Archive for January, 2013

Mama Review: A Movie for Enterprise Rent-A-Car

mama_movie_review_poster_guillermo_del_toroThe marketing for Mama has been heavily dependant on emphasizing Guillermo del Toro’s involvement, which definitely grabs your attention.  Del Toro has a very imaginative approach that creates solid characters and stunning visuals.  With the exception of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark I have liked all of del Toro’s movies that he has written and/or directed.  That said Mama was not written or directed by del Toro but is actually primarily the work of Andres Muschietti who originally made Mama as a short in 2008 and also wrote and directed this feature length version.  Even though del Toro obviously had influence, Mama is the baby of Muschietti.

A brief introduction to Mama is as follows:  After disappearing for five years, two young nieces of Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who has been searching for then since news broke that his twin brother ran off with them.  After living in the woods for five years the two girls are troubled and talk to an “imagined” entity called Mama.  The eldest of the nieces is adjusting better to the new situation but Lucas’ girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), is struggling herself to adjusting to having to look over these girls with Lucas once Mama starts to become less imaginative and more real.  Click here for the trailer.

There are two major highlights for Mama starting with its writer/director Andres Muschietta.  The atmosphere he creates with the dark grey-ish tones keeps you in this state of uneasiness throughout the whole movie that benefits the spooky events and jump scares.  And trust me there are plenty.  What makes the scares so effective is how well written the story is.  The pace is very well done mainly because there is rarely a lull between the scares and the subtly of the scares.  Recent horror movies try too hard to throw gore at you to make it “scare” you but Mama instead builds suspense with its subtle foreshadowing and the dark atmosphere I mentioned to make you concerned for the characters.

That brings me to the second highlight of Chastain as Annabel and the two nieces.  Chastain could not have done a better job as Annabel who at the start of the movie is very selfish and rude but threw everything that happens she becomes a protagonist that we can really pull for.   Then the two nieces played by Megan Charpentier as Victoria (older) and Isabelle Nelisse as Lilly (younger) were fantastic.  They had good chemistry together but also played very different characters.  Victoria who was about three when the characters went missing can adjust to civilized life easier in the sense that she can communicate and interact even though she is definitely troubled but not to the level of her sister Lilly.  Lilly was so young that she not only cannot communicate but she cannot even walk correctly and Nelisse made it look natural even for being a young actress.

I did have some quarrels with the film though.  Though effective, the jump scares were very repetitive.  How many times could they bring the same ghost-like character out of the dark and into the light only to have them back up into the dark again?  Luckily it was not done too often but at times I thought to myself “did they mean to put the same scare in there again?”  My other quarrel was with the in your face product placement.  If you read my Flight review you probably know I have no problem with it so long as it does not become a focal point for the scene.  That said one of the characters as they are leaving the hospital makes a call on their cell phone as says “I need the number for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.”  He did not say he needed a number for a car rental place near the hospital he flat out said a company that may not have been that close which is inconvenient for someone in need of a car!

Overall, Mama is one of the scarier movies I have seen in theaters since Insidious which was also PG-13.  That should be a hint toward movie-makers that an R rating will make a movie scarier than a PG-13 rated horror movie. Mama had quality scares even if they are repetitive and is very well written story.  I give Mama an 8/10.

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The Last Stand Review: Formulaic Schwarzenegger Fun

You know that saying about teaching an old dog new tricks?  This could not apply more to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen in The Last Stand.  I mean that in both a good and bad way.  Some of the good include the stoic stare, classic one-liners, and plain action fun.  The bad being the low quality of acting, average to poor dialogue, and predictability factor but somehow all of the bad do not negatively impact the overall action experience.

A brief summary of the plot of The Last Stand is as follows:  Sheriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) is enjoying his day off on what should be the quietest day of the year when the town of Sommerton Junction’s high school football team travels out of town when suspicious truck drivers arrive.  Suspicions heighten when one of the local farmers does not make a delivery followed by a call from FBI agent John Bannister warns that an escaped drug/mob leader, Gabriel Cortez, has escaped custody and may be heading to Sommerton as a means of evading to the Mexican border in a super charged Corvette.  Click here for the trailer.

Looking at the credits for The Last Stand with its mish-mash of names that I would have never thought would be in the same movie, it should have been a disaster but it kind of works.  Starting with director Jee-woon Kim who is most known for I Saw the Devil (2010), The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008), and A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) making his American film debut with this action/crime/comedy.  Kim has proven that he knows how to shoot action scenes, craft intricate stories, and bring out great emotions from characters.  The latter two do not exactly describe your typical Schwarzenegger flick.  But The Last Stand holds up nice to his credits.  The action was really well done which creates some tense and exciting scenes that are well adapted for an older Schwarzenegger character.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the few actors/movie stars where no matter what movie he is in I will see it and most likely enjoy it even if his characters are practically the same every movie.  The Last Stand is no different except that the character is older and not as physically dominating.  He still gets in his blows, punchlines, and incredibly accurate when necessary gunfire which makes his return to the big screen a positive addition to Schwarzenegger’s others.

As for the other actors, they did a fine job supporting the big man’s return.  Lois Guzman, Johnny Knoxville, and Peter Stormare are excellent comic relief.  By the way, I cannot help but feel when casting a villain Peter Stormare must be one of the top choices consistently because he really does come across as sleazy and evil.  Whitaker borderline over acted as an over anxious FBI agent but you cannot penalize him for trying to make up for the lack of acting from other minor supporting actors which have been improved by some better writing because the dialogue was the absolute worst thing about this movie.

