Guardians of the Galaxy

Release date: August 1, 2014 GOTG

When things get bad, They’ll do their worst.

In Marvel Studios latest chapter: a simple earthling abducted from earth in 1988 finds himself at the centre of the Galaxy’s greatest challenge.

Peter Quill played by Parks and Recreation’s Christ Pratt is a smooth talking yet misunderstood earthling caught up in the middle of an almost-war between two alien civilizations; when he is in possession of a mysterious orb that seems to have gotten the attention of many parties. While being head hunted by scavengers he betrayed, Quill is targeted by bounty hunters Rocket and Groot who have Gamora between them and Quill. Gamora has been sent by Ronan a dangerous ruler bent on destruction, to retrieve the coveted orb. After all four are arrested they meet Drax the Destroyer while in prison. It is there they all realize they must fight together to survive and save the galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t hold back. Within the first moments of the 121 minute film we are introduced to a quick yet deep backstory to who Peter Quill AKA Star Lord is. Being abducted moments after the passing of his mother, the film jumps 25 years into the future to 2014 where a grown up Star Lord is doing a great job being the intergalactic Indiana Jones. We’re slowly introduced to the other stars of this film but what might seem as chance.

This flick’s look and tone are upbeat and fun. Never staying dark for long; yet enough to take us on a wild ride of emotions. It harkens back to the feel and thrill of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope! I even say Guardians of the Galaxy is the Star Wars film we were looking for in 1999. Abrams, take note.

While the action is quick and colourful, the film doesn’t fall victim to the “Michael Bay Effect” of not being able to decipher what is going on while people or metal things are fighting. This colourful feel isn’t just in the visual aspects of Guardians. The film’s score and soundtrack take us back to a simpler time on earth. A time that Peter Quill knew.

The acting is never cheesy, even during the subtle romance scenes. Everyone from Pratt to Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, John C. Riley and yes, even Dave Bautista brought their A-games! Big Dave even stole many scenes himself.

I may still be riding the high of a fun ride, but I have a hard time finding negative points about Guardians of the Galaxy. From the colours, to the sets, and the CGI; GotG is a treat for your eyes. The story is complex, yet simple. And you’ll even fall in love with a tree. They may not be good at much, but they’re the best bet as saving the galaxy.

My friends… Guardians of the Galaxy is Verified Awesome!

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Enemy of the State

Release date: November 20 1998 Enemy_of_the_State

It’s not paranoia if they’re really after you.

It’s been a while folks. A damn long while. I apologize to the three people who read my reviews religiously. I hope you’ve discovered by friend Chris Hanna’s site and enjoyed his written delectables.

Much like the discography of Rage Against The Machine, Enemy of the State is more fitting in today’s culture than it was in the late 90’s. This flick has it all: Late 90’s tech, conspiracy theories, shaky cameras, the word enhance, explosions and actors like Will Smith, Gene Hackman,  Jon Voight and a slew of (then) soon to be famous actors; mostly funny ones.

Enemy of the State follows Robert Clayton Dean (Smith), an almost squeaky labour lawyer as he’s randomly pulled into an underground war a corrupt politician and the NSA are fighting against privacy laws. His chance encounter with an old friend who has evidence of the murder of Congressman Phil Hammersley makes Dean the target of a well oiled tracking/hunting machine with very few blind spots.

On his way to understand why he’s being hunted by Big Brother, Dean’s world is torn apart as his past sins pull his family apart. Alone with no one to trust he finds Brill (Hackman), an old man who looks like every other conspiracy theorist. Only he just might be the man to help Dean clear his name and expose the NSA. Only this is the late 90’s and Will Smith is in your movie, so he’ll be one to save the day.

