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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Film Review || Guardains of the Galaxy

Director: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Glen Close, John C. Reily, Lee Pace

Rating: Rated PG13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language

In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan.

Initial Reaction:

I was very skeptical of this movie, from the moment a couple of years ago "Guardians of the Galaxy" was announced I've been skeptical of the film. A project that no one outside of the intense comic book community have heard of being adapted to the screen over projects everyone else would like to see adapted like Black Panther and the Inhumans left everyone scratching their heads. When I discovered too that the film had a talking raccoon and  talking tree I was really considering this to be the first marvel film to skip. It just seemed too outlandish even by comic book standards but when the trailer was released I decided to give the film a shot. Outside of the music though the trailer while peaking my interest didn't really elevate my hope in the project like it did everyone elses, but the positive word of mouth and great critical reception (92%) is what raised my interest in the movie, because one thing I know is when Marvel hits it out of the park they hit it big and that was made me the most excited for the project and now having seen "Guardians of the Galaxy" its hard for me to believe I ever had any doubt for the project. The film was the funnest, action packed, blockbuster film I've seen all summer and reminded me why I enjoy going to the films in the first place. With the film being an origin story of these characters the film does sacrifice some elements like interesting villains but the characters are so interesting that you will be okay with the real lack of threat.

Plot (4/5):

Going into the "Guardians of the Galaxy" I knew nothing about the property outside the main characters established in the trailer and I believe that works when it comes to seeing this film because it makes the story that more immersing. What makes the movie stands out is that it is so different from all the other superhero movies we get, because even though films like "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" are good movies they also follow a same beat that all superhero movies take on and it was just refreshing to see something different. I'm only give a vauge description of the film as its best to go in blind to the movie, but I feel the best part of the movie was the interaction of these characters. The chemistry between Groot, Rocket, Quill, Drax, and Gamora felt so natural that all these characters who weren't human felt human and it made them that much better to watch on screen. While the plot of the film is interesting in the form of its main characters, it does sacrifice and intriguing main villain for it. Ronan felt very by the numbers evil bad guy. There wasn't a lot given to his character and his moments on screen were more boring. Not to say he was the worst thing ever but in the main scheme of things he will most likely go unremembered. It felt like his prescence was only really made to help establish the Guardians as a team and introduce a much bigger threat for future films.

Directing (4/5):

As much as I was skeptical of "Guardians of the Galaxy" I was even more skeptical of James Gunn as the director. To be fair to James Gunn though the only film I've seen of his was "Super" which I only thought was decent and I thought when he was announced as the director that it was an odd choice, but after the success of The Russo Brothers with Captain America 2 and now James Gunn with Guardians I really believe Marvel has a good hand how to pick talent out for thier movies. James Gunn is able to find a good way to establish his brand of humor with in this much bigger universe. It was able to feel like a more polished version of a James Gunn film. The film had good humor, the visuals were very good even for seeing the film in 2D you are still able to feel apart of this world. If I had to bring a complaint about Gunn's directing is that the film is a little too jokey. The film takes itself so light that its hard to feel any stakes in the film because the film would even be making jokes in the intense action sequences and it took away from the moments on screen. I feel though if he finds a way to balance this better in sequel it will help elevate the film to an even higher level because this franchise has a lot of potential now with how its been set up.  

Acting (4.25/5):

For mainstream audiences this film pretty much offers an unknown cast and actually liked that because most of the time with these big blockbuster films its the same actors and actresses playing different roles. Pratt proves that after this movie and the earlier "The Lego Movie" that he has leading man potential. He is able to lead the film flawlessly and becomes a real character to attach to in the midst of all this interglactical battles. The supporting cast of this film is just as great. Batista, Saldana, Cooper, and Diesel all give some of their best performances in a while. Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel might still the show as Rocket and Groot. The two characters I thought might be the worst ended up being the best was a pleasant surprise and I can't wait to see more with them. The film also bolsters great talent in small roles as Glen Close and John C. Reilly offer up great performances in small roles that just make the film even better. My only complaint and I know the actor is talented because I've seen it and thats Lee Pace as Ronan. I don't know what it was about the character that irked me but the performance felt one note and it was hard to attach to him and his story arc in the film. His role really just felt like a stepping stone to something bigger which I really hope comes to fruition.

Writing (4.5/5)

James Gunn  and Nicole Perlman take up writing duties for "Guardians of the Galaxy" and they bring a great grounded take to this very big space universe. Most space movies do their best to show how different space is from Earth but they do a good job of showing how even though the universe is different that it really similar to the world we live in and that they are people just like us. The humor in this film is good as well as the interaction and banter between all the characters was rolling on the floor funny. The soundtrack to the film is also very memorable as the 70s soundtrack also just adds to the experience of seeing this movie on screen. There are parts where I would have like the comedic elements to balance better with the dramatic elements but that's not the film "Guardians of the Galaxy" was trying to be and for a summer superhero blockbuster that's fine.

