Lakeview Terrace

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on June 8, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

An interracial couple moves into their California dream home, only to find themselves the target of their volatile next-door neighbor — a racist LAPD officer — in this tightly wound thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington. Newlyweds Chris and Lisa seem like they have the perfect marriage and now, with their new home in the exclusive community Lakeview Terrace, the perfect life as well, but things soon turn ugly in the posh neighborhood when they begin to receive threats from their neighbor Abel, a middle-aged LAPD officer who has obvious objections to the couple’s interracial marriage. What starts as an attitude problem soon morphs into full-on harassment, and before long the couple finds that their worries go far beyond their property values — or the encroaching California wildfire burning in view of their community — as they begin to fear for their lives.

What people are saying:

“Some will find it exciting. Some will find it an opportunity for an examination of conscience. Some will leave feeling vaguely uneasy. Some won’t like it and will be absolutely sure why they don’t, but their reasons will not agree. Some will hate elements that others can’t even see. Some will only see a thriller. I find movies like this alive and provoking, and I’m exhilarated to have my thinking challenged at every step of the way” 4 1/2 stars

“It’s ironic when the tactics it uses to ratchet up the suspense actually reduces the very real tension that gets communicated in its first half.” 1 star

“Samuel Jackson pulls off another great role. A cop living next your worst nightmare? could happen. I wouldn’t call this movie a hard core thriller, but it does have its edge of the seat type of moments. I wasn’t sure about watching it, but after I started I couldn’t stop.” 3 stars

“Though it wasn’t perfect and could’ve been much better, it’s a pretty enjoyable character study. It seems like the film, in most spots, doesn’t completely get off the ground and falls a little short before it gets too intense. The three lead performances — particularly Patrick Wilson and Samuel L. Jackson — are quite strong and the story keeps you hooked despite some cliches.” 2 1/2 stars

“Samuel Jackson is downright scary as a totally racist (without provocation, at all) psycho. People are down-playing the race angle, which is the entire underpinning of this movie. He had it out for the couple SOLELY because they were an interracial couple. I doubt most men (of any color) would have put up with his psycho behavior as much as this white husband did – that part is not believable. It also throws like four different, unrelated themes together for no apparent purpose. It’s great to see a film that finally depicts black on white racism (of which there is much), but the plot and story could have been tied together better.” 3 stars

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Trailer Thursday 6/7

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on June 7, 2018 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

The last few months have seen a drastic upturn, for lack of a better term, in feminism and their causes. With this in mind, i figured why not feature a more female centered film for this week’s trailer. This led me to Skirts Ahoy.

Brought to you by the same people who created Anchors Aweigh, i know i look forward to watching this in the future. Enjoy the trailer!

Fun Mom Dinner

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Four moms whose only common ground is their kids’ preschool class, decide to get together for a harmless “fun mom dinner.” The night begins as a disaster, but the combination of alcohol, karaoke, and a cute bartender, leads to an unforgettable night where these seemingly different women realize they have more in common than motherhood and men.

What people are saying:

“…makes the repeated mistake of banging us over the head with its running gags and needlessly spelling everything out, making the movie feel longer than its 81 minutes. “These are indeed moms, and they do have dinner, but the “fun” part is in short supply” 1 1/2 stars

“Stereotypes and contrived shenanigans don’t seem to actually offer much catharsis for harried moms seeking escape. And the dads inevitably butt into their me-time.” 1 1/2 stars

“Based on the previews, this looked cheesy. But, it turned out to be a lot of fun! Nice surprise.. Loved it and I’m planning to watch it again with my girlfriends for our movie night.” 3 stars

“God bless Bridget Everett who tried to make this movie fun but was thwarted by everything around her. Basically no central conflict driving the plot. And it’s bewildering why all these funny people made themselves unfunny for this script and director” 1 star

“Not a great film. You are constantly expecting some kind of interesting twist but all the characters are extremely average with extremely average uninteresting motives. The pop culture references are going to be completing irrelevant in a year or so, so luckily this movie wont last the test of time. The plot is barely existent and the two/three ongoing stories have no resolution whatsoever, its almost as if the screen writers got half way through the movie, realised they had wasted too much time on random detail and gave up before they got to the end. If you’re expecting something along the lines of Bad Moms you will likely end up disappointed.” 1 1/2 stars

Trailer Thursday 5/31

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on May 31, 2018 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Earlier this month, it was brought to my attention that The Craft turns 20 this year. Can you believe that?!? Even more surprising is that one of the actresses, Rachel True, looks exactly like she did back then! Is she practicing witchcraft for real?

Enjoy the trailer

Martian Child

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A recently widowed sci-fi writer adopts a 6-year-old boy to quell his loneliness. The catch? The kid claims to be from Mars. Dad’s dubious at first, but an odd series of events prompts him to wonder whether his son could be telling the truth.

