Thursday, March 31, 2016

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: ALLEGIANT

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: 
on ALLEGIANT (2016, 120 minutes, PG-13)

The Quick of It -
ALLEGIANT is the start of the conclusion to the Divergent Book Series by Veronica Roth, which will be followed by ASCENDANT.  Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) must find their way outside the wall, to discover what is beyond Chicago.  What they find is that the world they knew was not all that it seemed, and must make hard decisions with no one looking out for their or their people's betterment.  

The one impressive piece to this film is the tech.  The large structures, the military and vehicle technology, and the surveillance system made for some sweet goals for the science world.  Without the level of detail applied to this project, the sense of future would have been distracting.  Instead, I sat in awe while the story unfolded.  

The acting is fair, the tween moments get a little sappy, and the action still cutting.  Although Tris was the center of the story, Four was the standout character.  His quick, violent fighting style and pragmatic approach grounded the plot and made you root for them.  On the opposite side, Miles Teller's self-serving bastard of a character, Peter, is the sorta-bad guy you relate to and also root for.  Sorry... not sorry.

To finish off the series, this is eventually a 'must see', which has been better than most in this genre.  Beyond that, the movie is entertaining, but it does require you to have seen the previous films to know what is happening.  ALLEGIANT did a far better job on splitting the final book, unlike MOCKINGJAY.  So catch up on the previous films and save those 'damaged' peeps. 

Grade: B-

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: A BLAST OF RECENT DVD / BLU-RAY RELEASES Part 2

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: 

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (2015, 122 minutes, PG-13)

The Quick of It -
I watched this in the 3D Blu-ray format and was pleasantly surprised.  If ever there was a movie that paid attention to the visual experience with 3D in mind, without trying too hard, HEART has to be among the top films on the list.  Director Ron Howard pumped a lot of his money into this project and received very little in return from the box office or from the critics.  This is a crying shame and should be punishable.  At its core, the film is simple enough and a straightforward plot, a safe play on Ron’s part, and may have been its demise.  But the film should not be dismissed as it is full of action and plays out like a real story rather than a piece of fiction.  I think HEART’s attempt at realism was lost on most and left people wanting more.  I found it to be exactly what was promised from the film and a thrilling sea adventure.

Grade: B

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 (2015, 137 minutes, PG-13)

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Here is the final film for THE HUNGER GAMES, hoping to finish off the trilogy properly.  I have to agree with those that said splitting Mockingjay into two parts was a bad decision.  We should have accepted the idea that we would sit through a longer film, watching it from start to finish as a contiguous piece.  This would allow us to appreciate the full process.  By splitting, it seems Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is brooding 80% of the time with injected dialogue and scenes from surrounding storylines to fill the gaps until the violence starts once again, with the inevitable conclusion close behind.   The action sequences are great and arranged in an interesting set of sequences, the acting on par but not phenomenal, and a descent wrap-up to finish this trilogy-ish. 

Grade: B-

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN (2015, 110 minutes, PG-13)

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Here is a film that received no respect.  James McAvoy (Victor Frankenstein) and Daniel Radcliffe (Igor) take us on a wild ride.  This is not your dark adaptation, more like a VAN HELSIG or HANSEL & GRETEL: WITH HUNTERS.  The style is fast and quirky, and it works to a certain degree, and worth a watch.  Mary Shelley maybe rolling over in her grave but I would have hoped she found this one a refreshing change rather than a monster.  Director Paul McGuigan, who also was responsible for 4 episodes of ‘Sherlock’, will have his chance again for the spotlight as he is doing the first two ‘Luke Cage’ episodes. 

Grade: B-

LEGEND (2015, 132 minutes, R)

The Quick of It -
Seeing Tom Hardy play as twins is a true treat.  The personalities were distinct enough, and he clever enough, to pull off the skill needed to make you forget that this is one person playing two roles.  LEGEND is based on the identical twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray who were successful ‘businessmen’ in London during the 1960’s, with maybe a few criminal-like dealings sprinkled in.  The story is solid and the acting keeps the drama moving even with this long runtime.  It’s the crazy brother Ronnie who has you waiting to see what he will say or do next.  If not for him, Reggie may have been a greater success and spent less time locked behind bars.  This film may not be for everyone, but I found myself thoroughly engaged. 

