Month: January 2014

The Yards (2000)

A film that at least tries to work on several different levels, The Yards is an intriguing if not necessarily exciting crime thriller about, well, a lot of things. It’s about people who get in over their heads. It’s about corruption in just about every facet of life. It’s about family, it’s about betrayal, and it’s about how tough it is for a film that plays for two hours to stretch its story’s credibility. Some of the events in The Yards are so silly that they undermine its more realistic and important moments and insights. Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg) is our lead, having recently finished a 16-month prison sentence for … something that involved taking the fall for his gang of friends. It’s ultimately inconsequential; the point is made that he’s a criminal and now he has to find work, make good with his demons, and support his ailing mother (Ellen Burstyn). His best friend, Willie (Joaquin Phoenix), suggest that he works for a railway car repair company, which is owned by Frank (James Caan), the stepfather of Willie’s girlfriend, Erica (Charlize Theron) — who is Leo’s cousin. The family ties are strong. Early in the film, we learn how deep the corruption lies in this system. Willie’s job is to secure contracts so that the repair company can keep getting business. To do this, bribes, sabotage, and even...

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That Awkward Moment (2014)

In case you were like me and thought that making an entire movie based off an unfunny internet meme was the lowest point cinema could go, rest easy: That Awkward Moment really only borrows the title from the internet meme. The rest of the film — as shallow, misogynistic, and straight horrible as it is — has very little of anything to do with that with which it shares its title. At least we can praise that while we weep about the rest of the abhorrent trash that’s been made here. The film stars three twentysomethings who, after one of them has his wife file for divorce, vow that they will not get in a relationship. Then all three promptly do, but hide if from the others because that’s how friendship works. The lead, if you want to call him that, is Jason (Zac Efron), the man who recently lost his wife is Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), and the third one is Daniel (Miles Teller). Jason and Daniel work together designing covers for books, while Mikey is a doctor. I wager this is done to separate them. Mikey actually seems like a decent enough person, while the other two are despicable people with whom nobody in real life, I hope, would fall in love. But, this is a movie, and to make it worse it’s a romantic comedy, although...

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Movie Review of ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ (2014)

The Paranormal Activity franchise has been on the decline for years, reaching an all-time low with Paranormal Activity 4 in 2012. And now 2014’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones arrives not in the trademark Halloween month, but in the dumping ground month of January, which is a red flag in itself. It’s worth noting that The Marked Ones is technically not Paranormal Activity 5, as we’ll apparently get that further down the line – this is instead a spin-off which aspires to launch its own separate series, because money. The director here is Christopher Landon, who has written every instalment since PA 2, hence he delivers the bare minimum of what’s required for a PA film; a handful of jump scares, a malevolent atmosphere, a few unexplainable supernatural occurrences, and even the obligatory Katie Featherston cameo. But there’s no sense of innovation here, only fatigue – The Marked Ones is painfully by-the-numbers, perfunctorily observing people who willingly put themselves in danger while refusing to put the fucking camera down. It’s admittedly creepy from time to time which may be sufficient for some, but horror fans deserve a lot better. In 2012, Latino teenager Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) is graduating high school, and decides to borrow a high definition video camcorder from one of his relatives. With friend Hector (Jorge Diaz), Jesse uses the camera to document pranks and funny business, but their curiosity is piqued following the death of a strange old women living...

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Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Kick-Ass came out in 2010 and was a surprising hit. It was an ultra-violent, highly funny movie about what would happen if real life superheroes tried to exist, and succeeded chiefly because its light tone and extreme violence made for an interesting combination, and it also had a heart and a genuine affection for the superhero material, even though it often mocked the whole phenomenon. It was also quite inventive, was relatively shocking, and was entertaining for its whole running time. If you haven’t seen it, you should absolutely do so. The sequel has some of these elements but is largely not as successful as the first film. Part of the problem is predictability, in that as soon as the plot really starts kicking into gear, you know where everyone’s going to end up. The digressions it takes are occasionally entertaining, but that’s all they are. They function as distractions so that the movie can eat up the 90 minutes it needs to play for in order for everyone to be happy. Realistically, Kick-Ass 2 could be 45 minutes in length and still tell the same story. This time around, the film’s primary arcs revolve around its three surviving costumed characters from the first film. Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), also known as Dave Lizewski, has largely given up fighting crime, but is lured back into it once more masked vigilantes...

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The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning (2007)

In 2005, because Starsky & Hutch made a large amount of money at the box office, a feature-length film based on The Dukes of Hazzard was released. It, based on the television series, didn’t make a ton of money, but it did well enough that the studio decided a direct-to-DVD prequel was in order. Thus, we get The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, which attempts to explain to us how Bo and Luke became the “lovable” “rebels” that they are in the last film. I say “attempts” because this movie does such a lackluster job at explaining anything that has to do with the characters that I threw my hands up and stopped caring. Bo and Luke seem to be the same characters they are in the theatrical film right from the beginning, and the only change they have to go through is liking the small town of Hazzard. There’s one scene where they come to this revelation, but it comes out of nowhere and is so inconsequential and poorly set up that I began to think everyone was doing the film because they needed the money. However, the only cast member who returned for this installment was Willie Nelson, who plays Uncle Jessie. Hopefully everyone else was either too embarrassed or was well-paid enough to move on to other projects. Bo is now played by Jonathan Bennett, while...

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