Monday, January 27, 2014

I, Frankenstein (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the new movie "I, Frankstein", spoiler free, and in about the time it takes to watch the trailer. Don't forget to take a shot at the Best Ever Challenge in the comments!

 

REVIEW TEXT

 You know sometimes in January the best you can hope for is not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
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“I Frankenstein” is the latest monster movie to try and pick up an old baddie and take him for a new spin. Based on a graphic novel, the movie follows Frankenstein's monster as he intercedes in a battle between Gargoyles and demons that centers around his unique mode of creation. Aaron Eckhart steps in to play the stitched up reanimated corpse, who apparently has traded a block head and neck bolts for a chiseled jaw and a stylish haircut, making him look like he would be more at home on the cover of GQ than in a dingy basement lab. Now, to be fair I really wasn't expecting much at all from this movie, and for the most part it delivered on those low expectations.
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Not to say there wasn't anything worth lauding here. I thought the effects were good and made for some pretty impressive demon disintegrations amongst some well done fight choreography. And it's hard to dismiss yet another wonderful performance by Bill Nighy, who beautifully underplays the kind of scenery chewing villain that might overwhelm less talented actors. Yet, my favorite thing? I actually enjoyed the gimmick of this universe. Conceptually, this world of a Gargoyle army protecting humanity from demons kinda worked for me. I loved the way you could sense the length and depth of this war and the rules that went along with it. In fact, the only thing I didn't like about the story was the inclusion of one Frankenstein's monster.
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And that's a pretty big deal when it's the name of your movie. Even if everything else around him could have worked, he didn't. Everything about him just seemed wrong to me. The agility and fighting skills, the updated looks (really, we need a heart throb Frankenstein?), and especially the intelligence. Frankenstein cannot be smart! This is not ok, I mean, have you not seen Phil Hartman play him on SNL? Seriously though, it undercuts the whole meaning of a monster whose entire persona is based on brute clumsy strength when you write him with smarts and cunning. I found myself in this weird place where I was wishing the movie could have just existed without it's title character. At least then it could have been one of those movies like Blade that you enjoy for what it is, instead of a wannabe blockbuster franchise launcher. Not to mention a decision made towards the end by one of the main players feels so completely out of character and without proper motivation that it steals any power the finish of the film might have had anyway.
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All in all, I Frankenstein has a few pieces stitched around it that might have worked ok if it wasn't centered around a piece that doesn't work at all. I, Your Movie Friend give it a C-
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Thanks for checking out this Your Movie Friend review, stay tuned for this review’s “Best Ever” challenge here in bit but first, I’m going to put up some stuff you can click over in this area. If you’d like to subscribe, which I would much appreciate, you can do so by clicking the big gray subscribe button. Want to see more? You can click here to see Reviews for Ride Along, The Nut Job, or Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit. You can also Click the logo up here to go to yourmoviefriend.com where you can search by title for reviews. And finally this review’s “Best Ever” Challenge, where you name the best movie ever in a particular category and also try to identify my choice. This time I want you to name “the best movie with the name of a monster in it’s title ever”. Mine is a remake that came 72 years after the original and featured the biggest size difference in a love interest ever. Drop your own answer and a guess at mine in the comments and first person to guess mine gets a point! Thanks and don’t forget to subscribe!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Favorites of 2013: Top 41 Movies


2013 was an incredible year for Your Movie Friend! Thanks for being along for the ride!

It's crazy for me to think that this little pop blog I started over a decade ago to just get my thoughts on culture into print has somehow now become an official source of film criticism.  Seriously, mind blowing.  But a midst the TV appearances, the acceptance to the BFCA, winning a YouTube reviewing contest, and fully producing video reviews every week, I haven't forgotten why I started doing this in the first place.  I love the way art can be used to tell stories that entertain and provoke thought.  Which is why I love January.

I get to rank stuff.

That's right, full on judgement. So each Monday this month I will be listing my favorites of the past 12 months, and I cannot wait to hear how much of an idiot I am for my choices. :)

Enjoy!

A few notes before we get into it:

- There will be no honorable mentions. If it doesn't make the cut, to mention it would hold no honor.

- I kept up with 53 TV shows and watched 179 new movies this year, meaning roughly about the top 38% of the TV I watched and the top 23% of the movies I saw are included. Math, yay!

- This is for newly viewed items in the calendar year 2013.  This means the final half of last season, and first half of this season for many TV shows, and also means there might be movies that came out last year that I am just getting around to seeing.  But for me these things were new this year.

- This is a "favorites" list, not a "best of" list.  I embrace the subjectivity of art.  This is my list and it is influenced by many factors that might be unique to my perspective.  Having said that, I'm pretty sure its also completely infallible.

