Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Blade Runner 2049" - Review

The year is 1982 and “Blade Runner” (a science fiction film) arrives in theaters that for the next 35 years will be considered one of the best science fiction films of all time. The year is now 2017 and the follow up film arrives in theaters and some, not all, had the highest of expectations. So, does “Blade Runner 2049” deliver on the quality of its predecessor or is this a replicant that needs to be put down? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.


I was not one of the people who had a special place in their hearts reserved for this film. I didn’t see the first film until this year when I purchased “Blade Runner” on BLU-Ray at my local used book store. That story celebrates everything that was the 1980’s and science fiction. Seeing it for the first time in 2017 I couldn’t help but see the movie as a period piece stuck forever in 1982. The story by itself is well written and constructed however the movie as a whole is 1982 at its very most 1982’ish. So walking into the theater to see this sequel I didn’t have the same expectation as many who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of this story.



The movie starts by acknowledging the fact that Replicants are a thing that’s not hidden in society which caught me off guard. I was pleased they jumped right into that because it allowed the story to progress forward into new territory not really analyzed in the first movie. I will say the story does feel a bit long in that we get to see a lot of emotion and epiphanies on screen. These moments are not brief and that makes the story drag at points which was unfortunate. However, as long as the movie felt it looked incredible. The colors, the lighting and use of shadows, the make up and the action all were spectacular.  I was completely mesmerized by the cinemotography and I wouldn’t not be surprised if this film gets nominated for an Acadamy Award for Cinemotography. Rumors confirmed, folks. This is one of the best looking films I’ve seen all year.



The story deals with a philosophical examination regarding what it means to be alive and to be human. The story resolves itself like a crime noir/detective story. It’s methodical in its delivery however the pacing is slower than I felt necessary. We get multiple view points or arguments that look at what society is, what it could be, power struggles to maintain the status quo and the opposite. In all, this movie explores the question, “What does it mean to be alive?” As I just wrote, this revelation takes time to be revealed. It’s not until we find out that a replicant had a “natural” born child that the overall plot of the film is realized. It’s at this moment the opposing view points are pushed to the fore front and we are seated amidst a debate that also has some great action and science fiction visual flare. This debate, unfortunately, is not very captivating and because of that will be lost, I feel.  The film rests mainly on the visual astheatic and actors performances. It falls short on an engaging story that should be both at the same time thought provoking and exciting. The potential for this film is much greater than the final product.



Blade Runner 2049” is in theaters now. I definitely recommend you see this on the big screen. This movie looks spectacular and I truly believe it will be nominated for best Cinematography. The overall look warrants a big screen viewing but I will caution you against paying more than matinee prices for the time spent in the theater. It’s slower paced and does drag at times but it looks incredible while doing that. Check this film out!



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Friday, October 13, 2017

"Battle of the Sexes" Review

There are certain studios that find their way by making smaller budget, almost indie, films with talented, well known, actors. In this particular case, Fox Searchlight Studios decided to tell the real life story of Tennis greats Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. It was a spectacle for everyone who saw it live. So, does “Battle of the Sexes” serve us a champions story or does it double fault its way in and out theaters. Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.


First, we can look at the cast for this film as diverse, in that, many of the faces I don’t recall seeing on screen together. Outside of that, I wasn’t overly wowed by any of the performances because I received the caliber of talent that I expected to receive from each actor. In general, I thought the acting in this film was the high point. Plus, it was nice to see Natalie Morales in the film because I enjoyed the performance she gave in the hit TV show “Parks and Rec.” Also, Sarah Silverman plays a great older jewish woman who has a smoking addiction and enjoys managing women’s tennis players.



The overall story I wasn’t familiar with despite its notoriety. All I knew was a dude and a lady were competing in a tennis match and the whole world was tuning in to watch. So, when I walked into the theater I was pretty open minded regarding the story that was about to be told. Curiously, the story wasn’t the story advertised. It was, in fact, only a small portion of the actual movie. The actual story revolves around Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) and her determination to be a pioneer for women’s rights, her love affair with her hair dresser, the divorce of her marriage and her eventual victory over the chauvinist Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell). I felt mislead once the credits started rolling because I was under the impression that I would be getting a sports movie. Instead, I was given a lesbian love affair with a strong feminist message that had sports peppered throughout until the very end of the film in which we see the famed event unfold. It felt like the final tennis match was just a metaphor for the entire pro feminist message in the film which makes the title “battle of the sexes” misleading, in my opinion. More appropriately, the title I feel should have been, “The Billie Jean King Story.” The film as a whole had more to do with her life than tennis (even though her life was tennis).



