Friday, March 28, 2014

This post is recommended AFTER you have watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier, unless you don't mind spoilers.  So stop reading as you have been warned.  To read the below, just highlight the text below!

So let's start with the picture above.  If you're not familiar with that character, he's Baron Von Strucker who appears in the mid-credit scenes at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  He is not dressed like that, but he is a leader of Hydra, a former Nazi officer that is confirmed to be in Avengers 2.  He is believed to have survived through the ages with the same experiments that have kept Bucky around.

Not a really big secret but The Winter Soldier is Captain America's long presumed dead friend "Bucky" Barnes.  In the comic books, this story line was written by Ed Brubaker in 2005.  Bucky's memories was finally being restored by Captain America with the Cosmic Cube.  Whether this will happen in the movies remains to be seen.

Agent 13, Captain America's neighbor who was sent by Nick Fury to guard him, is named as Sharon towards the end of the movie by Natasha.  If you remember in her first scene when she's heading down for her laundry, she was talking to her aunt.  Her aunt is Peggy Carter, making her Sharon Carter, a key character in the world of Captain America comic books.  She eventually becomes a love interest of Captain in the comic books, so it'll be interesting to see if they do so as well in the future.

As also part of the mid-credit scene mentioned before with Von Strucker, we see two young adults (or older teens if you prefer) imprisoned using their powers.  The speedster is Quicksilver and the one levitating objects is his sister Scarlet Witch.  Of course in the comic books they are children of Magneto.  But with Fox Studios having the rights to X-Men and mutants, the duo is explained by Von Strucker as survivors of an explosion.  An explosion presumably an experiment to make super humans?  Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in the comic books do join the Avengers at different periods of the team history.  It'll be interesting to see what role they have in Avengers 2 of which they're slated to appear.  It'll also be interesting to see if Marvel will explore Quicksilver's rather odd over protecting of Scarlet Witch, which you might even call an unhealthy infatuation.

Regarding Sam Wilson, the Falcon, his origin in the comic books is vastly different from the movie.  He has no military training in the comic books, but rather meets Steve Rogers on an island and receives training from Steve to be a fighter against some Nazi supporters that are backed by the Red Skull.  In the comic books, Sam also has a Falcon named Red Wing with whom he develops a type of psychic bond with fighting crime together.  Created by Stan Lee, he was the first African American super hero, with the Black Panther being the first African super hero.

Towards the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we see S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who turned out to be a HYDRA double agent Brock Rumlow taken away in a stretcher with all sorts of his damage to his body.  Expect him to return in a future movie as the trigger happy villain Crossbones.  In the comic books, his training is from the super villain Taskmaster, and becomes a mercenary that eventually joins the Red Skull.  In the comic books he also eventually has a relationship with the equally sadistic daughter of the Red Skull, Sin.  I wonder if she'll make an appearance in an upcoming movie if it includes Crossbones.

Finally, the after credit scenes shows the Winter Soldier visiting the Smithsonian which has the Captain America display shown earlier in the movie.  I actually missed this as I didn't stick around after the mid-credit scene.  I am told he's looking over the display of him as Bucky along with the information about Captain America and himself.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Opens Friday, March 28, 2014 
1 hr 49 min
R | for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use


David Ayer

Arnold Schwarzenegger as John “Breacher” Wharton
Sam Worthington as James "Monster" Murray
Olivia Williams as Investigator Caroline Brentwood
Mireille Enos as Lizzy Murray
Terrence Howard as Julius "Sugar" Edmonds
Joe Manganiello as Joe "Grinder" Phillips
Josh Holloway as Eddie "Neck" Jordan
Harold Perrineau as Jackson
Martin Donovan as Floyd Morgan
Max Martini as Tom "Pyro" Roberts
Gary Grubbs as Lou Cantrell

Review by Stephen M.

