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Monday, April 20, 2015

Fantastic Four



The full length trailer for Josh Trank's Fantastic Four is here. The new preview features more of the Fantastic Four's powers as well as the first look at Dr. Doom. The film stars Miles Teller (Whiplash), Kate Mara (House of Cards), Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle), Jamie Bell (Jumper) and Toby Kebbell ( Wrath of the Titans). Check out the latest trailer and poster above.

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Jurassic World Trailer 2





The latest trailer for Jurassic World is out and is filled with a lot of dinosaur action. The film occurs twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park (1993) and is set Isla Nublar which now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park. The film is directed by Colin Trevorrow. It stars Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-man 3), Judy Greer (Carrie), BD Wong who reprises his role as Henry Wu, Omar Sy (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and Vincent D'Onofrio (Marvel's Daredevil). Check out the trailer above as well as three new movie posters.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice





Late last week, the teaser trailer for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was leaked. So DC and Warner Bros. released the high definition trailer ahead of its April 20 release. Above you can see the dark teaser as well as the first two movie posters for the film. The posters has the touch of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight in terms of the covering of the eyes.

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Maggie




Arnold Schwarzenegger goes back to the horror genre with Maggie. The film was once part of the 2011 Blacklist, a list of "most liked" unmade script. It tells the story of a father who tries to protect her daughter Maggie, while she gradually transforms into a zombie. Joining Arnold in the film is Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) who plays Maggie. The film is directed by Henry HobsonCheck out the dramatic trailer above as well as the latest movie poster. 