The pacing fantastic. This flick is so well edited I wanna shake the hand of Chris Lebenzon. Who also happens to have edited another of my favourite films The Taking of Pelham 123. With the use of so many public/security/satellite camera’s for the big brother effect it could have been very easy to get lost in the jump cuts or digital tracking of Will Smith’s character. Thankfully Lebenzon didn’t fall victim to crappy cuts like anything from Michael Bay in the last 10 years.

The acting was solid on all fronts. Nothing much to highlight from the well known of the 90’s. But the little time we saw Jack Black, Jamie Kennedy and Seth Green I was very enthused. Jack Black specifically not being a complete, pardon my french twat-bag was a great surprise. In fact he came across as one of the smarter characters; but that could have simply been the fantastic writing.

Overall Enemy of the State is like the album The Battle of Los Angeles. Part of a revolution in the media of openly questioning the government and their evolving policies. A creation of the late 90’s far more relevant in 2014. This movie is packed with action and gadgets you’ll likely believe to be relics of an age long lost. Currently available on Netflix, Enemy of The State is a solid way to pass an evening. Verified Awesome.

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Lethal Weapon

Release date: March 6, 2012 Lethal Weapon big

Lethal Weapon has found its way onto many of my “Top 5” lists, published and to come. It’s a film I can sit back anytime and enjoy for different things. Being a buddy cop/action film from the 80’s its got action, suspense, comedy, slight boobage and even some cursing.

Written by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and directed by Richard Donner (Superman) Lethal Weapon stars Mel Gibson and Danny “Not related to Donald Glover” Glover as now stereotypical mismatched partners. Filling the role of primo bad guy is Gary “Got the Crazy eyes” Busey.

Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Glover) celebrates his 50th birthday at the beginning of the film and gets teamed up with tormented Sergeant Martin Riggs (Gibson.) The two have a rough start with Murtaugh having a hard time trusting his young, loose-cannon of a partner. To make matters worse they’re immediately thrust into an investigation involving a former army buddy of Murtaugh’s. After a disastrous outing Murtaugh proclaims what will be the catchphrase of the film series “I’m too old for this sh!t.”

After many twists and turns where the investigation gets personal, the boys find themselves fighting for their lives. Riggs becomes shirtless and has a final battle with Mr. Joshua (Busey) while the police department looks on. Did I mention this was made in the 80’s?

WHAT WORKED:

-The plot: What now is a cliché in the industry; this film set us up for the 90’s with a bang. Two mismatched cops must use their differences to become a force to be reckoned with. What Lethal Weapon was able to do in four films, others messed up after one. Example: Rush Hour. Damn you Christ Tucker. Damn you.

-Mel Gibson. Being well before his crazies, Gibson was in his prime during the Lethal Weapon franchise years. He was Hollywood’s golden boy. He played the role of a man on the edge really well. Maybe he wasn’t playing? Anyways, his balance between sympathetic depression, psycho rage and goofball is what keeps people glued to the screen as this makes up for the average pacing of the film.

-Gary Busey. Another man whose mental health has been in question for a couple of years now. Thankfully this film was shot long before all his botched plastic surgery. His cool demeanour and heartless eyes played perfectly against the emotional tandem of Riggs and Murtaugh.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

-The score. Like almost every film of the 80’s, especially the action ones the score is absolute crap. There’s no hiding it. The synthesized noises mixed in with forced emotion weren’t needed to drive the strong story home. The sad part is, it took away from the film with it’s over the top nature much like Fanboys.

-The hair. Hey 80’s America. What the F-ck were you thinking!? Men with feathered mullets?

THE LOWDOWN:

Lethal Weapon might just be the gold standard when it comes to buddy-cop films. It was a bromance film decades before the term came into existence. I Love You, Man couldn’t hold a candle to the plutonic love between Riggs and Murtaugh. Lethal Weapon has everything to guarantee an awesome night in: explosions, action, crappy punch sound effects and a lot of curse words. Do yourself a favour and watch this flick if you haven’t ever. And if it’s been a while since you’ve watched Murtaugh complain about his wife’s cooking you should do it again, because Lethal Weapon is Verified Awesome.

