Gangster Squad (2013)

Gangster-Squad

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Sufficient, but boring.

Hello, world. You know, I’m not the biggest fan of gangster movies. I typically try to avoid them because I know very well that I’m biased against them and it wouldn’t really be fair to my readers if I gave them a bad review. Then again, since the world seems to share my distaste for this one particular movie – I thought I’d go ahead and talk about Gangster Squad. After all, it’s not really about gangsters now, is it? It’s about the Gangster Squad of 1949 – totally different thing. I guess?

The plot of this film is relatively simple, thank god. It’s about Josh Brolin, who plays Sergeant John O’Mara – a police officer who lives life a bit on the edge. When his boss hires him to take down crime syndicate Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), John O’Mara must go into deep cover, with a group of other, willing officers – to infiltrate and take down the gang leader that had his hands around L.A. – and controlled basically everything. He was the Godfather of Los Angeles, basically.

I’ll tell you the main reason I didn’t like the movie, and this is probably different for everyone else – it’s noire – and it feels heavily drowned in thick, syrupy, noire tones. I’ve never personally cared for that type of movie because it simply doesn’t feel natural. Then again, there are things about how this movie feels in general that also bothers other critics. They would tell you it simply has a way about itself that feels inconsistent – as if the writers weren’t quite sure what they were going for in the writer’s room. For me, it was simply the fact that we have a noire, and that fact alone offers me little else than an overwhelming feeling of boredom.

I realize, however, that my personal opinion is a little rash and unfair, so I try to accommodate that with giving this film the respect it deserves. First and foremost, the cast in this film is quite impressive – then again, an impressive cast doesn’t make a good movie…but it does help. Second of all, the simple plot of good guys versus bad guys is great. It doesn’t try to be anything that it’s not, and even introduces some moral dilemmas that were in all honesty, smart. And then…it had some humor.

Now I personally enjoyed the comedic relief – but other critics are right – it’s not the kind of humor you’d expect from a noire film. While everything else has that noire “feel”, the comedy was really light, not dark. They threw in little jokes here and there to lighten the mood, but to me…it felt off. It wasn’t so much to tip the overall balance that the movie had for itself, but it was enough to question if it was the right thing to do from a filmmakers perspective. I think the comedy alone has made critics question what type of movie this even is, and I understand that.

The Good:

As far as gangster movies goes, this isn’t horribly bad. It’s got a clear goal with clear protagonists and antagonists. The casting in the film is quite impressive, and it does what it needed to do to work.

The Bad:

I have to say, though, I’ve never enjoyed a movie that sports a noire “feel”. That alone creates boredom, in my opinion – but it was their mixture of dark, violent noire and light, sporadic humor that felt conflicting. In order for it to be consistent, the humor they needed was dark humor – which would flow with everything else quite nicely.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

TMNT14

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Not so Cowabunga.

When I was a kid, there’s actually a video of me saying I wanted the Ninja Turtles for Christmas. They’ve been around for…forever, and throughout that time, they’ve more or less evolved. From cartoon, to live action, to CGI, to a variation of live action and CGI graphics. Wherever they were found, kids were sure to love them, because they could connect with this idea of misfit, thrown away teenagers that fight for us in the shadows – and their personalities were also really hip…it’s really no wonder why kids love them so much. But throughout the past few months, I’ve watched every other movie for the turtles, and I couldn’t see a whole lot more than 90’s cheese and bad puns. I had a lot of hopes for the 2014 film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – and those hopes…they weren’t actually met with open arms.

We have a very basic story here – to give it to you straight – April O’Neil is a television reporter who is simply not taken seriously. She needs her big break in order to succeed in her career. Along come crime-fighting turtle vigilantes who are gunning to take down the ominous Foot Clan. The Foot Clan is more or less your classic Bond villain – trying to take over the world by maximizing popular demand for their product in a very…evil fashion.

There are quite a few flaws that are found in this film, but I want to first focus on the good, because what little there is…shouldn’t be ignored. These are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the TMNT, made famous by their childlike immaturity while also knowing karate skills. They are, at the bare minimum, cool dudes. Kids can connect with their personalities, and in doing so, have the potential in learning important messages alongside the turtles. That personality that we know and love from the TMNT is still very present. However, that same personality conflicts with almost everything else in the movie.

