Thursday, August 28, 2014


Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Released August 22nd, 2014
1 hr 42 mins
Rated R
Post Noir, Crime Thriller

Trailer:

Director: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller

Cast:
Mickey Rourke as Marv
Jessica Alba as Nancy Callahan
Josh Brolin as Dwight McCarthy
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny
Rosario Dawson as Gail
Bruce Willis as John Hartigan
Eva Green as Ava Lord
Powers Boothe as Senator Roark
Dennis Haysbert as Manute
Ray Liotta as Joey
Christopher Meloni as Mort
Jeremy Piven as Bob
Christopher Lloyd as Kroenig
Jaime King as Goldie and Wendy
Juno Temple as Sally
Stacy Keach as Wallenquist
Marton Csokas as Damien Lord
Jude Ciccolella as Liebowitz
Jamie Chung as Miho
Julia Garner as Marcy
Lady Gaga as Bertha
Alexa Vega as Gilda
Crystal McCahill

Review by Stephen M.

There comes a time when you come across a film and wish you haven't wasted time watching it.  Sin City: A Dame to Kill For unfortunately fits this bill.  While I've never seen the first film or read the comic books, the movie does nothing for me.  Jumping from story to story, with each story as unfulfilling as the next one, every time the screen fades to black you're hoping the film has ended.




The movie is filled with a star studded cast that any Director would be envious of.  While the acting is great, from the likes of Jessica Alba as Nancy to Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, the story that they've signed on to act out is anything but great.   The only thing that keeps you awake is the stunning ladies including Eva Green and the occasional bone breaking or gunshot noise.  The action however is obviously comic-like, perhaps a bit too much.  For example the stunning Jaime Chung as Miho slicing up opponents look more like the app game Fruit Ninja.



The three stories intertwined somewhat and I guess watching the first one would have helped considering the numerous references to the past by the characters in the film.  Of the three stories I enjoyed Johnny's the most.  Watching him trying to triumph over Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) was the most interesting of the lot but broken up to pieces with a quite unsatisfying ending that made the story kind of pointless.  My least favorite would be a tie between the other two.  Eva's character is bad, and not in a wicked way, even though she apparently is.  While Nancy's transformation to Marvel's Typhoid Mary is downright bizarre given the short time frame with the character.


Overall, I really did not enjoy the film.  The movie starts off bizarrely with Marv (Mickey Rourke) incoherent and lost in his surroundings like the viewers and does not get any better.  Perhaps it would have been better to watch the first one first, but seeing what a mess the second one was, I am in no hurry to see the original.  The movie gets one star because it features Jessica Alba as Nancy dancing it up on the stage and another half because I enjoyed Johnny's story up to a point. Rating: 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The November Man
Releases August 27th, 2014
1 hr 48 mins
Rated R
Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller

Trailer:


Director: Roger Donaldson

Cast:
Pierce Brosnan as Peter Devereaux/The November man
Luke Bracey as David Mason
Olga Kurylenko as Alice Fournier
Bill Smitrovich as Hanley
Amila Terzimehić as Alexa
Lazar Ristovski as President Arkady Fedorov
Mediha Musliovic as Natalia Ulanova
Eliza Taylor as Sarah
Caterina Scorsone as Celia
Akie Kotabe as Myers
Will Patton as Perry Weinstein
Patrick Kennedy as Edgar Simpson
Dragan Marinkovic as Denisov
Ben Willens as Agent Jones

Review by Stephen M.

Growing up, Pierce Bronson was hands down my favorite James Bond.  Hearing about this movie, a spy thriller with Bronson as the lead had me excited to watch this.  While it's great to see an aged Bronson back in these type of movies, The November Man hurts my head when you try to think about the plot or multiple subplots.  Fairly predictable, the forced rivalries and mindless clues makes you long for GoldenEye or any of his other Bond films.


The movie starts out with a security mission gone awry when a child is killed.  Agent Devereaux (Pierce Bronson) blames his protege Agent Mason (Luke Bracey) on making the situation worse than it should have in his mind.  One retires and the other continues.  Fast forward many years and Devereaux is called back into action to retrieve someone in the employ of a powerful Russian politician, Arkady Fedorov, who's running for Russian presidency.  Things go bad, and the story gets amazingly convoluted from here.  The director fails to pick a direction, and instead we have multiple subplots going on at the same time that doesn't fit well together.  The biggest one is the perceived grudge between Mason and Devereaux that quickly tumbles to an all out war, and for what?


