Sunday, April 28, 2013


Micheal Bay finally made his Tony Scott film! Yes his entire career has had a major Tony Scott influence but with PAIN AND GAIN he nailed it 100%!


Now, for those of you that know me I like to give Micheal Bay a lot of crap. Overall I don't really care for his style but once in awhile it works for me like with THE ROCK, BAD BOYS II, THE ISLAND, and now PAIN AND GAIN. His over indulgent Baymageddon style works in these films whereas in PEARL HARBOR and TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN it makes your eyes and ears bleed.

A lot of crazy stuff happens here on planet earth. Sometimes people do the dumbest things. You hear about it all the time on the news, at the water cooler, or at a friends barbecue. You hear World's Most Dangerous Car Chases type stuff everyday. And once in awhile you'll hear a story that makes you think or say, “That's sounds like something straight out of a movie”! PAIN AND GAIN is one of those stories. And unfortunately when the end credits start to roll you'll be sickened to death that there are real twisted sons of bitches that would do something like this.

So yeah as I write this review I realize this true story has hit a nerve. I still very much like the movie because it's a story so insane that it needs to be told. And with a true crime story this crazy about excess, greed, and murder it makes perfect sense that Micheal Bay is the one to bring the tale to the silver screen.

A trio of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong. Mark Wahlberg plays Daniel Lugo a personal trainer who believes the key to living the American dream and entitlements are not hard work but rather get rich quick schemes. He's gotten in trouble before but once you've tasted greed it's hard to stop. He meets client Victor Kershaw who is your typical gym member that wants quick results without hard work, oh and by the way he is super rich. Daniel hates people like Victor, he's delusional in thinking these are the bad guys and one day decides to kidnap him and extort him for all he's worth.

Helping Daniel in this scheme is meathead Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and born again ex-con Paul Doyle (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson).

It takes some heavy convincing from Daniel at first but like he tells his future “business” partners, “I've seen this done a million times in the movies. Don't worry I know what I'm doing”.

To tell you what happens next would ruin the experience and you'll just have to see the movie yourself. I'll just say these dumb bastards make the Three Stooges look like professional criminals.

For me that's what makes me like this film so much, Micheal Bay isn't glorifying their actions but rather showing us how stupid these guys truly are.

This is probably Micheal Bay's best film. Great performances from everybody involved.

Highly recommended!


When it comes to movies like GANGSTER SQUAD it's really unfair for me to give them an honest review. I live for this stuff. Good guys vs. bad guys, tough as nails G-men taking out stone cold ruthless crime bosses. All taking place in a stylized, pulpy 1940's post-WWII Los Angeles.

Inspired by true events (not to be confused with based on a true story) GANGSTER SQUAD is the story of how a secret crew led by two police officers took down mob boss Micky Cohen and his ruthless control of Los Angeles. The leader of this squad Sgt. John O'Mara (played wonderfully by Josh Brolin) is the 'bull in the china shop' that's needed to bring down a guy like Micky Cohen.

He can't do it alone so in THE UNTOUCHABLES fashion he assembles a rag-tag under the radar, best of the best group of bad asses. The cool and smooth Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), heavy hitters like knife wielding Officer Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie), and sharp shooter Officer Max Kennard (Robert Patrick). An organization like Micky's cannot be brought down by brawn alone so Officer Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) brings some brains and balance that is the final piece of the Gangster Squad.

The cast of GANGSTER SQUAD is amazing. Brolin and crew come off as genuine bad asses. The real star of the picture however is Sean Penn's Mickey Cohen. The performance is over the top and perfect for Ruben Fleischer's gangster genre film. Truth be told that the real life Mickey Cohen was indeed ruthless but kinda normal and dull. His real demise was tax evasion. I love that the filmmakers made the character more interesting and how Sean channeled a bit of James Cagney for the role. It's awesome!

When you watch GANGSTER SQUAD you're going to quickly notice that you've seen this before. But that's okay, remember this is a genre film not an A&E Biography. I didn't cry out 'fake' or 'phony' when I noticed call backs to classics such as THE UNTOUCHABLES and TOMBSTONE. It made the experience a much more enjoyable one not a cynical one. I mention TOMBSTONE because this movie felt much like a western just as much as it was a gangster film.

