Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Last Witch Hunter
Released October 23rd, 2015
1 hr 46 mins
Rated PG-13


Director: Breck Eisner
Writer: Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless

Vin Diesel as Kaulder
Rose Leslie as Chloe
Elijah Wood as the 37th Dolan
Michael Caine as 36th Dolan
Julie Engelbrecht as Witch Queen
Rena Owen as Glaeser
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Belial
Isaach De Bankolé as Schlesinger
Lotte Verbeek as Helena
Dawn Olivieri as Danique
Bex Taylor-Klaus as Bronwyn
Kurt Angle as Bodyguard #4

Review by Stephen M.

The Last Witch Hunter which is already out in theaters envisions Vin Diesel as an immortal witch hunter, Kaulder after gaining immortality after being cursed by the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) he apparently kills during the Middle Ages.  Full of action as one would expect from a Vin Diesel movie, the movie's confusing plot and shoddy acting makes this unfortunately one to forget.  Of course all of this could have been avoided if Kaulder would have just burn the darn tree from the outside instead of venturing in with his men.

Fast forward to the present, Kaulder with his handler, the 36th Dolan (Michael Caine) brings about memories of Buffy and Giles.  With the latter two more witty in dialogue, The Last Witch Hunter is a pale comparison even when the 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood) is brought on.  From there it becomes highly predictable as it is only a matter of time before we are confronted with a return and a betrayal.

The bright side of the film of an otherwise poorly executed one of this genre are the action and special effects.  While there is plenty of both, you are left with a feeling that there could have been more.  One of the best scenes of the film is when Kaulder and the 37th Dolan is at the 36th Dolan's residence and discovers the traces of magic.  As far as performances, Rose Leslie shines as the witch Chloe who helps Kaulder in his quest to discover what secrets are being hidden from him.  She has that scene stealing presence to her that was quite evident in her time on Game of Thrones.  Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood both have forgettable performances with Michael Caine adequate.

Overall, the film is a good action filler for a slow weekend watch.  Albeit I would kick myself if I had to pay full price for it, and quite reluctantly even matinee.  There are just too many inconsistencies with the film including the idea of immortality and mortality that plays a huge role towards the end.  In addition there are too many borrowed elements that are not fully explored such as the secret society that watched over Kaulder's action and why exactly is he called the "last" witch hunter in the title.  Are the filmmakers telling us that the secret organization has all their eggs on Kaulder and have no other warriors/soldiers prepared?  From watching the film we already know there was no other immortal witch hunter before him, so as the only one to start off with, he couldn't be the last.  It is all these little things that have you scratching your head and yearning for Vin Diesel to return for Fast & Furious 8.  For better supernatural/action entertainment that is both filled with action and wit, watch old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer instead and wait for this film on Netflix or cable television.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Released October 16th 2015 (limited) October 30th, 2015 (nationwide)
1 hr 58 mins
Rated R


Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Writer: Emma Donoghue

Brie Larson as Ma (Joy)
Jacob Tremblay as Jack
Joan Allen as Grandma
Sean Bridgers as Old Nick
William H. Macy as Grandpa
Megan Park as Laura
Cas Anvar as Dr. Mittal
Amanda Brugel as Officer Parker
Joe Pingue as Officer Grabowski
Tom McCamus as Leo

Review by Mister Goodfella's Reviews

Brie Larson reminds us how important the relationship between mother and son is in Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room”. This film is the first this year to make me shed a tear and I’d say that  is a cause for celebration in the film world. Lenny Abrahamson shows you how a simple idea like this could become phenomenal and potentially “Oscar” worthy. “Room” was like taking a breathe of fresh air from all the Biopics of this year, dragging me along through the story making me think this is a comfortable situation when it shouldn’t be. Brie Larson gives an amazing performance here alongside her costar Jacob Tremblay who defines the words “Child Actor”. 

