Friday, January 16, 2015

Two Tickets For...'s Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2014

Andrew: Hello dear readers. Long time, no post. We know. We've been positively awful about reviewing and posting other content on the blog the past few months. And it's not that we're not seeing films - because we are - but we've been pretty busy with our days jobs to the point that the time it takes to record, transcribe, edit and post the reviews like we'd like to feels exhausting. 

We'll try to be better as the new year continues, considering there are a TON of great-looking movies that we're excited for this year.

That all said, with 2014 in the rearview mirror now, Sarah and I wanted to take the opportunity to look back at all fifty-some films we saw that were released last year and talk about which ones were our favorites. Unlike in previous year's, because of our lackadaisical job at reviewing all the films we saw this year, our criteria is simply that we had to have actually seen the film. We've included a few movies that we didn't post reviews for.

So without further ado, in alphabetical order after the jump, here are my and Sarah's respective list of our Top Ten Favorite Films of 2014!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Walt Disney Animation Hits a Solid Double with Baymax and Co.: Our Review of "Big Hero 6" (2014)

Directed By: Don Hall & Chris Williams (Winnie the Pooh and Bolt, respectively) 

Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Damon Wayans, Jr., T.J. Miller, Genesis Rodriguez, Jamie Chung

Rating: PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements

Run Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Synopsis: Hiro (Potter) is a 13-year-old genius who spends his time hustling people in back-alley robot battles until his older brother Tadashi convinces him to attend the same university that he does. After inventing "microbots" to impress the school's admissions office, Hiro faces a personal tragedy plus the theft of his microbots by the hands of a masked villain. With the help of a medical robot assistant named Baymax (Adsit) that his brother invented for him, Hiro joins up with some of Tadashi's classmates to create a superhero group with the purpose of stopping the masked villain.

REVIEW

Andrew: Hello dear readers! Last night Sarah and I went to our local multiplex to catch this past weekend's big animated film release, Walt Disney Animation's and Marvel's Big Hero 6. Disney's latest is based on the Marvel comic of the same name, but only in sort of the loosest sense in that it took the comic's title and the characters' names. In all other aspects it is nothing like the actual comic, from my understanding. In a sense it's a wholly original Disney animated film. 

Now Sarah, I think there were some relatively high expectations for Big Hero 6 because Walt Disney Animation has been on quite the roll the past few years. Frozen was their most recent film and we all know how big of a phenomenon that became, and before that was Wreck-It Ralph which was very popular and a financial success in its own right. 

So with this being the first Disney animated film using a Marvel property, and the trailers where everyone was already falling in love with Baymax, this one had some high expectations. Now that we've seen Big Hero 6, Sarah, do you think it lived up to those expectations?

Sarah: I don't think it quite lived up to my expectations, but it did have some really good aspects to it. At its heart it definitely kept to the fact that it's a children's movie, but it's a children's movie that has the aspects of a Marvel superhero movie, which I enjoyed. I thought it was well-done and touching at the same time. It had Disney's mark all of over it, which was nice. It was just kinda fun.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gyllenhaal Gives His Career-Best Performance In This L.A. Thriller: Our Review of "Nightcrawler" (2014)

Directed By: Dan Gilroy 

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed

Rating: R for violence including graphic images, and for language

Run Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Synopsis: An eccentric but driven young man named Louis (Gyllenhaal) catches the bug for the freelance life of being a "nightcrawler": videotaping crime scenes and notable accidents around Los Angeles to sell to the local news. After Lou creates a working relationship with a local news director (Russo) and starts his own company, he goes down the rabbit hole - and to some extreme lengths - in an effort to beat his competition (Paxton) and drive his own career as high as it can go.

REVIEW

Andrew: Hello dear readers! This Sunday Sarah and I were able to FINALLY catch a movie at our local AMC Theatre that FINALLY reopened after a couple of months of renovations, and we took the opportunity to see this weekend's big new release, Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch).

Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a gaunt coyote of a man who we're introduced to as he's stealing a chain-link fence to sell for scrap metal and beating the crap out of a security guard who tries to stop him. Bloom is an eccentric dude who's obsessed with self-betterment and becoming successful at something as he struggles to find what that is.

That is until Lou comes across a fiery car crash one night and watches with curiosity as a freelance cameraman named Joe (Bill Paxton) jumps out of his van and starts filming the action. Lou discovers that Joe is a "nightcrawler" - a freelance videographer who films news-worthy accidents and crime-related incidents and then sells the footage to the local news stations. Lou falls in love with the idea and jumps right in, starting his own company and going to whatever lengths necessary to become a success at it.

