Snowpiercer (2014)

chrisevanssnowpiercer

Original Theatrical Release Date: July 11, 2014
Director: Joon-ho Bong

It is 2031 and life as we know it has come to an end. For 17 years, a small amount of survivors have eked out an existence on a technological marvel of a train called Snowpiercer that runs around the globe, never stopping, while the world outside is an icy wasteland. Inside Snowpiercer, a class system has arisen and one of the head figures in the lower class cars, Curtis (Chris Evans), has emerged to lead a rebellion against the higher class and move to the front of the train – following the cues of mysterious one-word messages that have been sent his way.

I guess I’ve been on a science fiction kick lately, because I watched this film, Edge of Tomorrow, and Interstellar all around the same time. I’d heard and seen previews for the other films, but for whatever reason I never really heard much about Snowpiercer aside from a couple of comments friends made about it. I decided to pick it up from Redbox.

First off, it was much better than I thought it’d be after the first few minutes. My initial reaction was “A train? Really? Oh, this is about climate change. How subtle.” As far as science fiction action flicks go, I liked this one a little better than Edge of Tomorrow. Not by a lot, but I liked the theme much better. Evans was decent as Curtis, the brooding and desperate leader of the lower class compartments, but I didn’t see much in the way of innovation with his character. He was basically just playing his role as Captain America, which isn’t a bad thing when it comes to action flicks but in terms of complexity we don’t see much with his depiction of Curtis.

One of the real joys of the film, though, was Tilda Swinton’s portrayal of the haughty and justified Mason. She was equal parts creepy, disassociated, and unlikable, with just the right amount of humor so she was more misguided and cowardly than downright evil. I am constantly impressed by not only the roles she takes on, but how well she plays them.

The action was really neat, with lots of little surprises in each new section of train the beleaguered rebels found themselves in. One particular scene has the rebels fighting against heavily-armored soldiers in one compartment of the train in a medieval style battle, which is really intense and fun to watch.

This was not a special effects-laden film, which I’m thankful for and probably part of the reason it felt more “real” to me than Edge of Tomorrow, aside from the obvious references to issues in the world we’re facing today. Some of the turns in the story were a bit predictable, and that aside from maybe some dull moments mid-film are what kept this movie from being even better than it is now. Still, it’s a very entertaining ride (seriously, no pun intended) and if you’re looking for some sci-fi action, this is a good choice. Check it out.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Movie Trailer For Snowpiercer

Advertisements

X-Men #1 (July 2013)

X-Men #1 (July 2013)

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Creative Team: Brian Wood, Olivier Coipel,

Jubilee is headed to the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning with a special baby in tow, hoping to give the infant the same chance at life she had when she first arrived at the (then) Charles Xavier School for the Gifted. However, she is being tailed by John Sublime, for reasons unknown. Storm, Rogue, and Kitty Pryde move to help her but they don’t realize what’s at stake, for them and for the Earth.

First off, I really dig Brian Wood’s (TMZ, Northlanders) writing. I am currently reading his Northlanders (links to my reviews HERE and HERE) series and so I wanted to give this X-Title a try. I haven’t really gotten into a lot of the newer X-Books, aside from All-New X-Men, but the novelty of an all-female team intrigued me enough to check it out.

Olivier Coipel’s (Legion Of Super Heroes, Thor) artwork is great and it works in concert with Wood’s writing very well. The issue reads somewhat at the same pace as if you were watching an action flick, despite being a little vague and confusing at times, which brings me to…

There were a couple things I didn’t like about it, but they were mostly minor. I think that having an all-female team is interesting, but I can’t help but think about the double-standard being held when almost every other book has to have strong female characters and not just have all male characters on teams. Also, the villain chosen for the X-Men to face in this instance is sort of underwhelming and seems set up (with him being an “attractive” male character, but also being evil) to deliver a sort of girl-power message in the end, after they face him with his slicked-back hair and unbuttoned shirts and all. Sure, this has been done before with the genders reversed (attractive, evil female) but this seems sort of forced, like it’s just because it’s an all-female team that the villain has to be a good-looking dude.

Still, with that said, if they can stay away from the same types of tropes that plague man-centric comic titles, this one should be pretty decent. New takes on team rosters and new group dynamics are always fun to explore within the Marvel Universe. In any case, I hope to give this a chance with a few more issues. So far, I am intrigued and can’t wait to see where the current story arc goes.

This title is an experiment and I think most people will like it well enough if they give it a shot.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Here’s A Sample Page From X-Men #1
05-29-2013-053107PM

Hot Rod (2007)

Hot Rod (2007)

Original Theatrical Release: August 3, 2007
Director: Akiva Schaffer

Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) is the son of a stuntman who worked alongside Evel Knieval, and he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. So, he repeatedly attempts to do stunts, failing in the process. At the same time, he tries to make his stepfather Frank (Ian McShane) respect him…by beating him in hand-to-hand combat. When Frank gets sick and it’s discovered he needs a heart transplant or he’ll die, Rod decides to kill two birds with one stone and make the ultimate jump for the ultimate cash prize.

If you’re going into this movie expecting any Oscar-worthy performances or storyline, you obviously don’t know about Andy Samberg’s group, Lonely Island.

Hot Rod is basically a meld of Saturday Night Live and Lonely Island skits. Samberg does a great job with his usual comedic stylings, along with his other Lonely Island group members. Other cameos and supporting roles by great comedic actors like Bill Hader, Danny McBride and Will Arnett round out the bunch. Isla Fisher was okay, but there weren’t exactly a lot of great women’s roles, if you’re looking for that. Still, she was fine for what the role intended and she is very quirky in her own right and seemed to fit naturally within the film’s silly world that is at times reminiscent of Napoleon Dynamite.

