Tag: Movie

Cheers!

On this episode, the guys take some time to break down their thoughts on Avengers: Age of Ultron and their review may surprise you a bit. Also, they take some time at the beginning to talk about Burns’ hatred for panhandlers and over-the-top Veteran reunions (he hopes it doesn’t make him a terrible person, but it just may).

Burns also walks through two other movies he saw during his mini-movie marathon weekend in Ex Machina and It Follows. The fellas also break down the new red-band Vacation reboot trailer, excitement for Tomorrowland and Mad Max: Fury Road, and Brent talks about what the next big thing in movie theater view will be – HDR.

But, most importantly, Burns tries out the new Coors Light Citrus Radler, their summer seasonal. This one may be a game changer (or it is just another light beer). All of this and they drink and drink some more, so clink ’em and drink ’em and hopefully you enjoy (or at least tolerate) the 21st Birthday of Long Distance Drinking!

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Welcome back drinking buddies!

It is upon us yet again, another Trailerpalooza! Even with Brent on location in Hot-lanta for work, we discuss the most recent reveals of information and how we feel about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Terminator: Genysis, Fantastic Four, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

We also discuss the new pictures of Jared Leto’s Joker from Suicide Squad. Plus, we get into a bit of a talk about WWE vs. WCW in the late 90s and early 2000s, the Nepal Avalanche and David Hasselhoff’s new song True Survivor from the movie Kung Fury.

But, most importantly, Burns does a double-book-end of Coors Banquet Beer and Shiner’s Birthday Beer. And the guys drink and drink some more! Prost, clink ’em and drink ’em and join us for more Long Distance Drinking! P.S. – Apologies for some slight audio volume issues in the very beginning of the show, it goes away by the 10 minute mark.

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The one issue with movies based upon real life events is that they are subject to the constraints of the real human lives they are depicting.

In the case of Captain Phillips, we follow alongside Capt. Richard Phillips as his ship, the Maersk Alabama, is attacked by Somali pirates. The depiction of the events that occurred is top notch, dynamic and entirely engrossing. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the characterization of Phillips in this movie.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I am trying to knock Tom Hanks down a peg, as I really am a huge fan of many of his performance. In Phillips though, it doesn’t seem like he has a lot to work with.

This partially comes down to the story itself. Phillips spends the majority of the movie in a reactionary role, which is to be expected with him being a hostage. But, even prior to that, there isn’t much time given to flesh out more dimensions of who Phillips is. The audience doesn’t get much of an opportunity to see beneath the surface.

This comes down to the writing, either the script itself or the source material they had to pull from. But Phillips comes off as a journalistic, impersonal representation within the film. If more leeway had been given to allow a bit more emotion or insight into the character early on, it would help the audience to buy into him as the protagonist much more. And it would have given Hanks that much more fodder to use in creating the character.

Without this, the points later in the film, where we see Phillips break emotionally or attempt to connect to the audience, seem forced. It doesn’t seem to build naturally, it instead just erupts and leaves us asking “Why?”

Note: Storyline spoilers to follow; skip down to the bold text to continue.

One prime example of this is when Phillips decides to attempt to escape from the life boat. Given that Phillips was so calm and collected an controlled leading up to this point, it seemed completely out of character for him to take the risk to shove the armed pirate and jump into the ocean and swim for it.

Now, I know they are restricted to the real-life occurrences, but more needed to be done to show Phillips building to taking this brash action, especially when he knew that the situation would be coming to a close soon anyway. Not enough was layered in the characterization prior to this to allow the action to make sense.

Contrasting the plain representation of Phillips is the dynamic portrayal we see if the three pirates holding him hostage, especially that of the leader, Muse (Barkhad Abdi).

With the pirates, more screen time is devoted in the beginning of the film to explain how they are forced into hijacking ships than is devoted to developing Phillips. Muse especially stands out, attempting to lead his crew to a huge payoff in order to earn less attention from the warlords demanding they earn more money.

As a newcomer onto the scene, Abdi does a phenomenal job of playing a character that should be despised, based upon our prior knowledge of the situation, and with skill turns it into one of the more sympathetic and believable characters in the film.

In fact, the one thing that Captain Phillips does extremely well is to turn what many believed to have been a black and white situation and display the various levels of grey within it from the four main antagonists. We have the previously described leader Muse. Along with him is Najee (Faysal Ahmed), who disagrees with Muse’s more lackadaisical approach to dealing with Phillips and wishes to command the situation more force, Bilal (Barkhad Abdirahman), whose injuries are tended to by Phillips and ends up sympathizing with him to some extent, and Elmi (Mahat M. Ali).

