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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Simplistic Sneak Peek Ep. 7

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY


On this episode of Simplistic Sneak Peek, the boys take a look at three trailers with dark subject matter and one trailer a bit on the lighter side.  During which time, Matt shows off his Terry Gilliam impersonation(s), while Justin and DJ touch on the age old stereotype of black people in horror films. 

You can watch this episode's trailers below then click video above to hear Matt, DJ and Justin's thoughts on them in real time.

Big Hero 6

Horns

12 Monkeys The Series

Ouija

Friday, July 25, 2014

Early Returns: The Expendables 3


The Expendables 3: Bloated

On one hand The Expendables 3 is a bloated mess that does nothing to earn your money nor time.  We have nothing but a shit ton of yesterday's great actors thrown into a film where they will not be used accordingly.  The problem with this film is really the fact that it is an Expendables film.  The first one wasn't great but it was fun.  The second again wasn't great but it had a lot of action.  The third is just bloated, with editing and script problems beyond fixing.  Scenes going on for far too long and dialogue that's completely unneeded again bloats this film.  The addition of Ford, Gibson, Banderas and Snipes is why I really wanted to watch this.  However, their characters were extremely underused.  Ford isn't in the film that much and Wesley's character is completely useless.  There is a scene in the beginning where he shaves his beard off with a knife.  A giant f&$king knife.  He shaves it so clean, I stopped what I was doing and texted my Simplistic Reviews partner DJ to confirm what I just saw.  Not a great sign starting off. 

Since we are talking about things that were absurdly lazy, lets get into the effects for this thing.  Now the CGI in The Expendables films are typically very bad.  The common thing most point to is the fake CGI blood.  This film doesn't seem to have CGI blood, thanks to its new PG-13 rating.  But there are still a slew of cheap and horrible looking CGI explosions, muzzle flashes, helicopter chases and one amazingly crappy parachute deployment shot.  It is laugh inducing.  

But back to the bloat.  After an Expendable gets severely injured, Barney Ross goes out to put together a new team out of fear of getting his old team killed.  All of them young, and one of them a woman.  The woman, Ronda Rousey, is the only person I recognized out of all the new recruits.  So now, a film I watch for the nostalgic actors forces me to follow its "plot" with people I've never heard of.  A team I couldn't care less about.  Expendables 2 did this a bit, but it's much worse here.  The old team eventually comes back after the young guns screw up badly.  At least I think so.  I honestly started to play on my phone at this point.  Stallone's character Barney Ross is so stupid in this film.  Tactically, emotionally, grammatically stupid.  His motivations make no sense throughout this film and then they switch on a dime for absolutely no reason.  I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why the leader of a team called THE EXPENDABLES is afraid of his men getting killed.  Kinda undermines the entire premise of your franchise there Sly. 

The acting?  You don't care about the acting.  You do?  Really?  Fine.  It's like watching a sleepwalking documentary on Discovery Channel hosted by Ben Stein.   Only one or two of these guys (Banderas and Gibson eventually) show any sign of life in this thing.  This is something I can understand with the old vets, but the new blood is just as lifeless.   Here is a SPOILER filled example of everything wrong with this film combined.  There is a scene where Gibson and the bad guys set the team up in a building with C-4 all around them.  They have around 45 seconds to get out.  One of the new Expendables says he can try and block the signal.  He stupidly explains this plan while Gibson listens via a video camera.  But Gibson stupidly does nothing to capitalize on hearing this plan.  So, the scene culminates with these action icons that I grew up with just haplessly standing there for 45 seconds shouting, "Come on, Come on you can do it" to a guy I don't care about pushing buttons.  They shout their encouragement with all the enthusiasm of a thirteen year old boy forced to play dress-up with his baby sister.  They all say it and say it horribly.  Rousey delivers the line so badly, it made me cringe.  I'm pretty sure I saw her cringe from it too!

