The Judge Review

Posted: October 20, 2014 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801″ Dennos

It’s that time of year again. Around every October begins a slew of “prestige movies” hoping to gain some popularity points with Oscar voters in some form or another. Maybe half of them actually end up living to those lofty expectations, while the other half fall awkwardly into that “trying too hard” category, where they’re destined to mostly be forgotten by the time January rolls around. Unfortunately, David Dobkin’s The Judge is part of the latter. You’d think a great, or at least very good movie would be delivered here with such a promising premise and cast, but while The Judge certainly has its strong moments and two equally powerful lead performances to help it along, this is a movie that’s too preoccupied with following the “Oscar Bait Handbook,” that said predisposition overshadows the rest of the movie.

Robert Downey Jr. stars as Hank Palmer, an infamous “big city” defense attorney with an intimidating reputation in the courtroom. One day, Hank receives word that his mother has passed away, prompting him to hop on a flight home to Carlinville, Indiana for the funeral. Almost immediately upon arriving, Hank is bombarded with reminders of the life he left behind, the most painful of which being the crusty, old-fashioned Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall), a.k.a. Daddy Dearest. To say that Hank and The Judge (yes, that’s what most people in the film call him) have a troubled relationship would be an understatement; these two can’t be around each other for five minutes without one or the other being insulted. After the funeral, Hank practically already has one foot on the plane, but is forced to stay when his father is hauled into the police station on suspicion of murder. The evidence isn’t exactly doing him any favors, and before either father or son know it, Hank has taken up the case to clear his dad’s name, going up against a determined prosecutor named Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton). I know what you’re thinking, and yeah, that name’s a bit too on-the-nose, isn’t it? Meanwhile, Hank has to put up with pressure from his brother Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio), as well as deal with the affections of an old high school girlfriend, Samantha (Vera Farmiga). In more ways than one, this is the case of Hank’s life.

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Gone Girl Review

Posted: October 10, 2014 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801″ Dennos

Back in 1960, director Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Psycho was released amidst a veil of secrecy where its plot was concerned, and now fifty-four years later, David Fincher’s Gone Girl arrives under similar circumstances. To get straight to the point, the film itself is yet another home run for one of the best directors in the business today, filled to the brim with the signature slick style and storytelling we’ve come to expect of the auteur, but talking about it in any kind of too specific detail paints myself, and many other reviewers into a corner. Not unlike Psycho, the desire to not spoil any of the surprises in the story is definitely an issue — especially for those who haven’t read the 2012 source novel — and I’ll keep to that desire and try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible while still urging you to go see the film; something which must absolutely be done.

Author Gillian Flynn adapts her own work, which is the story of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) Dunne. Nick and Amy have been married for a few short years, and as the film opens, it’s their fifth anniversary. However, Nick isn’t in the most pleasant mood about it. His melancholic feelings soon turn to ones of confusion, though, when he returns home to find an unsettling scene: an overturned ottoman, a shattered glass table and traces of blood on the floor. Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) soon determine it to be a missing persons case, which forces Nick into the limelight as the investigation slowly starts up. Aided all the while by his sister Margo (Carrie Coon), Nick soon finds himself having to battle an increasingly negative public perception of himself as the case takes more than a few unexpected turns, despite his repeated assertions of innocence.

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Gone Girl Review

Posted: October 5, 2014 by PG Cooper in Uncategorized

gone girlWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

There are certain filmmakers who reach a point in their career where every film they make is an event to be excited for. One of the best examples of this is the great David Fincher. With his sophomore effort Se7en, Fincher established himself as a bold talent, and subsequent efforts like Fight Club, Zodiac, and The Social Network solidified him as one of the best directors in the business. While Fincher is versatile as a director, he seems most at home when working with thrillers, particularly ones with mystery and a narcissistic streak. This is why a thriller about a man who is suspected of murdering his beautiful wife seemed right up his alley. This brings us to Gone Girl.

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is a former writer and teacher living in Missouri with his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike). On the day of their fifth anniversary, Nick comes home to find Amy missing and signs of a struggle. The police are called, and Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) are brought in to investigate. As new evidence comes to light, Nick becomes the prime suspect and finds the only person he can turn to is his sister Margo (Carrie Coon).

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Gloria Review

Posted: September 19, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

GloriaSebastián-Lelio-poster-432x617Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Independent and foreign films are often a bastion for cinephiles seeking great art. These are the films which have the edge to tackle issues Hollywood ignores, and the ambition to take the risks the big-budget projects rarely do. But of course, this isn’t always the case. There are plenty of blockbusters which do have edge and ambition, and there are plenty of smaller films which don’t. These are films which tell simple, down to earth stories, they just try to do it skilfully and honestly. Such is the case with Gloria, the Chillean-Spanish drama which has drawn a small, but strong critical praise from the few who’ve seen it.

