I Heard That Movie Was...

I Heard That Movie Was...: September 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: The Equalizer - 'What Do You See When You Look At Me?'

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz
Release Date: September 26, 2014

The Equalizer was once a TV show that aired during the late 80's, starring Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a former black ops commando turned private detective who helps various clients equalize the odds. Two decades later and fan favorite Denzel Washington is taking on the role as Robert McCall. Joining Washington on the project is director Antoine Fuqua who teamed up with Washington in his Oscar winning role, Training Day. The two have created magic before and action films are Fuqua's specialty, but this film fails to pull the rabbit out of the hat.
Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), is a former black ops commando who has faked his death to live a quiet life in Boston. When he comes out of his self-imposed retirement to rescue a young girl, Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), he finds himself face to face with ultra-violent Russian gangsters. As he serves vengeance against those who brutalize the helpless, McCall’s desire for justice is reawakened. If someone has a problem, the odds are stacked against them, and they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.

If you are a fan of the TV show, then you would notice a few changes to McCall's character and the setting in the film. Originally set in New York, Woodward's McCall rode around in a beautiful Jaguar XJ6 but in Fuqua's adaptation of The Equalizer, McCall takes the most beautiful public bus money can buy.

There are a lot of flaws when it comes to The Equalizer but when Denzel Washington is your lead, you can afford some mistakes, well, atleast that's the case for this film. The plot is flimsy, the characters lack depth, and questions go unanswered. But one thing this film doesn't lack is violence. There is PLENTY of violence in this film which aids in the entertainment value of the film. But in order to be entertained you have to try your best to ask yourself, "How is that even possible?" If the film lasted any longer, I was sure we were going to see McCall take out the whole Russian army all by himself. The film plays in between both corners of realistic action and entertaining action. McCall, despite being in his 50's, is indestructible. If he gets wounded in battle, he quickly takes care of it by either pouring boiled honey or placing a flaming hot door knob on the wound. Guns are out of the question for McCall as he would rather kill his enemies in the most violent ways possible with any tools he might find at his job, a Home Depot-esque store. The deadly but quiet characteristics Denzel brings to McCall saves the film.

One problem with the film is the supporting characters surrounding Denzel's McCall. Moretz is not the most believable Russian call-girl but the slow paced build up between Denzel and Moretz' characters form an intimate build up. Should it have been enough to have McCall go back to his unknown past that he promised his deceased wife he will never return to? Perhaps not. But having Moretz disappear in the last two-thirds of the film only hinders the film as her character would of been better bait for the antagonists to lure McCall. As for our antagonist, Marton Csokas starts off strong as Teddy, the Russian killer sent after McCall, but as the film continues he becomes just another generic villain.

Teddy is not the only generic thing of the film as Duqua used the most generic action movie shot known to mankind; a slow motion walk away from an explosion. A scene that we have all watched countless times. Duqua resorts to slow motion scenes too often as we are given another one towards the end of the film.

The film's run time is the most damaging as it sits at 132 minutes (2 hours and 12 minutes). Over a half an hour is used on showing us McCall's daily routine and extra time is used on a subplot between McCall and his co-worker in which he is training him to lose weight, something the film could of lived without. Denzel shines in the film but nothing else shows more than shimmer. If you are a huge Denzel fan then you will have a pretty fun time in the theaters but just save your money and don't see it in IMAX. With rumors that a sequel is already in the work, The Equalizer should definitely be added to your DVD collection and let's hope that the sequel doesn't make the same mistakes as this film does have a lot of potential.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Men, Women & Children - 'What is RL?'

Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer
Release Date: October 1, 2014

If you've been living in a cave for the past decade or so, let me tell you about the biggest thing in the world - the internet. The original purpose for the internet was for researchers to exchange data between one another without needing to be physically next to each other. Today, exchanging data is only one of the thousands of things that can be done on the World Wide Web. The internet has revolutionized communication to the point where it would be almost alien to meet someone who hasn't used the internet, let alone on a daily basis, since it is accessible on your smart phone. The internet has millions of benefits for civilization but its greatest harm is what Jason Reitman's addresses in his film Men, Women & Children. This message alone makes Men, Women & Children a must watch for future parents, aging adolescents and anybody who uses the internet on a daily basis.
Jason Reitman's ensemble comedy-drama Men, Women & Children details the various ways social media and the internet has affected the relationships of a number of characters. Based on the novel of the same name by Chad Kultgen, the movie features Adam Sandler and Rosemarie DeWitt as a married couple who each use the internet to find lovers, Judy Greer as a failed actress who spends much of her time pushing her daughter's career through a website, and Jennifer Garner as a mother who takes every precaution to make sure she knows what her daughter does online.

