Movie Review: Contracted (2013)

contracted 1YOU WILL NEVER THINK OF A HOOK-UP THE SAME AGAIN.

3.5 stars

If you thought those STD movies they made everyone watch in health class in high school were scary, Contracted will make you never even look at a member of the opposite sex again.

Samantha (Najarra Townsend), a lesbian on the outs with her lady, heads out to a party. She meets a mystery man and winds up doing the unprotected, dirty deed with him in a car. She wakes up in the morning with a case of possibly the most progressive STD in the world. Her eyes are turning red. Her hair, nails and teeth are falling out. She has a sore on her lip that would make Herpes seem like a blessing. The majority of the movie focuses on Samantha trying to find out exactly what her diagnosis is, as her heath deteriorates and weird things keep happening.

This is one of those movies I’m so-so about. On one hand, I like the way the stigma and denial of STDs was dealt with. Much like any person who might have an STD, the main character is more worried about hiding her illness than she is treating her illness. For awhile, it’s believable that she would prefer to hide her condition, rather than treat it. [more…]

Then, we get 30 minutes in and she looks like something out of “The Walking Dead”. But instead of checking herself into the nearest quarantine, she just slaps on some big glasses and heads out to a restaurant where she serves food to the unsuspecting public. Even as maggots crawl out of her skin and her fingernails fall off, none of her friends mention her condition. Hell, one particularly desperate dude continues to hit on her.

Contracted2

Most horror movies require incredibly stupid characters in order to advance the plot, and this gory flick is no exception. The character goes to a gynecological exam, where she doesn’t even remove her pants and accepts a big fat “I don’t know” from her quack of a doctor without asking for a second opinion.

Finally, Contracted could have easily been called “Slut Shaming” without losing much of the point of this movie, because this movie is rife with slut shaming. We have a dubious consent scene at the beginning that is apparently all the characters fault because she got drunk at a party. Then, the big message of the movie seems to be “if you have sex with a stranger, you will die.”

Contracted3

Contracted1

Also, I hate the way guys were stereotypically portrayed in the movie. B.J. (mystery dude) was the bad guy who Samantha was drawn to. Riley (Matt Mercer) is the nice guy, that Samantha only turned to after she’s shedding maggots like dogs shed fur. It was the movie equivalent of a guy saying ‘girls only like a**holes. Nice guys finish last.”

The movie comes with a surprise ending, which is nice. I always like a good twist.

In short, Contracted is a decent B style, body horror flick. The people who did the makeup were absolute fantastic. It has all the right ingredients for a good B Horror, including a clueless heroin getting punished for having sex, lots of gore, and stereotypical characters. But it manages to end in a surprising way. While Contracted probably won’t go viral, it’s still worth the watch.

You can Watch the Trailer for Contracted below.

Movie Review: Geography Club (2013)

The Georgraphy ClubGeography Club

3.5 stars

Trust me, this Geography Club is not even remotely as boring as it sounds. This unique high school style comedy delves into some serious adult issues, while maintaining a good sense of humor.

The film “Geography Club’ is based on a best selling book written about 10 years ago. In this movie, Min (Ally Maki) invites Russell (Cameron Stewart) to join the schools Geography Club. However, this is no geography club. It’s actually a support group for gay students. As a twist, Russell is dating the high school quarterback Kevin (Justin Deeley) a still in the closet student who insists on keeping their relationship a secret.

The Geography Club does a good job of dealing with the struggles of a teenager discovering their sexuality in an open way. As the students are apparently going to the most homophobic school in the country, the support group becomes Russell’s one means of freedom, where he can be himself.

My main problem was that this movie tried a bit too hard to be PC. Honestly, when have you ever seen a high school club that just happened to have a representative from every single race…especially a gay representative for every single race? [more…]

Also, the movie stumbles through a few too many difficult scenes with no difficulty at all. Kevin gets Russell on the football team so they can spend time together. Wouldn’t you know it? Russell is a natural athlete and all the jocks think he is just plain awesome. He goes on a double date and is a massive chick magnet.

I guess the producers had to set him of for the fall.

