“Winter Is Coming.”

On my last post, I mentioned something of doing a Game of Thrones marathon next week.  That will include all 6 seasons that are currently available.  There are a number of reasons why I want to do this.  One: I want to catch up on the series before Season 7 hits the airwaves.  Two:  I want to start reviewing TV shows.  It presents a new challenge for me.  This could be a daunting task for some, because each season is 10 episodes long at 1 hour each.  That’s SIXTY hours of Game of Thrones.  It’s going to be pretty tough, but I think I can do it.  To try and keep things simple and streamlined, I’m going to do the following:  Scheduling.  I’m going to start early in the morning around say 7:30-ish, and I will take breaks between discs.  After each season, I will do a “mini-review” of each season.  I won’t go into specifics of each episode, but I will be highlighting specific moments during the season which really stand out for me.  I’m going to attempt to do a season each day, and when I finish the sixth season of the show, I will do a final review on what I have seen.  I’ve never attempted anything on this scale before, so I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to end up.  However, I think it will end up being something truly special, for you guys and hopefully for fans of Game of Thrones who happen to stumble upon my humble blog.  So….if this ends up being successful, how often will I do it?  Like I said before, I’ve never tackled a project quite like this before.  Most of the stuff that I do on this blog is generally for one movie at a time.  I haven’t done TV shows before, so it’s going to be a new experience for me.  I hope people like it.  Always remember, though: Winter is coming.

The Best of 2016: Horror/Thriller

It’s been a couple of days since my last post, I apologize.  I’ve been busy.  But, I’m back.  For this post, I’m going to be covering the best thrillers released this year.  This will also include horror movies, since those two genres have a tendency to go hand in hand.  Some of my favorite movies of all time are thrillers.  That feeling of uneasiness and white-knuckle intensity is unlike anything else.  As always, I’m going to discuss the runners-up first, before handing the award to the film that deserves it.  Let’s begin.

Runner Up #1

10 Cloverfield Lane

There are very few movies that can take me by surprise.  There are even fewer that fly under the radar when it comes to releases.  10 Cloverfield Lane is one such movie.  I hadn’t heard a peep about this movie until a month before its release.  There was no advertising and no word-of-mouth about the film up until a month prior to release.  What makes this movie so special to me, is that it’s a very smart movie.  The film basically starts as Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character wakes up in a bunker that was built by Howard, played by John Goodman.  His character says that he saved Michelle from some sort of invasion.  Most people would think he’s nuts, and to a certain degree, he really is, but the film plays with its audience by throwing certain elements and incidents that make you wonder if he’s actually lying.  That’s where a good chunk of the tension comes from:  Is he telling the truth or not?  The other part where the intensity lies is in Howard himself.  He can go from being a very likable and understanding character, to someone who is absolutely terrifying.  John Goodman’s performance is Oscar-worthy as far as I’m concerned.  He basically steals the show here.  Most of the movie takes place inside this bunker so the tension between the characters is palpable.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Runner Up #2

The Green Room

It’s a real shame that The Green Room didn’t get as much attention as it should have.  This is the definition of a white-knuckle thriller.  You have a group of punk rock musicians trying to make a name for themselves, when they are invited to a bar out in the middle of nowhere to perform.  Seems simple, right?  Not so much, no.  This particular dive is home to a large number of white supremacist gang members led by non other than the legendary Patrick Stewart.  These punk rockers see something that they shouldn’t have and as a result, are stuck in the titular “green room” where they have to outsmart the goons outside.  This is one of Anton Yelchin’s last performances and it’s a good one.  It’s certainly violent, but it doesn’t let up.  This is absolutely one thriller that you can’t miss.

Runner Up #3

The Neighbor

Sometimes a thriller doesn’t have to be original to be good.  As long is it can get your adrenaline pumping and make you wanting to see what happens next, the movie has done its job.  The Neighbor is pretty your run-of-the-mill thriller, with the exception of one fact:  Bill Engvall.  Most people would recognize Bill Engvall as one of the most popular redneck comedians, but he turns in a surprising sinister performance as a neighbor that has some…secrets.  I’m not going to spoil it for you, because that’s one of the funnest things about a good thriller, discovering things for yourself.  It has an element of predictability to it, but it is by no means a bad movie.  Not at all.   This one comes highly recommended.

….Aaaaand the Best Horror/Thriller of 2016 goes to:

The Witch

Sometimes, the best horror movies or thrillers are the slow-burners.  These are the ones that take their time throughout the film building up the suspense to the point where it’s extremely uncomfortable.  A lot of movies would take that and throw in a jump scare just for the sake of doing so.  The Witch doesn’t do that.  There are no jump scares here.  There’s a lot here that’s extremely unnerving.  The setting of the film takes place in the time of the Puritans where one family has been exiled for being TOO extreme.  They make farm at the edge of a forest where a newborn infant goes missing.  After that, people start pointing fingers at each other and accusing one another of witchcraft.  This is a psychological horror thriller through and through, and it gets very unsettling.  I haven’t seen anything quite like it.  Yeah, it’s slow and some of the dialogue is hard to understand, but it’s a gorgeously shot and very grim story.  Top-notch acting and great story help make this one of my favorite movies of the year.  It’s a must see for horror fans.

