Name That Genre (A Film Comparison Game Show)

It’s that time again, ladies and gentlemen. Time to play social media’s newest and hottest Blog Based Game Show. That’s right folks, it’s time for…

Name! That! Genre!!!

This is the game where you try to guess the movie genre based on cliché dialogue quotes alone. Are the contestants ready to name that genre?

Name That Genre Contestants

I’m gonna take your silence as a yes.

Here’s your hint: This movie genre gets on a lot of viewers nerves.

Can you name that genre in three quotes? two? or just one?

Here’s your first quote: Amazed “Are you getting this?”

Name that genre.

Here’s your second quote: Desperate “Tell me you got that!”

Name that genre.

Okay. For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet

Here’s your last quote: Annoyed “Why are you always filming everything?”

Name that genre.

Ding. Ding. Ding! Time’s up. I’m gonna need your answer.

You’re absolutely right. It’s Found Footage.

All Hell Breaks Loose

All Hell Breaks Loose

Found Footage. Fucking Found Footage Films. The low-budget film-making technique that will not die (Damn you Blair Witch Project [1999]). I watched two of them last night back to back; Project Almanac (2015) and Chronicle (2012). Two nearly identical Science Fiction Fantasy Features with Found Footage and neither of them deserved its own post

So here’s my comparison.

 

Project Almanac vs. Chronicle

1) Science Fiction Elements:

Project AlmanacTime Travel

ChronicleSuper Powers

Winner: Chronicle (2012)

Chronicle

Flying in Chronicle

In Chronicle three teens develop super powers after coming into contact with an alien artifact. Their telekinetic powers develop from being able to move objects with their minds to being able to fly and soar like jets.

Loser: Project Almanac (2015)

The Time Machine in Project Almanac

The Time Machine in Project Almanac

In Project Almanac four teens build a time machine from blueprints found hidden in the basement. They then proceed to break all the rules of time travel. Even going back again and again to the same place & time without ever seeing themselves from their previous trips. Sloppy. You can’t help paradoxes in time travel stories but this one is awful.

 

2) Found Footage Technique:

Project AlmanacOne Camera for the entire movie

ChronicleTwo Cameras (several for the climax)

Winner: Chronicle (2012)

Chronicle

Camera Tricks in Chronicle

This is no contest. Because of their telekinetic powers the cameras in Chronicle fly around the characters with movement and grace, creating gorgeous shots. And during the climactic sequence, grabbing from many cameras – cell phones and traffic cams etc. to facilitate the quick cuts and big action of the climax.

Loser: Project Almanac (2015)

Done with Mirrors in Project Almanac

Done with Mirrors in Project Almanac

They pretty much stick to the one handheld camera in Project Almanac, handing it back and forth among the characters. Sometimes putting it down for a static shot. In one scene there’s camera movement when the camera gets caught in a magnetic anomaly and floats in the air. (Except that every other object spins wildly and the camera stays pointed at the characters… lucky us)

 

3) Casting & Characters:

Project AlmanacFive friends: One hot nerd guy (main character), Two classic nerds (one Asian and one dweeb), and two hot girls (main characters hot little sister, who spends most of the movie behind the camera and the main’s love interest)

ChronicleThree male friends: Scary loner main character & videographer, his hot stoner cousin, and the most popular black guy in school.

Loser: Chronicle (2012)

Starring Dane DeHaanAlex RussellMichael B. JordanMichael Kelly & Ashley Hinshaw

The Cast of Chronicle

The Cast of Chronicle

The acting in these teen movies is usually atrocious but Chronicle reaches a new low. There is no chemistry between the leads. There is a feeble attempt to add a love interest for the cousin (Hey! She’s filming everything for her blog as well. Lucky us). She is a useless character and does absolutely nothing to advance the plot. She just provides another camera angle. Horrible.