This is produced by Michael Bay, so expect a lot of serious overtones, explosions, and overacting. That’s all fine, but then you have these turtles acting like children and making a bunch of jokes. The problem with that is the fact that we end up with an imbalanced shift in tone. Serious films can work well if the comedy is stitched in just right…but in my opinion – they were two polar opposites here – and they didn’t mix very well. To make things a little worse – how are we supposed to truly believe these are teenagers? They’re bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Just the fact that they look like massive adults and act like children is another imbalanced element all on its own.

The action and visuals were great, and I never expected anything less. It was top of the art, and choreographed rather well in terms of actions and even camerawork. However, one of the biggest flaws the film had was casting. I wouldn’t say it was horrible casting, but I would say very, very peculiar. Megan Fox never struck me as an actress worthy of a role like April. Her acting here was subpar, and came off as a little too whiny…we’ll just say she was pretty awful. Let me rephrase…she was Megan Fox. Then you have Will Arnett as comedic relief…that’s fine, but I still don’t think he fit very well. Then you have Tony Shalhoub as Splinter…really? Finally. Whoopi Golberg. I won’t even comment on that one.

It’s very hard to put into words how I reacted to this movie. If I could sum everything up – I’d say it was an imbalanced film with great action and visuals, but bad casting and/or acting. All inside a recycled and disposable plot that more or less disappointed me.

The Good:

You can still tell this is a TMNT movie. The personalities of the turtles are still present, and they still really like their sewer pizza.

The Bad:

As far as films go, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles failed in representing a film with a balanced flow. Instead, you have a movie that jumps between serious, dramatic moments – immediately to immature man-child turtles. They also act way too young for how they were designed – which is bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. You won’t buy that they are supposed to be teenagers, no matter how they act the part.

Hercules (2014)

Hercules

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
I expected better.

I can’t say I’m the biggest fan or knowledgeable person when it comes to Greek mythology, but I can at least say that I’ve always at least found the story of Hercules to be one worthy of my fascination. Yes, that may technically be due to Disney, and I may not really know the real legend, but I like the idea of the guy. Over the last year, there has been a few random movies based on the character, but the only one I really wanted to check out was Hercules, starring Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson. If I could wrap it up in a single sentence, I might basically say that the trailers lied to us. That doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing, but it does mean false advertising, which in and of itself…is sketchy.

So The Rock plays Hercules in this adaptation of the story, and it may not be what you were expecting from the character. If you were expecting monster-fighting, high budgeted visual effects – you’ll have a better time watching Wrath of the Titans. No, the trailers may have shown as such, but in reality, all of that was shown in the first five minutes of the film – as the “legend” of Hercules. The rest of the movie is about Hercules being hired by a guy that wants to save his city – and needs Hercules’s strength to do that. That means a lot of swords, shields, and sandles. Yeah…this is closer to 300 than anything from mythology.

The reason why they lied to you may possibly because they wanted a certain audience to come to the movie and be surprised once there. It was all about legends vs. reality, and if Hercules really lived – would he have really been son of a true God, or would that have all simply be a legend? They question that quite a bit, and it reminds me of a lot of Jewish beliefs regarding Jesus.  I honestly don’t care that they proposed that specific question, because it does make you think while watching – if he is just a mortal man, but as far as advertisement goes – there is a lot of misconceptions flying around the web. Even IMDB’s own description…isn’t 100% accurate.

It’s not really the false advertising that hit me the hardest though, it was the confusing story. Yes, you start to understand what’s going on, because it’s happening, but the why is often a little foggy and left up to the imagination. Is there a real why, yes, but I actually found it easily missed in order to pave way for flashy action and violence. There just isn’t a ton of depth in the movie. The characters are fine. They do what they needed to do in order for the movie to feel more complete, but they themselves have no real development or super importance. It’s just a movie, guys – and not one that needs to be seen. I’ve seen better from Dwayne Johnson, and I’ve seen better from Brett Ratner. This isn’t a movie you need to be seeing.

The Good:

Look, Dwayne Johnson visually fits a role of Hercules. He’s massive, he’s strong, and you can buy him kicking a person ten feet across a room more than you could from a different actor. This is also not the worst movie in the world – in fact there are worse Hercules movies released just this year.

