Thursday, January 31, 2013

Safety Not Guaranteed [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

For me this isn't even a movie a remembered until a couple days ago. I knew it had come out last summer, but I've had a busy summer and winter and it completely escaped my mind. All three leads are on comedy shows on television that I really like. Aubrey Plaza has been on Parks and Recreation for five seasons now as April Ludgate. Mark Duplass has been starring on The League for four seasons now as Peter Eckhart. Finally Jake Johnson has been starring on New Girl for two seasons now as Nick Miller. All are three excellent shows and this, based on a true article that was actually in a paper, movie is probably the biggest surprise to me from last year.

Safety Not Guaranteed follows the story of a struggling college graduate, Darius (Aubrey Plaza), who works as an intern at a Seattle magazine. A writer, Jeff Schwensen (Jake Johnson), has an idea for an article. He's found a classified ad in a newspaper that reads:

["Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before."]

He proposed his story idea to his editor, Bridget (Mary Lynn Rajskub), who tells him to take two interns to help him with the story. He chooses Darius and another intern, Arnau (Karan Soni). Arnau is interning to diversify his resume as he is majoring in biology. The three travel to Ocean View and in addition to writing the story, Jeff reveals he's here to try and get together with a past lover, Liz (Jenica Bergere). They find out that the person who printed the ad is Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass), a stocking clerk at a local grocer. Jeff initially approaches Kenneth, but is turned down. This leaves Darius in charge of befriending Kenneth and getting information so they can write their article. Along they way we find out who Jeff's mystery lover is and Arnau finds some much needed self-confidence. All while a bizarre yet charming relationship blossoms between Darius and Kenneth as they prepare to go back in time.

This movie looks good, sounds good, and the cinematography is pretty good as well. But that's not what makes this excellent. As this movie went on I could feel myself getting more and more into it. I think this is what made it so superb to me. You could get into where the characters were coming from early on and understanding their thoughts and actions only grew as the movie went on. I love character development in a movie so much. For example, at first you could see that Darius was "lost in the world" (shout-out to Kanye there). But as the movie went on you see her true colors, feelings and thoughts about everything. Being able to connect with the characters in a movie and perceive yourself feeling what they feel is tough to do. But this movie nails it on the head. The writing, done by first time writer and producer, Derek Connolly, is amazing. It beings the characters to life, as I've already said, but it also gets you into the story and  as well as makes you laugh. The dialogue between the characters, especially Kenneth and Darius, feels real. The laughter is there in abundance, but when things get serious, the dialogue gets emotional and grounded. 

Enough about the characters though, lets get to the actors that did an awesome job playing them. Jake Johnson is one of the new actors of the past couple of years that has really emerged as a outstandingly funny guy. He's sidesplitting in New Girl, and his role in 21 Jump Street is a riot. While he's funny as Jeff, this was a very seriously played role. A man going into his past and wanting to make something of his empty-ish present. Another guy that's really type-cast I think as a "funny man" the past few years, even though he had a small part in Zero Dark Thirty, is Mark Duplass, who plays Kenneth. Kenneth has a lot of "does he really think this" moments. But he's also a guy with a past that he's altered in his mind to make things seem better in the present that Duplass plays very well. Finally, Aubrey Plaza is amazing in this lead role as Darius. This is probably the best performance of her young career. She always brings that nonchalant humor and sarcasm, while in this she gets deep as well. There are a couple of scenes in this, with Mark Duplass, where she keeps that sarcastic tone yet gets surprisingly emotional. I can not say enough good about all three main actors in this.

The acting, coupled with the humor and story, are the best reasons to watch this and the three lead characters show they're more than just really funny people. The writing by first timer, Derek Connolly is perfect and the story keeps you engaged and laughing throughout. This isn't without minor flaws though, the ending was pretty unexpected, at least to me. There are also a couple of sub-plots that are odd (to me at least), but a decent way to develop the characters a little more. I loved the cameos that Jeff Garlin and Kristen Bell had in this too. Just another added bonus to this. The length is perfect and I never felt myself even wanting this to end. All in all this is the biggest surprise coming out of 2012 and I'm sad that I didn't pay enough attention to watch Safety Not Guaranteed before almost a month into 2013.

Friends and Affiliates of Fat Jesus Reviews

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mama [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Mama is somewhat refreshing horror film and certainly my favorite since Sinister last October. I think I initially saw the trailer for this movie at Sinister so that's a bit of a nice tie in I guess. Also having just watched Jessica Chastain do her thing in Zero Dark Thirty I was really excited to see her in a completely different type of role. Guillermo Del Toro produced this and has a newcomer director/writer in Andres Muschietti, also a writer, in Neil Cross, whose name is tied in with the likes of Dr. Who on television and Pacific Rim on the big screen. Mama is a highly original modern horror film that kinda stands out from the rest.

Mama follows the story of two young girls named Victoria and Lilly (Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse). After the impending news of the 2008 financial crisis Jeffery (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the girls father, kills his business associates and his wife, and takes the girls. Driving entirely too fast on an isolated and icy road, he spins out and crashes in the woods. Both he and the girls survive and walk to an abandoned house. As Jeffery is about to kill himself a figure takes the gun away from him and kills him as it drags him away. The girls are then shown being fed some food next to a fire. Five years later a couple of hunters stumble upon the wreck and subsequently find the house with the girls still living there. Albeit they're are now in a completely animal-like state. They are rescued and committed to a clinic run by Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss (Daniel Cash). He is intrigued by the girls' behavior, drawings and who they keep referring to as "Mama." At a custody hearing he gives the rights to Jeffery's brother Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain), over their great-Aunt Jean (Jane Moffat), on the condition that he gets to put them in a clinic sponsored house have have access to them. It quickly becomes apparent that strange things are happening with the girls. Lucas is thrown to the first floor of the house and has to be hospitalized when the figure attacks him after Annabel sees it in a mirror. Leaving a still very uncomfortable Annabel at home to continue caring for the children, she gets to know them well. But she soon finds out that there may be someone (or something) else that is already the mother of these two girls.

There was a lot of good and a lot of bad in this. I know, good and bad in an alright movie. Who would've thought it? We'll start with the good, it immediately begins for me with the beginning of the movie (another shocker right?) and the cinematography. From the snowy white mountain road, to the old abandoned house and then the house they're put in. It all looks good as well as giving off the creepy atmosphere that it does. The characters, especially, the two girls Victoria and Lilly, as well as their chemistry with Annabel really helps hold this together. Lucas is good as the boyfriend and Dr. Dreyfuss adds another creepy character along with Jean. There's a fair amount of development, especially with the children and Dr. Dreyfuss. Jessica Chastain did well with the script and story she was given. The little girls, Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse, combined with "Mama", were pretty creepy throughout as well. Daniel Cash as well as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (PLAYING DUAL CHARACTERS) were pretty engaging too. The story was highly original, for the most part, and kept me guessing until the big reveal. The dialogue and music throughout was decent as well.  

One of the big problems with this for me is the length. This is pretty long for a horror movie and there's a lot of dragging and unnecessary scenes. Nothing more that I hate than a long movie or one that has me checking the time. I mean the aunt plotting to get the kids and making shady phones calls around? It added nothing in my eyes. Also the back story for Mama was pretty standard. Not even just for horror, but movies in general. I will say that the way the present her in the movie is pretty cool, though I still don't quite get what she was doing when she put her hands on people and *SPOILER* sucks their life out of them? *SPOILER* The scares were pretty much all jump scares too, that's another downer in my eyes. I mean I could see where they tried use use psychological stuff or tried to get into your head, but it never went anywhere. Then it just all ended up being "BOO! Gotcha" stuff. Even then they didn't work too well. Finally the ending, had they ended it even just three minutes before what they ended up doing I would've immensely liked the close of this. But then again, they kept it going for more a feel good thing. Bah.

All in all this is a pretty solid attempt and a decent horror movie to start of 2013. Last year we started off with The Devil Inside and The Woman in Black. So this is already a huge improvement. Jessica Chastain gives another good performance and the little girls duo is pretty creepy. If you go in thinking this is more of a "thriller with a ghost in it", like a serious Scooby-Doo episode, I think you'll have a nice watch. But if you do get scared easily this will get you a few times. A decent start to 2013 and hopefully horror will only get better this year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

End of Watch [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

My kick on really getting into police drama started with me really getting invested into the TNT show SouthLAnd. It prompted me to go back and watch another one of David Ayer's films in Training Day and for some reason I also didn't mind Street Kings. He did that back in 2009 I believe and I think I'm in the minority for liking that movie. I liked Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko and Zodiac, also I liked Michael Pena's role in Crash as well as Observe and Report. So this had all the makings of a movie I could REALLY get into. Boy did it not disappoint.