Winner: Project Almanac (2015)

Starring Jonny WestonSofia Black D’EliaSam LernerAllen EvangelistaVirginia Gardner & Amy Landecker

The Cast in Project Almanac

The Cast of Project Almanac

I’m not gonna lie to you, the acting isn’t that much better in Project Almanac, but the welcome addition of two necessary (and hot) female characters helps a lot. One of them, a love interest that actually advances the plot.

Project Almanac

Hot Chicks in Project Almanac

This and characters that have chemistry and (relative) depth are the best things about Project Almanac. While their absence is the worst thing about Chronicle.

 

4) Writing & Directing:

Let me start by saying that both of these movies would be better without the Found Footage crap (Chronicle less so because the Found Footage is handled so well)…

Project AlmanacBad story, Good Dialogue, Fun characters, Boring camera work, Strong climax, Horrible ending.

ChronicleGreat story, Horrible dialogue, Awful characters, Really good camera work, Strong climax, Very weak ending.

It’s a tie:

Project Almanac (Paramount Pictures)

Project Almanac Poster

Directed by Dean Israelite
Written by Jason Harry Pagan & Andrew Deutschman

Project Almanac is a teen sci-fi adventure with a bad, paradox riddled, time travel story but with fun, likable and good-looking characters.

Chronicle (20th Century Fox)

chronicle-movie-poster

Directed by Josh Trank
Written by Max Landis and Josh Trank

Chronicle is a teen sci-fi adventure with a good alien super mind powers story but with boring one-dimensional and wholly unlikable characters.

It’s a toss-up.

 

5) Verdict: Both of these movies sucked.

Chronicle Project

I watched Project Almanac right after watching Chronicle and while I liked Chronicle more, Project Almanac was more fun to watch. What I should have done was watch both movies at the same time. Put them up on two screens and watched them together. They’re about the same running time and the two movies compliment each other greatly.

Project Almanac with Superpowers

Project Chronicle with Superpowers AND Time Travel

So what I actually want is for the five friends from Almanac to gain the super powers from Chronicle that eventually develop into an ability to Time Travel. They fly around in the past screwing things up and causing mayhem. Resulting in two simultaneous climaxes involving a battle royal between two of the super-powered teens.

Battle in Chronicle

The Battle in Project Chronicle

While the other three attempt to fix the past and save the girl. Every single one of them is floating several cameras at all times, so there is massive coverage and camera angles and in the end… (the endings of both movies were crappy) so in the end… (I don’t know).

Project Almanac The Hero Gets the Girl

The Hero Gets the Girl in Project Chronicle

I guess in the end the hero gets the girl and it turns out that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time (spoiler alert).

Yeah. That’ll work.

– Mel

Point Break (2015) Trailer

It’s no secret how much I love the original Point Break (1991). It was my introduction to the kick-ass action of director Kathryn Bigelow. Yeah sure, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey, Lori Petty, Keanu Reeves & The Red Hot Chillipeppers frontman Anthony Kiedis were not the best actors but the movie was fun and…

Point Break

100% pure adrenaline. So when I heard there was going to be a remake I scoffed at it. I actually scoffed. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a scoff. This was a classic scoff.

Point-Break

But then  I saw the trailer and what can I say… the adrenaline is back.

The new Point Break (2015) looks more like an update. Better stunts. Bigger budget. Directed by a first timer, Ericson Core, cinematographer of The Fast and the Furious. And with none of the star power of the first film. Gerard Butler pulled out at last minute (insert sexual innuendo here). Replaced by Edgar Ramirez.

Luke Bracy and Edgar Ramirez in Point BreakHere’s the cast list…

Édgar Ramírez as Bodhi (Swayze)
Luke Bracey as Johnny Utah (Keanu)
Teresa Palmer as Samsara (Lori Petty)
and Ray Winstone as Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey)

No names, but at least these guys look like they can do the stuff in the movie.

Edgar Ramirez

And I got to say, the stunts this time around… wow. It’s like as if they took the film XXX with Vin Diesel and married it to every James Bond film from the 80’s and then those guys got into a three-way with the Kathryn Bigelow film (Shhh… it’s an open marriage).

