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Posts Tagged: Movie Review

Friday, July 29, 2016

Movie Thoughts: Nerve

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Rated PG-13, Review0 Comments

NerveTitle: Nerve (Official site)
Tag Line: We dare you
Release Date: 27 Jul 2016
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 96 min
Genres: Adventure | Crime | Mystery| Sci-Fi | Thriller
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Where Seen: Movie Theater (screening)
Production Company: LionsgateAllison Shearmur ProductionsKeep Your HeadSupermarché
Distributed By: Lionsgate
Director(s): Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writers: Jeanne Ryan (novel), Jessica Sharzer (screenplay)
Stars: Emma Roberts (Vee), Dave Franco (Ian), Emily Meade (Sydney), Miles Heizer (Tommy), Kimiko Glenn (Liv), Marc John Jefferies (Wes), Machine Gun Kelly (Ty),  Brian ‘Sene’ Marc (J.P.), Samira Wiley (Hacker Kween), Juliette Lewis (Nancy)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to see a screening of the the movie NERVE which is based off of a YA book by Jeanne Ryan. I haven’t read this book so I didn’t know too much about the movie before nerve 4walking into the screening other than what the previews showed. NERVE is shown mostly from the point of Venus, called Vee by friends, who is your stereotypical sheltered good girl who longs to break out of her shell. When her BFF Sydney starts to play the hot new game, NERVE which is a mobile app that dares players to do crazy and outlandish things for cash. The more watchers a player has and the more daring the dare the more money they make as they race to be among the final two to win the game.

I wasn’t a big fan of Sydney as she is that typical faux-BFF that is seen all too often in YA books. Where nerve 3she’s only a friend when the other person does what she’s told and doesn’t outshine her. So when Vee not only joins the game as a player but also starts to gain a following Sydney is not happy. As Vee plays the game she meets up with Ian, a bad boy on a motorcycle, and they pair up to try and gain more followers. Ian helps Vee to break out of her shell and to see just how brave and capable she is but all may not be as it seems. This bad boy comes with some secrets and Vee is the one who ends up facing the consequences.

NERVE is a fast paced movie that provides a good social commentary on the internet and mob mentality. Its so easy to be a watcher and to remain anonymous as you egg others on to do things that nerve 5you probably wouldn’t encourage otherwise. Like to commit acts of theft, kiss a stranger, or moon a crowd during a football game. When you are anonymous, you are removed from events and so have the false sense of security that even though you are watching you aren’t culpable no matter what is going on in front of you. Or in how you might help in bringing certain events into being. The explosion of NERVE’s popularity among Vee and her friends is swift and addictive and like so many things on the internet seems like harmless fun. Things do take a darker turn as the movie progress and its a good reminder that even in real life there is a dark side to the internet and its always best to proceed with caution.

I enjoyed NERVE and I liked how it was shot both from Vee’s POV and from the POV of the watcher. nerve-film-1024As a member of the audience there are times when you are viewing the scenes as if from inside of a computer. You see just how unaware the players sometimes are of the things that are going on around them and how they are always watched even when the player thinks they are alone. As a viewer you also see just how invasive this game goes into each players personal life. Its scary sometimes to think about the access some of the harmless seeming phone apps we use on a daily are but in reality just how much data mining are these apps doing?

I definitely enjoyed NERVE more than I thought I would and I am definitely more curious about the book now and how it compares. I liked Vee and the journey that she takes over the course of this movie. Are things crazy over the top sometimes? Yes. But its a movie and an action one at that so I don’t expect it to be 100% realistic. But at the same time I can see something like NERVE taking a city by storm. I can see kids and adults alike wanting to take part and for these dares to come about. So in that sense the movie does have a realistic vibe to it. Even as everything does get tied up nicely at the end.

My Recommendation: Worth seeing but more of a Netflix night than a night on the town type of movie.

Bechdel Test


Does it pass the Bechdel Test?

Also known as the Bechdel–Wallace test, the test is named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, in whose comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For it first appeared in 1985. Bechdel credited the idea to a friend, Liz Wallace, and to the writings of Virginia Woolf. The Bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added. Only about half of all films meet these requirements, according to user-edited databases and the media industry press. The test is used as an indicator for the active presence of women in films and other fiction, and to call attention to gender inequality in fiction due to sexism.

