Inside Out Review

Posted: June 22, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Inside OutWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

If one were to discuss the film landscape in the last twenty years or so, the subject of Pixar Animation studios is inevitable. Pixar made its first splash in 1995 with Toy Story, a film which has become a modern classic. In the following years, Pixar proved their debut was no fluke with a series of highly regarded films like Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and Up. These films were beloved by children, but also by adults due to their clever writing, creativity, smart comedy, and emotionally resonant stories. 15 years after Toy Story, Pixar brought a close to the trilogy with Toy Story 3, an excellent film and one of 2010’s best. However the film also marked the end of Pixar’s golden era. The next film from the studio would be Cars 2, a sequel to Pixar’s most uninspired film to begin with and an all-around terrible movie. Next was Brave, which came and went to little fanfare, and a Monsters Inc. prequel which wasn’t bad, but was also quickly forgotten. Pixar also have a plethora of sequels in the works, including Finding Dory, Cars 3, and Toy Story 4. All pointed to signs that the classic Pixar which took ambitious risks with new ideas and well-rounded films would be giving way to a more safe and conventional animation studio. There was however a ray of hope; Inside Out, an original IP with an enticing high concept which promised to explore emotions and the human mind. Early reviews indicated this was indeed a grand comeback for the studio. I had some reservations based on the trailer, but I still went into the film with the utmost optimism.

Inside Out follows Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a young girl who lives with her loving family in Minnesota. Like most kids, Riley is governed in large part by her emotions, which in this film are personified as characters which live inside of her head, operating a control room influencing her actions. These emotions are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). For most of Riley’s life, Joy has been the dominant emotion, but this is challenged when Riley’s family are forced to move to San Francisco. Struggling with the move and leaving her old friends, Sadness begins to take a more prominent role in Riley’s life. Joy attempts to resist this, and such a struggle threatens to throw all of Riley’s emotions into chaos. Read the rest of this entry »

Kingsman: The Secret Service Review

Posted: June 21, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Kingsman-The-Secret-Service-2014Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

It’s been interesting to watch Matthew Vaughn’s directorial career grow over the last few years. His debut film Layer Cake may have been a pretty obvious riff on the Tarantino crime film, but one of the better examples of the subgenre. I was less fond of his fantasy follow-up Stardust, but his subversive superhero film Kick Ass proved a lot of fun despite some major flaws. Vaughn’s best work, and breakthrough as a major talent is almost certainly X-Men: First Class, a film which harnessed Vaughn’s stylistic abilities and combined them with a mature and emotionally resonant story. I couldn’t wait to see what Vaughn would do next, and a spy film based on a Mark Millar comic seemed a promising project. However the trailers for Kingsman: The Secret Service struck me as incredibly dumb, and a massive step back for the director. The early release date also scared me off. However the film opened to very positive reviews and I found myself curious to eventually catch up with Kingsman at home.

Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a young man from a low income family in London. He shows a lot of potential physically and mentally, but has fallen into a life of petty crime. After Eggsy is arrested, he finds himself saved by Harry Hart (Colin Firth), a well-dressed middle-aged man claiming to be a tailor. However Harry actually belongs to an organization known as the Kingsmen, a group of highly trained spies who operate above government and nationality. The group is looking for a replacement after one of their members has been killed, and Hart has put forth Eggsy as his candidate, in part due to guilt over Harry’s relationship with Eggsy’s father 17 years earlier. Simultaneously, internet billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) has launched a secret plot which involves kidnapping famous and wealthy individuals, while Harry investigates. Read the rest of this entry »

Jurassic World Review

Posted: June 18, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

jurassic-world-poster-mosasaurusWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

A few weeks ago saw the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, a return to a much loved franchise. Of course, the franchise part is a bit misleading in that it isn’t really the series loved so much as one specific film; Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. The original Mad Max is more of an admirable “little movie that could”, while Beyond Thunderdome is a neutered mess no one really cares for. And yet, in spite of an only 1/3 ratio, fans were tremendously hyped for Fury Road. A similar, more extreme version of this is occurring now with an even bigger blockbuster; Jurassic World. While Steven Spielberg’s original film is much beloved and a modern classic, the sequels haven’t fared as well. The Lost World: Jurassic Park is generally seen as dumb, and a pointless sequel, while Jurassic Park III is completely subpar and forgettable. While all of the films have been financially successful, each grossed last than the previous film. The third in particular may have been a respectable hit, but not gargantuan production previous entries were. And yet, in spite of this underwhelming history, Jurassic World has been one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year, to the point of shattering box-office records. Could we finally have the first good Jurassic Park sequel?