On the other hand, anyone who purposefully goes to see this film already knows what they are going to experience.  Nonsensical action, cheesey writing and actors you loved that have seen better days...months...decades.  The Expendables 3 just like the others.  Nothing new, just a lot of bloat.  Is it worth your $9.45 at the theater?  No, nor is it worth your time.  Wait for it to come onto TV...network TV.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Boarding the Hype Train: Snowpiercer

POLARIZING
Snowpiercer - Polarizing

I'm really not one to buy into hype. I know what I like and while I do seek out films that peak my interest, I seldom bow down to conformity and buy into things that people universally say is good. Namely, I don't like "South Park", I believe that Seth MacFarlane is overrated, the same goes for Zack Snyder, and when people beat on things that are universally "hated" I usually bring up a counterpoint to either pose a challenge that will force the attacker to turn defensive and either call me a dick, or simply slink away and talk sh*t behind my back, which I'm fine with. But as a reviewer, and a contributor to this site, I have to buy into hype sometimes in order to bring an audience to the site. It's all about the views. This brings me to "Snowpiercer" one of the most-hyped films of 2013 that still hasn't been widely distributed. It's a polarizing film, no pun intended, that is full of allegories, pseudo-science, and reminds me of nearly every sci-fi/action film I've seen the past 20 years.

"Snowpiercer" takes place 18 years after the Earth has been frozen over due to a failed experiment that was supposed to solve the Global Warming crisis. The survivors of the world-wide freeze have all been placed on a high-speed train created by the Wilford Corporation that travels around the world on an endless loop. A social system has been put in place where the tail end of the train includes the poorest of the poor, including Captain America himself, Chris Evan, who plays Curtis, a man who has seen it all and is looking to start a revolution with the help of Tin-Tin (Jamie Bell), Kane from "Alien" (John Hurt) and a few other stars that will leave you wondering, "They're in this movie?"

Of course I'm being snarky about this film, because at times it takes itself a little to seriously. And that isn't a bad thing. "Snowpiercer" is supposed to be a social commentary about the folly of science and the way humans interact with each other in the time of crisis. It might even be fair to say that this might be one of the most important sci-fi films since "Children of Men." The downside of "Snowpiercer" is that the commentary is extremely heavy-handed, and at the same time, almost an afterthought in some scenes. It's almost like it's trying to find a balance between the two, but can't decide what kind of movie that it wants to be, and that is where it gets a little muddled.

This isn't to say that the film isn't good, there is actually a lot of good in "Snowpiercer." If you took a Terry Gilliam film, took elements of "Cube," "Children of Men," "City of Lost Children," "The Hunger Games," "Bioshock," "300," and put it on a moving train, ta-da; "Snowpiercer." The acting is top notch for an sci-fi/actioneer, including a performance by Tilda Swinton that SHOULD go down as one of the best of the year. The train itself is also a wonder to behold. You don't often see multiple sets created for a film. It's either done via green screen or practically in a pre-exsisting environment. There is craftsmanship in "Snowpiercer" and that is most appreciated where nothing is built by hand anymore, just computers. The set designer(s) should be highly commended for their work in this film.

However, with all that I like about "Snowpiercer" there are still problems with predictability, unfinished plot elements, and an ending that is simply "meh." It's a film with a lot of big ideas about the folly of science, how man interacts with each other, social hierarchy, and looking for hope in hopelessness, but it kind of boils itself down into an action film on a train that also reminds me of "The Raid."

How will "Snowpiercer" be remembered by the masses? From what I've seen so far, it's quite......polarizing. People seem to love it for it's style, use of allegory, and production value. Other people hate it for it's overuse of allegory and to be honest with you, simply because the film is being talked about by so many people. Sure, it's a cynical perspective, but we live in cynical times where people are going to poke holes in anything that other people might enjoy. "Snowpiercer" isn't perfect, and maybe about 20 minutes too long, but if you look past the idea that the film might be trying to say too much, it's an enjoyable and all together original take on the post-apocalyptic film genre.

Fun Fact: "Snowpiercer" is based on the 1982 French graphic novel "Le Transperceneige."