Geography-Club-University-of-Utah

The movie still manages to send a good message without getting too heavy handed with the topic. This is important, as it is a movie aimed at adolescents, not adults. I also liked the fact the Russell’s family was actually accepting of his orientation, as opposed to doing the standard ‘no son of mine, get out of my house’ cliché.

Of course, the purpose of the movie is all about finding acceptance, so it’s not surprising that the Geography Club can’t stay in the Geography closet forever. At Russell’s urging, they all decide to accept who they are and come out, with mixed results.

GEOGRAPHY CLUB

As far as movies dealing with the subject go, this one is a bit of a light touch. The subject is dealt with maturely; however, there really doesn’t seem to be any major conflict. Most of the time, I was wondering why Russell was afraid to come out in the first place. It could be possible that the book was a bit dated, when you consider how much the world, and views on homosexuality have changed in the past 10 years. 10 years ago, gay marriage was nowhere near the political platform that it is now, DOMA was still in effect and the idea of having a high school just for gay and lesbian students was unheard of. The world has changed significantly since then and I think the screenplay should have been updated to reflect that.

In short, if you have a teenager who has questions, this movie is a safe, but not entirely realistic view of what it is to be a gay teenager. While sweet and funny, the Geography Club was a bit to light to be a major opinion changer.

Here is the move trailer, what do you think?

Movie Review: The Book Thief (2013)

The-Book-Thief-PosterThe Book Thief
3.5 stars

A more apt title for The Book Thief would have been ‘Shamelessly Seeking Oscar”. The Book Thief isn’t a terrible movie. It just doesn’t measure up when you consider past holocaust based movies like Schindler’s List and The Pianist.

The Book Thief was based on a bestselling book that I hope was much better than the movie. Leisel, a spirited young girl, is sent to live with a foster family in Germany during World War II. Leisel begins collecting books as she finds them, helping to inspire everyone during the holocaust period.

The biggest problem with this movie is that it pays no attention to the horrors in Nazi Germany. Instead, this movie could have been set in almost any time period at all, making most viewers wonder why it was even necessary to mention the time and place.

The message of the movie is clear; kindness can happen anywhere. It’s a sweet message, but there is no contrast to base it on.

In Schindler’s List, the horrors of the holocaust were not sugar coated, but at the same time, we saw the redemption of a selfish man, who sacrificed himself for others. In The Pianist, we saw a man who found peace through music. In The Book Thief, the holocaust is sugar coated and hidden. We watch a girl learn how to read. We watch people be nice to her. [more…]

It’s a sweet movie but it is set in the wrong time period. Honestly, I think if you are not ready to confront the true horrors of the holocaust including the widespread disease, genocides, deaths, economic collapse and all the other dangers of the day, then you shouldn’t be writing about it.

One of the major parts of the film was a hidden Jew refuge named Max. Even hiding this boy gave no sense of real danger, which is not realistic to the time period at all. Holocaust era Germany was a horrible time and most neighbors would not turn a blind eye when everyone knew that a fugitive Jew was being hidden.

TheBookThief

the book thief 2

The acting wasn’t bad. Sophie Nelisse plays Leisel very well and I imagine that this is a talent we will be seeing a lot more from. The settings were done well; thought the lack of actual obvious war wasn’t very convincing.

The Book Thief was an obvious Oscar grab, and it might have stood a chance if the story had a bit more bite, and if they weren’t up against movies like 12 Years a Slave. However, when it comes to the Holocaust, you just can’t sugar coat it. The Book Thief doesn’t just sugar coat it. They hide it, and then dump a ton of powdered sugar on top. To be honest, this is the first holocaust movie I have ever seen that I would consider safe for children.

The Book Thief is a sweet story, with a sweet message. Unfortunately, sweet stories with sweet messages don’t play well in a holocaust time period.

You can watch the trailer below!

Movie Review: Free Birds (2013)

Free Birds 1BECAUSE WE ARE WHAT WE EAT

stars

Just in time for Thanksgiving comes the family friendly Free Birds. This cute cartoon adventure movie is fun for the kids, and probably won’t annoy the parents. It has all the right ingredients for an excellent kid’s film.

