Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Forward to in 2017

2017 is the year I turn 40. Wow, hard to believe! It's also the year where I'm going to be so busy I can't see straight. For starters I have 3 months to loose 50 pounds before my birthday. It's a lifestyle change not a resolution! Secondly, 2017 is the year I'm going to start making movies. And last but not least, transition to a website instead of a blog. For the past few weeks I've been analyzing too much that I can't continue to review movies and make movies at the same time? That I can't do both? Challenge accepted!

I'm ready for 2017. Seeing that I already posted my favorite movies of year, I figured I'd get one more post in before the end of 2016. With Springfield getting it's very own Alamo Drafthouse in Spring of 2017, I thought it'd be nice to list my most anticipated films of 2017. It's still early, but there is already a good amount on the slate for next year. Let's get to it shall we!

And as far as order goes, lets rank them from least to most anticipated. I think 15 should be enough! Keep in mind these will be mostly genre films and summer blockbusters.


Yes I know, this film was released last year but we're probably getting it in theaters early 2017 if at all? I loved the directors last film WHIPLASH and I greatly appreciate old Hollywood musicals, and LA LA LAND looks like one if you ask me!


Another 2016 release, but the film doesn't get a wide release until January. Don't let me down Springfield!


Okay, this is the last 2016 release I swear. Same situation as SILENCE, and with Afleck notorious for casting beautiful people in his gritty crime dramas (THE TOWN), the major multiplexes shouldn't have a problem releasing it?


A DC Comics superhero team-up movie, of course I'm looking forward to this it! Hopefully Warner Bros has heard the constructive criticism as they continue to move forward with the DCEU. I just hope they don't hire Trailer Park to edit these movies anymore?


This is probably going to be weird and terrible, but in a good way I'm hopping. And let's be honest, fans of the original animated film are going to roast it anyway. Nerds are a hard sell, which is good but...


Even with a visionary director at the helm, I don't see how they can pull this off? I bet they do!


This better be Thor and Hulk having adventures in space and we get to see Space-Gladiator Hulk!


Super creepy asylum film from the director of THE RING. Sold! Plus it looks very inspired from 70's cinema. Double sold!


Fans of the franchise and haters of PROMETHEUS should be pleased. I think they heard your complaints.


The wait for a Wonder Woman is finally over! Why did it take so long for a superhero movie like this to come out? The trailer is fantastic. Cannot wait!


I'm ready for another story in this universe. LOGAN

Potential to be the greatest comic book movie ever!


Favorite film of the year excitement on this one! Fingers crossed this will be the first movie I see at Alamo Drafthouse!


Will we find out who Rey's parents are? Will Kylo Ren betray the Dark Side like his grandpa? I cannot wait to find out!


Super predictable pick I know but there is a reason this is probably everybody's most anticipated film of 2017!

Happy New Year!!!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Disappointments of 2016

At first I really wasn't going to do one of these lists this year because with time, money, and Rotten Tomatoes why watch bad movies at all? The future of my blog is uncertain in 2017. I may be revamping a switching to an actual website next year. It'll be written reviews with the intent of video blogs and YouTube channel eventually.

But, I received some constructive criticism the other day that might make me scrap the whole thing. If I am not a member of the press or have connections to get early screeners for movies, I shouldn't give Hollywood my money to continue to produce crappy movies. This person has a point, and it's making me rethink some things.

So this years list is more of a selection of disappointments rather than 'Worst' movies I saw. It's going to be a mixture really. And maybe disappointments are far greater punishment? No, not really.

Top 10 Disappointments of 2016 (10 – 1)


For a good part of the year this movie was between 'Close But No Cigar' and 'Disappointments'. It came down to this and HARDCORE HENRY. I'm not a fan of either, but JASON BOURNE has no excuse for how terrible it is. Shame on the actor and director for laughing all the way to the bank I actually went to see this on a Thursday night with a large group of fans, and NONE of them liked it.


I remember the trailers for this and I couldn't take it seriously. Sorry, but evil dolls just don't do it for me unless they are named Chucky. It wasn't until a recommendation from BirthMoviesDeath that made me wanna check it out.

