Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Sequel Gives the Crowd What It Wanted, But Still Falls a Bit Short: Our Review of "The Purge: Anarchy" (2014)

Directed By: James DeMonaco (The Purge

Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Kiele Sanchez, Michae K. Williams

Rating: R for strong disturbing violence, and for language

Run Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Synopsis: Taking place one year after the first film, The Purge: Anarchy follows 5 strangers from different walks of life - a nameless soldier with an axe to grind (Grillo), a mother (Ejogo) and daughter who were nearly kidnapped by an army, and a bickering couple whose car broke down at an inopportune time - as they try to avoid a masked gang and various Purgers while trying to make it to safety in downtown L.A. on the night of the annual Purge.


Andrew: Hello dear readers! So we know we've been a little lax here lately as we still haven't published our review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but we're here with our review of the only film we saw this past weekend - The Purge: Anarchy.

It's the sequel to last year's The Purge, which had an awesome concept and did very well at the box office, but left a lot of its audience and critics cold. (I had a mixed reaction to it on my initial viewing, and frankly, this movie is kinda what I was asking for in my review of the first one.)

Sarah, we actually sat down and watched The Purge a month or so ago which was your first time seeing it. So let's start this review off by comparing what you thought of the first one and it's relatively small-scale home invasion plot, and The Purge: Anarchy's much wider-scale.

Sarah: First of all I want to say that these movies are silly. The premise really makes absolutely no sense. But they are kind of fun, in an extremely violent kind of way. The first one takes place solely in a Los Angeles mansion. It's in tight quarters and gives it more of a horror movie feel. There are elements of jumpiness and "who's around that corner?!" The new one is all over the city of L.A. It has a much more action movie feel to it, and I really liked that. It almost felt like it would be a great premise for a haunted house. I could totally see this as a walk-through at Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights for sure.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Knightley, Ruffalo Team Up To Melt Our Hearts With Music: Our Review of "Begin Again" (2014)

Directed By: John Carney (Once

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener, Adam Levine

Rating: R for language

Run Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Synopsis: Dan (Ruffalo) is a record executive who has fallen on hard times, to the point of losing his job and contemplating suicide. Greta (Knightley) is a British songwriter who followed her singer boyfriend (Levine) to America but gets her heart broken when he hits it big. When Greta sings one of her songs impromptu in a bar that Dan is getting drunk at, he hears and becomes inspired by her music. Together they decide to record her songs in the open environment of New York City as they help each other try to regain who they once were.


Andrew: Hello, dear readers! We're here with the second of our two reviews we're posting today, as last Thursday we checked out Begin Again, the new film from director John Carney, who a few years back came out with a very popular indie film called Once. Once told the story of a pair of musicians in Ireland who fall in love but ultimately go their separate ways, and it really kind of took the world by storm because of its music. It just became a huge indie hit, won an Oscar for Best Original Song, and also lead to a popular and Tony-winning adaptation on stage. 

And now Carney's come back with Begin Again, which follows in a similar vein as Once in that it's about musicians, yet is its own film. This movie was about a down-on-his-luck- music producer named Dan, played by Mark Ruffalo...

Sarah: Who discovers a young singer/songwriter named Greta, played by Keira Knightley, who is getting ready to head home to England after a terrible break-up with her newly minted rock-star boyfriend played by Adam Levine.  Dan thinks that he can take Greta and do something with her songs; something that will pull him out of his slump that is fueled primarily by booze. 

A: This was one that I know I had been looking forward to ever since it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year and got good word of mouth. It looked like it had a great cast...

S:  And we read the article about it in Entertainment Weekly and it really just got us excited about seeing this movie on screen. And finally it has come to our little Indie film theater here in Atlanta! So now that we’ve seen it, Andrew, did it live up to our excitement?

Chris Evans Shines In This Great, Unique Korean Sci-Fi Action Film: Our Review of "Snowpiercer" (2014)

Directed By: Joon-ho Bong (The Host

Starring: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Kang-ho Song, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris

Rating: R for violence, language and drug content

Run Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes

Synopsis: After a failed attempt to solve global-warming causes the whole plane to freeze in a matter of minutes, the surviving remnants of mankind all live aboard a futuristic train where a class system has evolved between the rich front cars and poor rear cars. A man named Curtis (Evans) has decided the time has come to lead a revolt against the front of the train, with a goal of getting further than any other previous revolt and taking control of the engine...or die trying.