End of Watch follows the story of LA Police Officers Brian Taylor and Miguel Zavala (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) through found footage that Brian is filming for his film class. On one of their first calls since Brian started filming, they respond to a public disturbance call where, Tre (Cle Sloan), a Blood, and Miguel fight. Having won the fight, Miguel earned Tre's respect for not arresting him for assaulting a police officer. Later that night, Tre and his fellow Bloods are grilling and talking when they're attacked by a Latino gang and one of Tre's friends is killed in the drive-by. The next day Brian and Miguel find the vehicle used in the drive-by and hand the scene over to detectives. Later that night they respond to a noise complaint at a house party full of Latino gang members and have a stare-down with their "leader" Big Evil (Maurice Compte). Not long after this Brian begins to date Janet (Anna Kendrick), and they hit it off really well. One of their first dates is at Miguel's cousins quinceanera where she meets (and we're introduced) to Miguel's wife Gabby (Natalie Martinez) and they all hit it off. Brian has a hunch about a house and they end up finding that the house is being used for human trafficking. Seemingly out of nowhere the IEC arrives and takes over. The officers are going to have to be on high alert as they've stumbled upon something huge and may have angered the wrong people.

There is a lot of things right with this movie and it far outweighs the "bad" that is in there. I'll start with the bad cause I think it should be known that found footage, when done right, is amazing. When done badly it's just a jumbled mess. This is one of those rare times where it's somewhere in the middle. At times when there's a chase scene or a dialogue scene between characters it's awesome. Action filled and a plethora of humor and character development. But then there are scenes when we're pulled into some god-like entities mind that lets us see whats going on, when you can clearly tell a camera isn't in use by Brian or Miguel. *SPOILER* There's a scene where Brian and Janet are clearly making out and about to have sex. Yet we see all the way up till the act. Leading us to suspend belief or have to assume Miguel is a voyeur. *SPOILER* Other little gripes could be with the shakiness of the camera at times so that you may miss some things the first viewing. As well as some of the characters being annoying at times, but this point is a pretty easy one to look over.

The acting and chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, as Officers Taylor and Zavala, is one of the things that makes this a top notch movie. It's so effortless you'd think they grew up best friends in real life. They make it so easy to like them and get invested in their respective lives and families. All while keeping you enthralled or laughing when they're on the clock, making jokes or interacting with the other officers. Also give props in supporting roles to the people who played Van Hausen, Janet, Gabby, Sarge, Orozco, Tre and Big Evil in David Harbour, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, Frank Grillo, America Ferrera, Cle Sloan and Maurice Compte. No matter what part of the movie they're involved in: if they're family, a fellow officer or an enemy of the police, they play their roles perfectly. Bringing me to something else great about this, the character development. Everyone behind the main duo, gets a great amount of screen time and you really get invest to people who could even be only playing some minor roles in the movie. The story and writing, by David Ayer, was superb and it had me engrossed and invested until the end. The dialogue between characters was real, telling, humorous and had me hooked. Hard to believe he wrote this in only six days. The music is great and the cinematography of LA is always a pleasure to see in a movie. This is no different.

All in all this was a pretty big surprise to me. As I watched it on a whim and immediately regretted not getting around to watching this sooner. David Ayer has now, I think, made two of the best police drama's of all time  between Training Day and this End of Watch. Despite it's few flaws, this movie grabs your attention with great action, amazing characters, gripping emotion and laugh out loud humor. Gyllenhaal and Pena give two of the best performances of their careers and I highly recommend everyone to take a few hours and see this movie. You won't be disappointed.

Fat Jesus on Squidoo!
"Like" Fat Jesus Reviews on Facebook
Fat Jesus on LetterboxD!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Haunted House [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Now, I really do like paranormal and horror movies from the past few years. I think I have a higher tolerance than most for some of the modern ones that have come out, but I try to make the best of a "bad" era so to speak. This movie quipped my interest because, believe it or not, I'm a fan of the Paranormal Activity series. [Pauses for all the boos] I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to spoof films like these so I hoped Marlon Wayans' A Haunted House would give me a good watch. Let's just say, I wish I'd stuck with thinking The Woman In Black and The Devil Inside were some of the worst movies I've ever seen.

We open A Haunted House with Malcolm and Keisha (Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins) moving in together to hopefully continue their lives together. But as Keisha pulls into the driveway for their first day together she accidentally runs over Malcolm's dog. Not a good start. Things begin to seem weird as they begin to settle into living together. Keisha has never liked Malcolm's maid, Rosa (Marlene Forte), Keisha farts far too much in her sleep and Malcolm doesn't get rid of his arcade systems. It also becomes apparent that there is something else in the house with them. Malcolm hires a crew, Dan (David Koechner) and his partner Bob (Dave Sharidan), to install cameras all around the house. It turns out that Keisha once made a deal with the devil over a pair of shoes and invited the demonic presence in. In attempts to find out why the spirit is here they hire a homosexual psychic, Jim (Nick Swardson), as well as hiring an ex-con turned priest, Doug Williams (Cedric the Entertainer), to try to exorcise the demon from Keisha. It takes the efforts of this unlikely group to even stand a chance against the demon in this spoof on the paranormal.

This is a pill of a movie a times to be quite honest. It's another movie that desperately wants to recreate the magic of say Scary Movie and Date Movie, but falls flat in the majority of the scenes and humor it tries to convey. I will say that the dynamic between Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins, as Malcolm and Keisha, was good enough to keep me engaged throughout. Speaking of, Essence Atkins is the brightest spot in this abyssal movie. While a lot of the times other people over acted or went off the deep end, the humor Essence was given, as Keisha, was probably the best in the movie. She carried herself to most of the laughs I got and I think it's cause she went more normal instead of just crazy. There were some good one-liners, digs at horror and paranormal movies and enough general humor to get me to smile a few times. So in that respect it get a few points from me. Keep in mind, this in no way makes me want to watch it again.

The bad really does outweigh the good in this movie, by a landslide. Found footage is great if it's more than just, "Hey I bought a camera and I'm getting cameras installed and hey look a computer (with a camera) here we can use, etc." It relied too much on letting us know cameras are there and were installed, when it should be more a subtle thing when they're introduced. The acting, aside from the main two, were pretty phoned in as well. I love David Koechner and he's been in a few of my favorite comedies, but in this he's just another supporting guy with iffy lines. Never been a fan of Nick Swardson and this performance, if you can call it that, didn't win me over. He overacts in all of his scenes and as he plays a gay man, he overstates everything and it comes off as insensitive. Cedric the Entertainer is usually good for a few laughs and while he has a few good one-liners, this is like Koechner's role, largely flat. Finally the humor is pretty bad relying on fart jokes (there's like a five minute scene on this), yelling and running in panic, as well a racial and "gay" humor. Most of it is either flat out not funny or just in bad taste as they could be misconstrued and homophobic or edgy.

Well what can I say this isn't one of the best spoof films I've ever seen, but it's far from the worst  Does anyone remember Epic Movie? That was awful. They say source material for writing has to be good otherwise what comes out will be lacking. Well, I don't know if they actually say that, but it does make sense. Paranormal movies are usually regarded as pretty bad overall and most all of them are in fact pretty bad. So Wayans had an uphill battle from the start and while it's does have a few laughs and situations, this is largely a disappointment. One bright spot though is Essence Atkins as Kiesha. She did really well in this movie clouded in bad. Only see this if you're a fan of spoof movies or Wayans humor. If you like both of those, this is right up your alley. Otherwise avoid this at almost all costs.

Fat Jesus on Squidoo!
"Like" Fat Jesus Reviews on Facebook

Friday, January 25, 2013

Clerks [A Fat Jesus Movie And BluRay Review]

Clerks is easily one of my favorite movies of all time. Kevin Smith has been one of my favorite writers and directors for years now and first movie is arguably one of his finest. Almost 20 years later its really stood the test of comedy time. His crude, yet amazingly real, dialogue, stories and characters envelope you into to his work and Clerks may be his best. On Kevin Smith's first movie (and the long shot it ended up being) no less, this comedy was supposed to be here today.

