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Hate movie spoilers? Good! You'll get straight to the point, quick, and spoiler-free movie reviews to help you spend your time and money wisely on movies. I'll give you the Good, the Bad, the Reason, and the Rating about each movie. ***Please disable any popup blockers***

Monday, October 31, 2016

Doctor Strange Movie Review

The Trailer:
Video Review:

The Good:
Well let's get this out of the way since it's the most obvious highlight. The visuals were by far the best aspect of this film. The first thing that comes to mind is that this film's visuals are similar to that of the movie Inception, except multiplied by 10. The 3D special effects were done very well and didn't seem like a cheap money grab. I thought it gave just the right amount of psychedelic special effects without getting extremely too trippy. More importantly, the 3D effects were more than memorable and not just a "one and done" as in other films.

Benedict Cumberbatch portrays the role of Doctor Strange pretty well in my opinion. The character is supposed to be arrogant and cocky, similar to that of Tony Stark from Iron Man. You get all of that from Cumberbatch to the point that at times you simply don't like his character, as a person. Both him and Rachel McAdams (who plays Christine Palmer) share fun and witty banter in various occasions. Thankfully McAdams wasn't just thrown in to be the helpless damsel in distress. Instead she seemed like a grounded character that was much more relatable to those of us in the audience.

Doctor Strange was filled with much more comedy than expected. More specifically there's more physical comedy with a certain character that has a mind of its own. (You'll know it when you see it.) Besides that there were plenty of jokes and humorous moments in the film that will get some chuckles and laughs out of you.

One of the most surprising supporting roles to interest me was Tilda Swinton's "The Ancient One". I was a little dubious about her role at first, but it was intriguing to see how much depth was given to her character. It actually made me want to know and see more of her past in some other Marvel medium. (Maybe in a Marvel One Shot or something.)

The Bad
:

As we may know from previous Marvel films, the issue of having a underwhelming villain strikes again. While Mads Maikkelsen's performance as "Kaecilius" wasn't bad, his character simply didn't seem as moving. Rarely did he ever seem to elevate Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange character or really impose a threatening sense of urgency.

The only other thing that I could see be a bit of an issue is the sense of over-familiarity. The film pulls from so many other Marvel films that it could feel a bit repetitive. Dr. Strange is Tony Stark and Christine is Pepper Potts from Iron Man 1. The comedy of this film is almost similar to that of Ant-Man. Dr. Strange's road to spiritual journey is similar to Thor's journey of becoming worthy again to lift his hammer. The list continues and I'm sure you may find more commonalities.

The Reason:
Doctor Strange overall was another success for Marvel in my book. It was a relevantly safe film, though it did push a few boundaries in some form. Parents be advised that there are some S-bombs, and "A-hole" language throughout the film. There were also a bit more graphic deaths compared to what you may be accustomed to in a Marvel/Disney film as well. I think they were really aiming for a hard PG-13 rating here.

If you've been keeping up with even half of the other Marvel films, then this one will probably not disappoint. Doctor Strange set out with the main purpose of introducing the magical and mystical element that will surely only grow in later films. It succeeded in that venture. As you could probably tell this movie will be like a combination of Batman Begins + Inception + The Matrix + Iron Man + Guardians of the Galaxy.  (In that exact order.)

I know I said it before, but let me really emphasize this. The 3D is absolutely worth every penny. If you've been frugal all year or if you're the type of person who doesn't like to spend more for 3D, consider Doctor Strange to be that one film you make an exception for. I only wish I had the chance to screen in 3D IMAX because I'm sure it would've been even better. If you choose to view this in any other lesser format, you can already expect for this film to be devalued. (Or take 1 point off the rating below.) I think it's safe to say that Doctor Strange is a must see in theaters. There are two end credit scenes, so don't be that person who walks out too early. May the Force be with...(sorry...wrong movie) I mean Abra-Ka-Dabra! (Disappears in a puff of smoke.)

The Rating: 9.0/10 (in 3D) 8/10 (w/o 3D)

My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

BONUS: Doctor Strange Free Movie Ticket Giveaway! I know watching movies in 3D can get expensive so I'm going to hook up 10 lucky winners with a FREE movie pass to see Doctor Strange in theaters! 



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Friday, October 21, 2016

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Movie Review

The Trailer:
The Good:
Per usual, Tom Cruise does his best portrayal of a "tough guy" throughout the film. You can bank on some nice action sequences and fight scenes that will keep you entertained. Matter of fact, the fights scenes are probably the best parts of this film. What I enjoyed most was similar to what you may have seen in the trailer. It's always fun to see how much of an upper hand Reacher has over his opponents.