Grade: B

Friday, March 25, 2016


The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: 
on BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016, 151 minutes, PG-13)

The Quick of It -
Everyone has their hero they look up to and/or wish they could be.  Could be a superhero.  Could be a sports figure.  Could be a parent.  Mine? 

I couldn't tell you how or when it started, but Batman seems to have always been in my life.  Yes, I enjoyed the Batman: Animated Series, a groundbreaking achievement in the animation world.  I like the comics, especially when they were dark, not so tongue-n-cheek.  "Batman: Shadow of the Bat" was a strong but quiet comic series.  Although I prefer the Nolan movies, I even enjoyed the Tim Burton films, accepting the Burton-flav.  But they only tell part of the story of why I prefer Batman.  He means much more to me on a personal level.  He is 'The World's Greatest Detective'.  He is the epitome of determination and ingenuity.  He is one who believes anything is possible.  He is an ideal to strive for, outside of smashing faces and wearing a cowl.

As of late, superhero movies bring out the best and worst in people.  The characters can represent your inner desires, and I don't just mean the truth and justice types.  I mean the hidden appeal that lies deep within one's psyche.  This is where hearts are broken if people do not get what they want out of a movie/character.  Just like any relationship, the more you let them into your heart, the more they can hurt you when something is not right, or at least your perception of 'right'.   

Mind you, no one gripes at the animated movies that go straight to video.  These stories can really stretch the traits of a loved superhero to an extreme, or flip them on their head.  Not a peep from fans or critics when this happens, they just watch to enjoy or pass on, not giving it the time of day.

So, what do I have to say about BATMAN V SUPERMAN?  This is a dark and broody film that most DC lovers deserve.  The story is on point, the acting is far beyond the typical superhero flick, and the cinematography puts you in the action.  Director Zack Snyder doesn't feel the need to fill dialogue with tons of humor, like Marvel.  There is no bowing to critics over theme or the conflict.  The writing team of Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer (who is connected to the Nolan projects as well as MAN OF STEEL) puts together a terrific origin film with the scattered pieces of a complex universe.

Ben Affleck plays an aged Batman who does what Batman always does, one who prepares for any possible threat.  He secures the title of 'Best Bruce Wayne' with his grayed temples and glimpses into his daily life - hands down.  As Batman, he is a very angry vigilante who almost steals the show (now I know why Affleck was top billed).  You can relate to his disgust over the continued battle against deranged criminals.  The fighting style is quick and brutal, while using his clever gadgets to have an edge over the sheer numbers or when outgunned.   

Superman, Henry Cavill, is a Superman who struggles with his place in the world while adjusting to his new personal life.  If nothing else, he shines that much brighter thanks to his synergy with Amy Adams, Lois Lane.  With well written dialogue and subtle filler scenes, the relationship is strengthened and believable.  Amy Adams never disappoints.

The remaining cast only strengthened the story.  Gal Gabot is the Wonder Woman everyone hopes she would be.  Jessie Eisenberg plays the Lex who sits on the brink of madness quite nicely, playing the crafty villain that knows how to manipulate the situation into his favor.  Jeremy Irons may have been the weakest, only in part that he was reduced to one liners because of limited screen time. 

The threats of critics and fans saying the story will be inundated with superheroes, taking away from the story, was false.  The idea that the story is lost in action and riddled with jumpy scenes, false.  Sure there are questionable calls when building the story and conflict, but those decisions were based on strengthening what is already there as part of Snyder's Universe, not pulling from new threads that would make it frail and unproven. 