Andrew: Hello dear readers! Sarah and I were able to catch two films during this past 4th of July weekend, one of which was the long-awaited Korean sci-fi/action film Snowpiercer starring Chris Evans (Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

Snowpiercer is based on a French graphic novel called "Le Transperceneige" by Jacque Lob, and focuses on a post-apocalyptic scenario where mankind has inadvertently caused another ice age when they tried to fix global warming, and the only surviving humans all live on a gigantic train called Snowpiercer. The train circumnavigates the globe in a never-ending loop that takes one year to circle the whole globe. 

The populace of the train is separated into different classes - the rich, one-percenters live in the opulent front cars (as they actually had paid for their passage) while the poor, ninety-nine-percenters live in the destitute rear cars under the oppression of the front cars and the mysterious Wilford, who created the train.

Chris Evans plays Curtis, one of the many who forced their way onto the train to barely escape freezing to death, who has spent 17 years living in the back of the train, and he's had enough of it. Along with his younger sidekick, Edgar (Jamie Bell), and under the tutelage of an older man named Gilliam (John Hurt), Curtis leads a rebellion in an attempt to take over the train's engine to free his people from the back of the train. It's all actually pretty straightforward and well-spelled out in the film.

Sarah, this was one that I know I was personally looking forward to as I had heard nothing but universal acclaim for it. Plus the trailer just looked awesome. So tell me, what were your thoughts going in to Snowpiercer and what do you think now that we've seen it?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bay's Latest Robot Film Might Be Worst of the Bunch: Our Review of "Transformers: Age of Extinction" (2014)

Directed By: Michael Bay (Pain & Gain

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo

Run Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Synopsis: 5 years after the destruction of Chicago, all Transformers are in hiding as they're hunted down one by one by a rogue Transformer called Lockdown and a black ops team headed by a shadowy CIA agent (Grammer). When a nearly broke inventor named Cade Yeager fixes up a broken down semi-truck and discovers its actually Autobot leader Optimus Prime, he unwittingly makes his family the prime target of those who've been searching for Optimus.


Andrew: Hello readers! This past weekend Sarah and I went against our better judgment and decided to shell out our hard-earned disposable income to see the latest installment in Michael Bay's immensely profitable toy commercial/product placement Transformers series, Transformers:Age of Extinction. If you couldn't tell from that opening sentence, this is not going to be a positive review.

Sarah, I'll admit as much that I found, and still find, the first Transformers movie to be good and entertaining. But the second and third entries in this series......not so much. So we obviously weren't expecting too much from this film. So with that said, was Age of Extinction worse, equal, or better than the two films that came before it?

Sarah: So I really wanted to like this one. I was hoping it was going to be a total reboot. And ooooooh it was not. It fell right in line with the horrible dribble that preceded it and I'm going to throw out that it was the worst of the bunch. If I had wanted to watch a two-and-a-half hour commercial I would have stayed home and turned on the Home Shopping Network. The groans that were issued during this movie were far, far too many. Just.....the worst. What did you think?

A: I'm still not gonna go so far as to say it's the worst of the series - need I remind you that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had giant Transformers testicles dangling over the Egyptian pyramids? But it comes darn close to taking the crown. There are so many bad things about this movie that I don't even know where to start.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Clint Eastwood Saps All The Energy Out of This Goodfellas Wannabe: Our Review of "Jersey Boys" (2014)

Directed By: Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby

Starring: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda, Erich Bergen, Christopher Walken

Rating: R for language throughout

Run Time: 2 hours, 14 minutes

Synopsis: Based on the hit Broadway show of the same name, Jersey Boys follows the ups and downs of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, from their formation in Jersey to their money troubles with the mob and the fallout that ensued, all told from the perspective of the band members themselves.


Andrew: Hello readers! A few days ago Sarah and I checked out one of this past weekend’s new wide releases, Jersey Boys, an adaptation of the popular Broadway show of the same title. This film version, directed by none other than Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood of all people, stars John Lloyd Young as he reprises his original Broadway role as Frankie Valli, Vincent Piazza of Boadwalk Empire fame as Tommy DeVito and Christopher Walken.

Sarah, I think this will be a little bit of an interesting review since you have actually seen the Broadway show in New York City while I have never seen in any incarnation. So this was my first experience with the story. I’ll let you kick it off with what you thought, especially in comparison to the stage show.

