Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Steve Jobs

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

Steve Jobs (Universal Pictures)

Steve Jobs Poster

Directed by Danny Boyle

Written by Aaron Sorkin  Based on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Starring Michael FassbenderKate WinsletSeth RogenJeff DanielsKatherine Waterston & Michael Stuhlbarg

Steve Jobs is just an okay movie. A fantastic script. Oh my god what a great script. It was almost like watching a stage play. The way it basically captures the same moment three separate times in the life of Steve Jobs. It is so unbelievably cool. But as a movie. As a work of cinema, I was underwhelmed. Director Danny Boyle is hit or miss. He has directed a few of my favorite films and I like him because he doesn’t have a genre. He can do it all. But in Steve Jobs he fails to get out-of-the-way of Aaron Sorkin’s great script. He tries to do more than he needs to. He had an amazing cast and an amazing script and there was no need for the cute little touches and clumsy attempts at film artistry. You can’t really spoil a bio-pic but still…

Verdict: SPOILED

Jobs the Manipulator

SPOILER ALERT

Steve Jobs is the story of three major tech projects in the man’s life. Two failures and one incredible success. Each act takes place moments before Steve Jobs is to walk out on a stage and present his vision to an audience of rabid fans. He was not an engineer or a coder or a business person. But the people who loved him and credited him with other’s work thought he was a god. What he was is a father, a showman and really every bit of an asshole. Not the most likable guy at all.

Jobs the Asshole

In each act, Steve Jobs has an interaction with those three actual people in his life: the coder, the engineer, the business person and those three aspects of himself: the father, the showman and the asshole. This is a sensational script. Aaron Sorkin has long been one of my writing aspirations. A level of cinematic realism and cool dialogue that I would have loved to have been able to match. The dialogue is perfect. The characters are dynamic and real and known within seconds of them walking on-screen. You know these people instantly. And all the relationships are heart-breaking. Truly an amazing screenplay.

Steve Jobs Cast

The three products featured aren’t Steves greatest works but represent pivotal moments in the innovators life. Two major failures and one incredible success. But the products take a backseat in the film. A backseat to the broken relationships that fuel their creation. They are just a platform for an operating system. A system that uses and abuses people to get their best. All cpu. No heart. Our hero, Steve Jobs, does not emerge from this beautifully written bio-pic as anything other than a master manipulator, out and out thief, horrible father and sometime genius.

Jobs the Father

Michael Fassbender is amazing (as always) as Steve Jobs. He disappears into every role he plays. Which is difficult because the man is gorgeous. I have a huge crush on Michael Fassbender. I think I’ve loved him in every thing I’ve seen him in. He’s even good in bad movies. He is one talented and beautiful man. In this, he plays Steve Jobs as someone who recognizes emotions in himself and in others but seems to despise them as a waste of his valuable time. Make no mistake, Steve Jobs is not the hero of his own movie… just a subject. Just a cold and mechanically calculating subject.

Jobs the Genius

But Danny Boyle, who has directed some of my favorite films, is too stylized here. His music choices and other creative choices scream “Look at me! I’m directing!” Steve Jobs is a fantastic script that all he really had to do was shoot as is. But he doesn’t do that. He wants you to see him directing. This script would make an incredible stage drama. This movie would make an incredible radio drama. And yes it even would have made an incredible movie. But the director seems too enamored with his own additions to it. And he damn near ruins it all with awful creative choices. It’s maddening. Because the man knows what he’s doing but here it’s like he’s forgotten. And again this is the director of at least five of my favorite hundred films of all-time. I love Danny Boyle. What happens here is Danny Boyle takes a large steaming dump on a really good movie idea.

Jobs the Maniac

Steve Jobs, the movie, is a great story and a great script with a great cast that is helmed by a great director. A director who takes these fantastic elements and turns them into a mediocre, maybe even bad, movie. Either because he was trying to compete with the screenwriter’s amazing artistry or… I don’t know… maybe he was trying to sabotage the thing. I really don’t know. It makes no sense. The weird choices he makes make absolutely no sense. And seem to serve only to annoy. What a waste.

– Mel

Advertisements

X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer

I loved the original X-Men series up until the point when Bryan Singer handed the reins to that creepy dude (Ratner Ratface Something). And I really enjoyed the reboot although I liked the first movie, X-Men: First Class, directed by Matthew Vaughn, a lot better than X-Men :Days of Future Past, directed by Singer.