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Furious 7 Movie Review



Furious 7 is film that lives up and even exceeds expectation. It is a high-octane, action packed ride of an on-screen family we have followed since the very first film. It is also a fitting tribute to the late Paul Walker.
The franchise has indeed come so far since the very first Fast and Furious movie. From Race Wars in California to the streets of Tokyo, then to Rio and now we go to the sandy streets of Dubai and going back to California to come full circle. It may have started as a fast paced heist movie but it has evolved through the years into a full blown action film mixed with spies and international conflicts.
The seventh and rumored to be the last brings all the fun and action as well as drama. It ups everything from the hot cars, the guns, the fight scenes and even the sexy babes.
What makes Furious 7 a good film is that it stays true to its roots. It does not pretend to be any other type of film. It’s an action film and it delivers as an action film. And with the action come the comedy and drama and sometimes the occasional twists. Now these are just add-ons with the action taking the driver’s seat.
The film works. And part of what make it work is the chemistry of the cast. Vin Diesel is top billing but it’s his chemistry with his co-stars that delivers the emotions which brings the film its unique dramatic style. Paul Walker may have not completed this film but the scenes that he did finish showed his dedication and hard work. Michelle Rodriguez brings a new side to Letty we have yet to see not to mention getting more physical in fight scenes.
Ludacris gets his own fight scene as well and Tyrese brings out the comedy especially one involving a mid-air drop. Jordana Brewster only has a few screen appearances but hers was crucial as it would affect the future of Brian, Walker’s character. Dwayne Johnson returns as Hobbs but like Brewster, his screen time was a bit short. But you get tons of action when he does appear. The same goes to Elsa Pataky who briefly appears at the early part of the film. And to officially connect Tokyo Drift to the franchise, we get a scene featuring Lucas Black and Vin Diesel. Now these are the original cast and each time they appear on-screen either alone or together, they deliver the needed feel and uniqueness of the world of Fast and Furious.
Now as I said, this is an action film. And it truly lives up to what is expected. Ever since the first Fast and Furious film, we have seen several stunts involving cars that were mind blowing. This time they took it up several notches to bring us a new way of seeing vehicular onslaught. There are several memorable action sequences in Furious 7. The first being the vehicle aerial drop from a military plane. Wan, the director, managed to bring a fluid flow of the entire sequence starting from a comical dialogue while still inside the plane to the visually memorable drop. Another sequence gets the term “Flying Car.” That’s right. Fast and Furious has graduated from jumping to a moving yacht to jumping through two buildings while moving at top speed while on the top floors. We also have the one where Brian jumps from the edge of a bus while it’s falling from a cliff into the back of a car. And who can forget the head on collisions between the cars of Diesel and Jason Statham.
We also get to see more fire fights in this film than the before. In Fast Five, we got the epic finale where police are chasing Dom and Brian while they carry the vault. This time, we get to see our heroes try to evade a drone which is literally blowing each of their vehicles to bits.
In Furious 7, we have the pleasure of getting the best fight sequences in the entire franchise. In Fast Five we were entertained by the Diesel versus the Rock fight. This time, there are literally a lot of memorable fight sequences. Starting with the Rock versus Jason Statham, Vin Diesel versus Jason Statham, Paul Walker versus Tony Jaa, Michelle Rodriguez versus Ronda Rousey and the epic final fight between Diesel and Statham, the fight scenes just gets tougher and tougher as the movie progresses. Tony Jaa really lives up to the hype of his Ong Bak films. His movement is just amazing and when he is on screen, you are mesmerized by his kicks and jabs. Despite being the bad guy, there are moments where you root for him.
Despite bringing a lot to the table, there are parts where Furious 7 didn’t quite lived up to. That part involves Jason Statham’s character. From the trailers and the end of Fast and Furious 6, it appeared Statham would be the main villain in the film. But it didn’t turn out the way we thought. The film starts with him visiting his brother Owen in the hospital and when he exits we see that he has caused chaos killing all the heavily geared guards and destroying the lobby. Now with a scene like that you would expect Statham having more contact with the rest of the cast. But after killing Han and delivering a bomb to Dom’s house, he pretty much faces Diesel directly. Basically he is one of the villains in the film. The other one is Djimon Hounsou who is after the God’s Eye. The film is torn between having two villains but still manages to bring the two together though not perfectly. Maybe it is just a simple let down that Statham is a lone individual out for revenge while Hounsou has the army. Still, you can forgive the film for this especially with Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody and the lovely Nathalie Emmanuel from Game of Thrones thrown in the mix.
Furious 7 gives a perfect ending to Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Connor. With his untimely death, this film was faced with rewrites that caused its delay. Whatever those original scenes were, the end product was great. Despite having a lot of action, the drama and love can be felt throughout the film. Furious 7 is a fitting tribute to Walker with its emotional ending which really brings everything to a close.
That being said, the Fast and Furious franchise should end with Furious 7. It is hard to top this film given all the action and emotions it dished out. It is a perfect close to a successful franchise. Furious 7 is unique blend of action, cars, speed, love and family which will pull you to the edge of your seat and bring tears to your eyes as you remember this memorable on-screen family.
Furious 7 gets 9 out of 10 from me.