Most action movies suffer from poor writing especially most Schwarzenegger movies but The Last Stand may be one of the worst offenders I have come across as of late.  Dialogue is practically thrown out the window to make room for one-liners and to speed through scenes to get to the action which I am okay with most the time but The Last Stand is just so poorly written that I feel sorry that Kim made his American directing debut with it.

Overall, Arnold Schwarzenegger fans will not be let down but The Last Stand since it meets the formula of a lot of his other movies even though it does struggle more than most in the acting and dialogue area than his other movies.  I give The Last Stand a 6/10.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Movie Review

hobbit_an_unexpected_journey_movie_poster_reviewPeter Jackson returns to tell the story that sets up one of the most loved trilogies in cinema history and ironically enough he prequels it with another trilogy to tell the story of a single book.  Is that necessary?  I guess it is yet to be seen but I will not be able to judge since I am in the minority that never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

I most likely do not need to go into the plot of this movie since everyone knows it but here it goes:  Set in middle where if it is mythical it probably exist, a monstrous dragon known as Smaug is drawn to the dwarf inhabited mountain of Erebor by all it golden treasures leaving the all the dwarves without a home and a king.  Years later wizard Gandalf the Grey aids to assemble a team of 13 dwarves and a hobbit brave enough to conquer the obstacles that lay in the way of gain the dwarves home back including orcs, goblins, a mysterious evil killing the wildlife, trolls, and more.  Click here for the trailer.

As you can tell I am not a big fan of these Lord of the Rings/middle earth movies.  Do not get me wrong these movies are extremely well done and tell a complex story but to me they just feel silly.  Part of me just thinks that they make up the story as they go and throw in any imaginable creatures for three hours and call it an epic.  I mean if you gave Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans an extra hour each, are they going to in turn be considered epic?  Probably not.  With a movie series that has all these different creatures or species I fail to see its limits?  After watching the first trilogy with walking talking trees I wonder well where are the centaurs or those other things from those Sinbad movies/stories.  Or what are the limits of the wizards’ powers?  Why cannot Gandalf do this when he did that?  I know I am nitpicking this make believe world which is hypocritical of me since most of my favorite movies are action movies that are absolutely ridiculous but fantasy/magical world seems to just not interest me.

Sorry to rant there, I will now get to actually reviewing The Hobbit.  The movie looks great even in the 48fps which I will be honest I could not really tell it was.  Obviously it gives the appearance of the things on screen more definition, vibrant colors, and some people complained that it took their eyes a while to adjust but I would not have known it was 48fps had someone not told me.  Maybe I caught the 24fps showing I do not know.  I will say the 3D was unnecessary as usual to me.  My stance is that if the film is good enough you will feel like you are in that world without the 3D glasses and movies that should have 3D are terrible so they have to be gimmicky by having things pop out at you.

If there was one thing positive I could take away from The Hobbit is the spirit and nature of the dwarves.  You really felt for these dwarves because they were warriors but light hearted.  Also they are all artisans of some sort.  When they showed life before Smaug attacked the mountain all the dwarves were experts of different trades just like a real civilizations would.  This was something that I thought stood out from all the other middle earth films because what the hell do the hobbits do that they had such lavish lifes in their hobbit holes?  Or are all the damn elves wispy haired and natural marksman/woman with a bow – some you cannot tell if they are a man or woman (legitimately if Orlando Bloom didn’t speak I would have thought his character was female – not that it would make a difference either way)?

Sorry again that this review was mainly me bitching about this franchise that everyone seems to like.  I do not hate these films but I just see them as way overrated.  I acknowledge my hypocrisy since I like a lot of ridiculous and unbelievable action movies.  But I cannot discredit how good the movie looked and its good pace.  I give The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey a 7/10.

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RochPikey’s Top Non-2012 Movies I Saw In 2012

With all the movies I saw that were released this past year I probably saw just as many for the first time that were released in previous years.  Another blogger, PGCooper, did a post listing his top 20 non-2012 films he saw in 2012 and I absolutely loved the idea of that.  Click here to see his original post and here is a rundown of the top movies I saw in 2012 for the first time that were not released in 2012.

bronson_movie_poster_charles_tom_hardy(20)        Bronson (2008)

It takes a really good actor to play a character that is beyond out of their mind and make you want to learn more about them.  I always think of Brad Pitt in Snatch, Kalifornia, and 12 Monkeys.  Now I can add to the list Tom Hardy as Charles Bronson the world’s most famous and brutal prisoner.  Bronson was straight mad.  He just loved to fight and talked to himself about crazy philosophies.  They showed him give monologues in a theater full of people or sometimes it would be empty but it was all in his head.  Plus he would strip naked and grease himself up before he would fight the prison guards or police.  The story itself is a little muddle because I never quite understood why he was the vicious brute he was and does not see to really have a point.  But man does Tom Hardy give a great performance you just have to see to believe.

oldboy_movie_poster_chan_wook_park(19)        Oldboy (2003)

Plain and simple, Oldboy is a mind fuck.  I try to avoid profanity on my blog but there is just no other way to describe this movie.  A man, Oh Dae-Su, was held captive in a room for 15 years seeks answers for his imprisonment and what he finds may make him wish he never looked.  Dae-Su goes through the ultimate attitude adjustment.  In the beginning of the movie he is a care free jerk that chose to get drunk instead of go to his daughter’s birthday party.  While imprisoned and in search of his captor’s identity you see he is a hardened and numb to pain both physical and emotional.  It was just masterful story telling.  All the gathering of clues and character development was unique.  Even if you walk out of this movie a little disturbed you will not regret seeing it because it is a movie you will talk about forever.

i_saw_the_devil_movie_poster(18)        I Saw The Devil (2010)

Much like Oldboy, I Saw The Devil is pretty troubling and a mind bender.  A well respected cop, Kim Soo-hyeon, ignores the limits of the law as he tracks down and torments than man who murdered his pregnant wife.  Going into this movie I expected most of the film to be about his search for the killer so I was shocked at how soon he found him and confronted him.  But Soo-hyeon lets him go just to find him again committing another unspeakable act and beat the snot out of him.  This goes on until the killer figures it out and makes the cop regret not killing him when he had the chance.  I Saw The Devil is unlike any revenge movie I have seen.