Battle of the Sexes” is in theaters now! If you don’t mind two women making out on screen then you won’t be offended by this film. It’s a very well acted piece however you do need to keep in mind that it’s not about tennis. Tennis is the resolving plot point that, again, felt more like a metaphor than a resolution/conclusion.  This is the Billie Jean King story and if you’re interested in her life, the struggles she went through and her love of tennis, I think you’ll appreciate that story. It does feel like a Hallmark or Lifetime film at points and it’s based on a true story that you might enjoy it during matinee prices.



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Act 232: We Ate Timothy

For Friday the 13th, Masked Blogster, Mini Mandy, Steve Silva and Kevin Moyers share a top 5 horror movie list, do some Masked Libs, dive into the best movies from their birth years, and talk about a song that sees miners turning cannibal.

To listen, click here. To download, right click and "Save As..."


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Saturday, October 7, 2017

American Made - Review

Tom Cruise movies will continue to peak my interest until he has a string of bad films in a row. Now, you put Cruise in a movie that is based on a true story about a drug and gun runner who worked for the US Government AND Cartels and you definitely have my attention. So, was “American Made” a captivating look at real life events during the 1970’s and 80’s or did this film fail to deliver? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.


I wasn’t familiar with the real life story behind the film. In fact, I had no idea what I was getting into when I walked into the theater except that which I saw in the previews. So I went into the movie with a pretty open mind since I didn’t have any real expectation for this story. Even still, I found the overall movie bland. The moments that could have been stressful weren’t and the humor didn’t land as well as I believe the director wanted. The visual style was also confusing because the entire movie had a vintage filter on it to make it look like aged footage but then they used playback footage as well. So, we get the story, plus a look back at the story, at the same time and both look aged but differently aged. I didn’t care for the visual style used to tell the story. It was obnoxious in my opinion.



The characters were also bland. I’ll probably use that adjective a few more times in this review because that’s how this entire thing felt. Domhnall Gleeson plays a CIA operative and even his performance was mediocre, and again, bland. I can’t say that any particular performance was memorable. In fact, if this movie didn’t have Tom Cruise I’m not sure it would make the money it’s made so far. This is a very forgettable film and that’s unfortunate because of the talent involved.



Overall, the message of the film felt like it was trying to tell the story of how Big Government is bad and uses the character Cruise plays to drive that point home. I didn’t care enough about his character to concern myself with the fact that the different government agencies involved in all the black ops dealings were still successful even though at the end of the film his character is shot in the head because of how the US Government betrays him. Gleeson’s character is promoted and we see how this whole movie was the beginning of what eventually became the “Iran Contra” scandal. So, we go through the whole film only to realize that the point (or message) of the story could be to not trust your government because you could end up dead? I’m not sure. I thought I was watching a movie based on a true story but then the very end felt like a passive aggressive public service announcement for how terrible and untrustworthy the government is. Plus, the end doesn’t make sense. Part of the film we’re watching playback video recordings of him talking about his dealings with the government agencies (CIA, DEA, FBI), so, why does it stop just because he gets shot in the head? He’s not watching his videos. Someone else is and the videos have already been recorded. The end scene of his made no sense to me. He’s already recorded his message about how America is great before he was shot. So the recording wouldn’t stop because he’s shot in the head, because he recorded it before he died. Odd.



American Made” is in theaters now. You can skip this movie. It’s boring. It’s bland. It doesn’t really go anywhere that isn’t predictable and the characters are not memorable at all. I’m not even sure this is worth a Redbox viewing. If it pops up on your TV one Sunday afternoon and you’re too lazy to change the channel than ok, go ahead and watch it. Otherwise you can skip it because chances are you won’t remember much of it after it concludes. I will say this about the movie in closing, it’s better than Tom’s last film, “The Mummy.”



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Friday, October 6, 2017

Cult of Chucky Review

Cult of Chucky Review

Director/Writer: Don Mancini

Starring: Brad Dourif (voice for Chucky), Jennifer Tilly, Alex Vincent, Fiona Dourif, Michael Therriault, Adam Hurtig

It’s that wonderful time of year where new horror movies seem to appear for everyone’s viewing pleasure. After a short four-year hiatus, Chucky is back! While he hasn’t really been gone that long, it was about that time for the series to add another murderous adventure for the evil “Good Guys” doll.

