Thursday, July 25, 2013

Andrew's Top Five Films of 2013 (So Far)!

Andrew: Hello readers! My apologies that Sarah and I have posted our lists of our favorite movies of the year this late in the game (seeing as it's almost August), but better late than never right? Yesterday Sarah posted her list (which you can check out HERE) and as you can see, she didn't think too highly of this year's crop. I've been a little higher on most films this year so far, but you'll see that overall our lists are quite different!

Again, a reminder that there are a few criteria for our lists: the films included have to be films we’ve actually seen and reviewed, and they had to be films that were released in theatres for public consumption in the United States during the 2013 calendar year. If you don't see a movie on this list, you can check it against our Reviews page and it's possible we just didn't see it, so it didn't qualify for our list.

So without further ado here, in descending order, are my Top Five Films of 2013 (So Far)!

5.) Now You See Me

Kicking things off with a bit of a surprise, I know! But hear me out: when Sarah and I go to the movie theatre, it's to be entertained, plain and simple. Obviously most movie-goers are the same, but with us it's even more so because of this blog. We don't get paid to do this, we don't make any money off of it, we do it for fun. So when we see a film in theatres, we generally want to make sure we'll enjoy it somewhat (hence why we haven't reviewed films like Alex Cross or anything else Tyler Perry's fingerprints are on). 

But back to my point: I had a blast with Now You See Me. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery behind who The Four Horsemen were and what they're motivation was. I enjoyed pretty much the entire cast, particularly Mark Ruffalo and Jesse Eisenberg. And more than anything I liked that it was a heist movie on par with the Ocean's films, one that kept me guessing right up until the very end, and ultimately left me with a smile on my face as we left the theatre. That's really all I can ask out of a movie, and Now You See Me delivered. (This is also a bit of an indictment on the quality of the movies that came out in the first half of 2013.) (Read our review of Now You See Me HERE!)

The CK's Not-So-Secret Santa Review Swap: A Two Tickets For... Video Review of "Trainspotting" (1996)

Andrew: Hello readers! It's been a little while since Sarah and I have done a video review, and when our friend Nick at The Cinematic Katzenjammer invited us to take part in his Not-So-Secret Santa Review Swap (In July), we figured it was a perfect opportunity to make another one!

The basic idea is that we gave Nick a movie that we want someone else to review and he gave us a random one from a fellow blogger taking part in the blogathon. We can't really say which film we gave out, but be assured that it was one of our favorite films that we wanted someone else to watch and review. The film we were given was Trainspotting, Danny Boyle's 1996 film about heroin addicts in Scotland starring Ewan McGregor. So to check out our take on the film we were assigned, watch the video after the jump! (And don't hesitate to leave any comments after you do!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sarah's Top Five Films of the 2013 (So Far)!

Sarah: Hello readers! Here we are at the end of July and Andrew and I are just now getting around to posting our lists of the top movies of the year so far. It has been such a crazy summer so far, so our apologies for the delay. As you may know, at the end of the year we do our Top Ten lists for year, but since it is the middle of the year, I thought that we should just do our Top Five Favorite Movies of the Year (So Far).

Like every time we do this list, there are a few criteria: the films included have to be films we’ve actually seen and reviewed, and they had to be films that were released in theatres for public consumption in the United States during the 2013 calendar year. If you don't see a movie on this list, you can check it against our Reviews page and it's possible we just didn't see it, so it didn't qualify for our list.

Today we're going to be posting my Top Five, and tomorrow we'll post Andrew's (since he hasn't written it yet). Instead of listing my films 1-5, I'm going to give my five in chronological order starting at the beginning of the year.


This was such a surprising movie! It was heartwarming, funny and a great zombie movie! I loved the premise that the zombies were turning back into humans. It was just so clever! And at the base of it all is a love story starring the much more talented Kristen Stewart look-alike, Teresa Palmer, and young Hank McCoy/Beast, Nicholas Hoult. If you haven't seen this movie yet, then you're missing out. I think that this is a great alternative for people who don't like the super scary zombie/Halloween movies. (Read our review of Warm Bodies HERE!)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Alone In The Dark: Andrew's Review of "The Conjuring" (2013)

Directed By: James Wan (Saw, Insidious

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston

Rating: R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror

Run Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Synopsis: In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron (Livingston and Taylor) and their five daughters move into an old farmhouse in the Rhode Island countryside. Soon after moving in the family starts to experience increasingly disturbing events that cause them to seek out the help of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga). Upon their arrival the Warren's discover the Perron's are being terrorized by an evil and powerful force that will test their faith more than any case they've taken before.