Final Thoughts:

Overall "Guardians of the Galaxy" was a very pleasant surprise, as much as I was dreading seeing this film it was great to be proven wrong. The film offered the most fun I have had at the theaters in a long time and I can't imagine anyone leaving this film not smiling and excited for the future of this unusual franchise.


Final Grade: 4.2/5 (A-) 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This Week on DVD || The Hobbit 2, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, August: Osage County, Grudge Match, Justin Bieber's Believe, Back in the Day, Nurse


What happened to this franchise? 3 years ago after the release of "Paranormal Activity 3" this franchise was juggernaut among the horror community with each of the first three films making over 100 million dollars worldwide. A lot of people believe the franchise should have ended with 3 as it served a proper conclusion to the trilogy but Hollywood was like not so fast. Big money making movies on a small budget let's milk this out and make as much money as we can and that's when we got "Paranormal Activity 4" which was decent at best, but unnecessary and then came "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" which was a Latino spin-off trying to tie all the movies together and what we get is the ultimate shark jump movie, and mainly is just boring, and just really feels like it should be the final nail in the coffin but sadly "Paranormal Activity 5" is coming in October. "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" is definitely a skip.






This one is simple if you a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and you like The Hobbit movies then this film is a definite watch for you and you are more than likely going to buy it. I don't think if you are not a fan of the franchise that this will be the film to convert you to the franchise as I still find the original trilogy superior to these films but this film is a definite improvement over "An Unexpected Journey."













"August: Osage County" was a film that kind of a came and gone back in January during award season and many people don't even remember it which is a shame because I did enjoy this movie. To sale the plot to you it follows the life of the woman in this family to find the family patriarch when he goes missing and this film is intense in a dramatic way. This film is definitely an actor's film (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch) and if you want to see good performances this is a film for you. I don't think younger audiences will like this movie as it is more adult in tone and nature. I believe if you are a fan of any of these people you will definitely will like this and movie and give it a watch.








"Grudge Match" was luckily a film I didn't see when it came out in theaters last Christmas. From the trailers of the movie I thought it just looked real dumb and had 0 interest in seeing this movie. The movie ended up being a disappointment on all ends with 41 million worldwide and a critic rating of 30%. Looking on all ends to see if I could find any positive reviews with this movie and people or a certain type of audience that would enjoy this and I really couldn't find anyone and I feel for the betterment of all of us this movie is a skip.












 At this point not even Justin Bieber fans want to watch a documentary about Justin Bieber. When "Never Say Never" came out in 2011 it was a big hit making almost 100 million dollars worldwide and being a hit with critics (64%) and fans (65%). Now 2 years later, Bieber has almost lost all credibility he had gained with fans with his off the stage antics and his overall behavior and the box office results prove it with "Believe" only making 6 million dollars worldwide and only being a small hit with critics and fans (57% and 60%). The main thing to gain from this that not even Bieber fans care about Bieber anymore so why should we and that's way "Justin Bieber's Believe" is a skip. (Like anyone was actually planning on watching this anyway)








The way I describe "Back in the Day" to people I know is that it is the movie "American Reunion" tried to be. "Back in the Day" follows a guy kind of stuck in his life in his 30's going back to his high school reunion to try and figure out what to do with the rest of his life. The film was able to balance raunchy humor with a really relatable story well and was a very enjoyable and funny movie. I definitely give this movie a watch.













"Nurse" is a movie I have not seen yet despite being a huge horror fan but from what I've heard on the internet about this movie is mainly positive. A film about a daytime Nurse who hunts down and kills cheating boyfriends at night done in the vein of a B horror movie just seems like a fun watch in the all the wrong ways. With a critic rating of 63% which is good for horror movies, I would recommend "Nurse" if you are a horror fan.










Watch:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, August: Osage County, Back in the Day, Nurse


Skip:

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Grudge Match, Justin Bieber's Believe

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Film Review || Enemy

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Jake Gyllenhal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini

Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language

A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie.

Initial Reaction:

"Prisoners" last year was one of the most surprising films I had the chance of seeing. It was a tense, suspenseful film built on great story and directing so when I heard that "Prisoners" director Denis Villeneuve had another movie coming out just 6 months after "Prisoners" and starring "Prisoners" lead Jake Gyllenhal I was definitely excited. I didn't know much about "Enemy" until I saw the first trailer for the film back in January and was hooked. Even though their is a book to the film, I decided to go in blind before reading the book because I wanted to see Villeneueve's film first before reading the novel to get his interpretation of the work. According to IMDB the film was suppose to come out February 6th online but I was never able to find it until I saw that Direct TV was showing it on PPV and I was finally able to watch it and the film definitely lived up to my expectations. The film is definitely a mind-bender with great performances and great directing from Villeneuve whose fastly becoming one of my favorite directors. The only problem with the film is with the third act the film kind of just falls off and doesn't offer any real conclusion but you can't deny the enjoyment of the ride presented in front of you.

