Saturday, August 31, 2013


Labor day weekend is the last unofficial weekend of the summer. What an appropriate time to do a favorite summer movie list. I can't call it a "best of" because I did not see all the summer movies this year. Sorry, I'm not going to see AFTER EARTH, GROWN UPS 2, or R.I.P.D. The one I regret not seeing is DESPICABLE ME 2 of all things.

Here are the films that did not make the list: The Wolverine, Fast and Furious 6, The Lone Ranger, World War Z, The Great Gatsby, Elysium, White House Down, and Kick Ass 2

10. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS - This one may shock a lot of people, heck it shocked me. For weeks this film stayed in my top 5 of the summer, but after some deep soul searching and the release of better films STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS kept dropping. Oh, and the fact that when it hits home video next month with one of the most basic special features (audio commentary) only being available on iTunes is a major fail! Digital Copy and Cloud technology sucks, if I buy something I should physically own it!

9. THE HEAT - Third best comedy of the summer. I love the buddy cop genre and it's been far too long since I've seen a good one. THE HEAT delivers.

8. YOU'RE NEXT - This one came out of nowhere it feels like. The first time I saw the trailer was when I saw the Evil Dead remake and my first thought was that it looked like your standard by the numbers THE STRANGERS knock off. I was wrong. This Labor Day weekend go see this awesome horror movie!

7. MAN OF STEEL - Just like with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS this film remained high on the list but continued to drop. I'm over the whole "destruction porn" debate. This film is a pretty badass Superman movie; however, the end does get a little tiresome. That's the only reason it's sitting at number seven.

6. THE CONJURING - I think it's safe to say that my number six pick is my favorite horror movie of 2013!

5. THIS IS THE END - Okay starting September 5th you have one week to see why THIS IS THE END is one of my favorite movies of the summer when it gets re-released to theaters. Check it out!

4. PACIFIC RIM - This one was my favorite for the longest time. The longest time! But I cannot deny how much this next movie rules over it! Seriously though, PACIFIC RIM is not to be taken lightly. This movie exceeded every expectation I had for it.

3. IRON MAN 3 - Three words. Director Shane Black. Nuff' Said.

These next two films are serious contenders for my favorite film of 2013.

2. KINGS OF SUMMER Haven't reviewed this one yet. Thinking of saving it for the end of the year. But yes, this movie took me by surprise. Coming-of-age films are probably my favorite kinds of movies. I think it's because of my love for nostalgia. See KINGS OF SUMMER the first chance you get. I think it's comes out on video real soon?

1. THE WORLD'S END Yep. I'm bias. Edgar Wright is one of my favorite directors working today. He hasn't let me down yet. And THE WORLD'S END is a fitting finish to a perfect trilogy.

Friday, August 30, 2013


YOU'RE NEXT is one of the funnest horror movies you'll see in a theater this year! Really had a blast with this one. 2013 so far has been one of the best years in horror. We've got YOU'RE NEXT, THE CONJURING, V/H/S/2, and THE ABC'S OF DEATH just to name a few. I still haven't seen THE PURGE or EUROPA REPORT yet but word of mouth on those have been promising. We still have INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 which I'm honestly not that excited for. Overall the horror films I've seen this year has got me excited about the genre again.

I'm not a big fan of the Home Invasion sub-genre in horror. Frankly because it scares the crap out of me. I remember that movie THE STRANGERS sticking with me for a couple of days. I'm more of a over stylized slasher flick kind of guy. Movies like FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER, EVIL DEAD II, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS are genuinely my cup of tea.

I am a big fan of SCREAM and it's subsequent sequels. Looking back on the horror of the 90's I find myself being kind of annoyed at the lack of gore and how every film had to be cynical. For some reason every slasher film had to be smart and self aware. This trend still carries on today but thankfully it's not in every single horror movie.

Written and directed respectively by Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard, YOU'RE NEXT gets it right. Now generally I'd give a brief description of how events in the film play out. I'm not going to do that with YOU'RE NEXT. Frankly I can't. All I can tell you is what you should already know from the trailers. This movie is a home invasion film. From my vagueness you could guess that the film takes a turn. Yes. Yes it does, and let me tell you what an awesome turn it is!

Things that I will share. The acting is pretty good. Fun family dynamic when all the characters are gathered around the dinner table for their parents anniversary. The gore and practical effects were amazing! Speaking of the effects work, it should be noted that Springfield, Missouri's very own Mike Strain did the FX work in the film. Good job Mike!

Actress Sharni Vinson steals the show. I hope to see a lot more of her soon. Horror and Action movie filmmakers take note. Sharni has the potential to be a badass newcomer. I'd love to see her in that rumored all female cast Expendables-ish movie. Her IMDB page says her next film should be PATRICK, a remake of the Australian cult-classic. Interesting. Highly recommended for horror movie fans! With the success of YOU'RE NEXT I hope to see more of the continued rise in indie horror popularity. Also keep an eye out for a funny cameo from the director of HOUSE OF THE DEVIL.