The truth that this film is worth the time and dismissing the disgust shown by critics can be seen with your friends' reactions and the audience ratings.  Even Rotten Tomatoes demonstrates the disjointed trend, 30% rating for critics while 74% for the audience score.  Critics are trolling this film, as they have done to others in the past.  It is trendier to be a hater and blast a film than to actually give it a fair assessment.  Like I said, they will use your emotions against you to amp up their relevancy.  Such a shame.

Please, see it yourself and you decide.  Don't let finger-pecking mongrels tell you what to think.  Oh wait, that applies to me....

Grade: A

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: A BLAST OF RECENT DVD / BLU-RAY RELEASES Part 1

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: 

EXTRACTION (2015, 83 minutes, R)

 The Quick of It -
The first in this series of action releases is a Bruce Willis feature, that doesn’t really ‘feature’ the man we know as McClane.  Kellan Lutz plays Harry Turner, son to Leonard Turner (Willis), who tries to follow his father’s footsteps as a field agent in the CIA but just can’t seem to get past the vetting process.  It is the powerful and beautiful presence of Gina Carano (she was in DEADPOOL as Angel Dust) that steals the show.  The story has merit, the dialogue could have been worse, and the action and final sequence of events makes it worth a watch.

Grade: B-

DIABLO (2015, 90 minutes, R)

The Quick of It -
It’s hard to imagine Clint Eastwood’s son not playing in a Western at some point.  Scott Eastwood definitely has the looks to be just as charismatic on film as his father.  But do not jump too fast.  DIABLO is not your average gunslinging extravaganza.  The story will walk you down that familiar dusty trail, but before you know it, the world gets flipped upside down.  This being the director’s second feature length film, and second teaming with Scott, you can trust Lawrence Roeck has a future in the industry.  I continue to recommend this to everyone who will listen; believing the film did not receive enough marketing support to justify a fair chance to even know it exists.

Grade: B+

MI-5 (2015, 104 minutes, R)

The Quick of It -
We get to see Jon Snow know something… sorry… he is forever doomed in this industry.  Kit Harrington is an MI5 agent who must track down an escaped terrorist.  The story seems convoluted and the pacing is slow.  This is one of the weaker recent releases and is only good for the action.  The slow points drag everything down as some people seem way too serious and carries the strong flavor of a Brit TV drama without trying.

Grade: C-

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

“The Blind Guy, The Hot Assassin, and The Punisher: What You Might Be Missing on NETFLIX”

“The Blind Guy, The Hot Assassin, and The Punisher: What You Might Be Missing on NETFLIX”


There comes a certain point in Season II of “Daredevil” when you get excited to see a certain bad guy. It isn’t because you got bored with the sometimes meandering plot, or the fact that there is sometimes a little too much going on.

It is because it’s Vincent freaking D’Ononfrio.

Oh, crap—SPOILER ALERT… (sorry)

Some reviewers have complained about the start of the sophomore season of Marvel’s grittiest superhero (so far), saying that it starts off slowly, eventually gaining momentum and getting better—but not coming anywhere close to the magic of the first season. I like to think of it as slowly easing your feet into a pair of well-worn work boots. After all, a little time has passed since Mathew Murdock’s last escapade. But it isn’t like the writers hold out on giving us (multiple) showdowns between our hero and Hell’s Kitchen’s latest form of vigilante justice, The Punisher.

There are several moments and ideas that truly define this season, and some that occasionally make the season stutter. Without giving away any more spoilers, and trying to be as vague as possible, I’ll at least give you this—a cryptic list of things that make this season suck. Bear with me.

6) Gore. Bloody, bloody gore.

5) Ooo, look, the firm might be breaking up again… (we went through this last season, seriously, FIND A DIFFERENT DRAMATIC PLOT POINT)

4) Wait…who’s the bad guy now?

3) Idiot bad guys. Honestly, some of these ass-buckets define the term “dipstick”.

2) Unanswered questions and plot lines that just kinda drift away in the breeze. (ADVANCE PUN ALERT) Hello, BIG FREAKING (plot) HOLE!!!

1) I’m sorry…the bad guy is…?...