The film also reminded me of SIN CITY with it's sprinkle of dark humor and highly stylized violence. This fit the tone of GANGSTER SQUAD perfectly and for those saying this movie was just one step away from becoming spoof are smoking crack.

I believe the great amount of cynicism GANGSTER SQUAD is receiving stems from the tragic events that occurred at the midnight showing of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES last year in Aurora, Colorado. This resulted in the postponement of the movies release and scene removal of a shoot out taking place in a theater auditorium. Which was an appropriate move by the studio. I don't want to get political so I'll just leave it at that.

The bottom line is that GANGSTER SQUAD isn't going to reinvent the wheel of gangster movies. What it does do is give you an entertaining movie night.

Highly recommended for genre movie buffs, gangster film geeks, and Lee Marvin fans.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


This review is going to be a little bias. I freaking love OBLIVION! While the film is nothing original, it is in fact directed with such visual style that I couldn't keep my eyes off of the screen. Even during the slow parts I was in awe of film and it's IMAX presentation. OBLIVION not being in 3D was a nice cherry on top as well!

OBLIVION takes place in 2077. Sixty years earlier Earth was attacked by aliens called Scavengers. During the invasion things got ugly just like in any war. The Moon was destroyed and in a last ditch effort to win, Earth launched all it's nuclear weapons to defeat the Scavs (Scavengers for short). After the war Earth became unable to support life. The human race now lives either on Titan (one of Saturn's moons) or the giant space station called the Tet, which orbits Earth's atmosphere.

Tom Cruise plays Technician #49 Jack Harper. Jack and communications officer Victoria are part of an operation to extract the planet's remaining resources, primarily water for the people now living on Titan. The space station Tet is basically mission control for Jack and Victoria.

What remain of the alien Scavs are basically resistance fighters. In the event of Jack and Victoria ever getting captured by the Scavs they have underwent a memory wipe five years prior in case of capture and interrogation. Jack's primary job is the maintenance and support of 'drones' which patrol the landscape to destroy any remaining Scavs and protect the resource retraction machines. In the final weeks of their operation Jack has begun having dreams and flashbacks of New York City before the invasion. In his dreams he keeps seeing a woman that is not his teammate and part-time lover.

Days before Jack and Victoria are to return to the Tet, a spacecraft crashes on the surface. Jack investigates to find a number of sleeping capsules. One of the capsules contains Julia, the woman from his flashbacks. Soon after, Jack and Julia are captured by Scavs who are revealed to be humans living underground. Their leader, Malcolm Beech (played by Morgan Freeman), claims there are no aliens on the planet and insists that Jack sees things their way and demands that he reprograms a captured drone to destroy the Tet.

Jack refuses and Malcolm lets him go but not without telling him to venture out beyond the so called radiation zones, it is there that Jack will have all the answers he needs.

The story of OBLIVION provides nothing new, we've seen and heard these stories before. From the trailers you can piece together that Morgan Freeman's character is really the good guy and Tom Cruise's Jack has been helping the true bad guys all along. The good news is that OBLIVION isn't I AM LEGEND 2.

I love science fiction but by no means do I consider myself a science fiction geek. I love the classics like THE MATRIX, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, PLANET OF THE APES, and THE TERMINATOR. But when I sit down and watch something like STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION I don't understand half the scientific jargon they are talking about nor do I care. Moviegoers like myself and geeks of sci-fi will quickly discover the 'twist' inside OBLIVION but director Joseph Kosinski makes the film shine through the cliches. The world he has created here is absolutely stunning.

I always come from the school of thought that it's not how original your movie is, but rather it's how you tell your story. OBLIVION borrows from many many other science fiction stories and films, but the film is pure genre and revels in pure 70's science fiction film homage; therefore, I give it a full pardon of not being original.

I highly recommend OBLIVION!

Spoilers! Well, sort of.