THE BOY was never going to set the horror world on fire, but I found myself enjoying the movie quite a bit. Then the ending ruined all of that! And I'm not talking about the twist. Toward the end a dumb ex-boyfriend character shows up out of the blue to create drama and suspense that the movie didn't warrant or need. Dumb.


Written by Max Landis and directed by somebody. On paper this movie kinda works but on screen it just keeps getting worse and worse. The only thing that saves this movie are it's two stars, Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick. They are both having fun with their characters and salvaging what they can to make MR. RIGHT worth watching. I personally think the director needs to watch more tough guy movies and rely less on goons saying the 'F' word.


It breaks my heart to have this movie on this list, but HARD TARGET 2 definitely earned it. Not even one of Hollywood's greatest action stars working today saved this movie. I hate that Scott Adkins is in this! His appearance in DOCTOR STRANGE makes up for it.

HARD TARGET 2 reminded me of those terrible Rambo knock-offs from the late 80's and early 90's. The good old days of when two mounted machine guns on a motorcycle is better than one! Cool!!!!


Comedies really shouldn't be on lists like these, because what I find unfunny someone else will think it's hilarious. Too much of what this film was going for punch line wise I just didn't care for. But we call agree the movie is probably better than FIFTY SHADES OF BLACK.


Again, comedies really shouldn't be on the list but this movie was a chore. Rebel Wilson is amazing but here she kinda got on my nerves. And Dakota Johnson has ZERO star power whatsoever!


Not crazy enough and not rated R. A PG-13 zombie movie when there is a popular television show that's more graphic than most horror films? Get real.


Jump scare, dream. Jump scare, dream. Wash and repeat.


If this is one of the worst or most disappointing movies I've seen this year then I'm probably doing pretty good. I lay it all out in my review, check it out. But it's worth repeating that the studio messed up big time by not showing up to Will Smith's house with a dump truck of cash!


Awe yeah! Martial arts and wu shu action from the director of IRON MONKEY and action choreographer of THE MATRIX! What could go wrong? Everything apparently. Probably not the worst film of 2016, but it sure pissed me off!

Thanks for reading! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Favorites of 2016

This year wasn't a great year for film. A lot of the one's I wanted to love ended up being just okay. And let's face it Summer movies sucked in 2016! Either I'm getting older or they're getting stupider? The answer is both. But, I have a feeling 2017 is going to rock in terms of cinema!

To help ease the pain of January we've got SILENCE and LIVE BY NIGHT to look forward to. And we got LEGO BATMAN MOVIE and JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 helping us through February. Then in Spring of 2017, things are going to start becoming awesome with Springfield, MO getting it's very own Alamo Drafthouse theater! I cannot wait.

Before I list my favorite movies of 2016 there are some films I haven't seen yet, LA LA LAND and MANCHESTER BY THE SEA were two movies that I was really hoping to see but probably won't get to until next year? Oh well. And as always if there is a critical darling that's not on my list it's because I probably haven't seen it, or didn't think it was as good as the 10 I picked.

Let's get to it shall we!


Top 10 Favorites Of 2016 (10 – 1)


When I heard that Richard Linklater was making a spiritual sequel to his 1992 film DAZED AND CONFUSED I like everybody else was skeptical. At least it wasn't going to be an actual sequel, that was good news! But could Linklater repeat the brilliance of his sophomore film without it being just a repeat? The answer is yes. The similarities are there and obvious, but I actual found the film to have more in common with his debut feature SLACKER. They're not all masterpieces but I've learned to never doubt the auteur Richard Linklater.


I haven't been a teenager in quite awhile but I can't help but think that this film is the real deal. EDGE OF SEVENTEEN is the funniest and most important teenage coming-of-age film I've seen in a long time. I think moviegoers are afraid of real these days, especially real women. Nadine, who is the main character in this is a hot-mess and audiences don't like uncomfortable. They want Disney or 90's Alicia Silverstone.