"That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives." Men, Women & Children is framed around the concept from Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" and begins with our narrator (Emma Thompson) informing the viewers about Carl Sagan's Voyager 1 project which launched in 1977. The film starts off in space but is very grounded with the characters here on Earth.

Don (Adam Sandler) and Helen Truby (Rosemarie DeWitt) lay by each other in bed while playing a game on their own individual tablet, they have forgotten what it felt to be desired, and how intimacy feels between one another. This little night game on their tablet is the most intimate moment they cherish now. As a result of Tim Mooney's (Ansel Elgort) mother walking out of his and his father's life, he dropped out of football despite being the star of his high school team. He then finds comfort in living in a virtual world in which all his current friends, that he has never met, live in as well. Allison Doss (Elena Kampouris) is struggling with her inner-beauty and believes that not eating to lose weight is the best way to go, and users on a website entitled 'prettybitchesdonteat.com' help her along the way. Joan Clint, who failed in becoming an actress, now lives through her daughter, Hannah Clint (Olivia Crocicchia), and publishes inappropriate pictures of her daughter on the internet for middle-aged men to buy in hopes that her daughter may become a successful actress one day. Lastly, Patricia Beltmeyer (Jennifer Garner) is making sure to the best of her ability that her daughter avoids exposure to the situations listed above.

As I stated earlier, the internet was meant to help make communication easier among people but ironically all the internet has done is harm communication. Reitman beautifully displays how communication happens via the internet in 2014. Communication in the film is via text message between individuals who are walking distance from each other, internet chat groups among strangers, or characters typing a paragraph filled with feelings and thoughts but is deleted as they send a mere emotionless sentence instead. It is a scary but perfect representation of the barrier that the internet has created for communication. 

The film lacks a traditional narrative and Reitman uses each character to bounce off each other and curtains the viewers to their lives. Something Reitman never does, which I praise him for, is shed judgment on his characters as he tackles all these very sensitive topics with such grace and elegance. If done wrong, viewers could have easily been upset with the end result of each character. Each character does their best to justify their actions, not to the viewers, not to other characters but to themselves and every action Reitman shows his characters make is important and plays as an important tool to the character's development even when we disagree with them.

This isn't a happy go lucky film, it actually can be quite depressing, especially when you begin to hear sniffling throughout the theater. But this film is very important to this generation and generations to come as long as the internet plays this huge role in everybody's day-to-day lives. It is a film I will for sure show my future children as I introduce them to technology and I will re-watch as I enter parenthood to remind me of the dangers that the internet plays on adolescents. Men, Women & Children does not give the viewers much closure and neither does most of the characters at the film's end but maybe that's exactly what Reitman's message was: life goes on. We do not know if the characters have fully learned their lesson or how their lives will play out but it wasn't necessarily needed to get the message across.

When bringing it back to the concept of "Pale Blue Dot", it isn't only the characters who need to realize that almost everything that happens, all the fighting, all the desires, all the love, is very very trivial when compared to the vastness of space but the viewers as well. We all need to think on a grander scale and remember these computers and smart phones are just as trivial. 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

NETFLIX: Top-15 Independent Films to Watch on Netflix Instant Play

Finding films on Netflix's Instant Play can be quite a difficult task. Netflix offers its users a wide range of options to pick from and at times you can stare at all their options for length of a movie and still have no idea what you want to watch. Luckily for you here at I Heard That Movie Was... we are going help you narrow their huge selection down to FIFTEEN films and we will be doing it for each genre. The list will be in no particular order but just 15 films we enjoy and we know you will enjoy as well. Let's go!