Now, a list of things that made the second season shine.

6) The stairway at the end of Episode III.

5) More Karen Paige (Deborah Ann Woll—sexy, smart, and a damn fine actress).

4) Shadow fighting.

3) Vincent freaking D’Ononfrio.

2) Elodie Yung’s “Electra”—sexy, smart, and a damn fine kicker of butts.

1) Jon Bernthal’s “Frank Castle”, aka: The Punisher.

Sure, Charlie Cox is a great Daredevil, but this season stands out the most when it is all about the other characters. We know about Murdock’s back-story, and we know enough about his partner/friend Foggy Nelson’s conflict with his buddy’s nocturnal activities. But Bernthal’s portrayal of the fractured and scarily determined Punisher is wonderful to watch. It isn’t just his physical presence, either. Bastard almost had me in tears during the graveyard scene.

You see, that is one of the things I love about this show: the main characters can do more than grimace and spout one-liners. They are all darn good actors, and they take the material seriously. Say what you will about Netflix’s occasionally questionable catalogue, their attention to detail when it comes to their original programming is on point. And, with a tiny little teaser for the upcoming “Luke Cage” at the end of the last episode, their plan still looks promising. Now, if we could just get them to commit to a second season of “Jessica Jones”…

-- T.S. Kummelman

Remember, kiddies, if there is a genre you want a nice, shiny example from, let us know. Otherwise, I’ll just keep watching whatever the heck I want to. Which means I win. You don’t really want me winning all of the time, do you?...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: 
on 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016, 103 minutes, PG-13)

The Quick of It -
I have to admit my excitement level to see this one was on par with most of the superhero films releasing this year.  I can only attribute this to being a "Goodmanophile".  Don't get me wrong, the first CLOVERFIELD was a great monster flick and I would be happy with another full-fledged sequel.  But seeing Goodman do his 'thing' is just as thrilling.

We have all heard that this was a rushed connection to the original when the project was completed, and rightly so.  You will understand once you see the movie, and you must put this on your 'must see' list.  Young director Dan Trachtenberg will teach you the meaning of build-up.  He leaves you on the edge of your seat guessing the whole time, waiting for the next piece of the puzzle.  Funny enough, there is a puzzle in the film that is missing a few pieces.  Clever play?  I think so.

The acting is great even for such a small cast in a confined space, with what at first seems as limited conflict that could be easily resolved.  Like I said, John Goodman crushes this role.  He is quite believable when spinning crazy theories and in the conviction held in his voice with all the choices he has made up to this point.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead quickly endears you to her plight and demonstrates her indomitable will to live.  John Gallagher Jr. is the bridge and filler that cements the story and makes the plot whole.  The writing is that tight, folks.

The trailer make the promise and the film keeps it.  You will not be disappointed in the final minutes.  In fact, you will be asking for more.   

Grade: B+

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

'Blu-ray or Bust' - ROOM

'Blu-ray or Bust'
ROOM (2015, R, 118 minutes, A24/ELEMENT PICTURES)

Some actors in Hollywood actually get It. While many understand the craft, it takes a special few that can actually create art with their role. Those few take roles not because they are looking for a big payday, but because they believe in the story being told.

And then there’s Brie Larson. As shown by the Academy Award she so rightfully deserved for her role as “Ma” in ROOM, Larson goes one step further. She was “Grace” in SHORT TERM 12 (available on Netflix), a wonderful little movie with an amazing story. She was the troubled “Kate” in Showtime’s “The United States of Terra”, a show that lost its way after season two—but you kept tuning in to see if Kate would sit on any more balloons for her webcam show.

Her rather varied career can be defined in moments, and in ROOM, she shines like she never has before. Although she isn’t really the sole focus of the tale; the story, about a mother and son held captive in a shed for five years, until they plan a rather risky and daring escape, is all about human connection. And not just with each other.