Here's the plan for the month:

Favorite 41 TV shows of All Time (Jan. 13th)
Favorite 41 Movies of All Time (Jan. 27th)

Here's my favorite Movies of the year:

(CLICK THE PICS TO SEE THE REVIEW)

Gatsby


All is Lost


Don Jon



Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2


Ginger and Rosa


Despicable Me 2


Trance


The Conjuring


Olympus Has Fallen


About Time


42


The Croods


In a World...


Fast & Furious 6


Side Effects


The Heat


Thor: The Dark World


One Direction: This is Us


Oblivion


Dallas Buyers Club


Man of Steel


The Place Beyond the Pines


Rush


The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug


Ender's Game


Tim's Vermeer


The Way Way Back


Saving Mr. Banks


Inside Llewyn Davis


Hunger Games: Catching Fire


Captain Phillips


Pacific Rim


12 Years a Slave


Fruitvale Station


The World's End


Star Trek Into Darkness


Monster's University


Philomena


Frozen


Her


Gravity



Agree? Disagree? Bring it on in the comments!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lone Survivor (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the true life military action flick "Lone Survivor" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer. Hit the comments with your "Best Ever" thoughts and guesses!


 

REVIEW TEXT:

 I don’t pretend to have any knowledge of morality in war, but I know honor when I see it.
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“Lone Survivor” stars Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch as a part of a four man unit sent into Afghanistan on a risky mission and what happens when it all starts to go awry. The film is based on the true story of these four Navy Seals and sheds an extremely graphic light of what modern combat can sometimes entail. And as difficult as it is to see, it’s incredibly powerful.
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A lot of this has to do with how much we care about these men. The movie does an amazing job at building up the characters at the start of the movie without taking up too much time in doing it. By the time they head on mission we feel as if we are one of them, even though I couldn’t do a pull up to save my life. I mean, you just feel like you’re in it with these guys and you know they are in it with each other. There’s just something about the camaraderie of the military that is stunning in its dedication and sacrifice. I loved it. I also loved the beauty of the Afghan environment and the way it was filmed, almost becoming its own character. Both beautiful and dangerous, it was hard not to be in awe of the setting. I think it’s also important to give props to these acting performances, especially Wahlberg and Kitsch. I was skeptical when I heard Wahlberg’s name being thrown around for awards consideration, but after seeing the movie, I get it. There’s a nuance to this role that is difficult to pull off, but he really does find the sweet spot between hardened military man and complex human being. But the best thing for me was the power of choice. There is a crucial moment early on where these men are faced with a choice and to watch them decide what to do is humbling and replete with moral drama. And they aren’t the only ones, there are choices made by some local Afghanee residents that are pretty stunning as well, and the honor shown on both sides is truly praiseworthy amidst some very real consequences.
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And the movie doesn’t shy away from those consequences. This is a no holds barred war movie. In order to give the full effect of these choices the creators made the decision to not shy away from the gruesome violence involved. This is not a movie for the squeamish. I’ll go ahead and call it my worst thing, but honestly I’m not sure it was really a bad choice, because it powerfully brings home the reality of what these men went through. Still its very hard to watch.
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At the end of the day, Lone Survivor is an eye opening tale that makes it difficult to keep your eyes open. It’s an incredible true story told with precision and honor and even if the horrors of war are a bit hard to take it’s still worthy of an A-.
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Thanks for checking out this Your Movie Friend review, stay tuned for this review’s “Best Ever” challenge here in bit but first, I’m going to put up some stuff you can click over in this area. If you’d like to subscribe, which I would much appreciate, you can do so by clicking the big gray subscribe button. Want to see more? You can click over here to see my take on the new Paranormal Activity movie. It’s also time to start posting my favorites of 2013 posts, starting this week with my Favorite 15 TV Shows of the years. You can also Click the logo up here to go to yourmoviefriend.com where you can search by title for reviews. And finally this review’s “Best Ever” Challenge, where you name the best movie ever in a particular category and also try to identify my choice. What is the “the best war movie ever”. Yeah, mine’s obvious, even though there are some really great ones out there, it’s hard for me to pick anything other than the one that involves a talented Oscar winning screenwriter being rescued by a talented Oscar winning Actor.. Drop your own answer and a guess at mine in the comments and first person to guess mine gets a point! Thanks and don’t forget to subscribe!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the latest found footage horror movie "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer. Hit the comments with your "Best Ever" thoughts and guesses!

