Sunday, January 29, 2017

Gold review: McConaughey and company hit paydirt

The Hit:

Although I was looking forward to this movie from the first trailer I saw, I went in with mediocre expectations. From the outside looking in, Gold had all the signs of a box office flop (remember McConaughey's Sahara, anyone?). I’m happy to say my intuition was wrong. Gold delivered.

For such a simple premise, there’s a surprising number of twists and turns in this movie. Matthew McConaughey plays Kenny Wells, a wheeling, dealing, down-on-his-luck prospector who owns a small family mining business. When he hits rock bottom (no pun intended) during the recession of the late 80’s, Wells has a vision of the mother lode in Indonesia. Using every last dollar to his name, Wells convinces famous geologist Michael Acosta (played by Edgar Ramirez) to help him stake a claim and open up a mining operation. What follows is a wild, roller coaster ride with excellent pacing that’ll keep you enthralled and guessing until the very last scene.

McConaughey shines as Wells. He’s equal part lovable idiot, jackass, and good 'ole boy. But most importantly, during the wild ups and down, he’s believable. You find yourself wondering if you’d be any different in his place. The character shines by himself but plays well with the rest of the cast, especially his business partner, Acosta, and his practical, down-home girlfriend Kay (played by Bryce Dallas Howard). The chemistry and timing of these three rang true -- Gold wouldn't have been the same without Ramirez or Howard.

It would have been easy for Gold to fall down the raunchy comedy rabbit hole (it didn't), and the film does have its comedic moments, but it also carries a sobering message about how wealth affects individuals and our society as a whole. Amidst a box office lineup of tired, overdone sequels, Gold isn't a movie to miss.

The Verdict:
GREEN LIGHT (go see it)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Review: A perfect ending to the franchise

The Hit: 

In the sixth and final installment of the Resident Evil franchise, Milla Jovovich plays Alice one last time. The franchise has been ongoing since 2002 and this film helps it to go out with a bang. The flick takes us back to where it all started, Raccoon City. 

Alice has fought people infected with the T virus for many years, but now she has the chance to end all the bloodshed by releasing a cure that she is not sure will work. We finally get everything answered about the origin of the T virus and also get some secret background information on Alice. Trust me I was blown away as all the pieces came together. 

Overall, the film seemed a little sped up on some scenes, but if you have seen all the past films like I have it probably won't bother you. It was a change because some of the older installments seemed to drag out the story and were almost unbearable. But this closed everything off perfectly in my opinion and there shouldn't be any reason to continue the franchise, and I'm hoping they don't. The action was great and the story that sealed the deal was no less than perfect. I walked out with no questions and a smile on my face and I believe all the fans out there will do the same. 

The Verdict:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Split Review: An edge-of-your-seat thriller

The Hit:

Split is a psychological thriller about a person who goes by many names: Kevin, Dennis, Patricia, Hedwig, Barry and many more (all played by James McAvoy). This is because he has 24 different personalities, each one capable of taking over his body and mind. As seen in the trailers, he abducts three girls, and his personalities have different intentions for them. The ultimate goal of each one of his personalities is to make preparations for unleashing the final 24th personality.   

The three girls taken are Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula), and Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). They are three ordinary girls and they are taken to a small room and kept locked inside. Claire suggests that the three of them work together to take down their captor, but Casey doesn't agree. Casey is a girl who keeps to herself and is not like the other two. She wants to study their captor and the situation so they can strike at the right moment. 

Eventually, all three have to take it slow and plan their escape. We see Casey's past story throughout the film and get more of an explanation as to why the man began to form his personalities. A psychologist by the name of Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) plays an important role in the film and tries to help the situation as best she can. We see a lot of crazy things happen that I will not spoil, but it's a wild ride, trust me. The ending was not what I expected, especially when we see his final personality.

M. Night Shyamalan is the director of this film and, if you do not know him, he has directed other films including The Village, Signs, The Sixth Sense, and The Happening, to name a few. He outdoes himself again and this film kept me on the edge of my seat. Not only is this story great, but the acting was superb as well. I can see myself watching this again, and I'm sure you'll walk out enjoying it as well. Don't quite leave right after it's done though, because there is a bonus scene right before the main credits that makes a connection to a different Shyamalan film, and a famous actor in one of Shyamalan's films makes an appearance. 

The Verdict:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Review: Disappointing, over the top action and acting

The Hit:

In his return to XXX, Vin Diesel plays Xander, who started it all and is known as a legend for being the best. He isn't the only XXX agent and this time we get a whole new crew trying to find a technology that can bring satellites that are orbiting space down to earth. Each satellite can be used as a weapon and can be pinpointed to destroy whatever target. Another use of this tech is that it can be used for surveillance on anyone in the world, almost like a Snowden type of thing. 

Xander fights a group who is after this "Pandora's Box" and later finds out they are close to XXX themselves. Each group is fighting for their own reasons and some are good but some intentions are bad. Some of the new faces we see are Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collette, Michael Bisping, and from previous installments, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ice Cube. 