This one sees Bryan Singer back in the director’s chair.

It’s not that great of a trailer. And frankly it doesn’t have enough Olivia Munn for my liking. But can you truly ever have enough Olivia Munn? Maybe not.

And I think the last shot is pretty fucking cheesy.

But I’m still excited.

Not the best trailer, but it’s early. And the Memorial Day release is always a good sign. Usually a sign they think they have a hit. (I think the last two were Spring releases)

It’s good to see Quicksilver back though. (At least the X-Men’s Quicksilver or Fox’s Quicksilver, if not the Avenger’s Quicksilver or Disney’s Quicksilver or Marvel’s but aren’t they both Marvel’s… anyway one of them had to die… there can be only one)

It’s an early trailer. Nothing spectacular. Cheesy reveal at the end. Not enough Munn.

Still looking forward to seeing these characters again. Great casting. New Storm. New Jean Grey. Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. Olivia… (okay yes I have a big crush on Olivia Munn dating back to AOTS. I was there from the beginning. Don’t judge me)

X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men was my favorite comic growing up. So I’m always excited for a new film.

Bring it.

-Mel

11 Quick Reviews of 11 Movies on Home Video (Bad Movies Edition)

I’m back.

Sorry about the long absence. But I’m having an incredibly bad summer.

Mel's Back

For one thing I’m in a funk that I can’t seem to pull myself out of… If you have any funk beating advice please help. But here are some reviews of what I’ve watched at home… in my funk. It’s a double sized 5 Quick Reviews (plus one more). So that’s…

11 Quick Reviews of 11 Movies on Home Video (Bad Movies Edition)

I saw eight bad movies and maybe three kind of good ones. Told you I’m having a bad summer. Here is what I’ve watched as far as DVD’s and home video. And again It’s pretty bad. You’ve been warned. But I hold them all to quick reviews and there are no spoilers.

These movies aren’t worth spoiling.

To the reviews..

The Gunman (Open Road Films)

The-Gunman

Directed by Pierre Morel

Written by Don MacphersonPete Travis & Sean Penn  Based on  The Prone Gunman (Original french title La position du tireur couché) by Jean-Patrick Manchette

Starring  Sean Penn, Javier BardemIdris ElbaMark RylanceJasmine TrincaPeter Franzén & Ray Winstone

There is no plot except clichés and preaching. The Gunman serves three purposes:

1) To show off Sean Penn’s internationally renown body.

2) To repeat International Spy Thriller clichés ad nauseam.

3) To point out some international atrocities happening somewhere in the world where somebody is getting the short end of the stick.

Idris Alba and Sean Penn

After watching the movie I still don’t know where these atrocities are actually happening in the world because The Gunman is a massive international failure.

Skip it. (not even Idris Alba can save it)

Slow West (A24 Films [US], Lionsgate UK [UK])

Slow West Poster

Written & Directed by John Maclean

Starring Michael FassbenderKodi Smit-McPheeBen MendelsohnCaren Pistorius & Rory McCann

While there is a lot to like about Slow West; Fassbender is still his Fassbendery gorgeous self, at times it feels like a David Lynch western and more of a stage play than a western (these are the things I liked?), Slow West is just too silly. It takes itself far too seriously while at the same time being far too silly. Make up your mind.

slow-west

You know another thing that bothered me about Slow West. It’s too clean. Everything is so clean. For a frontier American Western these guys seem to know very little about the American West. Everything is so clean. And it’s all so pointless and hapless and feckless. It’s like Martin Scorsese’s After Hours in the American West. But it’s nowhere near as good as that sounds. Slow West is a feckless western.

Skip it. (Maybe it’s worth a look if you like that sort of thing)

Run All Night (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Run All Night

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Written by Brad Ingelsby

Starring Liam NeesonJoel KinnamanCommon & Ed Harris

I liked the cool transitions between the scenes. They were very creative. Everything else is just a cookie cutter ex-mob hit-man thriller with Liam Neeson trying to protect his son from Ed Harris as a mob boss but without the thrills. I swear I’ve seen this movie before. No surprises. No thrills. Nothing to see except the really cool transitions between scenes.