Andrew: Hello readers! Earlier this week I was able to catch a screening of this week's new horror film The Conjuring, directed by James Wan, who directed two of my all-time favorite horror movies in Saw and Insidious (as well as the underrated Dead Silence and the upcoming Insidous sequel). Needless to say, I had been looking forward to seeing Wan's newest film ever since I heard it was in the pipeline. Then, as the promotional train started picking up steam, my interest grew even more when I found out it was about the paranormal investigative couple Ed and Lorraine Warren - until now most famously known for their investigation into the Amityville Horror case in the mid-1970s. And although Ed passed away some years ago, Lorraine still lives in their longtime home in Monroe, Connecticut...which is just a forty minute drive away from where Sarah and I live.

Now, I've been interested in the horror genre since I was a kid. I read every "Goosebumps" book R.L. Stine ever wrote, I read and was terrified by the "Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark" books and I caught every single episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" on Nickelodeon when I was younger. As I grew up I started reading Stephen King books and watching horror films I probably shouldn't have been watching like John Carpenter's Halloween and The Thing (which left the biggest impressions on me) [UPDATE: You can read a term paper I wrote on Halloween from college that we posted back in October HERE], slasher classics like the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street series, and other genre classics that I hold dear like The Shining, Poltergeist and (to a lesser extent) The Exorcist.

It's Giant Monsters Fighting Giant Robots and It's Awesome: Our Review of "Pacific Rim" (2013)

Directed By: Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman

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

Run Time: 2 hours, 11 minutes

Synopsis: When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes - a washed up former pilot (Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Kikuchi) - who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind's last hope against the mounting apocalypse. (From IMDb)


Andrew: Hello readers! We're about a week late on this review, and for that we apologize, but it's such a busy time for us at our day jobs and with so many big movies coming out this summer it's been tough to keep up with it all! Alas, we decided to take some quick time and do this particular review the old fashioned way - via email!

Last Saturday we were able to catch an IMAX 3D showing of Guillermo del Toro's new sci-fi/action flick Pacific Rim, a passion project of his about gigantic aliens called Kaiju (pronounced how it looks like) that arrive on our planet through a chasm in the Pacific Ocean and begin to destroy cities around the world and how humanity is fighting back with gigantic robots called Jaegers (pronounced "yay-gers") that, as Wikipedia so eloquently puts it, are "massive, humanoid fighting machines...which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are bound in a neural link which lets them share the mental strain which would otherwise overwhelm a single pilot."

Got it? Good! So Sarah, I know this was a film I was very much looking forward to seeing because I'm a big fan of del Toro's work and because the idea just sounded so freaking awesome. Where you as excited to see it as I was? And now that we've seen it, what did you think of Pacific Rim?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Disney's Pirates of the Old West is a Jumbled Mess: Our Review of "The Lone Ranger" (2013)

Directed By: Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, James Badge Dale

Run Time: 2 hours, 29 minutes

Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material

Synopsis: Set in 1930's San Francisco, an old Tonto (Depp) regales a kid with the tale of The Lone Ranger - a former lawyer named John Reid (Hammer) who heads home to Texas to join his Ranger brother, Dan (Dale). While tracking down escaped criminal Butch Cavendish (Fichtner), John, his brother and his rangers are ambushed, killing everyone. John is brought back from the dead by Tonto, rechristened The Lone Ranger, and they team up to carry out the task of catching Cavendish, but wind up discovering a deeper plot involving the Transcontinental Railroad and railroad tycoon Latham Cole (Wilkinson).


Andrew: Hello readers! Continuing our task of catching up on reviews we’ve been late on posting, today Sarah and I are discussing this month’s big blockbuster, and utter box-office flop, The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer (The Social Network) in the title role.  The Lone Ranger is a bit of a reuniting of the crew that brought us the hugely successful original three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, particularly with Depp and director Gore Verbinski coming together again after Verbinski sat out Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

So this was Disney’s big film of the summer, hoping that this group of people could put together another successful franchise based on the old radio and television show. Sarah, now that we’ve seen The Lone Ranger, what did you think of this new attempt at a franchise?

Sarah: I thought that it was a feast for the senses, but that’s about it. It was action-packed and it was the Johnny Depp Show to the max, but as far as storyline? And character development? I thought it was incredibly weak. What did you think?

