has been a long awhile since I hunkered down and did some reviews. Never fear though, over the next week, and end of 2013, I'll be doing my best to get this blog up to 100 total posts. I know it's a lot of work on my part, but if you keep reading, I'll keep writing. Deal? Deal. Onto to main attraction. Now I haven't seen all that many movies actually IN the theater this year. But, ever since the current crop of Marvel, and really superhero in general, movies have been hitting theaters, I've made a point to go see them. Thor: The Dark World is no different as I'm a huge sucker for Marvel movies. Thor has always been a sneaky like of mine, and everything I was reading said that this was overall a better movie than it's predecessor. Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Natalie Portman reprise their roles in the last big comic book movie of 2013. And I must say, it wasn't bad.

Thor: The Dark World takes place after The Battle of New York which occurred in The Avengers. To begin, we are shown a battle of titans that took place eons ago. In this battle Oden's (Anthony Hopkins) father Bor, clashes with and defeats the plans Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Malekith seals away a dark power, the Aether, and flees into suspended animation with a select few Dark Elves. Present day, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been returned to Asgard and is facing Oden. Due to the compassion of his mother Frigga (Rene Russo), he is speared from execution and sentenced to jail. While this is happening Thor (Chris Hemsworth), alongside Fandral, Volstagg, Hogun and Sif (Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano and Jaime Alexander), are fighting a battle to bring peace to Vanahiem. Thus bringing peace to the Nine Realms, as the Biofrost has been reconstructed. Meanwhile in London, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is taken to an abandoned building by her intern Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). In said building, items have been breaking the laws of psychics. Jane goes off to explore on her own and is transported to where Malekith hid the Aether, and is infected. The Asgardians begin learning about the Convergence. A rare occurrence where all of the Nine Realms align, and portals connecting them appear at random. Malekith is awakened when Jane is infected by the Aether, and begins a quest to reclaim it from her. In the process we learn that he is trying to destroy the Nine Realms and bring the universe back into darkness. Thor, with help from Loki and Jane, must stop Malekith before the universe is destroyed.

This movie can easily be split into two categories. 1. Anywhere other than earth. 2. Out of place shenanigans on earth. Now I like comedy and laughing as much as the next guy, and Marvel usually has a pretty good sense of humor in their movies. But, this movie has way too much of it for me to take any scene taking place on earth seriously. Aside from the climax of the film. I was expecting fleshed out characters played by Kat Dennings and even Stellan Skarsgard. What I got were almost caricature's of what we got in the first movie. There's a ton of unneeded "comedy" between Kat Dennings and her intern, even though she's an intern. Haha? All the while Stellan is thrown into a bit where's he's turned into a crazy guy jailed after streaking. All of this is a distraction and I was not a fan of the way they portrayed the supporting characters on earth during the movie. On the flip side of this, the portrayal characters in Asgard, Svartálfar, Vanahiem and the rest of the Nine Realms is fantastic. Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, commands the screen in any scene he is in. I love Loki's character and it's probably (to me) the most well written role (albeit not a ton of screen time) in this area of the Marvel movie universe (aside from Iron Man). Natalie Portman, as Jane Foster, slips into the caricature mode when on earth. But while she is away, she is a great on-screen presence with Hemsoworth, Hiddleston, Russo and Hopkins. Speaking of Chris Hemsworth, he reprises is role as Thor very well, and is really growing into the character. Even getting a little bit of growth and digging a bit deeper into it with Dark World. There's not a lot of other standout or distracting characters. Christopher Eccleston is as good as you can get with Malekith I suppose. While Thor's team, alongside Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins, are relegated more to the background as they focused more on Thor, Loki and Jane in this.