 (17)        Take Shelter (2011)

Good apocalyptic movies are a dime a dozen.  Take Shelter is a different apocalyptic movie because it about a blue collar worker that has visions of a coming storm and cannot decide if he should build a shelter for his family or if he is starting to suffer from the same mental illness as his mother.  Michael Shannon is fantastic in this movie as a man who tries to keep his inner turmoil from affecting his everyday life but it shows when he least expects it and has great chemistry with Jessica Chastain who plays his wife.  Director/writer Jeff Nichols’ story builds the tension all the while you are left wondering is he really seeing signs or is he simply losing his grip on reality.

 foolproof_movie_ryan_reynolds(16)        Foolproof (2003)

This is one of those before they were stars movies that you have to check out simply to see a now famous celebrity in their early stages.  Foolproof is a small Canadian action/comedy starring Ryan Reynolds just after he appeared in Van Wilder.  This movie is just plain fun.  It’s about three friends that spend their free time planning the ultimate heist on of the friends’ place of employment but a wrench is thrown in the mix when a selfish mobster catches wind of the heist and wants a piece of the action.  I am sure the heist plan is not plausible but it was cool to see the preparation and how they planned to execute the heist because after all these guys are amateurs that have never done it before that makes it an exciting watch.  Being amateurs things do not always go to plan providing a lot of humorous moments during the planning and execution of the heist.  Foolproof is a fun turn your brain off for a laugh and some action kind of movie much like one of the Rush Hour movies.

48_hrs_hours_movie(15)        48 Hrs. (1982)

I cannot believe I just got around to seeing this movie.  48 Hrs is the feature film debut of Eddie Murphy and probably my favorite movie I have seen him in, with Shrek in a close second.  If you look on the IMDb page for this movie, it is listed as an action movie first but 48 Hrs is damn funny.  The dialogue between Nolte and Murphy was classic banter.  Then when the two final decide to put their fighting gloves on to hash out some differences it is great.  Each one hits their hay-maker and delivers a good punch-line to match (pun intended).  Also after watching it I slightly less appreciate the show White Collar which has the same premise of a criminal let out of jail to aid a veteran cop catch criminals.  48 Hrs is a lot more exciting and legitimate laughs to make it compete with any full fledge comedy.

escape_from_new_york_john_carpenter(14)        Escape From New York (1981)

One name makes this movie classic, Snake Plissken.  Kurt Russell makes him one of the most badass characters of movies set “in the future.”  The eye patch, snake tattoo on his chest, and a smart ass attitude make Snake Plissken certainly memorable.  John Carpenter, who was one of the best directors of the 70s and 80s in my opinion, creates one of the creepiest future states of New York City with the flamboyant get ups of the criminals residing in it and their ruthless aggression.  It was just a fun premise that has been done over and over since with Alien 3 and last year with Lookout.

grosse_pointe_blank_cusack_driver_aykroyd(13)        Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

John Cusack movies always seem to have the same wit/humor.  For some it works and others is does not (War Inc.).  Grosse Pointe Blank definitely works.  Cusack plays a professional assassin/hitman that always gets his man who under the advice of his assistant decides to take a job that lines up with his ten year high school reunion where he reunites with and old high school.  This comedic take on the assassin business makes it look like any other legitimate business practice.  You got the professional/business owner, his assistant/secretary that handles all the debit and credits to keep the business in check, contracts on jobs, competition with other assassins, an assassin’s union, and avoiding trouble with government officials.  Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, and Dan Aykroyd bring their own style of humor to Grosse Pointe Blank for a well round comedy experience.

jackie_brown_tarantino_jackson_grier(12)        Jackie Brown (1997)

This Quentin Tarantino film does not seem to get as much love as his other movies when it is probably one of my favorites of his.  Tarantino is known best for his characters and to me Jackie Brown has the best casting for these characters.  I do not mean the best collection of actors I mean that the actor were the best possible choices to play the characters.  No one but Pam Grier could have played Jackie Brown a woman caught between an arms dealer and the police.  Grier also had great onscreen chemistry with Robert Forster who is her co-conspirator in getting out of this jam alive.  Samuel L. Jackson and Robert DeNiro share some amazing scenes together because they are perfect as their characters.  Jackson as the greedy arms dealer that will do anything to protect himself is great especially in the “get in the trunk” scene with Chris Tucker; such a funny scene.  He brings in the fresh out of prison Louis Gara (Robert DeNiro) that is beyond impulsive and number to his actions make the Jackie Brown funny and intense.  Last but not least I like Michael Keaton as Ray Nicolette, one of the police officers.  A fairly simple role to play but if you watch his solo good cop/bad cop interrogation scene there are very subtle things he does with his body language and mannerisms that other actors would have missed or over exaggerated.