Tremblay is only 9 years old and already a shining star that looks like he’s in the running for some recognition this year. Brie Larson plays “Ma” mother to “Jack” played by Jacob Tremblay, as they escape the surroundings that “Jack” has grown up around and discovers just how real the world outside the room really is. This film I might add is either something your going to love or your just going to flat out hate. The plot description given by anyone doesn’t even break the first layer of ice that is this film.  Abrahamson brought Emma Donoghue’s beloved novel to the screen flawlessly, in my opinion not missing a single detail. 

This is not much of a story reliant film, more of a character driven narrative, which is the reason why it just might fly over certain people heads. In my opinion the films with interesting characters who we can fall in love with or just flat out hate with a passion are the ones that have truly achieved their goal, which is why “Room” felt brilliant to me. The emotions were heavy at times due to some of the scenarios shown onscreen but nevertheless Larson never failed to keep that natural mother/son relationship going throughout the film. Going into “Room” I knew very little and I thought coming out it was best that way. I wasn’t expecting the film to be phenomenal or a tearjerker but that’s exactly what I ended up with. 

Larson’s performance was ever so natural here you’ll never for a second believe Jacob Tremblay has a different mother, which is why I’m very certain this is her year to secure a nomination. Alongside Larson and Tremblay are Joan Allen and William H. Macy who give short and sweet performances that satisfy. One of the more beautiful aspects “Room” had to it was how beautiful Lenny Abrahamson made being in one place for an extended period of time look so beautiful and cozy. I expected the one setting aspect for this story to tire me out; instead it just continued to intrigue me. The directing style was eccentric and natural complimented with fantastic writing. 

“Room” had such an original idea for its plot that I’m still wondering how Emma Donoghue’s novel ever came to be, what kind of situation would one have to be in to come up with something like this? The fact that I’m asking this question mean’s there’s nothing but gold here in Lenny Abrahamson’s latest film “Room”. The heartbreaking visuals complimented by the original writing and intense performances make this the ideal candidate for a nomination. Check out “Room” as soon as you can, I guarantee it’s the bets time you’ll have in one place this year.

Rating: 3.5 Out Of 4

Friday, October 23, 2015

Jem and the Holograms
Releases October 23rd, 2015
1 hr 58 mins
Rated PG
Action/Adventure, Drama


Director: Jon M. Chu
Writer: Ryan Landels

Aubrey Peeples as Jerrica Benton / Jem
Isabella Rice as young Jerrica
Stefanie Scott as Kimber Benton
Hayley Kiyoko as Aja Leith
Aurora Perrineau as Shana Elmsford,
Wynter Perrineau as young Shana
Juliette Lewis as Erica Raymond
Ryan Guzman as Rio Pacheco
Molly Ringwald as Aunt Bailey
Nathan Moore as Zipper
Barnaby Carpenter as Emmet Benton
Ryan Hansen as Stephen the Guard
Quddus as VJ
Nicholas Braun (uncredited) as Brad
Christy Marx (cameo) as Lindsey "Lin-Z" Pierce
Samantha Newark (cameo) as Hairstylist
Britta Phillips (cameo) as Stage manager

Review by Stephen M.

When the trailer first came out, the boos were raining down hard on the film because of how much the film appeared to deviate from the cartoon from which it is based.  Watching the film, the movie definitely draws on some elements of the cartoon but still lack the feel and certain key elements that were prominent in the animation.  The movie while at times a fun coming of age teen film, fails to capture the heart and soul that resonated to the fans with a quirky plot and subpar musical score and performances.

In the film, Jerrica Benton a timid songstress is lured out by her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) and friends to perform as Jem.  She gains a huge following on Youtube when Kimber leaks a video of Jerrica performing and is quickly signed by Starlight an entertainment company led by the shrewd mogul Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis).  As a side story, Jerrica's father left behind a half completed robot upon his death in which Jerrica and friends must rebuild with clues left behind by Jerrica's dad.  And yes, of course a budding romance story is also a must in these type of films filling up the cliche thermometer.

While the movie has its moments, the plot tries to take you in too many directions with two stories going on at the same time.  While both subplots are integral to the maturation of the Jerrica's character, some things are just rushed and felt out of place.  In the beginning I felt like I was watching the origins of Justin Bieber, switching gears to Miley Cyrus's alter ego days of Hannah Montana, thrown in with a bit of the film Earth to Echo.