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Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Release date: July 30, 2013 Justice League- The Flashpoint Paradox

At the pseudo-suggestion from Kevin Smith to watch this little flick, I sat down for what would be a gripping and awesome night. JL: The Flashpoint Paradox is the 17th instalment in the DC Universe Animated Movie series. For my one longtime reader, you’ll remember how big a fan I am of Batman: Under The Red Hood. And this DC joint is no different.

At the directing helm of The Flashpoint Paradox is Jay Oliva, the same dude who’s been behind Batman: The Dark Knight Returns films; so you know he’s got the right chops for this gig.

JL: The Flashpoint Paradox follows The Flash as he’s sent into an alternate timeline after thwarting a bombing plan by Eobard Thawne AKA Professor Zoom. Arriving in this new timeline, Barry Allen isn’t The Flash. In fact many of the heroes from The Justice League aren’t what they are in his “normal” timeline. Allen is distraught and elated when he discovers that his mother is alive and well in this world.

What isn’t doing well is the planet, as it is being torn apart by the war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Sh!t gets real here as both are total badasses in this timeline and just don’t care about anyone else outside of their people. Suspicious is the lack of Superman. Cyborg is actually in the role of Superman for the US Government; and Batman is more jaded than normal. I didn’t think it could be possible, but it happens here.

The Flash makes an attempt to reach out to the only person he thinks could understand what’s going on: Overly jaded Batman, who uses guns. Turns out in this timeline Batman isn’t Bruce Wayne, but Thomas Wayne! In the alley outside the theater, young Bruce is the one who eats the bullet and his father takes up the cowl and cape.

It’s now up to a powerless Flash and alcoholic Batman to  save this world from their Armageddon and restore the timeline.

WHAT WORKED:

– The plot. This was a simple-complex story. Unravelling at all the right points to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Unlike the resent live action Man of Steel where plot point are literally explained by characters to drive the point. *ahem Jar-El ahem

– The dialogue. This flick felt natural. I’ve sat back and seen too many Justice League episodes and been hit with lines that feel like they’re written by 1970’s George Lucas. But this was refreshing in a JLA sense.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The animation. Plain and simple. Not DC’s best work. Coming off of solid animation behind The Dark Knight Returns.

THE LOWDOWN:

If you’re into comic adaptations, this is for you. If you’re into animated action films, this is for you. If you’re into old school Amanda Bynes, then good for you. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a good time in a box. It makes time travel relatively simple. You won’t need a doctorate like Emmett Lathrop Brown to understand what’s going on. Filled with heavy emotions and grime realities, The Flashpoint Paradox still lets you have a good time. This flick is Verified Awesome.

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Release date: April 18, 2008 FSM big

The Ultimate Romantic Disaster Movie is a smash hit.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of those flicks that I can pick up watching at any point in its duration and have a good time until the credits rolls. Spawned by the writing heart of Jason Segel, who also plays the lead, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is somewhat autobiographical in that some of the events in the film are lifted from Segel’s life; like being buck-naked while being dumped. Not sure the girl in real life was as hot as Kristen Bell is though.

Directed by Nicolas Stoller (The MuppetsForgetting Sarah Marshall follows Petter Bretter (Segel) as he copes with life after TV star Sarah Marshall breaks up with him unexpectedly. He journeys to Hawaii in an attempt to forget his blonde bombshell of an ex. What really sucks for our boy Peter is the resort he chose to escape to, is home to a gang of odd personalities and is the place where is ex is vacationing and hooking up with singing sensation and sex guru Aldous Snow (Russell Brand.) What does rock for Peter is he meets the lovely and hot Rachel Jansen (Mila Kunis.)

WHAT WORKED:

-The comedy. As un-athletic as Segel looks, these jokes were all home-runs. You could tell he took the time to perfectly craft all these moments so they were properly spaced to give me time to finally swallow my diet coke.