NERVE Bedschel Results:

1. Does it have at least two named women? Yes
2. Who talk to each other? Yes
3. About something besides a man? Yes






Monday, May 18, 2015

Movie Thoughts: Pitch Perfect 2

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Review0 Comments

pitch perfect 2Title: Pitch Perfect 2 (Official site)
Tag Line: We’re back, pitches!
Release Date: 15 May 2015
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 115 min
Genres: Comedy | Musical
Series or Standalone: Series
Where Seen: Movie Theater
Production Company: Universal PicturesGold Circle FilmsBrownstone Productions
Distributed By: Universal Pictures
Director(s): Elizabeth Banks
Writers: Kay CannonMickey Rapkin
Stars: Anna Kendrick (Beca), Rebel Wilson (Far Amy), Hailee Steinfeld (Emily), Brittany Snow (Chloe), Skylar Astin (Jesse), Adam DeVine (Bumper), Katey Sagal (Katherine), Anna Camp (Aubry), Ben Platt (Benji), Alexis Knapp (Stacie), Hana Mae Lee (Lilly), Ester Dean (Cynthia Rose), Chrissie Fit (Flo), Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (Kommissar), Flula Borg (Pieter Kramer), John Michael Higgins (John), Elizabeth Banks (Gail)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


When PITCH PERFECT (my review) came out in 2012 I wasn’t sure what to expect from it and ended up being happily surprised by how much I enjoyed it. When I heard there was going to be a sequel I was looking forward to it but also a tad worried as sequels Pitch Perfect 2can go so terribly wrong. PITCH PERFECT 2 is set 3 years after the first film and we learn that the Barden Bellas have been on a winning streak on the A Capella circuit. That is until an unfortunate incident in front of the President of the United States has it all come crashing down. As part of the Bellas punishment they can’t recruit new members and as the rest of the group are seniors this could mean the end of an era for the Barden Bellas. While I think that the punishment is a bit overkill it does add some drama to the movie. I also thought it strange that in 3 years the Bellas hadn’t added any new members to the group, especially since the end of the first film had them hosting auditions. But again, no new members adds more drama. However, thanks to a loop hole they are allowed to let Emily into the group, a freshman and a legacy to the Barden Bellas.

While I did enjoy PITCH PERFECT 2, I did find the previews to be a it misleading. The previews make it seem like the movie is going Pitch Perfect 2to be all about the world competition but that is a very minor thing in the movie. The bulk of the movie is about the Bellas all freaking out over the fate of the group and what they are going to do once they graduate. I also felt that there could have been more singing in the movie and that the Treble Makers were totally under utilized. I missed the Jesse/Beca moments but I did enjoy the Benji/Emily ones. I also liked Beca at her internship and the scenes with her boss and Dax but felt that it separated her from the Bellas too much. And while I did like the new character, Emily, in the end she was just awkward and out of place during most of the movie.

Where PITCH PERFECT 2 shines is with its comedic moments. While things did drag at times there were laughs from the opening scene to the closing credits. I especially loved the mid-credit scene with Bumper on the Voice. I also enjoyed the various Bumper and pp2 3Fat Amy scenes over the course of the film though against the more we saw of them the more apparent it was that there wasn’t much in the way of Beca and Jesse. I really missed all those cute Beca/Jesse moments of the first film. I did enjoy the the various cameo appearances throughout the movie though my favorite was the Green Bay Packers. It was surprising and entertaining and I wish that their scene was longer as it was so enjoyable. I like the a capella battles and wish there was more moments like that in the movie.

I also liked Gail and John’s inappropriate commentary throughout the movie and it was just as fun as it was in the first movie. They were in it just enough to be funny and shocking. Lily continued to say crazy things under her breath though like pp2 eJesse she wasn’t used as much as she could have been. And I did like how there was no explosive vomiting scenes as those were totally unnecessary in the first movie. Overall, I did enjoy this movie and thing that its worth going to see. PITCH PERFECT 2 has a lot of the elements in the first movie that I loved though things weren’t as fresh and unique. Its a good sequel but its not as good as the first film. There is also the potential for a third movie to happen so it will be interesting to see if they happens or not. That will all depend on box office ratings I’m sure.


My Recommendation: Worth seeing in the theatre if you liked the first film.