What people are saying:

“Despite some charms, overt emotional manipulation and an inconsistent tone prevents Martian Child from being the heartfelt dramedy it aspires to be” 3 stars

“It’s off in many directions — false in its details, false in its relationships, false in its emotions — but probably the first and worst thing that needs to be said about it is that it’s also overlong and dull.” 2 stars

“A lot of critics and reviewers are putting this movie down because it is sentimental and predictable. Ok so this movie wasn’t edge of your seat thrilling – it wasn’t supposed to be. This is a sweet drama that will make you laugh and make you cry. The Cusaks are great as always and the little boy is adorable. If you like this type of movie, ignore the critics.” 4 stars

“As an adoptive parent I see so much truth in this movie. Bringing him into reality slowly was an awesome description of how to help a child from a traumatic background. Maybe it wasn’t a box office hit, but it definitely gives a picture of the difficulty of bonding with a kid who has been hurt by his birth parents.” 4 1/2 stars

“John Cusack continues his late-’00s slide in this spacey, whitewashed translation of a semi-fictional novella. Cusack, who never seems to make a film without his sister, plays a moody, depressed sci-fi writer who adopts a similarly introverted six-year-old as a way to move on from an intense personal loss. Following the formula to a tee, the two then struggle to understand each other for the rest of the picture before feeling their way to a generic happy ending, complete with montage. The film halfheartedly drops sporadic hints that the child might be from outer space as he so boldly proclaims, but never seems to completely commit to that direction. Instead, it’s content to just lean back into an easy, overplayed routine and let the chips fall where they may. Really, the narration is so passive it’s hard to imagine what it does stand for – even the shoehorned introduction of a love interest for Cusack (a heavily criticized change from the novella, in which the narrator is gay) is just lightly dangled across the screen before being tossed aside and forgotten. Bland, faceless and safe, it’s family-friendly to a fault.” 2 stars

Fullmetal Alchemist

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the country of Ametris, Edward Elric and his younger brother Alphonse live in the rural town of Resembool with their mother Trisha while self-learning alchemy at a young age. When the brothers commit the taboo act of Human Transmutation to resurrect Trisha after she dies of illness, it backfires and they suffer the consequences via the Law of Equivalent Exchange: Edward loses his left leg, while Alphonse is dragged into the Gate of Truth. Edward then sacrifices his right arm to save his brother’s soul and bind it to a suit of armor via a blood seal, later replacing his missing limbs with “automail” prosthetics. Edward later receives an invitation by Colonel Roy Mustang to join the military so he can research a means of restoring Alphonse’s body. After becoming a State Alchemist with the title “Fullmetal Alchemist”, accompanied by their childhood friend and Automail mechanic Winry Rockwell, Edward begins his quest with Alphonse to find the legendary philosopher’s stone which could repair their bodies.

Years later, Edward and Alphonse confront a cultist named Father Cornello, whom they believe is using a philosopher’s stone to recruit the people of Liore. As Mustang arrives to personally handle the situation, Edward exposes Cornello while the stone is revealed to be a fake. After reaching East City and spending the night at the home of Major Maes Hughes and his pregnant wife, the brothers are provided with lodging when Major General Hakuro introduces them to Shou Tucker, a bio-alchemy authority who obtained his State Alchemist credentials by creating a talking chimera. As the brothers become fast friends with the man’s young daughter Nina and their dog Alexander, Tucker suggests Edward to find Dr. Tim Marcoh as he created a philosopher’s stone prior to going into hiding. Alphonse remains behind to be examined by Tucker, who causes Alphonse to question his existence, while Edward and Winry head to Marcoh’s last known whereabouts.

Though Marcoh was murdered by Cornello’s benefactor Lust as he and Winry find him, Edward acquires the man’s notes and asks Hughes to decipher them while unknowingly alienating Alphonse to keep him safe. Hughes later makes a horrific discovery from his investigation and ends up being killed by Lust’s associate Envy, who assumes Mustang’s form to frame the colonel for the murder. Edward manages to escape being interrogated with help from Mustang’s aide Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye, using what he could deduce from the notes to investigate the clandestine Fifth Laboratory. At the same time, after revealing the new talking chimera that he created from Nina and Alexander, Tucker forces Alphonse and Winry to accompany him to the Fifth Laboratory, where they find Edward as he verbally realizes that the Philosopher’s Stone is created from humans.

Tucker confirms Edward’s realization, justifying their respective actions of selfishly manipulating life before Lust kills him while revealing herself as a homunculus. After Lust cryptically hints of her group’s reach in the government and an upcoming event that Edward has a vital role in, Hakuro reveals the Mannequin Soldier homunculi and gets killed when he prematurely activates them. Mustang has Riza and their men keep the Mannequin Soldiers from flooding out of the laboratory while he confronts Lust and Envy, killing the former while ripping her philosopher’s stone core from her body. While Mustang gives Edward the stone so he can restore Alphonse, Edward instead uses it to appear before his brother’s body and promises to find another way to restore him. Edward then returns to his reality to reaffirm Alphonse’s existence to him. Sometime after, as Gluttony mourns Lust’s death, Envy is revealed to have survived Mustang’s attack but has been diminished to its true parasitic form as a result.