Sarah, this was a film that I'd been hearing great things about for a while now, particularly how great Gyllenhaal was in it. Now that we've seen Nightcrawler, what did you think of the film and particularly Gyllenhaal?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Daniel Radcliffe Devilishly Moves Beyond His Wizard Past: Our Review of "Horns" (2014)


Directed By: Alexandre Aja

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson James Remar, David Morse


Rating: R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, disturbing violence including a sexual assault, language and drug use


Run Time: 2 hours


Synopsis: Ig Perrish (Radcliffe) is the prime suspect in the murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Temple), though he proclaims his innocence. After a night of hitting rock-bottom, Ig wakes up with a growing pair of Devil's horns that spur everyone he talks to to disclose their deepest secrets and imbues him with some devilish powers, which he uses to solve his girlfriend's death.


REVIEW 


Andrew: Hello dear readers! We know we've been bad again at posting our reviews, as we actually have two recorded reviews done that just need to be transcribed and posted, but we're here today with a quick review on a perfect Halloween season film that Sarah and I watched On Demand last night - Alexandre Aja's Horns, starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe. 

Horns is an adaptation of the book of the same name written by one of my favorite current authors, Joe Hill. Hill is a well-known and popular writer in the horror genre and comic book community for his comic series "Locke & Key", but he's not quite on the general public's radar just yet which is a damn shame because his 3 novels - Horns, 2007's ghost story Heart-Shaped Box, and last year's vampire yarn NOS4A2 - are all fantastic and definitely up-to-par with his father's work. It's probably worth mentioning that Hill's father is Stephen King, and that Hill made a name for himself with Heart-Shaped Box and his short story collection 20th Century Ghosts before people discovered his lineage.

Back to Horns, in which Radcliffe stars as Ig Parrish, a young man whom everyone in town believes recently killed the love of his life, Merrin (The Dark Knight Rises' Juno Temple). Ig is the only suspect and even his family is skeptical of his proclaimed innocence. One night Ig gets wasted and wakes up the following morning sprouting a pair of horns, and his horns seem to have an effect on people wherein they can't help but tell him their deepest, darkest secrets, desires or just the straight effed-up truth, while giving Ig a bit of influential power to make people do what they're already inclined to do. Using his new powers, Ig goes on the hunt to discover who really killed his love.

Sarah, while this was a book I absolutely loved and was excited to see the film for, this is one I kind of had to talk you into renting since you thought it might be scary. Now that we've seen it, what did you think of Horns?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Two Tickets For… Visits the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con: Wrap-Up and More Pics!

Andrew: Hello dear readers! If you've been checking out our recent series of posts recapping the trip Sarah and I made to Walker Stalker Con Atlanta on Saturday, October 18th, you know that we were able to sit in on panels where stars of AMC's The Walking Dead answered fan questions, and that we had a blast listening to them and recapping them for you here!

And while we really, really enjoyed the panels, we gotta be honest and say that our most favorite aspect  of the convention was walking the convention floors, checking out the vendors, watching some of the show's stars from afar, and getting to actually meet a few special makeup effects artists that we're HUGE fans of.

Today's post is going to be a simple wrap-up of our trip to Walker Stalker Con, with some pictures Sarah took while walking the floor, some pics of stuff we bought from a couple of vendors, and I'll tell you about our encounters with those special makeup effects artists.

WALKING THE WALKER STALKER CON FLOOR

- You may or may not know this about us, but Sarah and I are BIG fans of SyFy's movie makeup effects competition show Face Off. We've religiously watched it from the start of season two when we found out it existed. And during the course of the show we've had favorites every season, but there were always two that really stood out to us and whom we rooted for in their time on the show: RJ Haddy and Roy Wooley.


RJ was a contestant in season two, and as we mentioned it was the first season we caught, so contestants from that season have always been a little closer to our heart than some from more recent seasons. RJ in particular was one we rooted hard for because of his outgoing nature and his incredible work, particularly he fantastic makeup on the Tim Burton episode where he created a Burton-esque Bellhop. Check it out below.

RJ Haddy's character he created for the Tim Burton challenge in Season 2 of SyFy's Face Off, a Burton-esque Bellhop who is part dresser with clothes askew, and an actual bell he can ring if he taps the top of his head.