As far as the musical performances, Aubrey aside from her first public performance as Jem which is one of the finer moments of the movie were hardly inspirational despite what the filmmakers might otherwise want you to think.  Their choice of her final song is quite puzzling when the first song has more energy and beat to it, making it kind of anti-climatic at the end.  My other favorite moment that is non-musical is when the security guard asks Jem for her autograph for his "daughter."  The part of the daughter and father near the end is very touching as a father myself, but may just be added mush or noise for everyone else.

Overall, I would recommend waiting for it on Netflix or Cable if you're a young teenager and into musical movies.  Otherwise this movie with a really narrow audience target just doesn't excel enough in any areas to make it worth the time of adults or even Jem and the Hologram fans.  Close to two hours long, the film felt every bit so, and was tough to endure with only occasional glimmers of laughter and brilliance.  Despite the long run time, cut are the Misfits and classic band battles Jem and the Holograms participated in.  Quite simply, Jem is no gem.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Steve Jobs
Released October 9th, 2015
2 hrs 2 mins
Rated R
Drama film, Biography


Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Aaron Sorkin

Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs
Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman
Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak
Jeff Daniels as John Sculley
Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan
Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld
Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, and Makenzie Moss as Lisa Brennan-Jobs (at different ages)
Sarah Snook as Andrea "Andy" Cunningham
Adam Shapiro as Avie Tevanian
John Ortiz as Joel Pforzheimer

Review by Mister Goodfella's Review

Danny Boyle teams up with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to bring you only the best biopic of 2015 by far, but by definition Danny Boyle's masterpiece. The film is supported by an ensemble cast consisting of Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen and Michael Stuhlbargh all working together to tell us why this story is perfection. Before digging deeper into the film I would like the readers know that I am a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin's writing, mainly because it feel very unique no matter what the theme is. I mention this because Sorkin has done something very unique with this film, Sorkin has wrote "Steve Jobs" in the form of three acts which in perspective take biopics to a whole new level. As the film goes through its acts you notice Sorkin's key points that separates each act from one another and ultimately leads to three different themes. 

 Danny Boyle is usually more lighthearted with his films but this concept was something that was just dark in itself and since Steve Jobs was the kind of person that he was, it’s hard to bring warmth into his history when he honestly had none. The plot of this incredible biopic is following the life of innovator and genius Steve Jobs who in his desperate quest to fill the world with the latest and greatest forms of technology, is forced to face his own demons as times change. I've seen several biopics this year but honestly "Steve Jobs" has a unique flow to it that separates it from other biopics. I absolutely praised Danny Boyle for what he did here being that he usually deals with darker topics in a lighter way, he chose to go completely dark for this journey not including much light into the story. Kate Winslet alongside Michael Fassbender comes a close second to stealing the show performance wise thanks to her natural flow and authentic polish accent. 

 Over time Winslet utters a word on screen you have a “Love/Hate” relationship with her character as does Jobs himself, and we become more and more convinced that Boyle’s casting was superb on this project. Surprisingly I very much enjoyed the angle that Sorkin went with when writing this project. Sorkin dips into the notorious controversial topic of Steve Jobs and the relationship with his daughter as the  theme. Taking this topic and weaving in three of Steve Jobs greatest achievements gives us a great balance of tone and a better depth of character for Fassbender. The cinematography is phenomenal on a sort of David Fincher level for the more serious moments and then returning to classic Danny Boyle creativity during everything else. “Steve Jobs” truly is the film that sets the example “Any Project Can Be Saved”.

Approximately 1 year ago this film was in a horrid state with its director dropping out and then two lead actors fleeing the project as well.  Yet as soon as I heard Danny Boyle’s name I knew we would at least get something solid. “Steve Jobs” really showcases Michael Fassbender’s true potential as an actor, proving that he has immense range and can tango very well with Aaron Sorkin’s “Ping-Pong” dialogue style. The more the film went on, the more I said to myself the word “Oscar” and I desperately hope I’m right about that. This film is a masterpiece and a true “Tour De Force” for Fassbender leaving us in awe from start to finish. I highly recommend checking out Danny Boyle’s latest entry and would also recommend bracing yourself for “Tech Savvy” humor.  Because otherwise you might not get a ton of the comedic relief in “Steve Jobs” but at least you’ll understand the hard-hitting moments. Danny Boyle has truly become a master of his craft and leaves me very interested to see what he will tackle next. 

Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bridge of Spies
Released October 4th 2015 (New York Film Festival) October 16th (nationwide)
2 hr 21 mins
Rated PG-13
Drama, Thriller


Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Tom Hanks as James B. Donovan
Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel
Amy Ryan as Mary McKenna Donovan
Alan Alda as Thomas Watters
Austin Stowell as Francis Gary Powers
Scott Shepherd as Hoffman
Domenick Lombardozzi as Agent Blasco
Sebastian Koch as Wolfgang Vogel
Eve Hewson as Carol Donovan
Michael Gaston as Williams
Peter McRobbie as Allen Dulles
Stephen Kunken as William Tompkins
Joshua Harto as Bates
Billy Magnussen as Doug Forrester
Mark Zak as Soviet Judge
Edward James Hyland as Chief Justice Earl Warren
Marko Caka as Reporter

John Ohkuma as FBI Agent

Review by Mister Goodfella's Reviews

Steven Spielberg teams up with The Coen Brothers and Tom Hanks to bring you the most entertaining historical espionage film of the last few years. Before getting into the nitty gritty of why “Bridge Of Spies” is simply phenomenal, I confess that going into this film I had mediocre expectations due to its subject matter. Usually films in general no matter the topic is entertaining to yet since Spielberg dressed up his previous film “Lincoln” to something that I felt it wasn’t, I was worried. Within the first ten minutes “Bridge Of Spies” assured me that I was in for a much more heartfelt Spielberg journey than my previous adventure. Spielberg literally hands us the tools we need to love this film, starting off with masterful directing techniques that complement the type of film this is. 

 I sat down to view an “Espionage/Drama” film and that’s exactly what I got multiplied by ten. In addition Tom Hanks compliments this story with one of the most natural performances of his career assuring his place in this years “Academy Awards”. Moving onto the plot of this glorious film, “Bridge Of Spies” follows James B. Donnovan (Tom Hanks) an insurance lawyer asked to defend a Colonel suspected of being a “Soviet Spy” in one of our countries most tension filled times. One of the more shocking things would be the fact that the film is inspired by true events which makes the experience more breathless knowing the story actually happened and wasn’t fictionalized. Tom Hanks though being the lead role really took his performance to a whole new level. 

 What I saw on the screen was classic Tom Hanks with a more modern day natural take on a role, separating this from his other iconic characters in film history. Along with Hanks the rest of the cast’s performances flowed well with each other, but the riveting element of this film really stems from its writing. The legendary Coen Brothers wrote the script and what a great job they did, blending all of their usual elements in their films with Spielberg concluding in the perfect mixture. Spielberg in my opinion is just as good as his writers on the projects he takes on, so it was very refreshing to see him returning to the war era with over the top writing at his base. The directing here is far from generic or something that shows Spielberg’s age, instead “Bridge Of Spies” shows us that he still has it in him. 

There were times where I was just in awe of the writing mainly with the negotiation scenes between Hanks and the Soviets, but for me the cinematography also gave me the same feeling. At times the beautiful sunny vibe of the old days turns into the harsh winter replica of our nations “Cold War Tensions”. The winter scenes look absolutely beautiful and are complimented by one of my favorite techniques, the use of silence without score. Every moment Hanks is outside in winter everything feels dead silent as if we’re there with him tensing up just as much as he is. The score for the film was surprisingly nothing to run home about, being that this was the first film in which Spielberg didn’t work with John Williams it was off the bat risky. 