basic_instinct_stone_douglas_thriller(11)        Basic Instinct (1992)

Not going to lie this is one of the sexiest movies I have ever seen on top of being a great thriller.  I mean yeah there is the infamous interrogation scene with the no underwear shot but Sharon Stone is alluring the whole damn movie.  Michael Douglas as the detective is his usual cunning character but even he has the wool pulled over his eyes as his primary suspect seduces him.  The investigation itself is interesting with the evidence they gather from the gruesome crime scenes your attention never strays from the movie.  Finally now I can talk with people about a movie seemingly everyone has seen.

freaks_movie_1932_circus(10)        Freaks (1932)

The title may suggest this movie is horror but it is damn far from it.  Back in 1932 when it came out it may have been considered it but it focuses around life in the circus with unique individuals some call “deformed.”  But there is nothing horrific about this movie other than the crime which it focuses around a beautiful woman that is suspect of marrying the ring leader simply to murder him to get his inheritance.  The scene where they are all at the dinner table and the beautiful woman obviously has a little too much to drink is gut wrenching scene that even today I am taken back by what is said.

planes_train_automobiles_martin_candy(9)          Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (1987)

Many thought it was a travesty that it took me this long to finally watch Planes, Trains, & Automobiles.  Now that I have it is the funniest movie I have ever seen Steve Martin do.  Not the funniest John Candy movie however, that belongs to Uncle Buck.  Anyway, I used to travel a lot and this movie sums up every form of travel and shows how they all can go wrong.   Steven Martin goes throw the travel experience from hell and utters some words I would never have believed he ever said if I did not see/hear it for myself.  Click here for the clip of Steve Martin saying what every traveler has wanted to say at least once to people in customer service.

wild_things_movie_twist(8)          Wild Things (1998)

There is nothing more than gratifying when the end of a movie has a good twist that you did not see coming.  With Wild Things you have no chance of guessing the final twist simply because there are twists from start to finish.  It stars Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, and Denise Richards but for the purpose of this post it is pointless to explain what exactly their role is in this movie just know the back stabbing and changing secret agenda changes are not over until the credits roll.  Also I generally like anything Kevin Bacon is in.  Oh and I almost forgot Bill Murray makes a few appearances of comic relief as a lawyer which segues to my next movie…

man_who_knew_too_little_murray_spy(7)          The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)

I give a lot of credit to improve and the people that do it… well.  In The Man Who Knew Too Little Bill Murray plays Wallace a small town blockbuster owner who goes to England to visit his brother who is busy entertaining guests so he set Wallace up on a improve stage act but never gets there and is mistaken for a spy to spoil a villainous plot.  I may not have quite done the premise justice but trust me when I say this movie is hysterical.  Murray treats every obstacle that comes his way as if it is all rigged in his favor despite the fact it is a real and dangerous position he is in.  I really like Bill Murray’s movies and for as little known this movie is, it may be one of my favorites of his.

a_fish_called_wanda_cleese_jamie_lee_curtis_kline_palin(6)          A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

You know when a band breaks up it is always interesting to see which ones end up making it either solo or in another band?  Well I am sure people thought the same thing when the men from Monty Python began doing their own things.  Well A Fish Called Wanda features two of the men from Monty Python, John Cleese and Michael Palin, and it definitely has their charm and wit.  Kevin Kline is also hysterical in this movie which kind of boarders the twists of Wild Things where you do not know where the story is going and who is on whose side.  Side-note, I knew after True Lies that Jamie Lee Curtis was attractive but after A Fish Called Wanda she was damn sexy.  She plays such an innocent character in most of her movies and her she is flat out deviously seductive.

creature_from_black_lagoon_poster(5)          Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

There should really be an asterisk next to this I have caught bits and pieces of this one before but finally got to see it from start to finish.  All you can say is that this one is a classic.  Despite the primitive design of the creature it still hold up today as cool and creepy.  It also may catch some flak for being politically incorrect with how constantly helpless Julie Adams’ character was and needed constant aid from the men on the exploration.  I get that but that is what was typical of movies back in the 40s and 50s.  Creature From The Black Lagoon is a truly icon cinematic creature that has spawned and inspired many imitations.  I have heard rumors about some writers wanting to remake it but I really hope they do not.

starman_movie_carpenter_bridges(4)            Starman (1984)

As I said earlier with Escape From New York John Carpenter owned the 70s and 80s as a director.  Starman may be one of his best as he crafts a story about an alien that takes the form of a woman’s deceased husband so she can take him from Wisconsin to Arizona with government agents hot on their trail.  As the alien that is learning to be human, Jeff Bridges earned his first Oscar nomination for a leading role and he is great.  Since he did not know much of the English language he did most of his communicating through facial expressions and man can he do a lot of it.  Also in case you were not in love with Karen Allen after Raiders of the Lost Ark you surely will after Starman.

sleuth_1972_movie_olivier_caine(3)          Sleuth (1972)

Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier play the ultimate game of wits that you would not want to be on the losing end of.  Olivier plays a very rich games and theater enthusiast that invites the man, Caine, having an affair with his wife to his mansion and challenges him to a game that puts his life at stake.  There is superb acting on both sides since they are predominately the only actors on screen. There are so many great things to mention about the story but for those of you reading this that have not seen it I do not want to spoil anything.  Just trust me that Sleuth is very engaging with the power struggle between these two intelligent movie titans.

win_win_movie_giamatti_cannavale_comedy(2)          Win Win (2011)