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Movie Thoughts: Home (3D)

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Review0 Comments

HomeTitle: Home (Official site)
Tag Line: Worlds Collide
Release Date: 27 March 2015
Rating: G
Runtime: 94 min
Genres: Animation | Fantasy | Comedy | Adventure
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Where Seen: Theater (screening)
Production Company: DreamWorks Animation
Distributed By: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Director(s): Tim Johnson
Writer(s): Adam Rex (novel), Tom J. Astle (screenplay), Matt Ember (screenplay)
Stars: Jim Parsons (Oh), Rihanna (Gratuity ‘Tip’ Tucci), Steve Martin (Captain Smek), Jennifer Lopez (Lucy Tucci), Matt Jones (Kyle), Brian Stepanek (Gorg Commander / Father / Boov), April Lawrence (Boov Announcer)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Home is the newest animation release from Dreamworks studios and is loosely based on the book, The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. Though I didn’t realize it was based on a book until the end credits and as I’ve
Home1 never read this book I can’t make any comments on how true it is to the story. However, based on what I’ve read of Smekday’s synopsis there are several surface changes in terms of names and locations. But not knowing it was based on anything else allowed me to just sit back and enjoy this cute film.

I became interested in this one when I first saw the previews and they had me cracking up. Jim Parson’s voicing of Oh is perfect and there are times in which Oh is the Boov version of Sheldon Cooper. Just Sheldon Cooper’s less smart self and all of his social akwardness. There is also a little Oh in all of us, Home2where we all just want to be liked and that we often make mistakes along the way. Rhianna also does a great job as Tip and when I hear Rhianna speak as herself its hard to mesh her adult self with the 13 year old animated girl she plays so well. Tip is full of sass and fire and she copes so well when aliens invade her world and somehow miss her in their relocation of all the Earth’s humans to other locations on the planet.

Tip and Oh meet under hilarious circumstances and while Tip is rightfully cautious of Oh he immediately takes to her and wants to be her friend. Of course it doesn’t hurt that she can help him escape as he has made one mistake too many with his Boov allies and he’s a wanted Boov. The two travel together and along the wayHome3 Tip learns to see past her initial reaction and learns to like Oh for who he is and the two become friends. And through Tip, Oh learns a lot as well. Tip is brave and filled with hope even in the most dire of circumstances. She’ll run towards danger if she thinks that she has a shot at helping someone else. Which is a concept foreign to the Boov and a great message for Oh and young viewers. Its ok to be scared but being scared doesn’t mean you aren’t incapable of doing that difficult task ahead of you.

Home is filled with action and adventure and lots of laughter that kids and adults will enjoy. There is the slapstick humor that is more readily accessible to younger audiences and also the more subtle sarcastic moments that will Home4appeal to adults. Its truly a film that will appeal to all generations. Though all is not filled with laughs as I will admit that there as a time or two when I totally teared up with what was happening on the screen. (Stupid animated movie trying to make me cry!)

All in all Home is a fun movie and Tip is a great role model. We need more girls like Tip on the big screen. She’s smart and funny as well as flawed and real. I also loved that she was a character of color. I enjoyed most everything about this film and my quibbles are all minor and not worth mentioning. Home is filled with wonderful animation and was just a joy to watch. Totally worth seeing.

My Recommendation: Worth seeing in the theatre, though don’t think 3D adds anything extra to this one.





Saturday, October 11, 2014

Movie Thoughts: The Judge

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Rated R, Review1 Comment

The Judge

Official Movie Poster

Title: The Judge (Official Site)
Tag Line: Defend your Honor.
Release Date: 10 October 2014
Rating: R
Runtime: 141 min
Genres: Drama
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Where Seen: Movie Screening
Production Company: Warner Bros.
Distributed By: Warner Bros.
Director(s): David Dobkin
Writer(s): Nick Schenk (screenplay & story), Bill Dubuque (screenplay), David Dobkin (story)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr. (Hank Palmer), Robert Duvall (Joseph Palmer), Vera Farmiga (Samantha Powell), Billy Bob Thornton (Dwight Dickham), Vincent D’Onofrio (Glen Palmer), Jeremy Strong (Dale Palmer), Dax Shepard (C.P. Lennedy), Ken Howard (Judge Warren), Emma Tremblay (Lauren Palmer)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


The Judge1The Judge is one of those movies that I knew I had to see the moment I learned who was in it. I have been a big fan of Robert Downey, Jr’s for years and I was excited to see him in something that would stretch his acting chops a bit. His performance in The Judge is nothing short of stellar and I loved his interactions with Robert Duvall who plays his father. The story focuses on Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) who returns home after many years away to attend his mother’s funeral. There is some bad blood between Hank and his father (Robert Duvall) and the tension between the two is palpable. Your heart aches as these two appear together as you can see that under all the anger an ill words that there is a lot of hurt and pain. Before Hank can leave town his father, a respected judge, is accused of murder and he feels like he has to stay in order to defend him.