Clerks follows the story of convenience store worker Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) as he's called into work on his day off. The store is in New Jersey and the trouble starts as soon as he gets there to open. Someone has jammed gum into the locks of the stores shutters and he has to make a giant sign out of a sheet and shoe polish to let people know they're open. Vilification. Not long after opening an anti-smoking gang, is formed by a gum representative telling people buy gum rather than cigarettes that is broken up by Dante's girlfriend. Veronica Loughran (Marilyn Ghigliotti) and Dante then spend some time talking and get in an eventual fight about her giving fellatio to 37 people. Not long after Veronica goes to class after their fight, Randall Graves (Jeff Anderson), Dante's friend who works on the video rental side of the store, finally arrives to work. Malaise. Their half of the morning is spent dealing with the two stoners out front in Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), talking about Star Wars and a host of other things related to their lives. Quandary. After learning that he won't be relieved the day becomes incredibly lax as the store is not tended well to or even open. They unfortunately hear that Dante's ex-girlfriend, Caitlin Bree (Lisa Spoonhauer) who he's still kinda hung up on, is getting married to an Asian design major. They also hear that one of their classmates has died and her memorial is that day. Denouement. In the end, as the day turns to the evening, the stories get bigger, a surprise reunion happens and customers get raunchier. It really makes you wonder, why any clerks ever are supposed to be there on a given day.

I almost don't even know where to start with this cause as of yet, I really haven't done a review of one of my all time favorite movies. Aside from the obvious look of this movie, made in 1993 for $27,000 dollars, it's not the most quality looking movie ever made. But that's part of its charm I think and where my sort of gripe about this movie ends. Also the shooting in black and white is awesome and it gives it that classic movie feel of a more modern movie. The story of the Quick Stop and RST Video store that fateful day is one of the most original and hilarious stories I've ever watched. Even with my more than multiple viewings of this I never get tired of all the antics everyone from Dante to Jay or Randall and Silent Bob pull. This brings me to the dialogue, which is immensely funny and not afraid to go anywhere. From deep moments relating Star Wars to contractors and laugh educing moments where a list of porn titles being said in front of a little girl. Also from one liners from Randall to the customers he hates to a brain-dead druggie popping in and out all day, there is no shortage of laughing to be had watching this.

The character development is awesome as you can pick up on the background of almost all the main characters. They are all written well and feel real, like they could really be the people that hate working at the convenience stores we all go to. Also making them wholly relateable is a touch not may comedies can go to, but this is one of those movies that does it really well. Though in a slightly exaggerated way. The actors that play the rag-tag group of misfits in this area of New Jersey that has Russian singers and hockey lovers are great as well. Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson are an amazing duo (and looking forward to Clerks II) and have a great amount of on-screen comedic timing and presence as Dante and Randall. Jay and Silent Bob turn out to be staples of the View Askew Universe and Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith himself start off with a great supporting duo performance in this. Ending with the duo (I really like that word right now in this) of Marilyn Ghigliotti and Lisa Spoonhauer as Dante's current and ex-girlfriends are great compliments to O'Halloran when they're on screen. Not much cinematography to speak of in this but the music during the title cards and the "Berserker" songs are perfect.

In short, in this day of internet and technology this is a great movie that shows life in the early 90s. For a kid like me who actually grew up in the 90s, I'm happy that some of the best movies were made when I was a kid so I can go back and re-watch them like this. Kevin Smith has a lot of movies I adore, actually most of his films to be completely honest. I'm a kid at heart for the nostalgia aspect of this, the teenager at heart that loves raunchy comedy and the adult in me loves the storytelling of this. Clerks is one of the best comedies of all time and makes me glad Dante was supposed to be there that day.

With my disc reviews that I've done so far I really like to start with the commentary track I decide to watch. With this 15th Anniversary BluRay there is a couple of tracks you can choose from depending on the movie version you decide to watch. In the theatrical cut, you get original commentary from 1995. Or with the first cut (which I chose to watch), with commentary from the [full] main cast in Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran. As well as an intro from Kevin filmed in 2004, I believe for the Clerks X dvd set. Anywho, the commentary track is awesome as it turned into stories about the filming of the movie back in 1993, Mosier seeing Kevin's mom naked in almost a moment of sleepy twilight and all the points where lines were hard to get out. Kevin and the crew were highly funny and this was more like listening to a podcast while watching the movie and I don't mind that one bit.

There are a ton of featurettes on this huge set so I'm going to jump right into the three that stood out to me most! "Clerks: The Lost Scene" is great. This is the memorial service scene done in the Clerks animated series style. It was taken out cause it would've been too much of a hassle to make for the original movie. It's funny, written well and if they had somehow filmed it, it would've gone into the movie perfectly. "The Flying Car" is another great feature. When Smith was going around in the early 2000s doing press he would use this short of Dante and Randall being stuck in traffic. Randall posed this question to Dante on whether or not he would cut his foot off for a flying car and it escalates to side-splitting hypothetical situations. This was a great watch and Jeff and Brian looked great for being Dante and Randall for the first time together since Clerks.  These last two are pretty cool as well. MTV contacted Smith to do intros and breaks that they would air between videos and such. So they added all eight of these little intros, so to speak, and they're pretty cool little spots featuring Jay and Silent Bob. The other one is "Clerks Auditions." This is cool because I haven't seen too many of these thrown on sets throughout the years. Being able to see Brian O'Halloran, Marilyn Ghigliotti and Jeff Anderson do some monologues and earn their characters was a cool behind the scenes look.

"Snowball Effect: The Story of Clerks" is a feature length documentary that's included with this set (and the Clerks X set as well). This is pretty amazing as it's a complete in-depth look of Kevin Smith's life. From his city wide popular sketch troop in high school, to seeing SLACKER (his inspiration movie) and finally dropping out of film school mid-way through to start the inception of Clerks and everything beyond is a wonder to behold. "Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary" is another cool addition to this set. This is the short that Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier made while in film school together before Kevin left. It was supposed to be a documentary about a transsexual, who ended up dropping out, so it turned into people revealing their true feelings about the two not being able to get their act together. Not near as good as anything he's done since "breaking out", but it's nice to see where his mind was way early in his career. Finally the "10th Anniversary Q&A" was filmed after the first showing of the remastered edition and features almost the entire cast. The questions were fairly good as it propelled the cast and crew into hilarious one liners and stories about their experience in the making of Clerks ten years prior.

This set is massive and I didn't even cover everything on this set. Granted if you own Clerks X you still have a lot of this stuff, you don't have it in high def. You don't have a nifty new commentary track. You don't have the BluRay exclusive Making-Of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and another new introduction by the mastermind behind Clerks. This set is cool, to me, cause I haven't watched Clerks X in awhile. But for fans of this movie or Kevin Smith in general, this is a great way to get your full Clerks experience all in one BluRay set.

Fat Jesus on Squidoo

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Cabin in the Woods [A Fat Jesus BluRay Review]

Like all of these BluRay reviews, or DVD ones when I get to some, I'm going to be starting with the commentary track I listened to. For The Cabin in the Woods BluRay you get a commentary with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon (Writers and Director and Producer respectively). Now I went into this expecting a great commentary. Joss is hands down one of my favorite producers, writers and directors and Drew had worked with him on things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, Angel and even wrote Cloverfield too. So these two should have an amazing track. Well it's pretty mediocre to say the least. Don't get me wrong, as with all of Whedon's work he gives a ton of behind the scenes stories and information and these two definitely had a chemistry, but it felt tired to me. The two sounded deflated and especially on Joss' end too, as I believe he had just got done with The Avengers or was was working on it when this was filmed. Don't quote me on that haha. 

My advice to you is this, though. Take three hours if you have it, or take a couple of afternoons or evenings and watch the commentary track then watch the "It's Not What You Think" BonusView mode. This is another thing I was excited to watch cause of the Second Screen Experience I watched with The Avengers BluRay. But the Bonus View with this is isn't on your computer. It cuts into the movie with inside looks at the shots, the thinking behind scene, how it was filmed and actor and crew tid-bits about what they thought in and around the scene that's happening. I'm sure if I had a 50 inch monster TV I'd be able to enjoy this a bit more, but they way they cut in and out was pretty seamless and (to me) a nice little compliment to the only okay commentary track.

Now we'll move into the first part of all these juicy featurettes. "We Are Not Who We Are" was a pretty good behind the scenes shoot of the everyday walk through of life on the set with the actors and crew. The sets were huge, the basement and props were awesome to see and the cast going about with their own view of things was a cool look. "An Army of Nightmares" was an amazing look behind the scenes of how the monsters, both in make-up and animatronic ones, were made and conceived. The make-up in the end took hours to produce, but in the end looks bloody, horrible and perfect. "Primal Terror" was a neat look at all the stuff it took to make the visual effects and CGI looks good through out. A lot of scenes are done without CGI, but there are just some parts that have to have it. So see all it took to combine the real effects with the CGI and it make it looks seamless was pretty awesome.