Paul Giamatti always picks good scripts it seems.   He rarely gets the credit he deserves and Win Win is a great example.  He plays a lawyer whose practice is suffering until he takes on being the legal guardian of a client with an ailing mind that cannot support himself.  Soon after become the guardian his client’s troubled grandson shows up and eventually joins the wrestling team the lawyer voluntarily coaches until question arise regarding the lawyer intentions for becoming his client’s guardian.  A majority of the comedy comes from the supporting character played by Bobby Cannavale and Jeffery Tambor.  They stole a lot of scenes especially when the two would battle each other to sit next to Giamatti during matches.  Most of all though, this movie is about facing adversity and it gives the best advice for it “Whatever the fuck it takes.”

girl_with_the_dragon_tattoo_rapace_oplev_2009(1)          The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Lisabeth Salander easily ranks as one of the greatest heroines to grace the screen of pages of a book.  There is a lot of depth to her character that has built up from the hellish childhood she had that you desperately want to reach out and give her a hug but she would never allow it because she cannot trust anyone.  Noomi Rapace just embodied Salander in this Swedish film directed by Niels Arden Oplev.  But she really is not the entire focus of the book/movie but how she aids journalist Mikael Blomkvist in a 40 year old missing persons case that reveals a link to sinister murders that had been dismissed years ago.  Hands down this is one of the best mysteries I have seen brought to screen with the most unlikely combo of characters working together to solve it.  I cannot praise this movie enough.  David Finch’s film is great too and so is Rooney Mara’s take on Salander but something about Oplev and Rapace’s version just feels more natural to me.

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RochPikey’s Most Anticipated Movies for 2013

After a stellar year in film in 2012 it is hard to believe 2013 could be as good if not better.  As of right now most of the trailers that are available are for movie being released in the first half of the year so it is really difficult to judge what movies I am most looking forward to some there is a mix of movies with and without trailers.  For the most part my ranking have are based on premise, individuals involved in the movie, and if they have a trailer that will undoubtedly have an influence.

Snitch_Poster_dwayne_the_rock_johnson_ric_roman_waugh(20)        Snitch

Dwayne Johnson is steadily becoming a really action hero.  Initial film appearances in The Mummy Returns and The Rundown were good but his recent roles in Fast Five and Faster show that he should be taken more seriously than just a wrestler turned actor.  Snitch has an interesting premise of a father going undercover for the DEA to prove his son’s innocence in an alleged drug deal.  But the real reason I am excited for this movie is because of its director, Ric Roman Waugh, who directed a great film called Felon.  Click here for the trailer and here for the IMDb page.

elysium_matt_damon_bald_team_america(19)        Elysium

This is the much anticipated follow up movie from Neill Blomkamp who did District 9District 9 was one of my favorite movies of 2009 and Elysium seems to be of the same sci-fi/action genre.  It is set far in the future in year 2159, where two classes (the very rich and the very poor) duke it out and the poor are lead by Max (Matt Damon) fighting for equality for the poor class.  What a liberal themed movie for a very liberal Matt Damon.  Earlier photos look like there is some great action and a very bald Matt Damon.  Click here for the IMDb page.

this_is_the_end_comedy_movie_poster_funny_actors(18)        This Is The End

Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and more modern day comic favorites for audiences are all in this one… playing themselves?  Well I am sure their portrayals of themselves are kind of a satire but still great.  This Is The End is about said actors trying to survive apocalyptic conditions in James Franco’s humble abode.  I was not sure about this one initially but after the trailer this looks incredibly funny.  I thought Franco would be a one hit wonder with comedies after Pineapple Express but this looks awesome.  Click here for the uncensored trailed and here for the IMDb page.

 starbuck_movie_french_foreign_poster(17)       Starbuck

Starbuck is a French film that looks to be one of the top comedy/dramas of the year.  It about a man who upon finding out his girlfriend it pregnant that he is also the father to 142 other people as a result of artificial insemination.  What follows are lawsuits and a man trying to connect with all the children he did not know he had.  The premise is both funny and sad which is why I am drawn to wanting to see it.  The trailer makes it look like a lot of situational humor as he finds his “children” living their lives and the very real emotions that go along with it.  Here is the trailer and here is the IMDb page.

maniac_movie_poster_elijah_wood_killer_clip(16)        Maniac

Elijah Wood may be the lease intimidating or scary actor I have seen on screen even in Sin City.  So when I heard he would be playing a serial killer in the Maniac remake I just laughed.  But as pictures and trailers came out I bought more and more into it.  Earlier this week they also released the first 6 (six) minutes of Maniac on YouTube and holy crap does it look good.  It is shot in first person point of view from Wood’s character’s perspective which makes it eerie like early slasher films from the 70s and 80s.  While on the topic of the 70s and 80s it features a title track that feels right out of that era much like Drive.  I definitely got to check this one out.  Click here for the first 6 minutes of Maniac and here for the IMDb page.

machete_kills_movie_poster_danny_trejo_robert_rodriguez_lady_gaga_mel_gibson(15)        Machete Kills