The Judge is a slow moving, character driven film and if you are looking for bells and whistles you will want to check out the action movie in The Judge 2the theatre next door. This is a movie that finds its strength in quiet moments and dialogue scenes as all the characters try to find their way back to each other. The Judge is a serious film but there are also moments of laughter and scenes that will make your heart ache at the touching moment that is happening on screen. I do think that Vincent D’Onofrio and Jeremy Strong were under-utilized as Hank’s brothers Glen and Dale and wish that they had more time with RDJ and Duvall. 

Billy Bob Thornton does an excellent job as the prosecutor and really enjoyed all the courtroom scenes in this film. I also loved the moments that Thornton and RDJ shared on screen as they both tried to fight the best case they could. The Judge was a powerful film andThe Judge 3 its one that I hope will earn some of its cast members an award nomination or two. Its a movie that just sucks you in and makes you a part of the small Indiana town where its set. You feel like you are a part of the Palmer family and you are sitting right there in the courtroom hoping that RDJ can work his magic as he tries the hardest case of his life. 

All the characters in The Judge go through tremendous growth throughout the course of the movie and who they are at the start is not who they are at the end. TheThe Judge 4 Judge is a movie that will touch your heart stings and one that I am glad that I saw. Its filled with so many nuances and a great soundtrack and one that I don’t think you will regret seeing.

My recommendation: Worth seeing in the theatre but will also be a great DVD rental.




The Judge Banner2

Friday, April 4, 2014

Movie Thoughts: Captain America – The Winter Soldier

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Rated PG-13, Review0 Comments

CA2Title: Captain America – The Winter Soldier ()
Tag Line: In heroes we trust.
Release Date: 04 April 2014
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 136 min
Genres: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
Series or Standalone: Series
Where Seen: Movie Screening
Production Company:  Marvel Entertainment
Distributed By:  Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Director(s): Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Joss Whedon (post credit scene)
Writer(s): Christopher Markus (screenplay), Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Joe Simon (comic books), Jack Kirby (comic books), Ed Brubaker (Concept & story)
Stars:  (Captain America/ Steve Rogers),  (Nick Fury), (Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow),  (Alexander Pierce),  (“Bucky” Barnes/ Winter Soldier), (Sam Wilson/ Falcon), (Maria Hill), (Brock Rumlow), (Jasper Sitwell), (Kate),  (Peggy Carter),  (Dr. Arnim Zola),

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


As you know I only just watched Captain America: The First Avenger a few days ago and the whole purpose for me finally getting off my butt to do so was so that I could attend a WS2screening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. From previews, The Winter Soldier interested me far more than The First Avenger ever did but I hate to see/read things out of order when there is a series involved so I had to see the first before going to this one. And while I am glad that I had all of the back story and what not for The Winter Soldier I think this is one of those cases where I could have missed the first in order to watch the second. The Winter Soldier takes place a few months or so after The Avengers ends with Steve Rogers () doing his soldier thing for Nick Fury and SHIELD and feeling a bit lost and out of place in the world.

Its not just technology that has changed since Steve Rogers was last walking about but WS1people’s attitudes and ideals. Steve Rogers is a very black and white soul and the wold now is multiple shades of grey. This causes him to question his role in what he’s doing but before he can make a big life change sh!t gets real at the SHIELD offices. People are killed, others are framed and no one is who you think they are. Its all one crazy action scene after another that leaves you on the edge of your seat wondering who will come out on top. There were laughs and gasps and every emotion in between during my viewing of The Winter Soldier and I enjoyed being in such an interactive audience. There was some fun running gags that came up at the oddest of moments that really helped lighten things up. Much like Tony Stark’s schwarma obsession in The Avengers did.

But part of what made this movie for me was as Black Widow. Her WS3character was underused in The Avengers (though it can be hard with such a large ensemble to give all equal time) so I was glad to see her shine here. Natasha is a strong, fiesty character who helps Steve Rogers navigate through the greys of the world and I just loved how they interacted together. Natasha is funny and kicks some series ass and if it wasn’t for her Captain America may not have been able to save the day. I also liked the addition of as Sam Wilson/Falcon. Just like Natasha, Sam fit in well with Steve Rogers and I loved how the three of them worked as a team.