Plot: (4/5)

The plot of this film is going to be pretty hard to explain without getting into spoilers so I am going to do my best to avoid them and give you the gist of the plot. From the trailer you see that Gyllenhal is recommended a movie from a colleague at work and while watching the film discovers a guy that looks exactly like him in the movie. This puts him on a dangerous course to find the doppelganger in the movie. Right from the beginning this film starts messing with your head and doesn't give up. Putting us in the life of these two people is very intriguing and seeing how they play off each other and the people in their life is almost feels so real its uncomfortable at some points. I find that the best type of film when the people behind the film can create a tenseness in you from the beginning that makes you uncomfortable at some points. It's when the film becomes too mind-bending that it started to falter for me, not enough to discredit the film really but to notice some holes in the story. The film ends ambiguously (I don't think that spoiler if it is sorry) and I don't mind a film doing that but a lot of cases with films that do that you still feel some closure to draw your own conclusion with the story but with "Enemy" I don't even know if I can draw my own conclusions after that ending, some will see that as a good thing and some want.

Directing: (4.5/5)

After the success of "Prisoners' it was strange to see Denis Villeneuve go to a more low budget independent film, but after seeing the film it is clear that his style of film making was perfect for the movie.  The shots and style of the film reflect the life of the characters in the movie that are dreary, depressing, and repetitive. He uses his directing to add another layer of this film to reflect what these characters are experiencing internally. With a 90 minute runtime, the film didn't feel rushed and moved at a good pace that at the end you were still wanting more which is always a sign of good film making. What he benefited a lot having in "Prisoners" was Roger Deakins for cinemtoagraphy which is always an added bonus for any film but he still did a good job of adapting the novel which the film is based on.

Acting: (4/5)

Jake Gyllenhal is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. With turns in films such as "Source Code", "End of Watch", "Zodiac",  and "Prisoners" it seems that Gyllenhal is always starring in good movies and giving great performances and "Enemy" might be close to one of his best. Having to play two very different characters and be able to show the audience which was which is not easy to do and he really made each character feel like a real person, helping entice us more into the narrative. The film also features supporting work from Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, and Isabella Rosellini, but this is pretty much Gyllenhal's film with only Gadon being the only one to have a real character in the film. Her character was kind of an enigma to me. I'm not really sure what her character was and don't know how to compare the performance to it but I can't deny that her story intrigued me almost as much as Gyllenhal's by the end. Overall the acting was really good in this movie especially from Jake Gyllenhal and Sarah Gadon and part of me wishes that the rest of the cast would have been given a little bit more to do but I understand the time constraints with a 90 run time.

Replay Ability/Recommendation: (3.5/5)

My score for the recommendation of this film is low for a couple of reasons, the first being that the film will leave you cold at the end and if you want answers with your films than this isn't the film for you. The second reason I lowered the score in this section is because a film like this thrives on the ability to replay it and discover new things upon viewings but I honestly don't know if you can figure this out upon viewings because the film is told so loosely. If you draw your own conclusions or if you read the book "The Double" which the film is based on than the film can work better on some levels. I can see the film dividing a lot of people upon viewings. Overall, "Enemy" has a lot of positives to it. It has great acting, directing, and a very intriguing plot. The only thing the film could have benefited from was a tighter narrative and a few answers to satisfy the audience, but I can't deny the enjoyment I had watching this film I can't wait to see what Denis Villeneuve gives us next.


   

   

Now Available on Direct TV PPV
Opens Limited, March 14th

Final Grade: 4/5 (A-)(Full Price)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 9.0

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Bout of Books TBR
Divergent (Divergent Series #1)Doctor SleepThe 5th Wave (Fifth Wave Series #1)RebootUnremembered (Unremembered Trilogy Series #1)Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Updates on these Books Will Come through youtube channel: Jonathan Turnbill Reviews

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

TOP 20 SONGS OF 2013

TOP 20 SONGS OF 2013

20. Pearl Jam - Sirens
19. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - White Walls ft. Schoolboy Q & Hollis 
18. Panic! at the Disco - Miss Jackson ft. Lol
17. Bastille - Pompeii 
16. Pharell Williams - Happy
15. Alice in Chains - Voices 
14. Grouplove - Ways to Go
13. Stone Sour - Tired
12. John Newman - Love Me Again
11. Jason Derulo - Talk Dirty 2 Me ft. 2 Chainz 
10. Lorde - Team
9. Daft Punk ft. Pharell
8. Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines ft. Pharell and T.I.
7.. Ms Mr - Hurricane
6. Tegan and Sara - Closer
5. Eminem - The Monster ft. Rihanna
4. Fitz and the Tantrums - Out of My League
3. The Killers - Just Another Girl 
2. Phoenix - Trying to Be Cool
1. One Republic - Counting Stars

Thursday, December 19, 2013

American Hustle (2013) - Film Review

Director: David O. Russell

Starring: Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper

Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence

A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive British partner, Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso. DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thor: The Dark World (2013) - Film Review

Director: Alan Taylor

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Christopher Eccleston, Idris Elba

Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content

Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.