To meet RJ we literally just walked right up to his booth where he was selling makeup tools and promoting a class he would be giving later that day that we regrettably were unable to attend. He had just finished chatting with someone and he walked right up to us as we were looking at some of his work! We mentioned to him how we were big fans of the show and of his, and he gleefully discussed aspects of the show, including some tidbits viewers at home probably don't know about, like:

  • On Day 3 of a Spotlight Challenge, between the 4 hours the contestants have in the lab and then Final Looks backstage before the judges see their work, all of the models get an hour for dinner. RJ told us that he learned to not do the work around his model's mouth before the model ate dinner because the act of eating meals would mess up whatever work he had already done. In particular he mentioned that any pasta meals that included oil were particularly harmful to any makeup already put on.
  • Some models are fought over by the contestants far more than some others. We had been talking to him about this current season (season finale on Tuesday the 28th!) and how he enjoyed a particular fairy makeup that was made, and when we mentioned how great the model used in that makeup seemed to be a popular one, RJ told us that she was by far one of the most fought over models. We thought that was neat.
  • In the same vein, while it's very obvious on the show that for each week's challenge the contestants have to wait their turn to select whatever character they'll try to do, it's not as obvious that the contestants then go in reverse order to select the model they want to use back in the lab. RJ also joked of a possible conspiracy theory that the "random" order that's drawn out of a hat isn't quite so random as you'd believe.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Tickets For... Visits the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con: "Abraham's Army"

Andrew: Hello dear readers! We're back today with another installment of our coverage from this past Saturday's Walker Stalker Con Atlanta. Today we're bring your our recap of the "Abraham's Army" panel. It was the final panel of the day and consisted of three of the fresher faces on the show, Michael Cudlitz (Sgt. Abraham Ford), Josh McDermitt (Dr. Eugene Porter) and Christian Serratos (Rosita Espinosa). This trio joined the show in Season 4's Episode 10, "Inmates" as a couple of former soldiers on a mission to bring Eugene's scientist to Washington, D.C. as he claims he knows what started the zombie outbreak and can reverse it in D.C. 

Of the three panels that Sarah and I were able to attend on Saturday, this was the second-most attended panel behind the Andrew Lincoln/Norman Reedus panel. Alas, the crowd wasn't nearly as big, which is a shame for those who didn't attend because it was by far the funniest panel we saw. Without further ado, here's our recap of what was discussed and joked about at the "Abraham's Army" panel!


"ABRAHAM'S ARMY" WALKER STALKER CON PANEL

- The panel got off to a start as Cudlitz and McDermitt took the stage sans Serratos. Cudlitz was sporting his awesome fu manchu mustache and a baseball cap while McDermitt looked about the same as Eugene normally does, except his mullet was noticeably shorter. McDermitt (who, it turns out, is a former stand-up comic) gets the crowd riled up by declaring, "This is the real bromance. Andy and Norman never talk to each other on set."


- McDermitt immediately took control of the panel with a constant barrage of jokes, particularly about how Serratos had yet to appear on stage and how he had to share the loveseat with Cudlitz. After a few cracks McDermitt says, "This is a sh*tshow," then immediately covered his mouth after realizing their were kids in the audience. He also either pretended as if he just realized there were moderators or he actually had no idea. My bet was the latter.

- At that point Serratos ran onstage from the audience (no idea where she was coming from) and the panel was truly underway. The first question was fielded by Serratos regarding Rosita and Abraham's mission to get Eugene to D.C., answering, "If (the mission) fails, it will crush her."

- I missed what prompted this reaction, but the crowd went nuts for McDermitt and his character, prompting Serratos to crack, "A lot of family members of Josh's here today!"


"Abraham's Army" panelists (from right to center) Christian Serratos, Michael Cudlitz, and Josh McDermitt.

Photo by Sarah Keck/Two Tickets For...

- A fan asked McDermitt where Eugene's humorous lines come from, him or the writers? "I think (executive producer) Scott Gimple is a hilarious guy, such a dry wit," McDermitt said. "So he puts that in the script." McDermitt added that one of the most well-received parts from the premiere was his Eugene running away from conflict but without moving his arms as he ran, saying, "When Eugene walks, he walks with his arms down at his side, so I just figured he probably runs that way too and just did it."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Two Tickets For… Visits the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con: Andrew Lincoln & Norman Reedus

Andrew: Hello dear readers! Yesterday we kicked off our posts covering the visit Sarah and I took to the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con. Or, I suppose as the logo on the right says, Walker Stalker Con Atlanta. Either way, yesterday we posted our recap of special makeup effects guru Greg Nicotero's panel, which had SO much information that we had to split it up into two posts!

Today we're posting our coverage of what was without a doubt the most-anticipated panel of the whole 3-day weekend: the humorously named "Bromance" panel featuring The Walking Dead's de facto stars, Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. So without further ado, here's our recap of the biggest panel of the day.