That does it for this particular post, so let me know what you think.  I’ve got one or two more posts for this topic and then I’ll wrap it up at the end of the week with the Best Movie of 2016.  Next week, I’m going to be doing a Game of Thrones marathon, and I will go through season that has been released thus far and I will give my thoughts on each season.  I’m really looking forward to that and I hope you all will be too.

The Best of 2016: Action Movies

First of all, I want to wish everybody a happy Thanksgiving.  I hope y’all have some great food and having a great day.  Continuing with The Best of 2016, I’m going to be covering action movies this time around.  Now, for this entry, I will lumping martial arts movies and disaster movies into one category.  So, let’s get right to it.

Runner Up #1:

Star Trek Beyond

I know that a lot of people have had issues with these new Star Trek movies, but I found them to be pretty damn good.  Are they on the same level as the original films?  Not remotely.  But they are still really good action movies with some really strong characters.  The third entry into the J.J. Abrams-rebooted franchise sees the crew of the USS Enterprise up against their most devastating enemy yet.  Stranded on a planet with no hope of rescue from Starfleet,  Captain James T. Kirk has to rescue his crew and prevent this new enemy from destroying everything he’s fought to protect.  This movie is an absolute blast.  It’s got incredible visual effects and is basically non-stop.  The film doesn’t skimp on character development either, as we see the film focus more on the relationship between Spock and McCoy.  This is a legitimately thrilling film.  Sadly, it’s also the last film that Anton Yelchin completed before he passed away.  Leonard Nimoy also passed away, although his passing was during the writing process of the film, so there’s an element of loss associated with the film.  It’s a hell of a movie, though.

Runner Up #2

Kill Zone 2(A.K.A. SPL II: A Time for Consequences)

Kill Zone 2 is the follow-up film to the Donnie Yen action-thriller released back in 2005.  While a sequel in name only, Kill Zone 2 manages to be almost as good.  While the action in the film is really good with some of the best fight choreography I’ve seen in years, it’s the performances of the main actors that really had me glued to the screen.  This is easily Tony Jaa’s best performance of his career.  While he is certainly a physical powerhouse, he’s allowed to flex his acting muscles here, and provides a very compelling performance as a prison guard whose daughter is dangerously ill and in need of a bone marrow transplant.  Wu Jing is an undercover cop investigating the illegal organ trafficking that’s been taking place in a prison in Thailand.  This is a really solid martial arts film that needs to be seen.  Ever since Tony Jaa has been allowed to start making movies outside of Thailand, he’s really beginning to make a name for himself.

Runner Up #3

The Wave

Disaster movies are pretty much a dime a dozen in this day and age.  With movies like Dante’s Peak2012, and The Day After Tomorrow, we’ve seen the entire planet come to ruin because of some fantastical event that destroys everything.  That being said, The Wave is the first disaster film from Norway, and it is a tight, white-knuckle experience.  Unlike a lot of other disaster movies, this one is definitely based in reality.  The film takes place in a town that’s in fjord, where the nearby mountain periodically has landslides that create large tsunamis.  This is not fiction, this stuff happens, and the government has the whole thing down to a science as to how long it takes for the wave to hit the town.  Great performances and really good visual effects make this film a must-see.

Runner Up #4

Ip Man 3

While there have been other actors who have played Ip Man, the Wing Chun grandmaster, none have been as memorable as Donnie Yen.  Ip Man 3 is the third entry featuring Donnie Yen in the title and it may be the best entry in the series yet.  While the previous films have been choreographed by Sammo Hung, the action in this new one has been designed by the legendary Yuen Woo-Ping.  This film is an absolute rush.  This is the most personal that we’ve seen Ip Man, with his wife being diagnosed with cancer, so not only does Ip Man have to pay attention to that, he also has to deal with a mobster played by “Iron” Mike Tyson, in one of the coolest fight scenes I’ve ever seen.  He also has to contend with a rival Wing Chun master played by Max Zhang.  I like this entry the best, because it’s more grounded as far as the fights go, and not nearly as much wire-work.  Oh, there’s still some, but it’s not as prevalent.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

The number 1 spot for action movies goes to……………

Hardcore Henry

I have to say:  Of all the action movies I’ve seen over the course of my life, I’ve NEVER seen anything quite like this.  I know that’s hyperbolic, but it’s true.  This movie is unique.  I’ve seen movies that have action sequences that utilize the first-person perspective, but an entire movie?  That’s never been done before, to my knowledge.  Well, Hardcore Henry is one of the most spectacular  and thrilling action movies of the past decade.  The filmmakers take a bunch of Go-Pro cameras and attach them to stuntmen playing the titular character, who never speaks.  As a result, the action is absolutely frenetic and insane.  All the stunts are done for real, while there are some visual effects used, it’s mostly done practically.  It reminds of my favorite video-game genre: The first-person shooter.  It plays out just like a video game, except it’s not a video game.  It’s just fucking awesome.  If you suffer from motion-sickness, you may want to stay away.  But for all the action junkies out there, this is really, really good.  Sharlto Copley is in fine form here.  He’s absolutely bonkers.  I love it.