From the director of OLDBOY, that's the only reason I saw this film. If not for Chan-wook Park I probably wouldn't have giving the film a shot. THE HANDMAIDEN is proof that I'll continue to watch anything from the director. I'm planning on a full review for Valentine's Day next year, so look forward to that! This film made me blush. Who says the erotic thriller is dead? Maybe fluff like FIFTY SHADES OF GREY but not THE HANDMAIDEN, nope, no sir.


In a time where comic book movie fatigue is starting to rear it's ugly head, Marvel Studios pulls a stunt like DOCTOR STRANGE and totally redeems the origin story superhero films that fans are getting tired of.


I think I like last year's SICARIO better, but Denis Villeneuve is a genius and I cannot wait for BLADE RUNNER 2049!!

ARRIVAL is great for being the alien invasion film it is not. That's all I can really say other than I highly recommend seeing the movie.


I'm happy as a clam to finally have a grindhouse horror film on my 'Favorites' list. A beautifully shot drive-in movie is how I describe GREEN ROOM, and I love that!


A movie about two brothers who only rob banks to pay off a mortgage with a Texas Ranger hot on their trail. The trailers for this made the movie look like a run-of-the-mill DTV release. The movie is anything but that! Highly recommended for those who love 70's cinema.


Shane Black just needs to go ahead and write and direct all the movies! That's going a little overboard I know, but damn, I just love Black's style. He is a master in pulp, double feature this with his KISS KISS BANG BANG and you'll know what I mean. This pairs very well with PULP FICTION so I'm told, and I 100% believe that!

And my favorite movie of 2016 is...


I haven't stopped thinking about this movie since I saw it. When it came out on Blu-Ray I let four or five people borrow it! A review is coming soon. Seriously, any of my top 5 picks could be number one, and up until 1/06/17, SING STREET was it. But not anymore.

And my favorite movie of 2016 is...


I almost didn't update my list but thinking about LA LA LAND overnight I couldn't stop help myself. The film is just pure musical magic. And what I think the movie is really about hit close to home. My review says it all!

Thanks for reading! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2016


It's hard to imagine that a year ago STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS was released in theaters. And thus a new tradition is born, a new Star Wars film at the end of every year! It's weird to me that these movies are going to continue after I die. Will I want to even see the new Star Wars when I'm 75?

When news broke about the first Star Wars Anthology film being about the Rebel spies stealing plans for the Death Star, I thought it sounded brilliant. I love the men-on-a-mission genre. THE DIRTY DOZEN and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE are two of my favorite war films. The only doubts I had of ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY was if it was a story that needed to be told? The opening crawl of STAR WARS told us basic information, and our imagination did the rest. Was this new movie just an excuse to have Darth Vader (a.k.a brand recognition) appear in the new cannon?

The verdict is still out if I think this is a “necessary” Star Wars film? That doesn't imply that I didn't like the movie because ROGUE ONE is pretty awesome! It's a war movie set in the Star Wars universe, WHERE EAGLES DARE with Droids! What's not to like!

Days if not hours leading up to seeing the film my anticipation was getting the best of me. Debating with friends on how much this “standalone” film was going to compare with the Episodes? It was confirmed by Lucasfilm that there would be no crawl at the beginning of the movie. Those are only for the Skywalker saga. That actually makes sense but now begs the question, what other things will be missing? The Star Wars logo? The famous Kurosawa transition swipes?

After the Lucasfilm logo and the most famous blue lettered title card in cinema history, the movie begins! No Star Wars theme or crawl. This was jarring at first but a nitpick that was easily forgiven and forgotten.

Like I mentioned earlier, ROGUE ONE is a war movie. For years the Empire has secretly been building a battle station rumored to destroy planets. An Imperial pilot has defected and has vital information regarding the technological terror the Empire has constructed. Galen Erso, the engineer who designed the weapon for the battle station has a message for his old friend and extremist Saw Gerrera about said weapon. Rebellion Intelligence learn from this and sends Cassian Andor to intercept. Cassian finds Erso's daughter Jyn, in hopes of convincing Saw to tell the Alliance everything he knows.

