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Archive for the ‘Top 10 Lists’ Category

The Prestige

Christopher Nolan is easily one of the greatest filmmakers out there today.  That is a fact and is uncontested.  I’m taking a look at how he got there.

The Prestige is a film that I thought was “ok” on first viewing .  10+ years later….I think it’s still “ok”.

The film follows the lives of two magicians played by Christian Bale, and Hugh Jackman.  They are rivals that are trying to cement their names as the greatest magician ever.  They attempt to one up each other with a new and daring trick.  The newest trick they are both trying to perfect is “The Transported Man”  Each magician sets out to disappear through one door, and re-appear immediately through an adjacent door.

The magicians trick is one between slight of hand, tricky, and somewhere between true magic as well.  Christian Bale’s character, Fallon, seems to perfect The Transported Man trick, and Hugh Jackman, The Great Danton, sets out to find out exactly how he is doing it.  It must be a double he thinks, but he, nor his assistant Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) are able to confirm this.

It’s only when The Great Danton comes upon Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), that he realizes real, TRUE magic may actually exist, and he may hold the key to that magic.  The thing is though…if real magic exists, is it actually better than the smoke and mirrors that is presented to the public, and also at what cost.

This is Christopher Nolan, so it’s not like you’re watching an amateur behind the lens, and the acting is obviously top notch.  My only real problem is with the script of the film.  At times it drags on and feels disjointed.  This is Nolan we are talking about as well, so we’re talking about the highest caliber of talent.  The Prestige is entertaining, no doubt, but it doesn’t show the talent that he’s capable of.  It plays to him as Panic Room plays to David Fincher.

Grade: B

Wonder Woman

I’m going to be the first to admit that I thought this film was going to make about $58 bucks at the box office. With the colossal failure that Batman Vs. Superman was I thought Wonder Woman was destined for failure.  DC < Marvel all day long.  However, what you get turns out to be not just a great Comic book film, but also a great WWI film as well.

The film starts with a little bit of mythology as to who Wonder Woman is, and where she comes from.  She comes from a mythical island that has been shrowded in secrecy for centuries.  A land of warrior woman who have been protected by the gods.  One day however someone breaks that veil as his plane crashes into the water surrounding the land.  That man is US Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and he brings a boatload of Germans  with him.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) saves Captain Trevor only for her people to end up fighting a fierce battle vs. the Germans.  Once they defeat the Germans the land of women must decide what to do next.  Wonder Woman decides she must follow Trevor back to the world outside to find the unspeakable terror that is set to destroy the world.

Trevor tries to walk WW through her new world and explain to her all of the changes and dangers that await them.  There is some fun there as WW really has no clue how to interact with this new world, and has no idea that….she’s kind of the sexiest woman anyone has seen.  She also doesn’t understand why these humans fight, and what “war” truly means to them.  This is the major problem that she must face going forward.

Wonder Woman sits nicely in the DC universe, and it’s a breath of fresh air, because really the only thing that has been working has been Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.  It’s well done, and director Patty Jenkins does a fantastic job of bringing this character to life.

In the end Wonder Woman is original enough to be highly entertaining, and it’s shot extremely well.  The one thing about it though is that it still can’t find a way to get away from the finale of “Good Guy vs. Bad Guy” in an epic final battle.  THAT is something we’ve seen all the time.

Grade: B+

House on Haunted Hill

The original House on Haunted Hill is by far my favorite Vincent Price film of all time.  It’s also my favorite concept.  Strangers locked in a house, haunted by ghosts, and they can’t get out.  Everyone is a stranger.  We don’t know who is who, nor the motives of anyone.  We just know they’re pretty much all bad people and deserve to die.

All of these idiots agree to stay the night in an old haunted house, and the winner takes home $1 million bucks, or at least whomever survives takes home the cash.  We’ve seen this story a million times, and isn’t it strange that it’s still an entertaining tale?  Booby traps, only the strong survive, guts, gore and death? Sign me up!

Geoffrey Rush plays Stephen Price.  The rich host of the party, and obviously in a role that is an homage to the late, great Vincent Price.  He has his booby traps in place within the host and he’s set out to scare the entire party in to leaving the house in his sadistic ways.  Unfortunately for him and everyone involved the house is actually haunted, and people are about to die.

House on Haunted Hill was in the middle of the remake throws of the late 90s.  It took its source material and created something that it set out to be…entertaining.  It’s not a film that’s trying to become something original and special, and sometimes that’s much needed from a film….just a good and entertaining view.