There are two Secret Secret Stash, segments if you will, "Marty's Stash" and "Hi My Name Is Joss And I'll Be Your Guide" are pretty well odd to say the least. At least the first one, "Marty's Stash," is. If you listen to the commentary track you know Joss and Goddard joke heavily about the marijuana use and make quite a few drug jokes as well.  So Marty, played by Fran Kranz, go through all the, stoner paraphernalia (weed, joints, hiding places, rolling paper and bongs) that Marty used. Including the infamous Tulip joint. The second one "Hi My Name Is Joss and I'll Be Your Guide" is a great look at the making of the sets and sound stage cabin. The sound stage cabin is very different from the one actually in the woods and all the various rooms and basements that come with it. Finally there's a pretty cool and informative Q&A after an initial showing at WonderCon where Joss and Goddard takes questions from the audience. Having watched this last there's a few things that I hadn't heard asked or talked about throughout all the extras so it's a nice little watch to see them interacting with the fans. 

This DVD set, even with the commentary lacking, is still loaded and The Cabin in the Woods is still one of the best horror films of 2012 and probably of the past 5 years or so as well. The featurettes are very informative and not just little two minute long looks behind the scenes. There's also a ton of them, so if you're taking a Saturday or something to watch everything you won't be done in a couple hours. The films looks good in the BluRay format and really nothing is lacking in this loaded set. Don't hesitate to pick this up and and get trapped in this monstrous cabin.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Okay so I really like Parks and Recreation and Chris Pratt, who plays Andy Dwyer, is one of the best characters on the show. So when I saw that Chris Pratt was featured prominently in the trailer I got excited. Also I really didn't mind the last Kathryn Bigelow movie I saw in The Hurt Locker. The action and writing was good in that, so I was kinda excited to see this movie. To say the least it was, less action filled, but pleasant surprise. 

Zero Dark Thirty's story starts two years after the September 11th attacks and follows the story of CIA officer Maya (Jessica Chastain). She has spent her brief career only following al-queda intelligence on their leader Osama bin Laden, when she is transferred to work with follow CIA member Dan (Jason Clarke) at the US Embassy Pakistan. Maya would often accompany Dan when he went and interrogated prisoners in his less than humane way. They trick one of their prisoners into telling them that a man named "Abu Ahmed" is working as a courier for bin Laden somewhere and also works with a man named Abu Faraj al-Libbi who is apprehended and interrogated, but tells nothing. By 2008, Maya is no longer the newbie officer she once was and in 2009 she lost her friend in the Camp Chapman attack. It's at that time Abu Ahmed is all but confirmed dead. But Maya may have incidentally stumbled upon evidence of who this mystery courier is and what may be the secret hideout the infamous Osama bin Laden is hiding. This may finally be the break Maya is looking for and this Navy Seal team, led by Justin and Jared (Chris Pratt and Taylor Kennedy , may be in the biggest raid of their entire lives.

Well for me this was more like a documentary, of sorts, turned into a feature film. So I kinda enjoyed the plot and story. I didn't know any of the details behind Osama's capture and death (or if some of this was fudged to make the movie more juicy, so to speak). I'm sort of the typical American when it comes to politics and these types of things. Chanting "USA", singing 'God Bless the USA' and kissing babies while waving a little American flag. Well, maybe not the last one. So the details behind everything was cool to see. The acting was pretty solid too, especially by Jessica Chastain and in the beginning part of the movie with Jason Clarke as Dan. Once the Navy Seal team came in as well there was a nice air of humor added into to this serious dominated movie. The music and score was a nice compliment and never detracted either. Out of place sounds and music drive me nuts. The cinematography in and around India where they filmed (to look like Pakistan) were very pleasing to look at as well. Always a plus for me.

There were some flaws in this though. The action, the trailer fully had me believing this movie was full of, was limited to the tail end of the movie. Sure there were covert chases, torture scenes and bombings, but I'm not counting them cause they were usually one time thing more than a scene itself. I will say though that the raid scene to end the movie was was one the coolest action sequences I've seen in awhile. Also this movie is one that felt long for me, and that's never a plus. I know we need to get every detail possible so the viewer isn't confused as to whats happening (and I wasn't), but it really did feel that more often than not that a scene was long or dragging. This is well over two hours, but for me felt longer than that. One more thing I did notice, while we were supposed to follow the story of Maya, Jessica Chastain's really the only person that really got a huge amount of range and character development. I mean Dan, Jason Clarke, did get a fair amount in the early going, but it dropped off considerably and I really felt like everyone that came on screen was almost "one off" and I never noticed them again.

All in all this is almost a story of two halves of a film for me. The beginning setting up was cool the see all the processes and time it took to gather the intel. With the end being actually getting the ball rolling and the awesome looking raid itself. The main, well character haha, in Maya was cool and the rest of the decent cast's acting followed suit. With the story, writing, filming and music all being good. I don't think it deserves as many Oscar nods as it's gotten. But that's just me. The few grips I had came with length and misinterpreting the trailer and hoping for more action, which can easily be looked over. This is a very well made drama-action hybrid, though it has flaws, with a nice story to tell.  Zero Dark Thirty feeds off our patriotism and makes us want to see the full story behind Osama bin Laden's death.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Texas Chainsaw 3D [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Let me start by saying. I lived almost 20 of my 22 years in Texas. This doesn't sway my opinion of this movie in the least. Now I really enjoy the original film and the mildly like the remake they did in 2003. The two "starts" of the films eras (1974 and 2003) for Texas Chainsaw Massacre were good (and decent) stuff. I like the idea of unsuspecting kids going into a house to find furniture made of bones and a family who are chainsaw wielding psychopaths. But can 3D and the promise of a dark, enticing new chapter in the series beginning make this worth a viewing? I'll give you a clear answer right now. HAH! NOPE!

We open Texas Chainsaw 3D with events happening after the end of the first movie. The townspeople of Newt, Texas rise up against the Sawyer family [who aided their own in Leatherface in his killing spree] and burns down their farm house. The whole Sawyer family is presumed dead and the town holds the people, led by Mayor Burt Hartman (Paul Rae), who did it in high esteem. However an infant, who turns out to be Edith Sawyer, is found and adopted by Gavin and Arlene Miller (David Born and Sue Rock). Edith is raised by the two as Heather Miller (Alexandria Daddario). Fast forward to current day and Heather finds out that her grandmother, Verna Carson (Marilyn Burns), has passed away and left everything in her estate to her. Finding out she's adopted for the first time, Heather and her boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz) and their two friends Nikki and Kenny (Tiana Raymonde and Keram Malicki-Sánchez) decide to travel to Newt to collect her inheritance. Picking up a hitchhiker named Darryl (Shaun Sipos) on their trip, they are about to enter a world that hasn't been revisited since those faithful murders back in the 70s.

Let me start by saying, that if this little infant, in Heather, was found after the events of the first movie, and that this movie is set present day, then that would make all of these people nearly forty NOT in their mid-twenties. Let's suspend that belief thought, maybe this story for the new chapter of this horror franchise will be good enough for me to wanna come back to it. Right? There is less character and story development in this movie than I think I've ever seen in a movie EVER. That's hard to do when I like movies like Sex Drive or Hot Rod. Neither horror movies, but I try to avoid horror movies like this one...well cause of movies like this one. But what about the scares and kills you ask, surely this horror movie can deliver in those respects?

Well, sure I guess. There's a few jump scares that can get unsuspecting people, as with most horror movies, even the well made ones, of the past 15 years or so. The kills were kills too. Nothing special though. One of the one thing I thought was cool, was one of the kills where they show a dude getting completely get chainsawed in half. Spoiler? Aww who cares, please don't see this unless you're forced to. Also the Leatherface in this film, Dan Yeager, well up until the end of the movie he's the bad-ass you want him to be. Then trying to be edgy or cool with a plot twist of sorts, well let's just say he gets completely ruined for me. The music, acting and just about everything else in this movie is under-par as well. Trey Songz is in his first and hopefully last feature film and while I like Alexandria Daddario, this was not something I liked her in.

I came into this hoping for a fun horror movie, what I got was more fun playing Paper Mario: Sticker Star after about 15 minutes in when I got bored. The story is ludicrous on what they want me to believe, while also managing to bore me. The acting doesn't come close to making up for it and the "scares", kills and gore doesn't quite help it either. Even if you're a die hard fan of this series I don't think you could like this movie or makes any excuses that this movie is redeeming to the franchise. There's already a part two of this set to be released in 2015 and that may be the only thing that can make this mess of a movie look good. The sequel.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I like well made romantic comedies. Well at least ones I proclaim as good like Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Zack and Miri Make a Porno and more (raunchy) movies of the like. But I like Bradley Cooper, and really wanted him to make up for Hit and Run (I mean what the hell was that movie) and have a good performance in this. Also Jennifer Lawrence is adorable and I've been a fan of her since I saw her in Winter's Bone in 2010. I liked The Hunger Games and wanted her to keep that roll going. Instead I got a movie, Silver Linings Playbook, that left right in the middle of where I wanted to be.