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Friday, September 12, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: The Maze Runner - 'W.C.K.D. is Good'

Director: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter
Release Date: September 19, 2014

The Maze Runner is the first film of the post-apocalyptic science fiction book series written by James Dashner to grace the big screen. It seems ever since the world-wide success of the Harry Potter movies Hollywood has been searching for more gold mines. Success is hard to discover when finding a new novel to turn into a film, not everything has been as fortunate as Twilight and The Hunger Games. But The Maze Runner is following another Hollywood trend that is currently attracting movie goers - dystopian futures. Hollywood does not need to worry about their next franchise starter quite yet, as they have struck gold with their latest attempt.
Based on the bestselling novel by James Dashner, this adventure thriller for young adults follows a young boy named Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) who finds himself trapped within a giant, deadly maze with a group of other kids. While he has no memories of his life prior to being in the maze, he is plagued by nightmares about a shadowy organization known only as W.C.K.D., and hopes that these fragments of dreams will help him discover the secrets of his past and a way to escape.

When you combine Lord of the Flies with Lost, the product will be very similar to this film. A group of young individuals are put in a vicious environment forcing them to fight for their survival, meanwhile having the unfortunate luck of not even knowing why or how they got themselves in this situation to begin with all while not knowing their full identity. That is exactly what The Maze Runner is all about. The film kicks off with Thomas being locked in a cage that is sent to what the others call the Glades. Thomas initially does not remember his name but as Alby (Aml Ameen), the leader of the Glades, informs Thomas, "You'll get your name back in a couple days. That's the only thing they let you keep." Alby also shows Thomas around and gives him the 411 - they have been trapped in the Glades for three years now and the only way out is through the maze that surrounds them, but the maze closes every night to protect them from the creatures that live in the maze.

Upcoming director Wes Ball did a beautiful job in creating this universe. As soon as Thomas arrives in the Glades, you sense the fear and confusion. When more characters are introduced we are given more details of life at the Glades which only adds more to the mystery than solves it, just like Lost. The only thing a new discovery accomplished was creating more mystery.

Ball changes tones to much success throughout the film as well, giving us some light moments for our characters to get to know each other and create bonds but the film gets dark as well as not everyone survives a night. This lets the pace of the film flow very easily as they are forced into action by certain discoveries. You are kept on the edge of your seat throughout the film because there is always something intense happening from either a race, a fight, a new discovery, a plot twist or just pure adventure.

Ball shows off his art graphic background throughout the film as well. The movie was by far a visual masterpiece, especially the grievers, the half machine half spider like creatures. Ball created them as if the movie had a lavish budget. Unfortunately for both Ball and viewers, he didn't, but they still were very visually appealing which made their scenes that much intense as you felt their danger. It only makes you wonder how they would have came out looking if Ball had a bigger budget.

As mentioned prior, The Maze Runner is following current trends of successful movies and franchises. Oddly enough, they are two trends that the film doesn't follow which can potentially hurt its success. First one deals with the presence of Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the last person ever and only female to be brought up to the Glades. Young audiences enjoy seeing a love connection in a film, whether or not it's a successful one, as long as they sense a romantic underlined theme at one point of the film. Audiences will be disappointed as there isn't one but future books in the series might suggest one.

The second trend that the film doesn't really follow is having a strong connection with the protagonist. With Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen, fans grew a strong connection with that one particular character and might have branched towards other characters as well but never forgot about Potter or Everdeen. That is not the case with the film, you might find yourself building a connection with multiple characters instead of just one strong one.

Hopefully the lack of those two trends does not stop The Maze Runner from being successful as everything else done with the film was superb. From casting to pace to visuals, everything was done to the level that you'll be surprised that this is Ball's first time directing for the big screen. The way the film ended did leave a lot more questions than answers just like how every time a new discovery was made in the film. Instead of wrapping the first book up, it felt as if the ending was used more as an introduction to what viewers should expect in the next film. I personally never read any of the books from the series but I must admit I am hoping that Hollywood does continue making the rest of the series into films. Take out your wallets and see this film in theaters not because it's one of the better films released in a while but you are going to enjoy this film and either impatiently wait for the next film or purchase the books.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

NETFLIX: Top-15 Cult Films to Watch on Netflix Instant Play

Finding films on Netflix's Instant Play can be quite a difficult task. Netflix offers its users a wide range of options to pick from and at times you can stare at all their options for length of a movie and still have no idea what you want to watch. Luckily for you here at I Heard That Movie Was... we are going help you narrow their huge selection down to FIFTEEN films and we will be doing it for each genre. The list will be in no particular order but just 15 films we enjoy and we know you will enjoy as well. Let's go!