The action in Thor: The Dark World, and almost any Marvel movie is pretty fun. You have Thor absolutely demolishing baddies, which is part of the charm of his character now. Thor and Loki doing their best WWE impersonation and forming a tag team was cool as well. There's some cool set pieces throughout, and weaved throughout the story line there's enough mind numbing action to wet anyone's appetite. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to things like action and comedy as well. So I know I'm always in for a good time watching these types of movies. Like in the above paragraph, the writing can be split into those two areas. But overall it does a much better job than the first movie. Sure the overbearing scenes set on earth are out of place, but even in that the story is progressed well. Meanwhile the characters and plot are engrossing when it comes time for a scene in one of the other realms. It's a tough job blending all the things going on in this movie. But it's presented well enough to not confuse the hell out of the audience.  I really liked the way they dove into Thor's mind in this and gave him a bit more than "Thor, smash." Sorry Hulk, it had to be said. Meanwhile, Jane Foster goes from seemingly lost scientist in the first movie, to Thor's main squeeze in this. It nice to see they didn't forget about her despite only mentioning her in The Avengers. Finally Loki is given yet another dimension. We've seen the power hungry and the wanting to be ruler in Thor and The Avengers. We now have a Loki that's tapped into his emotions, and is a perfect blend of relateble guy, misunderstood genius and complete psychopath. It helps that Tom Hiddleston does a ridiculously good job of embodying everything the Loki is. The CGI looks good throughout. The pull in/out shots of Asgard are fantastic. As well as the funeral scene that was done beautifully. While the desolation of Svartálfar is oddly creepy. I didn't see it in 3D, but what really stood out to me, was there not being many points where I went, "There's where 3D would be if I was watching in it." The music and score are fine throughout, adding drama, tension, etc, when needed. There's a fantastic cameo that I won't spoil, alongside Stan Lee making his annual appearance. Both of which I enjoyed.

Thor: The Dark World isn't going to be a movie that will convince people to jump on the Marvel bandwagon. Show them Iron Man 3, show them The Avengers, that's what draws people in. This movie bridges gaps, builds characters, and gives a lesser known character, in Thor, the time to shine. Full of action, humor (even though a lot is out of place, there's still great moments) and a capable story, Thor: the Dark World is a nice addition to this film universe. It'll tide the comic book fans over until the likes of Captain America: Winter Soldier, X-Men Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy next year. While providing a capable, late in the year action movie, that people can go see over the Thanksgiving holiday. Did I mention that I love Tom Hiddleston as Loki? I don't think I did enough. Solid stuff Marvel, keep it up, and I'll keep watching.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Conjuring [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Finding a good horror film this year, is like trying to find a rehab facility that Lindsay Lohan hasn't occupied yet. Horrible joke, I know..I think. By my count, I've only enjoyed three films from the horror genre in, Evil Dead, Mama and V/H/S 2, this year. So when people started raving that The Conjuring was the best horror to hit theaters this year, it quipped my interest. I've loved watching Vera Farmiga in the inaugural season of Bates Motel. Patrick Wilson was great in Watchmen and Insidious, while Insidious: Chapter 2, looks like a decent follow-up. Not to mention, I'll give anything with the great Ron Livingston in it a chance. Well maybe not anything, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Office Space. But this is The Conjuring and James Wan has crafted a very good film. Made for a modern audience that has seen all the things this genre has to offer.

The Conjuring follows the story of a family of seven who move into an old farm house in 1971. Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston), along side their daughters Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy and April (Shanley Caswell, Hayley MacFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy and Kyla Deaver), are ready to start their lives fresh here. Strange things start happening the day after they move in. They find a mysterious bruise on Carolyn and their pet dog dead in the bushes. One night as Roger is away in Florida for work, Carolyn is locked in basement as an elderly, vengeful spirit attacks her daughters. This prompts Carolyn to get in contact with Ed and Loraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), a couple famous for their paranormal investigations. After an initial walk through of the house, they conclude that an exorcism may be necessary. First though, they have to call it in, provide ample evidence and get permission from the Catholic Church. Later, while researching the home, they find out that house belonged to a woman, Bathsheba. In 1863 she tried to sacrifice her children to the devil. Culminating in killing herself, whilst cursing anyone who claimed her land. The Warren family and their crew must use all of their previous experience in the paranormal field, to help save this family from the grips of an immensely evil paranormal entity.