ANDREW LINCOLN & NORMAN REEDUS' WALKER STALKER CON PANEL

Lincoln, who first came to America's attention as a lovesick puppy pining after Keira Knightley in the British rom-com Love, Actually, was the first to walk onstage and the capacity crowd on the 3rd floor of the Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart Building 2 went NUTS. Lincoln appeared relatively clean-shaven and spoke in his normal British accent (though occasionally dipping into his American accent he uses on the show). Lincoln is actually joined on stage first by Greg Nicotero as Reedus was running a bit behind as he finished his lunch.


The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln walks onstage before a packed convention hall floor. This was our view from our general admission seats, with hundreds of people to the left and right of us.
Photo by Sarah Keck/Two Tickets For...

After a minute or two of Lincoln and Nicotero joking around Reedus came through the stage door to raucous applus. Reedus, who first became a cult icon for his role as Murphy MacManus in 1999's indie crime film The Boondock Saints, appeared pretty much as his Daryl character would (if Daryl wore skateboard hats) and held his cell phone out in front of him taking video of the crazy crowd. He then pulled Lincoln and Nicotero to his side and took a video selfie of the three of them with the crowd in the background. These guys clearly knew how to play up the crowed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Two Tickets For… Visits the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con: Greg Nicotero (Part 1)

Andrew: Hello dear readers! As we mentioned in our Introduction post, Sarah and I attended the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con here in downtown Atlanta this past Saturday. If you were unable to read our intro or just opted to skip it, Walker Stalker Con is a horror/sci-fi convention particularly focused on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. We were only able to attend the main day on Saturday, and of the number of panels that were held, we were able to catch three of them, including the first one of the day - legendary makeup and special effects artist Greg Nicotero! 

Along with being in charge of all the fantastic zombie makeup and special effects on the show, Nicotero doubles as an executive producer and even triples as an occasional director. In fact, Nicotero had the honor of directing the outstanding Season 5 premiere that aired just last week.

Of the three panels we sat in on, Nicotero's was the least attended, which was a shame because his ended up being the most informative of the day. In fact, it was SO informative that we needed to split up his panel into two separate posts to cut down on reader fatigue 

We took the effort (oh who are we kidding, it was a downright pleasure) of jotting down Nicotero's talking points and taking some photos of the proceedings. Below here you'll find what we believe to be a fine summary of Nicotero's panel. Enjoy!


GREG NICOTERO'S WALKER STALKER CON PANEL, Part 1

- Nicotero walked on stage through a nice mock-up of the "A" train car from the Season 4 finale/Season 5 premiere the show's protagonists were locked up in a Terminus, greeting the 50 or so attendees with a jovial, "You're all the people who don't want Andy or Norman's autograph!"



The Walking Dead executive producer/director/special makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero walks onstage through a mockup of the Terminus "A" train from the Season 4 finale/Season 5 premiere.
Photo by Sarah Keck/Two Tickets For...


- Nicotero, who directed the season premiere, is asked about the train car set. He explains how they modified the car a bit from an actual train car by building the wooden frames that allowed Andrew Lincoln's Rick to saw a shiv off of it. More of note, Nicotero points out that Rick is using Hershel's watch chain to saw off the wood, which I didn't notice while watching the show, and how Hershel's watch read 5:01 - as in Season 5, Episode 1. Apparently every clock or watch in a respective episode reads whatever episode number of the show it's in. Little details like that are pretty neat.

Two Tickets For... Visits the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con: Greg Nicotero (Part 2)

Andrew: Hello dear readers! This past Saturday, Sarah and I were able to attend the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con, a horror/sci-fi convention focused primarily on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. This post is the second half of our coverage of The Walking Dead executive producer/director/special makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero's panel. If you missed the first half, you can read it HERE


GREG NICOTERO'S WALKER STALKER PANEL, Part 2

- A fan asked about Nicotero's preparation when he directs an episode and about AMC's notoriously stingy budgetary concerns. He explains that for season premieres, mid-season finales, mid-season premieres and season finales directors are given nine days to shoot. Nicotero says he traditionally gets his copy of the script, will jot down his own notes, and then storyboards how he wants to shoot scenes. Nicotero claims episode 9 of this season, which he directed, is one of the best they've ever done, that he can't wait until the audience can see it in February, and that some scenes ended up exactly as he had storyboarded it earlier that week.

Nicotero followed this up by telling an anecdote of one particular episode he directed where he neglected to make his shot list upon originally receiving the script like normal, and how he waited until the morning of shooting to hastily make his "sh*tty shot list" and how Andrew Lincoln came up to him as he was doing so and gave him crap for doing it right before shooting that day's footage.