The genius in this film is all in perspective; we get much of the story from the eyes of Jack, and it is his basic understanding of his tiny world which gives this movie its giant beating heart. Veteran child actor Jacob Tremblay plays Jack with a determination and drive that forces you to see life and the world—no matter how big or small—the way he does. It is his childhood witnessing of events that makes the film so heart-wrenching. If the final moments, if not the preceding two hours, don’t get you, than you need to have your mental settings checked.

This is entirely necessary on Blu-ray. The first half of the film is focused on their captivity, but to fully appreciate their confined living quarters, and all of the detail that went into the set itself, you need the sharper image. Also, the soaring score by Stephen Rennicks (FRANK) can be incredibly moving at times. The special features (of which there are three) give an excellent back-story to the film—and to the novel by Emma Donoghue (who also wrote the screenplay).

So go see this damn movie. If not just to see the reasons Brie Larson won best actress, but to also see the amazing talent commanded by little Jacob Tremblay. You are not only made witness to a dramatic piece of storytelling, but also to the craft as an art form. Appreciate it, heathens!

Grade: A
Special Features: A
Blu-ray Necessary: Most Definitely

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: LONDON HAS FALLEN

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: 
on LONDON HAS FALLEN (2016, 99 minutes, R)

The Quick of It -
The return of the FALLEN duo bodes well for those who wish an ’80s action flick.  Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) must once again save President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from terrorist plotting… sounds familiar...  This time London gets the unlucky draw as the scene of all the magnificent devastation. 

Banning, like those before him (reference:  John McClane, John Matrix, John Rambo…), carried the lone-wolf torch quite successfully (even without the first name of John).  At one point, you could see the filming and battle choreography being a cut-scene in any first-person shooter game, and that is a good thing for this style of action.  Butler’s character is reminiscent of so many of the ’80s action heroes; you are awed by the violence and giggle at the one-liners.  Yes, he even says in this one, “Get to the choppers!”

Although touted as racist propaganda, I would almost say that the plot also shows the villains as a family desiring vengeance, making it hard to dismiss them as ‘pure evil’ when having a legit gripe.  But after countless deaths, you work your way out of the moralistic stance.  

The special effects are average (they may have tried too hard) and the dialogue just filler between action sequences.  I would only recommend rushing out to see if you are wondering what it was like to experience an action flick in the 1980’s and don’t have access to a time machine.

Grade: C+

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

'Blu-ray or Bust' - CREED

'Blu-ray or Bust'
CREED (2015, PG-13, 133 minutes, MGM/WARNER BROTHERS)

There was a point, way back in the '80s, when Rocky Balboa became kind of a…well, screw the pun alerts - he became a punch line.

People like to forget that when the first ROCKY came out in 1976, it was released to such critical acclaim that it won three Oscars, and Sylvester Stallone himself was nominated for Lead Actor and screenwriter awards. He didn’t win, but before you start making any more Rambo or Rocky jokes, let’s just think about that for a moment: Stallone was nominated for writing an original screenplay.

When he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at this last Academy Awards, it was rather surprising when he didn’t win this time around, either. Watch CREED and you’ll understand why.

In this, the seventh installment of the series (but it also works quite well as a stand-alone film), we find the troubled son of Rocky’s former rival and friend looking to define his own place in life. He finds that behind a pair of gloves, naturally, and seeks out the legend to train him. Adonis Johnson, played by the amiable Michael B. Jordan (FRUITVALE STATION, CHRONICLE), makes a strong argument for a follow-up film. He is charismatic, tough, and brings his character full circle. You just know the 'Son of Creed' has a great future, and you want to see more of it.

Writer/director Ryan Coogler is an obvious fan of the source material; he reminds you of the history of Rocky with a patient and loving eye, treating the character with a respectful air—yet also reminding you that this is NOT a Rocky movie. This one is all about Adonis, as Balboa frequently reminds the title character. But Stallone steals the show. While the entire cast (even the real-life boxers used in the film) do a good job, he is the only one that doesn’t seem like he is acting. He is playing a part that he himself created, and it is more than a second skin. His natural delivery, poise, and presence are what defines a splendid supporting actor. He knows when to allow Jordan to take over, even if Jordan seems to be willing to stand aside so Rocky can do his thing.

