Movie Review: Elysium

Details from IMDB:

Elysium

Elysium (I) (2013)

109 min  -  Action | Drama | Sci-Fi  -  9 August 2013 (USA)

Ratings: 6.7/10 from 197,026 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 693 user | 435 critic | 47 from Metacritic.com

In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. A man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.

Director:

Neill Blomkamp

Writer:

Neill Blomkamp

Stars:

Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

Like lots of people I saw “District 9” and while he’s done some crappy movies (but really what actor hasn’t?) I do like Matt Damon, so this was free on Fiber OP and I gave it a watch.

Main Points:

I loved “District 9” but this movie pales in comparison. While this movie has some good social commentary (the super-rich not only have everything people on earth don’t, they also don’t even live on the planet and the fact that at least some of them would rather kill regular earth people than even let them visit) I found that the story goes downhill.

The special effects were excellent (and sometimes gory) and there were some good action scenes but glaring plot holes (like how this Elysium place can literally cure any aliment, has an army of robots but yet still has to secretly hire mercenaries to stop rouge ships from landing?). Also what is keeping the oxygen in and people inside? If ships can come and go as they please what is keeping space junk from slamming into the place?

Matt Damon does a decent job here and Jodie Foster (aside from having a very strange accent) is okay. My biggest issue is that after a while the movie just because a silly (predictable) action movie with dragged-out fight sequences and unneeded gore.

Final Thoughts:

I can only give this movie a 6/10, it does make you think but not for long. Action and special effects can’t carry a movie (though Damon does also help). I will give this small recommendation but only you didn’t find something better on Netflix. Also this is certainly not for kids. Not sure what my next post will be, I know you can barely contain your excitement Winking smile

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Details from IMDB:

136 min  -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi  -  4 April 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 8.3/10 from 74,522 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 312 user | 270 critic | 43 from Metacritic.com

Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

Directors:

Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Writers:

Christopher Markus (screenplay), Stephen McFeely (screenplay), 3 more credits »

Stars:

Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson | See full cast and crew »

Initial thoughts:

Anyone who reads this blog knew this review was coming. I’m a huge comic-book fan and lately Marvel has done a great job with every movie (and by extension Disney who owns them). I had heard lots of great things about this movie, so after waiting for the crowds to die down (and taking care of some overtime at work) I finally got to see it.

Main Points:

I’ll just say it right away, I loved this movie! It’s a rare occurrence for a sequel to be better than the original but they have done it here. While the first Captain America movie was okay, this one just hit it out of the park. Seeing how Steve adapts and struggles with the modern world makes him a more interesting character and the series more realistic (as far as you can with a comic-book movie I mean).

All the characters get a fair bit to do and have an interesting storyline (and yeah I really enjoyed the introduction of Falcon), it’s also the first good movie I’ve seen Robert Redford in for quite a while. There is plenty of action, a great story and some nice light-heartened funny moments.

Here we even get some commentary on the state of society/government/military and Cap sees how much the world has changed since the 40s. I could go into more detail but I don’t want to spoil anything.

Final Thoughts:

Comic-books and geek culture has really come a a long way. It used to be a lot of movie this this would flop, only have a cult following. Now Winter Solider is the number one movie in the world (for 1 week at least)  and the sequel will be going up against Batman/Superman. I highly recommend this (just not for small children) and give it 8.5/10. Sure it has a few minor flaws and it’s unlikely to win any big awards but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and will even make you think. Plus if you’re fan of Scarlett Johansson (and I’m big one), she also does a great job and always looks hot. Next will be my thoughts on Elysium. 

Movie Review: The Station Agent

Details from IMDB:

TheStationAgent

The Station Agent (2003)

89 min  -  Comedy | Drama  -  5 December 2003 (Sweden)

Ratings: 7.8/10 from 45,436 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 265 user | 143 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

When his only friend dies, a man born with dwarfism moves to rural New Jersey to live a life of solitude, only to meet a chatty hot dog vendor and a woman dealing with her own personal loss.