YOU'RE NEXT is well on it's way to becoming my favorite horror movie of 2013, if not my favorite slasher/ home invasion sub-genre flick of the year!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


As of now THE WORLD'S END is my third favorite of the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy. As with the other films, it happily deems multiple viewings. The writing team of Edgar and Simon have a real knack for that. I love how they cram their scripts with jokes galore. Just the other day I had a movie night and we watched HOT FUZZ because a friend had never seen it before who was with us for THE WORLD'S END. This would have been about number 10 for me and I was still laughing hysterically and catching a few new jokes here and there.

THE WORLD'S END seems like Edgar Wright's most personal film in the trilogy. It certainly was for me. I can relate a little bit to the film. 36 years old and still single with all of your closest buds married off with their careers in full swing. So yeah in a way I can sympathize with good ole Gary King.

20 years after attempting a pub crawl called the Golden Mile, 5 childhood friends reunite when one of them is bound and determined to conquer the drinking marathon. Gary King, a 40 year old trapped by the nostalgia of his teenage glory days begs and manipulates his friends into finishing what they started many years ago. Feeling sorry for their friend that never grew up they all arrive one by one and to the Golden Mile they go.

Gary cannot be more happier to have his friends back reliving the glory days, or at least trying too. The “Five Musketeers” all catch up with each other. During the trip down memory lane it's evident that not everything is the same. Not only has Gary's friends changed but the town has as well. Strange observations galore until the ultimate reveal, a confrontation in the Gents' restroom which leads to an all out kung-fu style fight with robots. The friends are all shocked and don't know what to do. They all agree just to play it cool and try not to draw anymore attention and get out of town after they finish the golden mile at The World's End. Easier said than done I'm afraid.

The night just gets more crazy and THE WORLD'S END rocks! This film is probably the funniest of the trilogy, a couple more viewings are in order to be sure. I really dig how the film spoke to me. Hidden among the pub crawl drunkenness, robots, kung-fu, and wrestling moves is sadness. Being nostalgic and always looking back at your past can be dangerous. Being nostalgic has its fun benefits from time to time but it can also be a poison.

Finding maturity without losing your dreams and youthful streak. This is the biggest thing I got out of THE WORLD'S END.

I cannot wait to watch the trilogy back to back! Watching HOT FUZZ the other night refreshed my memory just on how much the three films complement each other stylistically. Glorious movie nights lay ahead!

With THE WORLD'S END making the trilogy complete I'm sure the working relationship of Wright, Pegg, and Frost will be quiet for several years. But I'm a fan of all their work and happily await Edgar's ANT MAN and whatever projects Simon and Nick have next! THE WORLD'S END is highly recommended which comes as no surprise. In my opinion director Edger Wright is 4 – 0 and continues to be one of my favorite filmmakers working today!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


KICK ASS 2 sucks. It's not the worst movie of the year, just the biggest let down. Okay, second biggest because ELYSIUM definitely earned that title with flying colors.

What happened with KICK ASS 2? Did the filmmakers or Universal Pictures even watch the first film? Why did Lionsgate not go forward with the sequel? Easy answer, because they are cheep. That right there is the sequels first mistake, they should have made a deal with Lionsgate. The second mistake is going with a studio like Universal to make a exploitation comic book movie. All the heart that was in the first film is gone with KICK ASS 2. Everything that was great about KICK ASS is either tossed aside or watered down. Instead of Mindy/ Hit Girl taking down bad guys, we have a boring sub-plot of her being forced to fit in at high school hanging with the popular girls.

When the franchises most popular character is stuck in a remake of 'Mean Girls' and not out fighting crime then something is seriously wrong with your movie. I got real tired of Kick Ass complaining that Hit Girl had quit and wishing she would join the Justice Forever team.

To keep this from just turning into one giant rant I'll sum up the problem with KICK ASS 2 as being artistic differences. Director of the first film Matthew Vaughn, had a distinct vision and style. His screenplay was smart and witty. Matthew Vaughn knows how to direct action. He understands when and where to place changes in tone. KICK ASS 2 maestro Jeff Wadlow knows none of these things. That's a tad harsh I know but the end result of this new film was just so vanilla that I don't know how else to describe it?

KICK ASS 2 picks up shortly after the events of the first film. The brave acts of Kick Ass inspire other folks to put on costumes and dish out vigilante justice. Kick Ass wants to form a super-hero team with Hit Girl. It goes well for awhile but quickly gets interrupted when Mindy is forced to retire and focus on being a normal teenager. Dave/Kick Ass isn't about to quit so he joins forces with Justice Forever, a team of costumed vigilantes inspired by him. Justice Forever start cleaning the streets and begin making a real difference. Meanwhile, someone from Dave's past looking for revenge is quickly making a name for himself as the super villain The Mother#$%@#!.

KICK ASS was one of my favorite films of 2010. It's a shame what the sequel turned out to be. I really think things would have been different if the film had been written and directed by Matthew Vaughn. If that was the case then this would have been a world of characters worth revisiting time and time again.