While I do believe most of the time you can jump into any of these Child’s Play sequels with no problem, for this one it would probably be best to see Curse of Chucky before you watch sit down to watch Cult of Chucky. This movie takes place a couple of years after Curse of Chucky and survivor Nica (played by Fiona Dourif) has been institutionalized after claiming a doll killed her whole family. After years of “treatment” (I’ll use that word loosely) Nica is unsure about what did or did not happen. Don’t worry though, Chucky finds a way into her current institution and at that point all kinds of weird things start to happen.   

 

Nica and Chucky are not the only characters that are back for this installment of the Chucky franchise. The movie kicks off with a Chucky film vet, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) out on a date.  It gets awkward very quickly though, it becomes apparent that his date had googled him and now has questions about his past.  Needless to say, that date didn’t last long after he took some time to talk about how many people have died. Don’t worry though, what better way to get over a bad date then to go home and spend a little time with the head of his very own Chucky doll, doll torture scene included.  However, Andy isn’t the only one that is back, we get a few delightful scenes with Chucky’s wife Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) and just like Chucky she is up to no go. It’s nice to have a series with more reoccurring characters than just the main killer, especially when you consider the fact that Andy Barclay has been around since the original Child’s Play movies, Tiffany Valentine is always fun to watch in this series and this movie is now different.


The location for this movie was perfect. The struggle of wither or not the characters know what’s going on is real or if it is just apart of some crazy delusion was clearly a lot of fun for Don Mancini to write, there are a few very quotable one liner gems in this film. While this was a Chucky movie, some of the surrounding story in this movie was indeed terrifying. Dr. Foley was a bad boy. The psychological manipulation he uses on Nica is down right scary considered what he implies during those scenes. Madeleine, well I don’t know what to say about Madeleine, she just freaked me out. You’ll have to make your own opinions about her. 


Overall the movie was a lot of fun. Watching Chucky interact with different characters in this film was hilarious at times, but there is a slight chance that it stopped the movie from really being scary. I just spent a lot of time laughing. On the other hand, the deaths were great, there were some very creative kills pulled off by Chucky through out the whole movie. Plus, there being multiple Chucky dolls killing with the same objective added a whole other level of messed up. The ending had a fun twist though, I’m excited to see where Mancini takes this series next.

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Act 231: Anne Frank Trapper Keeper

Masked Blogster, Mini Mandy, Steve Silva and Kevin Moyers start with Masked Libs, discuss Tom Petty (it wasn't Mandy's fault!), run down their top 5 Nintendo 64 games, and talk about the nostalgic generations X and Y.

To listen, click here. To download, right click and "Save As..."



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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle - Review

The news broke that Matthew Vaughn was coming back to write and direct the “Kingsman” sequel and that made movie fans everywhere happy. The first story had a fresh visual style to spy/action films with entertaining characters (both hero and villain) and it made enough money that another film only seemed logical. Did “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” live up to the magic of the first film or should we give this franchise its burn notice? Let’s dive and take a look in this review.


The important characters in this film were limited however there was no shortage of supporting characters. In fact, the majority of this film felt like an equal distribution of screen between most all of the actors. Also, the two main heroes, Eggsy and Merlin stay who they were in the first one without much, if any, development. We knew them in the last film and that’s who they are in this one. In general, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The James Bond franchise has been giving us the same character for over 50 years. Each new actor who has played Bond has given us just a little bit more each time but theres nothing dynamic with regard to character development for Bond. He’s Bond. He drinks Martini’s, kills bad guys and has sex with the hottest women on the planet. So, to not really explore who Eggsy and Merlin are isn’t terribly tragic. That being said, killing Merlin at the end of the film while he sang a John Denver song was a decision I didn’t agree with. I would’ve understood it had Eggsy survived and everyone else, including Harry, died and Eggsy had to go at it alone creating a brand new agency for Kingsman. That I would’ve understood. However, leaving Harry and Eggsy alive felt like they just rehashed the first storyline but changed main characters at the end. Harry dies and Merlin survives in the first one and then Merlin dies but Harry survives in the sequel. This felt lazy to me and I didn’t care much for it.