The storyline was fast paced and while The Winter Soldier clocks in at just over 2 hours it WS4feels like little time has passed when watching it. Its so easy to get caught up this world and to get lost in the story that I hated for it to end. Though the ending could have been a bit more clear cut for my tastes. I don’t mind series but I do hate when one is so clearly left open for a sequel by leaving several important threads dangling. It will also be interesting to see how the ramifications of this movie effect the show Agents of SHIELD and future Marvel movies set in this world.


My Recommendation: Worth seeing in the theatres.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Movie Thoughts: Captain America – The First Avenger

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Rated PG-13, Review0 Comments

Captain_America_The_First_Avenger_posterTitle: Captain America – The First Avenger ()
Tag Line: When patriots become heroes
Release Date: 22 July 2011
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 102 min
Genres: Action | Adventure | History | Sci-Fi | War
Series or Standalone: Series
Where Seen: My couch (Rental)
Production Company:  Paramount PicturesMarvel Entertainment
Distributed By:  Paramount Pictures
Writer(s): Christopher Markus (screenplay), Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Joe Simon (comic books), Jack Kirby (comic books)
Stars:  (Captain America/Steve Rogers),  (Peggy Carter),  (James Buchanan “Bucky” Phillips),  (C0lonel Chester Phillips),  (Johann Schmidt/Red Skull),  (Howard Stark),  (Heinz Kruger),  (Dr. Abraham Erskine),  (Nick Fury),  (Dr. Arnim Zola),  (Jacques Dernier),  (Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan),  (Gabe Jones),  (Jim Morita),  (James Montgomery Falsworth,  (Gilmore Hodge),  (Senator Brandt)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Growing up I was never a huge comic book fan, I read some and watched some of the CA6cartoons but they weren’t anything that I actively sought out. When Marvel started to release their live action super hero movies I never made a huge effort to go to the theatres to watch them. With the exception being The Avengers because that just looked (and was) awesome. Since watching The Avengers I’ve been meaning to go back and watch the intro films of all the characters and have been slowly doing so. Most recently I watched Captain America: The First Avenger and I went into it with pretty low expectations because of all the Avengers he was one of my least favorite.

CA3Captain America is predominately set in the 1940s during the second world war and the main villain is a guy called Red Skull. As I was never big into the comics I didn’t know the backstory or where things were going so I was often pleasantly surprised by the events as they unfolded. I enjoyed seeing characters used that would influence the modern day avengers and how the past and present would eventually intersect. There was lots of action and comedic moments and while my attention did drift from time to time I was mostly engaged in this film.

There were some moments that shocked a bit and the special effects were all very well done. I CA1loved the cast that was used and was a bit sad at the end knowing that we wouldn’t be seeing most (if not all of them) in future Captain America films. Captain America could stand all on its own and the bulk of its plot points are all wrapped up. Yes, there are open threads but that is to be expected, especially since Captain America: The Winter Soldier is due out in theatres tomorrow. While I may not rush out to rewatch Captain America I did enjoy it and don’t feel like I wasted my time trying to watch it prior to seeing Winter Soldier.

CA2My one main complaint with this movie was its lack of women on set. This is always an issue of mine with these sorts of movies and while I did think that  as Peggy Carter did a fabulous job I just wish there were more characters like her and that she was used as more than just a romantic possibility for Steve Rogers. Yes, she had her role to play in the SRG (or was it SSG? SSR?) it just seemed like she was mainly there to look pretty and give the Captain someone to come home to. Overall, though if you like comic book/action-adventure films then you might want to check this one out.


My Recommendation: Worth the rental.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Movie Thoughts: 300 – Rise of an Empire (3D)

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Rated R, Review3 Comments

300RoaETitle: 300: Rise of an Empire ()
Tag Line: NA
Release Date: 07 March 2014
Rating: R
Runtime: 102 min
Genres: Action | Drama | History | War
Series or Standalone: Series
Where Seen: Theater (screening)
Production Company:  Warner Bros.Legendary Pictures
Distributed By:  Warner Bros.
Writer(s):  (screenplay),  (screenplay), Frank Miller (Graphic Novel)
Stars:  (Themistokles),  (Atemisia),  (Queen Gorgo),  (Aesyklos),  (Scyllias),  (Dilios),  (Xerxes),  (Calisto),  (Ephialtes),  (King Darius)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

300: Rise of an Empire is the followup to the 2006 movie 300 which was about how King Leonidas and a force of 300 men fought the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. In 300: Rise of an Empire we learn why Xerxes was so hellbent on attacking Greece as this movie starts a little before the events of 300. The story of Themistokles and King Leonides are then told in parallel  for a time (though we do not see the Leonides much in this film) before Rise of an Empire goes beyond 300. As with 300 the cinematography in 300: Rise of an Empire is excellent and watching in 3D really heightened the experience for me. You could see every drop of water and dust or blood speck in the air. The stop motion effect just became so detailed that you almost hate for the the action to start up again as you just want to look at every inch to see what details you might see.