Point Break 2015 Poster

And the Christmas Day release date makes me think Warner is very confident that they have a hit on their hands. And so am I. This looks good.

I see really good things.

– Mel

What’s Good (May 2015)

This is my second What’s Good installment. A list of ten things that I enjoyed recently from Movies, TV, Music and in my life in general. This is the May 2015 Edition.

May was a pretty good month.

You're God Damn Right

For starters, my birthday is in May. Somebody told me I was 48. I don’t believe them. I can’t be a day over 29. Unless I lost two decades somewhere along the way. I mean, look at these abs. No. Wait. Those are birthday cake crumbs resting on my beer gut. Never mind. It’s not the years, anyway, it’s the mileage.

So we got movies. We got TV. We’ve got food, family, a few farewells. And the Mets. The god damn Mets. Why can’t you be like the Yankees. Just kidding. (the Yankees suck too)

“Get on with it.”

To the list…

WHAT’S GOOD?

I’m glad you asked.

Turn

Turn: Washington’s Spies is back on AMC and it’s just as good as the first season. Love this show. They added my girl Ksenia Solo from Lost Girl and now Turn: Washington’s Spies is fast becoming one of my favorite shows. Even if the title is confusing. Are we turning Washington’s spies? Or are we turning people into spies for Washington? Or am I thinking about it too much?

Mad Men was good (also on AMC). The last eight Mad Men episodes were very very good. Still one of the best TV shows in history. From beginning to end. I was trying to list all of my favorite moments from the finale and realized they were all Peggy scenes. Peggy with Stan over the phone being the best. Peggy with Don on the phone and Peggy with Joan in the restaurant. Oh yeah and Don and Betty on the phone. The Coca Cola ending made me laugh out loud both from merriment and in a purely sardonic way. Nice work guys. And little Sally turning into Betty at the end, taking care of her sick mother (still chain smoking with lung cancer), that was the only sad thing. Everybody else ended well.

Mad Max Fury Road Tom Hardy Muzzled Blood Bag

Speaking of Madness… Mad Max: Fury Road was and still is very good. It’s okay to believe the hype. It won’t disappoint. It’s that freaking good. Best movie of the year so far and it’s going to be hard to beat.

Almond Milk!!! Having Almond Milk with my Crunchy All Natural Peanut Butter and Sugar free Grape Jam sandwiches on Whole Wheat bagels is really good. I made the switch to Almond Milk and I’m never going back. Love it in my morning coffee. Almond Milk rocks.

museum_mile

Museum Trips are good.. I’m planing a few more. Think I’ll hit every museum that interests me in Manhattan (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim, Natural History, etc) and then expand to the outer boroughs. Planning to walk down the famous Museum Mile near Central Park this week. I’ll post some pics. Promise. (If I remember to charge the battery in my camera… long story)

The Revenge Finale on ABC was really good. So satisfying. Everything I wanted from a season (series) finale. Now all we need is a Nolan Ross spin-off. That would be nice. Make it happen ABC. Keep the Revenge alive.

Americone Dream

My Birthday was good. I had Ice Cream. Lots and lots of Ice Cream. Ben & Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream. Absolutely my favorite Ice Cream flavor of all-time.

Other Space on Yahoo Screen is very good. Paul Feig’s show about a group of green astronauts lost in an unknown universe is the right amount of clever and silly. It’s like a combination of the British sci-fi shows: Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. The first season is eight very funny episodes. Check it out. It’s a fun binge watch at about three hours.

relationship balance

Relationships with other humans, though not all it’s cracked up to be, is still very very necessary and can be good… for a while. Thank you green eyes for that reintroduction to the world of other people. Like a baptism of fire. I’d kiss you on the top of your head if you were still talking to me.

And this song right here… This song is very good… A little angry but still good.