Run-All-Night

Run All Night is extremely dull for an action movie.

Skip it. (And Common’s hit-man character is dumb)

Son of a Gun (A24)

Son of a Gun

Written & Directed by Julius Avery

Starring Ewan McGregorBrenton ThwaitesAlicia VikanderJacek KomanMatt Nable & Tom Budge

This one starts off pretty cool. Son of a Gun starts as a prison movie but then shifts to a lower gear when it becomes some kind of heist movie. I really liked the first act but that’s it. And Alicia Vikander (from Ex-Machina) is underutilized here. Turns out the girl can act.

Alicia-Vikander

But in the end the movie ain’t that great.

Skip it. (Unless you just have to see Alicia Vikander. She is marvelous)

The Voices (Lions Gate Entertainment)

The-Voices

Directed by Marjane Satrapi

Written by Michael R. Perry

Starring Ryan ReynoldsGemma ArtertonAnna Kendrick & Jacki Weaver

At first glance, The Voices really angered me with its portrayal of mental illness, but then when I realized that it was all from the POV of the twisted schizophrenic serial killer and nothing we see can be believed, I really warmed up to it. It was still god awful but it no longer angered me. It was just plain awful.

The Voices Movie

Ryan Reynolds plays a horrible schizophrenic man-boy who talks to his pets; a dog and a cat who behave like the devil and angel on his shoulders. But it’s all bullshit because he’s completely bat-shit and when the veil is lifted his reality is pretty shit. I’m talking like ultra-dark Terry Gilliam shit… but then again so is the movie.

Gemma Atherton and Ryan Reynolds in The Voices

The Voices is just awful as it tries to find a safe place between grotesquely macabre and whimsically and darkly comedic. It fails in this. It fails miserably. That struggle is represented perfectly by the silly musical number that serves as the film’s end title sequence. Complete with all the victims, Jesus (who was not in the movie up to that point), our boy and his pets singing a happy song. Enormously stupid… just awful.

Skip it. (It is disturbingly cheesy and cheesily disturbing)

The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate)

Insurgent movie poster

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Written by Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman & Mark Bomback  Based on Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Starring Shailene WoodleyTheo JamesOctavia SpencerJai CourtneyRay StevensonZoë KravitzMiles TellerAnsel ElgortMaggie QNaomi Watts & Kate Winslet

Horrible. Insurgent picks up where the first movie left off and if you remember the first movie; Divergent, it started well but ended like crap.

Insurgent-Movie-Pictures

Well this one starts like crap, stays crap and ends like crap. There is nothing good about Insurgent. So basically it’s all crap.

Skip it. (No more of these. Please stop it)

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (Warner Home Video)

Throne of Atlantis

Directed by Ethan Spaulding

Written by Heath Corson  Based on Throne of Atlantis by Geoff Johns

Starring Matt LanterSam WitwerSumalee MontanoSirena IrwinJason O’MaraShemar MooreJerry O’ConnellChristopher GorhamRosario DawsonNathan FillionSean AstinHarry LennixGeorge Newbern, Melique Berger & Steven Blum

Better than Justice league: War, Throne of Atlantis picks up where War left off, with the formation of a new superhero team. But Throne of Atlantis mainly deals with Aquaman. His origin story and how he joins the league. It’s a decent story and a good little movie. It suffers from some of the whimsy that plagued War, but it’s toned down a bit.

Justice-League-Atlantis

Shazam is still annoying as is Green lantern but now as a part of a much bigger team they’re just a small part of the story. So because it wasn’t that annoying Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is the best home video release I’ve seen this summer so far.

Rent it. (Woo Hoo!!! We got one)

Kung Fu Jungle previously known as Kung Fu Killer (Emperor Motion Pictures)

Kung Fu Killer

Directed by Teddy Chan

Written by Lau Ho-leung, Mak Tin-sau and Teddy Chan

Starring Donnie YenWang BaoqiangCharlie Young & Michelle Bai

A run of the mill thriller about a serial killer targeting the best martial artists, Kung Fu Killer (Jungle… whatever) is a Kung Fu movie. So the killer is challenging the masters to duels (they can’t refuse) and killing them in combat. There’s some wire work. Some decent choreography. And the climactic fight, in the middle of a busy highway, is pretty bad-ass.