While Luke Bracey does a decent job as the next young action hero, he lacks the personality to be "the" star.  Olga Kurylenko as Alice Fournier continues to impress and not with just her pretty face.  I also enjoyed the presence of Amila Terzimehić as assassin Alexa.  I would have loved to see her in more action sequences.  The looks she gives you from the screen sends chills down my spine.  As far as the action overall, there is plenty of it.  From car chase scenes to gun fights including a lot of gruesome head shots if you're into that.  My favorite scene involves dialogue between Devereaux and his old friend Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) where he talks about having his hand so far up the butt of Fedorov, that he's moving his lips.


Overall, I would wait for this one on Netflix unless you're really missing out on Pierce Bronson in an action film.  It has the feel of a James Bond film, due to him being in it, with a calm and cool spy type character.  But there's just too much other stuff going on in the film that doesn't hold water that will have you scratching your head.  This film could be said that it's a passing of a torch from Bronson to a younger star, but as I said before, Bracey just isn't there yet.

Rating: 

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Batman: Assault on Arkham

Released digitally July 29th and on DVD/Blu-Ray August 12th, 2014
1 hr 16 mins
Not Rated

Trailer:



Director: Jay Oliva, Ethan Spaulding


Cast:

Kevin Conroy - Batman / Bruce Wayne
Neal McDonough - Deadshot / Floyd Lawton
Hynden Walch - Harley Quinn / Dr. Harleen Quinzel
Matthew Gray Gubler - Riddler / Edward Nygma
Troy Baker - Joker
C.C.H. Pounder - Amanda Waller
Greg Ellis - Captain Boomerang / George Harkness
Giancarlo Esposito - Black Spider / Eric Needham
John DiMaggio - King Shark
Jennifer Hale - Killer Frost / Louise Lincoln
Nolan North - KGBeast / Anatoly Knyazev, Oswald Cobblepot / Penguin
Eric Bauza - Security Guy
Chris Cox - Commissioner James Gordon
Martin Jarvis - Alfred Pennyworth
Peter Jessop - Watch Commander
Christian Lanz - Scarecrow / Jonathan Crane
Andrea Romano - Woman
Travis Willingham - Morgue Guy
Mick Wingert - Joker Security Guy

Review by Stephen M.



Batman: Assault on Arkham follows on the tails of Son of Batman as a direct to video release by DC Comics well known for their animation movies.  We get Kevin Conroy returning as the Bat, who has a long history playing him in the animated television series as well as various animated movies.  But despite the title, and appearances by Batman, this movie is all about Task Force X aka the Suicide Squad.



Task Force X or Suicide Squad if you're not familiar with them is a black ops team created by Amanda Waller comprising of super villains pressed to service against their will in the hopes of reduced sentence time.  If they refuse or go awol, nano explosives in their necks go boom.  Since DC Comics can't go off killing the likes of Lex Luthor or the Joker for an extended time at least, the roster usually consists of C list villains that you wouldn't miss too much.  The most well known in this lot would be Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch) so you never expect her to be in any real danger.




The animation, acting and overall story line is quite average.  Not particularly bad, but nothing to write home about either.  The main character, if you can call him that is surprisingly Deadshot (Neal McDonough).  He's led the team in the comic books on several occasion, but in this incarnation, has a new costume that reminds me of his roots.  Not much is given to his background or any of the other characters.  And from that you don't build any bond with the characters.  What makes the comic book and concept great is that you have these different villains thrown together against their will, each with their ego and own agenda.  Because of this, you know conflict in the group is inevitable but fun to watch as well.  But at the end of the day, some will die and some will bond due to mutual hatred of their jailer.  Assault on Arkham completely misses the point on this as yes, it does become a free for all, but the mutual comradery is overall skipped over.


Overall, unless you're a big Suicide Squad fan, I would skip this until you can catch it for free.  There are just better DC Comics animations out there.  The movie is not without its bright spots and moments.  For example, I love the scene where Deadshot has to subdue Harley at the prison when she comes across the Joker's cell.  But a rather predictable story line and unimpressive voice acting (despite the stellar cast) makes this easily forgettable especially compared to the last film, Son of Batman.