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: A Walk Among the Tombstones - 'Don't Feel Bad For Me'

Director: Scott Frank
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour
Release Date: September 19, 2014

Liam Neeson has trained Batman in Batman Begins and Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. He has been both Zeus in Wrath of the Titans and Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia making him a God in at least two religions. Basically, Neeson is one BAD man that you should not mess with. Now, Neeson teams up with director Scott Frank and brings his bad-ass persona to his latest film, A Walk Among the Tombstones. Frank is taking a second jab at directing after his first feature film, The Lookout, won 'Best First Feature' at the Independent Spirit Awards. The Lookout was also nominated because of it’s amazing casting. The casting was also on point for A Walk Among the Tombstones considering Liam Neeson being the lead role in this film. But this time around Neeson might not be the viewer's favorite character but as of the 19th his biggest blunder was still making the Taken franchise one movie too long.
A heroin trafficker whose wife was abducted and murdered hires a haunted private investigator to track down the men who killed her in this brooding crime drama starring Liam Neeson. Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) was an NYPD cop having a quiet drink in a Washington Heights bar when a pair of armed robbers came in guns blazing. Giving chase, Scudder kills the robbers in the street, though a stray bullet turns a heroic moment tragic. Devastated, Scudder subsequently goes to work as an unlicensed private detective, working just outside of the law and surviving on generous gifts offered in exchange for his services. Now, tasked with rooting out the sadistic thugs who brutally murdered the wife of a wealthy drug dealer (Dan Stevens), Scudder scours the bars and back alleys of New York City in search of his elusive targets -- and the closer he gets, the more apparent it becomes that they are something much more sinister than your typical kidnappers.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is based on a novel written by Lawrence Block and according to Lawrence Block's website, Neeson almost walked away from the film after reading a particular scene. Let's thank the movie gods that he didn't because the fans would have been removed from an opportunity to see a good film and potentially a future franchise starter. The plot might sound familiar to Taken, we have a retired agent/cop looking for answers to who a female's kidnappers are and where they might be. In Taken, Neeson's character had an emotional attachment to the case and he wasn't going to stop until he got what he wanted. In Neeson's latest film, he has zero emotional attachment, actually, he denied picking up the case and almost quit the case later. He doesn't care if he doesn't succeed. Neeson's latest character doesn't pack heat this time around and uses his words to get himself out of sticky situations rather than violence, all while fighting past nightmares that remains to haunt him. Neeson delivers in this role and you feel like you’re working the case with him along the way.

The true star in this film is X-Factor's Astro who plays TJ, a homeless teen who helps Scudder catch up on technology while hoping he can become his apprentice and one day be a detective himself. He delivers the comic relief that the film needed and you also grow a connection for TJ as you learn more about his life and his everyday struggles.

These character shine but very little has to do with the script. Frank and the script writers put very little into character development or giving any depth about our characters at all. We have to wait almost two-thirds of the film to finally find out about Scudder's dark past and what led him to retirement and like of sobriety. Our killers, we get to see some sick shit from them, but their motives? Their past? Never revealed. We are left in the dark, just like the setting of the film.

Now, will A Walk Among the Tombstones be successful enough to kick start a franchise? Overall, the film is something you should definitely go out and add to your collection. But with the lack of violence and action, what fans love to see from Neeson, it doesn't drive myself at least to be excited for future films. I mean, I have not read any of the books so I do not know how much violence and action are incorporated in the other novels but if they have the same tone, I can see this being a franchise I get tired of after the third go around at max. When it comes to other serial-killer thriller films, A Walk Among the Tombstones does not stand out from the rest. I was huge on A Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and that franchise has yet to see a second film. But don't let that discourage you from seeing the film as it is a good one.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Leprechaun: Origins - 'Nice Rolex'

Director: Zach Lipovsky
Starring: Stephanie Bennett, Andrew Dunbar, Melissa Roxburgh
Release Date: August 22, 2014