The ending of the movie had me seriously thinking, did Tom Cruise just denounce Scientology?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

EVIL DEAD (2013)

Nothing about horror movies excites me anymore it seems. Nowadays it's all 80's horror icons re imagined, hacking and slashing away at unlikeable Abercrombie and Fitch models. Or what's possibly worse is that our vampires, werewolves, and zombies all have to be sexy now. Lame. The other end of the spectrum isn't all that great either. When the horror genre isn't appealing to teenagers or stay at home soccer mom's, it goes overboard to the tasteless gory torture porn extreme. Does anybody remember that JAWS all taught us that less is more? But what if the movie is meant to be a splatter house blood soaking horror show? Then make it fun maybe even a little humorous, just don't get lost in the tasteless gore. Who am I to tell someone what they should and should not like? There is no accounting for taste. Bottom line is I don't like tasteless gore in my horror movies, the keyword there is tasteless.

When it comes to the Evil Dead movies I love EVIL DEAD II more than the original. It was the first one I saw of the trilogy and is my favorite of the series. It was either 1987 or 1988 when I saw EVIL DEAD II for the first time on good old HBO, A.K.A “The Babysitter”. It was one of the most original and entertaining movies I had ever seen. It was probably the first multi genre movies I had ever seen too. It had everything; horror, action, and comedy. It is and forever shall be one of my favorite movies.

The original EVIL DEAD was a film I didn't get around to seeing until well after ARMY OF DARKNESS. Something about EVIL DEAD did not appeal to me. I had know for quite awhile that it was not humorous like it's sequel but serious, scary, and gory very gory. The time had finally come so my friends and I rented it one afternoon (because we were too scared to watch it at night) and we hated it. We like our slapstick Evil Dead thank you very much. We hated that the movie was so grim and the violence and gore was serious in nature. Yuck. No thanks.

* I want to be clear that I do not think that EVIL DEAD is tasteless. The filmmakers set out to make a scary horror movie.

Over the years I've grown to appreciate EVIL DEAD the more I see it but it's still my least favorite of the series.

For years fans have wanted a fourth Evil Dead film but the original filmmakers have said no, until just recently. So EVIL DEAD IV looks to be happening but it also seems like they are going to call it ARMY OF DARKNESS II. Too early to know for certain. What is certain is that producers Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell along with director Fede Alvarez have made an amazing remake.

My biggest fear with EVIL DEAD (2013) was no slapstick, no Ash, and too much emphasis on torture porn gore. I felt this was catering to a new generation of horror audiences, people that love evil winning and monsters that kill the hero. I underestimated Fede Alvarez big time!

I won't argue that this new film is a remake, but it just felt more like an expanded universe Evil Dead story to me. The nods to the original are much much more than winks to the fans if you ask me. Time will tell.

Five friends head to a remote cabin to help their friend Mia quit heroin. This isn't the first time they've tried to make her quit. No matter what happens no matter how hard Mia begs, they are not leaving until she's clean. Siblings David and Mia haven't been to the family cabin for a long time and since then, some strange stuff has been going on. The discovery of a Book of the Dead leads to the summoning of some demons in the woods. The evil possesses them until one is left to fight for survival.

At first the pacing is a little slow and none of the five friends are all that likable. Mia played by Jane Levy did an amazing job. Everybody else seemed one dimensional which is too common in horror movies today. If the rest of the cast had just a little more to work with in regards to their characters I may have been a little more invested in them. One character in particular, Eric, his curiosity in the Book of the Dead came off as cliché rather than believable curiosity.

Yes, no traces of EVIL DEAD II are to be found in this remake. The gore and horror are serious; however, it's done in such a way that yes it's gross but not once did I get the sense the movie is glorifying the gore.

For me the real star of the picture was the use of practical effects. No CGI gore here at all from what I can tell. I hate CGI blood and gore. Hate it!

I highly recommend EVIL DEAD (2013) only if you love horror movies, and I do stress love. I liked the movie but when the film reached that final act, I absolutely loved it! It brought me to that level of excitement that KILL BILL VOL.1 did.

Kudos to Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Fede Alvarez for opening this universe again.