Rating: 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


We are excited to offer this contest sponsored by LIFE OF CRIME coming to theaters, on demand and iTunes August 29th!

About Life Of Crime

When a pair of low-level criminals kidnap the wife of a corrupt real-estate developer, they get both more and less than they bargained for in Life of Crime, a dark caper comedy based on legendary author Elmore Leonard’s novel The Switch. Starring Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, Yasiin Bey, Mark Boone Junior, Isla Fisher, Will Forte and Tim Robbins, Life of Crime is packed with the outrageously eccentric characters, black comedy and unexpected twists that earned Leonard a reputation as one of America’s sharpest and funniest crime writers.
Mickey Dawson (Jennifer Aniston), the wife of crooked real-estate developer Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins), is kidnapped by two common criminals (yasiin bey and Jon Hawkes), who intend to hold her for a $1 million ransom and extort her husband with inside information about his illegal business dealings. But Frank, who is holed up in the Bahamas with his mistress, decides he’d rather not get his wife back, setting off a sequence of double-crosses and plot twists that could only come from the mind of master storyteller Elmore Leonard. 

Prize offered:
$15 Fandango Gift Card

How to enter:
1. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter
2. Like LIFE OF CRIME on Facebook.
3. Watch the trailer below and comment below (with your real name and twitter handle) your favorite scene from the trailer.
4. For an extra entry, tweet to us @GeekwithMak with the hashtag #LifeofCrime your favorite star appearing in the movie!



Contest ends September 1st, 2014 Midnight ET.  Each household is only eligible to win one $15 Fandango Gift Card via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Good luck!

If I Stay
Releases August 22nd, 2014
1 hr 46 mins
Rated PG-13
Drama, Suspense/Thriller

Trailer:

Director: R. J. Cutler

Cast:
Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia Hall
Mireille Enos as Kat Hall
Joshua Leonard as Denny Hall
Stacy Keach as Grandpa
Lauren Lee Smith as Willow
Liana Liberato as Kim Schein
Jamie Blackley as Adam Wilde
Aisha Hinds as Nurse Ramirez
Aliyah O'Brien as EMT
Jakob Davies as Teddy Hall

Review by Stephen M.

If I Stay is the latest sappy romantic tear jerker based on a novel of the same name by Gayle Forman.  The marketing gurus at Warner Bros would have you believing that it's a drama along the lines of Heaven is For Real, but rather take pages from Fault in Our Stars more than the latter.  But to say they're exactly the same would be an injustice to both.  Despite sharing young romances going through ups and downs and deaths, the roads they take are vastly different.



The movie starts off quite confusingly as they switch quite frequently between past and present and at different points in the past that is not always linear.  Most importantly, is that we get the sense of Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her closeness with her family who are the polar opposites of her musically and personality-wise.  This, as she points out, can change in an instant as she narrates that ill-fated day of the car crash.  Her out of body experience throughout the film takes us not only on a journey of her present state along with her family but also of her past relationships and experience with them, especially the guy she fell in love with but is separated from, Adam (Jamie Blackley).


What I enjoyed about the film is the family dynamic of the Halls, well played by Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos as her mother, Kat Hall, and Joshua Leonard as her father, Denny Hall.  Among the themes of the movie is love and sacrifice and as a father, the scenes between Chloë and Joshua are things that I can relate to despite the age differences between my daughter and Chloë.  Among my favorite scenes include what Mia describes as her happiest moment in her life as well as when Mia is intimate with Adam, describing the experience as playing music.  Among the things I don't like about the film is the countless running around that Chloë's character has to do despite being a spirit or spirit-like.  In the entire movie, we do not once see her phrase through objects or such but rather in certain scenes, her character actually waits for someone to open the door.


Overall, I would recommend this film even though these type of films are difficult for me to watch.  As with Fault in Our Stars, seeing a young person suffer, even though fictional, brings back memories of my dear friend and what she went through.  Despite having more touching and realistic moments in If I Stay, I enjoyed the characters more in Fault in Our Stars more than If I Stay.  Chloë Grace Moretz continues to grow as an actress, but her chemistry with costar Jamie Blackley seemed forced at times.  Their lips interlocking frequently so as to distract us from having to hear repetitive unoriginal dialogue between the two.

