Superheroes, Movies & Superhero Movies – Episode 022 – Ghostbusters [1984]

Superheroes, Movies & Superhero Movies – Episode 022 – Ghostbusters [1984]

ghostbusters 2 resized Logo ghostbusters resized

When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? It’s Halloween and whether you’re a child or an adult, Ghostbusters has something for everyone to enjoy. Experience viewing the film through the eyes of two guys who grew up on Ghostbusters. They watched the movie, they devoured the TV show, they bought the toys. They discuss how the film went from being a heroic action adventure when they were kids to a comedic masterpiece now that they’re adults. Enjoy the episode!

After the jump, I’ve included some pictures of those crazy-faced Ghostbusters toys the guys refer to.

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Review: John Wick

Review: John Wick

John WickThis is a story we are all familiar with. In fact, I had a screenplay idea similar to this a long time ago. Keanu Reeves plays John Wick, an assassin who left the business to be with a woman. She is eventually diagnosed with a terminal illness and after she passes away, a gift is delivered to John’s home. It’s a puppy with a note from his wife. A final gift to help him through the grieving process.  But when the son of a gangster breaks in to John’s house, steals his car and murders the dog, John decides it might be time to come out of retirement.

The gangster’s son has no idea who he’s messed with but everyone else in town does. And they know John Wick is coming after him.

This is probably one of the most entertaining action/revenge films I’ve seen in quite a while. Directed by Reeve’s old stuntman, Chad Stahelski, the film is one great action set piece after another.

The gangster’s name is Viggo and is played by Michael Nyqvist from the Swedish Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series and was also the villain in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. When he finds out his son stole John’s car and murdered his dog, he tries to talk John out of doing anything rash. When that doesn’t work, he puts a $2 million contract out on his head. So now, John is being hunted down while he tries to find and kill Viggo’s son.

Reeve’s plays Wick with a quiet intensity. He’s channeling Clint Eastwood and Jason Bourne and seems to have no problems fighting off bad guy after bad guy. At 50 years old Reeve’s looks just as comfortable in this action role as he did back in 1999 in The Matrix.

Featuring Willem Dafoe as one of John’s old colleagues and friends and John Leguizamo in a small cameo as a body-shop owner who works for Viggo as well. Adrianne Palicki also plays an assassin who knows John from his past and is intent on cashing in on that $2 million.

The film’s story is simple and there’s a cheesy line here and there but overall John Wick (rated R) is one heck of a ride.

I give it an A-

Review: Fury

Review: Fury

FuryBrad Pitt takes on the World War II genre yet again but this time with a film that’s more serious in tone. Inglourious Basterds was a fun Tarantino ride that received a Best Picture nomination but Fury (rated R) feels more like what you’d expect from an Oscar nominee. Could Fury be nominated for a Best Picture award? Possibly. I definitely think it’s worthy of one. Brad Pitt could possibly see his next Best Actor nomination (his last being 2011’s Moneyball). Pitt’s been nominated three times for acting and twice as a producer, winning last year’s Oscar for Best Picture for 12 Years a Slave.

Fury follows a group of five men who all operate an American tank which they’ve nicknamed (or codenamed) Fury. Their newest member is Norman (Logan Lerman), a young man who’s never seen battle and has only been in the army eight weeks. Pitt plays their leader Don, nicknamed “Wardaddy”, Shia Labeouf is “Bible”, Michael Pena is “Gordo” and Jon Bernthal is “Coon-Ass”. They’ve all been together for years and are a little unnerved by their newest (and by far, youngest) member. When Norman’s hesitation to shoot the enemy puts the lives of his men in danger, Don is quick to teach him a lesson.

The tank and it’s crew make it’s way through Germany and we see battle after horrific battle. There is one particularly tense scene involving Fury battling a German tank.

The film’s characters are rich and the acting is superb. Pitt is at his finest with this role and LaBeouf is the best I’ve ever seen him. Bernthal plays his character somewhat over the top, but I can’t help but think it was written that way. His character is a redneck southerner sociopath who, at times, is hard to root for.

David Ayer’s direction is also the best I’ve seen of his so far. The visuals are grim and dark. Often the German soldiers’ faces are in shadow or hidden behind masks, giving the enemy a less-than human appearance.

Fury is a great character piece with solid acting and intense action sequences that place it near the top of the year’s best list.

I give it an A-

Superheroes, Movies & Superhero Movies – Episode 021 – Fantastic Four [2005]

Superheroes, Movies & Superhero Movies – Episode 021 – Fantastic Four [2005]

Fantastic Four (2005) Logo Fantastic Four group Resize

The early 2000’s sparked a wave of superhero movies (a wave we are currently still riding). With the success of the X-Men films and Spider-Man, studios were scrambling to obtain rights to characters and develop movies for the rights they already had. So it came as no surprise when 20th Century Fox released Fantastic Four in 2005. While not quite as popular as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four are still a large Marvel property. Did the filmmakers get it right? Check out the episode below and be sure to share your thoughts with us!

Review: Gone Girl

Review: Gone Girl

Gone GirlDavid Fincher is at it again with his new thriller/mystery Gone Girl (rated R), based on the novel by Gillian Flynn (who also wrote the screenplay). The film follows Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) who comes home on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary to find his home broken in to and his wife missing. Once the police get involved it becomes clear that not everything is at seems and Nick Dunne may or may not be telling the truth.