Donnie Yen in Kung Fu Killer

I had to suffer through the English dubbed version so I can’t comment on acting or dialogue as the voices aren’t usually the actors and the dialogue is shortened or lengthened to fit with the movement of the on-screen actors mouths.

Kung Fu Killer Prison Brawl

I hate that stuff with a passion. I prefer subtitles. The only time I don’t like subtitles is when I’m stoned. But this was what they sent me. A run-of-the-mill Kung Fu movie with a satisfying and well-choreographed final battle.

Rent it. (Bet ya didn’t see that coming)

Justice League: Gods and Monsters (Warner Home Video)

Justice-League-Gods-and-Monsters

Directed by Sam Liu

Written by Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm

Starring Benjamin BrattMichael C. Hall & Tamara Taylor

In an alternate universe, Batman is a vampire, Zod’s son (and not Jor el’s son) becomes Superman and Wonder Woman is a murderer. But, you know, these are the good guys. Justice League: Gods and Monsters is a decent alternate universe story with familiar characters in much different roles. Enjoyable and compelling. Worth the hour and a half.

Justice-League-God-and-Monsters

If you can find the three-part chronicles video shorts on You Tube, those are all interesting and serve to introduce the new anti-heroes quite well.

Rent it. (we’re on a roll now)

Hot Pursuit (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Hot-Pursuit-Movie

Directed by Anne Fletcher

Written by David Feeney & John Quaintance

Starring Reese Witherspoon & Sofía Vergara

Hot Pursuit is the worst movie I have ever seen in my long movie loving life.

Reese and Sofia

I refuse to say anything else about Hot Pursuit because that statement says it all. And I’m not kidding. It is the worst movie I have ever seen in my life. And I’ve seen a lot of bad movies. I’ve seen a lot of movies period. This movie is bad in every way a movie can be bad and then it invents new ways to be bad.

Skip it. (Burn it with fire and salt the earth)

Magic in the Moonlight (Sony Pictures Classics)

Magic-in-the-Moonlight

Written & Directed by Woody Allen

Starring Colin FirthEmma StoneHamish LinklaterMarcia Gay HardenJacki WeaverErica LeerhsenEileen Atkins & Simon McBurney

Magic in the Moonlight represents everything that is wrong with Woody Allen. From the age difference of the romantic leads to the absolute absence of any character who isn’t white. From the racist character played by Colin Firth, the inane romance, the bad story, The bad dialogue, the bad acting to the bad photography. From the early 20th century setting to the fact that he only uses it so he can whitewash the surroundings and play all the women as ditzy and portray overt racism.

magic in the moonlight

But Woody, my friend… Those times weren’t that white. The films made in those times were. Not the period itself. You’re a racist and (just this far from being) an incestuous pedophile and everybody knows it.

magic-in-the-moonlight-movie

I used to be a big Woody Allen fan. I can’t say that any more. As he has gotten older, his creativity has waned and all that is left is sexist, racist, creepy Woody Allen. Sadly, the longer he continues to make films the more he tarnishes his early much better work.

Skip it. (Every fourth movie is watchable with Woody now)

And that’s all I got.

See what I mean… I told you I was having a bad summer.

But I’ll be back with a What’s Good later this week. Maybe that’ll get me out of this funk.

Later,

– Mel

5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases for December 2014

Welcome to the last 5 Quick Reviews of the year. And this one features an eclectic bunch of films. Comedy, Drama, Sci-fi. Some weird and some wonderful.

“Wait. I’ve gotta get a picture of this. Mel’s gonna review DVD’s again. How interesting.”

These movies go down better with a bit of what Saruman calls the Halfling’s Leaf. If you know what I mean. Wink wink. Nudge nudge. Say no more. Say no more.

Frank Rehearsal

“I love you all. Even if you do smoke too much weeeeed. I love you all.

“If you don’t know what I’m saying. I’m talking about pot, marijuana, ganja. If it’s not legal where you live, it should be (or soon will be). And all of these movies are better if you watch them while stoned. Okay?

"Are you saying that you want to smoke a joint?"

“Are you saying that you want to smoke a joint with me?”

What I’m really saying is well… I’m saying you’re a pothead. Just kidding. It’s not you it’s me. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. (Just add the word medicinally at the end. It’s just like allegedly but for pot)

I Am Groot

“I AM GROOT!”