Director:

Thomas McCarthy (as Tom Mccarthy)

Writer:

Thomas McCarthy

Stars:

Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

As is the case with me I follow actors I like, while I had heard of him before I’ll admit to only truly seeing how great an actor Peter Dinklage is after Game of Thrones (season 4 premiere was excellent BTW). So he’s in this and I decided to watch it.

Main Points:

This is very slowly paced movie, a lot of time is taken up with people asking Finbar (Dinklage) questions and his very short answers. He is a very shy, isolated person that slowly lets people in during the film.

Dinklage does a great job of portraying a very odd, yet highly intelligent and interesting character. The movie at first just deals with boredom and loneliness but eventually moves on to other issues (such as predigest people), the failure of a marriage and dealing with loss.

Of course I have to point out that the town he goes to is Newfoundland, NJ and I live in Newfoundland, Canada. This only matters because here we say it as all one word, whereas American’s often say “new-FOUND-land”. I imagine we say it right, we’re been here over 500 years after all (I’m having a little fun here).

There are some funny and touching moments here and it certainly gives insight into what it’s like in a very small town (any news travels very fast and you have to make your own fun a lot). The characters are all fully fleshed-out and all interesting/likable in their own ways.

Final Thoughts:

Patricia Clarkson is also very good here and of course Dinklage is always excellent. I found the movie rather slow at times and for the most part very little happens. There is a little surprise near the end but ultimately life just continues on. I give this 7/10 and a mild recommendation, there is some adult situations and for the most part I would only say watch this if you’re a big Peter Dinklage fan.

Movie Review: August: Osage County

Details from IMDB:

AugustOsageCounty

 

August: Osage County (2013)

121 min  -  Drama  -  10 January 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 7.4/10 from 29,993 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 172 user | 264 critic | 45 from Metacritic.com

A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

Director:

John Wells

Writers:

Tracy Letts (screenplay), Tracy Letts (play)

Stars:

Meryl Streep, Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

As per the course with me, I had heard good things about this movie (in particular the acting) and finally got a chance to see it a few weeks ago.

Main Points:

What can you say about Meryl Streep? She is always amazing, she was nominated for this role and certainly could have won best actress. She takes on a very unflattering role, Violet Weston is a drunk and addicted to pain killers, extremely necrotic and often viscously unkind and suffering from cancer. While she is rather despicable character you just can’t look away, Meryl does her with such conviction and honest that you have to see what she’ll do next.

Julia Roberts is also excellent here as one of Violet’s daughters. Chris Cooper put’s in a very strong performance as does Ewan MacGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch and Juliette Lewis. The story starts off very straightforward but after a time develops some nice twists and turns that I didn’t see coming.

It’s worth saying that this is not a feel-good movie, the story is ultimately about failed relationships, deeply flawed people and how one mother almost ruins the lives of all her children (and most certainly that of her husband’s).

Final Thoughts:

Strong language and sexual situations makes this inappropriate for children. The story could have used some tightening up and providing at least one happy ending would have helped the movie not be so depressing. Ultimately I give a 7.5 out of 10 and a recommendation for adults who can handle a serious/depressing movie. See some great performances and think about how you treat other people and I think the movie has done it’s job. Next will be “The Station Agent”, until then have a good night all.

Florida Vacation, a little sad news and winter

Hi everyone,

Well it’s been a while since I did a personal post, so here we go. As usual I’ll start off with my annual Florida vacation. This year we were there from March 5-28 and had a great time. The start of the trip was very busy as we were there with my parents, my brother, his wife and my niece and nephew. 8 people in one house was a little out of my comfort zone but it was only for a few days. I love my niece and nephew but this pushed me to my limit. Anyway on with the best part, the pics!

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Obviously those were the house and me with my nephew Gregory, I do love the pool and like most things it life, it goes well with beer.

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My parent’s place is in Grant, FL but the pictures above are from Sarasota. We drove over there (about 3 hours away) to visit my father-in-law who was also in Florida the same time as us. The beach there was excellent! It was groomed and the sand was so soft, like flour.