This movie is through and through a horror. It relies on cliches at times, jump scares and only a satisfactory story. But this didn't keep me from enjoying it highly. James Wan has enthralled me with yet another film I can get behind. I'm a sucker for SAW and I loved Insidious. This feels a little different, due to the fact that it's based, at least partially, on true events. While the writing is nothing to write home about, Wan brings it to life so well. It helps that they gave him, what looks like a genuine place from the 70s to work with. It also helps a ton with the style and look, that the atmosphere created, takes on a life of its own. Like I said, it relies on a lot of horror cliches and the like, but it doesn't make it any less creepy. Especially any scenes revolving around the basement of the house. There's jump scares, and at points, what can be, campy music. But like I'll keep reiterating, this is chilling. Combine the direction from Wan with the capable story, and the good acting, and it's easier to forgive the shortcomings of this. Speaking of all those things, I still liked the music and score. It's campy at times sure, but it builds the tension well when needs be. Atmosphere is key in any movie, but you really have to give a little extra when setting up the scary, everyone will get sucked in. The music highly helps with this and it reminds me a lot of Insidious in a lot ways. By the way, the score for that movie is amazing. 

Getting back on track I want to point out the two people who really carried this movie well, and that's Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. They are the cornerstones of this movies as The Warrens, and they were perfectly casted in these roles. I keep mentioning Insidious, but it's so easy to when the star and director from it, hit another home run, with a separate film. Patrick Wilson is such a presence on screen in a film like this, and really carries any scene that he's in. Vera Farmiga needs to be mentioned as well be cause there's no one-two-punch without her being in top form. We all knew she could act, from her roles in The Departed and Up In The Air. but I never expected her to transition so well into horror (this) and suspense/horror (Bates Motel). Like Wilson, especially in their scenes together, helped command the screen. It also helps solidify The Warrens as the driving force of the story. Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor were pretty good as the worried and affected parents. While the kids weren't too much of a detraction overall either. This is a horror film, and people always want to know if it's scary. I would answer that with a yes. But caveat it with, it's more creepy and haunting, than pure terror. From the soundtrack, to the overall story, this is one that you can immerse yourself in. I've mentioned the jump scares, and there are a few throughout. But, like I've been saying, the direction from Wan makes everything just plain creepy. Even if it's something you'd normally groan at. I like a movie that can stick with you. This is one that is pretty creepy, especially if you look at it past face value. 

The Conjuring is one of the few horror films I'd recommend from this year. At almost two hours this is more than your average horror. It's got the meat and the acting talent to warrant it though. Not to mention the scares are there, it's creepy and the direction is fantastic. I can understand why someone would not like this, but I'd defend it to anyone claiming that this is bad. This is a well made horror, in an age where less than stellar ones are overly praised. James Wan's direction took what could've been horribly mediocre, and turned it into one of the best horror films of this year.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Disconnect [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

A thriller is a genre you really have to gear yourself up for when you go into a given movie. Comedies are lighthearted, action movies let your turn your brain off, while horror heightens your senses. With thrillers, you have to be ready to think, but also gear up that anticipation, like with horror. Disconnect is almost a modern day cautionary anthology of sorts. Unlike other anthologies, and what a lot of people are comparing this to, Crash, it really fits that modern audience. We all have computers, internet access, tablets, cell phones. We're all wired into society in this day and age. Led by Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgård and Max Thieriot, Disconnect tells three separate (yet intertwined) stories, of individuals and families, who are directly impacted and affected by all the negative technology can bring.

Disconnect follows the stories and interactions of three separate groups of people, two being families. We start with an up and coming reporter, Nina Dunham (Andrea Riseborough), who finds an underage chatroom worker, Kyle (Max Thieriot). Nina begins to befriend Kyle, and upon telling him that she wants to do a story on him, he agrees. The story is a huge hit, but Nina may have to break promises she told Kyle, as the FBI wants to expose him and his workmates. Two boys and friends, Jason Dixon (Colin Ford) and Frye (Aviad Bernstein), play a prank on their classmate Ben Boyd (Jonah Bobo). Ben sends a sexual picture to a fake girl, who is really Jason and Frye, and they pass it around the school. Later that week, Ben attempts suicide by hanging himself in his room, to be saved by his sister, Abby Boyd (Haley Ramm), and her friend. Ben is now in a coma, and his father Rich Boyd (Jason Bateman), a successful lawyer, is distraught and is determined to find out why all this has happened. A young couple, Cindy and Derek Hull (Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgård), have recently lost their child. Cindy turns to online message boards, to vent about her depression and befriends someone. Derek isn't much better as he has an online gambling addiction. One night, as Derek is away on a business trip, they find out that all of their money has been stolen. They hire a private detective Mike Dixon (Frank Grillo), Jason's father, to help them recover the money. They soon discover who they think did this to them and become vigilantes of sorts trying to hunt him down themselves. All these stories are weaved into each other in some form or way, as we see a darker side of the technology we all use everyday. 