In Free Birds Reggie (Owen Wilson) and Jake (Woody Harrelson) are time traveling turkeys with one goal in mind, to get turkey off the Thanksgiving menu. They hijack the government’s top secret, turkey sized, egg shaped time machine (voiced by George Takei) and fly back to Plymouth Colony in 1621. There, they meet up with some Native American turkeys and participate in a little bit of early civil disobedience.

Free Bird was directed by Jimmy Hayward, who can be either really good (Horton Hears a Who) or really bad (Jonah Hex). In this case, it kind of falls in between.

This is not going to be one of those big cartoony blockbusters that create riots at WalMart as parents fight over the last Jimmy the Turkey Doll. This isn’t Shrek. It’s barely Chicken Run. It’s cute, but it’s one of those movies that adults will only see because their kids are dragging them to it.

Also, for a movie about the first Thanksgiving, Native American’s were significantly underrepresented. For a movie that could have had an intelligent political message (like Horton Hears a Who), it instead relies on site gags and forcing plot lines in order to land….like forcing the plotline that there actually was turkey at the first Thanksgiving. There wasn’t.[more…]

Free birds 3

It feels like Free Birds was made in a hurry, which seems about right considering the timing that it was released. The writing falls flat and the jokes are recycled. There is none of the cleverness you generally find in good g-rated animated movies.

The actors were good. Owen Wilson as the smart bird Reggie was a good choice. Woody Harrelson plays one hell of a crazy turkey…who knew. Amy Poehler shows and gives a few good scenes as well.

The animation was adorable and well done, though some of the turkeys looked a bit like pigeons. However, this is a movie where clearly the animation was skillfully executed. The baby turkeys were so damn cute, it will make you never want to eat turkey again.

Free birds 2

Free Birds 4

The problem wasn’t the premise, which was clever (though inaccurate). It wasn’t the casting or the animation. The problem was the lack of good jokes and good dialog. The problem was with the script itself, which seems like it was thrown together. This might be related to the writer of the movie, Scott Mosier. Mosier is a Kevin Smith collaborator, meaning he works on raunchy adult focused comedies. The only animation credit to his name was the animated series Clerks, which was a raunchy adult animated series only suitable for Adult Swim. I just don’t think this guy can write g-rated.

In short, Free Birds is one of those movies that your kids will take you to by force. You will watch the cute turkeys and get a few chuckle worthy moments, but I really don’t see it turning into a major animated blockbuster. It will probably do well, because of its seasonal nature and it’s one of the few animated kids options out there…but it will probably ruin your appetite for turkey.

Watch the Trailer Below.

Movie Review: Last Vegas (2013)

last-vegas-movie-poster-2Last Vegas

3.5 stars

Did you ever wonder what was going to happen to the guys from the Hangover if they went back to Vegas as senior citizens? If so, wonder no more. Last Vegas, while a bit more tame than the Hangover, will still give you a good general idea.

In Last Vegas, four friends Billy (Michael Douglass), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) head off to the city of 1000 vices because Billy is getting married and they want to throw him a bachelor party. What follows are hijinks that are fun, though a bit tame when compared to other Vegas movies. There’s no kidnapping of tigers, no missing groom and no dead hookers. Instead, there are old rivalries and chuckle worthy moments that aren’t exactly laugh out loud.

Freeman is the stand out star, as the sheltered, fragile member of the group looking to get away from his families over protectiveness. When drinking a Red Bull he proclaims “I feel like I’m getting drunk and electrocuted at the same time”. Not too long after that, Archie’s winning at black jack and getting them treated like high rollers. [more…]

There’s a bit of a love triangle, with both Paddy and Billy vying for the attentions of GILF lounge singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen). There’s also a bit of fun with Sam (Kline) who has been given a condom and a Viagra prescription and ordered to have an affair by his wife.

Billy and Paddy are the main focus of the movie, with Archie and Sam playing backup. Needless to say, all four stars shined and no one underplayed their part. I would have expected no less from these four veterans.

last-vegas-image05

However, the movie itself falls a bit flat. It didn’t have the hilarious, side splitting humor of The Hangover. It didn’t have the heart of the Bucket List. It was your standard Vegas movie with senior citizens, that don’t actually look like senior citizens.