The picture of the TV screen is from a restaurant we went to over there, it had this free poker game you could play while you waited. I only wish it had been for money as I did quite well (I did win money while on vacation, about $400 which was really nice).

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Me and ScarJo (I wish, God she’s hot!) It’s me at a comic book store (red hulk behind me was in last year’s post I believe)

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The above two are from Hard Rock Hotel Universal Studios. The below ones are of course from Universal (I love that place!)

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Cool costume but I thought the Transformers ride (which is fairly new) sucked, it just seemed like a cheap copy of the Spiderman one. The 3D was also blurry, which is always a bad sign.

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Time for another critical comment, I love the Simpsons and I was really looking forward to Moe’s. While it looks great inside and has some clever ideas (like the phone rings and it’s characters from the show), the actual products were WAY over-priced and tasted like crap.On a positive note the 3D ride is a lot of fun and all the statues are great.

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Not a great costume but the above is Cyclops. So in my opinion Rock-it is by far the best ride there, Dr. Doom’s Free fall next and then the Hulk (I was wearing the shirt after all!).

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No that’s not a mistake, on this tiny island called Green Turtle Kay a can of asparagus cost $8.30! Obviously we didn’t buy it (and mostly ate out).

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If you look hard enough I think there’s a crazy cat person in every small town, okay I’m being mean. It was a good thing she fed so many cat’s, I never got to see the insider of the house. She claimed that their used to be more cats but someone stole a few! She is quite a character for sure.

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Can’t rent cars on Green Turtle, so golf cart it is! They were actually fun to drive once you got used to it (though noisy as hell!)

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The next few are from MegaCon in Orlando, Florida (there were a LOT of people there, I’d say 30,000 at least). What should have taken 1.15 to get there took 3 hours! Next year if we go I’ll stay in the hotel next to it.

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There were six people from the Walking Dead there but we were just too late getting there and didn’t get to meet any of them, hopefully next year.

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Meeting Stan Lee. I had thought about it for months off and on and when the moment finally came I was excited. Like a lot of things in life it’s the anticipation that is the best feeling. He was nice but I barely had any time to talk to him. I thanked him for all the great comics he co-created and gave him a copy of my book (The Newfoundland Vampire, if you’re new to my blog). He said thank you and smiled, it was a good moment in my life. I hope he goes back next year so I can attend a Q&A with him and actually ask some questions.

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Wil Wheaton, what is there to say? He’s a great guy, friendly, very knowledgeable about many geeky things. I chatted with him for a little about board games and card games and also gave him a copy of my book (he is a writer too after all).

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Karl Urban, good actor, nice guy. I asked him if there will be a Judge Dredd sequel and he said “I hope so”, me too.

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The above is me with a lizard (they are everywhere in Florida!) and below is an abandoned house next to my parent’s, pretty cool.

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The sad news, while we were on vacation one of our cat’s died. Her name was Esther and below is the last picture we have of her. It was upsetting (obviously) and sudden. I had her to the vet just a few days before we left and everything was fine. The vet said afterwards it was sudden and she didn’t suffer. Luckily our neighbour and my sister-in-law looked after her body while we were gone. I’ll miss her and I’m dedicating my third novel to her.

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I wish the pictures below were an April’s fools day joke, they’re not. These are pictures taken April 1st 2014 right outside my house. Did I ever mention I hate winter?

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I won’t end on a downer. The snow is melting today and we’ve been out looking for a new cat. Hopefully tomorrow there will be a new addition to our household (I like Maxwell for a boy and maybe Lucy for a girl). I’ll post a few pictures when the kitty gets here. For now have a great weekend everyone, oh I finished the rough draft of my third novel, so expect that in your hands sometime in the near future!