This Kendrick Lamar song right here. – The Blacker the Berry

I said they treat me like a slave cause me black
Woah we feel a whole heap of pain cause we black
And man I say, they put me in the chain cause me black
Imagine now, big gold chains full of rocks
How you no see the whip left scars on my back
But now we have a big whip parked on the block
All them say we doomed from the start cause we black
Remember this, every race starts from the black. Just remember that

I got this Kendrick Lamar album on heavy rotation. I’ve been playing this and the new Taylor Swift album back and forth. (I know it’s a weird combination. I’m a weird dude).

And now for everything there is a dark side… (AKA The Fucked-Up Five)

What’s NOT so Good?

Fed Ex Note

Fed Ex Deliveries where the driver doesn’t bother to read the note you left for him, and just leaves his ticket right next to it, are not good at all. I was home all day. You guys suck at your job. And don’t call and ask him to drive back around. That’s against the laws of nature and physics and would cause the end of the world as we know it.

Avengers: Age of Ultron was not good. I didn’t like it. But sadly I will end up owning it. And even more sadly they know this about people like me and they don’t even have to try to entertain me anymore. Just paint-by-numbers. And while I’m at it Tomorrowland wasn’t good either. A big blockbuster needs to be more than just a few action pieces, bad jokes and high-priced actors… DISNEY. I’m looking at you Disney. God, I hope they don’t screw up Star Wars.

Robin Williams David Letterman

David Letterman saying goodbye was not good. I grew up with him. High School. College. An American television institution. I feel old. Well older. It was my birthday. Sad. I’ll miss him and I’ll miss Paul Shaffer and the band and the way he never took shit from nobody. But on a lighter note: James Corden is doing a good job and he is infinitely likable & fun, and I have high hopes for Stephen Colbert (and his delicious Ice Cream flavor) when he takes over in September.

Game of Thrones on HBO is straight starting to piss me off. Perhaps killing off all of our favorite characters works for a book series but it does not work for a TV series. Sorry George. Not cool, man. Not good. Also this year is nowhere near as entertaining as last season. By this time we had major battles and they had also introduced one of the best characters of the series. But this year… it’s just annoyingly slow. They broke Anya. Sansa’s getting rape fucked by her new husband. And Tyrion. Only little Tyrion is still doing work. (Talking the Slavers into taking them to the fighting pits was genius). He never disappoints. But four / five episodes in, I expected more.

david-wright

The Mets are not looking good. My Mets had a great April and then proceeded to lose almost every game in May. same ole Mets. They must be snake-bit because now their best player, David Wright, may be gone for the rest of the seasons (all of them). So sad. He has some spinal thing that may end his career. He’s too young and too cute to retire this early. David Wright retiring is not good at all. Arrghhh.

But since I can’t end this post on a bad note, here’s something: Between the time I wrote this and the time I posted it, me and green eyes made up. I know that means nothing to you people but it makes me happy.

So that’s good, right?

Yeah. Whatever. Here’s some more music…

Speaking of Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift. This nearly caused my head to explode.

I love the way Taylor just basically gives the song to Kendrick. She’s becoming one of my favorite artists (and I’m not ashamed to admit it). The video is stupid but the new song with the Kendrick verses is really good.

Coming Soon to What’s Good: True Detective Season Two (the trailers look awesome and the cast is amazing), Taking my bike out to central park (because I own a nice bike that I never use) and Writing and writing and writing and writing.

Coming Soon to What’s NOT so Good: June Blockbusters (nothing looks particularly promising… maybe Jurassic World but I’m not overly excited). More of the same from my Mets (Unless they make a trade) and The final season of Lost Girl without Ksenia Solo as Kenzi (maybe she’ll make a few guest appearances).