Rating: 

Monday, August 18, 2014


Adventure Planet

Releases on DVD August 26th, 2014; Released in Thailand on August 2, 2012 as Echo Planet
1 hr 21 mins
Rated PG
Animation, Family

Trailer:



Director: Kompin Kemgumnird


Cast:

Drake Bell
Jane Lynch
Bailee Madison
Brooke Shields
J. K. Simmons
Tara Strong

Review by Stephen M.



Originally released in Thailand as Echo Planet, the animation makes its way to the United States on DVD as Adventure Planet.  The movie is centered on three kids trying to save the world from total destruction caused about by global warming.  The film was not directed by Al Gore, but by Kompin Kemgumnird, who has previously worked as an Animator on such films as Ice Age and Disney's Tarzan.  While my daughter, who is the targeted audience enjoyed the film, I found the story difficult to swallow especially if it's trying to be educational at the same time to the effects of global warming.



What my daughter particular enjoyed about it and what I enjoyed as well are the characters and humor in the film.  Norva and her little brother Jorpe from a remote village in Thailand isolated from the rest of the world gets an unexpected visitor, Samuel Johnson Jr, who is the son of President Johnson of the Capital States (think United States).  Jorpe has the ability to communicate with nature and animals and they're telling him bad things are in store for the near future.  He warns the other two that they must stop the fire beast from battling the snake.  Where does this fire beast come from?





So apparently, accumulated carbon in the atmosphere as a result of global warming has caused living organisms to mutate to biological unified carbon treat or as they say BUCT.  They can possess and absorb energy causing machines to come alive.  Got all that?  Some of the material in the film you can say is over simplified such as the final defeat of the fire beast while other explanations are just a bit too much for adults to comprehend let alone kids.



Overall, I would recommend watching it on Netflix or DVD rental for the kids.  The animation is superbly done, with separate animation styles for the beginning and ending credits from the main film.  The voice actors do a fantastic job in making the characters distinctive and lovable, especially Jorpe.  The only smudge for the film would be for adults that are watching it, may not love the approach the filmmakers take towards global warming.  Be sure to watch the animation while the end credits are rolling.  They're hilariously entertaining.


Rating: 

Thursday, August 14, 2014


The Giver

Releases August 15th, 2014
1 hr 34 mins
Rated PG-13
Drama

Trailer:


Director: Phillip Noyce


Cast:

Jeff Bridges as The Giver
Meryl Streep as The Chief Elder
Brenton Thwaites as Jonas
Alexander Skarsgård as Jonas' father
Odeya Rush as Fiona
Katie Holmes as Jonas' mother
Taylor Swift as Rosemary
Cameron Monaghan as Asher
Emma Tremblay as Lily
Irina Miccoli as Fiona's mother
Jordan Nicholas Smal as Gabriel (3 months old)
Saige Fernandes as Gabriel (6 months old)
Alexander and James Jillings as Gabriel (12 months old)

Review by Stephen M.


Based on the best selling novel by Lois Lowry, The Giver is a haunting tale of a futuristic society living without the annoyances of such things as war, famine, sickness and yes, feelings.  Adhering to the idea of "sameness", each person is assigned a job as they reach 16 years of age until they are released to "elsewhere."  The story focuses on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) whose job only comes up once a lifetime as the Receiver of Memory.  The title of the job is exactly as it sounds, he receives memories from the Giver (or the current Receiver of Memory) played by Jeff Bridges of memories of a society long forgotten, things banned due to their potential dangers like snow, and love.



I was fortunate enough to read the book a few years ago, and when I saw the trailer, was turned off a little by what I perceived as the filmmaker's twisting the story to be more sci fi then it should be as well as making this more into a love story than what I had read in the book.  While those elements are in the movie, thankfully they're not big parts of the movie.  At the same time, while there are many parts covered in the book, as with any book adaptation, there are definitely pieces you can feel are missing if you had read the book.  Especially with the ending there is a bit less ambiguity than there is from the book which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you look at it.



In the film, we have several relative newcomers, at least to me, in the lead role of Jonah as well as Odeya Rush as Fiona (Jonah's "stirring" interest) and even Taylor Swift as Rosemary (a former Reciever of Memories).  While Brenton Thwaites gets most of the screen time along with Jeff Bridges, they all do an adequate job in bringing their characters to life from the book.  I particularly enjoyed the scene when Brenton plays with baby Gabriel getting him to smile.  Jeff Bridges as well as Meryl Streep (The Chief Elder) are good in their roles.  While Katie Holmes plays an emotionless mother to Jonah quite well, given their society's focus on using words with meaning, again, doing away with "love."