Don’t worry Groot. We won’t be smoking anyone you know, big guy. Or is that your way of saying that you want a hit before we put it out? I never know what the hell you’re saying…. anyway.

Here are my 5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVD Releases for December.

Groot Fireflies

I am Groot.

I’m so fucking high right now.

To the reviews…

First up something too strange for words.

Frank (Magnolia Pictures [US], Element Pictures [Ireland])

Frank Poster

Directed by  Lenny Abrahamson

Written by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan  Based on “Oh blimey!” by Jon Ronson

Starring Domhnall GleesonMaggie GyllenhaalScoot McNairy & Michael Fassbender

Frank is a weird, strange movie. About a weird, strange and heart-breakingly fragile man. It is not meant to be a mainstream movie. Frank is a movie that is satisfied in its weirdness and in its indie status. It revels in it.

Frank on Stage

“I feel a tired and over-stretched analogy coming on.”

And just because it sticks to its independence, it doesn’t make it better than the popular films. Nor does it make it worse than mainstream movies. It’s just doing its own thing.

Maggie Gyllenhall and Frank

“This movie is kinda weird, though. Right?” “Yes. Yes it is.”

Frank is about an eclectic band of talented misfit musicians led by the king of the misfits; a man who never removes his large fake head. His name is Frank.

Frank on Guitar

“He’s got the whoooole wo-rld in his head… everybody! He’s got the…”

Frank is a wonderful movie but as it revels in its eccentricity, it alienates its audience. Keeping us at arms length. Making us feel like we’re not quite hip enough for the room.

Frank and The Band

“On the count of three, we all drop acid and watch Frank. 1…2… changed my mind!”

And much like Frank’s band in the film, I don’t think we’re meant to like Frank. And it almost feels like the director doesn’t care if we do. But we are meant to like Frank himself. And we do. Making the whole exercise oddly and refreshingly entertaining.

Rent it

Next one of the best movies of 2014.

Guardians of the Galaxy (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Guardians

Directed by James Gunn

Written by James Gunn & Nicole Perlman  Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Starring Chris PrattZoe SaldanaDave BautistaVin DieselBradley CooperLee PaceMichael RookerKaren GillanDjimon HounsouJohn C. ReillyGlenn Close & Benicio del Toro

Guardians of the Galaxy opens with one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of a young boy losing his mother to cancer. And continues as the story of that boy being kidnapped and raised by criminals… in space. It is a comedy.

Star Lord

“Oh man. That sounds cool. Is that what this movie is about?”

He goes on to run away from the abusive criminals and become an outlaw in his own right. Because that’s all he knows. He has no family and no friends and only a cassette of his mother’s favorite songs to keep him company. It is a comedy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket

“Didn’t Mel already review this thing when it came out? What is he doing?”

But then he befriends other criminals, loners, thieves and killers to form a new foster family of misfits and outlaws. And they go on to save the whole fucking galaxy.

Guardians Gif

“That’s right. We bad.”

Guardians of the Galaxy is the most depressingly touching yet hysterically fun movie I have ever seen. I will own it on BluRay. It’s already on my Christmas list.

Buy it

Next a sci-fi action teen angst adventure sorta?

The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox)

The Maze Runner

Directed by Wes Ball

Written by Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers and T.S. Nowlin  Based on The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Starring Dylan O’BrienKaya ScodelarioThomas Brodie-SangsterWill Poulter & Patricia Clarkson

The Maze Runner has its moments but they are few and far between. The mystery is more made for TV than film. With enough episodes to peel away each layer of the back story, I could see liking this tale of kids who wake up trapped in the center of a deadly maze with their memories erased being hunted by half spider, half robot creatures.

Grievers

“I don’t like spam!!”

The Maze Runner, however, is not a good movie but it is interesting. So maybe (once again) I needed to read the book first. (And the moral of the story is read the damn book)

The Maze Runner

“Run away! He’s gonna hate us! Run away!”

I was not intrigued by the mystery in this film version. I didn’t identify with any of the two-dimensional characters. And it wasn’t helped by the young actors’ bland portrayals.

The Maze Runner Elevator

“That’s harsh, dude.”

All the characters have lost their memories (And isn’t that a convenient way to not have to create any real emotional depth). Don’t get me wrong, lost memory stories can be fun, as we discover the characters’ pasts and as they discover themselves. This ain’t that.