Until next time,

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Tomorrowland

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Tomorrowland (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) Tomorrowland Poster Directed by Brad Bird

Written by Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird and Jeff Jensen

Starring George ClooneyHugh LaurieBritt RobertsonRaffey CassidyThomas RobinsonTim McGrawKathryn Hahn & Keegan-Michael Key

Poorly written. Badly directed. I wanted to walk out of the movie about a half an hour in but I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I stuck it out. Not because Tomorrowland got any better. It did not. It was stupid all the way through. A children’s movie where the creative team must have said to themselves, “It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s for kids and kids are stupid.” A message movie where the message is so sloppily delivered, something about saving the planet, that you leave the theater wanting to pollute and dump toxic waste and increase your carbon footprint, maybe even nuke a smaller country. No. I’m not glad I stuck around for the movie. I regretted that the entire two hours more I had to sit there. But after the movie ended, the manager of the theater gave us all free tickets to any movie we want to see at any time in the future. As an apology. Yes. The movie was that bad. But damn it, had I left, I would’ve missed the free ticket. And also they gave me a free large sprite for my birthday. So yeah…. the movie sucked.

Verdict: SPOILED

Britt Robertson as Casey Newton in Tomorrowland

“If you say you liked our movie I’ll let you have this pin that makes you accident prone.”

SPOILER ALERT

So here’s what I learned. Brad Bird should stick to animated films. It’s what he’s good at. Damon Lindelof writes paint-by-number action movies that make little to no sense. And a romantic death scene between George Clooney and a robot designed to look like a little girl is creepy as all hell. But maybe that’s just me.

tomorrowland hugh laurie george clooney

“I don’t think he likes us.” “What makes you think that? The part where he says we suck?”

First they introduce this magic trick where touching a Tomorrowland pin sends you to Tomorrowland. Well not really. It lets you see Tomorrowland but you’re still in the place where you were when you touched the damn pin. But to see Tomorrowland you have to walk around. Completely blind to obstacles in the real world. Because for some reason it starts you off in a wheat field about a mile away from the city. It’s cute for a laugh. While Casey Newton, played by Britt Robertson, who looks like a thirty year old wearing her ten-year old daughter’s clothes, walks into a wall. And then walks into another wall. Then another. She falls down some stairs. Kids will laugh at that. Unless, of course, they’re over the age of twelve. Then they’ll realize that it’s stupid as fuck. Finally she goes to an open field in the real world so as to not bump into anything. But it’s still not spacious enough to hold the entire city and that stupid fucking wheat field. Why is there a wheat field? She gets on a transport in the illusion. Goes down stairs in the illusion. It is dumb as hell. And this is like the first fifteen to twenty minutes.

“We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Look! the Emerald city. Follow the stupid brick road.”

So here’s what I learned. Brad Bird should have made Tomorrowland as an animated feature. Then it would be easier to forgive visual leaps of logic. Damon Lindelof should stick to writing TV episodes with characters we already know because character development is not his strong suit. And George Clooney should fire his agent or whoever suggested he do this movie. But maybe that’s just me.

“This review is worse than my accent. What? All child robots are British. You didn’t know?”

So what do you get for the price of admission? Cartoon action that would have been more appropriate had it been a cartoon. Dialogue that’s so insipid and repetitive, it sounds like Lindelof put a few buzz words and movie clichés into an app on his phone and it wrote the screenplay for him. And nothing more. And what’s the message of Tomorrowland? Because they seem to think they have something important to say. Was it If we think the world is going to shit then it is? Was that the message? Or was it Optimism alone will stop climate change and end all war? Children are the future? Children robots are the future? What are you trying to tell us, Damon? No. Wait. Don’t tell. Keep your dumb-ass sentiments to yourself. I don’t want to know.

“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. Oh that’s right, I’m still at home.”

So here’s what I learned. Brad Bird should leave Tomorrowland off of his résumé. He directed Ratatoille, The Incredibles and The Iron Giant and he should stop there when listing his credits. Damon Lindelof is a complete moron with very little grasp of human nature; From how they talk to how they think to how they like to be entertained. And George Clooney is a very good-looking man who should read the scripts. Read the damn scripts, George. Don’t just look at the zeroes on the check. Read the script.

“Well now he’s just being cruel. I was Batman, for god sake. But maybe that’s just me.”