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Gunman Movie Review


The Gunman is an action film that falls short on all aspect including the action. Sean Penn’s first rodeo into action films delivers boredom rather than action.
Just as info, this is Sean Penn’s first ever action film. And you can see how he really prepared physically for it. Several scenes in the film will get you to stare at Penn’s ripped body and biceps. But those can only do so much to help this movie rise.
Initially, the film looks great with a lot of heavy hitting actors like Oscar winner Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone and the gorgeous Jasmine Trinca. They even got the director of the first Taken film, Pierre Morel to helm the film. But alas, it didn’t turn out what they and we had hoped for.
The film features a lot of interesting characters. But these characters were not fully developed. Sean Penn plays Jim Terrier, a sniper working for a private security firm who ups and leaves Congo after killing the Minister of Mining. From that point, we no longer get a deeper look at his background. All we know is that he has sniper training and had too many concussions to cause several headaches and blackouts. He lacks mystery.
Unlike Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills in Taken, he clearly states that he has a “special set of skills,” which got us hooked from the moment he said those words. The mystery is there like who did he worked for, what skills is he talking about but for Penn’s Terrier, all we know is he’s ex-military who is a good marksman. They didn’t even bother to show us his military background.
The same goes for all the supporting characters. We get no mystery and they are underdeveloped. A lot could have worked if character development was greatly focused on.
The Gunman also suffers from poor pacing. After the first 20 minutes, the film starts to drag. You expect a film like this to start out flat and continually rise but it doesn’t. We are first immersed on the conflict in the Congo which the main plot of the film revolves around. Then we get assassination, 8 years later we go back to the Congo where there is another assassination attempt and then we hop around the world from London to Spain then going back to the Congo to end the film. The locations are great but what happens while we are in those countries is just boring. The flow of the story and the plot slows down after an action event. It’s as if the story relaxes a bit after some heavy gun fights and punches but never really gets back on its feet.
Now given this is an action film, the action should be great or memorable. But it too falls flat. I’m not saying that films like these should get over the top action sequences but they should at least deliver action scenes which will get you hooked and force yourself to not blink because you might miss something. For me the best action sequence is at the end where Terrier fights an agent with a knife and his fists. But the rest are plainly generic. Nothing promises excitement in the gun fights. The film is called The Gunman but we won’t see Penn doing anything memorable with a gun.
The Gunman was an attempt to mimic the success of Taken. Taken’s plot revolved around human trafficking but what added intrigue to it is Liam Neeson’s character. Now in The Gunman, we got assassinations and mining natural resources but the character of Penn didn’t resonate enough to bring the plot to life. All we get is a slow moving story telling with a somewhat predictable story given that we got a limited number of characters left alive.
 The Gunman could have been a start if a franchise but due to predictable story and under developed characters, we won’t probably see Jim Terrier fight more bad guys. He will live the quite life working for an NGO in the Congo. Well, at least he gets the girl in the end.
I give it 5 out of 10.


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Cinderella Movie Review


Cinderella brings back all the magic and timeless characters which we know from the story and the 1950s animated film. This time around, we get the live action adaptation and it truly delivers.
The film is considered a retelling but appears to be a direct adaptation of the beloved fairytale. The film flows like a fairytale story being read by a mother to her child. The pacing is just right with enough humor and a perfect balance of romance and magic.
We all know the story of Cinderella. But this film brings more to the story with the help of the cast. Lily James who plays Cinderella made the role her own. She gradually changes her performances with each chapter of the story. And it is great to look at on screen. She brings truth to the character while setting herself differently from the animated version of Cinderella. Her screen presence is just as enchanting as the character she portrays. She has great on-screen chemistry with Prince Charming played by Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden as well as Oscar winner Cate Blanchett who plays the wicked step mother.
Talking about Blanchett, she does the role justice. She is creepy and we can clearly see the wickedness her character brings out. When she walks on screen, she owns it. Her presence is strong and sometimes she overshadows James’ performance whenever they share the screen together.
The film also has a lot of supporting cast like Helena Bonham Carter who plays Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Despite only appearing for a short time on screen, her appearance is memorable and fun. She brought her own take on the famed character and it was a perfect fit to the magical world.
Director Kenneth Branagh (Thor) made this film as close and as far from the original animated film. He once said that it was hard not to think of the memorable Disney scenes from the animated film while making this one. So Branagh was able to make an original adaptation while giving homage to the 1950s classic. There are several scenes which will tickle childhood memories, one being the magical change of Cinderella’s ball gown.
What makes this film slightly different from the animated one is the increase in emotions. This film is emotionally moved. The actors greatly and easily convey the light and dark emotions their characters feel. The audiences will feel the pain Cinderella feels when her mother and father died or when she is being mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. You will feel her happiness and excitement when she goes to the ball and dances with the prince.
The CGI and practical effects are also top notched. They brought together the magic of the classic animated film and enhanced it with today’s technology. The pumpkin changing into a carriage, the gorgeous transformation of Cinderella’s ball gown and even the kingdom itself was well made and detailed in its execution.
Cinematography was a highlight for this film as we got to see several great shots of the kingdom, the ball, the countryside and even the attic where Cinderella lived. Artistic design was detailed and on the spot making us reminisce the art in the animated film.
Cinderella is one magical film which will bring smiles and tears to people young and old. This was made for the new generation but will be appreciated by the older ones. It’s emotional, funny, enchanting and just engaging which will get you hooked from the first time we see Ella as a child to the time she becomes Cinderella and becomes the queen.
I give it 7 out of 10.