They Came Together

They Came Together: Horrible

I Justin Polizzi have decided to Kill Myself, This is my last will and testament.

Why?

Because I watched this film, I don't wanna live anymore.

----- 83 mins before the suicide -----

So one moment I'm trying to pick a film to review.

Hey, They Came Together, okay that looks good. Hey look at all of the people in this film!

Wow this is going to be a fun film. Boy was I wrong. Now before someone goes, "You didn't get it!" No I got it, its a spoof and that was accomplished. What wasn't accomplished was the fact it is also a comedy. It's not funny, just not my type I guess. I really feel cheated here, like just because we're all friends lets throw together a poorly made film. It's a shame so many good films get passed up for stuff like this to make a terrible film on purpose. There is a scene where Christopher Meloni shits himself and blames it on someone else. Like the whole scene is pointless and just shows how stupid this film is. Here is another one, Paul Rudd goes to a bar and the bartender comes over and we have the same two lines repeated over and over for a solid 5 mins.

It's a shame, the trailer is good, watching the movie is another thing. They just didn't try, and that sadness me.

Rudd and Poehler are good, that I'll say.

David Wain says, "It's a really stupid romance comedy".... Man I guess he did set out to make it like that. 

They just drop the comedy part.

Was I too harsh? Maybe Im just spoofing a bad review...we may never know.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Comic-Con Sneak Peek: Constantine

DRAWN

 Constantine - Drawn

What? Another comic book property that is being visualized on the small screen? As if all of the big-screen adaptations aren't enough. I know this review already sounds pessimistic, and why shouldn't it be, I mean, this is DC/Warner Brothers that we're talking about here. If you haven't gotten it by now, this is my take on the forthcoming TV adaptation of DC/Vertigo's cult comic book series "Constantine". And while I'm not the biggest fan, and maybe the 2005 film version kind-of-sort-of ruined it for me, I'm strangely drawn to the show, and this is only the pilot.

A little history lesson first; "Constantine" was created back in the 1980s by comic book legend/cranky old weird man, Alan Moore, who I'm sure has already condemned this show. John Constantine is a chain-smoking, hard living, cynical exorcist who has been condemned to Hell. He's kind of like Beetlejuice in some ways.

In the pilot episode we find John residing in an mental institution after a botched exorcism that leaves a young girl names Astra dead and banished to Hell. He soon meets a girl named Liv Aberdine who is connected with John's past and is hunted by a growing threat from Hell. If you can't tell by now, there is a lot of Hell-related activity in this show.

Putting this out there; I'm not an avid reader of "Hellblazer" and don't know all that much about the exploits of John Constantine in the comics. I really only have the film that featured Keanu Reeves in the starring role to fall back on, so excuse me if my knowledge might be lacking, but if I was to simply judge the show on it's own merits, and as a completely impartial viewer who has little stake as a fanboy, I would say that "Constantine" has a bright future. Much in the vein of "Grimm," another NBC mainstay that garnishes decent ratings in a horrible time slot on Friday night, I believe that NBC has a winner on their hands.

Albeit a rabid fanbase, "Constantine" is still a rather fringy property, much like many of Vertigo's comic book titles. Yes, we have the possible "Sandman" adaptation with Joseph Gordon Levitt's involvement and Seth Rogen and AMC's interest in "Preacher" but it's surprising to see NBC taking such a gamble on "Constantine." As I said, "Grimm" and "Constantine" are two rather comparable shows, and could this be the writing on the wall that NBC is growing tired of "Grimm" or is NBC seeing the interest in adapted work, ie, "Hannibal" which is much-watch TV in my book.

As far as casting goes, Matt Ryan is who I would have always wanted to play John Constantine. One, he's English, which I'm sure pleases fans. Two, he's sardonic and speaks with a British accent, no Keanu-surfer dude "Whoa" here. And three, he's oozing charm, something Reeves never had in the film. Ryan will be the one to make or break this show, and if this is any inclination that he can after one episode, I'd say the show is in good hands.