Machete was the of the most fun theater experiences I have ever had.  Robert Rodriguez knows how to make a movie that entertains with great action and a good story all while mocking itself.  It is Danny Trejo’s best leading roll and I dare say Steven Segal’s best movie ever as the villain.  But Rodriguez has managed to top Segal by casting Mel Gibson as the bad guy and Charlie Sheen as the US President. WOW!  Plus as a straight guy I will watch any movie that has Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Amber Heard, Vanessa Hudgens, Sofia Vergara, Lady Gaga, and a much grown up Alex Vega.  This will be a guy’s guy movie.  Here is an interview with Gibson about Machete Kills and here is the IMDb page

the_iceman_movie_michael_shannon(14)        The Iceman

Michael Shannon is officially joining my list of actor that the general public does not know but should along with Tom Hardy and Ben Foster.  I cannot believe he did not get a nomination for Take Shelter and was the best part of Premium Rush.  In The Iceman he plays a man that does hits for mobs until he starts to make those decisions for himself.  Shannon is rocking some serious bad guy facial hair in this one and the classic mobster wet look.  It also stars James Franco, Chris Evans, Robert Davi, Winona Ryder, Stephen Dorff and Ray Liotta.  The trailer looks legit and here is the IMDb page.

pacific_rim_movie_guillermo_del_toro_monsters_alien_robots(13)        Pacific Rim

Guillermo del Toro might get my vote as the most imaginative director in the movie business.  I know a lot of his movies come from pre-existing material but he always puts his own signature on a lot of the elements.  Best example being his creature designs.  Pan’s Labirynth has some of the coolest looking creatures and I love what he did with the Hellboy movies.  The first one is one of my top five comic book based movies.  Pacific Rim does what sci-fi fans have dreamed about, pinning giant robots controlled by humans against monstrous aliens.  Check out the cool trailer here and the IMDb page here.

john_dies_at_the_end_movie_poster_drugs(12)        John Dies At The End

If when this movie comes out and people complain about reviews spoiling ending I will be sad for the human race.  The title flat out saying how the movie should end and if it does not end that way I will claim false advertising (kidding).  Title aside John Dies At The End sounds crazy with drugs from another world that mutate people after a psychological trip that is really a trip.  It stars Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, and Paul Giamatti who pick really good scripts.  Plus the trailer really suggests that this movie will be a blast to watch.  Click here for the trailer and here for the IMDb page.

insidious_chapter_2_movie_james_wan(11)        Insidious Chapter 2

This is the sequel to 2010’s Insidious which was one of the most chilling PG-13 horror movie experiences I have ever had in a theater.  The music made my hair stand on end and there were some legit jump scares.  Many who did not like it found it to be a rip off of Poltergeist and I completely see their argument.  These same critics must also admit that the sequel that followed Poltergeist was utter garbage compared to its predecessor.  I believe that if Insidious Chapter 2 comes out and delivers that same experience as the first movie, those critics can shove their complaints up their asses.  I do not know too much about the plot of the sequel but look forward to it none the less.  Click here for the IMDb page.

star_trek_into_darkness_benedict_cumberbatch(10)        Star Trek Into Darkness

Poke holes in the time travel of J.J. Abraham’s Star Trek and how it impacts the franchise all you want, that movie was shockingly good.  I have always preferred Star Trek to Star Wars by a slight margin but this movie extended that gap with how fun it was.  Great casting especially Karl Urban and Simon Pegg made the movie now add the screen presence of Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain to make Star Trek Into Darkness sound potentially epic.  Cumberbatch was hands down the best thing about Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy (at least I thought so) and if rumors are true that he is Khan… look out.  Click here for the trailer and here for the IMDb page.

warm_bodies_zombie_romance_comedy(9)          Warm Bodies

I have come to realize that horror comedies are one of my favorite genres after seeing movies like Shaun of the Dead, Tucker & Dales Vs. Evil, Zombieland, and Behind the Mask:  The Rise of Leslie Vernon.  Thrown in a love story that is more in the forefront of the movie rather than a side plot and you have Warm Bodies.  A zombie that falls in love with a girl works to become less dead and more human.  This seems like a new take on the zombie genre which needs some variety.  I admittedly am not a fan of traditional zombie movies which is why I could care less about Brad Pitt’s World War Z.  Click here for the trailer and here for the IMDb page

oblivion_tom_cruise(8)          Oblivion

There are a lot of scif/action/thrillers coming out next year but this one takes the cake for me.  The main reason for that is there is still a lot of mystery what exactly it is about.  It stars Tom cruise as the last man on a desolate earth as a repairmen for drone when mysterious pods land containing what appear to be human beings.  At least that is what I gathered from the trailer.  It looks like a complex thriller which I am a big fan of since they really do a great job of showing a lot in the trailer but it is difficult to piece together what is going on.  Plus one of the writers is writing the new Star Wars movie so Oblivion could be a good indicator about how that will turn out.  Here is the trailer and here is the IMDb page.

the_worlds_end_edgar_wright_simon_pegg_nick_frost_comedy(7)          The World’s End

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost are back together after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz for The World’s End.  The premise on the IMDb is: “Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.”  The key word in that premise is unwittingly.  There is no question that Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are some of the wittiest comedy of the last decade.  I do not think I need to say more, I just love British comedies.  Here is the IMDb page.

ripd_movie_ryan_reynolds_jeff_bridges_kevin_bacon(6)          R.I.P.D.