The special features are worth the watch, as are the twenty minutes of deleted scenes. This is a must on Blu-ray, as the sounds and action are better appreciated in the format. If not for those obvious reasons, there is also Coogler’s nifty camera work. At one point he follows the boxers around the ring, changing perspective periodically, so you see the fight from both sides. It is an invigorating shot, seamless and breath-taking. It also proves how much choreography goes into a film like this; technically speaking, the production level on display here is better than many of the previous ROCKY films.

While there has been no confirmation of a CREED II, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one happen. As long as there is no Drago involved, and the studio doesn’t try to overwhelm us with sequels, Adonis Creed could have a bit more life in him. As for Rocky himself? I think the final scene answers that question. It’s no longer about Rocky, now, is it?

Grade: A
Special Features: B+
Blu-ray Necessary: Most Definitely

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"Obscurities and Abject Pandering: What You’re Missing on NETFLIX"

"Obscurities and Abject Pandering: What You’re Missing on NETFLIX"



(2015, R, 103 episodes, OPEN ROAD/UNIVERSAL)

Arguably one of the best movies of 2015, this film turns several stereotypes on their collective heads. By redefining the raunchy teen comedy, and then punching you in your brain with the final moments, writer/director/genius Rick Famuyiwa (THE WOOD) has created a film that is surprisingly fresh and uniquely grandiose in scope. Essentially, and without giving away any spoilers, the story centers on Malcolm (Shameik Moore, whom captures the doubt and anxiety of being a teen better than most), a high schooler obsessed with the hip-hop style and sounds of the ’90s. Fate thrusts a backpack of ill repute into his hands, and the rest of the film isn’t just about the illegal contents of said backpack, or Malcolm and his friends trying to unload it. This is a coming-of-age story, with boobs and drugs and bad language and great music, and a big old punch in the brain. And Zoe Kravitz. Oh, yes, Zoe Kravitz.


(2014, R, 84 minutes, ALPHAVILLE PICTURES)

This beautiful and vicious Danish horror film is a haunting tale about young Marie (played by the arresting Sonia Suhl), for whom puberty becomes a real…okay, “bear” is definitely not the right word, as the hair she starts growing from her chest and back is a mite bit longer than Yogi or Smokey’s. This movie puts a nifty spin on the whole 'teen angst' thing, giving Marie a darn good reason to be rebellious. It seems that she has the same affliction as her mother, whom is kept medicated to contain her inner beast. But being young and in love gives the character some edge. The cinematography of this picture is amazing, and sets the tone early. The acting, from the scared townsfolk to Marie’s poor schmuck of a father, is great, but this is young Sonia’s film. She is a marvelous actress, brave and visceral and at times, downright spooky.

Action & Adventure/Quirky

(2015, NR—hard “R”, 93 minutes, EPIC PICTURES GROUP)

Produced and written like a movie from the 1980’s, KID harkens back to the gratuitous gore and mayhem of that era with a gleeful indifference to reality and all that is serious about physics and the factual amount of blood contained in the human body. The story is about “The Kid” (“Degrassi” alum Munro Chambers), an orphan fending for himself in a post-apocalyptic world. He befriends The World’s Most Annoying Girl (the gorgeous and wonderfully unhinged Laurence Leboeuf), and then loses her to the local baddie, Zeus (Michael Ironside—another ‘80’s favorite, so he looks perfectly at home as the evil villain). The rest of the movie, which is chock-full of great movie references (there are several nods to BLADE RUNNER and ROBOCOP, not to mention half of the stupid Corey Haim “movies” of that bygone time), is all about bicycle chase scenes, Mortal Kombat-looking henchmen, and a plethora of new and interesting ways to cut people in half. Whatever you do, put on you fun cap and leave all seriousness behind when you watch this film. And always remember to carry your Gnomestick.