As with any review, there have to be a few cons. One, David Goyer is helping in show-running duties. It's not that I don't like Goyer, he's okay sometimes, but I think his ego and big ideas get in the way. Two, and this isn't a big deal to me, but it's blasphemy to others; there is no smoking in this show, in the classic sense. And by classic sense I mean putting a cigarette to your lips and smoking it. News flash people, you can't smoke on prime time Network TV. You can show mass murder, implied child molestation, implied rape, cannibalism, and all sorts of other wholesome family activities, but you can't smoke. Yes, you might argue "Why put "Constantine" on NBC than?!" Well, this is what you got, and if you are going to be blinded about the fact that Constantine doesn't smoke and make that the barometer of your argument of why you won't watch the show, that's pretty dumb.

Outside of smoking, the show looks like it is going to hit on all the major points that the film was neglectful about. The casting seems spot on, the world feels lived in, the special effects already look better than the movie, and I was drawn in after only 45 minutes, whereas the film I was bored to tears. Smoking is small potatoes, and if you pay close enough attention to the pilot you'll see a nice little nod that should make you feel a little better that the creators did all they could to incorporate your precious cigarettes.

All in all, "Constantine" looks better than I expected, and it might wash the taste out of mouth of the lackluster film version starring Johnny Utah (and don't get me wrong, I love "Point Break"). It looks like NBC is all in, and the fact that it has to compete against Fox who is premiering another DC property later this Fall in "Gotham" I'd say they will let the show grow and become one of the surprises on Fall schedule.

Fun Fact: John Constantine first appeared in 1985's "The Saga of the Swamp Thing."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Simplistic Sneak Peek Ep. 6

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY


On this episode of Simplistic Sneak Peek, the boys get a glimpse of two films starring two different Batmen and a TV movie sequel about a shark apocalypse.  Well, I guess all three films deal with some kind of cataclysmic event.  Christian Bale deals with frogs and locusts falling from the sky in Exodus, Ian Ziering deals with sharks falling from the sky in Sharknado 2, and Ben Affleck deals with co-starring with Tyler Perry.  See?  All horrible things.

You can watch this episode's trailers below then click video above to hear Matt, DJ and Justin's thoughts on them in real time.




Comic-Con Sneak Peek: The Flash...And By Default, Arrow...Um...And Inexplicably Smallville (DJ's Take)

PROGRESS
I was never a big fan of Smallville.  Sure, it had its own huge following, but it was never really a Superman for me.  It always felt like the perpetual meanderings of a soon-to-be hero before becoming the Man Of Steel I grew love.  I wanted the hero, not the just the origin.  That kind of formula is the basis behind my apprehension to Fox’s upcoming Gotham series.  Then DC and the CW came out with a show about the fringey at best comic book hero Green Arrow.  A show in which I also had apprehension of at first.  But Arrow gave me something that I never fully got from Smallville.  Arrow gave me the hero.  Yes, Arrow also shows the origins of its titular character.  However, it uses careful orchestrated time jumps (Lost style) to interweave that past origin with his circumstances in the present.   This formula resulted in Arrow growing into probably the best comic book television series ever.  Its success showed DC and the CW that giving us the hero faster and touching back on his or her’s backstory is more enjoyable and more efficient than leading us along for 10 seasons only for a lackluster payoff.  Arrow’s rich world building is handled more deftly and accurately than DC’s cinematic one has so far.  The Flash is one of the first fruits of Arrows labor, and I have to admit, it is a tasty fruit.