This flick was over the top with action and acting. There was too much action that was not realistic at all and I felt the acting was really cheesy and forced in a lot of scenes. This movie could have really been great if it weren't for those two things. I looked over at my friend every now and then and just laughed at how unrealistic some scenes were. If you are a fan of the franchise or Vin Diesel, go check it out for yourself. But those of you who are thinking if you want to go see this or not, I recommend to not bother doing so. You will not miss out on anything, and there are better movies out currently. I'm still a fan of Vin Diesel don't get me wrong, but this movie was disappointing.  

The Verdict:

RED LIGHT (Don't See it)

Monday, January 16, 2017

La La Land Review: Worthy of the hype

The Hit (by T-Betar):

La La Land received the full Hollywood treatment with extravagant musical numbers, A-list actors, compelling characters, and a blossoming romance. But did it have the classic Hollywood ending? I won't spoil that for you. 

The story centers around Mia, played by Emma Stone, and Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, who keep meeting by happenstance and end up falling in love under the backdrop of Los Angeles stars. He is a jazz musician and she is an aspiring actress and playwright. They both struggle with pursuing their artistic passions while at the same time making enough money to support themselves. 

They reach a point where they have to decide whether to follow their dreams or maintain their commitment to one another. 

Even if you are not a fan of musicals, you will enjoy this film. The musical numbers aren't forced and generally flow well within the story. While the acting was good, the lack of singing ability from the two stars was noticeable in some instances, and the choice of music could have been better. Despite being a musical, the film didn't produce any one song that was particularly memorable.The movie is very full of life and well representative of the Los Angeles/Hollywood culture and mystique. 

This film teaches us about art, love, relationships, dreams, and life in general. I left the theater looking at many aspects of my life in new ways--which is a good thing. This is a film that is well-deserving of its many accolades. 

The Verdict:

Green Light (Go See it)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Underworld: Blood Wars Review: A satisfying flick for fans of the franchise

The Hit:

The fifth installment in the Underworld franchise has arrived. One thing that makes me excited about these movies is that they pit werewolves, or "Lycans," as they are called in this franchise, against Vampires. These are not your shiny "fan-girl" vampires either. They are really scary. One such vampire is Selene played by the lovely, and my celebrity crush, Kate Beckinsale. She, once again, provides great entertainment value. She is the signature face of this franchise and is one of the most powerful vampires. In previous installments the Lycans and vampires have gone after her to get her blood so that they also may achieve such power.

But this time around, the Lycans are after her daughter, but Selene has no idea where her daughter is. The Lycans don't believe her so she must run away and seek safety. By some luck, she comes to a coven that asks for her help to train young vampires in exchange for keeping her safe. She agrees with these terms because of the encouragement of her friend David (Theo James).

Without spoiling anything else, Selene and David eventually get back on the run from both vampires and Lycans alike and have to fight for their lives. 

Fans of this franchise will get an answer to a very important question: the whereabouts of Micheal. If you are unfamiliar, Micheal was in the first and second films of this franchise and is considered the "Hybrid" because he is a vampire and Lycan combination. The last film didn't clarify his whereabouts, and I was left disappointed, but this film gave me the answer I was looking for. I'll let you find out for yourself where he is. 

The only problem I had with this flick was its length. It was only an hour and a half, and they could easily have made it longer to fit in more story elements. Some of the scenes felt rushed to me and that hurt the film. But I liked the story and was really happy my question on Michael was answered. I enjoyed this film and if you are a fan of the series you will enjoy it too. 

The Verdict:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fences Review: Denzel Washington at his best

The Hit:

By Tom Betar

Fences was a movie with Denzel Washington's fingerprints all over it. He directed and starred in the film and was joined by a talented cast including Viola Davis, Russell Hornsby, Jovan Adepo, Stephen Henderson, and Mykelti Williamson.

The film takes place in the 1950's where Washington's character, Troy, is a 53-year-old man who never realized his dream of becoming a professional baseball player because, he says, of the color of his skin. Instead, he is a garbage man who makes just enough to support his family. He has become callous and developed a cynical view of the world. His teenage son wants to play football, but Troy thinks going to work and school are more important. The two clash, and create the tension for the film.

Troy is a hard-working man, who is very set in his ways and resistant to change. We follow his journey as he tries to cope with changing circumstances in his life and difficult relationships. 

Troy is a very complex and multi-layered character, and I feel Washington displayed his best acting abilities in this film. If you are a fan of Denzel Washington, you can't miss this.  

The film tackles some heavy topics including race, death, manhood, and inequality. It is heavy on dialogue and was slow-moving at times, but it was a nice breath of fresh air from the superhero, sequel, and reboot films that dominate the Hollywood landscape today.  
If you want a movie that will move your emotions, this is definitely one to see. The only caveat is that it is almost 2 1/2 hours, so be prepared to devote some time to it. You won't regret it.  

The Verdict:

Green Light (Go See it)