That’s going to do it for action movies.  For my next post, I will be discussing Horror movies and thrillers.  There were a couple of good ones this year, so stay tuned.

The Best of 2016: Comic Book Movies

With the holidays literally right around the corner, I figure it’s time to start going over the best and the worst movies I’ve seen this year.  It’s been a pretty bizarre year for movies.  The summer season for movies was disappointing to say the least.  You had a huge number of big-budgeted movies that failed to resonate with audiences.  Obviously, I’m only going to discuss the movies that I’ve seen, so if there’s one that you guys have seen but I haven’t, sorry.  I didn’t get to it.  I will be including movies from December of 2015, because it’s the last month of the year, and I generally don’t count those movies for that year.  So, if a movie was released in December of 2015, I will be including it on this year’s Best List.  With that said, my first category will be for comic book movies.  We’ve had a slew of comic book movies this years, some good, some not so great.  I will be listing the runners up first before giving the award to the movie that earned it the most.  Let the show begin:

Runner Up #1:

Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice 

Now, this one might seem controversial because the theatrical release of the film was very problematic.  I still found it good enough to give an 8 for it, though.  The film features really strong performances across the board, especially Ben Affleck as Batman.  While all the other actors did really good, it was Affleck’s performance that really sold the movie.  It had a lot of fantastic visual effects and the action sequences were second to none.  I understand that people really had an issue with Snyder’s approach to the film, but I found it to be very entertaining if not problematic, which is why it’s not getting the award.  Too many loose ends that weren’t tied up properly, and certain characters’ motivations were not very clear.  The extended version fixed a lot of these problems, but I’m focusing on the theatrical version here.

Runner Up #2:

Doctor Strange

Honestly, I was not expecting a lot out of this one.  I was seriously expecting it to not be as good as it was.  So, why did it work?  There’s a lot in this movie that really worked.  The visual effects were absolutely out of this world.  There were certain city-bending sequences in the trailers that made it look like it ripped off Inception, but it took that concept to a whole different level.  The action sequences were fun and engaging.  The humor in the film is really funny.  The performances are what really made the movie work.  Tilda Swinton was phenomenal as The Ancient One.  Chiwetel Ejiofore was awesome as Baron Mordo.  Mads Mikkelson almost stole the show as the film’s villain, Kaecilius.  The anchor here, though, is Benedict Cumberbatch as Steven Strange.  Cumberbatch is to Steven Strange as Robert Downey, Jr. is to Tony Stark.  It’s a perfect fit.  I definitely recommend it.

Runner Up #3:

X-Men: Apocalypse

My initial viewing of this film didn’t blow me away, but subsequent viewings have made me appreciate it even more.  Yeah, there’s a lot going on, but it’s a surprisingly well-paced and emotionally engaging film.  Yeah, the villain could’ve been handled a bit better, but the guy who played Apocalypse was awesome.  The performances are what really make this movie worth watching.  Michael Fassbender’s performance as Magneto is Oscar-worthy in my opinion.  The film doesn’t shy away from the violence either.  It pushes the PG-13 rating pretty far.  But overall, I really dug this entry into the X-Men franchise.

Runner Up #4:

Captain America: Civil War

This was one of my most anticipated films of the year.  I was not expecting the Russo brothers to top their previous effort, The Winter Soldier.  They haven’t yet, but they really came pretty damned close with Civil War.  Instead of taking on a global-scale catastrophe, the film focuses more on the team’s relationship with each other in the aftermath of some of the events in the previous films.  You have Tony Stark on one side saying that the Avengers need oversight, because of the collateral damage that they bring, and Captain America says that they need to go wherever they’re needed without restrictions.  This leads an all-out confrontation that tears the team apart.  We get new characters like Black Panther, who was brilliantly played by Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland who plays Spider-Man.  The actual fight is something to behold.  It’s absolutely amazing.  But it also doesn’t forget that it’s a comic-book movie, so there’s definitely laughs to be had.

Aaaaand the Best Comic Book Movie of the Year goes to…..(drum roll, please):


Who didn’t see this one coming?  Really?  Ryan Reynolds has been wanting to get this movie made for years.  The “leaked” footage from a few years back basically sold Fox Studios on the film, and lo and behold, we have a Deadpool movie.  This is by far one of the best comic-book movies ever made.  Not only does it pay respect to the character, but it gets him right.  Ryan Reynolds is PERFECT in the role of Wade Wilson.  As is the character’s style, there’s a lot of juvenile humor, 4th wall breaks and bone breaking, brain-blasting action.  It doesn’t hold back on the gore.  What’s really surprising is that the love story between Wilson and his girl, Venessa, feels legit despite it being very raunchy.  This is NOT a movie for kids, ladies and gentleman.  Movie studios, THIS is how you do a comic-book movie.  Not only did the film bring home nearly 800 million dollars during it’s theatrical run, it is also the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.  I didn’t review it, and I probably should, but you still need to see this one.

I will be back tomorrow night with another category, so stay tuned.