Grade: B

10 Best Films of 2016

Honorable Mentions: Cafe Society, Don’t Breathe, Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, How to Be Single, The Light Between the Oceans, Fences,  Sully, The Phenom, Everybody Wants Some, Moonlight

10. Hail Caeser!

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I don’t know what type of Kool-Aid the Coen brothers have been drinking, or if they just made a deal with the devil, but they almost always come up with winners.  This along with another favorite film this year….to be named later….harken back to the glory days of the Hollywood system.  Such an entertaining and inquisitive look in to the past, along with just being hilarious and entertaining as well.

9. Deepwater Horizon

I thought this was an absolutely fantastic year for original action films.  Something that we don’t get a lot of because of all of the remakes, and super-hero films it seems we are stuck with nowadays.  Peter Berg’s true telling of the disaster that was the oil rig The Deepwater Horizon is edge of your seat action from beginning to end.  It reminds you a lot of the natural disaster films of the 1970s…well the good ones that is.

8. Imperium

Daniel Radcliffe is starting to put together an impressive resume and move away from his Harry Potter legacy.  He plays deskbound FBI agent Nate Foster, who is called upon to look into the involvement of white supremacist groups across the country.  This is a pretty terrifying look into those who talk a big game….and into those who’s actions are set on destroying our country.

7. Arrival

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Maybe the most depressing film of the year to be honest, but Dennis Villeneuve’s Arrival is an extremely thought provoking film that begs the question lots of other films have in the past….what if aliens did exist?  Arrival raises questions on our current political climates, and how language is a barrier to our society.

6. The Accountant

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Action, action, action.  The Accountant is not a film I really expected to like, and it is a stretch in some parts, but as an original action film it works from beginning to end.  It’s a thriller, it’s suspense, it has twists and turns, it’s funny, Ben Affleck is great.  I mean it has everything you’d want from a Friday night feature at the movies.

5. The Magnificent 7

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Just as I was starting to bash remakes I put one on my list.  This is another one that when I heard about the release I said….why?  Why try and improve on perfection, but somehow director Antoine Fuqua does.  The Magnificent 7 takes the best of the original and expounds upon it with upgraded action and character interaction, and after all…..the original Magnificent Seven was also a remake.

4. The Neon Demon

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Nicolas Winding Refn is on a different plane all his own.  His films are so original and gorgeous, and The Neon Demon is no different.  It’s the sordid tale of a young girl who gets swallowed up in the modeling world of drugs and back-stabbing in order to claw your way to the top.  Innocence lost if you will.  A viceral experience.

3. The Handmaiden

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Chan Wook Park is someone who I have always admired.  His films are filled with tales of seduction, revenge, sex, and murder.  The Handmaiden is a story of all of these things told in three parts from the three main characters of this narrative.  It’s shocking and fascinating as most of his films are.

2. Hell or High Water

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Hell or High Water is a complex tale of two brothers who set out to rob a series of banks in Texas.  There motives are not known.  They perhaps have different motives, and there’s law enforcement that will obviously be coming after them.  The interesting thing is that there really is no good vs. bad at play here.  It’s just different people, with different motives at play.

1. La La Land

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It’s not even close.  There is no film this year that matches the perfect nature that is La La Land.  Director Damien Chazelle has now become a force to reckon with.  His 2014 film Whiplash was my favorite of the year, and now he’s done it again.  He’s proven that he’s not a flash in the pan.  La La Land is the perfect balance of music, of romance, of hope, of love, of loss, of everything that makes you feel human.  It is a beautiful masterpiece.

The Five Worst Films of 2016

5. Darkness

Ok look, I can deal with bad horror films.  I can even deal with horror films that plagiarize other horror films.  What I can’t deal with are horror films that are not scary at all, and that employee famous actors to make us spend our hard earned cash to watch shit like this.

4. Yoga Hosers

Well at least you didn’t make my worst film of the year Kevin Smith.  Just number 4.  And it’s nothing against him.  I love him and his podcast, and also Comic Book Men….but dude….what the hell happened to you?

3. The Lobster

Welcome to the most pretentious piece of garbage you could possibly imagine.  And that’s saying a lot coming from a guy who deals with, and is quite pretentious himself.

2. The Witch

Maybe this is just one of those….I don’t get it, moments.  What’s the big deal?  It’s not scary.  It’s not suspenseful.  It’s boring as hell.

1a. Shut In

I saw this piece of garbage after I had made my list, but I had to add it post 2016.  This is terrrrribbbllleeeee.  It’s not scary at all, and it also makes no sense whatsoever.

1. The Legend of Tarzan

Where do I even begin….script = garbage….CGI = garbage….acting = garbage….direction = GARBAGE.  Why??????