Silver Linings Playbook follows the story of Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), who had undiagnosed bipolar disorder. He is released from a mental health facility and is cleared to go home and live with his parents. His wife Nikki (Brea Bee) has moved away in the eight months since he went in and his father, Pat Sr. (Robert DeNiro), lost his job and is resulting on gambling on football games to try and start a restaurant. Pat wants desperately to get back with his wife, who has since filed a restraining order against him. At one of his court mandated therapy sessions he tells his therapist (Anupam Kher), Pat explains that he was sent away because one day he came home to his wife having sex with another teacher in their shower with their wedding song playing ("My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder) and beats him almost to death. That night having dinner with his friend Ronnie (John Ortiz) and his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles) he meets Ronnie's sister-in-law Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany is a young widow and a recovering sex addict who is also living at home. Pat and Tiffany form a relationship off of all their shared quirks and Pat realizing he can use Tiffany to get his wife letters. Pat getting back together with his wife is what he wants or through unorthodox (and dance-y) ways he can develop a new life with Tiffany. See which play he calls by watching this for yourself.

This movie was a mixed bag for me. As it's one of the better rom-coms, I'll admit, I really don't think it should be getting all the Oscar buzz and nominations it has. The music is well done and the score is good. But sometimes the amount they're drilling it into our heads that Pat is indeed bipolar, by playing "My Cherie Amour" over and over and over, is a little off-putting. The cinematography of sites around Philly and it's very close-knit family and friends are pretty good to watch. Times it seems like everyone knows what's going on between Pat and Tiffany and they're not afraid of letting us know, that everyone else knows as well. The acting by DeNiro and Weaver as husband and wife are awesome to watch throughout. Cooper and Lawernce (as well as his scenes with John Ortiz and Chris Tucker) are done very well too. The writing and dialogue, by David O. Russel, was more, real I guess you could say, than other romantic comedies and the tension between the families and characters were done well. It's much more serious with the humor, but that's a plus in this movie.

The story was as original as you can get with the whole rom-com scheme. Guy meets girl. Guy pisses off girl. Girl leaves. In the end guy and girl get together. This is that with more a feel with everything. The story felt real, the characters were relate-able, and the outcome (though predictable) is what you want out of a feel good movie like this is. Here's where my problem with all the praise this is getting is coming from. There's laughs. There's romance. There's drama. But in the end this is just an above average movie for me. Cooper, Lawrence and the rest of the crew did great and made this the above average movie it is, but still in the end this just a rom-com. Like the steps I listed, it follows them almost to a tee. I want movies to surprise me. Lawrence does well, Cooper does great and DeNiro is DeNiro. This movie was what it was though, above average movie watching. It was just okay.

All in all this is still worth your watch. The story is highly engaging and the acting by everyone is superb. The acting by Bradley Cooper is probably the best of his career and Jennifer Lawrence keeps her acting train rolling. With DeNiro, Weaver and Tucker, there are great compliments to the two main stars on screen. The writing is a helluva a lot better than most rom-coms as well. This is not Oscar worthy in my eyes, it has a ton of nominations, but who am I to say. Silver Linings Playbook was just an okay watch for me.

Fat Jesus on Squidoo

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

21 Jump Street [A Fat Jesus BluRay Review]

Let's start with the commentary track on this set as it's pretty damn awesome. You get the two directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller along with the two main stars in Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, all together for one of the first times watching the final product. You don't mind missing some of the funniest lines and parts cause Jonah Hill, who is very outspoken in this track, still refers to Emma Watson as Hermione and can't help but point out scenes with Ice Cube and when Rob Riggle grabs Brie Larson's boobs. Also there's funny behind the scenes stories from Channing and Jonah's scenes with Rob Riggle, Dave Franco and Ice Cube. Also there's an unnatural love for getting drunk during scenes, since it was filmed in Louisiana, and their love (and frankly my love too) of Korean Jesus. There's a unanimous decision between the four, that the "F*ck you science! *Walks off*" line is the best in the movie. Hard to argue. This track was a blast to listen too, and if you like this movie you'll love this commentary.

The deleted scenes ended up being more extended scenes or alternate scenes. There's a five minute extended one where Jake Johnson, the schools principal, just improvises with Channing and Jonah that had me in stitches. There's also a few more good ones involving Nick Offerman, Dave Franco and Chris Parnell. Gag-reel is hilarious as well as it gives a huge behind the scenes look at watch actually made the actors in his laugh. Let me tell you, a lot set these guys off and most of that same stuff set me off too.

There's a ton of featurettes on this set as well. We'll start with these three in "Back to School," "Brothers In Arms" and "Peter Pan on the Freeway." Back to School goes behind the scenes with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as they transform back into high-school kids after being assigned to 21 Jump Street. It's a neat watch as things have changed (and even in the writing) since the two were in school. Brothers in Arms is another behind the scenes featurette with Jonah and Channing. It shows the transformation into the cops that they portray in the movie. It's sort of a continuation of "Back to School" with more pointing the prop guns at each others crotches and firing to see if they were loaded. They had to shut down half of a highway to film the chase scene in this movie. Jonah comments on how that there's live traffic on the other side of where they're filming. He even gets (what turns out) an undesirable message (the first of it's kind) on the highway itself.

We're not done with featurettes either, there's still three more with "Cube-O-Rama," "Johnny Depp on Set" and "The Rob Riggle Show!" Cube-O-Rama may be the best on this set cause it Ice Cube yelling his lines from the movie and improvised lines too. Ice Cube is a riot in the movie and there's lines that were cut could've easily been put in. Also everyone is in awe of his birthmark near his eye (as said on the commentary track too) and are mesmerized by it. Now onto Johnny Depp on Set. There's a pretty big cameo by Depp, who was in the original series, that no one could stop asking about once the inception of 21 Jump Street started. The actors on set felt they could talk to Johnny while he was in his scene clothes (and Depp even went out and about without being recognized). But once he was out of them everyone suddenly got starstruck. Finally we have The Rob Riggle Show and this is amazing. Riggle is a hilarious guy and steals the movie behind Channing and Jonah. The whole cast agrees as again we get to hear about Riggle grabbing Brie Larson's boobs, making Jonah and Channing ruin so many scenes due to laughing and putting his own penis in his mouth.

This set really has it all. The great movie with an awesome commentary track. The deleted scenes that felt more like extended ones. Along with a side splitting gag reel. And there's six awesome featurettes that keep the behind the scenes knowledge flowing. There's a ton of extras on this set and if you liked 21 Jump Street like I did (my favorite comedy of 2012) you really need to get this set. Well worth your money. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Seven Psychopaths [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

This was a movie I've been waiting more than awhile to see. I loved when Martin McDonagh and Colin Ferrell got together for In Bruges. So when I saw they we're doing it again for Seven Psychopaths and added Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christoper Walken and Tom Waits for a crime inspired comedy, I knew I was down. This movie is a comedic spin on crime movies that isn't afraid to make you laugh and then  make you cringe as blood flies. Luckily, I love these kinds of movies.

Seven Psychopaths follows the life of struggling screen writer, and alcoholic, Marty Faranan (Colin Ferrell) and his best friend, an unemployed actor, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell). Marty is desperately trying to finish his screenplay "Seven Psychopaths" when Billy suggests adding in the "Jack of Diamonds," a real life killer who is currently making the news. For the moment Billy works as a dog kidnapper, who steals someone's dog and then collects the reward for finding them, with his partner, a religious man, Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken). He has a wife, Myra (Linda Bright Clay), who is cancer stricken and in the hospital. One day Billy steals a Shih Tzu named Bonnie, unaware that it belongs to a violent and unpredictable gangster named Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson). The chase is on as Marty meets a psychopath, Zachariah Rigby (Tom Waits) who answers an ad Billy puts in the paper for psychopaths to respond to help Marty finish his screen play. Then they have to take off with his best friend, a new found partner and Bonnie the Shih Tzu to escape a crazed dog owner out for vengeance and maybe finish his screenplay in the process.