The Leprechaun series might have not been the best horror franchise but I must admit, when I heard about a new film that will discuss it's origins - I was intrigued. Nothing like a bit of nostalgia and relive some of my worst nightmares and sometimes biggest laughs as an adolescent by seeing the latest film. I mean this is the same leprechaun that traveled to North Dakota, Vegas, outer space and let's forget about his funniest destination, 'the hood'. But viewers who are like me, watching just for a jog down memory lane, will be truly disappointed and new viewers will be truly confused.
Backpacking through the lush Irish countryside, two unsuspecting young couples discover a town's chilling secret. Ben (Andrew Dunbar), Sophie (Stephanie Bennet), David (Brendan Fletcher) and Jeni (Melissa Roxburgh) quickly discover the idyllic land is not what it appears to be when the town's residents offer the hikers an old cabin at the edge of the woods. Soon, the friends will find that one of Ireland's most famous legends is a terrifying reality.

You really need to sit and wonder who WWE and Lionsgate decided to make this film for. They totally destroy any potential trip down memory lane by doing a complete 180 of the leprechaun. You have to admit, there was nothing actually horrifying of the leprechaun of the past but in Leprechaun: Origins instead of wearing the typical green leprechaun outfit they decided to make the imp bare and transform the 'stare and see what is actually in front of me' leprechaun to a 'gargoyle-esque, you better run because this creature looks like it will have me for brunch' beast. On top of that, not once are the words, "I want my gold," uttered. Potential target audience #1 - disappointed. As for the second, any fan of WWE probably had some interest at minimum to see the film due to the fact WWE's own Dylan 'Hornwoggle' Postl plays the titled character. Wrestling fans might hope to see Postl's acting skills or even see a leprechaun do their favorite wrestling move. Once again, another disappointment as Postl is so consume in it's costume that you cannot tell it is him at all and majority of the film he is hidden in the shadows. Potential target audience #2 - mislead.

Perhaps you're just a fan of horror and that is why you are checking this film out. You are initially disappointed due to nothing original about this film is original. Travelers arrive in a sketchy town and encounter a creature with an uncompelling story. Been there, seen that. Now does the film, actually scare? If it wasn't for director Zach Lipovsky making everything so pitch black than perhaps there might have been a scene or two that would have had the audience on edge or a quick little jump out of their seat. Lipovsky also threw in a couple leprechaun POV shot which were dreadful and makes absolutely no sense why the leprechaun has Predator-like vision. Potential target audience #3 - unafraid.

Now, is this film really an "origins" film? No where near close. Let's drop the fact that we don't even have the same leprechaun in films past but our four travelers did not even take a single piece of gold to be even attacked. Instead, they are locked up in a cabin as a sacrifice from the town's people because they are the one who stole the gold. We are briefly told why and how the gold was taken but we are not shown this process, the process which discovered the leprechaun and initiated his attacks - a true origin. Does this mean we will get another limited release or straight to DVD film that is titled Leprechaun: Origins II - The Real Origins? Hopefully not because I know I won't be tricked into another false walk down memory lane.

Overall, you should just plain out skip this film. Any potential target audience will be highly disappointed but the worst mistake producers made (besides disappointing all viewers) was they did not appeal AT ALL (unless you want to count the only true reference when Sophie screamed, "Fu*k you, lucky charms!") to fans of the original films which can potentially harm their alliance with the franchise.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

NETFLIX: Top-15 Children & Family Films to Watch on Netflix Instant Play

Finding films on Netflix's Instant Play can be quite a difficult task. Netflix offers its users a wide range of options to pick from and at times you can stare at all their options for length of a movie and still have no idea what you want to watch. Luckily for you here at I Heard That Movie Was... we are going help you narrow their huge selection down to FIFTEEN films and we will be doing it for each genre. The list will be in no particular order but just 15 films we enjoy and we know you will enjoy as well. Let's go!


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Monday, September 1, 2014

NETFLIX: Top-15 Disney Animated Films to Watch on Netflix Instant Play

Finding films on Netflix's Instant Play can be quite a difficult task. Netflix offers its users a wide range of options to pick from and at times you can stare at all their options for length of a movie and still have no idea what you want to watch. Luckily for you here at I Heard That Movie Was... we are going help you narrow their huge selection down to FIFTEEN animated films and we will be doing it for each genre. The list will be in no particular order but just 15 animated films we enjoy and we know you will enjoy as well. Let's go!


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