I Heard That Movie Was...

I Heard That Movie Was...: May 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Maleficent - 'True Love's Kiss'

Director: Robert Stromberg
Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley
Release Date:
May 30, 2014

Everyone knows the story of Sleepy Beauty which was turned into a film in 1959. It's been 55 years since the 1959 film and we have yet to learn more about who Maleficent is, but all that has changed with Robert Stromberg's Maleficent. In Maleficent, Princess Aurora is cursed by the evil witch Maleficent, who declares that before Aurora reaches her 16th birthday she will die by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning-wheel. The curse was later altered so that Aurora would be able to wake from her curse if she receives a kiss from her one true love. Although this is Stromberg's first directorial debut, he is no stranger to the film business having already being nominated for THREE Oscars and winning two of those nominations. He won in 2010 and 2011 for Best Achievement in Art Direction for Alice in Wonderland and Avatar, with 2004 being the only time he hasn't taken home the hardware when he was nominated for Best Visual Effects for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. So there is one thing we can expect from Maleficent and that is that it will be a visual masterpiece. But the question is, can Stromberg deliver far more than just visuals with a well known actress such as Angelina Jolie playing the infamous villain?
As a young girl, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) possessed radiant beauty and a pure heart and lived amongst the other fairies in peace and happiness. Maleficent and her fairy friends had a negative image of humans, until she met and fell in love with one, Stefan (Sharlto Copley). But this love later turned on her once Stefan betrayed her so he can become the next King of his land, turning Maleficent into the Mistress of All Evil. The diabolical transformation begins to take place when the vengeful Maleficent seeks revenge by placing a curse on his infant daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning). The rest of the story you think you might know by watching Sleepy Beauty but that is not the case at all.

Robert Stromberg delivers a visual masterpiece once again. Every single scene is consistent with the visuals and it is by far the highlight of the film. Stromberg and his team are on a roll and I expect his team to get another nomination for Best Achievement in Art Direction. But directing takes a different set of skills and Stromberg has yet to hit that one on the nail. Maleficent had everything going for it that made one assume that this movie would be a huge hit. The trailers were highly promising, a concept that was appealing to all ages and a lead actress that everyone loves. But Disney's live action re-imagination of Sleepy Beauty fails to live up to this potential.

The film stands at a run time of just 97 minutes and that is the first problem of the film. I'm not one to complain about a short film as Jeff, Who Lives at Home has a run time of only 86 minutes and is one of my favorite films of 2011. But a lot of the scenes in Maleficent could of benefited from it being elongated. For example, a fight scene in the middle of the film was thrown in and poorly introduced and ended in the same fashion. Then when Maleficent is bonding with Aurora throughout the second half of the film, it just feels rushed and rough.

Elle Fanning has shown us in the past that she has what it takes to be a good actress but all her potential and skills were reduced to just smiles and short lines throughout the film. And that was a similar concept with the other supporting characters as they never gave as much as Jolie did. Angelina Jolie on the other hand was beautifully casted for the role. Very few lines aren't delivered as monologues and even then when she is engaging in dialogue with another character most of time it is a creature of some sort. With all that being said, Jolie was still able to demand all your attention when she was on the screen. Let's not forget how equally radiant her costumes were.

Overall, I suggest you skip this film when it hits theaters but if you want to take your kids out to see a film then this is the perfect film. Maleficent isn't as dark as the trailers make it seem like, making it perfect for children but not as entertaining if you were to go with a group of adults. This film will be perfect for your Blu-Ray collection just because the visuals demand to at least be seen in the best format. Stromberg has to work on his directorial skills a tad more but once he polishes them and combines what he can already do with visuals, he can become one of Hollywood's top directors.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Blended - 'Welcome to Africa'

Director: Frank Coraci
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey
Release Date: May 23, 2014

Grown Ups 2, Adam Sandler's last film, was a huge bust despite raking in over $130 million in the box office, receiving a disgusting 7% on the Tomatometer from Rotten Tomatoes. You actually have to go back all the way to 2009 for a live action film of Sandler's that got over 20% which was Funny People that got a score of 68%. In Blended, Adam Sandler puts aside his "Grown Up" pals and teams up with Drew Barrymore again. This duo has brought us some of my favorite Sandler films such as The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, but can they give us another hit or will Sandler deliver another bust?
Lauren (Drew Barrymore) and Jim (Adam Sandler) are two single parents looking to rekindle their love life after 20 years of marriage. Lauren and Jim end up going on a blind date with each other at Hooters and things couldn't go any worse, leaving them both to believe that they are just better off single. The two never want to see each other again but unfortunately for them, that is not how fate works out. Turns out, both families end up going on the same African safari resort for spring break. Will their African journey make the two families kill each other or will it unite them?