The Bad:

I can see expectations being a little ruined due to false advertising, but I am a little disappointed that the Rock didn’t sing“I Can Go the Distance”. In all seriousness and fairness, there’s not a lot about this film that needs to be seen. It’s pretty forgettable.

Planes: Fire and Rescue (2014)

Planes-2

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
I hate myself.

Stupid, stupid, stupid! Not the movie, me. Though the movie isn’t all that fantastic either. I’m just angry at myself for even deciding to watch this thing in the first place. The only, and I really mean only, reason I watched it is because a big part of my website is dedicated to watching the movies that people are talking about – either through praise or hatred. Planes: Fire and Rescue is one of those movies people scoff at, and are completely baffled as to how it came to be when no one even wanted, nor cared for the first one. Heck, the same can be said about the third movie, which is apparently a thing, too. Well…I decided to throw myself into the lions den this time and watch the film…and I wasn’t surprised at all as to how it turned out.

Planes: Fire and Rescue continues the story of racing plane, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) in his adventures past his racing days. Yes, yes, because the model of his plane is so god-awful old – there is a gearbox in the plane that has no replacement parts anywhere on the planet, or so it would seem. So when that stops working, his racing days are suddenly done… apparently, forever. So instead of racing, he apparently goes to his next adventure – which is fire-flighting. Yes. Dusty turns into a plane that specializes in putting out random fires in random forests. Or something.

At least in the first film, I had the opportunity to say that it had some really good messages, despite being a useless movie that no one really asked for, but I can’t even say that for the sequel. The film, in all honesty, feels like it glorifies the positive repercussions of settling in life. You may not end up following your dreams or passions…but what you do end up with might not be all that bad, right? Important in kind of a realistic light, but even so – it sounds really weird coming from a little kid’s movie. Plus, that goes against what the first film taught – which was to follow your dreams no matter how impossible they may seem.

The reason behind it all makes sense though, which is something I can respect. I’m talking about a fresh plot. Something that involves all of the main characters of the first, introducing new ones, and changing up the entire atmosphere of the film. It’s not racing this time, it’s fire-fighting. On a primitive layer, that’s very respectable – but then again, I don’t care. I can see how they got there, but it doesn’t feel natural. It feels really forced, and the overall pacing has a huge problem because of that.

I’m not kidding here when I say I was bored. I was. Tenfold. I didn’t care about the story, I didn’t care about the transitions between subplots…I didn’t care about anything. My mind was elsewhere because the entire film is clearly geared for the little kiddoes – and has no substance to stay important in their lives for years to come. They’ll go to the theaters, and jump for joy while they suck their thumbs and watch all the action and colors on the screen…and then they’ll leave and forget about the whole thing – end of story, and that is why Planes: Fire and Rescue is simply not worth your time.

The Good:

If you have a baby or toddler, they’ll probably enjoy the film because there is a lot of interesting elements going on in the area of graphics. It’s bright, it’s fast-paced, and the colors are pretty vibrant.

The Bad:

This isn’t a movie that will be important for any man, woman, or child. It won’t stick with any audience member for years to come, and I certainly doubt that it’ll find it’s way to your Blu-Ray collection…that is, unless you’re looking for a new door stop.

Tammy (2014)

Review-Poster

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
I’ve seen funnier.

I’m back! Yes, for the past week and a half, my computer decided quite rapidly that it no longer wished to do my bidding. So for the entire month of October, I’ve had one, yes, one review…which I’m ashamed of! Then again, there haven’t been many movies recently that I’ve actually cared to watch, and TV has come back with a vengeance this fall…so I haven’t gotten around to reviewing things. Well, my computer works great again – and I’ve decided the film to review would be Tammy…a movie that never really interested me, but still had slight potential to be something funny.

So, Tammy is about this character (obviously) named Tammy (Melissa McCarthy). Tammy is an over-confident and slightly naive woman who resorts to running away when the going gets rough. When she loses her job and finds out her husband has been cheating on her, Tammy decides to leave town – which becomes possible when her money-wielding grandmother (Susan Surandon) decides to tag along. Let the hijinks ensue.