While most of Arnold Schwarzenegger's movies since his return have been subpar, Sabotage is by far his best work thus far since his split from his wife.  While the movie itself is full of too many plot twists that makes it a convoluted mess that only a DEA agent high on drugs would understand.  Arnold is great in his role as John "Breacher" Wharton, a leader of a special ops team that infiltrates drug cartels.  His past is full of misery which you get a glimpse of in the beginning and is slowly unraveled painfully over the course of the movie.

His team is full of rather unique personalities that are more befitting of pro wrestlers than a stealth team of agents.  Among them includes James "Monster" Murray (Sam Worthington), his girl Lizzy Murray (Mireille Enos) and a few other colorful faces.  John, James, Lizzy, and Joe (Joe Manganiello) gets most of the face time on the screen and they do an excellent job playing dysfunctional and angry.  And why wouldn't the special ops team be this way?  They're accused of stealing $10 million dollars from the drug cartel and their team is getting killed one by one.

Investigating the murders are Government agents Caroline (Olivia Williams) and Jackson (Harold Perrineau).   And while we get to see Olivia's character quite a bit, perhaps too much, Harold and even Terrence Howard's characters become trivial to the overall plot which is a shame.  Olivia is great in her quite bloody role and even at Arnold's age need a bit of romance being the main character I guess.  But with all the great actors what steals the show is of course the gun fight.  Most impressive is the battle in pursuing cars between Arnold and the revealed killers of his team.

Overall, I would recommend this film if you like action.  But catch it as a matinee or wait for it as a DVD rental.  There are just too many holes in the story that you can't even fit in all the pieces but to blame it on drugs.  And that's kind of exactly what the Director did.  The movie is also not for anybody that can't stand a lot of gruesome bloody messes or sexual situations of which there are plenty in the movie.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Opens April 4, 2014 
2 hr 15 min
PG-13 | Gunplay, Intense Sequences of Violence and Action Throughout


Anthony Russo
Joe Russo

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Sebastian Stan as James "Bucky" Barnes / Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter / Agent 13
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

Review by Stephen M.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows that sequels can be as good as their predecessor, even when the predecessor had set a high bar.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier is full of non stop action, with the return of many of the familiar S.H.I.E.L.D. characters from Avengers as well the addition of Sam Wilson, The Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

Set shortly after the Avengers movie, Steve Rogers, Captain America (Chris Evans) is still adjusting to life after being defrosted.  He meets Sam Wilson while jogging around the Reflecting Pool in Washington D.C.  Their banter is among some of the best lines in the movie.  Captain America, is summoned for a special ops mission that involves notorious laughable Marvel villain Batroc the Leaper (George St. Pierre).  George with his MMA background looks great as Batroc.  His character does a great job in giving Captain a challenge, but as we learn later there is more to this mission than Nick Fury is letting on.  Later, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) learns of an infiltration of the S.H.I.E.L.D. ranks via a vicious ambush that leaves him for dead.  The antagonist of the film, Senator Alexander Pierce who is among the leaders of S.H.I.E.L.D. has his own agenda that may not be in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s best interest.  The group that attacked Samuel L. Jackson's top assassin is a blast in the past in the form of The Winter Soldier.

If you've read the comic books than you already know who The Winter Soldier is.  When Steve Rogers pulls the mask off of him, his reaction is just priceless.  The battle scenes between The Winter Soldier and Captain America are just incredible.  Falcon whom I normally have taken as a weaker character among the Marvel super heroes looks great in the movie as does the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as usual.  I'm a bit surprised that Life Model Decoys wasn't used in this movie especially with what happened to Nick Fury.  LMDs in Marvel Comics are androids imitating the actual person as to keep the person safe.  I do love what they did with Arnim Zola.  If you recall he was the scientist working for the Red Skull in the first movie.