"You're just made the list, buddy. M-E-L um R-O..."

“You just made the list, buddy. M-E-L um R-O…”

This lazy writing is more fitting of a dungeon master’s self-made module of an adventure RPG. Get your graph paper out but make sure you write in pencil. The dungeon changes shape every night. In conclusion, The Maze Runner is a stupid movie.

Skip it

Next a dramedy…

This is Where I Leave You (Warner Bros.)

This is Where I Leave You

Directed by Shawn Levy

Written by Jonathan Tropper  Based on This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Starring Jason BatemanTina FeyAdam DriverRose ByrneCorey StollKathryn HahnConnie BrittonTimothy OlyphantDax Shepard & Jane Fonda

This Is Where I Leave You has an amazing cast of some of my favorite comedic actors but this is not a comedy. It is a well-written family drama with a few big laughs thrown in but it’s a pretty solid drama. And a very good movie with some fine performances.

Jane Fonda and Jason Bateman

“All his favorite people in one movie. He’s gonna love us.” “Hope you’re right.”

It’s got a good script based on the author’s novel with a director who seems fine with just getting out of the way and letting this talented cast do their thing. And they shine.

Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Ben Schwartz

“Say you liked our movie or I twist his other one.” “Say you liked it! I’m in the new Star Wars!”

Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Timothy Olyphant, Rose Byrne and Ben Schwartz. This Is Where I Leave You boasts a collection of my favorite people in a fascinating and funny, family baggage-airing drama. And I liked it.

Debra Monk, Kathryn Hahn and Connie Britton

“Aww. He liked it.”

It’s not for everyone. And it’s not a comedy. Also, the only action in the film is when a secret is revealed and maybe a small fight breaks out. This is a straight drama about a family reuniting for the patriarch’s funeral and about the airing of grievances.

This is where I leave you Cast

“Well that doesn’t sound funny at all.”

It is still pretty damn good. And still pretty damn funny.

Rent it

And lastly…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) (Paramount Pictures)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Written by Josh AppelbaumAndré Nemec and  Evan Daugherty  Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman

Starring Megan FoxWill Arnett & William Fichtner

I expected this movie to be so bad that it had nowhere to go but up. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a better movie than I thought it would be. It’s kinda sorta fun.

"I have to take a picture of Mel liking the Ninja Turtles movie. It's like seeing The Loch Ness Monster."

“I have to take a picture of Mel liking the Ninja Turtles movie. It’s like seeing Bigfoot.”

Don’t get me wrong, it is still a bad movie based on a bad comic book title that was mostly just a childish insult (called a dis in my day) to the popular books of the time. X-Men and Teen Titans (with maybe a little Howard the Duck thrown in for good measure).

TMNT

“I know Bigfoot personally. I could introduce you.”

It was a dumb comic, but then it became a dumb cartoon and now some dumb movies. And soon a dumb but financially successful franchise. I am not a fan.

Michelangelo

“He doesn’t know Bigfoot. But I do. He has an apartment near here.”

However, this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is enjoyable. The turtles aren’t as annoying as I thought they’d be. Megan Fox is decent and the plot is not stupid. I can’t say I liked it because I am opposed to it from its inception and conception with no exception. Period.

Megan Fox and Will Arnett

“Remember when the captions were funny? Now he’s talking Bigfoot.” “I think he really is high.”

But the movie is not that bad… and if you’re high when you watch it, it’s enjoyable.

Rent it

So to recap…

We had two films about groups forced to work together to remember their pasts; The Maze Runner and This Is Where I Leave You, But this is where their similarities end. One features emotionally immature characters forced to navigate a labyrinth of traps, tricks and pitfalls in order to get out alive and the other one is… The Maze Runner.

We had two films based on less-than-main-stream comic book titles; Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, But this is where their similarities end. One is about a group of kick-ass, immature, constantly bickering heroes trying to save everyone from evil and the other one is… god damn it.

And we had one film about a guy who hides his face from the world; Frank, I also do that. Hide myself from the world. But this is where our similarities end. Because while Frank likes to play music with his friends and loves you all…

I, on the other hand, like to play music with my friends but only love some of you… okay most of you… alright damn it, you win. I love you all.

