Monday, March 31, 2014

Dragons, demons, damsels, and destruction. Booya.

47 RONIN (2013)

Now those of you that have followed ol' Boony know that I have a growing distaste for the large number of Jaded critics out there that just seem to no longer have fun watching films. Oh if you attach the right director, or star, all of a sudden they are seven ways of wet in their knickers. Yet here we are with another example of a movie that cost a whole bunch of money, more or less just to dazzle you... and yet people are going well... it's certainly no Oscar contender (Ok I paraphrase a bit there)... but I mean - DUR!

So the story goes - Keanu Reeves is a half breed demon child, Kai,  who gets taken in by a Lord of the land in the days of the samurai. The daughter of the lord that took him in want's his sweet man love, but Kai is all - "No you deserve better, because I am a low class half breed". Then an evil lord and his witchy bitchy show up kill the good lord, take over his land, take his daughter for his bride, and exile all of the Samurai. One year later they gather... Keanu accepts his demonness, and brings the revengy violence.

So Keanu... about that end to the Matrix Trilogy... 
So anyone have any problem with that so far? Did I mention the Dragon? This is a good old fashioned quest flick. They travel through snow, pirates, fortresses. They gather new weapons from Demon monks... Ok if you are still not intrigued than yes, this film is not for you. Listen Keanu's acting.... well, you either love it or hate it. I personally fall into the first category, so if you are a hater of the Keanu, well, this movie ain't gunna change your mind about his acting chops.

However, there are so many delicious and gorgeous sets, costumes, effects, action, and really shouldn't that be the focus? Can I talk about the directing for a moment? Of course I can, this is basically a first time director handed a gigantic budget. Now I have no idea how he got the job but he handles the action scenes quite well. The swords fights in particular have the classic feel to them. A nice contrast while watching someone battle a dragon.

I would describe this film as epic levels of fun. However... and this is a big issue here... this film just takes itself waaaaaaay too damn serious. I mean they actually have the balls to drop the "Inspired by a true story" at the end. I'm sorry what? I know hollywood takes liberties, but once you add a shape changing witch, and bird men demons... any right to add "Inspired by" anywhere near it are - REEEEEE-VOKED!

Yup. Still managed to add "Inspired by real events" at the end. 
But the seriousness doesn't end there. And sadly I think that is the biggest reason why this film will struggle to find an audience. The Matrix films were fun, they knew they were fun, and Keanu was free to play it with tongue firmly in cheek... Here he is asked to play completely straight because that is how the movie thinks of itself. But I ask you: Can a movie involving fantastic creatures, pirate ogre fighting, a dragon, and a poison spider pulled out of the evil of a man's heart... really take itself seriously?

NO! Damn it, NO! If the folks had realized what they actually had here was a rollicking big budget good time, like say - The Pirates of the Carribean flicks... well, we may have had a genuine blockbuster on our hands. But, seriously, the ending of this movie is depressing as hell. What the F. Are you kidding me... magic, dragon, demons - sad, realistic ending?

No damn sense. And on that vein how do you introduce a great showdown with a giant samurai demon only to Blow him up later? With out a fight? Boooooo!

That said. I still had a lot of fun here. I appreciated it for what it was - big budget adventure. Tons of great fights. The final action sequence is awesome. Beautifully directed, and the 3D - Gold! Tons of crazy crap coming out at ya. An adventure that should please most but be warned... the kids well be sitting in front of the TV going Wait, Mommy, what just happen? So there may have to be some comforting if you decide to go FamJam with this flick.

Movie scale 3 out 5 stars
Action/Adventure scale 3 out of 5 stars

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Don't call it a flashback!

HAUNT (2013)

K. So no opening rant... no crazy leap in the endless mental chaos that is my movie loving head. I am simply going to open with your story.

The plot is a family moves into a house that is haunted.

There you go.
Do you really need more? Fine. So there is also a cute girl that lives next door that has an abusive Father. The new boy falls for her, and she is bond and determined to use this special radio to talk to the dead, angry spirits of the house.

There, damn  it that is all you need.
House. Evil spirit. New unsuspecting family that got a real deal on the new house (I wonder why?). So first I want to say this movie is not as bad and beenderedonethat as you may think. The acting is actually a step above par. A stand out being Liana Liberato. After her turns in Stuck in Love and Trust this young actress is really proving to me that she is a talent to be aware of. Hopefully she finds her way into some A material soon. Really though, all the acting is above par here, though a lot of the credit for that goes to the script.

No joke. He literally rolls over to find this chick in his bed. Teenage hormone overload.
Deep breath - Raise my arms in triumph. FINALLY! Parents, and kids that do not act like freaking idiots. Parents that listen to their children. Children who break down the crazy things happening rationally. For instance... Teen Boy and Teen girl speak to a spirit, then freak out. Instead of losing their heads they sit down and rationally discuss what it means. Then after they rationally discuss what has happen to older sister of Teen boy.