Overall, I would highly recommend this film.  I thought it was as good if not better than the first film.  Another favorite scene of mines is the fight scene in the elevator between Rogers and a ton of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.  It's scenes like those that make the film great.  As with all Marvel films, be sure to stay for the end credits where you'll get a glimpse at (SPOILER)... Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch which will be in the Avengers 2: Age of Ultron movie!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Opens March 21, 2014 
1 hr 36 min
R | Brief Drug Content, Some Strong Violence and Language


Director: Josh C. Waller

David Morse as Eugene "Mack" McCanick
Cory Monteith as Simon Weeks
Mike Vogel as Floyd Intrator
Rachel Nichols as Amy Intrator
Trevor Morgan as Louis
Aaron Yoo as Carl
Tracie Thoms as Sister Alice

Ciarán Hinds as Quinn

Review by Robert R.

This day ought to have been the best in Detective Eugene Wellington 'Mack' McCanick's [David Morse] life. It's his birthday and tonight he'll be meeting his estranged son to patch things up and cement their relationship. And the neighborhood dry cleaner has agreed to do him a major solid and clean the suit on very short notice and refuses payment. New day, new beginnings! What could possibly go wrong?

His captain and friend, Quinn [Ciaran Hinds], announces his birthday to the squad congratulates him and warns that a cop should not get killed on his birthday. But on McCanick's desk is an envelope that would suck him into a maelstrom of panic, despair and paranoia. A street hustler and male prostitute, Simon Weeks [Cory Monteith], had been paroled three months ago after being framed for the murder of Congressman Langley. He is now out there somewhere and he knows something that McCanick wants no one else to know. So, ignoring the advice of his captain to leave it alone, Mack goes rogue with his unsuspecting partner, Floyd Intrator [Mike Vogel] in tow. He spins a thick web of lies to his partner that Weeks is the worst kind of perp who must be stopped - he is a rapist, small-time gangster, and murderer. 

Things fall apart quickly and, in a tragic mix up while chasing a shooter, Mack gravely wounds his partner and plummets deeper into the hell he has created. He must find and silence Weeks who he publicly blames for his partner's shooting. Now, nothing else matters - he leaves an apologetic message to his son - and the hunt is on. Mack wounds Weeks and chases him throughout Philadelphia cornering him in a mechanic's shop. In this confrontation, Mack is faced with his own responsibility and takes action.

This is a taut, gripping film, written by Daniel Noah and directed by Josh C. Waller, told in a series of flashbacks with David Morse doing a masterful job in the lead. It is truly unfortunate that this was Cory Monteith's last movie as it was a solid mature role for an actor who had been playing a teenager for almost five years in the series, Glee. Tracie Thoms, from Cold Case and who will be seen in Annie, appears as Sister Alice and Rachel Nichols, from Criminal Minds and Looper, is Amy Intrator.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Opens Friday, March 21, 2014 
2 hr 20 min
PG-13 | some sensuality, intense violence and action and thematic elements


Neil Burger

Shailene Woodley as Beatrice "Tris" Prior
Theo James as Tobias "Four" Eaton
Ansel Elgort as Caleb Prior
Ray Stevenson as Marcus Eaton
Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews
Zoë Kravitz as Christina
Maggie Q as Tori
Mekhi Phifer as Max
Jai Courtney as Eric
Miles Teller as Peter
Ben Lamb as Edward
Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Will
Christian Madsen as Al
Tony Goldwyn as Andrew Prior
Ashley Judd as Natalie Prior
Amy Newbold as Molly Atwood
Justine Wachsberger as Lauren

Review by Stephen M.

I've never read the book Divergent, but you can't help but draw similarities to Hunger Games.  From the factions (districts) to the social messages, to even the young female lead with chubby cheeks (Shailene Woodley), there's a sense that this was brought to the screen for the Hunger Games fans.  Of course all that was missing was kids killing kids, and they do try some of that in Divergent.

While Divergent is entertaining, parts of the movie does drag.  Especially when she finds out that she's special, or Divergent.  But just what does that mean?  Now if you have seen the trailers, from the way that they talk, you would figure there's a lot to being Divergent.  Like perhaps they have special powers.  Or at least that's what I thought.  And even during the film, there are several instances in which you would think, okay, here's the part where she does something special, only to be disappointed.  I won't explain exactly what it means to be Divergent, but let's just say, most of us not in the movie have it.