I highly enjoyed this movie, and I'm glad I finally got to see it earlier this month, as I'd been waiting to see it for the majority of the year. I love thrillers and movies that make you think a little more than your average comedy or action flick. This is a movie that is written quite well and it shows. The thing that really shines about this are the characters. They feel real, no matter the age or circumstance that they're in. The fearful and revenge minded parents who only want to see their son make it through. The earnest care that a newswoman begins to have for an underage boy that may not be doing what's best for his life. The couple, who are forced to the end of their ropes unexpectedly, still reeling from a loss, reconnecting over the course of their investigation. Everything about the characters, was really well done. Despite a few miscues, it was a pleasure to watch them all grow throughout this film. This also means that the acting, was top notch. I mentioned these three in my opening, but I thoroughly enjoyed Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgård and Max Thieriot in this. This is not to be out shined by the supporting roles. Hope Davis, Andrea Riseborough, Paula Patton and Frank Grillo, all complimented everyone well. Jason Bateman shined and it was great to see him show off his acting chops, as he does have them. His scenes with Hope Davis were good, and one in particular with Frank Grillo was fantastic. Alexander Skarsgård took the lead in his role, and along side Paula Patton, gave the great performance of a couple who is hanging on by a thread. Finally Max Thieriot and Andera Riseborough are great. They had the on-screen chemistry to pull off the fun, the good and the bad that happened between them. Also all the kids in this, Colin Ford, Aviad Bernstein, Jonah Bobo and Haley Ramm, were pretty good. I'm usually hesitant to point out kid's performances, but a good portion of this movie (and story) would've been garbage, had the younger actors not done well.

Speaking of the story, it was pretty solid, aided by everything acting and character-wise mentioned above, it was highly engaging. It's the kind of movie that blended between the stories pretty well. It keeps, in the back of your mind, that there are two other stories going on. It keeps you wondering and thinking about what's going to happen in them, while you focus on what's actually going on screen. That may seem a little confusing, but for me, it was helped by the act there's a lot of points in the film, where you can just digest all that happening or just happened. The one glaring problem with the story though is that it feels more like a warning, than a film. Sure the story is there, and all the elements that go with it, but overall, for me, it still felt like a cautionary tale. I'd have liked it a ton more if it didn't have those "Look out, this could easily happen to you!" undertones. I think in this day and age, even the least tech-literate of us out there, know about the underbelly of the internet, identity theft and cyber-bullying. So for me, this takes what I already try to avoid, and magnifies it to the point where I'm annoyed by it. Sure the message is good, there's no denying that, but this is a film, not a PSA. I just wish it didn't scream "DON'T DO THIS" to me, like I really felt it did. I will say though that the filming style was alright too, nothing bad, but again, everything felt authentic. Kids hanging out in the basement, a den of people essentially selling themselves in chat rooms, or even the homes, school or news station the people go to all feel like it belongs. The music was pretty good throughout as well, and I'm always happy went a soundtrack or score doesn't annoy me. The dialogue was pretty great as well. The writing especially for Max Thieriot's character Kyle, Jason Bateman's as Rich and Paula Patton as Cindy were highlights for me.

This is not a movie for the faint of heart. See? Now I'm being cautionary. Despite the underlying tones of caution, Disconnect deals with a ton of heavy subject matter. At nearly two hours this is a movie you need to commit yourselves to. While it never feels long, it's a movie best fit to submerse yourself in. The story is pretty solid, but the characters and performances are what you're really gonna key in on with his. I liked this movie a lot, and it's one of the best that I've seen all year. If you can get past the problems with the overall message being projected at you, you have a great group of stories played out by a great cast of characters.