Now, when I first saw the trailers to this film, there wasn’t a lot of promising scenes…even for a trailer. Trailers to comedies typically showcase all of the best comedic moments, regardless on how many spoilers that could reveal – and this trailer…well…there wasn’t a lot of funny moments. Instead, it was more or less strange. Did the movie support that same basic tone? Yes. The film itself supported a lot of more strange than funny moments. As far as the comedy itself goes, Melissa as a stand-up comic is a hilarious woman. Her style is so unique and so wonderful – but we’ve seen it before. These last couple of years, she has shown up in virtually every single comedy, especially R-rated comedies – and this is probably my least favorite of the bunch.

It’s not so much because of her performance and more along the lines that the entirety of the film’s purpose seems to be centered on the comedic stylings of Melissa McCarthy. What do I mean by that? Put it this way, imagine a team of filmmakers sitting around a table discussing this film…all I can really see is…let’s see how much of her comedy we can fit in…and not focus on the actual story. The story was set on a blind path…there was simply no plot, nor reason to even watch the thing. It’s just the hijinks of a crazy grandmother and her granddaughter.

Okay, okay – there was one decent element of the film – and that was it’s perspectives and views on familial relationships – and how sometimes these relationships hit their own respective speed bumps. That was great, as was their ability to showcase the chemistry between these actresses – you believe that they really are granddaughter and grandmother – even though Susan Surandon could have also just played the mother. Seriously…the age difference doesn’t seem high enough. Twenty-four years apart? Yeah – definitely should have been the mother.

Anyways – the comedy also has a hard time connecting with the audience because the film itself feels very long…regardless of the actual short time length. It feels so long because when you’re watching, you know that the plot isn’t actually going anywhere, so you can’t help but feel the length of the thing. Going on an adventure is one thing, but please…please pick something to do when you’re on that adventure – and don’t pick something at random! This tends to be quite the pet peeve in the world of film.

The Good:

To be perfectly fair and honest, Tammy possesses a good perspective on familial relationships, and the chemistry Susan and Melissa possess is very believable, and in some light – very funny. There is also a few scenes that are pretty funny.

The Bad:

“A few” funny scenes really equates to maybe two, and the rest is just okay. The film simply feels too long because there no real plot or reason to keep watching them. All they are doing is random things anyways. All in all, you and I have seen better in the world of comedy.

A Good Marriage (2014)

A-Good-Marriage

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Holy Boringness, Batman!

It’s a give or take world for me and Stephen King. I often find his stuff really strange, but either brilliant or not brilliant at all. You think of the name Stephen King, and it’s not normal to jump to the conclusion that he’s a bad author – because he’s not. But his films have almost always fallen short of his vision. I’ve heard how much he’s hated a lot of his film adaptations, and that’s understandable – but from my perspective, I don’t really read his stuff – so it’s not like that’s important to me. But A Good Marriage? What happened here? It’s reallllly…not that good.

Meet Bob and Darcy, two very normal people in a very happy marriage. They aren’t exactly stepford fake, but they do have a more or less average life on the outside – but in reality – it’s a bit different. You see, Bob is secretly a serial killer, and when Darcy finds out – living with her husband immediately hits an emotional speed bump. To make things worse, he’s not even going to try to kill her for finding out, he’s just going to creepily go back to how things were before she discovered his secret – no problem, right? Of course not!

Somewhere deep within the crevices of this film lays Stephen King’s twisted imagination. I’m not going to sit here and deny that King had some involvement, because he clearly did – it was just among a plot that’s more or less predictable and far from original. Sure, they did one thing differently – had the husband act naturally instead of murderous towards his wife. That alone is very creepy, but only for five minutes. How it’s handled afterwards is really boring, to tell the truth. Suddenly it turns from a creepy thriller into some kind of…Stockholm Syndrome thing…but not really. I felt as if it began on a stronger note, but as it progressed, we lost something and the rest was very sleepy in it’s tone – which is very sad, given the fact that it’s supposed to be a thriller.

Why is it boring, exactly? Well it has a lot of character development, which would be fine – except the wife in this film was a bit unbelievable in this department. We spend a good majority of the first half hour focusing on this woman whine and crunch her face up, and get paranoid, and blah blah blah. It’s stupid, and in all honesty – doesn’t progress the story very well – and even when it does – the actual story slows down, practically, to a complete stop. Then, it ventures into the unbelievable. Seriously, this woman is an everyday mother and wife – one who does scrapbooks (most likely), and says things like, “I made you a pie”. When she discovers her husband’s secret, she would do something very differently than what she ends up doing in real life. I don’t care how much in shock you really are.

