Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ex Machina

Rated R / 1 hr 48 min / Drama - SciFi

What is it about?

Caleb is an advanced programmer for a search engine company that has taken over the industry. He gets a notification that he has won a week long vacation to hang out with the company's creator and CEO Nathan. He takes a ride in a helicopter to a secluded bunker where Nathan lives. The two hang out together and Nathan expresses his wish to share what he has been working on. He wants Caleb to sign a non-disclosure agreement first. The agreement is signed, and then Nathan shares his creation. An artificial intelligence that is so advanced that it could potentially pass for human. Nathan wishes Caleb to test the robot.

You will like it if...

You like speculative science fiction films with intricate stories. There aren't any true stars in the film, but the actors still give decent performances. The special effects are fantastic if not awe inducing. The effects are well done and understated to the point where it feels natural to that world. This movie explores the relationship between a potential future artificial intelligence and human beings. The depth of the story is what makes this movie a must see for anyone who enjoys serious science fiction. The flick will have you thinking of all the implications and possibilities of what may happen in the future for days after watching it. Not only does the script engage thoughts of a possible future, but it has a compelling story to tell otherwise. There are several layers to the story for you to sink your teeth into. If the trailer looks interesting at all then go see this film.

Next Week

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Thursday, April 16, 2015

True Story

Rated R / 1 hr 40 min / Drama - Mystery - Thriller

What is it about?

This is based on a true story as if that wasn't obvious. James Franco plays Christian Longo who is accused of murdering his wife and three kids. He was caught in Mexico pretending to be New York Times reporter Michael Finkel. Jonah Hill plays Michael Finkel who loves being a New York Times reporter. He gets caught fudging some of the facts on an article and gets fired. Michael goes home to his wife and begins looking for a job. He gets a call from a reporter asking him what he thought of Christian Longo. He has no idea what is going on, so he googles himself. He decides to write this man that was pretending to be him. The two begin corresponding and Finkel thinks the story would make a good book.

You will like it if...

You like murder mysteries based on a true story. The story itself is interesting and compelling, but the film spends most of it's 100 minutes on the relationship between the two main characters. Their relationship gives a bit of insight into the mind of a killer, but it's not as interesting as the story behind the movie. The story of what actually happened. True Story has too many dry spells that cause the film to grind to a halt. James Franco and Jonah Hill have good chemistry on the screen, and both do a decent job with their respective roles. There are a few scenes where each of them overdo it, but it's not bad enough to be campy. True Story is an average to slightly above average film that could have been much more interesting. There are moments that make it worth watching, but not worth more money than you would spend to rent it at Redbox.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Danny Collins

Rated R / 1 hr 46 min / Comedy - Drama

What is it about?

Al Pacino plays Danny Collins in a story loosely based on a true story as part of the opening credits state. Danny Collins is a folk singer that is branded as possibly being the next John Lenin when he first started out. At the beginning he is scared to death of becoming successful, rich, and coveted by many women. He does an interview with a small music magazine that John Lenin himself reads, and decides to write a letter to Danny Collins. Fast forward 36 years later at a surprise birthday party for Danny Collins. His manager found the letter and delivers it to Danny who gets to read it for the first time. It inspires him to reexamine his life and make some changes. The first order of business is to connect with his only son who he has never met.

You will like it if...

You like dramas centered around a character that is trying to make things right. Al Pacino is still a skilled actor even though his age has caught up to him. He looks ancient and his continued attempts to pick up Annette Bening feel creepy no matter how many times she giggles at him. Perhaps that is the way it was meant to be. The entire cast is fantastic which helps to make this an interesting tale because they are all believable. Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale, and Christopher Plummer fill in the supporting roles that make the story compelling. The story itself has been done to death over and over with the strung out rock star trying to make everything right after wasting most of their life, however, it's rarely done this well. Pacino's comedy timing is good enough to bring forth a couple of chuckles, but this movie is a drama, not a comedy. The character of Danny Collins is very charming and in spite of his faults he pulls you into his plight. Danny Collins is a light bit of entertainment with a stellar cast that pulls you through a decent story if not original story. It is definitely worth picking up from Redbox if you don't see it in theaters.


Next Week

True Story

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Furious 7

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 17 min / Action - Crime - Thriller

What is it about?

Vin Diesel reprises his role as Dominic Toretto for the sixth time. Jason Statham plays Deckard Shaw who is the brother of Owen Shaw. Owen was the head of a group of mercenaries and had been seriously injured and burned in Fast and Furious 6. Deckard is a trained British assassin that had been forcefully retired. He had been in hiding for several years, but chose to reveal himself to get revenge for his brother. A government agent with no name meets with Dominic to make him an offer. If he helps the agent get something then the agent will lend a hand towards tracking down Deckard Shaw.

You will like it if...

You liked the last three Fast and Furious movies. The blend of action, fast cars, women walking in front of the camera with bikinis, and the same cast of characters. The acting in this version is about the same, but they either gave minor or almost non-existent roles to the weaker actors in the series. Jason Statham plays the best bad guy of the series, and it's a long overdue addition. Luke Evans was a major upgrade in the sixth Furious flick, and Statham provides another step up from that. They also beefed up just about everything from stunts to fight scenes. The stunts are worth going to see the movie for on their own. The additions of Ronda Rousey, Tony Jaa and Statham make the fight scenes memorable, but in spots they make the good guys look inept. I had a hard time believing that the good guys could really win any of those fights. They also used the technique of speeding up and using jump cuts to film the fight scenes which I have always loathed. You can't tell what is going on in half of those fight scenes and you miss some of the amazing acrobatics of Tony Jaa because of this. Tony is way too fast for the camera when they are speeding up the action like this. Now we get to the biggest problem with the movie, the script. The plot is overly simplistic. Just as the story had begun to get interesting in Fast 5 and Fast and Furious 6, they simplify it in Furious 7 in favor of upping the ante in action and stunts. The dialogue is mostly rehashed from or perhaps a tribute to the previous six films. While not perfect, fans should enjoy it and find that this is a fitting end to the series.

Next Week

Open to suggestions - Danny Collins, Ex Machina, or maybe something else