It is through these additional characters that we start to build understanding with. From the lifeboat sections onward, they also bring out more of the characterization of Phillips, which is much needed.

Spoiler-free from here on out.

Overall, the action in the film is handled extremely well. Director Paul Greengrass’ pedigre (the latter Bourne films and United 93) comes out in full force. At times, the shaky camera feeling can get a little in the way, but it wasn’t every completely incapacitating.  The pace of the action sequences is very sound, going from one piece to another and building suspense and intensity deftly to the climax of the various scenes.

The film does hit a few lulls at points, dwelling too long on conversations that could be more succinct and too the point, helping to keep that forward momentum moving towards the conclusion.

All in all, Captain Phillips is a solid film, aside from the title character. The fact that a good amount of character is missing from the way the character of Phillips was written almost gives credence to some of the discussions following the film that the man in real life does not live up to the legend surrounding him. If those pieces of character were left out by Philips in the writing of his memoir, that would actually explain completely why his characterization in the film feels so incomplete.

Rating: 4 Stars out of 7 Stars – Meh

Buy It: If you are a huge fan of films like Zero Dark Thirty or United 93 that give a bare-bones re-telling of real world events or you thoroughly enjoyed the book the film is based upon.

Rent It: If you were interested in the story back when it happened or you are interested in seeing another, unexpected side of modern piracy.

Skip It: If the only pirates you care about are Jolly Roger or Johnny Depp or  you cannot stand films that have poorly defined lead characters.

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Welcome to Oscar Week on the Hobby Box Blog! This week, as we scramble to watch as many of the Best Picture Nominated films as possible, the goal is to give you a review of the top contenders, leading up to our prediction of who will win the major categories on Sunday night!

So, we start off our first Movie Monday (admittedly a day late) right by kicking off Oscar Week with a review of American Hustle.

American Hustle – Review

One of the most beloved sub-genres in film has to be what I would call the “caper” film – being pulled off by a group of two-bit crooks kept together by the circumstances forced upon them. At its roots, American Hustle strives to exemplify the path paved by the giants of that sub-genre: The StingPulp FictionOceans Eleven, and Goodfellas.

In fact, Hustle has been compared in many ways to the latter film by many. In this, David O. Russell has pulled a con far larger than the characters within the film. This isn’t to say it isn’t a good film – I actually enjoyed it quite a bit – but, it isn’t quite at the level to be compared with the previously mentioned movies or in the same sentence as Oscar Best Picture.

American Hustle takes us to 1970’s New Jersey, where confidence schemes, bribery and corruption aren’t crimes, they are a way of life. At the center of it all is Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), an experienced con-artist struggling (unsuccessfully) to life a life of crime and a “normal” family life at the same time. He is partnered with Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and Richie Dimaso (Bradley Cooper) and at the start of the film, they are prepping to meet their mark, Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner).

Note: Slight spoilers begin here. If you are fine with learning a bit more about the early part of the film keep reading. If not, skip to the end for the synopsis and rating.

I must preface my next comment by saying that audience doesn’t need to (and sometimes probably shouldn’t) always know everything that is happening in a given scene and why. Leaving a bit up for question can sometimes be a good thing. But the first two scenes of Hustle end up being a rushed and confusing few minutes. Things go wrong, but ultimately, the audience doesn’t completely understand how it went wrong, why it is significant and exactly what is really going on.

I will give credit where it is due, the introductory scenes do help to flesh out the basics of the characters – Bale is the sympathetically pathetic lead, Cooper is the heavy that tries to control the situation while not knowing how to and Adams is the calming, supportive force needed to hold the operation together.

Aside from that feel for the characters, there is no way for the audience to get a good grasp on what exactly is going on. Ultimately overcompensating for this deficiency, the movie then delves into about 30-some minutes of exposition in order to explain the complex relationships between the three characters and introduce Lawrence as Rosenfeld’s off-kilter wife.

In fact, the movie spends so much time with the exposition that when it catches back up to the beginning, the audience has forgotten that the meeting with Polito was where the film started. It is an interesting device, though it ends up a tad clunky in execution, falling short Tarantino’s masterful execution of these techniques (which the film seemed to be attempting to riff off of).

Fortunately, the film hits the ground running from that point forward, and the conflict between the characters and situations really do help to ramp the film up from that point forward.