Awesome Mix

Cue the music.

See you guys at the movies,

– Mel

5 Quick Reviews from October (Catch-up Edition part 1)

It’s almost December and I haven’t posted a 5 Quick Reviews for October or November. So here are two posts back to back. One for each month.

First up: 5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVDs from October

Sin City 2

This installment includes two of my favorite movies from 2014 and also two of the worse. Throw in a film that isn’t actually about abortion but centers around an unplanned pregnancy and you have the DVDs of October.

To the list…

First up…

Obvious Child (A24 [USA], The Exchange [International])

Obvious-Child

Directed by Gillian Robespierre

Written by Gillian Robespierre and Karen Maine & Elisabeth Holm  Based on Obvious Child written by Anna Bean, Karen Maine and Gillian Robespierre

Starring Jenny SlateJake LacyGaby Hoffmann, Gabe Liedman & David Cross

Abortion movies are polarizing. They are either pro-choice or very pro-life. While Obvious child doesn’t take a political side in the debate, here’s a hint: Planned Parenthood loved this movie. It is the story of a young woman, her unplanned pregnancy and her choices.

Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy

“Why are you in a box?” “I’m afraid Mel is going to start talking about abortion and… well… he has a penis. So I kinda wish he wouldn’t. I’m hiding, alright?.”

This is my abortion paragraph. It is more than okay to skip it: As far as being pro-life or pro-choice, I am staunchly pro-birth-control and anti-rape. I would love to live in a world where there was no such thing as unplanned pregnancy. And I believe with early and comprehensive education, effective birth control and early rape prevention measures that take care of the problem at its source, there would be no need for it. And all the politicians that raise money from the issue would have to…. oh yeah that’s right… nothing will change as long as the issue is a massive revenue builder for both sides. Never mind… but there is this very cute movie.

Jenny Rulz

“That wasn’t too bad.”

Obvious Child is based on the 2009 short film of the same name from the same director. In the film, the main character, played by Jenny Slate, a comedienne who works days in a bookstore, becomes pregnant from a one night stand and has a decision. But the story is not about the decision but about the girl. Her professional evolution. Her relationships. And about a one night stand that produces a pregnancy.

Jenny Slate

“Then he spent a whole paragraph talking about abortion. Why do men do that? I know i said it didn’t bother me but… I’m a little drunk now, so fuck his opinion.”

Obvious Child is a good movie with a great performance by Jenny Slate. She is perfect as the young comedian that finds her voice when her life is tipped on its side. I really liked this cute twist on the romantic comedy. However I know that abortion is a trigger for some.

Jenny Slate and David Cross

“Talk to me about the box.” “Um… I’d rather not.”

I hate being preached at in film especially about abortion. Again, this movie does not do that. It is not about abortion. And the decision doesn’t affect the plot even as it is the central focus of the film and yet it isn’t. It is a smart film. Funny, sweet, very real, very good, well-written, well-directed and Jenny Slate is outstanding. Nice work.

Rent it

Next up…

Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Edge of Tomorrow

Directed by Doug Liman

Written by Dante HarperJoby HaroldChristopher McQuarrieJez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth  Based on All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

Starring Tom CruiseEmily BluntBill Paxton & Brendan Gleeson

Tom Cruise Edge of Tomorrow

I make this look good.

Edge of Tomorrow is a great movie. One of my favorite films from this year.

"Come and find me when you wake up."

Come and find me when you wake up.

It holds up well on disc. As long as you have good speakers. Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise turn in great performances in an action-packed sci-fi adventure.

Edge of Tomorrow Jump

Didn’t Mel already review this one when it was in the theaters?

Now… will somebody please write me a damn sequel.

Edge of Tomorrow Tom Cruise

If you haven’t seen it, rent it or just buy it. It’s that good.

Buy it

Next up…

X-Men: Days of Future Past (20th Century Fox)

x-men days of future past

Directed by Bryan Singer

Written by Simon Kinberg and Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman  Based on “Days of Future Past” by Chris Claremont & John Byrne

Starring Hugh JackmanJames McAvoyMichael FassbenderJennifer LawrenceHalle BerryAnna PaquinEllen PagePeter DinklageIan McKellen & Patrick Stewart

Wolverine before adamantium

Days of Future Past is another great movie in the X-Men franchise. One of my favorite films from 2014. Maybe even my favorite.