Having read the novel, I was curious to see how it would be translated to film and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. Gone Girl is one of this year’s best thrillers and one of the most well crafted movies of the year.

The film has Fincher’s signature dark, color-muted look to it and features a score from his now regular collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who won an Oscar for their score for Fincher’s The Social Network). The score isn’t exactly memorable in the sense that I couldn’t hum a single bar for you, if you asked, but it serves the story perfectly. It’s haunting in some scenes and adds to the tension in others. It’s a soundtrack I may have to look in to purchasing.

Ben Affleck gives one of his best performances but the real scene-stealer is Rosamund Pike, who plays Nick’s missing wife (mostly seen in flashback). Her performance is Oscar worthy and I hope she gets the acclaim she deserves.

David Fincher is one of my favorite directors, with a notorious shooting style (remember how he shot the opening scene for The Social Network 99 times? Apparently that’s normal for him.) but his methods work for him. He’s crafted a near perfect thriller that races through it’s 150 minute run time. Fans of the book (like me) won’t be disappointed and folks who haven’t read the book are in for a real treat. I almost wish I hadn’t read the book so that I could have experienced the unfolding mystery for the first time in the theater. Gone Girl marks the beginning of Oscar season and it starts it off with a bang.

I give it an A.

Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones

Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones

Walk Among the Tombstones PosterWhen a drug dealer’s wife gets kidnapped and murdered, he enlists the help of Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson), an unlicensed, ex-cop, private eye to track down the men who did it. Soon Scudder realizes these men have done this before and they’re probably going to do it again.

Based on the novel by Lawrence Block and written and directed by Scott Frank, A Walk Among the Tombstones (rated R) is a modern day (although it takes place in 1999) noir thriller. Scudder goes door to door asking questions, slowly unraveling the mystery, until finally he comes face to face with the men he’s been searching for.

I’m a fan of Scott Frank’s writing. Previously he wrote the screen adaptations of Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Minority Report. Behind the camera, his last (and only) directorial effort was 2007’s The Lookout, a film I really enjoyed. When I found out he was behind Tombstones, my anticipation for the film rose.

Liam Neeson plays Matt Scudder about the same as he’s played a lot of his roles lately: a man with a certain set of skills. This time his character has a darker past. He’s a recovering alcoholic ex-cop who tells his rock-bottom story (the opening scene of the movie) at one AA meeting after another. Even without seeing the whole scene, we know there’s more to his story than he’s letting on.

Eventually Scudder meets T.J., a young homeless boy who seems attracted to the P.I. lifestyle. He imagines himself as a young Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe but doesn’t understand the danger the life can bring.

The movie rolls along at a slow pace but is never boring. David Harbour plays one of the villains of the film and chews the scenery up quite nicely. (Harbour was also in The Equalizer but has a meatier role in this film) Neeson handles the character well (we’ve seen it before) but never phones it in, thankfully. And Frank’s writing and direction is solid.

I give it a B+

 

Review: The Equalizer

Review: The Equalizer

EqualizerDenzel Washington reunites with his Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua, and returns to the screen as Robert McCall, The Equalizer (rated R), based on a television show from the 80s I’ve never seen. McCall works at Home Mart, a Home Depot/Lowe’s type store and tries to live a quiet, normal life. He’s a good employee and helpful. He helps his overweight coworker try to get in shape for the security guard exam. He has his routines. Every night he goes to the local diner, has some tea and enjoys a book. Here he meets Teri, a young call girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who quickly ends up in the hospital after being beaten by a customer.

Soon, he’s face to face with the Russian mobsters who employ Teri, offering them money to buy her out. When they laugh in his face, McCall decides to return to a life he left behind and do what he does best. He takes all the bad guys in the room down in seconds. He even times himself. This ignites a spark in McCall and he ends up becoming a vigilante, taking down criminals in his city night after night. But the Russian mobsters he took down were employed by an even worse mobster. A man who decides McCall has to go.

Denzel Washington is perfect as Robert McCall. He has the charm and charisma for the opening act, playing the nice guy McCall but he also can bring the tough guy quality that’s needed for the rest of the film. He’s got superhuman like skills and no one seems to be a match for him. As the story unfolds and he finds himself getting deeper and deeper into mobster territory, he has no problem handling himself.

Marton Csokas plays the villain of the film, Teddy, a British right hand man to the top Russian mobster Pushkin. He’s menacing and equally as skilled as McCall. At first, I thought Csokas was going a bit over the top with his performance but by the end of the film, I was really enjoying it. He really is creepy and a formidable foe for Washington.

My favorite element to the film is the score by Cliff Martinez. With a bit of an electronic feel, the music is some of the best I’ve heard all year.

The weakest elements of the film can be overlooked. The movie was rather enjoyable and if it weren’t for these flaws would be among my favorite movies of the year. The first problem comes after McCall decides to start righting some wrongs. He finds himself in all the right places at all the right times. When a Home Mart cashier gets robbed, he’s right there. When his friend Ralphie’s Mom’s restaurant goes up in flames due to not paying some corrupt policemen, he’s all over it. It’s a superhero movie syndrome. We need to see the hero saving the day, but it starts to feel a bit too coincidental.

The other problem I have with the film is the ending which feels tacked on due to either a studio request or a poor test screening. It has the stench of “re-shoots” all over it. If it ended where I thought it was going to end (and probably originally ended), I would have loved it.

I give it a B+.