The movie centers around Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) who is a Divergent, whose parents are a member of the social workers faction (Abnegation) that runs the Government.  There are four other factions that include the Dauntless that is the police of the people, a lawyers type faction (Candor), a peaceful working class (Amity) and techies or book smart faction (Erudite).  While the movie is a coming of age movie for Beatrice as she joins Dauntless over her parents faction Abnegation.  Things come to a head when the leadership of the government held by Abnegation is challenged by another faction.

Overall, I would recommend watching this film, especially if you're a fan of the book just to see the characters come alive.  Maggie Q as Tori though a small role, is amazing.  I also love the lead Shailene even if she does remind me so much of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.  I would have love to hear more back story to the world that they live in.  Like what war led to most of the world being devastated.  You can't help but think this could have been a prequel to the Hunger Games with the Districts early on before there was a Hunger Games.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Muppets Most Wanted
Opens March 21, 2014 
1 hr 46 min
PG | Some Mild Action


Director: James Bobin

Ricky Gervais as Dominic Badguy
Ty Burrell as Jean Pierre Napoleon
Tina Fey as Nadya

List of Muppets:
Steve Whitmire as Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Statler, Lips, Link Hogthrob, The Newsman
Eric Jacobson as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle
Dave Goelz as Gonzo the Great, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Waldorf, Zoot, Beauregard
Bill Barretta as Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth, Pepe the King Prawn, The Swedish Chef, Bobo the Bear, Big Mean Carl, Baby Boss, Carlo Flamingo, Leprechaun Security Guard
David Rudman as Scooter, Janice, Bobby Benson, Wayne, Miss Poogy
Matt Vogel as Floyd Pepper, Robin the Frog, Camilla the Chicken, Crazy Harry, Lew Zealand, Sweetums, '80s Robot, Pops, Uncle Deadly, Constantine the Frog
Peter Linz as Walter, Manolo Flamingo

Louise Gold as Annie Sue

Review by Stephen M.

Beginning with the opening song from the sequel about their sequel, it's quite fitting that the Muppets would remark themselves that sequels are usually not as good as the original.  Muppets Most Wanted lacks the ingenuity of the first film with less laughs and songs that would make most Muppets cry.  Perhaps my expectations were too high given how I grew up with Kermit and his friends and liked the last film.

The switching of places between two lookalikes have been done to death many times.  This time around we have Kermit and the evil Constantine mirroring each other aside from a mole on Constantine.  With Kermit thrown into a gulag prison in Siberia mistaken for Constantine, Constantine as Kermit leads the merry band on a world tour with their tour manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) who is in cahoots with Constantine.

All the familiar characters are in the sequel including newbie Walter.  And as Rizzo the Rat likes to point out, long time favorites such as himself missing from the first film are in this sequel as well.  Cameos of stars are quite abundant in this film, from Diddy and Gaga to Tony Bennett.  None is funnier than seeing a line dancing Danny Trejo in prison doing a show number.  My favorite song of the film?  The duet between Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty  Burrell) and Sam the Eagle when interrogating the Muppets.

Overall, the film was a bit of a letdown for me.  Kids will still love the film, but old hardcore Muppets fan like myself might not.  It's not so much that the film was horrendous but rather not quite as good as the first film.  Like the Muppets themselves without anyone controlling them, the film was a bit stiff against lively performances by Tina, Ricky and Ty.  But even the three stars in my opinion was not quite as hilarious as Jack in the first film.


Monday, March 17, 2014

I am giving away a Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club Tote Bag filled with the following goodies:

Vino2Go cup

Nail File with a back mirror
Chocolate Bar
Hand Wipe Pack
Film poster
XL T-Shirt

Here's how you enter:
1. Follow us on Facebook if you don't already here.
2. Leave a comment on each of the following three movie review posts. When commenting please include your Facebook name so I can find you more easily if you win.  Please leave meaningful comments.  The more creative, the better your chances!  Be nice though.

Contest ends March 20th Midnight ET.  US Residents Only.  If you have won one of our contests within the last 30 days, sorry but you do not qualify for this giveaway. 

Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz
1 hr 24 mins


Kieran Parker

Bryan Larkin as Dolokhov
Iván Kamarás as Fyodor
Michael McKell as Strasser
Velibor Topic as Arkadi
Laurence Possa as Osakin
Ben Lambert as Rogers
Alec Utgoff as Kostya
Vince Docherty as Klotz
Gareth Morrison as Potrovsky
Leo Horsfield as The Surgeon

Vivien Taylor as The Nurse

Review by Stephen M.

Outpost Rise of the Spetsnaz which is the third film in a trilogy of Nazi Zombie action horror shows us the origins of the zombies.  I have never seen the first two films, but enjoyed the action albeit very gruesomeness of the third one.  The actors especially the lead Bryan Larkin as Dolokhov, leader of the Spetsnaz squad does an excellent job flexing his muscles and taking Nazis out.

While I like the action in the film I do not get why they call them zombies.  Perhaps it's to jump on the Walking Dead bandwagon.  But aside from a few zombie attributes that we normally associate with them for a few, they're more super soldier rejects than zombies.  Tongue in cheek joke of the experiments is the American soldier they meet in the Nazi prison named Rogers.  He even goes to joke they should call him Captain.  This of course refers to Captain America whose civilian name is Steve Rogers.   A few of the Nazi genetic experiments do look like zombies, and the "hound" and a couple of others seem to have an appetite for ripping/biting at the flesh.  Some however look more like bloated heads atop of a bodybuilder's body.  And despite their double or even triple the size of their Spetsnaz opponents, they are more often easily taken out than you would expect.

Overall, I would recommend watching this DVD.  There are quite a bit to enjoy, from the beginning ambush scene to Dolokhov going through Nazis like Rambo would.  While there are some scary scenes, they are far and few in between to call this a horror film.  It is more action than horror which is actually fine by me.


Bad Words
Opens March 14, 2014 (Limited, Expanding 3/28)
1 hr 29 min
R | Language, Crude and Sexual Content and Brief Nudity


Director: Jason Bateman

Jason Bateman as Guy Trilby
Allison Janney as Dr. Bernice Deagan
Kathryn Hahn as Jenny Widgeon
Rachael Harris as Eric Tai's Mother
Ben Falcone as Pete Fowler
Judith Hoag as Petal Dubois
Beth Grant as Irene
Philip Baker Hall
Patricia Belcher as Ingrid
Rohan Chand as Chaitainya
Anjul Nigam as Sriram
Michael Patrick McGill as Beet-Red Father
Bob Stephenson as Bill Murhoff
Steve Witting as Proctor
Greg Cromer as Jeremy

Review by Terence H.

A much more comically mature Jason Bateman stars in his own directorial debut movie Bad Words. In the film it seems an easy task for him to make an ordinarily boring and mundane series of events into the hilarious. With the help of child actor Rohan Chand (Chaitanya Chopra), he makes it unexpected, fun, and elusive at the same time. This spelling bee savant set out on a journey to exact revenge in his later years for a misdeed done to him in his past.

Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) is a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of a respected national spelling bee. Guy creates chaos as he tears thru the spelling bee competitions consisting of pre-teens along with their angry parent, and spelling bee officials. Tabloid reporter, Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn), makes numerous attempts to discover his true reasons for the deeds that he is committing. During his journey, he meets a young East Indian contestant who he corrupts in a manner that only can be compared to Bad Grandpa. Guy exposes Chaitanya to the offbeat, wilder side of life.

Overall, the reason I enjoyed this film is that I love the characters, and the underline heart felt tone. Although we have seen Bateman in many comedies in the past, this film has a much more moralistic tone, which was balanced out with some hilariously perfect moments. That being said, it’s one of the films to see this year for good laughs.