Sarah: Well, I’ll start off by saying this: compared to the show…it’s not even close. The original show is a true musical. It not only chronicles the path to fame for the Four Seasons but also highlights their music and incorporates it in the show to really tell a story. In the movie, the music was just a background.

A: Just to interject real quick, to me this movie felt like more of a biopic in the vein of Walk the Line or Ray. And not unlike those movies, they used the music in more of a, “Hey, here’s them recording their first hit, here’s them in their first television performance,” etc.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stunning Visuals Can't Overcome a Weaker Story in This Sequel: Our Review of "How To Train Your Dragon 2" (2014)

Directed By: Dean DeBlois (How To Train Your Dragon

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, America Ferrera, Kit Harrington, Djimon Hounsou

Rating: PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor

Run Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Synopsis: Five years after becoming best of friends, a now 20-year-old Hiccup (Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless spend their time exploring the sky and discovering new lands. While on one of these explorations, Hiccup discovers the existence of two warring dragon masters: one a vicious Viking named Drago Bloodfist (Hounsou), who's trying to capture dragons to add to his vast dragon army, the other a mysterious dragon master and protector named Valka (Blanchett)…who happens to be Hiccup's long-lost mother.


Andrew: Hello readers! Earlier this weekend we caught How To Train Your Dragon 2, the sequel to 2010's hit Dreamworks Animation film How To Train Your Dragon (obviously). This is a film that was released last weekend but we weren't able to catch it until now.

Sarah, I don't know about you but this wasn't necessarily one that I was jumping in anticipation for, but more than anything I was curious to see what it would be like in 3D. What about you?

Sarah: Oh I was really excited for this one! I really liked the first one so I was looking forward to seeing where they would take this. I was curious about the 3D as well, and I am so glad that we decided to see it that way. 

From a visual standpoint, this movie was amazing. They were able to do some really cool things with the effects and it just made the whole world come alive. All of the new dragons were very cool and it was just fun to see what all the characters looked like now that it's been five years between stories.

One of the many stunning visuals in HTTYD2 is Hiccup's ability to fly alongside Toothless.

 But I have to say, the story lacked a little bit for me. We get to meet Hiccup's mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), who everyone thought was dead. Nope! Turns out she's just running this big dragon Humane Society and decided that was more important than her baby. I don't know about you but that just never set right with me. And the way Hiccup just kind of accepts it right away? Like what is that?!

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Six Pack Of... Our Favorite Dreamworks Animation Films!

Andrew: Hello dear readers! So because Sarah and I are going to hit up the local AMC tonight to catch How To Train Your Dragon 2 tonight, we figured it might be a fun exercise to figure out which Dreamworks Animation films were our personal favorites before we catch their latest one.

So, in full disclosure, Sarah and I figured out our own person Top 3 Dreamworks Animation films separately, we wrote up our little write-ups separately, and then she emailed hers to me so I could put together the post. We didn't give each other any clues about which films we were picking. Just so ya know.

Sarah: Ok, so this might be one of the tougher Six Packs that we have ever done. Picking just three of Dreamworks’ animated movies to call my favorite might prove to be a little difficult. But here we go.


1.) Shrek (2001) 

Number one definitely has to be Shrek. This movie is just so classic. It has a phenomenal cast that truly shines. But I think my favorite part about this movie, and all the ones following it, is that it pokes fun at all the Disney movies and, really, fairy tales in general. Shrek is a laugh-a-minute movie that I just remember just enjoying all the time as a kid. That has definitely translated into adulthood. Whenever I come across it on television, I immediately stop what I'm doing and watch it. 

It was such an original movie when it first came out. The poking fun at Disney hadn’t really been a big thing yet, because they were the powerhouse in animated movies. I really think Shrek changed all of that. There was kid comedy, sure, but there was also quick-witted adult humor as well making it fun for the whole family. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Back to School and Better Than Before: Our Review of "22 Jump Street" (2014)

Directed By: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Wyatt Russell

Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Synopsis: After struggling to find success after their first undercover gig, police officers Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) are ordered back to the Jump Street division run by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) to do the same kind of undercover mission they did so well the first time...but this time they're sent to college. Yup, just like the end of the first film said they would!


Sarah: Hello readers! We were back at the movies after a quick little weekend getaway to visit the family, and the other night we checked out this past weekend's big comedy blockbuster release, 22 Jump Street. 22 Jump Street is the much anticipated (by us at least) sequel to 2012's hit 21 Jump Street, the film reboot to the old popular television show starring Johnny Depp. 