I mean it was so refreshing I actually smiled. The interaction between to the two teen leads is cute, and just weird enough to be strangely real. In the way young love can be.

All that said, any good will build up from the terrific writing (though the twist as to what happened... well if you are like me, you'll figure it out pretty quick) is completely ruined in the final act. The ending is so cold, and brutal, and such nonsense... that you will wonder if it was actually part of the same film you were watching. I mean really. Just plain stupid. No real explanation. And the explanation they provide completely contradicts the actual events of the ending.

And then.... in the morning... 
And then.... in the morning... But... it gets worse. There seems to be a real disconnect with the director. Now, being a lower budget film there may have been some financial restraints... maybe. This director seems bound in determined to use the same shit flashback technique through the entire film. Even double flash backing in the opening 5 minutes. 

What's that audience you forgot I showed you that guy died in this house... when I clearly showed you it just a few minutes ago? Well hell, here, let me layer it over the present day as the family goes through the house. 

I mean. Even 23 beers deep my short term memory is at least 7 minutes. The other major flaw in he direction is the insane transitions between some truly creepy moments and horrible jumpscares. I mean how do you go from a slow door opening reveal, to throwing a kid out in front of a camera two minutes later?

It's sad because there was some real dread here but the director just wants to show you how cool he is by using every trick he's ever seen instead of relying on the validity of his own voice. I mean it feels like 3 people directed this flick. You know what let me check that... (IMDB break)...

-Jeopardy them-

Nope just one - Mac Carter. Mac. You could have an amazing horror career. Work on your flash back technique and trust your slow burn. The scene in the bed was amazing... also A final note from Ol'Boony to you... never be afraid to let your writer know the ending needs work... A lot.

Movie Scale 2 out of 5 stars
Horror scale 2.5 out of 5 stars

Hey, you know what, some real promise here. Some great young talent. Dammit though, another close but no cigar scenario. The flashbacks really are that bad. Colors and light effects, just annoying. The ending too... tried to be all hardcore and surprising, and it is. But it just doesn't fit the movie at all. I mean is a good ending just that bad? Isn't the real twist ending wrapping things up in a feel good fashion? Haven't we had enough crappy feeling endings?

Sigh. But hey. It's cool to jerk your audience time and time again I guess...

Anyway. Still waiting for horror to step the hell up here. I mean The conjuring was great, but what else lately. Really? What was the last great horror film you saw? That you didn't have to add - well, accept the ending (shout out Sinister F you for almost being freaking great!)

I'm out.


-Chuck B Boonsweet.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I would go to Mars and back for you Bell.


That was the first thought when I heard they had successfully rallied the funds to make this film. YES! Ok. I admit it. I'm a huge Vernoiconian... or Marshead, or okay whatever the people that are super hardcore into the Veronica Mars TV show call themselves. Listen I like it, but I didn't get my fan club decoder ring or anything.

I do however own all 3 seasons (sadly not on bluray Booo!). And some things I will say about the show.

1. You should watch it. That simple. Make time.
2. It was, and still is, one of the coolest, cleverest shows ever. The writing was bang on. The acting was bang on, and Veronica Mars earned her place along side Buffy as one of the best female characters. Period. Don't believe me call Joss... he knows.
3. Kristen Bell. She was really, really hot, and I crushed, and I still crush (but this in no way influences my reviewing... probably)
4. I didn't realize how much I had missed the whole Mars gang till I saw this film...

No serious, for you... free rides... 
Your plot goes like this: Veronica has moved on, grown up. She is on the verge of landing a very lucrative big new york firm lawyer job. But Dennnnnnn... Veronica's bad boy ex - Logan, gets in trouble. People think he killed his pop star girlfriend (who also happens to be a high school friend of Veronica). She she packs up leaves her loving relationship behind and tells herself she's just going to help and will be back... But... the mystery turns out to have more layers than a 1880 prostitute... and she finds herself hanging around... and re-connecting...

So ya. A fun little plot device to make sure all us TV show fans get to see everyone we spent three seasons hating, and loving. Do not think that that means the average movie goer with no idea of the Mars mythology will not be able to appreciate this gem. You see creator Rob Thomas can really write, and he was smart to walk the line between familiarity without alienating new fans. I think I can firmly stand behind this statement: It was everything I wanted, and yet, anyone can enjoy the clever mystery. 

Ya, that sums it up. There is a distinct Nancy Drew meets Hitchcock meets pop culture speak here. It's fast, hip, and always intriguing. The amount of celebrity cameos are awesome, and never seem forced. Ya it's a cameo but usually they get a laugh... and if not, well we appreciate their joining this universe (however briefly).

