Tag Archive: movies


I got to guest host on Nerd Alert this week with Kim Horcher. We talked about myriad topics, and in this episode, we discuss one potential theory behind how Pixar’s Cars universe came to be.

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I got to guest host on Nerd Alert this week with Kim Horcher. We talked about myriad topics, including the new Justice League movie coming out in November!

I got to guest host on Nerd Alert this week with Kim Horcher. We talked about myriad topics, including people cheating…on Netflix!

I got to guest host on Nerd Alert this week with Kim Horcher. We talked about myriad topics, including some new hints at Star Wars Episode VIII!

Ray Carsillo interviews film producer Adrian Askarieh about his upcoming videogame-based feature films, including the upcoming Hitman: Agent 47, Deus Ex and Kane & Lynch.

All pain, no gain

We’ve all got an American Dream. Some folks just want to be famous. Others wants to be rich. While others still are just trying to do better than those that came before them. This idea of the American Dream is built on the premise that hard work, perseverance, and a little bit of luck can allow anyone to achieve anything. But some folks want to take short cuts and can’t be satisfied with the idea that they are the reason for their less than stellar lot in life.

A perfect example of this is the members of the Sun Gym Gang. These guys weren’t professional gangbangers or anything. Just a bunch roided up bodybuilders in Miami with rocks for brains. In the mid-90s, these meatheads wanted their wallets to be as thick as their necks. In order to achieve their goals, they decided to kidnap, extort, torture, and finally kill some of their more lucrative clientele in the hopes of taking those people’s fortunes all the way to their own bank accounts. Pain & Gain tells the story of how the Sun Gym Gang came to be, why they did what they did, and how they were finally brought to justice, mostly by their own greed and stupidity.

On paper, this looks like it could be an interesting premise for a movie. A story about bumbling, wannabe gangsters who are their own worst enemy. How justice prevails in even the most unlikely of scenarios. And that redemption can be found just about anywhere. Instead, we are reminded why Michael Bay is mostly a joke in many Hollywood circles.

Pain & Gain is the perfect example of a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be and where real life is not more entertaining than fiction. The commercials would have you think this movie might be an action-comedy. But the movie bounces around the genre gamut every 15 minutes to the point that when you walk out of the theater, you’re not sure what you saw. It goes from comedy to documentary to drama to dark comedy to action to docu-drama to crime thriller all in the course of its 2 hour and 9 minute run-time. I almost expected Mark Wahlberg to break into song and dance at some point it was so all over the place.

And the hodgepodge of genres isn’t the only painful part about this film. The character arcs for everyone on the screen is accelerated at such a pace to fit into the long course of real life events the movie wishes to emulate that you start to think that everyone portrayed in the movie has some personality disorder beyond their obvious stupidity. Mind you, these aren’t characters you want to root for anyway as these are real-life death row convicts now, but they are nowhere near interesting enough to have had a movie made about them.

As much as the star studded cast of Mark Wahlberg, Ed Harris, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tony Shalhoub, and more tried to do their best with the scripts given to them, at the end of the day it was not enough. Pain & Gain will have you holding your head in your hands as you try to figure out why you dropped $12 on such a convoluted and unentertaining waste of time. I spent literally the last hour of the movie staring more at my watch, watching my life waste away, than at the movie as I was bored to tears by this unrelenting piece of slop slapped on the big screen. This is just another reminder that unless he’s blowing something up, Michael Bay should go sit in a corner and think of the horrible things he’s done to the cinema-viewing community, Pain & Gain being the latest on that long list of crap.

SCORE: 2.5

With summer movie season typically being all about the major action blockbuster blowing us away with intense scenes of bullets flying and exploding fireballs melting people’s faces, it’s easy to forget to just laugh once in a while. Lucky for us, there’s The Watch. Starring comedic powerhouses Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill, The Watch follows the bumbling antics of four unlikely friends who come upon an alien invasion that will wipe the Earth off the face of the galaxy if they don’t do something about it.

The movie starts with Stiller as the manager of the local Costco. When he arrives for work one day, he finds his night watchman has been killed while on duty…and his skin unceremoniously ripped off his body. With the local police unprepared for such an event, Stiller takes it upon himself to form a neighborhood watch and track down the killer. Enter Vaughn, Hill, and relative newcomer Richard Ayoade to complete the rag tag band of local misfits that quickly get in way over their heads.

Now, to add to the comedy gravitas already of the leading men in this film, we also saw the motion picture directorial debut of Akiva Schaffer, best known for working with Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone on many of the Saturday Night Live digital shorts of the past few years, and the script was co-written by Seth Rogen. And honestly, sometimes with all those dynamic personalities coming together, you’d expect that the movie would suffer as it was worked to make sure everyone had a chance to shine. But The Watch succeeded in having me literally laugh out loud for much of the movie as everyone had their moments, including Akiva who inserted himself into a hysterical cameo.

The Watch isn’t perfect by any means though. It gets off to a really slow start and for a movie that’s 1 hour and 40 minutes long, the first 40 minutes really is spent just setting up the situation and the personality foundations for the main characters, and I definitely checked my watch a couple of times because of it. The beginning does have a few nice one-liners to not lose you completely, but thankfully that last hour was strong enough to pull it all together with one joke just rolling right into the next.