Oh, yes. This badass classic action film was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s first starring role outside of laying the smack down for WWE. The fact that he is paired with Stifler (Seann William Scott) and pitted against the awesome Christopher Walken seals the deal. Johnson plays a tough guy who works for a mob-type boss, who is assigned with fetching the boss’s son (Scott) from a small mining town in the Amazon. However, the town is run by the evil oppressor who owns the mine, and the people that work it. This film is funnier than it has any right to be; the chemistry between Johnson and Scott is palpable, and they play well off of each other. This is kind of like MIDNIGHT RUN IN THE JUNGLE, but with less swearing and more badassery (yes, that’s a word) (I just made it up, and it exists now, so shut it, lest I need to OPEN UP A CAN OF BADASSERY UPON YE). Johnson carries himself with enough confidence and comedic timing that there should have been no doubt that he was an instant movie star. And Walken…if you aren’t giggling when he brings up the tooth fairy, there is something wrong with your brain. Seriously, go get that thing checked out.

-- T.S. Kummelman

You guys have been a little slow, lately…no challenges?!? This is a lot easier than it sounds, kids; Netflix always throws some stupid sounding queues together for you (Quirky Lesbian Movies, Foreign Horror Comedies, etc), so think of something creative and make me hunt this stuff down! Otherwise, I’m binge watching “Arrow” for the next few weeks…

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

'Blu-ray or Bust' - SPOTLIGHT

'Blu-ray or Bust'

Question:  What do you get when you put The Hulk, Birdman, a time traveler’s wife, and Sabretooth all in the same film?

No, fellow geeks, it ain’t a Marvel movie—however it is one of the most powerful films of 2015 (as proven by winning the Academy Award for Best Picture on Sunday). SPOTLIGHT follows a team of reporters at the Boston Globe who, in January of 2002, published the story of how the Catholic Church in Boston covered up several (see: understatement) instances of priests molesting children. The incredible cast of this film is what sets it apart from other “newspaper-finds-the-truth” stories; that, and the efficient and damning job of writer/director Tom McCarthy (the man also responsible for the wonderful THE STATION AGENT—which is available on Netflix, just in case you are curious) (which you should be—if you still read the crap I write, it means you at least believe that I know what I’m talking about) (uh….right…).

The heavy subject matter is treated with a quiet, reserved respect, which it rightfully deserves. Molestation is a sensitive subject; add a priest to the mix, and you’ve got one majorly holy crap-fest. And while this is an important story, every aspect of which should be studied and read and pontificated upon, the performances by this incredible cast completely sell this tale.

Mark Ruffalo (“The Hulk”) gives an Oscar-worthy/you-should-take-acting-lessons-from-this-dude performance as passionate reporter Mike Rezendes, a guy that gives the word “tenacious” a new meaning. Michael Keaton plays “Robby”, the man in charge of the Spotlight division of the paper; his performance is more subdued than Ruffalo’s, but it grounds him to us in a different way. All of these actors do an amazing job of giving us normal people doing a normal job, even if the subject matter is most assuredly NOT normal. None of them have to be superheroes, none of them have to be egomaniacal bastards. They are just regular folks here, and it lends a documentary feeling to the proceedings, which makes everything that much more personable. Add Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, and Stanley Tucci to the cast, and you’ve got a masterful ensemble in one hell of a powerful film.

The special features give you an extra eleven to twelve minutes of viewing time, but only the first doc is necessary. In it, you get to meet the original reporters and editors behind the powerhouse story from the Globe. While this isn’t a whole lot of extra’s to get excited about, honestly, if you are looking for more, go on the Boston Globe’s website and read the original article, not to mention all of the follow-up articles written after the main story’s publication.

This is one of those films which reminds you that sometimes Hollywood can still tell a damn interesting story, one without superheroes or cops chasing down terrorists. Sometimes, the best heroes are the ones that work behind the scenes, and they all deserve movies just like this one.

Film Grade: A
Special Features: C
Blu-ray Necessary: Recommended, but not necessary

T.S. Kummelman