Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Night Before Review: A funny flick for the holidays

The Hit:

The Night Before is brought to you by the same folks who did "This is the End" and "Neighbors" and they've outdone themselves again. This comedy follow three best friends: Ethan (Joseph Gordon Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogan), and Chris Roberts (Anthony Mackie) and their Christmas Eve tradition that's ten years and counting. The reason for this tradition is for you to find out but it's really touching.

This year will mark the end of the tradition because, with time, life has become too busy for each friend. In the movie adaptation of The Night Before, this is done in a similar way to the Christmas Carol — each of the three receives a vision related to their lives. The spirit showing them this vision is a weed dealer and the only way for the vision is to smoke this special weed. The dealer, Mr. Green's (Michael Shannon) wisdom makes for some good laughs.

Each friend is going through some trial in their lives: one is focused on their tradition and making the last time they spend together the most memorable while also figuring out his love life, one is just high on the drugs his wife gave him as a gift to have a wild night and one is the supplier of the weed for the party and wants to look cool to the others. Together, they're trying to make it to the party of all parties. 

I laughed throughout The Night Before but just like "This is the End" and "Neighbors", the rating is R for a reason. If you liked those two flicks, I'd recommend this one too. Some actors and artists make a special appearance later in the movie and make it even funnier as well. But even with all the R-rated comedy, this movie still delivers a message about the importance of friends and family, especially during the Holidays.

The Verdict:
Green Light (Go See It)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Review: A grand series finale

The Hit:
I cannot believe this is the last movie in the Hunger Games series. It's sad to think that Jennifer Lawrence's incredible performance of Katniss Everdeen has come to an end, as well as those of Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks and many more. The Hunger Games is a series to own and watch again and again.

 Mockingjay picks up without intro right where Part 1 ended — you are sucked right back in the world of Panem. We left off with Peeta going crazy and trying to kill Katniss by choking her out. At that point, Katniss is being examined by a doctor to make sure the symbol of the rebellion is still good to lead. Mockingjay follows the book really closely. Because the last half of the book was so dark I pondered if the movie would be the same with a PG 13 rating. This movie is dark in a few scenes and am surprised they were shot to do so. Some scenes are not just gut wrenching but really emotional. Mockingjay shows what war can bring and at what costs and sacrifices. The war on the capital in this movie is shown to be real and to me this is my close second favorite in the series. 

Unlike the first part of Mockingjay where it was a build up and not much going on, this is the climax we have all been waiting for. Action junkies like myself will love this movie and will be surprised at what the game makers do to keep the rebels at bay with each trap they set. They set up a minefield of traps and if you don't have a special tool to locate them, each turn you take will be lead to certain death. There is so much death in this movie and if you are in love with certain characters, they just might perish and leave you with brief sadness. I can say I forgot a certain person dies in the book and seeing it happen made me think to myself "NO!! Why??" So be warned. 

Mockingjay Part 2 is one not to miss and one that makes the ending a little more soothing than the ending of the book, which I know we all didn't like. The movie closes it nicely and makes it a lot easier to say goodbye. The only negative things I can mention about this film is that one scene from the whole movie was briefly cheesy, as in a couple seconds, and the other thing is seeing characters you know meet their doom on screen is really sad. Will Katniss end up with Gale or Peeta and have kids of her own? Book readers don't spoil the answers and those that don't know go find out. 

The Verdict:

Green Light (Go See It)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Spectre Review: Doesn't quite match up to Skyfall

The Hit:

Spectre was just a little less great than its predecessor, Skyfall. We got to see the Daniel Craig back one more times as James Bond and other old favorites reprise their roles as well: Ralph Fiennes as the new M, Ben Whishaw as Q, and Naomie Harris as the lovely Eve Moneypenny. Other new actors, both hero and villain, alike were also introduced such as Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, and many more.

In Spectre, we follow James take on a mission left behind for him from the Previous M. He plans to do it solo, in part because while this is happening MI6 is in danger of being replaced by a new type of technology that wouldn't require any more 00 field agents. It's James' job to finish what M left behind, but little does he know it is all connected to this new technology. The new M also realizes 007 may turn out to be the last chance for MI6.

Although Bond starts the mission on his own, he soon turns to Q, and Moneypenny for help. And like other James Bond movies, in Spectre we get to see him seduce multiple women. The person he is trying to stop this time is an old friend, someone who has been affecting him in all the previous Daniel Craig James Bond installments — the puppeteer of all those bad guys he has taken down. I would say this villain is his biggest challenge yet.

I enjoyed Specture but I liked Skyfall just a little more. Even though it's a long movie it doesn't slow down one bit. The cast was great and so is Daniel Craig. 

The Verdict:
Green Light (Go See It)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Burnt Review: Bradley Cooper is Oscar-worthy

The Hit:

Burnt was not a movie I was planning on seeing — being a flick about cooking it was really not something I wanted to check out. But with few choices this weekend and Bradley Cooper being the lead in the film, why not? Do not go in this movie hungry because there are some tasty dishes and scenes that will make you even more hungrier.

In Burnt, Cooper plays a head chef in London struggling to start fresh and make it back to the top. To some, he is so popular that he is compared to the Rolling Stones of cooking and other references name him a  Luke Skywalker or even Yoda of Culinary Arts. Although he's a big deal, Adam Jones (Cooper) was not always the nicest guy. We follow him return to London after events that didn't exactly go right previously in Paris.

Adam was in a bad shape with addictions that took over his life and his career as a chef, and now he is determined to come back, rebuild the relationships he ruined in Paris and regain trust he severed along the way. Cooper does a commendable job portraying this character's emotional journey. Not only do we see the life of a chef, it also made me realize that cooking can be an art. Another thing that was portrayed was the head chef's power in the kitchen. Whatever a chef says, you do it and you never talk back. Needless to say working for a chef is not a job I'd like.

The supporting cast was a group of old friends Adam screwed over in Paris then hires as his crew for the new restaurant he plans to start. With a little convincing, they all agree and strive to be one of the best places to eat in London. Another person he recruits Helene, played by Sienna Miller. She played Bradley Cooper's wife in American Sniper and is something of a love interest again in Burnt but all professional in the kitchen. Helene is a struggling single mom trying to balance her daughter with a career as a top chef. Other characters are of great help to Adam — you see old friends take him back, betrayal and even some enemies that might not be after all.

Bradley Cooper did an even better job in Burnt than Silver Linings Playbook. I will be surprised if he does not get an Oscar nomination for this role. This movie did not drag for a second and I can see myself watching it again. You will not be disappointed. 

The Verdict:
Green Light (Go See It)