-Mila Kunis. This is the film where I really started believing in her. She has always been very hot; eye Candy if you will. However, I just never could see her outside of Jackie from That 70’s Show. But her vulnerability and sass really played well opposite Bell here.

-The running gags with Darald (Jack McBrayer) and his new wife Wyoma (Maria Thayer.) A religious newlywed couple learning how to…. umm… really consummate a marriage. The scene where Snow shows Darald positions with giant chess pieces is pure gold.

-The music. This is what probably got Segel the job for The Muppets he did a few years later. Doing a “muppet” musical for Dracula is awesome-sauce.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

-Jonah Hill. I love me some Jonah Hill. But at this point in his career he was really typecast in that kind of egocentrically foul-mouthed role. Even if it’s well written it gets old quick after five films.

THE LOWDOWN:

This film is that kid you have in your town who everyone knows. He’s a trouble maker with a heart of gold. He’s a sonic boom with a silver lining. This film gets away with some pretty risqué things, but because it’s moral is ever so present we forgive it and laugh along the ride. If you’re searching for a great date-night-in film, search no further than Forgetting Sarah Marshall because it is Verified Awesome!

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Boiler Room

Release date: February 18, 2000

Anyone who says money is the root of all evil, doesn’t have it. Or a wife.

Boiler Room, suits, cars, money and bad credit. This film taught me a lot about the stock market; almost as much as 2 For The Money did with gambling. Besides Gone in 60 Seconds, this is my Giovanni Ribisi film. A film that lacked all ethnicity and tried to say it had by reminding us Vin Diesel’s character is Italian. They’re all white guys and Jews.

Written and Directed by Ben Younger, Boiler Room stars Giovanni Ribisi as a 19-year-old dropout Seth Davis. Having a really rocky relationship with his family, especially his Father who is a Federal District judge; Seth decides to join J.T. Marlin, a brokerage film at the offer of one of his friends. What follows is a mash-up of personal torment and the truth behind some investment firms. Boiler Room has fantastic storytelling and should have gotten a re-release when the economy tanked in 2008.

WHAT WORKED:

– Vin Diesel. Before there was The Fast and The Furious, and before there was The Pacifier there was the smooth talking, deep voiced Italian of Boiler Room. Probably being the second most redeemable character in this flick, Chris Varick is the mentor to Seth and the calm hand of the office. Unfortunately Diesel has strayed away from roles like this, which is sad because I feel he could do so much here. (Bonus fact: Diesel is a D&D player. I want to have him as my Dungeon Master.)

– Giovanni Ribisi. I have a really troubled “viewing-relationship” with ol’Gio. While in his youth I really enjoyed his work. I absolutely loved him in Gone in 60 Seconds. But his roles like in The Rum Diary are complete bull. He’s become a character actor in films that do not require such performances. Yet, I can look back to the days of his acting glory. His delivery of a young man, not knowing what to do with his life, only knowing that he wants to be good at it is awesomely connectable. It’s this kind of reality that creates an attachment beyond, “Yeah. Isn’t Ribisi the dancing wacko from Ted?”

– The story. It’s the age old story of “man versus himself,” yet told in (then) contemporary times. There’s so much personal torment within Seth. The fear of not living up to our parents expectations is something many of us share. Add the fact that he’s got Greg Weinstein (Nicky Katt) a senior broker who’s trying to hold him down out of jealousy, and the FBI is slowly stalking him in attempts to take out J.T. Marlin only create a story with many levels of interest.

– BEN AFFLECK. Yes, the man who could play in any film; even Jaws. My boy Ben Affleck plays a quick talking foul-mouthed recruiter for J.T. Marlin. His monologue while recruiting Seth is worth watching this film alone.