As with 300, the action in 300: Rise of an Empire is almost non-stop and you find yourself 300 - 2cheering for the Greeks despite the overwhelming numbers of the Persian army. Themistokles’s battle tactics are sure to delight all viewers for there ingeniousness. Even if the movie makers didn’t use some of the tactics used by Themistokles it was all done in a spectacular way. I can accept changes to history if I am entertained by it and its all done in a believable and natural way. Plus my knowledge of Ancient Greek History isn’t the best so I wasn’t aware of them as much as the friend I was with.

I really enjoyed the acting of this movie and loved the character of Atemisia as she was a such a fierce female lead. Strong female characters, heck just females in general, were missing from the first movie so was nice to see Artemisia in this one. She is not someone that you would want to mess with and  did an amazing job bringing her to life. I also liked  performance of Themistokles and felt that he truly became this Greek warrior of old.

300 - 1And then of course there was the amazing use of washboard abs in pretty much every scene which is always a wonderful thing and something that was totally underutilized in the last movie I saw, Pompeii. Every director should make note…if an actor has the abs the abs should be used.

The only thing I really didn’t like about 300: Rise of an Empire was how it ended. It was very book 2 in a trilogy in that it had more of a cliff hanger ending than the first movie had. While 300 ended with Xerxes still on his march it was an end for the characters that we had been following, King Leonides and his 300 Spartan soldiers. 300: Rise of an Empire completes its main story ARC of the Persian naval battle but there were a lot more loose ends, in my opinion, than with 300. With 300 I was satisfied with how it ended and if there was never another film than it would be ok. But with 300: Rise of an EmpireI just feel as though there should have been more and I can only assume that this will happen with a third film.

Overall though I was totally lost in the magic of 300: Rise of an Empire. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie and just loved 300 - 3all the action scenes. I loved how it was a serious film but also had some great one liners. Its a movie that I want to see again and while I may not do so in theaters I will probably buy the DVD. It was fun and engaging and one that I would recommend to all. I also think that you can see this movie without having seen 300 as enough of what happened in that movie is explained in this on. And since the timelines of the two movies are pretty much parallel its ok if you don’t know what is happening at Thermopylae as the Greek Warriors in this movie don’t know what is going on there either. I’d also recommend seeing this one in 3D if your eyes can handle it as it just makes the cinematography just that much more. For me, it just heightened the whole experience but I know that it can be bothersome for those not a fan of 3D. Either way though I think that there is much to love in 300: Rise of an Empire.

My Recommendation: Worth seeing on the big screen especially if you liked 300.



Friday, February 14, 2014

Movie Thoughts: Pompeii (3D)

Posted by Irish in 2.5 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Review2 Comments

PompeiiTitle: Pompeii ()
Tag Line: No warning. No escape.
Release Date: 21 February 2014
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 105 min
Genres: Action | Adventure | Drama | History | Romance
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Where Seen: Theater (screening)
Production Company:  Constantin Film Produktion
Distributed By:  TriStar Pictures
Writer(s): (screenplay),   (screenplay), Julian Fellowes (screenplay), Michael Robert Johnson (screenplay)
Stars: (Milo), (Cassia), (Ariadne), (Corvus), (Bellator), (Graecus), (Proculus), (Atticus)

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Pompeii is one of those movies that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see it or not. On one hand I love history and the romance and tragedy that is Pompeii. Growing up I read several articles and books about this city and so was curious to see how it was all going to be portrayed on film. Then I saw the previews and the only thing I could say they had going for them was abs. Seriously…look at those abs…

KH Abs


Therefore, I was excited to receive screening passes to the movie which is always a win-win situation when you are on the fence for a movie. The screening got off to a very rocky start when the movie started in 3D and those that were running it didn’t hand out glasses before hand. There was then a mad scramble of everyone trying to get 3D glasses, no apologies from the staff organizers, and no pausing of the film which resulted in a few minutes in the beginning getting missed.

Pompeii begins when Milo was a child and learning of his origins before he was taken as a slave by the Romans. From there it jumps to his being an adult and a gladiator in Londinium. Where he’s eventually brought to Pompeii as he is that good of a fighter and this is the Roman’s way of bringing him up to the big leagues. One his way there he meets the lovely Cassia and after some long stares, a tragic accident, and few words exchanged the seeds are set for a grand love affair.