This film is classified as a thriller, and I just have to say – this isn’t a thriller. Not by a long shot. I could tell what they were trying to do as far as making that quota, but it just doesn’t fit. I wouldn’t even call the thing suspenseful really…in fact, I don’t think the movie really fits in with any category. However, I could see the actual book getting away with everything. The story itself could be told very well in a different light – one that’s not obvious – like a book. So, if you’re reading this – I know I didn’t, but read the book to this one first.

The Good:

It’s…not the worst movie in the world. It has a general idea, and it accurately portrays storytelling well enough. Also, for how much crap I give this one, the husband respectfully pulls off a creepy vibe very well.

The Bad:

In a word, the movie is boring. There’s too much talking and too much character development that ultimately doesn’t make a lot of sense. I can’t help but think that A Good Marriage is one of King’s most forgettable stories.

Sex Tape (2014)

Sex-Tape

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Dude, Segel, Eat.

I’m not one to rate these types of movies. I watch them from time to time, but I generally find that reviewing them is more or less a waste of time. Sexual comedies almost never vary in what it’s filled with – and that may be very true for Sex Tape, but that being said – this was a movie that people weren’t only looking forward to – but it connected with a lot of comedy lovers out there, so I would be remised if I didn’t review it. That, and there’s also the fact that it’s been almost a month since my last review. *eep!*

Sex Tape is one of those movies that is practically self-defining. If you’re wondering if the trailer ruins the entire movie, the short answer to that is a resounding yes. The trailer not only shows the funniest parts, but it also shows the entire movie’s plot, as well as the most important parts that should have been left out of any marketing. Oh well. It’s about Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz’s characters as they try to spice up their marriage by creating a sex tape, which eventually gets out into the “cloud”. Jason’s character apparently spends a good amount of time handing out free iPads, and his cloud syncs the video to each of these devices. So throughout the film, he and his wife must go from door to door to get to the iPad and delete the video before it’s too late.

So the trailer gives a lot away, and what’s funny about that is – the way the jokes are presented in the trailer – was funnier than how they were presented in the actual film. Something about the lead-up in the movie itself was done poorly enough that it comes off as more boring. You can sit through the entire thing with a slack look on your face…it’s not that funny, and I think a huge reason as to why that is – is because the plot of the entire movie doesn’t make a lot of logical sense.

The cloud is the cloud – it is a digital backup of a computer file. Anyone who knows about the cloud knows that you can take that file off just as easily as you can put it on. That means he never had to leave the house to take it off of everyone’s iPad. All he had to do was remote wipe from his home computer. They make a joke out of that here and there, but nobody is that dumb. I understand they needed the story to keep going, but in all honesty, the very foundation of this film’s story progression is founded on something incredibly weak – and just knowing that had me nitpicking at everything they did. I found it very distracting.

This is partly why I avoid reviewing sexual comedies. They are always so focused on making a joke out of basic sexual *things* – like using curse words extensively and just being graphic in general. I don’t think that’s really what makes a movie special, even if it is funny from time to time. The acting in the movie was very joking, and it comes off as really fake and almost…bad acting – which I know these two have fine abilities in that department – so why did they come off so badly? And what on earth was wrong with Jason Segel? He looked sickly, like he hadn’t had anything to eat in eons. It’s called a burger, Segel, try one!

The Good:

The movie isn’t horrible or anything, it has a few jokes here and there that will strike the right chords if you are 1.) in the right mood, and 2.) if you haven’t been ruined by the spoilery trailers.

The Bad:

I don’t really consider Sex Tape a very good movie. It’s okay, but it’s nothing spectacular, really. The entire plot revolved around something that ultimately doesn’t make a lot of sense when you think about it, too.

The Maze Runner (2014)

Maze-Runner

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Faithful to source.

Read my review of the book HERE

As much as I like reviewing a movie solely based on creative freedom and liberties, I have to also say that I really enjoy reading the book that a movie is based on before seeing it. Reading after the fact is always great, but reading beforehand is practically an experience once the film rolls around. You notice all of these tiny, basically minute changes – but at the same time – this could create a bias and makes my reviewing ability a bit more difficult than it would have been. The Maze Runner is a movie I’ve been looking forward to for a little while, and after reading the book, I went ahead and checked out the film.

