Cinema Reviews

Gone Girl

By Neil Hazel | 

10.17.14

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While most of the years biggest blockbusters come out in the summertime, fall and winter are considered Oscar season, the time when movie studios release their films most likely to receive Oscar nominations. Gone Girl is one of the first movies of the year to truly be considered Oscar worthy. Because the film is packed with so many twists and turns I will try to keep this review light on details and spoiler free.

Gone Girl is about Nick (Ben Afflek) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunn, a couple celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary. When Amy suddenly goes missing, both the police, and the media begin to accuse Nick. What follows is a series of plot twists and revelations, many of them extremely shocking. The movie runs at just over two hours, but I never found myself bored. The pacing of the film is on point thanks to director David Fincher (Fight Club, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) who specializes in telling creating thrillers that never let up.

The film is enthralling from the opening shot to the closing. This is due to not only great directing, but also great acting and a phenomenal score. The storyline tells a perfect story, slowly giving away details until the big reveal. But the film doesn’t stop there, where other films might rush to the conclusion, Gone Girl takes its time to really show the impact of the events that have taken place. The media circus that surrounds Nick after his wife’s disappearance gives an insightful look at how events are portrayed in today’s media, delivering a powerful message on top of the exciting story. The acting is also superb, with each character, from the main couple to the supporting cast, giving captivating performances. Tyler Perry plays Nicks defense lawyer and, despite his reputation as the goofy grandma in the Madea series, delivers a solid performance. Neil Patrick Harris also gives a strong showing as Amy’s ex-lover. Both characters help provide some comedic relief, albeit dark comedic relief, to the story. But it is Rosamund Pike that steals the show. Without giving too much away, I would be extremely surprised if she did not receive an Oscar nomination for her performance. Speaking of Oscars, the music that helps create the tension in Gone Girl is also worthy. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame once again teams up with Atticus Ross to score the movie. It is difficult to describe the impact that the music has without seeing it for yourself, but it is spot on, invoking the perfect feelings for every scene.

Gone Girl does not break any new ground in film, but it does perform perfectly in nearly every manner. It is an entertaining ride from start to finish and a film that is certain to create buzz around Oscar time. I can whole-heartedly recommend this movie, and urge anyone considering seeing the film to do so before hearing any spoilers.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

By Neil Hazel | 

9.6.14

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Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that may seem strange for a Marvel movie at first thought. Marvel has been slowly building a cinematic universe with big name heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. Guardians of the Galaxy flips that idea on its head, starring a band of misfit anti-heroes that are just as likely to crack a joke and fight with each other as they are to save the day. None of the 5 primary members of the Guardians have ever been in the spotlight, but after their amazing run in this film that is certain to change.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy tells the story of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) also known as Star-Lord, who after being abducted by aliens as a child, becomes a treasure hunting, Indiana Jones type character in space. Just like Marvels first big team up movie, The Avengers, Guardians features a team of heroes, but because each member didn’t have its own film to establish the character, it is great to see how naturally they are introduced. That is no small task considering the range of characters that make up the Guardians. Other than Star-Lord there is a wise-cracking, heavy weapons loving raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a 7 foot tall sentient tree, Groot (Vin Diesel), a ruthless fighter, Drax (Dave Bautista), and a tough as nails alien out for revenge, Gamora (Zoe Saldana). These characters all interact in unique ways, both in conversations and in the fight scenes. Each character is given several individual moments to shine. There were several laugh out loud moments, and several one liners that I found kept coming back to me and making me laugh days later.

 

Director James Gunn has made not only one of the best, but also one of the most fun movies of the year. Guardians of the Galaxy is a refreshing take on the summer blockbuster. One of the biggest standouts of the film is the color palette. Almost every scene is gorgeous to look at, especially in 3D. Bright blue, yellow, purple, neon green, and crimson red are just a few of the colors that are used vibrantly throughout the film. While it may have been easy to force in a romantic subplot like so many other films have recently done, it is nice to see that it was skipped over in favor of more action set pieces which are great. There are aerial ship battles, up close and personal fistfights (or branch fights in Groot’s case), and dramatic standoffs, all dripping in the personality and character that only the Guardians can bring. The only real downsides that I can think of are the villain and the ending. There’s nothing wrong with Ronan (Lee Pace) as the villain, it just seems like the character is a little less entertaining than what Marvel has supplied in the past with the likes of Loki and The Winter Soldier. As for the ending, it may seem cheesy to some, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it was a great way for the film to end, given the events that led up to the finale.