Speaking of longing stares, if I have a choice of a tag line for Pompeii it would be the movie where everyone stares longingly at each other. And ever so often there is the stare of seriousness and the stare of revenge. There are lots of stares in this movie. There is some bad dialogue, over acting (mostly by ), and special effects that get a tad be wonky and bad as things go all explody. The whole plot line of Pompeii is seriously weak and predictable but I can deal with a poor plot when the action in a disaster film is over the top good. I did like the imagery of the city of Pompeii and the costuming but once things started to go boom they all just sort of fell apart.

Overall, Pompeii was just a so-so movie with a so-so cast and it will probably be forgotten not long after its released. Pompeii was predictable, and not just because we know the volcano is going to explode. It just was filed with so many cliches and as none of them were done particularly well. This is also one that you should probably see in 2D as there is really nothing special or added by the 3D effect. There is a lot of fight sequences and those were done decently and took away from all the staring across rooms and arenas. It just wasn’t enough to make up for all that was no so good about this movie.

My Recommendation: Might want to save this one for RedBox. And then just pause it on Kit Harrington’s abs at that opening shot of him (see above) and stare longingly at it. Because Harrington’s abs really are among the best things in this movie and they are sadly under utilized.




Friday, February 7, 2014

Movie Thoughts: Vampire Academy

Posted by Irish in 4.5 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Review9 Comments

Vampire AcademyTitle: Vampire Academy (Official site)
Tag Line: They suck at school
Release Date: 07 February 2014
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 104 min
Genres: Action | Fantasy | Comedy | Mystery
Series or Standalone: Series
Where Seen: Theater (screening)
Production Company: Reliance Entertainment
Distributed By: Weinstein Company
Director(s): Mark Waters
Writer(s): Richelle Mead (novel), Daniel Waters (screenplay)
Stars: Zoey Deutch (Rose Hathaway), Lucy Fry (Lissa Dragomir), Danila Kozlovsky (Dimitri Belikov), Gabriel Byrne (Victor Dashkov), Dominic Sherwood (Christian Ozera), Sarah Hyland (Natalie Dashkov), Sami Gayle (Mia Rinaldi), Cameron Monaghan (Mason), and Olga Kurylenko (Headmistress Kirova)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Vampire Academy is a series of books that I absolutely adore. In a time when the market was flooded with vampire stories Vampire Academy stood out as the world is self-contained and doesn’t involve humans. There is no love story between a centuries old vampire and a human and that makes it a refreshing change from most vampire books out there. When I learned that there would be a movie based on the books I was both thrilled and wary as we all know what horrible things Hollywood can do to the books we love. Then when I saw the first trailers I was even more wary as the marketing sucked. All the trailers made it seem like this campy, tongue-in-cheek comedy and didn’t seem to have anything to do with the books that I loved. The only thing that gave me a little bit of hope was that Richelle Mead, the author of the books, had made statements saying how happy she was with the finished product. But even with those assurances I may have waited until this movie was available on Red Box before trying it out.

So when the opportunity came up to see a screening of Vampire Academy I grabbed two of my good friends and dashed off to see it. We were all fans of the book so we could all compare notes and memories to see how this page to screen adaptation unfolded. In the end, we were all very pleased with the final product. In fact, my main complaint is that it was too short and I wish there was more and I base this on run time only. For  when you are sitting in the theatre it feels right. The plot of Vampire Academy was also very true to the books. There were little elements added in and some that were removed but nothing so major that leaves fans of the story wondering what the writers were thinking or if they’d even read the books. The pacing was well done and even though I wish it had been longer it never felt rushed or slow. The writers also did a great job of introducing all the main players as well as the mythology of this vampire world.

Zoey Deutch was a perfect Rose in my book. She was strong and sassy and just nailed all her lines as well as the action scenes. The rest of the supporting cast also excelled in all their roles as well. Everyone cast fit into that image that I had about them when I read the books. The only disappointments were with Lucy Fry who fell a little flat for me and there was just something about her that I just never fully connected with. I also felt that Cameron Monaghan was super underutilized as Mason and if you don’t know the books then you don’t know just how close a friendship that he and Rose have. Danila Kozlovsky and  Dominic Sherwood both sizzle in their roles as Dimitri and Chritian, respectively. Kozlovsky and Deutch have a lot of chemistry on screen and it just plays in so well to part of their story ARC. Sarah Hyland as Natalie was a surprise hit and I loved what she brought to the role. Although it was hard to seperate her from her Modern Family alter ego, Haley, and I kept expecting more sarcasm and less bubbly.