A: Well, I think you’re right, that’s it’s totally full of action, especially the last half of the film. But, yeah, the storyline isn’t the strongest and I understand they had to kind of set this up; it’s really starting from scratch pretty much as they’re trying to market this to an audience and a generation that doesn’t really know the Lone Ranger, or even care about the Lone Ranger.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It's Like Two Different Zombie Movies In One, For Better and Worse: Our Review of "World War Z" (2013)

Director: Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace

Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale

Rating: PG-13 intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images

Run Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Synopsis: Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt) is pulled back into action when a zombie pandemic breaks out and he is tasked with travelling abroad to find the source of the virus so scientists can create a cure.


Andrew: Hello readers! A few weeks ago when it first came out, Sarah and I were able to catch Marc Foster's zombie-action flick World War Z starring Brad Pitt. Based on the book "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War" by Max Brooks - or should I say it's more inspired by...

Sarah: Yeah, by all accounts the only thing this movie has in common with the book is the title.

A: This was a film that we weren't dying to see but we were intrigued by it because we both like Brad Pitt, I'm a big fan of zombie movies, and we had heard conflicting things about it, so we were interested to see it with our own eyes and give our own take on it.

So now that we've seen World War Z, Sarah, what did you think of it?

S: I'm not one for zombie movies usually, they kinda freak me out, but I enjoyed parts of this movie. Specifically the parts that were an action movie, the parts were Brad Pitt's character Gerry had to go around the world looking for a cure to the outbreak. I liked those parts. I liked Brad Pitt! I thought he did a fine job, but there were parts of this movie I definitely did not like. So I'm kind of torn on this one. I thought it had likable parts and parts that you scratch your head at. Like I found myself wondering why they made some certain choices.

But you're the zombie expert in the family, what did you think?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gru & Crew Are Back With a Perfectly Enjoyable Follow-Up!: Our Review of "Despicable Me 2" (2013)

Directed By: Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud (Despicable Me

Starring: Steve Carell, Kristin Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan, Russell Brand

Rating: PG for rude humor and mild action

Run Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Synopsis: Famed supervillain Gru (Carell) has retired from villainy to focus on being a good father to his daughters - Margo, Edith and Agnes - as well as starting his own jam and preserves company. But when the Anti-Villain League comes asking for his assistance to find and stop a new supervillain, Gru must team up with an agent named Lucy (Wiig) to stop a villain named El Macho (Bratt) who was long-thought to be dead.


Andrew: Hello dear readers! Our sincerest apologies for our absence on the blog lately, we’ve been pretty busy the last week or so with me traveling back to Michigan last weekend for a wedding and then hosting Sarah’s younger sister all week out here for an East Coast visit. Haven’t had a whole lot of down time when you combine those things with work, but things have slowed down juuuuust enough that we can finally post reviews we’ve been meaning to get to!

First up, Sarah and I were able to catch a morning showing of last weekend’s hit animated film Despicable Me 2, the sequel to 2010’s Despicable Me, which is one of our favorite animated films of all-time.

Steve Carell returns as Gru the supervillain-turned-adoptive father to his three daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes.

Sarah: This time around instead of being a bad guy he’s recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help them bring down a new super-villain they can’t quite seem to catch. We were really excited to see this one because we absolutely love the first one, and this one didn’t disappoint! What are your thoughts on Despicable Me 2?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Emmerich's Latest Is Disastrous, And Not In His Normal Way: Our Review of "White House Down" (2013)

Directed By: Roland Emmerich (Independence Day

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins

Rating: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image

Run Time: 2 hours, 11 minutes

Synopsis: Capitol Policeman John Cale has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer. Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation's government falling into chaos and time running out, it's up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. (Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)


Andrew:  Hello readers! Last Friday Sarah and I hit the local multiplex to catch one of last weekend’s new releases – the action flick White House Down, directed by Roland Emmerich, director of such classic doomsday movies as Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012.

Sarah: And it’s not just that Emmerich likes to destroy the world, it’s that he also loves to come up with different ways to destroy the White House.

A: This is true. In the three movies I mentioned just now he has managed to destroy the White House in different ways. And now his new film is pretty much centered on doing that exact thing.

White House Down stars Channing Tatum as John Cale, a prospective Secret Service agent, and Jamie Foxx as the President James Sawyer. In supporting roles we have Sad Turtle Face…

S: (laughs) Maggie Gyllenhaal as a ranking Secret Service agent, James Woods as the head of the Secret Service…

A: Richard Jenkins as the Speaker of the House, and Joey King as John’s daughter, Emily, who has been coming on strong as of late with roles like a young Talia al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises, the China Doll girl in Oz the Great and Powerful and she’s in the upcoming horror film The Conjuring.