The score does set in for me as mediocre with which they could do without but the use of silence was more effective here. From fantastic performances by Hanks to masterful directing and ingenious writing, “Bridge Of Spies” will walk you down the road to the “Oscars” clenching tight and never letting go. This film is superb in every way and even though there were some minor pacing issues, “Bridge Of Spies” will leave you with a phenomenal feeling. Spielberg/Hanks journey back to the “Cold War Era” is worth taking thanks to the Coen Brothers. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Stars

Releases October 16th, 2015
1 hr 43 mins
Rated PG
Action, Adventure, Comedy


Director: Rob Letterman
Writer: Darren Lemke; Story by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski

Dylan Minnette as Zachary "Zach" Cooper
Jack Black as R. L. Stine
Jack Black as the voice of Slappy;
Avery Jones performs Slappy the Dummy.
Jack Black also voices Brent Green.
Odeya Rush as Hannah Stine
Amy Ryan as Gale Cooper
Ryan Lee as Champ
Jillian Bell as Lorraine
Ken Marino as Coach Carr
Halston Sage as Taylor
Steven Krueger as Davidson
E. Roger Mitchell
Timothy Simons
Amanda Lund as Officer Brooks
R. L. Stine cameos as a Hallway Player

Review by Stephen M.

My wife is a huge R. L. Stine fan from back when she read his Fear Street books.  The movie is a fun stab at R. L. Stine and his main bread and butter Goosebumps that will have you altering between being at the edge of your seat with thrills and laughing out loud.  The film is a nice adventure along the lines of Jumanji just in time for the Halloween season.

One of the things that really stood out for me for the movie was the stellar casting.  The young adults casted in the movie seem to be born for these roles.  Dylan Minnette as new kid in the neighborhood Zach is intrigued by the cute next door Hannan played by Odeya Rush.  She is kept secluded and hidden away by her creepy father played by Jack Black.  Zach as the new kid immediately attracts as a friend goofball Champ played by Ryan Lee at school.  The two accidentally releases the Abominable Snowman from one of RL Stine's books which in turn causes more chaos for the kids and the town folk.

The three cast members play well off of each other with excellent chemistry.  Jack Black as the father is good but perhaps not intimidating enough.  His scene with Zach and Champ about Stephen King however, is one of my favorites.  The dialogue is well written and clever not relying on sight gags though there are some of those as well.

With regards to the special effects, with so much monsters coming to life out of the books, it is quite a mix bag.  Some looks better and more realistic than others.  However, I don't feel that the movie quite utilizes 3D as well as it should.  There are far and few moments of where a character or an object will leap out at you, which is quite unfortunate given the type of movie that it is.

Overall, I would recommend this film to adults and as well for teenagers.  While the movie is rated PG, the monsters and tense moments may be a bit too much for younger children.  My daughter who refuses to watch the movie after watching the trailer is a prime example of a child that the movie may not agree with.  The adults will enjoy the good humor and action while the teens will also enjoy the dynamic of friendship and love among the younger characters.  R.L. Stine makes a quick cameo towards the end.  Unfortunately, it is more fleeting and meaningless than even Stan Lee's many cameos in the Marvel movies.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New York Comics Con 2015 is in the history books.  And depending on your perspective it was either an outstanding success or one to dismiss or easily forget.  If you're a fan of TV shows, this con was great for you.  As Television series dominated the panels and signings with only three movies that aside from X-Files, doesn't exactly scream Hollywood blockbuster at you.  Another great thing about the con would be a number of firsts for them including Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto having several events over five days in New York.  On the turn the other cheek side, communication and staff continues to be problematic especially when it comes to autographing.  While it is understandable why they would have four autographing session wristbands distributed at one location (Table 1), it created such a massive mob of pushing and overcrowding that creates a danger for handicap individuals and children.  With regards to the VIP (Special Access) passes, I continue to be disappointed by the lack of value that the badges hold.  While they are let onto the exhibition floor early, it is the regular line attendees that have access to panels and autographing wristbands first.  Despite these things, it was still enjoyable especially with the newly expanded 7 line to Hudson yards which I took full advantage of.  Till next year please enjoy our photos below.

DC Booth

Viz Booth

Image Booth

Marvel Booth


ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars signing

DC's Batman Bad Blood Signing

ABC Family's Stitchers signing

McFarlane Toys & Todd McFarlane Signing

ABC Family's Shadownhunters The Mortal Instruments signing