I base my enjoyment of movies on what they were trying to accomplish and how successful they were at it, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the silly spectacle of this movie for what it was….which is an hour-long skit medley.

If you enjoy silly humor and need a night of laughs, watch this. (Also, the soundtrack is amazing)

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Movie Trailer For Hot Rod

Warrior (2011)

Warrior (2011)

Original Theatrical Release: September 9, 2011
Director: Gavin O’Connor

Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) is an ex-marine with a tragic past he’s trying to escape from who returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh. Once there, he begrudgingly seeks out his father and former coach, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) to help him train for the “Superbowl” of MMA fights, with a five million dollar purse. However, Tommy’s brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is a public school teacher who is having a tough time making ends meet and hears about the fight as well, prompting him to take up his former habits as an MMA fighter to gun for the prize, too, setting the brothers on a collision course which will force them to confront their broken family issues head on.

I am not normally into sports movies, or even fighting movies that much (though Rocky was okay) but someone told me I should check this out. I was not disappointed.

It had sort of a slow middle section that some may appreciate more than others, and to me, this was the film’s only drawback. (It’s not much of a drawback, though)

However, the acting was amazing. Tom Hardy’s performance as the tortured ex-marine was top-notch. Nolte was excellent as the recovering-alcoholic father seeking redemption. Joel Edgerton was great as the teacher putting his heart and soul into the fights. There was definitely nothing to complain about in that department.

The action sequences, which I suspect most people will watch this film for initially, are really well-done. As a sometimes-viewer of UFC matches, I can attest that the fights aren’t always so exciting in real life, but the fights were done in such a way and the acting was done so well, that you feel like this is a real fight with real stakes, and you are just watching it on television at home.

This is a movie with a lot of heart and you can really identify with the plight of the characters, especially if you come from a broken home or know those kinds of people. The performances turned in by the actors is really the shining point of this film, for me, but the action is there for those of you who flock to the film for that aspect.

Seeing this, you can tell why they chose Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Also, does anyone else think that Joel Edgerton looks a lot like Conan O’Brien if he were to work out? Weird.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Movie Trailer For Warrior

Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained (2012)

Original Theatrical Release: December 25, 2012
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave. When a German man named Dr. King Shultz (Christopher Waltz) shows up and sets him free, he does it on one condition: Django must become his deputy in the bounty-hunting biz. Django just wants to find his wife, the lovely Broomhilda Von Schaft (Kerry Washington) but she is being held as a house slave on a plantation owned by the ruthless cotton king, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Django must match wits and guns with Candie in order to come out alive, much less rescue his wife.

I’d been waiting for this movie for a long time. I kept seeing trailer after trailer and then it was finally in theaters. Right now, It’s my current favorite movie that Quentin Tarantino has ever done. (Replacing Death Proof)

There was a lot of controversy over this film. Spike Lee and Kat Williams and others said it was racist, but the problem is that 1.) They never watched the film and 2.) It was NOT racist, aside from the fact that the 1800’s were racist. Tarantino is not a history scholar, he is a filmmaker, and what he did was create a very badass historical revenge fantasy.

Django is far from being helpless and stereotypical. All the white characters in the film are evil and/or stupid and/or dirty, and they all eventually get what’s coming to them. The only white character who helps Django is Schultz, but he is European and not American. (A very good choice for the purposes of this film…brilliant). The use of the “N-Word” IS gratuitous, but is probably used less than in real life in the 1800’s. I don’t think Tarantino uses it casually, or for humor, but needed to give a sense of how low people thought you were if you were African American.

The performances were all top-notch. Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Waltz and Kerry Washington went all out. I particularly enjoyed Christopher Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio’s performances, and I sometimes don’t even like Leo. I think he’s getting better with age. The music is great also (I want the soundtrack) and the story is very intriguing.

The violence is so exaggerated that during one of the gunfight scenes, I was clapping loudly and laughing as buckets worth of blood was splashed against the walls and floors, small pistols firing with the force of mini cannons and just destroying man and construct in great shows of gunplay.

It was great. Go see it.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Django Unchained

Stand By Me (1986)

Stand By Me (1986)

Original Theatrical Release: August 8, 1986
Director: Rob Reiner

Stand By Me, based on the novella “The Body” by Stephen King, is the story of four childhood friends who go looking for the body of a missing local boy. Once they find his remains, the boys discover that they aren’t the only ones and must confront the local knife-wielding gang leader, Acce Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland) and his crew.

This movie has so much going for it.

The best part is that the boys and their journey evoke lots of images from a simpler time in all of our lives. As we travel with these four kids from a small town in Oregon, we recall long, drawn out Summer days with lots of exploring through woods and through streets not our own, childhood friendships both fleeting and lasting, and the times where responsibility meant just coming in once it got dark outside.

Rob Reiner made excellent casting choices with the sensitive and intelligent storyteller, Gordie (Wil Wheaton) the tough-guy with a heart of gold, Chris (River Pheonix) the sometimes-crazy Teddy (Corey Feldman) and the boy afraid of everything, Vern ( Jerry O’Connell). ESPECIALLY the psychotic, leader of the local hoods, Ace (Kiefer Sutherland). Richard Dreyfuss made an excellent narrator (Gordie when he’s older) and even John Cusack made a brief appearance as Gordie’s older brother.

The movie is hilarious, sad, whimsical, nostalgic and fun. I challenge anyone who watches it not to be charmed by its sense of adventure and childhood innocence. ( I also challenge anyone to go into a lake without thinking of the leeches and then having second thoughts)

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Stand By Me