There isn't that much I need to say to set up The Flash, seeing as it was already set up perfectly in a mid-season run of Arrow last season.  Crime Scene investigator Barry Allen visited Starling City searching for the thought to be superpowered killer of his mother.  While he’s there he essentially puts Arrow on a straighter path to becoming a hero.  Then he’s struck by lightning during a freak storm caused by an experimental machine and falls into a coma.  The series picks up right where that plot line leaves off as Barry awakes slimmer, trimmer, and a sh%tload faster.  The rest of the plot goes through the comic book movie basics of Barry figuring out his powers.  The more interesting thing though is that the strange malfunction by the machine that gave Barry his powers seems to have also sparked the birth of people with abilities across the globe.   The term “metahuman” is finally dropped for all DC Comics loyalist to squeal over.  For the uninitiated, metahumans is a DC classification just as popular and actually more encompassing as Marvel’s mutant classification.  In other words, this blows the TV universe wide open.  The gritty and grounded show Arrow is now sharing a world with people as out there as Beast Boy, Aquaman, Gorilla Grodd and friggin’ Plastic Man.  And all of it was done deftly and believably in less than a minute.

Now I'm not saying that Ollie is gonna have a throw down with someone as crazy as Animal Man, (Although The Atom is gonna pop up next season) but that is what separates Flash from Arrow.  Flash is a show more suited to explore that crazy superpowered world, whereas Arrow is is more suited to just sticking a toe in it once and a while.  Flash has the right mood for it.  The pilot for Flash feels more upbeat and chipper than the gritty Arrow show, while not being as melodramatically Tiger Beat as Smallville seemed to get at times.  There is a scene with a particularly great and apropos cameo that seems to point out that delineation.  A scene that shows where this show has come from, but also how it is going to be different.

I owe Grant Gustin an apology.  When I first heard about his casting as Barry Allen in a guest spot on Arrow, I was against it.  Mainly because I was thinking long term.  Justice League long term.  I could not see them casting an actor from Glee as one of the most famous members of the Justice League in the inevitable Justice League feature film.  That was before I realized that DC's cinematic universe isn't likely going to cross over with its television universe.  This was also before I saw him actually as Barry.  Now I still think Gustin is a bit too young to play Allen, but Gustin's likability outweighs any minor geek discrepancies I or anyone may have.  Stephen Amell had the benefit of Oliver Queen being unknown enough for him to shape and truly make him his own.  Barry Allen is a lot to live up to.  From what little I know of Flash mythos, Allen seems to have a more compelling and entertaining backstory than his predecessor or his successors.  Heavy lifting for Gustin to handle.  However, there are some very good scenes in this pilot, one in particular with original Flash actor John Wesley Shipp, which shows Gustin's capability to carry this show. 

The Flash is a welcome surprise and another strong foothold for the DC's television universe.  A universe run by two men, Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, who I've almost forgiven for being creatively responsible for that horrible 2011 Green Lantern film.  Almost.  This October, watch out for lightning...stay out of the friend-zone...be careful in that barn...watch it...then tell me I'm wrong. 

Comic-Con Sneak Peek: The Flash (Justin's take)

The Flash: Fun


This is a tough review to do. On one hand we where going to wait till the premiere date in October. With the leak of the pilot a lot of sites decided to just post their reviews online right away.  And the other makes it tough to have a detail review without ruining a fun show.

But we can defiantly talk about some cheers and jeers without spoiling the show.

Let me just say The Flash is good. It’s like Arrow, but a bit different, which gives The Flash its own type of storytelling. Arrow uses a lot of flashbacks. This is something I thought early on was going to get them in trouble with timelines. Also after awhile flashbacks for me can really turn me off of a story, unless like here they’re used correctly. But Arrow continues to be one of the best shows to watch, mostly do to the writing and its fantastic leads. The Flash seems more likely to follow a different path. Thou it is tough to tell at this point, being this as the only episode. The narration was good. The Flash, Grant Gustin does a very good job playing Berry Allen. I’m very glad they didn’t throw in a ton of jokes for Allen to tell like we have seen before with the character.  He’s dialogue is pretty solid and this was a worry I shared at the start. Detective Joe West and Iris West where good, John Wesley Shipp as Henry Allen was a great idea (Shipp played The Flash on TV in 1991). Harrison Wells is an interesting character to say least (You’ll see what I mean).