Ya. Bell. Camera. Sleuthing. So hot.
A few of the facts due move very quickly. For example as accessible as the story is, understanding Vernoica's dismissal of her current sweet boyfriend so quickly might be a little cold to the new comers. Hoe is Logan in the army, and partying all over with the pop star for a year? The every cop is a D-bag vibe, and how quickly they slip in, and past, the side story involving a gang member being shot... well, I guess some of that could be the Wait for the next movie! hope that they have.

And I think they've earned it. However, with limited ad support, and in theatre support, it might be hard to get numbers in the bank that warrant another entry. With some of the heat they caught over the kickstarted campaign (most thinking they could've afforded it without fleecing fans) a second time may not go so well...

But, I hope so. Coming back to all this clever wit and derby secret having rich folks... really got me misty, and fist pump... ee... or something like that. Plus now that they've re-established the world for old and new... the next story could get crazier. I for one would love to see Veronica grow with her audience... HARD R! Let's see the intensity cranked, the profanity wit laced, and the sex in non blurry flashback mode.

Whoop whoop.

Not perfect, but satisfying. And #KristinBell how I still crush on your sweet, smart, mouth.... did that sound creepy? Damn it. It probe sounded creepy.

Also, Rob Thomas handled the big screen duties very well... and hearing Veronica use big girl words was nice... (take that Mulder and your "Shit").

Movie scale 3.5 out of 5 stars
Mystery cool scale 4 out of 5 stars

Booniacs... I hope there's a few of you out there that share my love for Mars. If not. Cool. If you have yet to check it out... invest. If you can burn through the series in this Tvbinging era... DOIT... and then the movie should make you feel what I feel... but if not, still worth watching.

Hey if all 91,000 that kickstarted this bitch buy the blurry... Bam! Another flick.


- Boonsweet out!

Do you have a need? I have a need...


Ok. Seriously planet earth... why are you hating on this film? Does anyone remember when The Fast and The Furious dropped waaaaaaaaay back in 2001... remember what people called it? Well, let's just say critics were not kind. Yet, people lined up, and it made a ton of money. Then came a long line of sequels, that most critics have finally caved, and decided to enjoy for what they are - Fun. Pure Fun. So as I sit here about to write something that goes against 94% of the critics out there... I want to ask them a simple question - Why you mad bro? 

So your plot goes something like this: Aaron Paul (of the "OMG greatest show ever" Breaking Bad) plays 'Tobey Marshall' the best driver that never made it anywhere. So instead he spends his time working at the mechanic shop he inherited from his Father. The bad guy is Dino Brewster... Ya... Thats a name. Anyway they hate each other because Dino made it out of the small town and took Tobey's girl. But, Tobey needs money for his shop and Dino wants a new car built (a super Mustang). From there the major plot details are - Street Race - Dino is responsible for framing Tobey for a crime, and killing a friend - Then a huge street race at the end Where they will finally settle the score (wait for it!) BEHIND THE WHEEL!

Ok. Listen. This is an action movie folks. And on that front it delivers. What do you want from this movie? I think Aaron Paul realizes the whole world expects nothing but Oscars from him in the future and he said F that noise, I wanna have some fun. This movie delivers on every aspect it claims it will... So, so much fast car stuff.

Add one shot sexy blonde (the always watchable Imogen Poots) in the passenger seat for his cross country adventure. Add another shot strange race announcer guy (played by - F me is that Michael Keaton)... and one and half shots million dollar cars going 200+ miles an hour for two hours... I mean what the hell is wrong with film critics? I honestly think in this day and age... we are built to hate, to tear down... to demand more... but sometimes... I just wanna watch fast cars, and crashes and stuff.

Watching a car like that go boom, really punches the ol' ticker

Drink that up folks. All the chases in this film. All the crashes - Real. The director wanted the realest experience he could get and he felt that meant real cars, real chases. Oh he was right. Also the 3D is used to some very cool effects. The first person shots behind the wheel are great (best use of depth I've seen in a bit), and yes a few bits of exploding glass and metal do fly at ya.

The story is simple, sometimes stupid, I mean the race goes to nothing? How would they get the cars? After jail? No one accounted for cops? What?

But I digress. That was my two lines of thinking like a jaded critic.

Aaron Paul's Tobey Marshall is instantly likeable, and wonderfully "I'm a tough guy, but I  have a heart of gold'. You will root for him. I actually really liked Imogen as the love interest... She is sexy and has no problem holding her own in the who's smarter showdowns. Plus... I means points for the accent.

When racing cars loses it's appeal... Chopper showdown!

All in all one of my fav action movies of the last few years.

Beautiful to watch, although sometimes painful... I mean watching those million dollar cars at the end crash... brought a tear to my eye.