Blended is a romantic comedy in which Adam Sandler hopes he can take a step in the right direction when it comes to making hits again. Two single parents with a combined five children makes it seem a little Brady Bunch-esque, but unlike Mike and Carol Brady these parents are dysfunctional and not the best at parenting in general. Adam Sandler has proven himself to be a successful romantic comedy lead but has also shown us he can be that shouting, immature man-child. Which happens to be the films biggest problem; it doesn't know which Sandler they want to give us. Despite giving us two different Sandlers at times, we see the chemistry we love in his past films with Drew Barrymore. There's just something about Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler on the big screen together that just creates magic. In the middle of the film, the two actors meet up accidentally for a morning cup of coffee. Not much is said besides them talking about their respective children and gazing at the scenery. Words are at a minimum but the chemistry is at a high. Really makes you wonder, why it has been ten years since the duo has teamed up to make another film? The scene ends with two rhinos having intercourse - que in the second Sandler.

Usually the cameos in Adam Sandler's films are highlights but this time around most of them are just duds. Joel McHale, Kevin Nealon, Shaquille O’Neal and Terry Crews all make cameos but the only one worth talking about is Crews. But then after his fifth musical number it gets tiring. Sandler does pay homage to his past films with Barrymore by throwing in two character cameos from their past films. Shockingly, even with all the negatives that Blended consists of, the film isn't all that bad. Yes, the acting from the children was not the best, Sandler's goof ball comedy ruins scenes at times and some moments that happen to be too silly, but there are jokes, believe it or not, that are actually laugh out loud funny. Try your hardest to hold it in, but you will laugh. Perhaps if Sandler just stayed with the successful romantic comedy lead side instead of his comedian side, the film could have been better, but the end result is quite charming. I wouldn't recommend going to theaters to see this film, it's best that you wait until the film hits Netflix or On Demand to have a family movie night just to see this one. Be cautious when you do decide to see this film with your young ones as there is an overload of masturbation and sex jokes.  

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Neighbors - 'Just Don't Call the Cops'

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron
Release Date: May 9, 2014

In 2013, Seth Rogen had all of us laughing out loud with his summer comedy This is the End. Rogen, who wrote the film, had his buddies James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and almost everybody else in Hollywood join him for the film. But this time Rogen removes himself from behind the scene and decides to work on screen, leaving the script writing for newcomers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brian. Rogen is also joined by both Zac Efron and rose Byrne for this film. With a weaker supporting cast and Rogen not writing the jokes, will Neighbors be another success or bust for Seth Rogen?
Seth Rogen plays Mac Radner, and with his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne), move into a peaceful neighborhood that is perfect to raise their baby girl. Well, that is until the Delta Psi Beta fraternity move right next door to them. Mac and Kelly want to appear cool but they want to make sure that the fraternity respects the fact that they also have a baby to raise. They greet Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), the charming president of Delta Psi Beta, with open arms and a joint to show off their cool side. After Delta Psi Beta’s first party the Radners decide to keep their cool persona and approach Teddy with the noise complaint to their face in hopes that would be enough. Teddy makes a request of his own, to always approach him first with noise complaints instead of calling the police. However, after one more extremely loud party, Mac and Kelly end up calling the police. When asked who called them, the officer points his finger at the Radners, and the frat boys officially declare war.

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are portrayed as hard drinking, pot smoking parents who have no regard for taking care of their new baby. As they partied on a couple of occasions while leaving their new born baby in the house alone. But despite that, the couple is instantly likeable throughout the film and you become invested in their attempts to shut down the fraternity. Not because you want to see their lives go back to normal and have their daughter not be raised next to drugged and sex crazed college students but because you want to see to what extent they will go to make it happen.

Sometimes juvenile, vulgar humor works for a film and sometimes it doesn't. For Neighbors unfortunately the latter applies to the film. Neighbors lacks character and plot development and instead focuses on stringing together a collection of silly and entertaining skits and this is where the film fails. If the skits are a hit and indeed enjoyable then Rogen was able to follow up This is the End with another comedic hit. Every scene basically involved sex, drug use, or some kind of adolescent act. In parts those elements can be hilarious but when that's the only thing the film consists of then you're going have some problems.

