The Lego Movie (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

My exposure to the Lego brand is limited to some imaginative tinkering during my pre-pubescent years. In the time since, the brand had grown exponentially and acquired the licensing rights to a myriad of other intellectual properties. Established franchises such as DC Comics, Lucas Film, etc. have all been re-imagined through the process of multi-colored plastic interlocking bricks. The fiendishly amusing and lovingly crafted Lego Movie is a blast, this is the first toy/movie cross-over that feels warranted. It doesn’t surprise that Chris Mckay’s name is listed in the production credits along with director Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. McKay’s Robot Chicken program on Adult Swim sports much of he same irreverent humor and dry comedy that is prevalent in this tale.
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The Nut Job (2014) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

We have reached a point in the digital age when second-tier animation looks as vibrant and polished as their big-named contemporaries. The visuals look fantastic, animal furs shimmer and cartoon humans move around with freedom and clarity, the holes show through in the second-rate stories that inevitably are forgettable, less witty variations on the common themes that show up in the genre. The prevailing message here is that sharing is better than being selfish, its stand procedure there. It’s a shame though since the movie plays best when its lead character is being incorrigible and self-serving, especially as voiced by the amusingly arrogant Will Arnett.
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Non-Stop (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

The very first shot in Non-Stop is a close-up of Liam Neeson’s grizzled face. The scene is captured in slow-motion, as he looks down at a bottle of whiskey, contemplates, then pours its contents into his morning coffee. His creased face winces with the pungent taste of the brew, the camera lingers on his unshaven face for another second before breaking to the desolate parking lot of an International Airport. In trying to decipher why Neeson has become the Steven Seagal of the new millennium, I can see now that the appeal may be in part because the actor isn’t a superhuman do goodie, a vitamin chomping, mystical preaching martial artist. Rather, he is an alcoholic withdrawn man of regret and missed opportunity awoken by the chance to prove himself worthy for perhaps the final time in his life.
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A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The vibrant comedic zeal that seemed so effortless in Writer/Director Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, is nowhere to be found this his dreadfully dull follow-up. Jokes fall flat often but the hard-working MacFarlane keeps pumping them out, the lack of a truly manic leading man and a running time closer to Eastwood’s Unforgiven than Brooks’ Blazing Saddles are just a few of the many detriment to this flawed project.
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Podcast EP213: The Lone Ranger, Despicable Me 2 Predictions, Escape Plan Trailer, News, BoxOffice

Episode two-hundred and thirteen. Join hosts Trevor and Jason as they discuss the latest in movie news, box office numbers and trailers.

Box Office Ace Predictions: The Lone Ranger, Despicable Me 2

News:
‘Jacob’s Ladder’ Remake in the Works
Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg Team Up For Real Life Crime-Drama ‘American Desperado’
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx Reunite for ‘Mean Business On North Ganson Street’
‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Gets Summer 2014 Release Date
‘Arrested Development’ Writer to Pen ‘Knight Rider’ Movie
For $20 Million, Liam Neeson Is Willing to Star in ‘Taken 3′

Box Office Delorean:
July 2000 – The Patriot vs. World House Down

Box Office Weekend Breakdown: June 28-June 30, 2013

Plus much more, tune in now!

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The Grey (2012) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

There is a quiet nihilism in the unnerving psychological thriller The Grey. Seven surviving members of a plane crash must brave the harsh Arctic tundra and a pack of bloodthirsty wolves, in the hopes of rescue. On the surface this adventure tale is full of rugged looking actors going through an ordeal that is not uncommon to similar man vs. nature/ man vs. man fictional scenarios. The difference here is that The Grey pushes viewers to ponder its themes not only in the tense moments but hours and perhaps days after they have left the theater.

Liam Neeson is Ottway a professional marksman hired by an Alaskan drilling company to protect its exposed workers from the predatory animals roaming the icy landscape. After one of the most harrowing plane crash sequences ever committed to film, Ottway awakens to find himself one of a band of survivors who must work together to outlast the unforgiving weather and territorial beasts that are stalking the group’s every move. In terms of plotting, there is very little originality. The film’s power comes from the fully realized and captivating characters that behave as real people would if caught up in this extreme situation.

The Grey is one of the most relentlessly depressing movies in recent years, but it’s not unpleasant. That may sound like a backhanded compliment and it is. In honesty the entire experience left me feeling wrung-out and depressed; yet more importantly I was far more mentally stimulated that I had expected to be. The Grey represents a huge jump in maturity and craftsmanship from director/co-writer Joe Carnahan. A filmmaker whose previous output has felt like a frenzied attempt to emulate a certain style rather than develop an original artistic voice. For 2/3 of the running-time The Grey is nearly flawless, things get a bit drawn out in the last act with a scene in particular that lands on the overly talkative side and two shots that are held well past the point of explanation. Barring these minor quibbles, The Grey is a huge step in establishing Joe Carnahan as an emerging talent that is far more skilled than previously believed.

Director: Joe Carnahan
Stars: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney

Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Ridley Scott films have an amazing attention to detail. Everything from production, set and costume design to the actual cinema techniques of editing, cinematography and script are poured over with feverish devotion. Wether it be an alien vessel, a look at modern warfare or gladiatorial days in the Roman coliseum; Scott and his collaborators are masters of recreating a time period and mounting gargantuan production behind them. Kingdom of Heaven is Scott’s first return to ancient times since the OSCAR winning Gladiator, the two films couldn’t be more different. Those seeking the majestically beautiful violence of that earlier classic will be disappointed to find that Kingdom is a slow-moving, often-times ponderous affair than is more thought-provoking film. In fact other than two or three protracted battle sequences, including a doozy in the final act, there is a virtual lack of violence or action of any kind.
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