The supporting characters also delivered for this film. Cobie Smulders proves once again that's she's fully capable of handling an action film role. My personal favorite was a performance by Patrick Heusinger (He plays the main bad guy.) I thought his character was built up nicely as the antagonist to counter Jack Reacher. It's always nice to see when a bad guy is able to push the good guy and challenge them to the very end.

The Bad:
Unfortunately, the actual crime in the story is not all that interesting. While we are led down this mysterious path of "who done it?", when we finally find out what happens, it's just that compelling. Rather it was more intriguing to see Cruise finally go head to head with the main bad guy. What's even more unfortunate is the final fight scene is a bit of a let down. There just wasn't as big of a pay off as was initially anticipated.

There is a side story that develops between Reacher and "Samantha" (played by Danika Yarosh) and, for an action film, it often times felt a bit forced. Initially the way it was introduced, it was cleverly done and it made sense. However, the longer the movie progressed, it began to feel a bit more like a distraction. One minute we're focused on Reacher and Samantha's relationship, the next minute we're asked to focus on crime mystery that's developing.

The Reason:
Overall, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was a straight forward action film. You'll get your fight scenes and cheesy one-liners as expected. The film does try to add a bit more drama into the mix, though I personally didn't think that was really needed. If you were like me, you probably instantly noticed how Reacher was very similar to Bruce Banner in the old Hulk TV series. (Click here and you'll know what I mean.)  Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was still an enjoyable watch, and if you liked the previous Jack Reacher film, then you'll more than likely enjoy this sequel as well. Feel free to give it a look over the weekend.

The Rating: 7/10


My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Accountant Movie Review


The Trailer:

The Good:
From beginning to end, it was very nice to see the level of awareness and care this film took to subtly educate the audience about autism. There were many instances where the actions many that we may deem as "weird" or "strange" were instead redirected to being viewed as simply "different". Affleck's character is rather unique and it was interesting to have the lead character be autistic. It made his training and execution of skills and smarts that much more intriguing to see. His skills will most definitely challenge many preconceived notions or views some may have about autism as well.

Speaking of Affleck, he reminded all of us that he can handle action films with no problem. His fighting style was reminiscent of a combination of Jason Bourne and John Wick. He was quick, efficient, and lethal. The action scenes were nothing short of intense and suspenseful. Beyond that, his obsessive and compulsive behaviors were definitely a drawing appeal. You can't help but to be curious about his repetitive mannerisms (ie. blowing fingers). More specifically his social interactions are the most interesting. At times, his encounters with others can even be a bit humorous. His awkwardness and reactions with Anna Kendrick (who plays "Dana Cummings") lightened the mood a bit in the midst of some thrilling scenes.

For my fellow comic book movie fans out there, we all know that Affleck is connected with the DC universe. There are a number of parallels and connections in the film that relate to some cool Easter Eggs. (If you're interested, I wrote an article about the Easter Eggs and Comic References here.)

The Bad
:

There were a few twists in the movie that weren't all too hard to figure out. A lot of the plot was pretty predictable once you get about 30% into the film. It's not the end of the world, but you get the sense that the movie banks on some of the big reveals. If you're not paying attention then you may get surprised by them.

The Reason
:

As one of my colleagues had said, "The Accountant was everything that Jason Bourne should've been." I'd probably say that this film is a mash up of Rain ManThe Bourne Identity. The film gives you a little bit of everything, while still feeling well balanced. I enjoyed how The Accountant felt new but familiar at the same time. One thing is for sure, I wouldn't mind if they made more movies like this. It's certainly worth the watch in theaters, so don't even give it a second thought. Go see it soon.

The Rating: 8.5/10 

My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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Friday, October 7, 2016

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review




The Trailer:
The Good:
There were many historical references that tend to be neglected in typical "slave movies" throughout The Birth of a Nation. I appreciated the highlighting of the traditional African traditions and spirituality that was expressed and shared by the enslaved people. The significance of such a feature reminds the audience that the enslaved people were not native to this land, though that fact may be something we have come to take for granted. What I mean by that is, we may become so accustomed to seeing slaves in one particular way, that they are almost "Americanized" in films. So it's nice to be reminded that these slaves were enslaved people that had their own customs and traditions before being captured.

I thought it was really effective and central to both the movie and the character to display the (religious) visions of Nat Turner. If you happen to do any research or read any documents about Nat Turner, you would find that such visions were an important driving force for him. Religion was most definitely a key motivating factor for the character of Nat Turner. I appreciated the fact that the film was able to counter some of the popular notions of how religion affected both the masters and slaves.

I'm not sure if director Nate Parker did this intentionally or not, but there were many instances depicted in this film which were almost parallel to the racial conditions in modern society. For instance, you could see a slave's dead body in the street (Mike Brown), or the slave catchers on the hunt for runaway slaves only given a vague description (Police Brutality/Racial Profiling), or even the slave master's mentalities that drive many of the racial stereotypes still existent today (ie: Black people are lazy.)

