Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New Book Available

If you are movie fan or you liked my first book give my second book a shot...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Operation Avalanche - review

Operation Avalanche is a clever movie that takes the moon landing conspiracy theory and weaves an entertaining story out of the concept. The story is fascinating, the characters show depth, and the film style is surprisingly authentic looking. The soundtrack is also very fun and captures the time period well. 

Operation Avalanche is a found footage mockumentary about two CIA agents that are working to find a KGB mole working in NASA during the space race to the moon. During their investigation they discover that NASA will never be able to successfully achieve the lunar mission. Using special effects methods learned from Stanley Kubrick, the agents then attempt to go about faking a moon landing to fool the public that NASA has done the impossible.

The footage of Operation Avalanche has a very authentic look. The film has an old quality with minor scratches and imperfections that film stock regularly had. The costumes, sets, and even a car chase all have a sense of authenticity to them. This realism adds to the tension of the thrills, which ensue in the conspiracy plot in the film. Their skills of the writing and acting was very noteworthy and the script was very taut, witty, and smart.

If you are interested in a film that does something completely different, give Operation Avalanche a try. The mixture of genres and smart ideas come together to remind audiences what movies can do as an art form. They should occasionally challenge our perceptions and our ideas and still entertain. Operation Avalanche remarkably manages to achieve this lofty goal.

Split - review

Split is a thriller from director M. Night Shyamalan. While many of his films have been, arguably, hit or miss, Split is a very good and tense movie. The film builds tension in amazing scenes and the acting is incredibly entertaining. It focuses on a simple idea and makes a strong story based around that concept without relying on plot twists in a vain attempt to shock audiences.

Split tells the story about three girls who were kidnapped from a birthday party by a man with 23 different personalities. The man has them trapped in a small room and interacts with them in his various personas. The girls try to find a way to escape and at the same time deal with the insane person and the coming of a new personality that promises to murder them all in horrible ways.

James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy do an amazing job. McAvoy shows audiences an amazing display of his skills as he becomes various characters at the drop of a hat. Anya Taylor-Joy embodies the theme of a broken person. Both characters are fascinating and have a depth to their tragic nature and the fact that they are made exceptional through their suffering.

If there are any complaints there are some small nitpicking issues that fairly minor. The movie is very good but if it were up to me I would have cut the very final scene before the credits. It adds a silly connection to the Unbreakable universe that is unnecessary and really adds nothing to the movie except for a strange change in tone that is unwarranted.

Split is a creepy and fun return to form for Shyamalan. The acting is solid and the story is remarkably subtle in its buildup to terror. The movie does its job well and with the exception of the final few minutes it will keep you entertained and at the edge of your seat. If you were a fan of any of this director’s past films, or enjoy a good thriller, Split is certainly worth checking out.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The best and worst movies of 2016

I saw a lot of the movies of 2016. Here is my list for the best and worst.

Worst movies

10. The Conjuring 2

9. Blair Witch

8. Angry Birds

7. Zoolander 2

6. The Huntsman: Winter's War

5. Morgan

4. Ghostbusters

3. Indepence Day: Resurgence

2. The Forest

1. Yoga Hosers

Best movies

10. Pee Wee's Big Holiday

9. Zootopia

8. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

7. Rogue One

6. The Lobster

5. Don't Breathe

4. Arrival

3. 10 Cloverfield Lane

2. Hush

1. The Witch

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Review

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a standalone film in the Star Wars cinematic universe. The special effects are great, showing the audience the universe at the dawn of the rebellion. The performances are good and showcase the skilled actors in a variety of complex roles. If there was a flaw to this movie, it is that this tale takes the longest route to a get to the crux of the story.

Rogue One centers on the character, Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones. She is the daughter of Galen Erso who is the designer of the Death Star. After falling into the hands of the rebels, Jyn must locate her father. She meets up with an eclectic group of fighters and together they go on a mission to get the Death Star plans in the hope of finding a flaw that might be a glimmer of hope for the rebellion.

The story is dark and foreboding, fitting right in with the mood of The Empire Strikes Back. The plot meanders a bit and some scenes feel like they could have been left on the cutting room floor. There are also strange choices such as the choice not to do a text crawl in the beginning of the film. Since Star Wars has always paid homage to old serial films, like Flash Gordon, it seems like a move to change that vision. There was also the odd choice to bring General Tarkin, who was played by the deceased Peter Cushing, back in CGI form. This was not the only character change as the film includes a young Princess Leia who was also given the CGI treatment. While they look good for CGI doubles and the actors play the part well, it looks a bit odd and the effect took me out of the movie.

Felicity Jones plays a great lead and the rest of the cast show a level of skill needed to make the scenes have the depth needed for a darker Star Wars film. It was fun to see Darth Vader again on screen and hear the voice by James Earl Jones in all its glory. The special effects are solid and exciting but sometimes have the look of a video game cut scene. This was especially evident during the space battles. The robot character K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk, often steals the scene with his wry humor.

I recommend this movie for Star Wars fans. For others who might be new to the franchise it might be a bit confusing. The theme of heroism and sacrifice during war is still relevant and takes a unique approach to the subject of the horrors of war and hope. It takes the universe that many of us enjoy and looks at it from a different angle, which may or may not be compelling depending solely on your point of view. As Obi Wan once said, “Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

Friday, November 18, 2016

Arrival - review

Arrival has all the hallmarks of a good science fiction movie. It comes across as genuine, has great performances, and does not relish in over-blown special effects. However, it is hard for anyone that is sensitive or finds themselves often empathizing with characters to enjoy this movie to its full potential.  It can feel like a kick to the gut when you are expecting something more entertaining.

A dozen alien spacecraft have landed in various locations on Earth. Governments struggle to find out the aliens’ intentions so they enlist the aid of linguist Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams. The aliens produce images to communicate, which require a lot of work to decipher and translate. Worldwide tensions mount as the different nations attempt to communicate but face a ticking clock that might lead to violence.

The good aspects of the movie are that the acting is great. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner both deliver solid performances that show a lot of range. At no point did they take the easy route and make the movie seem emotionally manipulative. The movie is not muddled with cartoonish effects or eye candy. The alien space ship is a simple blank black metallic hallway.  The creatures look like something that would result from the odd coupling of an Ent from The Lord of the Rings and the great race of Yith from the H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos.

The story is captivating, though confusing at times. The introduction of a time spiral aspect took me out of the movie briefly as I fought to catch up to what was happening. Despite this, the movie has a solid flow that does not seem wasted on pointless padding.  The awful nature of the twist ending is a mixture between bittersweet and damn tragic. The implications of it will leave audiences discussing the choices they would make in the characters’ stead.

Arrival is a beautifully shot and well-acted film that displays all aspects of good science fiction. On the other hand, the emotional scenes can be difficult for certain audience members. A person should go into this movie expecting to feel emotionally drained when the lights go up at the conclusion. It is still entertaining, but that can be marred by the sheer force of the ending that hits like a two by four to the skull. To say it is not a good movie would be a disservice to the many people that really worked hard to make a good film, but to say the film will not depress the hell out of you would be an outright falsehood as well.