Sunday, March 16, 2014


Limited release March 7th, 2014, releases on DVD March 18th, 2014
1 hr 37 mins


Directors: Todd Burrows, Christopher Folino


Chase Williamson as Ian Sparks
Ashley Bell as Lady Heavenly
Clancy Brown as Archer
Jake Busey as Sledge
William Katt as Matanza
Marina Squerciati as Dawn
Clint Howard as Gordon Eldridge
Scott Rinker as Mr. Docherty (as Scott Allen Rinker)
David Sobolov as Jason Driver
Larry Cedar as Mr. Prather
Esteban Cueto as Cain
Dave Hanson as Blasini
Stephen Kearin as Concierge
Jeremy Rowley as Orson
Austin Michael Coleman as Teenage Sparks
Chase Johnston as Young Sparks

Review by Stephen M.

Sparks - The Origin of Ian Sparks is the type of movie that you cannot judge by the cover.  Despite the goofy costumes which you assume is expected from a low budget film.  Sparks delivers a solid and original super heroes noir which you don't get too often.  In comparisons to bigger blockbusters like Wanted or the Watchmen, story wise as well as setting, the movie more than hold its own against the big names.  Like those films, Sparks is also based on a comic book, written by Christopher Folino published by indie company Catastrophic Comics.

As you can tell from the title, the story is all about Ian Sparks (Chase Williamson).  Seemingly a regular guy with no powers, he takes it upon himself to put on a costume and fight crime after his parents are killed.  Very reminisce of a little bit of Batman and Kick-Ass, he actually does fairly well for himself and even gaining a partner in the lovely Lady Heavenly (Ashely Bell).  They get in way over their head when confronting a serial killer Mantanza (William Katt) that has a mysterious past that ties to them unknowingly.

Not to give too much away, but Sparks goes from hero to pimp to murderer pretty quickly as he hits rock bottom.  But not all is as it seems when blinded by vengeance for the death of his parents and then later by what he learns about a particular day when he and Lady Heavenly faces off against Mantanza in which he blacks out.  Despite hitting rock bottom, there is a road to redemption, as Sparks learns a little more about his origin as the story goes along and his "powers."

Overall, I would recommend this DVD.  It won't blow you away as far as effects or costumes.  But the CGI adds a nice effect and feel to the film, contributing to that noir look.  The acting is relatively top notched starting with Chase Williamson and throughout most of the supporting cast.  The only gripe I would have is with the film going back and forth between present and past and even further in the past, it can be hard to keep up with at times.  Still there is enough here to enjoy especially if you're fans of this genre.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Veronica Mars the movie is out this weekend and you can win the movie DVD and a cool Neptune, CA Trucker Hat courtesy of Warner Brothers.

About the movie:
On the eve of graduating law school, Veronica Mars has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her. While interviewing at high-end New York law firms, Veronica Mars gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan who has been accused of murder. Veronica heads back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney, but when things don't seem right with how Logan's case is perceived and handled, Veronica finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.

About how the film got made:
Following a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that ended on April 12, 2013, Veronica Mars was shot over 23 days during June-July 2013. It will be released in selected theaters nationwide on March 14th, 2014.

Read our review here -

Here's how to win!

1. Tweet about this contest using the hashtag #VeronicaMarsMovie and @geekwithmak
2. Comment in our above review of the Veronica Mars movie your favorite Veronica Mars TV episode or if you have never watched the TV series, your favorite TV series growing up.
3. Take the Veronica Mars Purity Test Marshmallow Super-Fan Trivia below and post your results in the comments section below.  Please when commenting use your real name in the comments along with your Facebook name if it is different.