This movie was a definitely a fun watch for me. I'm a sucker for Tarantino-esqe dialogue riddled with inside references and humor. This movie is filled with it and I laughed out loud quite a few times. I also love when a serious movie doesn't take itself seriously. There's a couple of scenes where Billy, Sam Rockwell, pitches an idea of "The Final Shootout" to Marty and Hans, Christopher Walken, explains an alternate story of "The Vietnamese Priest." They're two of the best and funniest scenes I've seen all year. Which brings me to the acting, while not mind-blowing, it's really good, by all parties involved  Also once Sam Rockwell hit's his stride it's awesome. While Collin Ferrell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson all compliment him well in all the scenes they're in together. The story is highly original as it takes the crime genre and creates an entertaining story while keeping the humor about itself. 

The stories about the psychopaths themselves in the movie are great as well. Even though I know I won't be seeing the "Seven Psychopaths" that as written in the movie the characters of  "The Quaker," Zachariah & Maggie and "The Vietnamese Priest" were awesome stories interjected into this. The scenery, especially when they're in the explanation of The Final Shootout scene, were good, but nothing that would make you go wow. This is more story driven than aesthetically pleasing movie. Well aside from when blood and blood spray is toyed with. The music and overall score of the movie is good as well. Finally the movie never felt long and I never felt myself checking the time. That's always a plus for me if a movie can get me engulfed in it.

I really liked this movie and it turned out to be one of my favorites of the year. I'm glad when a movie that I've been wanting to see meets my expectations. Sam Rockwell does it again for me like he did in Frost/Nixon and Moon with a great performance and the rest of the cast in Ferrell, Walken and Harrelson make this new McDonagh film a very good watch. The story, dialogue and humor is all present in this crime inspired comedy. Don't hesitate to go a little psychotic and see this film.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Avengers [A Fat Jesus BluRay Review]

This is my first time doing a DVD and/or Blu-Ray review so I wanted to pick a great (recent movie) with a quality (not quantity) amount of extras and things to go over. So this Blu-Ray dvd combo set, I'll be dammed if I couldn't find it in Blu-Ray packaging, of The Avengers seemed like a good place to try my hand at it first.

First off the commentary track, with Joss Whedon, is pretty damn awesome. From writing, directing and producing TV and internet shows including Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse he's no slouch in TV fantasy. But look to what he's done on the big screen, helping pen movies like Toy Story, ThorCaptain America and The Cabin in the Woods, and it has Whedon all over it as well. As well as all this, Whedon is a life long comic book fan and he has an 8-issue series with Dark Horse called The Fray. So hearing the man behind all of the aforementioned giving little insights to thought processes, why he filmed what a certain way and all his thinking patterns regarding the writing and directing of the biggest Marvel movie to date, well, it's truly a treat.

Along with the Blu-Ray set you get another installment in the Marvel One-Shot series called, Item 47. Item 47, takes place after the final battle of The Avengers and follows the story of a down of their luck couple named Benny and Claire (Jessie Bradford and Lizzy Caplain) who find a left-over Chitauri gun (Item 47) and decide to start robbing banks with it. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Sitwell and Blake (Maximiliano Hernandez and Titus Welliver) are assigned to track and receive the now active gun from the two, reminiscing about Agent Coulston as the mission begins. We are also informed that all the Chitauri guns are all "dead" so it's a wonder that the couple is even using it. I'll let you watch the rest of this short-film, but to say the very least it makes me wonder if we'll see these four in upcoming Marvel movies, including Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor 2 (2013), Captain America 2 (2014), The Incredible Hulk 2 (2015) and The Avengers 2 (2015).

There's a couple of really cool featurettes (A Visual Journey and Assembling the Ultimate Team), a gag reel (The first EVER one for a Marvel film) and deleted scenes that comes with this set as well. One featurette is on the DVD as well. The first is called "A Visual Journey." Chronicling the huge and unique set designs and all the different special effects and cinematography. The other, which is on the DVD as well is "Assembling the Ultimate Team" in which the all-star cast, including Robert Downey Jr, Joss Whedon, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson, all talk about their characters and how this is one of the most start-studded movie of all time. 

The deleted scenes all give more insight into characters like Maria Hill, Hawkeye and there's even a great scene involving Captain America. The gag reel is hilarious and give a great look behind the scenes and what the atmosphere on set was like. Would've been fun to spend a day on that set when everyone was there at once. Also the Second Screen experience, The Avengers Initiative, was cool as well. I synched up my movie with an app on my laptop and it offered a ton of extras such a videos, pictures, actor bios, behind the scenes shots, story-boards, comic book trivia and so much more. Watching with this added a ton of behind the scene stuff, even on top of the commentary I had just watched.

This was the best superhero movie of the year and the BluRay and DVD combo set did not disappoint. The commentary track is there and it's more than informative. The gag reel is hilarious while the deleted scenes are good, but rightfully removed. The featurettes are great watches and the Marvel One-Shot film, Item 47, is the best of the three released so far. The Avengers Initiative was also really cool to go through as well during the watch cause I've seen this movie a lot since it came out. This set is well worth the money and if you can get it in BluRay packaging more power to ya. This is a set you should definitely own.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2012 Movie Report, Part Two: July to December!

Just like the post before this, here is my move rankings for the months of July to December of 2012. It's been the six full months since my last post and I'm finally content with my watched amounts to put out this list of movies. I've seen twenty-four movies in the past six months (as you can see below still have/want to see nine others) and ranked them from best to worst. Meaning if I liked them or even saw them in theaters they'll probably get a better place. So again, without further adieu, here's the movies these last six months had to offer!

Still On-Deck to Watch
Cloud Atlas
The Guilt Trip
The Hobbit
The Man with the Iron Fist
The Master
Seven Psychopaths
Silver Linings Playbook
Taken 2
Zero Dark Thirty

Rest-Of July to December
24. Hit and Run
23. Pitch Perfect
22. The House at the End of the Street
21. The Bourne Legacy
20. The Collection
19. The Watch
18. Skyfall
17.Killing Them Softly
16. The Campagin
15. Life of Pi
14. Trouble with the Curve
13. This Is 40
12. Looper
11. Argo
10. The Five Year Engagement
9. End of Watch
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
7. Moonrise Kingdom

Best-Of July to December
5. Sinister

A little back story if you will. I had seen a couple of commercial spots for this movie and thought it looked, different that other horror movies coming out this month. Movies like Silent Hill Revelation and Paranormal Activity 4. Both of which I plan on seeing, at the very least PA4. On a whim earlier today I was bored as hell and went to go see this. Oh man, I was not disappointed.

Sinister opens with super 8 footage of a family with bags over their heads being hanged by a unknown force. Nine months later a true-crime novelist, Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), and his wife Tracey (Juliet Rylance) with their two children Ashley and Trevor (Clare Foley and Michael Hall D'Addario), move into the house where the hangings occurred  Only Ellison knows about the murders as he is using them for the basis of his new book. Ellison's trying to hit it big once again as ten years earlier he became "famous" for his #1 bestseller called  'Kentucky Blood'. Most of the town is not happy about the way he portrayed them in his book and gives the family a hard time. As they are moving in Ellison finds a box in the attic marked "Home Movies" which contained a projector and several super 8 reels. With names like "Family Hanging Out '11" and "BBQ '79", Ellison begins to watch the reels and discovers that they all depict a family being murdered. In all of the reels he sees a common cult-like symbol and in one of them he even sees a figure with a demonic face. Strange things begin to happen to Ellison and the rest of the family after he discovers the face on a reel. It becomes a mad search for any clues, facts or help that can be found to rid the Oswalt's of this paranormal entity now haunting them.

Let me start off by saying that I'm glad I saw this in the theaters cause the dark atmosphere with the blasting surround sound and giant screen was perfect for this type of horror film. I also love the thriller-detective aspect that was thrown in throughout the movie as well. Gave me some guess-work to what the twist of the movie would be. First off the acting, I'm not a huge Ethan Hawke fan, but he made this movie. His reactions to the reels of film and general apprehension going forward from that point in the movie was fun to watch. Wife, kids, detective, etc. Take them or leave them, Hawke was the focal point. But not for lack of trying, the character development in this is leagues beyond most horror films. The music was very limited and I note this because it only really fired up when a scare or big moment happens. Gave it that old school horror moive feel. Speaking of the scary moments, there were a lot of loud "BOO Gotcha" moments in this. It didn't detract, but sometimes a horror movie should rely on those. The kills on the other hand are shown, in full and they are cringe-worthy. Mostly because they are real, I got the "these could happen to you" feeling. Hanging, burning alive, drowning, etc, the way they were depicted on the reels and in full was a bit unsettling. The plot was pretty original as well I'd say and the way it was written was really nice. I like when something obscure in the paranormal field I haven't seen or heard of is used and it gets me entrenched into the story.