Ask yourself... when the average score from most critics is 5 out of 10 or lower (Rotten tomatoes I believe is at 20%)... why then does it get a B+ from "Paying" crowds at theatres? Because for regular folks, that don't over think an action movie... this is a blast! Same reason why the Fast and furious films have become cultural and world wide phenomena.

Movie scale 3.5 out of 5 stars
Action scale 3.5 out of 5 stars

Man. I want my Lambo. Oh and quick shout out as I actually have played the video game for years... I was sitting in my seat going "Oh man, I raced that car there. Awesome"

This has been a review by Chuck Boonsweet, who hopes, his critic card doesn't get revoked... Lol... nah I'm bigger than them.... Oh... OOOOOOooooo and to everyone that made a big deal of all the violence towards the cops... To the best of my knowledge there are no cop deaths in this film... even severely injured... racers get messed up... But man, I seriously wonder if all these guys even watched the movie...


Till next Booniacs.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Gore. Boobs. Glory.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014)

Have you ever thought to yourself Gosh I wonder how much violence one could pack into a movie, while maintaining a coherent and enjoyable plot well if you have then I present to you the answer to that question: A freakin' shit tonne.

Ok so 9 years ago (editor's note: seriously 9 years?! I am getting old. I mean I don't feel as old as I did when I found out Kurt Cobain's daughter is legal... but still... damn!) a then unknown director Zack (the ladies like my Steel) Snyder made a crazy over the top CGI blood feast called 300. It opened to drop jaws everywhere and went on to 450 million world wide. So naturally a sequel would be demanded... and well hey, better late than never.

So plot, to recap the previous film: King of Sparta went up against the God King of Persia with 300 soldiers. They killed a bunch of persians (including some ninja dudes) and then died horrible deaths. This here sequel is actually taking place for the most part at the same time of the original film. While the 300 spartans defend their greece, along the shores, Themistokles (Played by a hero worthy - Sullivan Stapleton) defend against the God King's fleet. He is a master tactician but then again so is the leader of the persian fleet - Artemisia (played by a deliciously evil and curvy Eva Green).

If I lay here... If I just lay here... would you lie with me... 

There you have it. A plot that allows for a near awe-inspiring amount of violence. Yes, I do not support CGI bloodletting over practical but hey, this is a 300 film. It is part of the over the top nature to the movie. The blood must fly everywhere, and in smile inducing slow motion. Indeed basically no name director Noam Murro has really proven himself here. Yes he has simply copied Zack's style from the original film, but in doing so has taken many of the action scenes to near art.

You know how I know I (and my man-ness) am going to enjoy a film... when before the "This is what happened" segment of the movie concludes there have already been a hundred deaths, and a set of boobs. Yup. Cue popcorn, game on.

Eva Green is fantastic in this film. I have always been a little on the fence with her, but the um... "Violent sex" at one point in this film is so damn crazy and hot that you'll turn turn to your boy and smile.

Everytime I come around your city - Bling, Bling.
Editor's note: if you have somehow talked your girlfriend into seeing this film with you, or if she simply refused to be left behind. Do not... I repeat do not! Turn to her and smile during the aforementioned sex scene. 

Lena Headey returns as the Queen of Sparta, and though her role is smaller, she commands every scene. She is making a career out of playing powerful, intelligent women (GOT, Sarah Connor), and really with Sigourney Weaver out of the action spotlight... we were in need of a new candidate for the badass Va-jay-jay award. You miss Headey win. I don't as of yet have a politically correct trophy, but I assure you it is in the works.

So to the action.
Fans of the original, relax, you will be happy. There is more blood, and carnage for your buck than anything you have ever seen on the screen before. And well, that leads me into one of two major (ok medium) issues I have with this film.

1. The 3D. What the F. It's freaking pointless. Here you have a perfect film to throw blood and guts, severed limbs, firebombs, whatever, at the audience, and for the most part nothing! I mean it's almost unbelievable to have this amount of chaos. To clearly be making a movie to just entertain peeps and what...? Forget that it's in 3D.

and next to my second disappointment...

2. The ending. As in, it doesn't have one. That is right. It took 9 years for this film to get made but they actually have the balls to leave it open for a third instalment. I think about how old that means I could be before I see the final part to this now trilogy... and my will be wrinkly parts are angry... Not Spartan Warrior angry... but angry.

Over all some of the most giggle inducing awesomeness you are legally allowed to witness. A bloody good time, and a sequel that can proudly stand alongside the original. And despite my dismay with the ending, assuming they have the next part at the ready... I will assuredly be having a 300-a-thon in the comforts of my living room - beer mug in hand (while I grunt and fist slam my chest).

Movie scale 3.5 out 5 stars
Action movie scale 4.5 out 5 stars

There may be bigger, and better movies this year... for sure in fact, but more entertaining, I dunno this has set the bar high.

Enjoy, and well, try not to think too much about how the hell the horse stays upright... You've been warned.

- Chuck B. Boonsweet