Meet Thomas. Thomas has no memory of who he is or where he came from – but he was there all the same, in a terrifying place known only as The Glade. In the Glade were a group of self-dependent boys who are working together to try to find a way out of the Maze that surrounds their Glade. There’s something very different about Thomas, though – and that comes readily apparent when the first girl shows up in the Glade telling everyone that everything’s about to change – and she knows Thomas.

It was very interesting watching this movie, and I don’t think I can possibly review the thing without mentioning the book, because there was a couple of huge changes – but those changes, in my opinion, are very welcome and helps make the movie more successful and gives it better pacing all around. First of all, the book is very fantasy-based, but this film feels like they really wanted to make everything more grounded and believable. The problem I have with that, is the fantasy realm increases ten-fold in the next book, and I really don’t know how they’d make that into a movie. Other than that, the other main difference is the slang. They still had some of it in the movie, but for the most part it wasn’t there. It was there enough to seem unique, but not flooded like in the book, thank god.

The movie still had some faults when it came to pacing, but the way they did things was – they replaced longwinded scenes in the book with completely different scenes in the movie that more or less ends up in the same place. To me, that does two things: it doesn’t feel as cluttered as it could, and it makes things that much different for the reader to enjoy the story all over again. The thing is, the keep the tone alive in this film. It may have changed this or that, but they replaced it and the tone was more or less on par with the book.

I have to say. I’m having a little difficulty reviewing the movie for those that haven’t read the book, because I already knew the concept beforehand. That being said, I still really enjoy the concept and think it holds a lot of really strong mystery, despite being reminiscent in some ways – to Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games – it still had a lot of it’s own feel, which was really cool – and the movie definitely captured that aspect. The acting was really good, the visuals definitely did what they were supposed to…in a lot of ways, it was very good. At the same time, I could see different places where it could be confusing to others, so I’m interested in seeing how others saw it.

The Good:

If you are a fan of the book, for the most part this film stays true to the tone of the book. It also made respectful changes in order to fit into the movie medium. It may take a few minutes to get used to the changes, but you’ll notice soon enough that the tone is still intact.

The Bad:

It may have some problems in the pacing department, like many young adult films have. Mainly speaking, because the book is so full of mysteries, you can only put so much in a movie – and that’s always risky.

Brick Mansions (2014)

Brick-Mansions

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Nice try, Paul.

It’s still a bit of a shock, knowing that Paul Walker died the way he did, but we still got a couple of movies yet featuring him. I’m personally really interested in how they got around to figuring out Fast & Furious 7. Before that, however, we were treated to Brick Mansions, which is a movie that is slightly out of Paul Walker’s typical style – which of course is racing cars. While there was certainly car chases in this one, it was more  or less a different kind of movie.

Brick Mansions is more or less about a cluster of buildings known obviously as Brick Mansions, as well as its inhabitants, which are basically these no-good crooks that wield guns and other heavy weapons, and Damien Collier (Paul Walker) has to go in and stop the main bad guy from using a giant bomb on…whatever, I guess it doesn’t matter. To get to the main bad guy, he has to get the help from a man known as Lino – a convict who has the inside scoop of the complex. Things aren’t what they seem in Brick Mansions though, and Damien has to really listen to his instincts when it comes to who he should trust.

On one hand, there was some really interesting aspects to this film that I honestly, genuinely liked. The look was pretty good. It had a decent-enough budget, and they used it well – in a very visual manner. The whole thing seems to be bathed in a lightly contrast-y filter that adds to the view, but it’s more than that. The scenes were cut pretty well for the most part. The editor clearly had some experience in editing together fast-moving shots – because there was a cut EVERYWHERE – every second there seemed to be at least one cut – maybe more. That was fine for the most part – but it failed when it came to the fighting.

The fighting could have looked amazing had they used only a few cuts – but I kid you not – there was a cut and a different angle for every punch, kick, swing, and twirl.You know what that makes me think? That makes me think that Paul Walker can’t remember a choreographed fight if his life depended on it. It’s like they told him to make a right punch – then cut, then told him to block with his left arm, and then cut again……and basically repeated that pattern. Not only does it look bad, but holy crap – someone’s bound to get a seizure from how many things are happening all at once. It’s unbelievable and it’s cluttered.