The title character (Paulina Garcia) is a 58 year old woman living in Chile. She has been divorced for a number of years, but refuses to resign to being alone. She still plays an active part in her children’s lives, and has an active night life. She enjoys going out to singles bars, dancing, and meeting people. One such person she meets is Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez) and the two begin a romantic relationship which the film will explore.

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Robocop (2014) Review

Posted: September 17, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews
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robocop_2014_posterWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

I try not to get worked up over remakes, seeing how they’re pretty much inevitable at this point. Still, I couldn’t help but get a little bit pissed off at the news of a Robocop remake. Not only because the original Robocop is an awesome movie which still holds up (which it is), but also because I could easily see the flawed corporate thinking that likely went into the project. It’s not hard to predict a producer thinking the original film can be redone through modern day special effects, more sleek technology, and bigger action scenes while disregarding the satire, the themes, and the personality which made Paul Verrhoeven’s film so awesome. The PG-13 rating, February release date, and generic trailer did nothing to change my expectations. The remake would open to box-office disappointment, but more respectable reviews than expected. The film wasn’t exactly praised, but a lot of people claimed it was actually pretty decent. This roused a small amount of curiosity from me, couple that with my desire to watch an action movie and the fact that my library had it, I decided to give Robocop a chance.

In the year 2028, robots developed by a company called Omnicorp are being used by the United States as a military force in foreign countries. It’s a method which has achieved great success, at least ostensibly, for the U.S., but American citizens are still very hesitant about allowing robots to police the streets of their home country. Despite his best efforts, Omnicorp CEO Raymond Sellers (Michael Keaton) is unable to change the minds of Americans. When it becomes clear he will not be able to put robots on the streets, Sellers finds a new sollution, to put a police officer in a machine body. He gets his opportunity when Detroit police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is critically injured in an assassination attempt on his life. With the help of Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman), Sellers transforms Murphy into robotic-human hybrid who is now much more effective in the war on crime. However, the more refined Murphy becomes, the more is humanity slips away.

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The Raid 2 Review

Posted: September 16, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

raid-2_675x1000Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

The Raid was one of 2012’s great surprises. Director Gareth Evans introduced himself to the world in a big way, crafting a very brutal martial arts film full of tons of creativity, energy, and violence. The film may have been simplistic, but the execution was top-notch with damn near every seen having a memorable element to it. I’ve been curious by what Evans might put out next, and became excited when that project became The Raid 2, a sequel which promised more gloriously choreographed and visually inspired violence with everyone’s favorite Indonesian rookie cop.

The film picks up shortly after the events of the first film, with Rama (Iko Uwais) delivering his prisoner to his superiors. Rather than go home though, Rama is asked to continue his efforts against organized crime in Jakarta. Specifically, Rama is asked to go to prison undercover in order to get close to a man named Uco (Arifin Putra). Uco is the son of mob boss Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo). By getting in with Bangun, it is hoped that Rama will be able to expose corruption in the police force. But bubbling tensions and other gangs threaten to explode the situation.

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Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

“When it comes to movie franchises, Star Trek is one of my major blind spots. I have a bit of experience with the series; I’ve seen the Abrams’ films, Wrath of Khan, and even an episode of the original television series for class. But for the most, I’m a novice, and it’s a bit surprising when a sci-fi/adventure series seems right up my alley. I’ve decided to finally rectify this, and thought it be interesting to chronicle my experience through the films, not unlike what I did for the Harry Potter and Batman films. The major difference being that those series’ were ones I had a lot of experience and a strong emotional connection to, unlike Trek. I will be reviewing all twelve theatrically released films from now until late August (at the very latest). With that said, allow me to begin with Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”

This was the first paragraph of my review for The Motion Picture back on May 3rd of this year and served as an introduction to my “Star Trekking” series. I’ve kept my word, watching every film in the series in chronological order and writing a series of lentgthy reviews (though it took me a bit longer than I expected). Despite some less than stellar entries, I’ve really enjoyed my time with Star Trek. There’s some really enjoyable films in this series, and even the weaker films offer some interest. Not only that, but I really felt like I’ve aquired a fairly strong understanding of this world and why it’s so beloved. However the trade off to this is that I view the Abrams films in a very different light now. While I still enjoyed 2009’s Star Trek as a summer action film, but it lacked the magic and imagination of classic Trek. Because of this, I was a bit apprehensive to revisit Abrams’ second foray into the universe, Star Trek Into Darkness.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

Posted: August 22, 2014 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801″ Dennos

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels like a Saturday morning cartoon brought to life in the best possible way, a colorful and energetic confection of action, heart and humor that’s hugely entertaining and surprisingly involving. In terms of tone, it feels like it has more in common with Joel Schumacher’s two Batman films than the more gritty and serious-minded superhero movies of late. That sentence most likely has the majority of you already asking, “But, Michael, isn’t that a bad thing?” by now, but my answer is no. Now, I’ve never been a comic reader, but I know enough about the character of Spider-Man as presented in the comics to know that he’s a more lively hero, always ready with a sarcastic quip or observation and unafraid to taunt his foes in the face of danger. This sequel, like Spidey himself, captures an almost playful quality, but manages to be much more successful than the two aforementioned Batman debacles because it is able to carefully balance out its playfulness with some effective emotionality. The end result is a film that’s a hell of a lot more involving than I was expecting it to be.