This movie is clearly designed to be a crowd pleaser for an older demographic. The jokes mainly center on the pitfalls of growing older, how much young people suck, etc., etc. For the first half of the movie, it’s a chuckle worthy, cute comedy.

Then, it’s like the screenwriter went “oh, crap, the movie is ending soon. I need to squeeze in some drama.” The movie spins around into heart felt talks in an attempt to jerk some tears out of the audience. The drama falls flat because the viewer isn’t expecting it.

Last Vegas 3

Last Vegas 2

Last Vegas is your standard light hearted Vegas movie. It’s not Hangover funny, but there are still some good scenes. The director, Jon Turteltaub, does a decent job with the movie, though I doubt the stars in it needed much direction. This is a movie that is carried by the big name stars in it. These Hollywood veterans take an otherwise forgettable script and turn it into something more. Simply stated, Last Vegas teaches us one very important lesson. Never underestimate the power of good casting.

Have you Seen Last Vegas?  Leave a Review and Earn Some points!

Movie Review: The Counselor (2013)

MV5BMTc3ODk0MTY0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU2MTEzMDE@._V1._SX640_SY948_High Expectations for the Counselor

3.5 stars

I always feel bad for movies with an all star cast, produced by a legendry filmmaker, based on the work of a Pulitzer Prize winning author. Sounds crazy? Not really if you think about it. When you take an all-star cast and you team it up with an all-star crew, the bar gets raised impossibly high. When it comes to a movie this hyped, Lindsey Lohan stands a better chance of getting a good review than they do. Regardless of what the early critical reviews are saying, I have to say, I didn’t think the Counselor was that bad. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible.

The movie focuses around the Counselor, aka a lawyer played by Michael Fassbender and girlfriend, Laura (Penelope Cruz). Due to the lack of ethics that many lawyers’ seem to be born with, the Counselor winds up getting involved in some drug trafficking scheme and more than a few crazy characters like Reiner (Javier Bardem), Malkina (Cameron Diaz) and Westray (a cowboy hat wearing Brad Pitt). [more…]

The movie has strong dialog and a decent amount of attention grabbing characters. Everyone has a part to play and no one underplays their part. Cormac McCarthy, legendary novelist and Pulitzer winner, didn’t do a bad job of laying out great dialog and fantastic characters. However, his screenplay writing abilities fall a bit short when it comes to managing an often convoluted plot.

f4b804da-4efa-457b-b907-7f32d6796c40_diaz-tat-back-cruz-counselor-grab

McCarthy seems to have concentrated on the dialog, but fails to explain key elements in the plot. For example, why is the Counselor involved in drug trafficking at all? While he is a man who clearly likes to live beyond his means, it seems odd that he would randomly decide to get sucked into organized crime as a way of paying an overdue Visa bill. Of course, it winds up getting messy and the Counselor tried to get a message to his girlfriend…because this is a parallel universe where cell phones don’t work?

Diaz seems miscast as a bad girl who likes to watch her pet Cheetah’s rip apart bunnies. I’ve seen her playing the ditsy blonde too many times to buy her as a gold digging femme fatale. Brad Pitt’s character seems like an afterthought.

the-counselor-michael-fassbender-javier-bardem-1-600x399

Brad-Pitt-Michael-Fassbender-Counselor

Usually, movie producers frown on novelists writing their own screenplays. There have been a few exceptions to this, but it seems this is one of those cases where they shouldn’t have made an exception. McCarthy seems so stuck on staying true to the book that he left out key elements in the movie that could have made it a lot clearer. The dialog was fantastic and the action was fast paced.

In most normal cases, this would be an above average action/suspense movie. Here’s the problem. This is a movie coming from the guy who wrote “No Country for Old Men”. This is a movie directed by Ridley Scott. This is a movie where expectations were extremely high. Because of this, it’s hard to not go to the theater with high expectations.

If it weren’t for the star studded cast and crew, this movie would probably be getting at least average reviews. However, this is a movie that had every advantage going in. While worth the watch, if you are a fan of McCarthy, or the filmmaking of Ridly Scott, you will probably be disappointed.

Have you seen The Counselor?  If so Add Your Review and Earn some points!!