Movie Review: 300: Rise of an Empire

Details from IMDB:

300RiseofAnEmpire

300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

102 min  -  Action | Drama | Fantasy  -  7 March 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 7.0/10 from 49,143 users   Metascore: 47/100

Reviews: 242 user | 248 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

Greek general Themistokles leads the charge against invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Director:

Noam Murro

Writers:

Zack Snyder (screenplay), Kurt Johnstad (screenplay), 1 more credit »

Stars:

Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

Like lots of people I saw the first movie, it was fun, had lots of action and a breakout performance from both Gerard Butler and Leana Headey. So the sequel finally came out, it was free popcorn night (and I wanted tickets for a showing of "Walking Dead" on Sunday) so we went.

Main Points:

The movie clearly both picks up and shows what happens before, during and after the battle with Sparata’s 300 men and quickly shows it has the same style of intense gore, slow downed dramatic action and of course blood spraying and spattering every which way. The problem with this installment is everything feels either re-hashed or just blown up to crazy levels.

I’m being overly negative though, there was things about this movie I liked. There is a pretty hot (and a little disturbing) sex scene. Some of the fight scenes are really good (and different from the first movie). Showing Xerxes back story was a nice touch and seeing the conflict in terms of all of Athens did broaden the story.

The big showdown between Themistocles and Artemisia was exciting (though predictable). I guess to say anymore does mean…

SPOILER ALERT!

Of course in this movie while Xerxes is not killed, the Greeks score a major victory against the Persian empire. Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) does show up for the final fight and rather bizarrely the traitor Ephialtes lives.

Final Thoughts:

Also aside from a tiny appearance from Lena Headey (and an okay performance from Eva Green), there’s just not much to recommend. 300 was different, even a little special. While I know this one is based on a graphic novel Frank Miller did, it seems more like he just wants some $ after the disaster of "The Spirit" (please don’t watch it like I did!). There is room left for a third movie but I can’t see going to the theater to watch it. 6/10 from me and I would only say go if you’re big fan of Frank Miller and/or super-bloody fighting movies. Also of course this movie is certainly not for kids (or anyone under 17). Next up will finally be my thoughts on "12 Years a Slave", have a great day everyone!

Movie Review: The Lego Movie

Lego

Details from IMDB:

 

The Lego Movie (2014)

100 min  -  Animation | Adventure | Comedy  -  7 February 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 8.4/10 from 35,052 users   Metascore: 82/100

Reviews: 174 user | 214 critic | 40 from Metacritic.com

An ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.

Directors:

Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Writers:

Dan Hageman (story), Kevin Hageman (story), 4 more credits »

Stars:

Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

I had heard good things about this movie and I loved Legos as a child, that plus the fact that my wife and I wanted to take our niece to this sealed the deal.

Main Points:

This was a fun movie, I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. It is full of characters I know (including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, C-3PO, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Gandalf and Lando). I was expecting this to be a movie just for kids but I was pleasantly surprised by some nice adult humor and even some serious messages. I have to say that Batman is my favourite character and this movie does a great job with him. Batman is lighthearted (for some parts)  and ultimately always does the right thing (as Batman pretty well always does). Will Arnett goes a great job bring the character to life. So I guess to go any further means…

SPOILER ALERT!

So the big twist of the movie is that the Lego world is actually a massive playset and the imagination of a young boy. The boy is dealing with some emotional issues with his Dad and I was surprised when it turned out to be Will Ferrell (who is only called "the man upstairs"). I find most children’s movies very predictable but this was not something I expected. While I don’t have children I thought the message here of finding a way to enjoy your hobbies with your kids (and let them share in the fun you have) to be very positive and appealed to the kid inside me.

Final Thoughts:

The movie has some flaws, for a short movie I did find a few spots dragged and the movie could have used a little more musical variety (only 2 songs were featured in the movie as far as I could tell). The Lego pieces/animation where excellent and the use of many characters and lots of great voice acting certainly added to my enjoyment. I give this a strong 8/10 and for a rare change I can recommend this to all ages (my niece is 3 and really enjoyed it). Tomorrow will be my just in time for the Oscars review of "American Hustle".

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