Thanks for entering.  The contest will end on March 28th Midnight ET, with the winner selected March 29th in the morning.  Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  All prize packs will ship after the DVD release date ETA May 2014.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Veronica Mars
Opens March 14, 2014 
1 hr 48 min
PG-13 | violence, drug content, some strong language and sexuality including references


Director: Rob Thomas

Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars
Jason Dohring as Logan Echolls
Krysten Ritter as Gia Goodman
Ryan Hansen as Dick Casablancas
Francis Capra as Eli "Weevil" Navarro
Percy Daggs III as Wallace Fennel
Chris Lowell as Stosh "Piz" Piznarski
Tina Majorino as Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie
Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars
Ken Marino as Vinnie Van Lowe
Max Greenfield as Leo D'Amato
Andrea Estella as Bonnie DeVille/Carrie Bishop
Sam Huntington as Luke Haldeman
Christine Lakin as Susan Knight
Amanda Noret as Madison Sinclair
Daran Norris as Cliff McCormack
Duane Daniels as Principal Van Clemmons
Brandon Hillock as Deputy Sacks
Jonathan Chesner as Corny
Kevin Sheridan as Sean Friedrich
Martin Starr as Lou "Cobb" Cobbler
Gaby Hoffmann as Ruby Jetson
Jerry O'Connell as Sheriff Dan Lamb
Justin Long as Drunken Wingman

James Franco as himself

Review by Stephen M.

Veronica Mars the movie brings back the whole gang and then some as the dedicated fans turned out in force on to fund it.  While I never watched a complete episode of Veronica Mars, I did enjoy the movie despite missing the inside jokes when they reference certain things from the show and only a tenth of the audience laughs.  The recap of the overall series in the beginning is a nice touch leading to the present as she interviews to be a big time lawyer in New York away from Neptune, California.  But of course you can never stay far from home for long as she receives a call from an old boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring).

What I particularly enjoyed about the movie is the well written mystery that keeps you on your toes as to who committed the crime.  As you would expect the mystery goes deeper and even further back, but that's part of the fun as Veronica (Kristen Bell) puts it together.  But unless you follow the TV series previously, keeping up with all the characters that they initially throw at you can be daunting.  Most of the original cast members from the TV series appear in the movie in their original roles.  Guest cameos Justin Long and James Franco provide extra comic relief, especially on the part of James as he admirably never seems to be bothered at being the butt end of a joke.  Jerry O'Connell plays Sheriff Dan Lamb which is the brother of a character that died previously in the TV series.  His performance or character is the only exception to the otherwise talented cast.  Maybe it's just the sleaziness of his character, which in that case he did a stupendous job acting.

One of the gripes I have with the movie is the approach it takes with the romance in the movie.  It seemed to have taken a back seat to the overall story but still stick its head out every so often though not contributing to the story meaningfully.  The scene where Veronica jumps into the arms of her old love interest while a family member lies precariously in a hospital is just... unreal.

Overall, I would recommend watching it though you may want to do so as a matinee.  While entertaining, the story tends to wanders a bit with so many characters and locations the Director wants to cover from the TV series.  I love the humor of the series especially the reference to Hellmouth by Veronica which stems from their fellow CW series Buffy.  As with that and other references, the show is made for a particular audience which is its fans.  And if you're not one of those die hard fans, this movie may be just average for you.


Are you a fan of Veronica Mars TV series? If not, what show(s) did you grow up watching?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Need for Speed
Opens Friday, March 14, 2014 
2 hr 4 min
PG-13 | Disturbing Crash Scenes, Crude Language, Nudity and Seq. of Reckless Street Racing


Scott Waugh

Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall
Dominic Cooper as Dino Brewster
Imogen Poots as Julia Maddon
Ramón Rodríguez as Joe Peck
Michael Keaton as Monarch
Scott Mescudi as Benny
Rami Malek as Finn
Dakota Johnson as Anita
Harrison Gilbertson as Pete

Review by Stephen M.

Need for Speed is no Fast & Furious and thank God for that.  With only one insane car stunt in the form of the grasshopper, Need for Speed relies heavily on character development and slick car races to stand itself out despite not having the big names of Fast & Furious.  The version I was able to see was in 3-D which only added depth to the movie but not so much as things flying towards you type of 3-D.