The villain, Poppy, in this film was a cartoon caricature. The idea behind her character was intriguing but not enough to keep my attention. It’s surprising how much I didn’t care for her character when I’m a fan of Julianne Moore’s acting.  Her basic motivation was to create a drug empire and have it legalized by holding the world hostage until they comply. In order to achieve this, she has a chemical(s) in her drugs that quickly kill its users and only she has the cure. She felt like a villain from Saturday morning cartoons I grew up watching in the 80s in all honesty. It was over the top and unbelievable.



The violence was just as ridiculous as the original which was definitely a highlight for me personally. I enjoy the unbelievably wild fights and style of gun play this franchise uses. It’s definitely one of the things I look forward to the most when I watch these movies. I don’t need it to look believable I just want it to be fun and both films nailed that. However, I wasn’t a fan of the blatant “Sweeney Todd” rip off, twice, in the story. Two men walk into the restaurant to meet Poppy and she has one of the men thrown into a meat grinder to be made into raw ground meat. She then proceeds to use the man meat to make a burger, cook it and then serve it to the surviving guy who just watched everything unfold. Two mean are ground up in this film and I just sat in the theater scratching my head because all I could think of was the “meat pies” from “Sweeney Todd.” This, again, showed me lazy story telling and I was not impressed.



Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is in theaters now! I’m not gonna recommend people see this movie in theaters. It’s not great but it’s entertaining. Plus, hearing Elton John swear like a sailor is a lot of fun. If you want to see this in theaters I’d recommend a matinee showing before noon so the price of admission is more affordable. If you can wait for Redbox or Netflix that is probably your best option. Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges aren’t really in the film at all but this is the second film Tatum is in this year that highlights John Denver tunes. So if “Take Me Home Country Road” is your jam, then you’ll enjoy some of the soundtrack.



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Friday, September 29, 2017

Act 230: #Neuticles

Masked Blogster and the crew continue the fun at Uncle Bear's Brewery in Ahwatukee, AZ for Masked Libs, Defenders talk, the Blogsters' first Christmas together, and more.

Find Uncle Bear's at https://ubcraftbeer.com/

To listen, click here. To download, right click and "Save As..."



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Friday, September 22, 2017

Act 229: Identicle Tentacle

Masked Blogster and crew head to Uncle Bear's Brewery to sample some beers, take a tour, and let Frankie G. take over the Masked Libs.

Find Uncle Bear's at https://ubcraftbeer.com/

To listen, click here. To download, right click and "Save As..."




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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Home Again - Review

Single mothers already have a lot on their plates when it comes to raising their kids and providing financially for them. Now, add the city of Los Angeles, turning 40, an emotionally manipulative ex-husband, a supportive and loving mother and three charming young filmmakers from New York and we’ve got a story. So, was “Home Again” the feel good comedy it appeared to be or will we need to divorce ourselves away from this film? Let’s dive and take a look in this review.


The overall movie examines life through the eyes of the main character Alice (played by Reese Witherspoon). We meet her on her 40th birthday and we get a glimpse into her life, as she perceives it. There are moments that depart from that as she is not in all the scenes and I’m happy to report the supporting cast of characters are each delightful on screen. This felt similar to films like, “Music and Lyrics,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It’s light hearted, humorous, sincere and character driven in how it tells its story.



Some of the moments in this film felt very real however it tends to shy away from really digging into the issues they present on screen. We get a lot of surface level dialogue about relationships, family, friendship and achieving goals. Typically, we could say that’s a negative but not in this particular instance. The writing and the actors deliver genuine moments that, while they feel thin, still feel true.



The character struggle that Alice goes through resonated with the (primarily older) female audience I was surround by. In fact, I found myself seated in the midst of women providing real time commentary on the behaviors and actions of the men in the movie as well as Alice’s reaction. This was not a quiet moviegoing experience as the theater, almost in chorus, had an opinion about the men on screen.  So, because the film seemed to elicit real emotional responses from the female viewership I enjoyed the film all the more.



“Home Again” is in theaters now! I will recommend you get out and see this film on the big screen. As I mentioned, it doesn’t dig deeply into the characters but as I discovered from the audience response, it did well enough to communicate realism that would evoke true responses from my fellow movie watchers. I laughed and I also could relate to some of the characters in the film at different points in the story which is more than I thought I would get walking into the theater. It’s a heartfelt story that looks at family, friends and being human in todays modern society. Check it out!



Follow Maskerpiece Theatre:
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