Seth Rogen has most of the time stuck to this type of comedy, and I don't have a problem with that because that is what we have grown and loved about him as an actor. But Rose Byrne on the other hand? Once again, she has surprised me with her character being exceptionally funny. After Bridesmaids and Get Him to the Greek, I am starting to expect to see the serious actress from August: Osage County have me laughing. Teen crazed females are probably excited that Zac Efron is a star in the film and they get an opportunity to see their eye candy shirtless but I wonder how they will feel when they see Seth Rogen with his shirt off. Not a sight you want to remember. But Efron did impress me with his role.

The momentum of the film stays the same throughout and the pranks are delivered in no particular order. They work but due to seeing them in the promotional campaign of the film, you aren't caught as off guard as you could have been. Neighbors will have you laughing out loud but not necessarily because it’s funny, mostly because of how outrageous the pranks are. Pass on seeing the film in theaters and wait for it to hit Netflix or On Demand.

There’s no real build or through line for Neighbors. The stakes stay about the same from beginning to end and the pranks are delivered in no particular order. Thanks to the lack of layers, Neighbors misses out on the opportunity to resonate and become one of the greats, but it still has enough charm and humor to make it worth your while. Read more at http://collider.com/neighbors-movie-review/#A6wIbgdh6Fhiymls.99
There’s no real build or through line for Neighbors. The stakes stay about the same from beginning to end and the pranks are delivered in no particular order. Thanks to the lack of layers, Neighbors misses out on the opportunity to resonate and become one of the greats, but it still has enough charm and humor to make it worth your while. Read more at http://collider.com/neighbors-movie-review/#A6wIbgdh6Fhiymls.99
There’s no real build or through line for Neighbors. The stakes stay about the same from beginning to end and the pranks are delivered in no particular order. Thanks to the lack of layers, Neighbors misses out on the opportunity to resonate and become one of the greats, but it still has enough charm and humor to make it worth your while. Read more at http://collider.com/neighbors-movie-review/#A6wIbgdh6Fhiymls.99s
There’s no real build or through line for Neighbors. The stakes stay about the same from beginning to end and the pranks are delivered in no particular order. Thanks to the lack of layers, Neighbors misses out on the opportunity to resonate and become one of the greats, but it still has enough charm and humor to make it worth your while. Read more at http://collider.com/neighbors-movie-review/#A6wIbgdh6Fhiymls.99

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MOVIE REVIEW: Chef - 'El Jefe'

Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson
Release Date: May 9, 2014

Jon Favreau started off his career through the independent film starting with the 1996 film Swingers. Since then Favreau has played the actor-director role since then with his biggest hit being what some considers Marvel's best stand alone film in Iron Man.Not everything Favreau has touched has been gold as he received criticisms for his last two films: Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens. The latter came out in 2011 and three years later Favreau is back and is taking the indie route again with Chef. With a casting that consists of John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Sofía Vergara, Robert Downey Jr. and more, will Favreau make his return worth while? 
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau), a chef who originated from Miami and was once considered one of the uprising chefs in the game. 10 years after his splash into the cooking world, Casper is the top chef in a Los Angeles. Even with a good job and control of the kitchen, things don't go in Casper's favor. Divorced and failing to connect with his son is the least of his worries as a food critic, Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), delivers a bad review that goes viral. The review results in Casper having a break down, leaving his job, a trip to Miami and a launching a food truck business. Joined with his close friend Martin (John Leguizamo) and his son Percy (Emjay Anthony), the trio set back to LA while selling their Cuban sandwiches on the way.

Chef takes you on a two hour long sentimental self-realization journey filled with one-liners, social media jokes, and tasty mouth drooling dishes. The film possibly can be a metaphor of Favreau's career. Came into the industry with much praised but after years of success he takes a few step back due to criticism received then top it off by taking a few notches down and going back to the basics.

Favreau does an amazing job casting with every single character. Sofía Vergara adds a perfect amount of spice to the film that pushed Casper into Cuban sandwich route. Robert Downey Jr. gives you an hilarious quick cameo while providing a food truck for the chef.