Note: More plot spoilers to follow; if you haven’t seen the film, it may be best to jump to the end now.

In fact, that very next scene where Irving works to convince Carmine introduces the most compelling relationship and conflict within the film. In fact, the chemistry between Bale and Renner in each of their scenes is fantastic, building that magnetism between the two characters that the audience knows will ultimately come crashing apart in the ending.

I’m actually quite surprised that Renner didn’t get mentioned in nominations for Supporting Actor over Cooper for this film. Granted, Cooper’s portrayal of Richie Dimaso is solid, but from a character perspective really doesn’t develop as much from the beginning of the film to the end and is quite static compared to the highs and lows Renner experiences in portraying Polito.

In fact, I really think the only reason Lawrence and Cooper are nominated is because if their experience in last years Silver Linings Playbook, which was also directed by Russell. Lawrence’s portrayal of Irving’s imbalanced wife is fun and interesting, but nothing ground breaking. In fact, some of the more emotional scenes with her do seem quite forced and top heavy, which turns the character into a less believable caricature.

Any Adams’ portrayal of Sydney Prosser is phenomenal. With her character stuck in the middle of all of the conflicts, she does a phenomenal job of showing the complexity and internal struggle of being the one character that constantly has to maintain the con while pretending to be someone else, the well off British Lady Edith Greensly, whose “banking connections” in London allow for them to con numerous ne’er do wells of their money. Even down to the drops of accent every now and again at pivotal moments, we see the internal struggle that comes from having to not be yourself but a character at all times.

In the end, the audience feels a mixture of emotions – happiness that Irving and Sydney come out on top, but sadness for what happens to Polito when a he had is the best of intentions for what he was doing.

Spoiler Free from here on out.

All-in-all, Hustle is a fun movie that gives you a slightly different take on living a life of crime. However, at no point does it take that next step forward to the level of greatness found in the likes of Pulp Fiction or Goodfellas. The fact that Russell and Sony were able to build that comparison just goes to show you that they have a little bit of Irving Rosenfeld’s hustling expertise.

Rating: 5 Stars out of 7 Stars – Good

Buy It: If you enjoy a more cerebral con scheme or you really enjoy watching Amy Adams’ cleavage. I mean, really enjoy it.

Rent It: If you are a fan of Bale, Renner and/or Adams or you are looking for a movie with complex character conflicts.

Skip It: If you can’t stand Bradley Cooper or you are sick of ’70s crime dramas that are not as good as Goodfellas.

Am I spot on in my evaluation? Or does it seem like I am as confused as Richie Dimaso? Let me know your thoughts on the film in the comments below.

Merry Christmas Everybody!

I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas wherever you are! As we mentioned yesterday, today we are finishing things off with some drinking rules for some of the more “modern classic” Christmas movies! If there are any movies you would like us to evaluate in the future, Christmas or otherwise, just let us know in the comments below. Also, if you have any additions you think should be made to the rules for these four movies, let us know as well. But, without further ado…

Day 12 – Christmas Day: Christmas Movie Drinking Games

A Christmas Story

Health Warning: It is advised that you DO NOT play this game over and over again every time it comes on TBS today… Only one time is recommended.

Thanks to its popularization by cable television, this movie is now a staple of most folks’ Christmas, and why not: it does about the best job any movie has of capturing what it is like to be a child at Christmas.

  1. Any time “You’ll shoot your eye out” is said, take a drink.
  2. When the kids run away in fast forward, yell “Run Away!” and then drink!
  3. Anytime someone swears but it is replaced with gibberish, take a drink!
  4. Each time Randy starts oinking, take a drink.
  5. The first time the leg lamp is seen within a scene, say “I love lamp!” and then drink!

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

Christmas Vacation is definitely my favorite Christmas movie and is probably the best Chevy Chase movie of all time (aside from maybe Fletch and Caddyshack). Nothing makes you feel better about your own family’s Christmas than watching another family’s Christmas fall apart in hilarious fashion.

  1. Every time Clark says “Griswold Family Christmas” take a drink.
  2. Whenever Ellen calls Clark “Sparky”, take a drink.
  3. When Clark’s boss mispronounces his name, take a drink.
  4. Whenever Clark hurts himself in a klutzy way, take a drink.
  5. Whenever Cousin Eddie comes onto screen in a scene, take a drink.