I really enjoyed this movie and I was so glad that I decided to see it in the theatres. This is one that I know I’ll watch again at some point and it left me with a burning desire to go back and re-read the series all over again. I also loved the soundtrack of the film and found myself downloading it onto my iPod not long after getting home from the theatre. Vampire Academy was very well done and I think that everyone should go see it. Don’t be fooled by the horrible marketing! If you liked the books then you will like this movie.

My Recommendation: If you are a fan of the books or just like good movies then you’ll want to catch this one in the theatre.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie Thoughts: Frozen

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Review0 Comments

FrozenTitle: Frozen ()
Tag Line: NA
Release Date: 27 November 2013
Rating: PG
Runtime: 102 min
Genres: Adventure | Animation | Comedy
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Where Seen: Theater
Production Company:
Distributed By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Writer(s): Jennifer Lee (screenplay), Hans Christian Andersen (story “The Snow Queen”, (story), Shane Morris (story)
Stars: (Anna), (Elsa), (Kristoff), (Olaf), (Hans),

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From the moment I first heard about Frozen I wasn’t sure about it and when I saw the previews I was even less sure. It just didn’t seem like a movie I would like and so I just put it out of my mind and thought that was that. But then it was released in theaters and all my social media and real life seemed to be abuzz with people talking about Frozen. There were those who were seeing it multiple times and quoting favorite phrases and talking incessantly about the soundtrack. With all the chatter from people of all ages and tastes in movies I began to grow more curious about this movie.

Then this past weekend I went to go see it with a friend and I learned what all the fuzz was about. I was drawn into the magic of the story with its catchy tunes, its story that was about so many things, and then that twist followed by another and I was hooked. I left the theater humming songs and then found myself downloading the soundtrack along with the urge to see the movie again and again. Seriously, its like an itch I can’t scratch but so far I have resisted.

Frozen is a lot like Brave (my review) in that its less about being a love story and more about family. Yes, Anna is desperate to find love but I think she was looking for any kind of love as she was isolated for most of her life. This left her a bit naive and probably read a lot of books about how wonderful love is so I loved her innocence at the start of the movie. I loved how hopeful she was and her excitement at meeting new people was contagious. I also loved how there was no real villain in this movie. Elsa wasn’t evil she was just misunderstood and that was partly because she was never allowed to be herself.

For most of her life Elsa was made to feel ashamed of her ability and because of an accident that happened when she and Anna were children. If her parents had allowed her to be more open about her powers then there may not have been as much shock and horror from visiting officials. Yes there would have been those that didn’t understand but they may not have have much support as a mob mentality had taken effect when Elsa lost control.

Frozen isn’t just about the love of family though there is a romantic portion of it too and I like how in such a short film it was able to show different loves that people often experience. There is that first love, that instant connection and crush that has you flying high with your head filled of possibility. There is the agony of of losing someone you thought you loved and then there is finding that genuine connection with someone else. Knowing that you can move on from heartbreak and that there is more than one fish in the sea so to speak.

Frozen  is also another great addition to modern Disney showing girls that they are able to save not just themselves but those around them as well. Anna’s journey wasn’t for herself it was for her sister and I loved how it ended. I liked that Anna tried to do it on her own but when she realized she was in over her head she found someone to help her. It takes strength to admit to ones weaknesses after all. I also liked the comic relief in the movie. Anna had a lot of one liners but Olaf and Sven were the comedians of the movie. They were both fun and entertaining though I do wish that Sven was allowed to just be that silent character and not have Kristoff speak for him.

Speaking of Kirstoff I though he was very underused when it came to the songs. Its nice to have Disney focus on Elsa and Anna by Kristoff was voiced by the very talented Jonathan Groff and he only had one crappy song about reindeers. Overall, the songs in Frozen were a hit but there were several misses as well, the previously mentioned reindeer song and the fixer upper one both immediately come to mind. These are ones that I will most likely be skipping over when I listen to the soundtrack on repeat to get to the ones I liked as well as some of the ones that didn’t make the movie. Notably, We Know Better which you can listen to here:


Then there is the one that I wish was on the soundtrack as its just so beautiful, Let it Go in 25 languages:


My Recommendation: Worth seeing in movie theaters and buying the soundtrack and maybe seeing in the theater again.