 

It is hard to talk about Guardians of the Galaxy without mentioning the soundtrack. The tracks are comprised of songs from the 1970’s that Star-Lord listens to on a mixtape from his childhood, featuring hits such as The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirt In The Sky”.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy is not only a great film, but a refreshing one. It is easily one of Marvel’s best films, as well as being one of the best films of the summer. If you are a fan of Marvel movies, superhero movies, sci-fi movies, funny movies, action movies, or adventure movies, you have no excuse to not see this film. Guardians exhibits some of the funniest dialogue, interesting characters and exciting action pieces of any movie this year. It is one of most entertaining movies I’ve ever seen, and with a sequel already confirmed it is exciting to see what Gunn and the rest of the crew will come up with next.

 

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Boyhood

By Neil Hazel | 

8.20.14

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Boyhood is one of the more ambitious films released in recent memory, showcasing the journey of a young child into early adulthood. What makes Boyhood so special is that it was filmed over 12 years with the same cast and crew. The film starts in the early 2000’s with the boy, (Ellar Coltrane), as a young, carefree child and follows him all the way through his high school graduation and into college. Boyhood serves as a compelling look back through the past decade in terms of pop culture, showcasing how music, videogames, fashion and technology can all change drastically in a relatively short amount of time. In the beginning of the film, the boys mother, (Patricia Arquette), ensures the boy that he will be able to keep in touch with family and friends after moving by writing letters or e-mailing them. Fast forward ten years, and we see the boy using facetime to instantly connect with his father, (Ethan Hawke). It is also amazing to see the foresight that the film displays, when the addressing topics that seem both nostalgic and relevant. Harry Potter, Twilight, and Halo are all put on display. At one point, in the boys pre-teen years, he discusses with his father how it could be possible to make a sequels to Star Wars.

 

Throughout Boyhoods 160 minute runtime we see the boy and his family slowly age and develop, not only in appearance, but also in their relationships with each other, and in their own personal character. There is never a big emphasis placed on showing a time jump for him and his family, making the film flow naturally from one event into the next. One of the most pleasant aspects of Boyhood is how it succeeds in making the mundane exciting and emotional. While watching Boyhood I kept expecting for something overly dramatic and tragic to happen to him or his family, but it never does. That’s not to say that the boy and his family have an easy walk through life, there are bad things that happen, but nothing that doesn’t seem like it couldn’t have happened to any family. Boyhood is almost self-aware of the fact that the audience wants to see something tragic happen, foreshadowing it in several scenes, including one that had the entire audience holding their breath in anticipation. They are several moments in the film that will leave you feeling downtrodden, as the family struggles through their hardships, but there are also moments of joy as the family pulls together through all of the tragedy. Simple occurrences, such as long car rides, doing homework, or laundry, become laugh out loud moments.

 

After watching Boyhood it was hard not to reflect back on my own life. It is a trek through the highs and lows of life, showing that what may seem like the smallest moments of life can have importance. Boyhood is not a film to be missed. Not only because it is an achievement in filmmaking, but also because it is simply an entertaining movie.

 

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Transformers: Age of Extinction

By Johnny “Yondie” Kassab | 

7.2.14

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*SLIGHT SPOILERS*

I was going to post this review as soon as it came to theaters, but I wanted to wait until I saw it for a second time. I did this because I saw a handful of negative reviews for the Michael Bay film, despite how passionate I was when I saw it for the first time. The complaints in these reviews were along the lines of “the characters were unecessary” and “the plot was boring”, but I think that people aren’t looking at the big picture. Transformers knows that it isn’t the best movie out there, it isn’t aiming to claim your heart and get you emotionally attached. Transformers: Age of Extinction is a piece of cinema that involves Marky Mark, TJ Miller, Kelsey Grammer, and a whole lot of robots. If you want to see robots destroy other robots while hearing Marky Mark talk his way out of most stuff, this is the movie for you. Another complaint seemed to be the length, which I personally don’t understand. The plot in Transformers added a large chunk of depth to the story of The Transformers, which I couldn’t get enough of. If I’m paying for a $10 movie, I want as much robot action as I can get.

 

Well, that’s about all I can say about Transformers: Age of Extinction without ruining too much, but if you’re one that enjoys large robots fighting while Marky Mark makes tough decisions, this is a movie you don’t want to miss. I mean, just look at the picture above, why wouldn’t you want to see that?

                                                                                                                                                                   

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Trailer

By Johnny “Yondie” Kassab | 

6.25.14

 

If you’re looking for a great movie to see this fall, get ready (but not too ready) for the 3rd installment in the Hunger Games movie series. This movie will pick up where the critically acclaimed Hunger Games: Catching Fire left off. Hopefully this movie won’t leave us with a cliffhanger like its predecessor did. Above is the trailer for the new movie, which can send chills down your body.

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Can’t wait!

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