My recommendation is to watch KICK ASS and forget the sequel even exists.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Talk about your disaster movie! That was my initial thought 30 minutes into AFTERSHOCK. This film has it all; comedy, romance, drama, thrills, and horror. The tonal shifts are jarring at times, you'll be laughing and then the next second someone gets crushed or impaled with a steel rod. The sudden loss of a friend to be followed by a fart joke. Okay, the fart joke really didn't happen but you get the point. Once things get going AFTERSHOCK really earns it's horror movie credentials. And as far as disaster movies go I'd rather watch AFTERSHOCK any day of the week then sit through 2012 ever again.

AFTERSHOCK is director Nicolas Lopez's first stab at the horror genre. His filmography is mostly romantic comedies. Somewhere along his career he met horror master Eli Roth. Fans of each others work they decided to collaborate with one another and make a horror comedy. Inspired by horrific footage and stories about the earthquake/tsunami that hit Chile in 2010.

This is a Eli Roth co-production so you know already it's going to involve horny guys trying to hook up with hot chicks at a club. Yep, you're right. Co-written by Roth he also stars as Gringo who is visiting some college buddies in Chile. During his visit and sight seeing him and his friends try to hook up with the lovely ladies of Chile. One night they get into one of the hottest clubs and this is where a good chuck of the romantic comedy in the film takes place. We have Gringo striking out with every girl he meets. His friend Ariel wants to party but is trying to patch this up with his on again off again girlfriend. Then we have the life of the party Pollo, the confident friend who seems to always get the girls.

The guys hook up with three gorgeous women and a little love triangle ensues. The party seems to be going good and then the earthquake happens. Kudos to the director for using practical effects as much as he could. This isn't Syfy Channel crap with CGI debris falling everywhere.

Our main characters all barely make it out of the club alive. Once out on the streets that's when the real mayhem begins. Mass hysteria, looters, and escaped prison inmates. With tragedy happening at every corner will Gringo and his friends survive the night?

My biggest annoyance with AFTERSHOCK was not knowing when to laugh or be horrified? Some of the beats worked and some did not. Especially the end where the film becomes a slasher film for no reason? One of the things that surprisingly worked for me was Eli Roth's Gringo. I really wasn't digging this character (or his performance) at the beginning but as the film went on something real genuine started to show.

AFTERSHOCK would work best a double or triple feature exploitation movie night. On it's own you might think you just wasted 90 minutes of your life away.


Saturday, August 10, 2013


Did not care too much for this one. Watching ELYSIUM the new film by Neil Blomkamp, the acclaimed director of DISTRICT 9 is like watching a science fiction movie made by Micheal Moore. Unlike the subtleness of the message in DISTRICT 9, the political beliefs in this new film hit you in the head with a sledgehammer. The broad brush strokes of class warfare become so boring and at times down right juvenile. Everything in DISTRICT 9 felt more controlled and balanced, which makes for a far more interesting, smart, and thrilling science fiction film. Unfortunately the only thing ELYSIUM has going for it is Blomkamp's masterful use of special effects and set design. The metaphor this time around does more harm than good.

The second biggest problem with ELYSIUM might have to do with the fact that's it's a far bigger production than DISTRICT 9? Bigger stars, bigger budget almost always leads to more studio involvement. A lot of this film seems like a studio executive took an ax to it. Tailored fit for the masses maybe? I doubt it. Who knows? What happened to the character development? Truth be told there really isn't any. What we have is a bunch of archetypes instead. Max, the blue collar hero of the film that's going to make things fair for everybody. Spider, the loud mouth hyperactive black market computer hacker. Delacourt, the weird French accented mustache twirling (if she had a mustache) evil Defense Secretary who is in charge of Elysium's security. The only character that I felt was worth a damn was Kruger, the sleeper agent working for the Defense Secretary on earth. Kruger is not the guy to root for by any means but Sharlto Copley really feels like the only actor giving it his all.

Set in the year 2154, where the very wealthy live on a space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. Redeemed hoodlum Max takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.

Our hero Max is a career criminal trying to make good by working one of the only jobs on the wasteland Earth. A factory that manufactures police robots, the very same robots that terrorize the dregs left on Earth. One day while working the production line Max gets a deadly dose of radiation. With only 5 days to live he concocts a plan with Spider, one of his old partners in crime. Seeing that Max now has nothing to loose, Spider wants to send Max to Elysium with a program that could reboot the space station so that everybody can live there. It's important to note that Elysium is full of med pods that can cure any aliment. Dying of radiation Max really sees no point but to take on the risky mission. Like any good Defense Secretary would, Delacourt gets wind of this plan and sends nasty sleeper agent Kruger after Max and his cohorts to stop them.

ELYSIUM really didn't do much for me. I found the story and it's characters severely lacking. The class warfare metaphor I found offensive at times. The apartheid metaphor in DISTRICT 9 I felt was far more useful and effective.

The only thing I found myself enjoying was the breathtaking visuals and effective use of special effects.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It's a marvel of a film. My final thought is maybe I'm a jerk for letting my political conservative bias get in the way of watching a 'science-fiction' film? Gulp!