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has become perfectly happy balancing his personal life with his superheroic responsibilities. He’s also chosen to ignore the dying wish of Gwen Stacey’s (Emma Stone) father and has started a relationship with her. But said relationship becomes strained when the guilt of Peter’s actions starts haunting him, and it becomes even more strained after Gwen receives an offer for a scholarship at Oxford University. Meanwhile, Peter’s best friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns to the city to take over OsCorp Industries from his dying father (Chris Cooper, in a cameo role). In so doing, though, Harry discovers that the crippling disease killing his father is hereditary, and Harry’s time is ticking away. In his desperate attempts to find a cure, Harry discovers that Spider-Man’s genetically modified blood may hold the answer for him. While all of this is going on, an OsCorp electrician named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), who idolizes Spider-Man after his life was briefly saved by the web-slinger one day, is turned into a blue, pulsating human electric generator after a fatal accident. Calling himself Electro, he needs to feed on electrical power to remain strong, and this turns him into New York City’s latest threat. Between Electro and an increasingly maddening Harry Osborn, the work of Spider-Man is never done.

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star_trek-newposter3Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

In the wake of the “Next Generation” films, it was clear something about Star Trek wasn’t working. It’d be easy to pin the failure on the critical and financial disappointment that was Nemesis, but I think the problems run a lot deeper than that. The fact is, the TNG crew had never taken off on film the same way the original crew did. Even the most financially successful of the four (First Contact) only out-grossed the last two films from the original run, and the overall quality of the TNG films was generally lacking. The only one I even like is First Contact, and it’s not even in the same league as films like The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home, or The Undiscovered Country. Personally, I would have been interested in seeing Picard and his crew back for a proper finale, but the cast did seem tired, so I can’t really blame Paramount for abandoning them. The question then became, what next? I’m sure it was suggested that a film be made about one of the other “Trek” series, but I can see why that never materialized. While the other shows were successful, none had the pop-culture impact that “TOS” and “TNG” had. Beyond that, with so many different shows, mainstream audiences likely weren’t able to keep up. Thus, the decision was made to return to square one, by making a film about the younger versions of Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of The Original Series cast. That film became Star Trek, and it would go on to be one of 2009’s biggest hits with both audiences and critics.

The year is 2233, and the USS Kelvin is investigating a lightning storm, which soon reveals itself to be a portal of some kind. A massive Romulan ship emerges, destroying the Kelvin and many of its crew. The damage is minimized due to the efforts of first officer George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth), who manages to save many including his wife and newborn son, James, though George himself is killed in the attack. Many years later, and James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is a direction-less young man in Iowa, who is eventually convinced by Star Fleet Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to enlist. Kirk decides to do just that, and excels in Star Fleet academy through the next few years. Eventually he, finds himself on his first real mission, on the Enterprise with the likes of Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and Scotty (Simon Pegg). However this mission involves investigating a lightning storm in space in essentially the same circumstances the day Kirk was born and his father died.

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22 Jump Street Review

Posted: August 18, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

22-jump-street-posterWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

21 Jump Street was something of a pleasant surprise back in 2011. Despite likely being conceived as another cash grab remake, the film ended up being surprisingly funny. It had a great cast, tons of great jokes, energy, and even a decent story. Directors Chris Miller and Phill Lord had seemingly done the impossible. The essentially did the same thing earlier this year with The Lego Movie, another property which really should have been a cheap and uninspired cash grab, but ended up being hilarious and smart. Still, I had reservations about 22 Jump Street, which seemed a very forced sequel and had generally weak marketing. Well, the film is better than I would have expected, but it isn’t really the same surprise success the way it’s predecessor or The Lego Movie was.

Shortly after the first film, Jenko and Schmidt (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) are still working as undercover cops, but are not exactly performing well. The department believes it’s because they aren’t following the same formula as they did in the first film, and that if they just do the same thing, everything will be fine. So of course, the two are sent on a similar mission where they need to infiltrate a school, find who’s supplying a new drug to students and take them down. The twist is this time they’re in college instead of high school.

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