 

REVIEW TEXT:

 Really, another paranormal activity movie? Is it January already?
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“Paranormal Activity The Marked Ones” is the fifth instalment in the Paranormal Activity universe, that started 6 years ago and fully ushered in the “found footage” horror movie genre. This time we follow a latino family as they find new and completely manufactured ways of filming their own mysterious encounters. Now, of course the easy thing to do here, and it would save us all a lot of time, would be to ask a simple question. Did you enjoy the other Paranormal Activity movies? Yes? then welcome! No? Then run away. Run far, far away. But since you’re here, just for the sake of kicks lets break it down a bit.
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Let’s start with the good. The actings actually not that bad, which is surprising considering “found footage” acting isn’t exactly easy. There is a different way people act when they are aware of a camera that sometimes is hard to capture in a performance, but they do pretty well here. One thing that’s nice about that is it really helps the humor to land. I found myself smiling a lot more than usual, especially early on. I also enjoyed that this takes place in a Latino culture and away from the normal environment we usually see. Let’s even call it the best thing. It’s just nice to know that even in the Barrio demons possess people with the uncanny knack to always be pointing a camera at important supernatural events. And one more kinda good thing. I thought that the movie had a couple clever takes on the genre, one involving the old electronic game Simon, even if the end was a little too clever for its own good.
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Of course all of that does little to offset the fact that this genre of movie is just played out. You can just feel the entire audience rolling their eyes every time the scene goes silent to set us up for the big jump scare. And here’s the thing, when you know when and how these scares are coming, waiting for them isn’t called tension anymore, its called boredom. Of course the worst thing is the tedium of having to justify every single moment as to why somebody just happens to be filming the scene. It works ok for the first half when the movie is lighter, but once stuff starts going down, there is no way these people are hanging on to these cameras. Not to mention that they certainly wouldn’t be framing the pictures so well at the same time as screaming for their lives. You know what would work? Google Glass. Takes care of both problems. You’re wearing the camera so you wouldn’t think to drop it or turn it off, and your framing would always be what you see. My apologies if I just inadvertently created Paranormal Activity 6, I promise that was not my intent.
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At the end of the day, Paranormal Activity The Marked Ones is another Paranormal Activities movie, even the better than usual acting, and an interesting new environment can’t offset the ridiculousness of the now stale found footage gimmick. I’m going with a C-
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Thanks for checking out this Your Movie Friend review, stay tuned for this review’s “Best Ever” challenge here in bit but first, I’m going to put up some stuff you can click over in this area. If you’d like to subscribe, which I would much appreciate, you can do so by clicking the big gray subscribe button. Want to see more? You can click here to see a review for the military action flick “Lone Survivor” and this week also kicks off my Favorites of 2013 posts. This week I’m posting my Top 15 TV Shows of 2013. You can also Click the logo up here to go to yourmoviefriend.com where you can search by title for reviews. And finally this review’s “Best Ever” Challenge, where you name the best movie ever in a particular category and also try to identify my choice. What is the “the best found footage movie ever”. Just for purity's sake the entire movie must be found footage. Mine involved a very memorable and humongous decapitation. Drop your own answer and a guess at mine in the comments and first person to guess mine gets a point! Thanks and don’t forget to subscribe!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Favorites of 2013: Top 20 TV Shows


2013 was an incredible year for Your Movie Friend! Thanks for being along for the ride!

It's crazy for me to think that this little pop blog I started over a decade ago to just get my thoughts on culture into print has somehow now become an official source of film criticism.  Seriously, mind blowing.  But a midst the TV appearances, the acceptance to the BFCA, winning a YouTube reviewing contest, and fully producing video reviews every week, I haven't forgotten why I started doing this in the first place.  I love the way art can be used to tell stories that entertain and provoke thought.  Which is why I love January.

I get to rank stuff.

That's right, full on judgement. So each Monday this month I will be listing my favorites of the past 12 months, and I cannot wait to hear how much of an idiot I am for my choices. :)

Enjoy!

A few notes before we get into it:

- There will be no honorable mentions. If it doesn't make the cut, to mention it would hold no honor.

- I kept up with 53 TV shows and watched 179 new movies this year, meaning roughly about the top 38% of the TV I watched and the top 23% of the movies I saw are included. Math, yay!

- This is for newly viewed items in the calendar year 2013.  This means the final half of last season, and first half of this season for many TV shows, and also means there might be movies that came out last year that I am just getting around to seeing.  But for me these things were new this year.

- This is a "favorites" list, not a "best of" list.  I embrace the subjectivity of art.  This is my list and it is influenced by many factors that might be unique to my perspective.  Having said that, I'm pretty sure its also completely infallible.

Here's the plan for the month:

Favorite 41 TV shows of All Time (Jan. 13th)
Favorite 41 Movies of All Time (Jan. 27th)

Here's my favorite TV of the year:


Elementary


So You Think You Can Dance


The Blacklist


American Ninja Warrior


The Simpsons


Downton Abbey


Phineas & Ferb


Almost Human


The Sing Off


The Americans


The Legend of Korra


Parks and Recreation


Newsroom


Brooklyn Nine-Nine


Survivor


Modern Family


Arrested Development


New Girl


Doctor Who


Breaking Bad



Agree? Disagree? Bring it on in the comments!