Home Alone

As if there weren’t enough reasons to have a large, family vacation over Christmas, Home Alone gives you one more – people will break into your house, steal all of your possessions and leave the water on. Interestingly enough, this is the second movie on the list that takes place in Chicago and the third that takes place in the Midwest (A Christmas Story is based in Indiana).

  1. Any time that Kevin screams, take a drink.
  2. Say “Keep the change, ya filthy animal” along with it when it is said in the movie and then take a drink.
  3. Every time Kevin mouths off to someone, take a drink.
  4. Whenever the term “wet bandits” is said, take a drink.

Die Hard

Though it is overlooked at times, the original Die Hard is in actuality a Christmas movie. The incident in the movie happens during the company’s Christmas party, which is why John has flown all the way from New York to Los Angeles.

  1. Whenever “Nakatomi” is said, take a drink.
  2. Any time Sgt. Powell comes onto screen in a scene for the first time, say “Did I do that?” in your best Erkel impersonation and then take a drink.
  3. When John McClain laughs, drink for the duration of the laugh.
  4. Take a drink at each cowboy reference, whether someone is called one or a phrase, like “Yippee-ki-yay” is used.
  5. Every time John kills a bad guy, cheer and take a drink; whenever a bad guy kills someone, boo and take a drink.

I hope you enjoyed your 12 Games of Christmas as much we have! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night – of drinking!

First watch this trailer!

Jupiter Ascending is written and directed by The Wachowskis; you know, the guys who did the Matrix movies and V for Vendetta. V is one of my favorite movies of all time – it definitely gets 7 Stars.  But they also did Speed Racer and Assassins, two movies that made me throw up in my mouth a bit as I tried to watch them.  I have heard mixed reviews about Cloud Atlas, which is one of theirs also, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t judge.

This movie is an original work so it gets points from me right off the bat for not being an adaptation of a book, comic, or radio show (Alec was the bomb in The Shadow, Yo!).  I find it sad that I get so excited when I learn a movie is an original work.

Based on the trailer this movie is right in my wheel house.  Appearances have me to believe that it’s going to have everything I want in a movie: action, sci-fi adventure, high tech space aliens, and a bit of romance all thrown around a classic fairy-tale-esq story.

I want to love this movie, I want to get excited about this movie but I have been burned before… FUCK YOU Prometheus!  I was so excited from the first teaser of Prometheus.  I love the Alien universe, and the thought of a origin story for my favorite alien creature was unbelievable.   And then the movie came out and it shit all over my hopes and dreams…I still haven’t recovered yet.

I want this movie to be good, I want to have hope for this movie, but I can’t help but have my doubts.

……………..DAMN YOU PROMETHEUS!!!

-What is your opinion?-

 

On paper, I love this movie.  It is such a nice twist on what is becoming an old formula.  As soon as I saw the trailer there was no question in my mind, I was going to see this movie, and see it I did.

 I have been a fan of Mr. Knoxville and his group of Jackasses ever since I was a wee little teenager attempting the stunts I had seen them do on T.V.  Disclaimer be DAMNED!!!

Like many of you, though, it had become apparent to me that the original Jackass formula was being driven into the ground.  Those I still appreciate their movies, The need for them to keep making them was rapidly approaching 0.  After all, who really want’s to see 40 year old men behaving like teenagers?  At some point the lack of growth becomes depressing and sad.

But then Johnny Knoxville had a great idea.  What if we gave it a narrative?  Works for me.  Instead of doing the same old schtick, take one aspect of it, and expand.  Enter “Bad Grandpa.”

Bad Grandpa is the story of an old man (Knoxville) who get’s stuck with his grandson and has to travel cross country to bring the young lad home to his father.  A task that the Grandpa in question, is less than eager to take on.   During their trip, we enter classic Jackass territory. 

  • Old man enters public location
  • Does, or says, something horrible to unsuspecting citizens
  • Comedy Gold

Along with.

  • Young innocent looking child enters public location
  • Does, or says, something horrible to unsuspecting citizens
  • Comedy Gold

What I love about this movie is ultimately what I also hate about it.  Paradoxes aside, let me explain.

The beauty of Bad Grandpa really does come down to the Narrative aspect.  That’s what separates it from being just another Jackass movie.  The problem is that these guys are so used to making movies the Jackass way that they don’t know how to develop proper story arcs, or character relations.  That was quite apparent in this movie.

Before I go any further let me point out that this movie definitely delivers on the proven Jackass formula for comedy gold.  Good stunts, witty banter, and splendidly inappropriate use of a minor.  It is every bit as entertaining and hilarious as any other Jackass movie.  Only this one has a plot, and there’s where some definite improvement needed to be made.