Days of Future Past

I love the prequel casting. McAvoy, Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence are superb.

Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique

And the original trilogy cast too. Stewart, McKellen, Jackman, (Halle, Anna, Ellen)

Magneto

X-Men was my favorite title growing up because I identified with the misfits and outcasts.

xmen-days-of-future-past

So combining the two casts together for the best X-Men story was outstanding.

Magneto and Quicksilver

I love this movie. I will own it. (Hell, one day I hope to marry it)

Buy it

And now the bad…

Life After Beth (A24)

life-after-beth

Written & Directed by Jeff Baena

Starring Aubrey PlazaDane DeHaanMolly ShannonCheryl HinesPaul ReiserMatthew Gray GublerAnna Kendrick & John C. Reilly

Life After Beth

Life After Beth is an exceptionally bad zombie romance but it is also a bad horror film, a bad comedy and a total waste of time. This is a one joke movie. And that one joke isn’t very funny. (Hey dude your girlfriend is back from the dead). Badly directed and poorly written, I laughed once through the entire film and I think I was laughing at how bad it was.

Aubrey Plaza

Romantic zombie stories have been done so much better in films like Warm Bodies and TV shows like In The Flesh. Life After Beth is the story of a young man whose recently deceased girlfriend comes back from the dead. The premise is promising. The casting is good. And that’s it. The characters are bland and two-dimensional. There’s an older brother character that is idiotic and parents (both his and hers) that are useless. Even their relationship, the central theme of the movie, is pointless and weak.

The big brother

The dialogue is awful. The plot is stupid. There is nothing about this movie that I liked. I’m hoping these actors, that I enjoyed in other things, did this movie as a favor to someone because it’s really bad, there is no script and the director has no vision.

life after beth 2

Life After Beth is a bad movie in every single way.

Skip it

and lastly…

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Dimension Films)

A Dame to KIll for

Directed by Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller

Written by Frank Miller  Based on Sin City by Frank Miller

Starring Mickey RourkeJessica AlbaJosh BrolinJoseph Gordon-LevittRosario DawsonBruce WillisEva GreenPowers BootheDennis HaysbertRay LiottaJaime KingChristopher LloydJamie ChungJeremy PivenChristopher Meloni & Juno Temple

Speaking of sensationally bad movies. This Sin City sequel does something rarely seen from bad sequels. It actually makes the first movie worse. The story is okay… I guess. But you can’t tell because they never let a story play out before switching to another one with a new narrator. I like Frank Miller but he can’t direct.

Marv

There are too many voice-overs from too many different characters. Instead of showing one story at a time, the stories are edited together so that the different narrators of each tale are practically talking over each other.

Jessica Alba and Bruce Willis

A Dame to Kill For plays more like an audio book. An audio graphic novel with moving images. It is visually annoying. That black and white with splashes of color thing was cool in the first one but this movie does it so badly it makes me think the first one sucked too. this is not a good movie at all. Frank Miller is still a god in my eyes for his comics & graphic novels (Daredevil, Batman) but he shouldn’t direct movies. He is really bad at it.

Sin City A Dame in Color

Telling a visual story in comics and telling a visual story in cinema are two separate disciplines. The two main differences that Mr. Miller fail to reconcile are camera movement and visual continuity. A Dame to Kill For is stupendously bad directing.

Eva Green - the dame in question

And I know Robert Rodriguez also has his name on it as director but I have a hard time believing that Mr. Rodriguez got this bad at his craft this quickly. This is all Frank Miller. This is someone who doesn’t know what the fuck they’re doing.

Skip it

So to recap…

There were two movies in which the main character couldn’t be killed despite everyone’s best efforts: Life After Beth and The Edge of Tomorrow. One of the best and one of the worse movies I have seen all year.

There were two movies with bad titular colon subtitles based on comics penned by two of my favorite comic book writers: X-Men: Days of Future Past and Sin City: A Dame to Kill for. One is directed by someone who should stick to comic books. The other brilliant.

And there was a romantic comedy that was well-written, well-directed and with a great performance but an uncomfortable theme that may turn some people off; Obvious Child. And that’s sad because it’s a really good movie and it may not get the recognition it deserves or make the money it deserves.

That was October

November coming right up…

– Mel