Overall, while I enjoyed the film, your money is better spent elsewhere.  Catch this one on DVD or Netflix as the film fails to fully capture the thought provoking novel's captivating and moving tale of a dystopian society disguised as utopia.  The movie fails to move me as the novel did, translating poorly over to the big screen.  Lois Lowry and Jeff Bridges at the film premiere in New York said this movie took ten years to bring to the big screen since Jeff first approached Lois about it.  Perhaps it could have used a few more years of seasoning.  In the meantime, read the book and wait for it to be released on DVD rental or Netflix.

Rating: 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Expendables 3

Releases August 15th, 2014
2 hrs 7 mins
Rated PG-13
Action/Adventure

Trailer:


Director: Patrick Hughes


Cast:

Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
Antonio Banderas as Galgo
Jet Li as Yin Yang
Wesley Snipes as Doctor Death
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte
Randy Couture as Toll Road
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
Kellan Lutz as John Smilee
Ronda Rousey as Luna
Glen Powell as Thorn
Victor Ortiz as Mars
Robert Davi as Goran Vata
Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks
Harrison Ford as Max Drummer
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench Mauser

Review by Stephen M.


It's quite unfortunate that a DVD quality of Expendables 3 were leaked on the internet.  But with these type of action films, it's always better to watch on the big screen.  The big question then becomes is Expendables worth your hard earned money or should you wait for it on Netflix?  The film, while action packed with a star studded roster, lacks the realism, with less casualties than a 1980s G.I. Joe cartoon episode.  Even Mel Gibon's character Conrad Stonebanks, the ex-Expendables, and the primary antagonist of the film complains "how hard is it to kill 10 men?  You think you can just wound a couple?"




The line right there is exactly what this film is full of and that's humor and action.  Those are pretty good elements to have to keep you entertained.  If it wasn't for the fact that it starts to get repetitive.  Stallone tries to mix it up this time around by infusing new blood into the story line when Barney disbands his elderly group including the newly added Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes).  The new recruits come courtesy of yet another new face to the franchise Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammar).   This is of course after Bruce Willis asked for more money and got shown the door.


The new guys, led by John Smilee (Kellan Lutz) and Luna (Ronda Rousey), lacks the charisma that the old gang has especially the cheerful bond that Statham and Stallone shares.  With a cast so big, there's little time for extended back story for the new bunch, which hinders our bonding with the new characters.  Antonio Banderas the newest old fellow to join the Expendables get the most extended time, playing Galgo.  His nonstop fast talking character with a zeal for his profession will have you laughing but then mostly annoyed as much as the rest of the Expendables to his character.



I thoroughly enjoyed Mel Gibson as the villain in this movie.  He is such a huge improvement over the limited acting abilities of Jean-Claude Van Damme.  As obligatory, we get a nice little final battle between Mel Gibson and Stallone and an amazing explosion scene afterwards.  The ending scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li's characters is more awkward than funny.




Overall, I enjoyed the film and would recommend watching it on the big screen.  These type of films especially the huge battle at the end makes it mandatory.  It's an improvement over the second film in my opinion but still pales to the first.  With Stallone's inventory of 1980's action heroes starting to run out it'll be interesting to see who's next for Expendables 4.  Hulk Hogan is said to be already confirmed.  Who's on your wish list?

Rating: 

Monday, August 11, 2014


Jesse
Releases on DVD August 12th, 2014; limited release in New York, 2011.
1 hr 26 mins
Rated R
Action/Adventure

Trailer:
N/A

Director: Fred Carpenter

Cast:
Stephanie Finochio as Jesse
William Forsythe as Vince the Godfather
Armand Assante as Dominick
Eric Roberts as Chris
Anthony Trentacosta as Ralph
Paul Vario as Captain
Michael Wright as Juan
Gaetano LoGiudice as Tommy
Tamara Markowitz as Jesse's Mother
Mitchell Walters as Mitchell
John Sialiano as Billy
Dave Lipsky as Dave

Review by Danale H.