Movie Review: Zero Charisma (2013)

ZEROCHARISMA_27x40_FINISH_final_halfsizeZero Charisma is Surprisingly Alluring

3.5 stars

Zero Charisma was a charming look as what happens to a misfit, when he becomes a misfit among misfits.

Sam Eidson plays Scott Weidemeyer, a chubby, fantasy role playing nerd who is king of the nerds. He hosts a weekly Dungeons & Dragons style game with his group of underlings, while living in his grandma’s house. Then, right before a major turn in the came, one of the under-nerds quits. They are forced to fill the nerd’s sport with ultra cool hipster Miles (Garrett Graham). Miles is everything Scott wishes he was, with a hot girlfriend, a popular blog, and an extensive knowledge of everything nerdy. Soon, Scott’s overbearing attitude takes over. This is compounded by the fact that Scott’s life outside of the game is pretty terrible as well. He lives with his grandma, works as a delivery boy, and has an absentee mother intent on putting precious nana in a nursing home and taking the house he lives in.

zero-charisma1

The film is aptly named. The main character is surprisingly unlikeable and his quick fits of temper, ridged ways and ability to alienate people have turned him into a guy that no one wants to be around. Before the arrival of Miles, Scott is able to convince himself the reason he is alone is because he’s a nerd. However, Miles has his own nerdy attributes and seems to be doing just fine. This creates a conflict for Scott as he struggles to maintain hold of his group

While the movie is a pretty well written comedy that has some slapstick moments, it also has a serious side. Scott isn’t a character nerd, like in Revenge of the Nerds. He is a nerd you could actually know. He is the guy who uses his nerdiness to protect himself from the world around him. He is delightfully delusional, and at one point, when he gets called out for never having a girlfriend, loudly proclaims “It’s because I don’t want to get tied down, you know that!” In another scene, his mom’s boyfriend is trying to talk to Scott about a Dallas Cowboys game, and Scott thinks he’s talking about westerns.

A019_C005_04050Q

A014_C011_0405MS

Eidson was expertly cast for this movie. He has impeccable comedic timing and managed to really make the self centered, pitiable Scott come to life. Keep in mind that this is a movie made for geeks, about geeks. It is a way of poking fun at the new ‘hipster-geek’ lifestyle, where attractive people assume the identity of geeks to sell to a geek audience. As a result, some of the humor might go over the heads of more mainstream audience members.

The ending of the movie is a bit of a mirror about Scott’s own life. It leaves the audience in a position where they don’t know what is going to happen, because Scott doesn’t know what it going to happen. However, the film does have the standard self-examination points that this type of movie usually does, and Scott seems ready to a least accept some of his own flaws.

Here’s the Trailer and if you’ve Seen the Movie – Leave a Review & Earn Some Points!

Movie Review: Machete Kills (2013)

machete-kills-movie-posterMachete Kills… and Still Kicks Ass

3.5 stars

Machete Kills is the latest installment of the Machete franchise. It is currently getting ripped apart by critics and as usual, I couldn’t disagree more. Keep in mind that Machete Kills is an exploitation flick. Keep in mind that this is a sequel to a movie where a man repelled using someone’s large intestine and Lindsey Lohan mowed down people as a machine gun wielding nun.

Simply stated, if you don’t take it too seriously, Machete Kills is a lot of fun.

In this latest installment Machete (played by the ultra-scary Danny Trejo) is back for some more violent, over the top action. Machete is hired by President Charlie Sheen to stop Mendez (Demian Bichir) an evil crime lord from launching missiles at North America. Machete proceeds to shoot and swear his way through an Acapulco brothel, a tech guru’s lab (played by Mel Gibson) and a group of mercenaries (Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lady Gaga) all playing one mercenary. [more…]

I’ve already heard complaints about bad dialog and I really think most critics missed the point. The dialog is supposed to be bad. It’s an exploitation flick. It’s campy fun. It’s not the King’s Speech for god’s sake. Some of my favorite gems from the movie include;

“Machete don’t Tweet.”
“You just saved the world’s ass.”
And my favorite, with the promise of the sequel Machete in Space…”See you in space, Mr. Machete”.