Jyn learns of the trap that her father designed into the Death Star so that it can be destroyed. At the Rebels secret base it is decided that this information is too vague to launch an attack upon the Empire. It's up to Jyn and a band of rogues to steal the data that could save the galaxy.


While I really really like ROGUE ONE it goes without saying that I have issues with the film. First of all the characters aren't that memorable, unlike last years STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS. The other issue I have is the return of classic characters. Since ROGUE ONE is a prequel to STAR WARS we see Grand Moff Tarkin. Instead of casting an actor who resembles the late Peter Cushing and apply prosthetic facial makeup, the filmmakers decided to go with CGI?

I've seen the movie twice and the first time was in 3D IMAX, the CGI face I didn't find too distracting. But when I watched it a second time in a regular theater, the CGI was super noticeable. The technology is getting better but I don't think will ever be perfect.

Speaking of CGI the next scene I wanna mention is the final shot. Love it or hate it, it's one of those seemingly mandatory shots in any spin-off tying together the main story. Yes, I'm talking about Princess Leia. I like the scene because I'm a Star Wars geek. But completely understand why folks would hate it and deem it pointless. It does seem like a gag for the fans sitting up in the cheap seats.

In fact, I wish the film would have ended with Jyn and Cassian's dying embrace. Too much of a downer I know. That might have be too bleak?

But I gotta give Disney credit for allowing ROGUE ONE to go as dark as it did! In the beginning of STAR WARS I felt is was always implied that the Empire killed the spies who stole the Death Star plans. And like any good suicide mission film, nobody in ROGUE ONE was coming back home.

I would have put money down that Disney mandated the character of Jyn and at least two others safely escape the Empire. Turns out I was wrong, and I'm happy about that.

The first two acts of ROGUE ONE are pretty slow with some nice action beats sprinkled here and there. I found the cloak and dagger stuff interesting. All the intercepting of transmissions involving the Intel of the Imperial defector, Saw, and Galen felt like an old school spy/war movie.

But it's the films final act that earns ROGUE ONE it's full admission price. The attack of Scarif is the catalyst for STAR WARS. It's the opening crawl come to life. Was it necessary? Probably not, but for those fans who always dreamed that this universe was bigger than the Skywalker family, Episode IV is now even better because of it.

I don't know for how long (probably since 1977) but among fans of STAR WARS there has been a debatable plot-hole in the film. That of the Death Star's weakness, the thermal exhaust port. The design flaw has been the butt of the joke for many fans of the film. ROGUE ONE has fixed that. From now on it will be kinda cool knowing that Galen Erso made the flaw on purpose. He gave the Death Star a fuse.

Now the moment you're probably all wondering, what did I think about Darth Vader? I'm happy to announce that Vader is back! Back to the Vader we know and love. George Lucas dropped the ball big time with the character in REVENGE OF THE SITH.

Vader is awesome in ROGUE ONE! The film gives him the menace that we remember in the original trilogy. He has his own castle in the movie! And despite what Lucas tried to make us think, Anakin is not in that suit 24/7. Which reminds me, the suit. The suit is a throwback to how the design looked in STAR WARS. They did a fantastic job. I wanna believe the costume was practical but I'm unsure? What looked CGI to me could have been crisp digital projection?

But let's talk about that castle for a bit. Way before REVENGE OF THE SITH the Obi-Wan and Anakin duel on a lava planet was already cannon. In the early stages of per-production on EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Lucas toyed with the idea that Darth Vader lived in a castle on a lava planet. A planet where Anakin became more machine than man.

I swear that when I was younger a friend of mine had a Star Wars comic book that showed Obi-Wan defeating Anakin on a lava planet! Maybe it was a origin of Vader issue? Regardless, I love the fact that this was cannon before Episode III. And that ROGUE ONE does a bit of retcon when it comes to the prequels. Meaning, the new film might be using notes and concept ideas that predate REVENGE OF THE SITH by a long shot Yeah, Vader probably lives on Mustafar as a tragic reminder to himself of the monster he's become. But was it always called Mustafar?