The film ignores the events of the sequels and instead just uses the original as a building block. In the years since John Hammond developed the technology to recreate long extinct dinosaurs, the island of Isla Nublar has been repurposed as an amusement park of sorts where people come to see real dinosaurs. The island is popular, but as the years have gone by, the masses have become accustom to dinosaurs. In an effort to maintain public excitement, scientists have taken to creating new dinosaurs which never previously existed. The newest addition is the Indominus rex, a hybrid of several dinosaurs meant to be big, loud, scary, and profitable. However said creation comes back to bite them when it breaks loose and begins causing chaos in the park. Much of the responsibility falls on Jurassic World’s park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is doubly concerned as her young nephews (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) are out in the park on their own. She finds an ally however in Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a park employee who aids Claire in saving her nephews and finding a solution to their mutual problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Poltergeist (2015) Review

Posted: June 8, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

poltergeist_1sht_vera1_largeWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

The horror film landscape is almost always dominated by various trends. In the last few years, the haunted house films have become exceedingly profitable and popular between the Paranormal Activity series, The Woman in Black, the Insidious series, Sinister, and The Conjuring being some of the most well-known. Though the subgenre has existed since the early days of cinema, the modern haunted house movies all owe a certain date to Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film Poltergeist, which saw an average family afflicted by spirits from their home while paranormal experts attempt to save the family. I can’t say I love the film as much as some, but it is a very good movie which has rightfully earned a place in pop culture. Given how successful drawing the recent haunted house movies have been, it really isn’t surprising that Hollywood has decided to cut out the middle man of being inspired by Poltergeist and just straight up remake it instead.

The film opens with Eric and Amy Bowen (Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt) meeting with a Real Estate agent to look at potential properties. Eric has recently been laid off and is looking for a cheaper home to accommodate his family. The couple find such a home, and move their three children in quickly. The teenage Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) is angry at having to a move, while young Griffin (Kyle Catlett) is frightened by most everything in the home. The only child who seems at peace is the youngest; Madison (Kennedi Clements).However shortly after moving in, odd things begin to occur. Inanimate objects move on their own, animals behave erratically, and the family’s electrical devices go haywire. The parents initially chock most of this up to freak occurrences and young Griffin’s fearful nature, but they come to realise a supernatural presence is at work when the children are attacked and young Madison is taken into the spirit world. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Fifteen Xbox 360 Games

Posted: June 3, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

xbox360Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

When the Xbox One and PS4 first hit, I was mostly content to just enjoy playing my Xbox 360. However with my console slowly dying and I slate of epic looking new titles exclusive to the new generation of gaming, I decided it was time to upgrade. I’m very excited to say that in a few weeks, I’ll be picking up a PS4. However before I embrace the new, I wanted to take some time to formally eulogize the gaming console I’ve invested the most time in by listing my top favourite games. It’s worth noting that I’m not nearly as big a gamer as I am a cinephile, and as such there are a lot of major titles I never got around to. Read the rest of this entry »

The Marvel Cinematic Universe: A Conversation

Posted: May 31, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Conversations

20131113230605!Marvels-logoMichael Dennos: When does enough finally become enough?  This past weekend marked the release of the much-anticipatedAvengers: Age of Ultron, the latest entry into the ongoing “cinematic universe” that Marvel has had going for the past seven years.  In that time, we’ve had eleven films set in said universe, but the connection running through each extends beyond just that simple fact.  As my blogging colleague, Daniel, and I each expressed in our respective reviews of the Hulk-sized blockbuster, these Marvel movies have mostly fallen into a pretty repetitive pattern, a formula that nearly all of these movies have been following for a while now, and in both our cases, “Marvel fatigue” has begun to set in.  But can the same be said for all comic book adaptations in general?  Today, we thought it’d be interesting to sit down together and discuss that very topic as it relates to Marvel, DC and the genre as an entirety.  Dan, would you like to get us going? Read the rest of this entry »

Mad Max: Fury Road Review

Posted: May 23, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

madmaxfuryroadposterWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

The plethora of remakes, reboots, and sequels to long dead-franchises in the last ten or so years has been the fuel for many angry film fans who flock to the internet to complain. Of course, such outrage hasn’t stopped many of these same fanboys (and girls) paying for movie tickets and turning these films into hits, but a tangible resentment toward many of these films does clearly exist. And yet, there never seemed to be any grievances with Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth in a series which hasn’t seen an instalment since 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Perhaps it was because Fury Road was not a cheap grab by the studio, but an effort from series creator George Miller, who had been trying to get the project off the ground for years. My theory though is that while the Mad Max trilogy does have a following, only one of the films really lived up to series potential (The Road Warrior of course), and the notion of a film striving to capture that yet again seemed more promising than an already accomplished franchise seeing a forced sequel. Sure enough, Fury Road has proved to be an inspired and creative film which breathes new life to the Mad Max franchise.