- A fan asked Nicotero if he has nightmares, and if so, what are they about? Nicotero answers that he does have nightmares, and when he does they're about his kids, because they're back in Los Angeles while he's in Atlanta and he worries about them. He said he'll wake up from a nightmare and call his wife to make sure they're okay, to which his wife will confirm they're just fine and then chastises him for waking her up at 5:00am her time.

Nicotero continued talking about his kids, explaining that they were 5 years old when the show started, and that they've played with tons of creepy things their father has made for the show, such as the zombie heads in The Governor's apartment. He also joked that when his son goes off to college "He'll be like, 'My dad worked on The Walking Dead. I know Norman Reedus.' He's gonna get LAID!" This obviously got tons of laughter from the crowd.


The Walking Dead executive producer/director/special makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero explains to his panel's crowd how he and the show-runners look at the show and feel a responsibility to the audience to do fresh things.
Photo by Sarah Keck/Two Tickets For...

- A fan asked if the rate at which the zombies decay on the show will eventually hit the point where they're all completely decayed, unmovable and non-threats to the characters. "They'll never fall apart," Nicotero said. "I just want to give you guys something cool to look at."

Two Tickets For… Visits the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con: Introduction

Andrew: Hello dear readers! So we've been positively awful about posting our most recently recorded review, the Robert Downey, Jr. drama The Judge. While we promise we'll be posting that sometime soon, we are VERY excited for the next few posts we'll be posting here on Two Tickets For!  

This past Saturday we hit up the 2014 Walker Stalker Con here in Atlanta. It was a personal first for us here at Two Tickets For as Sarah and I had never been to a convention before, so when we heard a radio promo for this The Walking Dead-centric horror/sci-fi convention, we jumped on the chance to attend.

I could spend some time trying to come up with the best, succinct way to explain this convention, but I'll just let the "About Us" page from walkerstalkercon.com do the talking:


"Walker Stalker Con is the fruit of The Walker Stalkers Podcast with James & Eric. The podcast began with an amazing trip to Senoia, GA where James & Eric were able to view the set of The Walking Dead and meet the incredible actors from the show. As a result of this experience, a podcast began and then the idea of a convention focused around recreating that same experience with the cast and crew of the show, along with talented actors and artists from other zombie shows, movies and art.
Walker Stalker Con is not just a convention. It is a fan meet-up and an opportunity for each guest to come away feeling like they’ve had an amazing experience and became part of a greater community of zombie lovers! Walker Stalker Con is three days of events, panels, and experiences that zombie fans won’t find anywhere else!"



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#WalkerStalkerCon in #atl! Gunna go hunt down some zombies!


Guests that were present at the 3-day weekend included most of the cast of The Walking Dead, past and present, headlined by Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. Other notable guests from the hit AMC show included Steven Yeun (Glen), Lauren Cohen (Maggie), Melissa McBride (Carol), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Laurie Holden (Andrea) and Michael Rooker (Merle, also hot off of this summer's hit Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy); plus The Vampire Diaries stars Ian Somerholder and Paul Wesley, and Game of Thrones star and future big-screen Aquaman, Jason Momoa. Notable guests who were previously scheduled but had to drop out included Danai Guriri (Michonne), Jon Bernthal (Shane), and David Morrissey (The Governor).

We could only attend the Saturday session, which happened to be the biggest day of the event. We were able to hit three of the five Walking Dead panels - executive producer/lead makeup and special effects artist/occasional director Greg Nicotero; "Abraham's Army": Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Josh McDermitt (Eugene) and Christian Serratos (Rosita); and the highly-anticipated "Bromance" panel of Andrew Lincoln (Rick) and Norman Reedus (Daryl). Because of the tightly-packed schedule we were unable to attend Riggs' panel (he originally was scheduled to be with Guriri, but she had to bail) and regrettably we couldn't attend the "The Grove" panel that consisted of McBride, Chad Coleman (Tyreese) and Brighton Sharbino (Lizzie). We also weren't able to catch Momoa's solo panel, as it was on the secondary stage right before the Lincoln/Reedus panel, so we were already in line for that one. 

Starting today and over the next few days, we'll post an entry a day about one of the panels and we'll finish with a fun little post about meeting a pair of our favorite contestants from SyFy's hit movie makeup competition show, Face Off, and some sweet swag we picked up. These posts will primarily just be highlights of the cast's panels along with photos Sarah was able to take. We hope you enjoy these posts for what they are - your way to vicariously attend the Walker Stalker Con through us!

We'll kick things off tonight with what was maybe the least attended and yet most informative panel - Greg Nicotero! His panel was so informative, in fact, that we had to split up his talking points into two separate posts just to avoid reader (and editor) fatigue. So expect those to hit our blog tonight! Sorry for the delay!


Photo Courtesy: Walker Stalker Con