There is only one lightsaber in ROGUE ONE and rightfully so! Probably my favorite Darth Vader moment is when the Imperials board a Rebel cruiser. The Rebel soldiers are ready for battle! Scared but ready. The fear on their faces when Vader appears tells you everything you need to know about the Dark Lord of the Sith's reputation in the galaxy!

Due to budget and special effects limitations the classic lightsaber duel from STAR WARS is pretty un-spectacular by today's standards. So in the new film when Vader goes all Jason Voorhees with his lightsaber, it feels somewhat out of place. The scene becomes glorified fan fiction. I normally hate fan fiction but here I give it a pass.

ROGUE ONE needed to have Darth Vader be scary and kick ass. For far too long has the character been the mascot for Star Wars. Everything from hip-hop dancing at Disneyland, car commercials, and greeting cards it was time to remind people that Vader was once the greatest film villain ever!

In conclusion, I highly recommend ROGUE ONE. Is the film "necessary"? I think so, and so will other Star Wars fans. It's a great war film first and a good Star Wars story second. I just hope the Han Solo movie doesn't end with him and Chewbacca setting a course to Mos Eisley?

And I almost forgot to mention K-2SO. He's great! A welcomed tradition of memorable droid characters in the Star Wars universe. But contrary to popular critic belief, K-2SO is not the only memorable thing in the movie.

May the Force be with you!

Sunday, December 11, 2016


NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is a 2016 film written and directed by fashion designer Tom Ford. It is his second movie following 2009's A SINGLE MAN, which was a critical darling. I am unfamiliar with the world of fashion but after watching only his second directorial feature, the man should get behind the camera more often.

With a film staring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal you'd think such star power would have NOCTURNAL ANIMALS playing nationwide? I love going to my local art-house movie theater, but given the chance, I'm picking the multiplex. It's a matter of better presentation, sorry. So as I was saying, two big movie stars and no wide release? Weird. It wasn't until the movie started that I realized why this wasn't playing across the hall from MOANA.

The opening minutes of NOCTURNAL AMIMALS is the most awkward time I've had in a theater this year. A bunch of middle aged obese women dancing around in nothing but their birthday suit. Awkward. I started to wonder if this was Tom Ford's attempt to be David Lynch? At this moment the context of the naked women became clear, we're watching an art exhibit show. There is a meaning behind them but I best leave that to those better at film analysis.

Susan (Amy Adams) a art gallery owner one day receives a manuscript from her ex husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), whom she hasn't spoken to or seen in years. She begins to read the book and quickly discovers it mirrors their relationship.

When we first meet Susan she is a very lonely woman. Which explains her exhibit of naked overweight women. The women are happy and liberated. Susan is not. A lot of empty spaces occupy her home. And the relationship with her womanizing new husband appears unhealthy and toxic. Susan begins to read the book and she gets hooked. At first it's because of how much the story reminds her of what she did to Edward. This is one of three narratives shown non linearly in the film. The novel is second narrative.

The novel is about one man's revenge against those who raped and murdered his wife and child. With the help of a Texas lawman they track the men down and plan to kill them. Without getting too spoiler-ish the events in the book mirror why Susan and Edward ended their marriage. More accurately, why Susan wanted to get a divorce.

The third narrative is how our main characters met, fell in love, and got divorced. This is where the film really gets interesting and cool, or too 'on the nose' depending on your taste. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is a film that requires undivided attention.

Once we start seeing how Susan and Edward met and fell in love, director Tom Ford starts giving us awesome visual cues. One example; in the manuscript narrative, the mother and daughter are found dead on a red couch. In the past narrative we see Susan telling Edward that she wants a divorce, she's sitting on a red couch.

That was an easy example, there are tougher ones that I won't spoil. The ending is a big one that I'm still trying to figure out. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is indeed a revenge story but it also might be the best thing to ever happen to Susan. Edward may have hurt her and helped her at the same time?

I was expecting more of a straight forward film noir with NOCTURNAL ANIMALS. But glad I got a more complex movie instead.

In conclusion, I'm only recommending NOCTURNAL ANIMALS to movie buffs. I could see a lot of moviegoers hating the three narrative structure of the film. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal are good as always!