JESSE (played by Stephanie Finochio) is a cop who drinks way too much in order to deal effectively with her difficult past and, it seems, her present situation.  She still does not have custody of her sons, and now her brother has gone missing.  Although she is surrounded by a Detective Superior who wants nothing but the best for her, and a caring bartender, it all seems like it is too much for her to cope with, sober.


This movie was a very hard watch for me.  The synopsis is, Nassau County Police detective Jesse turns vigilante as she investigates her brother's murder and enters into a world of crime, corruption, and shocking deception.  But her career, as a cop, appears to be nonexistent and she has no real contacts with the criminal world or an investigation of it.



This was supposed to be a no holds barred action film in which a cop is driven to the edge after her brother's death, and responds to her grievance by avenging her brother.  However, Jesse was already an edgy cop.  She had no respect for authority (ie. the office scene with her superior in the police department), she did as she pleased.  Usually, films in which cops cross the line for justice, makes for a very interesting movie night.  This is not the case with the 2011 film Jesse.

The movie felt more like it was about a dysfunctional family, in the beginning, but then it became more about a whiney drug dealer "acting" like a mafia crime boss.  The scene where Tommy went to see Ralph (played by Anthony Trentacosta), surrounded by all of his henchmen, reminded me of the Godfather.

There's a lot of indication in this movie, but you don't really see it.  For example, the movie opens with Jesse at a bar, and the bartender telling her she's had enough.  This is an indication of Jesse's drinking problem; however, you don't see it in another scene anywhere else in the movie, her drunk, which would have solidified that she, in fact, does have a drinking problem.  When I think of a drunk, the 1981 classic film Arthur comes to mind.  He was a drunk, Jesse just wanted to take her mind off her problems for one night.


Another indication is that she is a cop, yet you don't see her behave in a cop-like capacity.  However, her career is indicated through her Superior having a conversation with her in his office.  More indication of her cop career is given when the news made mention of an off-duty police officer who came across a hostage / robbery situation in a convenience store.  Otherwise, you never see her do any police work.

The best part of the film, to me, was when Jesse confronted the drug dealers about her brother.  It brought to mind her WWE performances.  Finochio was more believable as a wrestler than an actress, and she curses way too much in this film.

There is a twist in the end, and it is a shock, but it did not help the movie.  The movie was no good, from the actual story to the stage quality acting.  Stage acting?  Yes, stage acting, although, some of the cast members who supported the Jesse film are very strong actors, it did not show.  The acting felt as if scripts were handed out and memorized.  And of course, I know that's what happens, but this should never come to the audiences' mind, especially during the movie.  Director Fred Carpenter's low-budget film, Jesse, could have been a great movie.  Instead, it is an exercise with artificially created conflict.  



Even at 86 minutes, this movie is overkill, but it feels never ending.  Overall, I would not recommend it, and I give it no stars.  I would have like to have seen an entirely different film (i.e. White Heat, Deep Cover, Miami Vice, Training Day, Under Cover Cop, etc.) 

Rating: 

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Rage

Releases on Blu-Ray, DVD, VOD August 12th, 2014 (Theaters limited release July 11th, 2014)
1 hr 38 mins
Not Rated
Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller

Trailer:


Director: Paco Cabezas


Cast:

Nicolas Cage as Paul Maguire
Rachel Nichols as Vanessa Maguire
Max Ryan as Kane
Michael McGrady as Danny Doherty
Peter Stormare as Francis O'Connell
Pasha D. Lychnikoff as Chernov
Patrice Cols as Anton
Weston Cage as Young Paul
Max Fowler as Mike
Aubrey Peeples as Caitlin Maguire
Jack Falahee as Evan
Danny Glover as Det. Peter St. John
Ron Goleman as Detective Hanson
Michael Papajohn as Vory
Amir Zandi as Young Doherty (as Amir Zandi-Karimi)
Jon Dannelley as Young Kane

Review by Stephen M.

Rage brings back my favorite relic hunter Nicholas Cage as Paul Maguire, a wealthy businessman with a dark criminal past.  Paul has a beautiful daughter Caitlin (Aubrey Peeples) and wife Vanessa (Rachel Nichols) whose lives are torn apart when one of them goes missing.  Paul's past is immediately to blame, and he goes on a rampage with his former friends to open doors and break heads.