Premise is pretty sweet, a murdered cop joins a supernatural police force called the Rest in Peace Department (RIPD) and seek out his murderer.  Sounds cool but what makes me really excited are the actors involved.  Mary-Louise Parker and Ryan Reynolds are good but I have always wanted to see Kevin Bacon and Jeff Bridges in a movie together.  I know that sounds like an odd combo but those two I just really enjoy on screen so to finally see them together has me pumped.  Random side-note too, Mike O’Malley is in it and I loved him in CBS’ Yes, Dear as Jimmy Hughes.  Not too much is out yet about this one so all I got is the IMDb page.

odd_thomas_movie_dean_koontz_stormy(5)          Odd Thomas

No one is talking about the Odd Thomas movie and I am okay with that.  Odd Thomas is based off a Dean Koontz novel about a young man that has a sixth sense to talk to the dead that must use his gift to prevent a hold tragedy from taking place.  I know it does not sound too original but it is an interesting story about an interesting character.  Odd Thomas is a short order cook by day and a paranormal detective by night.  He is going to be played by Anton Yelchin (perfect choice), his love interest Stormy Llewellyn will be played by Addison Timlin, Willem DaFoe is chief of police Wyatt Porter, Patton Oswalt as his friend/mentor Ozzie, and Shuler Hensley as the mysterious Fungus Man/Bob Robertson.  It is a great book that will hopefully be a great movie.  Here is the IMDb page.

the_conjuring_movie_warrens_vera(4)          The Conjuring

James Wan may be the best horror movie director in recent years.  Saw and Insidious must be in the list of top ten horror movies of the last decade and in interviews you can see his passion for the genre.  That aside this is about the original paranormal investigators Ed and Larraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) who investigated many paranormal events including the events that inspired The Amityville Horror.  Wan has voice his excitement for this movie and doing the Warrens justice especially after he personally met with Lorraine Warren.  I ranked this one ahead of Insidious Chapter 2 is primarily because sequels are rarely are better than the first movie and The Conjuring is its own movie.

dead_man_down_colin_farrell_niels_arden_oplev(3)          Dead Man Down

Niels Arden Oplev’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in 2009 is the superior movie adaptation of the novel in my opinion even if it is only by a slight margin.  Naturally when I heard he would be working once again with Noomi Rapace I immediately got pumped up for it.  Then I heard it had Colin Farrell and Terrence Howard who are two major screen presences.  Finally I saw the trailer and this movie looks amazing.  It has looks stylish with these vibrant colors and appears to be a taut thriller.  Noomi Rapace I think will nail the damsel in distress that is has a vengeful agenda that deviously black mails Colin Farrell’s character.  Plus I think she is gorgeous.  And ever since seeing In Bruges if Colin Farrell does a movie I will see it.  That movie proved the quality actor he can be if given the right role and in Dead Man Down his character Victor seems to be in the same desperate position.  Here is the trailer and here is the IMDb page.

a_good_day_to_die_hard_bruce_willis_jai_courtney(2)          A Good Day To Die Hard

Bruce Willis gets may vote as the greatest action movie star of all time because in addition to kicking ass the guy can actually act too.  His action stardom began when he took on the role of John McClane in John McTiernan’s Die Hard and even though sequels seem to depreciate as they come out, Live Free or Die Hard was still a good movie.  This time around we get to see what his other offspring, Jack McClane is up to taking on Russian villain once again but these Russian have nuclear weapons.  This New York cop keeps getting bigger and bigger cases.  By the way, his son Jack is played by Jai Courntey who was the best part of Jack Reacher as one of the henchman for the lead villain.  Click here for the trailer and here for the IMDb page.

stoker_movie_poster_chan_wook_park(1)          Stoker

Oldboy may be the most original and thought provoking movies I have ever seen.  The ending should go down as one of the most insane endings ever.  I was grossed out, disturbed, and “oh man… that sucks!”  It is not a movie I can watch over and over but I am glad I saw it.  Oldboy’s director Chan-wook Park is also directing Stoker which I am hoping will have the same feel of eerie revenge.  Nicole Kidman looks to be taking on a character that is darker than any character I have ever seen her play before.  Mia Wasikowska, as pretty as she is, looks creepy and cold as India Stoker that will hopefully be a defining role for her.  Gives off a female Dexter vibe mixed with Javier Bardem’s character Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men.  I mean that as a compliment of course.  Here is the trailer and here is the IMDb page.

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RochPikey’s Top 10 Movies of 2012

top_movies_of_2012_bestUntil I started putting my list together, I never realized how good of a year in movies 2012 was.  All the genres were well represented with dramas, comedies, action, sci-fi, animation, and even westerns.  At the beginning of the year I remember my most anticipated list of movies some of which met expectations others did not.  But undoubtedly you got to love when a movie you were not expecting to like blows you away and there were plenty of those this year as well.

Here are my top 10 movies of the year along with some notable mentions at the end.

10.          Robot & Frank

One of the best kept secrets of the year.  Next to no one I talk to about movies has seen it and that is a shame!  This was easily one of the more touching and relatable movies of the year for me.  If you read my review for this then you know I love how Frank develops this relationship with the robot much like my grandmother grew to love her satellite TV after refusing to get one for years.  The way the robot does what he needs to do to help Franks ailing memory even if it means breaking the law was fantastic.  Please if you get an opportunity to check out Robot & Frank, do it.

9.            Talaash

This was an enriching movie experience all around for me.  It is one of the few movies from India I have seen that does not fit under the Bollywood label.  It is a very intriguing and well done story with very developed characters that come to life due to phenomenal performances from Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji (Mukherjee).  It’s mystery has many twists and turns so when the movie ends I did not see the final twist coming.  Great thriller that I would recommend to anyone especially if after seeing great foreign films like Oldboy, I Saw The Devil, and Trollhunter you are looking for something new (like I was).  Click here for my full review of Talaash.