Aaron Paul who plays the lead Tobey Marshall is framed for a dear friend's death.  After some jail time he's is out for revenge and looks to bring back his crew as he goes cross country to enter a secret street race run by the reclusive Monarch (Michael Keaton).  While I keep picturing Aaron Paul as Batman with his deep voice, you can't help but be impressive by his performance.  Especially alongside Imogen Poots (Julia) who is cute in many ways as the eventual romantic interest to Tobey.  Most of Tobey's crew while having great scenes here and there fails to capture your attention for any long lengths.  Michael Keaton comes alive as you would imagine him as Beetlejuice showing that the aging actor still many more life in him.

The big star of the film is undoubtedly the rare Carroll Shelby designed Ford Mustang that Toby flies in.  (There is a scene where it's literally in the air!)  The Beast as well as all the other cars are amazing and have a life of their own in the movie.  Any car enthusiast would salivate in seeing these rare cars like the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento in action.

Overall, I would recommend this film.  The movie starts off a bit slow.  The dialogue seems very casual and unrehearsed at times.  But aside from these two points I cannot find much fault with the film.  I like the chemistry between Aaron and Imogen's characters.  I also like Aaron struggles from dealing with survival of his father's business to his friend's death and revenge.  There is a little bit of everything for everyone.


The Cold Lands
Opens March 14, 2014 (Limited, NY)
1 hr 41 min


Director: Tom Gilroy

Silas Yelich as Atticus
Lili Taylor as Nicole
Peter Scanavino as Carter
John Ventimiglia as Jackson
Tom Gilroy as Tom
Trace Henderson as Addison
Maggie Low as Maggie
Brian McCormack as Richard

Review by Robert R.

The Cold Lands is about a boy, Atticus, [Silas Yelich] and his mother, Nicole, [Lili Taylor] set in the bucolic Catskills region.  If it had been told in any other format - book or campfire tale - it most certainly would have been introduced with the words 'Once upon a time...' for it is essentially a fairy tale. This family lives off the land on the edge of the wilderness and cheerfully forages through other families' detritus for items that may be re-purposed. They will refuse no refuse that they can reuse. 

One foray yields items that Atticus can use to build a hive while his mother retrieves discarded 35mm transparencies to be used for the family's 'TV' night; on another Nicole does a slow roll by a neighbor's pile while Atticus leans out and does a quick inventory. The setting appears to be idyllic, but all is not well as you soon realize that this is a family perched precariously on the edge. The family is desperately poor. Nicole splits the pills required for her illness and thus imperils her life. There is no electricity in the house so she takes all the electronics with her to recharge at her after hours job cleaning offices. A neighbor, despite Nicole's protestations, brings food over for the family. All is not well in paradise.

Later when returning from a friend's birthday party, Atticus sees an ambulance in front of his home, hears the neighbor speak of his mother in the past tense ['She had a son.'] and realizes that he is now on his own. This begins his odyssey through the cold lands where he eventually meets up with Carter [Peter Scanavino], a slacker who almost immediately loses his latest job. The two drift around aimlessly as Carter enlists Atticus in his plan to score by making jewelry to be sold at county fair.

This is a beautifully shot movie with the upstate Catskills region as the main character. The family cat, Archie, who purrs as loudly [almost] as a Harley Davidson as he prowls around the house, is adorable. The sounds of nature - the trill of the birds, the gurgling of a brook, the hoot of owls - exquisite. In one scene, after the battery in the lamp in the house dies, Atticus with Archie in tow continues the song he has been practicing on the trombone as walks outside into the wilderness. His performance is greeted enthusiastically by the wolves, coyotes and other wildlife prompting Atticus to beat a hasty retreat after securing Archie. In his lone encounter with fauna, Atticus encounters a doe that allows him to pet her.  

If this were a travelogue, it would be spectacular. Unfortunately, with the death of Nicole, the movie meanders aimlessly as if in search of a solution. Solid, but sadly minor performances were turned in by Nick Sandow, who has had a number of turns in Law and Order and other TV series, as the foreman at the country club; and John Ventimiglia [Sopranos, Mickey Blue Eyes] who has a small role as Jackson.

Overall, I would recommend waiting for this on Netflix or Hulu.  If you can't wait it is out in limited release in New York beginning tomorrow.