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill once again star as undercover police officers Jenko and Schmidt, and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller returned to direct this, too. Andrew, this movie was packed with hilarious moments and even a little heart! What did you think of 22 Jump Street?

Andrew: Well first I think we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that 21 Jump Street was one of the earliest reviews we ever did for our blog. And back in 2012 we gave 21 Jump Street a 4.5/5 clapboard review. I stand by that grade because I still think it's a hilarious reboot of the old television series and was filled with great nods towards not only the TV show, but perfectly made fun of buddy cop movies, shoot 'em up action flicks, and subverting high school cliches while embracing all those things, too.

22 Jump Street does just as well by lampooning the idea of movie sequels, but it embraces it and all the college comedy tropes, too. I loved this new entry in the series and I want to say that I think they improved on the first one, even if a large part of this movie's success is that it's almost follows the first one beat for beat. What did you think, Sarah?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Jon Favreau's New Passion Project Left Us Salivating: Our Review of "Chef" (2014)

Directed By: Jon Favreau (Iron Man

Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Sofia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale

Rating: R for language, including some suggestive references

Run Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Synopsis: Carl Casper (Favreau), a well-reknowned Los Angeles chef, receives a vicious review from a prominent food critic which starts a chain of events that results in Carl quitting his job and opening his own food truck in Miami with his best friend (Leguizamo) at the insistence of his ex-wife (Vergara) and son (Anthony).


Andrew: Hello dear readers! Sunday marked the third movie of the weekend for me and Sarah, we're hardcore like that. This time we checked out a film written by, directed by and starring Jon Favreau called Chef.

Sarah: It's a smaller film that has been out for a little while in the limited release phase but is now open to larger markets.

A: Right! Favreau (The Replacements) stars as Carl Casper, a famous and world-class chef who loses his job after a strong disagreement with his restaurant's owner, played by Dustin Hoffman, and subsequently gets into a very public argument with a food critic that gave him a scathing review...

S: And after some deep thinking, Carl decides to open his own food truck at the behest of/support from his ex-wife, played by the great Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) so he can get back to his passion of cooking.

A: So with the help of his best friend Martin, played by John Leguizamo (Ice Age), and his son Percy...

S: Whom he is not very close with and go on a cross-country road trip to get the truck back from Miami to Los Angeles and along the way discover his passion for cooking again along with a little father/son bonding time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cruise and Blunt Shine in Refreshing Alien Invasion Flick: Our Review of "Edge of Tomorrow" (2014)

Directed By: Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material

Run Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Synopsis: See below in the opening paragraphs


A: Hello dear readers! Sarah and I caught three films this past weekend, one of which was the teenage romance film The Fault in Our Stars (you can read our review of that HERE) on Friday night, and the second one of those was the new Tom Cruise sci-fi/action film Edge of Tomorrow. This is one I had been hearing great things about in the weeks leading up to its release, so suffice it to say I was excited to see this one. Before we get to the review, though, I feel like I need to explain the concept of the film just a bit.

Based on a 2004 Japanese novel called "All You Need is Kill," Edge of Tomorrow stars Cruise as Major William Cage, the head PR guy for a worldwide military called the United Defense Force that's fighting an invasion from a destructive alien race dubbed "Mimics." The UDF is losing the war by a large margin, with Europe almost completely invaded by the Mimics, and only having won one battle - the Battle of Verdun - thanks to the heroics of a soldier named Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt, The Devil Wears Prada).

After refusing to be embedded with a troop on the front lines of a planned beach invasion called Operation Downfall, Cage is stripped of rank and sent to basic training the day before the invasion by General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). There, Cage is thrust into the front lines of the invasion and promptly killed in action by an "alpha" Mimic.....then somehow wakes up again back at basic training the day before the invasion.

Despite attempts to tell everyone something strange is going on and that the impending invasion is doomed from the start, Cage keeps reliving the same two days over again. He finally approaches Vrataski after seeing her on the battlefield and discovers she, too, has experienced the same phenomenon thanks to her blood getting mixed with an alpha Mimic's blood and thereby gaining their power to manipulate time, which is how the Mimics have been winning the war so far, and how she was able to win the Battle of Verdun. From there they team up to learn how they can win Operation Downfall and, more importantly, the war.

Whew! That's a lot of words! And one of the more impressive parts about the film is that it's all summed up and explained very well in the first act better than I did just now. So Sarah, now that we've seen the film and I've done my best to set up the concept of the film, what did you think of Edge of Tomorrow?