8.            Skyfall

What a comeback for the franchise… again.  Casino Royale give the franchise a fresh take after (in my opinion) the worst James Bond movie ever, Die Another Day.  Then Quantum of Solace came and took the wind out of the sail of the franchise again.  Knowing this Daniel Craig flexed some of Hollywood muscle to recruit Sam Mendes to helm this most recent installment and it was great.  Mendes gave unimaginable depth to a character that we had already seen in 22 other movies along with fun Bond action with a villain played devilishly by Javier Bardem.  It features the best cinematography of all the Bonds making it one of the top of the year.  Click here for my full review.

7.            Prometheus

Many die hard fanboys of the original Alien found this movie to be a sin but I could not disagree more.  Visually it is one of Ridley Scott’s best movies and it does a great job about raising questions about our existence without proposing answers like some filmmakers may be tempted to do.  Also I think people despised the fact that it was not the direct prequel they were hoping for even thought there was a hint of “xenomorph DNA” (as Scott puts it) in the final moments of the movie.  A lot of people put blame on Damon Lindelof but I cannot help but wonder if they had dismissed that this was in anyway a prequel would people still ridicule Prometheus?  I will never know.  Even though I did not like Prometheus as much as Alien or Aliens it was still one of the best sci-fi, action films of the year.  Click here for my full review.

6.            The Perks of Being a Wildflower

It has long been a question of mine my more authors do not write/direct movies that are made based on their novels/stories.  After author Stephen Chbosky did just that with The Perks of Being a Wildflower I am convinced that movies that were based off books that sucked could have been better had to author be more in control.  It was masterfully put together for a great story with characters you really cared about.  Logan Lerman proved his ability to play a leading role, Emma Watson showed her acting range beyond her part in the Harry Potter films, and Ezra Miller shows once again that he is destine for big things in the future.  Click here for my full review.

5.            Dredd

I have no clue why this movie bombed in the box office.  Granted to trailer seems cheesy but what superhero movie trailer doesn’t?  Dredd is hands down the most underappreciated movie of the year instead of underrated.  It is the best movie no one went to see which is sad because everyone I know who saw it really liked it.  The action and effects in Dredd was sensational considering I am not usually a fan of 3D but it was well utilized in this movie.  Karl Urban was the perfect choice to play Judge Dredd, Olivia Thirlby was great as Anderson, and Lena Headey removes any doubt about having a female villain in a comic book based movie – Headey was chilling as times as Ma-Ma.  Hopefully Dredd gets the follow it deserves once it his shelves on DVD and Blu-Ray in order to earn a sequel.

4.            Les Miserables

The main advantage this movie has over the play is that it shows a more coherent story.  During the play there is not much about the set that aids in telling the story while Hooper’s film features some incredible sets that piece the songs together better than the play does.  Even though the songs are not sang with the precision as the stage actors, they are sung with powerful emotion that it is hard not to get teary eyed as parts.  All actors involved were phenomenal including Russell Crowe who a lot of critics are giving a hard time.  As a fan of the play I see no reason why other fans of the play would not enjoy this movie.  Click here for my full review.

3.            The Dark Knight Rises

I know I am in the minority here but I thought The Dark Knight Rises was the best of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy.  Plot wholes aside (because every blockbuster has them) the story was just an epic conclusion.  For a near three hour long movie it crams a lot into it and never feels dragged out or slow.  Tom Hardy as Bane was the ideal villain with superior strength and brains to match which is why I liked him more than the joker.  Plus something that seems to be getting swept aside is that it is emotional.  Nolan managed to make you emotionally connected to the idea of Batman and what he meant to Gotham as a symbol not just someone going where the law could not.  I legitimately got choked up when Alfred had to tell Bruce that he had to leave and could not watch Wayne destroy himself.  Even the finally moments of the city realizing how important Batman was to Gotham as he took the bomb to the horizon was just fantastic.  And the Bane chant just ruled.  Click here for my full review.

2.            Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed may be one of the best independent movies of the decade in my opinion.  I normally am not a fan of romantic comedies but this one has heart without reaching point where you roll your eyes because of the ooey gooey-ness.  That is the result of quality writing.  Just the idea of the movie alone is great.  Journalists responding to a personal ad for someone to time travel with.  How could that not be funny?  The source of a lot of the humor is from great and natural dialogue that makes you think this is what people in that situation would.  The banter is the exact kind of banter I have with my friends which is why the characters in this movie work so well.  Click here for my full review.

1.            Looper

Let me just say I know my number 1 & 2 movies this year were time travel film but I really am not that into time travel movies these two were just that good to me.  Rian Johnson has crafted the most original time travel movies of all time with action, comedy and drama.  The best thing about it is that on two separate occasions in Looper two different characters say not to dwell on the laws of time travel because it’ll “fry your brain.”  That is possibly one of the cleverest ways to cover your tracks if there are any holes in the story.  Are there holes?  Sure, but who really cares.  Now I generally like most movies with Bruce Willis but I loved this film because it really highlights what he brings to the table as an actor.  Willis brings intensity to the action and story while adding drama and emotion when necessary as an older Joe trying to ensure his realty happens.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt nails all the mannerisms of a younger Willis but also portrays this younger version of Joe as a desperate, violent junkie which goes on to mature into Willis’ Joe.  There is a lot to Looper that it tough to get in to without spoiling anything.  Click here for my full review.

 

Notable mentions:  Safe, Life of Pi, Lawless, The Avengers, Cabin in the Woods, ParaNorman, Chronicle, The Grey, Killer Joe

Movies I did not see but I wanted to that could make the list:  Deadfall, The Raid:  Redemption, Silver Linings Playbook, and The Hobbit

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