Tomorrowland is an awful movie with a confusing and somewhat stupid message, bad dialogue, cartoonish action, and no reason for being. Absolutely no reason for being. It’s a waste of two and a half hours. But if you’re lucky, you’ll get a free ticket to something else and a free large soft drink on your birthday. Fingers crossed.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Exodus – Gods and Kings

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled

Exodus: Gods and Kings (20th Century Fox)

Exodus-Gods-and-Kings-Poster

Directed by Ridley Scott

Written by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian

Starring Christian BaleJoel EdgertonJohn TurturroAaron PaulBen MendelsohnMaría ValverdeSigourney Weaver & Ben Kingsley

Okay everybody calm down about this movie. This is just your standard Ridley Scott action adventure epic with a strong biblical background. But I think the best way of thinking about Exodus: Gods and Kings is as a pre-pre-prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sure there are too many white faces in roles that would better be served with a darker hue but that doesn’t bother me as much as it did when I was a kid. Back when Elizabeth Taylor or Yule Brenner or who the fuck ever played North Africans without tans. Before Cheikh Anta Diop proved definitively that the Ancient Egyptians were dark as pitch. Darker than I am… and I am the darker brother. But anyway, Exodus is a decent enough movie with a few good battle sequences and an epic chase at the end. If you don’t know the story my review may spoil it because I’m just assuming that most of my readers at least partially know the story of Moses. But Exodus: Gods and Kings is good enough to be spared.

Verdict: SPARED

Moses and Ramses

Exodus is a movie about a prince of Egypt; Moses, who discovers he was actually born a slave and how he doesn’t want to believe it and struggles with it. And it’s also about his brother, Ramses, who was born into royalty but isn’t the leader his father was or his brother is. And how he doesn’t want to believe and struggle with that. But , at its core, It’s just your classic sibling rivalry. “My slaves!” “My people!” “I’m telling dad.” “Well I’m telling god.” You know. The same old story.

Exodus Battle

Here’s what I did not like… The casting. The casting is awful. And again I’m not talking about the complexions of the actors but Christian Bale and the dude who plays Ramses are garbage in this. And they carry the bulk of the movie. Aaron Paul is decent and the other characters are well portrayed but those two are hilariously bad. And they are the stars. So bad. And I also didn’t like all of the animal deaths. Too many animals are killed in this movie. Not cool Ridley… or God… or whoever is to blame for that one.

Red Sea Exodus

I enjoyed the effects sequences however. I really liked the plagues and I liked the way the parting of the Red Sea wasn’t all cheesy like there were walls holding back the water but it was more organic. As if to say a miracle like this one is highly implausible but not scientifically impossible. Thought that was cool. And I liked God as a child. A couple of country banned it for that. I always like gods represented as children. It makes them much more formative and scary in my opinion.

Zipporah

And I enjoyed the battles. I love epic battles of any era with any weapons. Wooden or iron. By the way Ridley, wooden weapons not iron from that era. And yet Exodus: Gods and Kings really brings the grand scale battles to life. It is an epic tale. But because it is such an epic tale, there is very little character development outside of Moses and Ramses. I’m guessing because there’s no room for it. That’s sad and also serves to make the movie more mediocre. Exodus has and will always be a story best told as a multi-night television event… on cable. Ridley Scott almost completely abandons the story of Moses as a child. (It’s told in dialogue). And he rushes through the Ten Commandments like it’s just an epilogue in the life of Moses. No character development and a truncated story but still a two hours plus running time.

Ben Kingsley

But here’s the reason why I liked it. My favorite part of the entire film is the last scene. Moses has the pieces of the Ten Commandments in the… and he’s carrying them in a covered wagon and… I wish John Williams Raiders theme had kicked in at that moment. I would have died right then and there. But with the way he shot it and dressed it, you know that was what he was going for. Ridley Scott’s tribute to Raiders of the Lost of Ark. Because my two favorite films when I was a kid were Raiders and Ridley’s Blade Runner. So it was just one of those moments I was like hell yeah.

Gods and Kings

So, yeah. It’s a mediocre movie but forever I will think of Exodus: Gods and Kings as the pre-pre-prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark… really. The last shot in the film helped me like the movie a little more than it actually deserved.

– Mel