I really like this film and it's already giving The Cabin in the Woods a run for it's money for best horror flick of 2012 in my mind. There were some dragging scenes sure, but in a movie with this much character and story development, I can look past it. The acting, especially by Hawke, was great and for the most part the story and scares were too. The kills were done phenomenally and didn't hold back. This is a horror movie that will have you hooked in if you watch it. I'm glad I got hooked. 

4. The Amazing Spider-Man

Let me start this by saying I love the original Sam Raimi trilogy of Spider-Man. Also I just plain LOVE Spider-Man as a character. But Raimi could almost do no wrong in my eyes. Spider-Man 2 is phenomenal. Yes, even Spider-Man 3 and yes I didn't mind Tobey Macguire and Kristen Dunst. But still what the hell was Topher Grace doing as Venom? Get outta here. But this is 2012 and the reboot of that fabled trilogy is upon us. I've been excited about this. I don't mind Andrew Garfield and I think Emma Stone is just adorable. From the trailers and previews I got more excited. So yesterday it came out and bada bing, bada boom, I'm fresh in the theater a couple hours ago. Happy America day to me, haha.

We open with a young Peter Parker playing hide and seek with his father. After looking for him he goes into his office and finds that it's been ransacked. Mr. and Mrs. Parker leave immediately and take young Peter to his Uncle and Aunts house, Ben and May (Martin Sheen and Sally Fields), as they leave from the city. Fast forward and young Peter is now high school Peter (Andrew Garfield). As we should all know by now we're in New York City. Peter is a bit socially awkward, but a brilliant mind nonetheless. Peter saves a kid from a bully and gets beat up by said bully, garnering the attention of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) afterward in class. After Peter get's home his Uncle asks him to help move somethings up from the basement which has water-logged. He find his father old briefcase with a hidden compartment with a classified file in it. He does some research that leads him to a scientist at Oscorp Industries, Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans), who used to work with his father. They worked on cross-species genetics experiments. After sneaking in and realizing that Gwen works there as well he begins to snoop around. He breaks into a secure room full of genetically enhanced spiders and they proceed to fall on him. As he slinks back to the group Gwen makes him give back the stolen badge and as he does one of these spiders bites him. The rest of this web can be spun by watching the movie. But can Peter Parker and his newly found powers save New York from the creature known as, The Lizard?

The movie is a long two hours, but I can understand since this is a reboot of a previous franchise and they wanna get some of the main characters and themes introduced and set in our minds. The origin of the spider-bite, Aunt May, Peter Parker, The Lizard, Gwen Stacy and even Norman Osborne is mentioned. Still, this is my first gripe with this movie, is that there are a lot of dragging scenes as well as ones that didn't need to be in. Cut some things in post or shave down scenes, I don't care. Unless there can be a lot of character and involvement, like say in The Avengers, it doesn't need to be two hours. I don't care that Peter can skateboard in an abandoned shipyard or that he uses Bing to search for stuff online. Doesn't need to be in there. We're gonna get my other gripe outta the way right now too. The music, sure the score is decent, very reminiscent of the first trilogy, but some parts are just dumb sounding. Even at one point they turned it into three minutes of a scary movie. I mean I know The Lizard is big and scary looking, but don't try and make me jump in my seat. 

There is good in this movie though! I really liked what they gave to Andrew Garfield, which was a lot, cause he was going to be the one to carry this movie. Martin Sheen was also a bright light in this movie. I've always liked Uncle Ben's character and he played it well. Emma Stone got a few chances to show off her funny side and it worked. While Dennis Leary did what he had too as well as Rhys Ifans. The acting, by everyone was well too. The dialog was horrendous at times. Too much teenage drama. Also there is a lot of over-dramatic scenes. But then it also flips. The scenes with Ben and Peter were solid, and well and the ones involving Gwen, Conners and Peter. Also there are quite a few very good humor spots. Stan Lee is the MAN by the way. The fighting scenes were good as well. I really liked the fight in the school as well as the final fight on the top of Oscorp. The random ones with the thugs and the scene where he messed with the car thief didn't really do it for me though.

All in all I liked this movie. Even with all the bad that was in there was good too. The acting and fights were done well. Change up the music a bit and cut some scenes and this is a good superhero movie. It's too bad it's sandwiched between The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises because this is a solid little flick. I love Spider-Man. Plus Emma Stone. If you have a couple hours and wanna superhero treat, then web sling your way to see this. You might be disappointed, but if you're like me you might be pleasantly surprised.

3. The Dark Knight Rises

This is easily one of the biggest releases in quite awhile, and probably the most anticipated release that will come out of the 2012 film season. Over the past couple of days I've gone back, re-watched, and reviews both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Easily two of my favorite superhero movies and hell two of my down right favorite movies of all time. But last night was the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. Me, mom and two of my best friends were there to witness some of the first showings of the end of an era so to speak. Sorry for borrowing that WWE, you came up with a catchy tag-line. And I do not think this movie disappoints.

We open the final chapter with the end of  The Dark Knight and Gordon (Oldman) giving the eulogy at Harvey Dent's funeral. Fast forward eight years. Bruce Wayne (Bale) is throwing a party in honor of Dent's death. The Dent Act has effectively eradicated organized crime in Gotham City keeping criminals off the street with no chance of parole. [Now] Commissioner Gordon is slated to give a speech and was going to tell the truth about what really happened the night Dent died but decided not to. Inside Wayne Manor itself Alfred (Caine) tells one of the waitresses (Hathaway) to take a plate of food to Bruce who has secluded himself in a wing of the house. Instead of just leaving the platter and exiting, she decides to snoop around. She starts examining a bulls eye and Wanye shoots an arrow at it. Bruce is revealed to be walking with a cane now. He exclaims that the pearl necklace she is wearing looks exactly like his mothers that he kept in an uncrackable safe. The woman smiles, kicks the cane from under Bruce and with cat-like reflexes jumps out the window. Meanwhile, while all this is going down, on the other side of the world, three men are captured and put on a private plane. The kidnapper starts interrogating them one by one, until he has the misfortune of uncovering Bane (Hardy) as one of the prisoners. Bane and his crew wreak havoc on the plane and kidnap the scientist they need. Then they down the plane. Fast forward again, not too far, and Officer John Blake (Gordon-Levitt) comes to Gordon informing him that a senator has gone missing. During the search Gordon stumbles upon Bane's hideout. Bane questions him, takes the confession of what really happened to Harvey Dent and as Gordon is escaping, he gets shot. Now with motive and cunning behind him, Bane is aiming to destroy Gotham City from the inside. Batman has to restore the Wayne name, learn about his true self and save the city of Gotham from perhaps its final threat. The Batman must rise to conquer some of his biggest obstacles, both psychically and emotionally. The Dark Knight must save Gotham one last time.

Let me start off by saying, this is a movie. If you're a comic book fan going to see it you can't possibly get everything right, use everything and include every detail. That being said the end to this trilogy, without spoiling, is very good and satisfying. The story was grand and I can't think of one like this happening in a movie before. It kept me intrigued and questioning things till the end. There was suspense, heroics and twists that all worked well. The dialogue was written well, as in the other two, mixing humor, seriousness and emotion. This leads me to the acting. Superb as with the other two. Bale, Freeman, Oldman and Caine all reprise and rise to the occasion yet again. Hardy brutally plays Bane to perfection (not quite as grand as Ledger, but we'll not get into that). Gordon-Levitt, Hathaway, Cotillard, all also being the new, all played their parts well and I really liked Hathaway's portrayal of Catwoman. Not many non-Disney movies spark emotion in me, so saying that this is one of them, is a big deal for. There are a couple parts that leave you for lack of a batter term, in shock. But there are also parts that have you cheering or laughing. Nolan has found the perfect mix and has turned the superhero genre into something that can be taken seriously now with this trilogy.

There was a lot less hand to hand combat in this movie. But when it was there it was focused on one-on-one and it looked great. Batman looks smooth and strong, Catwoman parts are quick and punishing and Bane completely out muscles everything in sight. Also this is the first movie I'm not seeing anything directly relating to the Batman games or vice-versa. Maybe it's cause this came out after both games, but there wasn't anything I noticed regardless. Gadget and tech-wise, this was awesome because of The Bat, enough said. But oh man, did I love the characters in this. Even beyond Batman, Alfred and the returning crew. Catwoman is always a crowd pleaser, including myself. Bane is very underrated as a villain and this movie made him look good! There is a mention of someone that got a nice laugh out of me, a return of a couple on-screen characters, and a couple nice twist-characters. One that I'm kicking myself for not noticing before it happened in the movie. But I loved, and at times geeked out at, everything character related in this film. For the third film in a row Nolan maintained the essence of the originals returning and seamlessly added in the new as if they were around since the first movie.