I guess that’s fine though, right? Because the entire thing is cluttered. The entire film’s foundation is based on a McGuffin. Go to this place and disarm this bomb in the next 10 hours. Uh, why? Because it’s a bomb, dummy! No, that bomb was simply put there as a place-setter. So the rest of the movie can be filled to the brim with Paul Walker doing parkour and kung-fu. Throw in a little driving by Walker and we’re gold. Now as much as I am a fan of things like martial arts…this was really lame.

The Good:

I’ll be honest. There’s a lot about Brick Mansions that I found fun. It looked nice, had some cool edits at times, and of course – Paul Walker in a role he’s not usually found in.

The Bad:

But, and this is a big but – it’s an unnecessary film filled with unnecessary garbage. It’s based around a McGuffin. The whole point of this film seems to fall on – because we want to see Paul Walker jump around and hit things.

The Random:

Apparently this is a remake of something I’ve never seen. Go figure.

The Signal (2014)

Signal

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Weird, but intriguing.

Call me strange, call me a nerd, but when it comes to alien movies, I’m almost always game. Now, I never knew what The Signal was about before watching it, as the trailer itself is more or less vague in that department, but it still looked good enough to watch, and it constantly kept my interest – plus, for a movie I hadn’t really ever heard of until I watched it, it had a surprisingly recognizable cast…so there’s that.

The plot of the thing revolves around a group of three friends, more or less led by a guy named Nic (Brenton Thwaites). As the movie begins, you notice they are on a road trip of sorts, and as it progresses, you realize they are being stalked by some kind of hacker by the name of Nomad. Nomad leads them to an abandoned building – and then everything changes as the group has a blackout. Nic wakes up in some kind of testing facility and is interviewed by a mysterious scientist by the name of Damon (Laurence Fishburne), who claims Nic had come into contact with an EBE – Extraterrestrial Biological Entity – and he was contaminated. Being an MIT student, Nic begins to calculate an escape – but escaping may not be the best idea.

This isn’t your typical alien/government conspiracy film, even if it seems like it will be here and there. This is something else, something more creative and more original. Its more interested in telling a mysterious story and leaving messages for the audience to interpret than anything else. It just uses a very strong and very powerful direction in science fiction to get to those messages. Underneath everything, you’ll find a lot about the human will, and our freedom to make choices despite having every logical reason not to – that the will to live and to survive is stronger than anything else. I was intensely intrigued by this film, there’s no doubt about it.

However, a lot of the movie does feel like it drags on. It takes them way too long to get to the most interesting element. That element kicks the film into high gear, but before that happens, it feels very slow and laggy…which really hurts the movie. In fact, it starts out and ends just fine, but the middle section doesn’t fit. The first part had a lot of suspense and realism – so the movie could go in any direction. The second part was very intriguing, but moved really slow – and you could probably skip a good portion of the second part – and the third was action-driven with a lot of sci-fi, ending in all of the answers to the questions asked before. The ending was the best part, it just took too long to get there.

So it’s not hard to guess that the pacing is a bit iffy for The Signal, but where it falters, it also draws strength in its nonstop mystery and concept alone. The performances weren’t bad either, but they certainly weren’t what drove this film. The “reveals” in the movie were really cool, in a way that sort of made District 9 a success…I don’t know. I just wish the film had some more advertisement than it ultimately got, because I’ve never actually heard of the thing until I watched it – which doesn’t make sense. The graphics and overall visuals in the entire movie were top notch, and all of that together would make a very intriguing trailer…I’m just curious as to how I missed its existence.

The Good:

The Signal is different, weird, and I never heard of it before I saw it…but at the same time, it’s unique, creative, and captivating with it’s mystery, suspense, and grasp on science fiction. For the most part, I really enjoyed this flick.

The Bad:

As great as the film was, it had a bit of an issue with the pacing. You could almost feel the three parts of the film where the pacing changes. From good start, to really boring mid-section, to exciting finale. That pacing ultimately affected my viewing experience, feeling as if the film dragged on for a bit too long.

The Ü

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