On May 9th, Chef is set to make its theatrical debut along with seven other films, the possibility of the film being overlooked is high. But with an amazing supporting cast filled with tasty dishes, Chef should be on top of your list to see if you pick any movie to see out of those eight films. This film is perfect to see if you love food or a perfect chance to bond with your child just like Casper did with his son throughout the film. If you decide to not see this film in theaters then I do highly suggest that you add Chef to your DVD collection.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 'His Greatest Battle Begins'

Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx
Release Date: May 2, 2014

Marc Webb's reboot of Spider-Man came just only 5 years after Spider-Man 3 in 2012. Some felt that it was too soon for a reboot but they couldn't fight that the reboot had some characteristics that are likeable. One being, Andrew Garfield playing the web-slinging Spider-Man. But now The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is touching some grounds that makes Spider-Man 3 unlikeable - having Spidey fight off three villains as Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), and Electro (Jaime Foxx) are all set to appear in the film. Can Marc Webb fit in three villains in a film and make it work in a way that Sam Raimi was not able to? Or will we receive another disappointing blockbuster film?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 begins not long after the first film. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has grown since the first film but still fights the ghost of Gwen’s father and the promises he has trouble keeping. Another ghost returns as Parker's old friend Harry Osborne returns to New York City after Norman Osborne's death. But ghosts are not the only thing Spider-Man is going to need to fight as a new foe emerges from Max Dillon. Dillon works for OsCorp and just wants to be seen and acknowledged - something Spider-Man once did towards Max, calling him his eyes and ears. But after an awful accident involving a tank of electric eels, Dillon transforms into a blue electrifying human and calls himself Electro. Now with a terrifying appearance and Spider-Man forgetting what he once called Dillon, Electro is ready to reek terror against OsCorp and Spider-Man.

A lot is going on throughout The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we have the love drama between Gwen and Peter, Harry returning to NYC, the background of Peter's parents and the events that transpire with Max Dillon. The relationship and chemistry Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have is strong and is shown by how intimate Peter and Gwen are on screen. You even find yourself in the same crossroads as Peter, you can tell that the love he has for Gwen is real and passionate and you want the couple to be together. But then you remember that Peter promised Gwen's father that he would leave her alone. The relationship works for the film and I enjoyed how Marc Webb played it out. As for Harry Osbourne, Dane DeHaan gives him this amazing creepy vibe that makes the character quite enjoyable. Harry is suffering from a degenerative condition, the same condition that killed his father, and the only way he can extend his life if he gets a hand of the spider's venom that OsCorp was experimenting on. Problem is, after the attack by the Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man, OsCorp destroyed all animal testing making Osbourne's hope of surviving that much slimmer but not impossible. There is still Spider-Man and his blood. Harry's return and health condition plays perfectly for tying in the background of Peter's parents. We learn way more about his parents, the spiders and OsCorp in general than the first film gave us.

Then there is Max Dillon a.k.a Electro, where Marc Webb and company went wrong. Max Dillon is portrayed as a man who is socially awkward, lonely and unappreciated - a man we should grow to have sympathy for as the film progresses. But is the sympathy felt for him truly genuine? After Spider-Man saves Dillon's life in the beginning of the film, Dillon becomes obsessed with the hero and feels as if he has finally found someone who notices him. When Dillon becomes Electro and a threat to the city, the whole world starts to notice him but not in the way he wanted to be noticed. But the film never gave Electro much motivation or cause to destroy the city. Webb fails to heighten Electro to that main villain level and to a villain that when it is all said and done you feel true sympathy for. But where the film goes wrong with the character growth of Electro, it picks up with the action sequences. Each one is brilliantly done and we get to see Spider-Man's spidey senses in action.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 packs a lot into its story line and I blame it mostly on the studio's want of building the franchise. With Sony planning on making two more films in the The Amazing Spider-Man series and spin-off films that include a Venom and Sinister Six film, introducing new characters are a must. Just in this film alone they introduce the comic book characters of Felicia Hardy, The Daily Bugle, J Jonah Jameson, Alistair Smythe, Doc Oct, Vulture, and Mister Fear. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the 8th inning pitcher of baseball setting up for the closer, with the closer being The Amazing Spider-Man 3.With the way the film ended, it leaves you expecting something epic from the next film and almost makes you upset at the same time that you have to wait for another film to know what is going to happen to Peter Parker next. Nonetheless, you should definitely see this film when it hits theaters, you won't be upset.

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