That is my ticket stub from the midnight showing. I've been to quite a few now, but this is up there as one of the best. Along with The Hangover and The Avengers. The theater I went to had it showing on like seven screens. People were a buzz, hell a dude in a full on Batman suit came in and my friend got a picture with him. As the movie started people clapped and as the credits starting rolling a roar erupted in the theater. The only other movie that got a roar for me EVER was The Avengers. I love Batman and I was right there with them clapping cause I truly enjoyed this movie.

On a basic level the story was great, the music never detracted, the acting was superb, the action was good, and while two and a half hours long the movie never dragged or was boring to me. On a deeper level this is the end of a Batman film era. There was emotion in the movie, there was a sense of urgency I'd never felt from a story before, and it had me reeled me in until the final reel. While I don't think this was on The Dark Knight's level this was a damn great flick. More comparable to Batman Begins for me. Like being compared to that is a bad thing. This is a great movie, this is a great end to the Nolan trilogy, and The Dark Knight truly rises to glory in this film.

2. Django Unchained

This was a bit of a toss up for me. On the one hand, I knew I wanted to see this. Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors and with it starring Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Leo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson
 I knew this movie would be relevant to my interests. So last night, one of my last few nights in Texas (I'm moving, but that's a story for another time), me and my two friends decided to go see a showing of it. Needless to say, this was a great one to see on the big screen.

Django Unchained is set in 1858, somewhere in Texas and opens with two brothers, the Specks, transporting a group of slaves across the country. A man approaches them by the name of Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). He is a dentist that is looking for a certain slave, Django (Jamie Foxx). Django is freed as Schultz kills one of the Speck brothers and leaves the fate of the others to the rest of the slaves in the convoy. Django is informed by Schultz that he freed him cause he needs his help to identify the Brittle brothers as Schultz is a bounty hunter. He hasn't been a dentist in five years and tells Django that the profession is is purely opportunistic and that he despises slavery. Schultz also finds out that Django's wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), was unjustly beaten and then sold by Django and her former owners (said Brittle brothers). The two strike up a deal where Django will help Schultz bounty hunt over the winter and in return he will help him find Broomhilda and get her back from Candyland plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) when the winter is over. The hunt begins as this most unlikely duo of bounty hunters sets off on a quest of vengeance and rescue in this, sharp-tonged, violence filled Tarantino film.

At times this movie can be as funny as any comedy and at the turn of a hat there are scenes that can make you really uncomfortable. I think that is exactly what one of the ingredients that makes this a great movie. Tarantino has always been able to do this flawlessly and Django Unchained is no different. The plot is fairly simple as it's a rescue mission scenario of sorts with a western twist. The dialogue is another point where this movie shines. Despite the sometimes overbearing vocabulary, which is often unrefined and crude (as evidenced by the time period and thought processes), really captures the period. Plus when Samuel L. Jackson finally comes in  there's a pretty fresh air of great one-liners and quotes to take the edge off of some of the more serious things going on. The action is western style gun fighting with a Tarantino blood and gore twist. Six shooters going off constantly as well as shotguns and rifles tearing through bodies and gratuitous amounts of blood shortly followed.

The cinematography is pretty damn beautiful. Rustic old west themed towns, the plantations, despite what they're used for, are beautiful to look at. As well as traveling in front of snow-capped mountains or long rolling fields. This is a beautiful movie to look at, both the landscapes and the costumes and clothes. The music is great as well. Django has his own theme as the movie opens as well as modern songs by the likes of John Legend and Rick Ross to name a few. The score throughout the movie is done very well also. Finally we come to the acting and actors. Jamie Foxx, didn't give the best performance of his career as Django, but he did a damn good job with the role. The unfavored (so to speak) black man learning to adapt to being a free bounty hunter trying to free his wife is a great watch. Leonardo DeCaprio (paired with Samuel L. Jackson) and plantation owner Calvin Candie and his head slave Stephen are phenomenal in their roles. Leo is great as a charismatic slave owner who is propitiating "mandingo fights" while Samuel is his right-hand man who's been around the block and is NOT afraid to say anything on his mind. Finally we come to the bright star of this movie in Christpoh Waltz, as dentist turned bounty hunter, King Schultz. Paired with Foxx these two really carry the movie and get you into the plot. The mannerisms, style and the way he carries himself when speaking are phenomenal and really brings Tarantino's writing to life.

There's not much more I can say about this. Definitely one of the better movies I seen all year. The dialogue and action are awesome. Combine it with great acting, directing, music and a healthy dose of gun-play and killing and you've got a grandiose story. A story of a slave turned free man who needs to take vengeance for and rescue his still enslaved wife. Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz are an ensemble to be reckoned with and this movie was a great way to close out 2012.

1. Wreck-It Ralph 

I'm a big time fan of video games, as most of you probably know. Growing up we had NES, SEGA Genesis, SNES, N64, etc. I grew up playing Zelda, Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog, Donkey Kong, Pokemon and everything else I could get my grubby little hands on. So when I first saw the trailer for Wreck-It Ralph, I had a fangasm like no other. This is the first movie since The Dark Knight, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers that I was really looking forward to this year. At the risk of sounding fanboy-ish, this movie could be the best film of the year.

Wreck-It Ralph follows the story of a video game villain named after the movie's title, but we'll shorten it to Ralph (John C. Riley). In his game "Fix It Felix Jr.", which is located inside of Litwak's Arcade, Felix (Jack McBrayer) gets all the glory for being the hero while Ralph gets left out of everything. At a weekly video game villain support group in Game Central Station [a place where all the characters in the arcade's games congregate], Ralph tells everyone how today was the 30th anniversary of his game, but confesses [to the dismay of people like Bowser, Eggman and Zangief] that he's sick of being the bad guy and just wants a little recognition. On his way back home from the meeting we learn, from Sonic the Hedgehog,  if you go outside of your own game and die that you won't respawn. When he pulls back into his own game Ralph sees that the people in the game are throwing a 30th anniversary party in Felix's penthouse, of which Ralph was not invited. He crashes the party and essentially ruins everything. Ralph leaves after being told that if he won a medal, like Felix, maybe everyone would like him more. This gives Ralph and idea that takes him out of his own game to "Hero's Duty" where he meets the overbearing Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch). After being scared out of his mind by the gun-play, violence and aliens in the game he is yelled at by Calhoun. Ralph decides to forego the game play to get the medal, and does, but accidentally jets out of the game an escape pod, with alien young on his face, into the racing game "Sugar Rush." This is where he meets a young racer named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) who steals his medal to be able to enter a qualifying race. Ralph must get the medal back and get back to his game before the arcade shuts it down, but makes an acquaintance, in Vannellope, that will have him choosing whether to get the recognition he wants by saving a video game, going back to being a "bad guy" or being deleted forever.

There is not enough good I can say about this movie I don't think, but we'll start somewhere. The presentation (a lot of 8-bit style that I loved) looks amazing and all the characters, games, scenery, and colors are right on point. It was never a strain to see what was going on. The music was awesome too. From real life songs, to modern game soundtrack scores, to retro music as well, the music all around pleased me. I'm pretty sure there's not a plot or story like this one out there and hell there's even a twist in this that gave me quite the little surprise. In short, I loved the story and really got into it. I love video games and this story reminded me of something you could feasibly see in one. Now I'm not a huge fan of Sarah Silverman so I thought she'd be the "weak-link" of the voice actors, but everyone did well (Lynch, Riley and McBrayer included). No one felt out of place and it really seemed like they all knew what they were doing, especially John C. Riley who voiced Ralph. There were video game jokes throughout too, like seeing a Mushroom from Super Mario Brothers or once the arcade closes Ken and Ryu wanting to go to the bar, that made me smile. Speaking of smiling, there are a ton of laugh-out-loud moments and one-liners in this. From video game comedy to puns and word play, I was laughing pretty damn hard at parts of this flick. The dialogue was done perfectly. The video game cameos, I mentioned a few above, were AWESOME to see on the big screen as well. Pac-Man, Clyde, Dr. Eggman, Zangief, Bowser, Sonic the Hedgehog, Q-Bert and his gang, M. Bison, Ryu, Ken Masters, and I could go on and on and on with this awesome list. But there's some that you have to notice and get excited for in the movie yourself.

This is a movie I wholeheartedly recommend for everyone to go see. Whether you're a video game fan or not. There was an older couple at our showing, people that are my age and families who brought their kids. It's truly a movie for all ages. As I said above everything from the cameos to the design to the story is all perfect and I already wanna see this movie again. Wreck-It Ralph makes the movie lover in me jump for joy and the video game lover in me want to button mash. I would not hesitate to "Press Start" on this movie.