The film opens on archive footage, along with narration from the titular Max (Tom Hardy), revealing what has become of the world in this desolate future. Essentially, society has collapsed, with water and oil becoming primary resources for warring gangs. Max is a former cop who lost everything in the fall, now just trying to survive through the wasteland. Early on, he is captured by a gang who use Max as a “donor” for blood and organs. This gang/make-shift society is led by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who controls a fleet of vehicles and possess a group of “wives” he uses to continually reproduce. These wives plan an escape with one of Joe’s key soldiers, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Driving Joe’s “War Rig”, Furiosa escapes, inviting a large scale chase with Joe leading an army of eccentric followers. One such follower, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), needs a “blood pact” to keep him going, and this brings Max into the chase. Read the rest of this entry »

Ex Machina Review

Posted: May 13, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

ex machinaWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

It’s always a little nerve-wracking when a film industry professional turns the focus to directing for the first time. Sometimes, this can result in the emergence of a bold new talent, such as Ben Affleck’s recent success as the man behind Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo. Other times however, the results are a total failure and embarrassment. Last year for example, top-notch cinematographer Wally Pfister made his directorial debut with the horrendous Transcendence. Ex Machina is the latest example of a prominent figure in film making their directorial debut, and coincidentally is also a high concept science-fiction film pertaining to A.I. This time, the freshman director is Alex Garland, a screenwriter best known for the Danny Boyle helmed sci-fi films 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Of all the professions that transition to a director, the screenwriter to director has always struck me as the most logical path. The technical aspects differ, but the overall goal of storytelling is the same, a fact which gave me hope Garland would be able to make a smooth transition from scribe to filmmaker.

Ex Machina is set in what I presume is a not too distant future and follows Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer for search engine company Bluebook. As the film starts, Caleb receives an email that he has one a company contest to spend one week at the estate of CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon arriving, Nathan informs Caleb that his estate is not merely a home, but a research facility for top secret and cutting edge technology that Nathan would like Caleb to test. This turns out to be the development of an A.I. known as Ava (Alicia Vikander), whom Caleb is to gauge the humanity of. However through his interactions with both Ava and Nathan, Caleb begins to suspect there is something more going on. Read the rest of this entry »

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

Posted: May 4, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

*Editors note: This review contains no spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron. It does however contain spoilers for earlier Marvel films The AvengersIron Man 3, and Captain America: The Winter SoldierAvengers-Age-of-Ultron-Official-Movie-Poster-2015Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

The original Iron Man was a big hit and while I always knew the film would surely spawn successors, I never would have imagined Marvel studios to gain total dominance over the blockbuster season. Multiple Marvel properties come out every year which always perform well at the box-office and are generally liked by audiences. The most popular and successful film of the lot (though not the best) is almost certainly The Avengers, the film that brought together the team of superheroes for the first time and capped off Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the wake of The Avengers, Phase Two has trucked along smoothly, more or less. Captain America: The Winter Soldier pushed the limits of how good these films can be, Thor: The Dark World pushed the limits of how bad, and then Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy sat comfortably in the middle. With this Phase winding to a close, writer/director Joss Whedon has returned to close out Phase Two while ushering in what is yet to come with the highly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The film opens in the heat of the action; the titular Avengers are engaged in combat in the fictional Eastern European country of Sokovia. The team is trying to take a secret military base run by evil organization HYDRA, and regain the sceptor used by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in The Avengers. Upon finding the sceptor, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) realizes he can use it to power a new A.I. program called Ultron, which can act as a safeguard for the Earth that will supersede The Avengers themselves. With the help of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), the two secretly begin developing the A.I. However upon awaking, Ultron (voiced by James Spader) sees humanity as needing to be saved from themselves. This, the robotic creation, aided by superpowered siblings Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen), launches a violent campaign against The Avengers and the world guaranteed to bring destruction and chaos. Naturally, The Avengers can’t allow this to happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

Posted: May 2, 2015 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801″ Dennos

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going strong for eight years now, and in that time, we’ve gotten eleven movies from the behemoth studio, and that’s just from them. Take into account other properties from other studios, and we truly live in the Golden Age of Comic Book Films. With so many on the market, though, fatigue is bound to set in sooner or later, and it’s a fact I have to consider when talking about the latest flaming-hot release, Avengers: Age of Ultron, writer/director Joss Whedon’s follow-up to his Hulk smash of a superhero movie, 2012’s The Avengers. Now, before most of you get up in arms, am I saying that I don’t like this movie? No, not at all. It’s good; I had a fun time. What I am saying, though, is that for me personally, I’m sort of becoming numb to this whole Marvel formula in general, and for whatever reason, that feeling has been most prevalent in these two Avengers films, in spite of how much I’ve legitimately enjoyed them. So, let’s dive right in, shall we?

The movie starts out, appropriately, with a bang as we see The Avengers back in action and attacking a Hydra base, where the nefarious organization is performing questionable experiments, most notably on a pair of Russian twins: Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). The source of those experiments turns out to be none other than Loki’s Scepter, which Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) sees potential in for use in an A.I. peacekeeping initiative codenamed Ultron. From there, Stark and Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) create such an artificial intelligence (perfectly voiced by the awesome James Spader), but as all A.I.’s inevitably do, Ultron decides that the human race is no good, and the only way to improve it is to first destroy it. On his side, Ultron has not only Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, both of whom harbor deep-seeded intentions of revenge against Tony, but also an entire army of robots that all share Ultron’s dangerous consciousness. Of course, this is a threat large enough to require The Avengers, the likes of whom include Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), to re-assemble as they race to stop the monster created by one of their own. Read the rest of this entry »