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Friday, January 30, 2015

Into the Woods Movie Review


Into the Woods brings a new insight into the world of fairytales with new take on the stories itself. This musical film brings a fresh start and connection to the fairytales we know and love from Little Red Riding Hood to Jack and the Beanstalk.
Into the Woods brings together a great ensemble of actors headed by Oscar winner Meryl Streep. As always, Streep delivers a unique take on the witch which gives out curses. And since this is a musical, we get to hear her sing since her Mama Mia film. Emily Blunt also showed her musical prowess in a memorable role as the Baker’s wife. Even though we have heard her sing in Pitch Perfect, Anna Kendrick dazzles as Cinderella as she continually runs away from Prince Charming. Among the cast, the actor to unlikely join in the singing of a musical is Chris Pine. Pine plays the handsome prince who continues to be eluded by Cinderella. Pine sang several songs and managed to deliver a good performance even if his character is quite the opposite of charming.
Into the Woods brings a unique mix of story-telling and music. There is basically more singing than dialogue as compared previous musical films like Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. Though the songs are not that catchy, they deliver the story. One of my main problems is that sometimes the songs are way too fast in terms of understanding the lyrics.  But the actors’ performances help in understanding each scene.
For design, make-up and special effects, Into the Woods delivers. From Streep’s transformation from an old hag to a gorgeous witch, to the giants wreaking havoc throughout the kingdom and to the dark and gloomy woods, the film makes movie magic with a unique combination of CGI, practical special effects and art.
Cinematography also delivers as the film brings in new angles and gorgeous wide shots of the kingdom and of course the woods. At some point, the music is being carried by the camera and it does it so well.
Into the Woods’ story is a new look at the other side of fairytales. When we hear the stories, it only tells the happy side. The film shows the choices the characters faced before finally getting their happily ever after. But in the film, the characters don’t get that. We see Cinderella unhappy with her Prince who only loved the chase. We see Jack and the loss he faced just for getting the gold coins, the hen that lays the golden egg and the harp to better his and his mother’s lives. We see the loss of a baker who tries to be different from his father but ending up the same way. And we get to see Little Red Riding facing the consequences for not following the path her parents have instructed her.
The film’s story transcends more than magical but also into emotional. It reaches out to audiences and brings out that inner child who read these stories. It’s telling a new fairytale filled with characters from other fairytales.
It’s a fun musical filled with fear, love, loss, songs and a lot of funny moments that are memorable. It will invite you to go Into the Woods and I recommend you do. I give it 8 out of 10.