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WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The music. I once heard pro-wrestling Kevin Nash say that there was a surge of white guys being allowed to finally listen to rap in the mid to late 90’s. I believe this film took this to heart. A film about stocks filled with white Jewish guys with some pretty heavy rap playing in the background just feels odd. Very odd. I get it though. I understand that they didn’t want to pinhole themselves because of the very white cast. Why not use “gangsta rap?” Well, I know why not to use it: because it just doesn’t fit. At all. #FailSauce

– The FBI. I’ll leave it plain and simple: flat and one dimensional.

THE LOWDOWN:

Want a great portal to the year 2000? Boiler Room is it. The suits were expensive but horrible cheap by today’s standards. The music sucks and everyone’s dream car is a Ferrari. But what you get when you watch Boiler Room is a solid 118 minutes of good movie. The personal monologues about live, careers and money really define a young person’s search for purpose and a place in this world. Boiler Room is a calculated film that continues to rise on my market. Boiler Room is Verified Awesome.

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Jaws

Release date: June 20, 1975 Jaws

Amity Island had everything. Clear skies. Gentle surf. Warm water. People flocked there every summer. It was the perfect feeding ground.

I have been blessed with the oppotunity to see this masterpiece on the silver screen. That’s right I saw Jaws on the big screen as a part of Cineplex’s Great Digital Film Festival. This film has been praised by rotten tomatoes as one of the greatest films of all time. Let me tell you, this is a phenomenal film when you watch it at home, but that does no justice to just how awesome Jaws is when you see it in a cinema.

Jaws follows Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) and a tiny summer resort town, Amity Island as they are terrorized by a giant, man-eating greatwhite shark. While most of the town’s business folk ignore Chief Brody’s concerns after initial attacks, it becomes evident that the whole town is in trouble after a July 4 attack by the aquatic beast. Chief Brody alongside oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) team up with grizzled shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) to kill the beast. Three men and one boat. Kind of sounds as bad as 2 Girls 1 Cup, no?

WHAT WORKED:

– The score. There are film scores that transcend the industry. I know many people who can hum the Star Wars theme, or the Empirial March. The Jaws theme is no exception. The composer, JOHN WILLIAMS, who no-so-surprisingly is the mastermind behind the scores for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the first three Harry Potter films is also the man behind the bone chilling music. It’s a simple score of few notes. But it’s grown to be iconic in today’s pop-culture, some near 30 years later. Stalking down my hall I often hum the chords before surprising my family or dog. Epic.

– ROBERT SHAW. This guy was simply ah-mazing. Just his monologue about his price for catching Jaws is often referenced or parodied. But when he’s sitting with the guys in the cabin of the boat just after trading stories about their scars, and he goes off on his monologue about his trails after the USS Indianapolis was sunk, I get chills, and the urge to write insane runon sentences. Just the dark place Shaw must have gone to achieve such a dark moment.

– The acting in general. Dreyfuss as Hooper was pretty awesome. When he shows up to Chief Brody’s home with two bottles of wine is a funny moment. Also Scheider can’t be ignored here for his performance either. His interactions with his youngest son just felt too real. And not many men could pull off trash talking a shark quite like him.

– The Shark. Until I finally saw this film in Bluray quality, I always felt the shark looked amazingly real. The one downside to HD is you see some of the flaws, but overall it’s still a good job. Such a great job that if they were ever to reboot Jaws or reimagine it, only Ben Afleck starring as the shark itself would be better in the role. Legit.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– Not much.

– Lorraine Gary. Nothing special from her. Infact there were moments where I felt she was reading cue cards…

THE LOWDOWN:

Jaws is awwwwwmmmaaaazing! Truly a film that must be experienced. If you are lucky enough to have access to it on the big screen, go for it. If not, just curl up on the couch with some diet coke and twizzlers and get ready for a suspenceful ride. I’ll admit the scary aspects of the film haven’t aged well, but with today’s educated cinema fans, the suspences builds to emotion. That emotion is powerful. Just when you thought it was save to watch a film, you were right: Jaws is Verified Awesome!