Another aspect of this film that I really appreciated was the cognitive dissonance portrayed by all of the characters. It was very effective to see how the slaves had to believe one thing, but then act like that same thing was not a problem. Same goes with the white masters/people in the film who have to undergo the mindset that they are good people whilst committing rather evil acts.

The Bad:
My only issue with this film was that I believe it got a tad bit passive with the ending retaliation of the revolt. Granted it is depicted in a few scenes, and some epilogue text, I think that it still missed the mark. If you check your history books, what happened after the revolt grossly overshadowed the revolt itself. I think that was equally as important to show since it was Nat Turner's actions that contributed to such a heinous backlash. Since this was a low budget film, maybe they ran out of funds, but I still think it was a missed opportunity. (I won't hold this completely against the film though.)

The Reason:
As with many "slave movies", this is one that you really have to prepare yourself for. There are graphic scenes that have a bit of shock value to the film. It goes without saying that this film is a bit emotionally draining. Some people may feel very uncomfortable to others possibly getting really angry. One way or another, it's very difficult to walk away from this film without feeling anything at all.

Now, unless you haven't been listening to the news, this film does have a lot of controversy surrounding it given the actions of its director Nate Parker. Some may choose to boycott or not support this film due to this very controversy. I think they are completely in their right to do so. On the other hand, while I respect their right to boycott this film, I will not be advocating the same.

I do not condone the actions of director Nate Parker, I believe in separating him from his movie. I think that I can condemn his actions, and hold him accountable, while still recognizing the importance of this film. That importance is that a film like this helps American society actually learn about a piece of history that more than likely won't be taught in our history books in school. The sad reality is that movies/media have become our real history books (regardless of historical accuracy). So as someone who only found out about Nat Turner (and many others) only through a history course in grad school, I'm very happy that this film is being brought to the masses. My hope is that it would encourage more directors and studios to make more films that highlight neglected minority figures in history.

As you can probably tell, I did like The Birth of a Nation. The film was put together very well, and while it was a bit of a task to watch, I felt as though it was well worth it. I would highly recommend watching it in theaters or however you feel comfortable.

If you're interested, I decided to write about my experience seeing this film in two different settings. In the first setting, the film was viewed with a predominantly African American audience. In the second setting, the film was viewed with a more diverse audience. I must say there were some very interesting reactions when I compared the audience reactions in both viewings of the film. You can click here to read what happened.

The Rating: 9/10


My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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Friday, September 23, 2016

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Trailer:
The Good:
Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) builds up an intense sense of tension that plays out throughout the film. He gives us those classic scenes that are well known in Westerns such as those suspenseful stare-downs or traditional quick-draw shootouts. Moreover, I also appreciated how Fuqua didn't neglect the actual cultural issues that were relevant in 1879. Fuqua didn't go overboard like Quentin Tarantino by constantly dropping N-words to remind you of the racist climate. Instead, you still get subtle reminders that there's still some racial tension present.

The biggest draw for this film is going to be the characters. Denzel is Denzel. I don't think he can be anyone besides that anymore. He's smooth, calm, collective, and dangerous whenever he has a gun. Chris Pratt brings in the comic relief with his charm and wit. Vincent D'Onofrio absolutely transforms no matter the role he's in. The slight change in his voice (which was a little awkward) still helped him turn into a completely different and believable character. What's even more interesting to watch is the development of each character. While it may not be the deepest, it was nice to get a little backstory that ultimately referenced what makes them each unique.

There's plenty of gun toting action to keep you entertained. Despite being limited on the type of weapons that were available in the late 1800s, it was nice to see the various types of weapons used in their battles.

The Bad
:

While the cast did work pretty well together, the recruitment process was pretty weak in my opinion. Many of the motivations for the characters to join together on this supposed "impossible job" just didn't seem believable. Beyond that, the story is pretty predictable and basic. There's only a slight minor twist towards the end, but it's really nothing shocking. Though this isn't major, I think they could've expanded Matt Bomer's role a bit more than they did. He's just a good actor, so it kind sucks to see him have a small role.

The Reason
:

I really enjoyed The Magnificent Seven. After watching it, I could easily recall the reasons why I used to dream about being a cowboy when I was a kid. If I had to compare, I'd say it was like Django + Suicide Squad + with a dash of The Hateful Eight. It's a pretty straight forward movie. What you see in the trailers is exactly what you'll get. There's a combination of drama, action, suspense and very mild humor which, I think, makes it a pretty decent all around movie. I'd certainly recommend seeing it in theaters.
The Rating: 8/10

My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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