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Taken 3 Movie Review



The third installment in the Taken franchise is said to be the last as indicated in the film’s tagline. But, instead of going out with a bang, Taken 3 fizzled out. It was a film no longer trying to live up to the first film.
A lot of things were wrong with Taken 3. The main thing would be that no one was “Taken.” The first film got all the hype and lived up to that hype because of the search and rescue plot of the film. It was good story which was followed by a mediocre sequel. I think it was hard to live up the original and Taken 3 is a solid proof of that.
In Taken 3, Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills is in the US living in his apartment and having regular visits from his ex-wife and daughter. But things go wrong when he is framed with murder of his wife. In the first film, his daughter was taken. In the second, he and his ex-wife were taken. In the third, no one got taken. Well, no one that can be saved.
The formula for the Taken films is always search and rescue. Taken 2 sort of broke that rule with Mills being taken and rescuing himself and his ex-wife. But for the third, it’s all about revenge, justice and the protection of his daughter, Kim.
The film is predictable even from the start when the Russians killed an executive inside a vault. After that scene you can easily pinpoint who is behind this and why Mills’ wife got killed. From there it’s all about running from the cops, getting to the bad guys and ending flat with a scene in a bench.
Neeson pretty much did well as Mills but the cast surrounding him didn’t fare as well. Maggie Grace who plays Kim pretty much downplays her character from what we saw in Taken 2. Forest Whittaker is not fully used in the film. He is an Oscar winner and yet the most compelling scene which has him in it is in a police briefing. We could have at least Whitaker and Neeson trade some punches but alas, all we got was small talk via a cellphone and a talk in the office.
Action wise, Taken 3 does not live up to the first and second film. The first film showed us that Neeson can do action and deliver great action sequences. In Taken 2, we got a rise in body count with a lot of action. But the third had forgettable sequences and mediocre gun play.
In all, Taken 3 is not worth the trip. It is forgettable, predictable and toned down compared to the previous films. It isn’t even worth calling Taken. As the tagline says, it ends here. Let’s hope that’s true and we won’t get to see Taken 4. I give it 6 out of 10. 


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Monday, January 19, 2015

American Sniper Movie Review


American Sniper tells a story of war and emotion. And it tells it very well. One of best films to come out last year, American Sniper delivers the heart-pumping action, the darker side of war and the troubles an American soldier and his family goes through during their deployment.
The film is based on the best-selling autobiography of US Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle. The late Chris Kyle is portrayed by Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper in one of his best performances to date.
First off, the film is great blend of drama and action. Oscar winning director Clint Eastwood has managed to build Kyle’s world in Iraq and in Texas and make us part of it as if we were really there. We get to feel the emotion the characters are going through with the help of the surrounding s and the situations. Eastwood manages to connect those aspects together to help us relate to the character. Special and practical effects were also done well especially the sand storm scene in which the soldiers are in the fight of their lives and a sand storm breaks out and just covers everything.
Camera movement was another great feature presented in the film. When in Iraq, several of the scenes involved house to house raids and viewing into a sniper’s scope. Eastwood delivers great camera movement bringing us into the heart of the action and into the eyes of Kyle.
Bringing the character to life is Bradley Cooper. Cooper is unrecognizable in his role as Chris Kyle. He bulked up and changed his accent a bit. His movement is also different. He really embodied Kyle. Cooper delivers several emotional states that Kyle went through perfectly. From the confident cowboy wannabe, to the SEAL in training, to the troubled yet emotionless Sniper and to the father and husband he was meant to be. Cooper shows the transition of each of these states in a steady flow. One scene that greatly struck me was the roof scene near the film’s end in which after killing the enemy sniper they have been hunting for a long time, Kyle calls his wife and says he is finally ready to come home after four tours. Cooper quickly showed the emotion change after taking the deadly shot. He was waiting for that one shot in order to go back to being the man his family needed.
The film’s supporting cast helped in bringing the story to life. Sienna Miller did an astounding performance as Kyle’s wife Taya. We get to see her progress emotionally from being a single girl to a wife, to mother and then into a worry-free wife. Miller is unrecognizable as well. At first glance, you wouldn't notice she was the girl in G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. Here she is a normal American girl/wife. Her scenes with Cooper are memorable even if they are talking in bed. She showcased her emotional chops when interacting with Cooper’s closed off Chris whenever he is home. Each scene is like fishing. Miller is hoping to get a human response from Kyle but Kyle just shuns the bait several times.
American Sniper is the story of a man who kept a lot inside but also helped a lot of people. Called the “Legend,” Chris Kyle’s life may not have been perfect and was filled with a lot problems, the film showed us that he got up and chased those problems away. It may have taken a long time but he got there. The film delivers to us a unique look at the life of Chris Kyle, the life of wife left behind as their husband is deployed over there, the life of soldiers in the battlefield looking for signs of heroes and hope and the life of those who come home after the war who then face a new war with themselves and anyone around them.

American Sniper is a must-see film which shows us the thin line between duty and family. I give it 9 out of 10. 

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