The violence is over the top, the action is over the top and the methods of murder are even more inventive. One guy gets eviscerated by a helicopter blade. People get shot by shotgun bra wearing hookers.

machete-kills-amber-heard

machete-kills-d4anny-trejo1-600x400

Machete Kills is just as fun as the original. Expect explosions, flying speedboats, Machete shaking off bullets and electrocution without a change of expression, Charlie Sheen smoking and sleeping with multiple women and more. No one is taking themselves too seriously in the movie.

Mel Gibson was a stand out star in this one, as the Bond-type crackpot named Voz, who wants to blow up the Earth. Sofia Vergara is a great foul mouthed Brothel Madame and Sheen does a great job of playing…himself if he was president.

Same goes for the effects. There are quite a few obvious green screen moments that make this even more fun. This is an exploitation flick that is fully self aware and done with a tongue in cheek intention much like the original.

machete-kills-sofia34-vergara

Of course, the original was pretty hard to live up to as far as tongue in cheek goes, but Machete Kills does a pretty good job.

I think a lot of the critics that watched this movie and hated it might have missed the point. This is an exploitation flick that is an exploitation of exploitation flicks. This movie isn’t trying to send a deeper message. In fact, there only seems to be one message this movie is sending. That message is “see how much fun we’re having.”

Machete is a great choice for those looking for some action packed light cinema that doesn’t make them think too much.
Here’s the Trailer and if you’ve Seen the Movie – Leave a Review & Earn Some Points!

Movie Review: Runner Runner (2013)

runner_runner_ver2_xlgRunner Runner is No Reason to Run to the Theater

3.5 stars

A suspense movie about internet gambling doesn’t really make for great suspense.

In this movie, Princeton student Richie (Justin Timberlake) is a college student who pays for classes by online gambling. When lady luck fails to help him out, he travels to Costa Rica to meet the online mastermind he thinks swindled him Ivan (Ben Affleck). Instead of just shooting Richie in the face for daring to go after him, Ivan decides to take Richie under his wing and teach him the tools of the trade. Things are going swimmingly, until a mystery woman Gemma (Rebecca Shafran) comes between them.

The movie is well cast. Timberlake makes a great young hot head who quickly gets in over his head. Affleck seems to have a way of playing characters with skewed moral compasses and he plays his part well. However, when it comes to mystery woman Gemma, viewers are probably going to wonder what all the fuss is about. She’s about as flat and generic as any ‘seductive woman’ character can be. In the end, you’ll actually hope for Ivan and Riche to get together and let Gemma walk off into the sunset on her own.

Cinematographer Mauro Fiore, whose past credit include Avatar, certainly knows how to take advantage of a beautiful location. The scenery was beautifully handled, in a way that actually took over the movie a bit. For a while, I sat back and pretended I was watching a really high-end travel video. [more…]

pc_600x4502

pc_600x450

Of course, when it comes to protagonists, the scheming FBI Agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie), plays the part well and his determination to take Ivan down doesn’t feel forced. Unfortunately, Affleck’s character seems to be the most well-rounded in the movie and after a while, the other characters start to fade into the background.

Also, weirdly, for a movie that was supposed to be about online gambling, there is very little gambling. In fact, the lead character Ivan could have easily been a drug kingpin or arms dealer and the movie wouldn’t have changed at all.

Runner Runner was directed by Brad Thurman, the same creative genius that brought us The Lincoln Lawyer. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get the same level of creativity and suspense into the plot of Runner Runner. In the end, the movie was really nothing but yet another generic crime drama about corrupt officials and the people that pay them off.

pc_600x450 3

The film boasts a solid cast, and great cinematography. However, the lack of a fleshed out plotline really makes the movie fall flat. After starting out well, the movie falls into a standard mix of the young, idealistic man struggling in a strange place and slowly learning the man who hired him is a sociopath. This plays out over and over and over again until you actually hope that Richie is the next one to get thrown to the crocodiles.

Runner Runner could have been a great movie. It had a good premise and a great cast to back it up. Unfortunately, lackluster writing and a redundant plot make it nothing to run to the theater about.

Enjoy the trailer.