We, as an audience, need to have honest feelings for how these two characters interact with each other.  We want to see them go through a journey, and not just a physical one where the travel from one place to another.  That’s what should make this different, if not better, than the Jackass movies.  We need to see this Bad Grandpa grow from his hateful distaste of this child, to something other than that, in a natural way.  The attempt was made, but made poorly, which really slowed down the movie for me.

Granted, at it’s base, this movie is just another Jackass movie.  I could probably be a little less judgmental of things like classic story structure when watching a movie where the highlight is a stripper showcase at a children’s beauty pageant. (I feel dirty typing that) If you’re going to make the effort to include story, you’re going to be judged on it.  I love Mr. Knoxville’s work, and I applaud his efforts of growth, but he has a lot to learn. (As do we all)

To wrap things up, If you like Jackass movies, you’ll probably like this one.  Watch it, laugh at it, and accept it for what it is.  The slow narrative definitely lowers it’s rewatchablility value, but you should enjoy it the one time you do watch it.

4 Stars out of 7

I finished watching the adaptation of Ender’s Game about fifty minutes ago and have been processing what I saw and what my quick-fire opinion is of the movie. I do plan on fleshing this out into an in-depth review over the next couple of days, but I wanted to throw out my ideas and try to start a conversation about it all as I continue to jumble the thoughts around in my head.

To preface this a bit, for some reason, I never read Ender’s Game before. It had been recommended by many (even adamantly by every McMartin I’ve discussed it with). For some reason, I just never picked it up. Knowing the movie was coming out, I bought it a couple of months ago and then started reading it while on vacation earlier this month and read the majority of it this week leading up to today (in fact, I finished it about an hour and forty minutes before going to watch the show).

My thoughts, without spoilers, at this time is that it is a good movie.  It will not fall below that in my mind. As I continue to think about it and process it, it could move up.

The biggest positive I will say about it is that visually it is amazing! I do not think I have seen a movie that did as good of a job of creating supremely striking visuals without going over the top to make it flashy. The battle scenes don’t overload the senses as much as Star Trek: Into Darkness or some of the other space operas of late. It also doesn’t shake the camera frenetically to make it seem like there is more action on screen than there is, it just realistically displays what were in the scenes of the book.

Of the action scenes of the book that had some complex descriptions (especially in the battle room), they do a good job of visualizing that in complete accuracy, minus some slight changes that are necessary for the plot and timing of the movie. I was impressed with how they did this.

If you can see this movie in IMAX, definitely do it; I feel it is worth it. I am also glad that they didn’t decide to make the movie in 3D. This movie could have induced some graphical hack to look at some of these battle scenes and say “If this were in 3D, we could have this pop-out here or this in front of this here”. Thankfully, they avoided the easy thrills and just focused on the CG to do it justice. THANK YOU! This is hopefully another sign that 3D is dead.

I also believe that the casting for this movie is SPOT ON! They did a phenomenal job of putting the right kids (and adults) in the right places. Asa Butterfield as Ender is very solid at carrying the lead role and fits the part completely. Many of the supporting children are also solid choices (Petra, Bean, Alai, Valentine).

At this point, you are probably thinking, “You are glowing about this so much, but yet you say it is only good? What’s the deal?” Well, unfortunately, if you dig any deeper that the surface, that is where Ender’s Game starts to deteriorate.

I never thought I would say this, but after watching it, the running time of two hours just doesn’t cut it. I don’t mean this in the “I just wanted more” type of thing or even the “They left out some of my favorite parts of the book” type of thing. Unfortunately, this movie needed extra time to create a more cohesive story and make you care more about the characters. If any movie screams for an extra 30 to 40 minutes, it is Ender’s Game.

There were many great performances within this movie. Unfortunately, the characters do not get the time they need to become fully dimensional characters. Too many are flat, one-sided versions of what is in the book. Even some of Ender’s inner conflict, which is heavily focused on in the book, is glossed over in the movie which doesn’t allow the audience to completely understand the affects the rigor of his journey is having on him, both physically and emotionally. You can’t just slap some sweat on his forehead in one scene to show that he is under pressure; there just needs to be more fleshing out of that part.

So, that is my not-so-short instant opinion on Ender’s Game. If you’ve seen it, let me know what you thought about it in the comments. Also, if you haven’t read the books, I would be really interested to see if you were able to fully follow what was going on.