REVIEW:

I can imagine that if you are reading this you have at least some knowledge of the adventures of the Elric Brothers. if you aren’t familiar with these boys, well, i can tell you that this film doesn’t necessarily need prior knowledge going in, unlike the other Fullmetal Alchemist (animated) films did. With this being the first foray into live-action, let us delve into what works and what didn’t with Fullmetal Alchemist, shall we?

What is this about?

The plot takes place at the beginning of the 20th century, in a reality where alchemy is real, extremely developed and respected. The plot features brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric who, after attempting the forbidden technique of human transmutation, suffer the consequences. Alphonse loses his entire body while Edward loses his left leg. Edward then sacrifices his right arm to save his brother’s soul by attaching it to a metal suit of armor. Edward is then given mechanical prosthetics known as “automail” in place of his missing arm and leg. Upon acceptance into the State Alchemists, he is given the nickname “Fullmetal Alchemist”, all while searching with Alphonse for the legendary philosopher’s stone, that will repair their bodies.

What did I like?

Bring me to life. As someone who watched both iterations of the anime, it was a real treat to see that the filmmakers didn’t try to change anything to the general audience, but rather stayed as close as possible to the source material. Perhaps this is a Japanese thing, because other films like this have employed similar tactics, unlike here in the US where filmmakers feel they have to change so much of a character and/or story just to make it “grounded”. Some reviews I have read called this a living cartoon, as if that is a bad thing!

Familiarity. Not only does this feel like the anime brought to real life, but the costume and character design are something to take note of. For instance, Ed’s iconic red coat is unmistakably there. Al’s armor, Lust’s nails, Gluttony’s rotund physique, the military’s uniforms’ etc. Anyone who has watched even 5 minutes of the anime will be able to recognize what this is, and that’s a major plus in my book, especially for a film that is probably not going to reach a mainstream audience very easily.

Action. Two things always stood out in the anime, especially the first iteration, comedy and action. Now, i would have liked for there to have been more comedic scenes, the action is pretty nice. The feel of Ed, Al, and even Col. Mustang doing their alchemy whilst fighting off hundreds of mindless mannequins is def a climactic fight to be seen. There are other places where the action scenes are done nicely, as well.

What didn’t I like?

Asian-washing. Here in America, there is a long history of whitewashing. I think the most recent instance came with Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell. Why do i bring this up? Well, every actor in this film is Asian, much like every actor in the Harry Potter films is British. This isn’t a problem, per se, but when i look at the manga and anime versions of these characters, i don’t see Asians (except maybe some mix in Mustang’s genealogy). Ed and Winry are supposed to be blonde, almost to the point of being the perfect specimens for Hitler’s “supreme race”. Most everyone else in the cast is your usual dark-haired variety. I may just being too picky, but as much as they brought this straight from animation cells to the big screen, i would have liked to have seen more accurate casting, but i respect that they went with an all-Asian cast.

Cliff notes. This seems to be more in line with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood than the original anime, though there are a few times it switches back and forth. What i found interesting is how they tried to fit some 6 seasons, give or take, into a 2 hr movie. What we ended up with is i think 3 or 4 major storylines and they were cliff notes versions of those, meaning we got the main parts, but characters, subplots, etc, were taken out for time purposes. I personally think the Shou Tucker/Nina saga could have been given more time, also more time should have been given to Maj. Hughes. These are 2 storylines that are a gut punch to viewers in the anime, but not so much in live action. Then again, i felt the same way when i watched them in Brotherhood, as opposed to the original, so it may have something to do with the source material they used. Either way, i feel as if too much was crammed in to this film for its own good.

Ouorboros. The homunculi have been a major part of FMA lore since the beginning. However, I didn’t feel the actress cast as Lust was a good choice. I wasn’t lusting after her! They needed to enhance her curves somehow to really make that character what she needed to be, looks-wise. Don’t get me wrong, the woman is gorgeous, but when i think of Lust, i see more of a Jessica Rabbit type, rather than Victoria’s Secret model. The other homunculi, we only get Envy and Gluttony for this one, are acceptable, though i wish we would have had a chance to see more than just a tease of Gluttony’s true self and not even a trace of the annoyance that is Envy.

Final verdict on Fullmetal Alchemist? As i stated in the opening, i don’t think many non-FMA fans are going to be interested in this, especially with is being made overseas (the threat of subtitles scares Americans!) That said, it is obvious this was made for the fans…the people that will actually enjoy it. Yes, there are plenty of flaws with this film, from casting, to over reliance on CG, to blah, blah, blah. However, if you put that aside, turn your brain off and just sit back and watch, one can enjoy the pleasure that the filmmakers put into making this, and it is sure to increase your enjoyment…then you can bitch about all the things that are wrong. Also, in the English dubbed version we get the original voices of Ed and Winry, so that’s a bonus! Do i recommend this? For fans of the series, yes, but to the casual or non-fan, meh…you probably won’t appreciate it as much as the rest of us.

3 1/4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 5/24

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on May 24, 2018 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

It may be hard to tell from the scope of films I’ve been reviewing lately, but i am a big fan of classic sci-fi films. One that i came across last night, and that i will be checking out in the next couple of weeks (hopefully), is The 27th Day.

Just check out the trailer for this one. The plot is…well, just watch