I also appreciated the fact that once the alien invasion was exposed, the movie took a step away from that and let it just linger there while focusing back in on the dynamic between the four leads. You knew they would get back to it sooner or later, being the major conflict of the movie after all, but the funniest moments of the movie were just the four guys bantering back and forth with this galactic-sized situation on their hands.

I think part of this also is the movie taking full advantage of its R-rating. Not pulling any punches with language, sex, drugs, or violence, The Watch definitely drew a few laughs just by its willingness to occassionally go to places people don’t normally go to outside their home, if ever. Then again, what do you expect from the guy who helped make shorts like “Motherlover” and “D*** in a Box”? This is definitely for adult eyes only folks.

When all was said and done, I could say I genuinely enjoyed The Watch. It had a lot of great moments and once it hits its stride, even though it took a little while longer than expected to get there, the smile never left my face. Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill all hit their notes perfectly and Richard Ayoade may have been the most pleasant surprise of all as he stole several scenes with his expert comedic delivery. If you’re tired of seeing guys in costumes beat up on each other and need a good hearty laugh this summer, The Watch is a fine and funny alternative.

SCORE: 8.0

I had the distinct pleasure of joining my old friend Seth Everett to review the latest project from DC Animation: Superman vs The Elite DVD/Blu-Ray. Check out the Spreecast at the link below to see what we thought! (For some reason, WordPress isn’t letting me publish the video embed code.)

http://www.spreecast.com/events/superman-vs-the-elite-official-review

Four gore and seven years ago…

By the time we’re probably about 10 years old, if not younger, we all know who Abraham Lincoln is and we continue to learn about him throughout out lives. And because of this we all know the major talking points about him. He freed the slaves, saved the Union, and was assassinated in a theater (there’s obviously a lot more, but I’m not writing a biography here). But what if there was more to him than what we knew in our history books?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based off the book of the same name, is the fun, over-the-top, action-packed ‘what if?’ story about out 16th President and if the driving force behind many of his greatest moments in history was really all just part of his unending campaign to destroy the undead bloodsuckers.

Starting off in his early childhood with his parents as indentured servants, Abe rushes to the aide of an African-American friend of his named Will Johnson who was being whipped for no good reason. When the taskmaster looks to strike Abe as well for interjecting, Abe’s father rushes in and strikes the man. The landowner that Abe’s family works for doesn’t take kindly to this and threatens to collect all his debts that evening. And indeed he does as that night, the man enters the Lincoln home, reveals himself as a vampire, and drains Abe’s mother right before his eyes as he peered through the cracks in the bunk above. Thus, Abe’s lifelong quest for vengeance began.

It is also after this that the movie quickly changes pace from something a bit more suspenseful to straight up action with a small dose of comedy along the way. If you’re looking to be scared folks, this definitely isn’t the movie for you. If you’re looking for some deep, moving experience, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a dude dressed like Abe Lincoln to act like a badass and chop off vampires’ heads with an axe, you’ve come to the right place, and in that regard, this movie is very solid.

The fight scenes are well planned out and indeed, young Abe, and even older Abe, comes off looking like someone who knows well what he’s doing. And with the History channel-like narration, you almost believe that this could have all actually happened as the movie does a wonderful job of buying so deeply into the idea of vampires being a real threat to the well-being of our nation in the mid-19th century.

The acting is also solid throughout from all major players, but Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturges, Abe’s vamp killing mentor, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln steal the show though on the whole.

The only real drawbacks I think for the movie is the fact that the character development is relatively weak, especially when it comes to Abe’s training as a vampire hunter, which very much used the montage method to blow through it. The definition of the vampire menace was also very unclear, relying on only a few lines of dialogue to explain the differences between the vampires Abe faces and the ones people have come to expect from other forms of media. For example, the vampires in this movie can go in the sun, whereas it is widely accepted that this is the one true weakness to the undead.

Aside from this though, if you’re looking for some mindless fun from a well-made action flick, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a solid choice. Good acting, great action sequences, a little bit of humor, and even a few nods to history that folks might find enjoyable round out a solid night at the movies.

SCORE: 7.5

NO JOE?!

Children of the 80s will have to wait a while longer to see Cobra Commander in the White House as G.I. Joe: Retaliation has shockingly vacated its prime June 29th summertime blockbuster slot.

Paramount Pictures is claiming that the action-flick, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis, is being pushed because they found an opportunity to add 3D in post-production and with that becoming more prominent in populous overseas countries, the studio feels they can garner a larger international box office by sending the movie back into the editing room. Unfortunately, Paramount has already dropped huge truckloads of money on advertising for the movie and it was even a point of contention between The Rock and John Cena leading up to their Wrestlemania 28 match in April.

Now slated for March 29th, 2013, (also just before Wrestlemania 29) Paramount is confident that, as proven by The Hunger Games this past March, that March can still be a huge money making month. Others agree that the move could work out for G.I, Joe: Retaliation, but mostly because there is sure to be less competition around it making it seem more like the idea of going up against The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises in the weeks shortly after the original release date is what really helped prompt this move.

Moving into its spot is Seth MacFarlane’s highly-touted movie Ted about a foul-mouthed teddy bear, which is happy to be around for what looks to be a massive July 4th weekend this year.