It's been a long time since I've seen a good Nicholas Cage movie not including the animated film The Croods.  Rage continues the trend of mediocrity unfortunately, with supbar acting and a generic plot.  Perhaps I am too accustomed to Cage in other roles, so that his performance in Rage appears to me to be out of place.  The other characters in the film including Paul's friends Max Ryan as Kane, and Michael McGrady as Danny Doherty are good but nothing to write home about.  Same with Aubrey Peeples as Caitlin Maguire, whom you'll see as the lead in Jem and the Holograms in 2016.   Danny Glover whom I haven't seen in awhile has a small role, but irks me in what his character does or rather doesn't do as a senior detective who knows what Cage's character has been up to in their town.


The positives for the film would be the gun battles and the fisticuffs as Paul tries to uncover the truth if you're into the violence of mob or revenge movies.  I like Pasha D. Lychnikoff as Chernov, whom Paul accuses of the abduction and subsequent mess.  His scene involving Paul's friend Max is great despite knowing what the eventual outcome would be.  And I guess that's part of the problem with the film is how predictable it can be even the little twist at the end.  Even before that, Paul's old boss Francis O'Connell (Peter Stormare) meets up with Chernov who has an army of men, while only bringing one bodyguard.  You can easily surmise an unhappy ending for O'Connell.


Overall, I would recommend waiting for this one to be on Netflix or cable if you have it.  There are just better abduction (Taken), revenge (Payback) and Nicolas Cage (Con Air) films out there than Rage.  The DVD includes additional material such as deleted scenes and an alternate ending.  As much as I didn't like the ending of Rage, the alternate ending is much worst.  I did however like the deleted scene of Caitlin with her friends at her home leading up to the incident.


Rating: 

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Aftermath

Released 2012, releases on Blu-ray and DVD August 26th, 2014
1 hr 31 mins
Not Rated
Thriller

Trailer:


Director: Peter Engert


Cast:

C.J. Thomason as Hunter
Edward Furlong as Brad
Monica Keena as Elizabeth
Andre Royo as Rob
Christine Kelly as Angie
Ross Britz as Jonathan
Kennon Kepper as Satchel
Tody Bernard as Wendell
Bo Mitchell as Cowboys Hat's Son
Luis Da Silva Jr. as Russ
Randal Reeder as Cowboy Hat
William Baldwin as Shane (Voice)
Jonathan Camp as Military Doctor
Ted Ferguson as Dying Refugee
Ashley Nicole Hudson as Refugee

Jessie Rusu as Jennifer

Review by Stephen M.


Aftermath is a post nuclear apocalypse thriller that follows a band of survivors as they come together and hole up in a small cellar over a period of a month.  Brilliant performances by the actors and actresses is unfortunately overshadowed by a plodding plot as you wait for the things to go from bad to worst.  And it does, but not as quickly as you would like.  Comparisons can be made with The Walking Dead, in that it's a post apocalypse thriller that's character driven with less of a focus on the actual disaster.  Seeing more how humans react to their unfortunate and decaying society and what limits they would cross.



The main chararcters include Hunter (CJ Thompson), Brad (Edward Furlong), Elizabeth (Monica Keena) and Rob (Andre Royo).  The movie starts off with Hunter hiking on a deserted road with just a backpack listening to various news reports of deteriorating situations globally mirroring current geopolitical situations.  But things quickly go nuclear, and all of America is set ablaze.  Hunter, along with a child and his mother, finds shelter at a home with a cellar.   Eight quickly becomes nine as we have various stereotypes for the viewers to attach themselves to.

The problem with this type of film is the lack of background and character development of its characters.  We quickly get a sense of who's the hot head of the group and who's the leader.  But we don't get the before the end of the world origin story that helps us endure to the characters, especially the lead Hunter.  Hunter explains he is a doctor, but little else is given as to why he was in the middle of nowhere when things started to fall apart.



We get to see very little of what goes on aside from the cellar and an isolated town that Hunter and the mother and child passes through. The makeup looks great as the characters go through the effect of radiation poisoning from exposure to the fallout.  As with the lack of origins, I would have love to see more of how the outside world from their little bubble looked like.


Overall, I would recommend renting the movie if you're a fan of this genre.  The film is a bit slow at times, but does enough right to set you in the mood of despair as the Government is no longer there and you're on your own, slowly dying.  Yes it makes a poor date movie, but fans of The Walking Dead and video game Fallout franchise may like this film given the solid performances by the actors and actresses.

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