The villain was okay.  The meat of the storytelling impacted the character to be given more, so it’s not a total loss. I will say this, the news of Robbie Amell (cousin of the Arrow) as Firestorm has excited me more then anything. I’m looking forward toward seeing that characters come alive.

The effects are pretty good. I was wondering a bit how it would look when I first heard of the show being made. But I'm pretty happy with it. This is something more I'm waiting to see in future episodes. Smallville did a good job with this too, and I'm hoping they take it to the next level, like the flash getting stuck in a mirror from Mirror Master.

All in all everything was pretty good. Only thing that I didn’t like was the amount they packed into the pilot. I’m surprised they didn’t pull a 24 and stretched it along a handful of episodes. A lot happens making the episode feel jammed packed. If they made it a 2-hour event then I could really seeing it working out a tad bit better.

Definitely give it a watch if you’re a fan of the Flash, the Arrow or just like watching something fun on TV.


Also keep a look for a ton of Easter eggs, for a pilot there’re some big ones.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

QUALITY
I've come to the conclusion that the people I work with typically hate action films, comic book movies, and anything sci-fi related that doesn't have the name Kubrick attached to it.  Oh, not here at Simplistic Reviews.  Justin, Matt and Neal share most of my sensibilities when it comes to those genres.  I'm talking about the people I work with at my 9 to 5 job.  They find no joy in the purely joyful, childhood dream come true that is The Avengers.  They shrug their shoulders mockingly at Chris Nolan's unfathomable feat of inserting realism and grittiness into the world of a character named Batman.  They find zero nostalgic fun from Predators, are blind to the poetic pathos and tension of Star Treks old and new, laugh at the lessons of Star Wars, roll their eyes at the awe of Jurassic Park, and find Bond and Bourne films to be just boring.  Why?  It could be because cynicism is the cool thing now a days.  It could be that they get off on giving me a hard time...which is what I suspect it is.  However, I like to think it is because they've been conditioned to believe that QUALITY is an adjective solely reserved for foreign films with subtitles and artsy black and white indies directed by strangely dressed auteur directors.  To them, QUALITY is something that has been absent in so many of the films in those genres over the years, that all in those genres must be lacking in it.  I can do nothing to convince those people that you can have the same level of QUALITY filmmaking from an action film or a comic book film or a sci-fi film as you can from a drama directed by Terrence Malick.  I can do nothing to convince them of the possibility that there are action films and sci-fi films and comic book films that can reach the same level of QUALITY story and performances as an AFI top 100 film.  Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is definitely one of those films.  It has a lot going against it and it succeeds on every level anyway.  Why?  You guessed it.  The level of QUALITY.

I say Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes has a lot going against it because...well...it kinda does on paper.  It's a summer blockbuster set in the middle of a so far lackluster summer blockbuster season...and it's also a sequel...DUN-DUN DUUUUUN!!!!...to a surprise hit remake and reboot of a four decade old classic...AND it has an entirely new cast and crew than its predecessor...AND its story and theme are not all that original if you think about it...AND it's a story that leaves things at the end in pretty much the same place they were in the beginning.  However, the level of care put in this film and the skill of execution by the people involved hurdles these disadvantages.  Think back to when James Cameron's Avatar was out and people would allege, "It's just Dances With Wolves in space." or "It's just Pocahontas in space."  People eventually all jumped on that minimization because once they got past the visual marvel Avatar displays, they were left with a paper thin story with paper thin characters.  Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes takes this same familiar tale (People from two different worlds strive for peace, but are forced into war by skeptics on both sides) and deliver it in a way where you're completely compelled.  People in Dawn, as opposed to Avatar, are three-dimensional.  They just don't do things to do things.  There isn't stereotypical blind heroics or mustache twirling villainy.  The heroes and the villains have reasons and rationales that you can completely understand.  When characters are at odds with each other later in the film, it is heartbreaking because you actually get to see them laugh and talk with each other as friends in the beginning.  In my opinion, Avatar rushes through this step while Dawn revels in it.

Now don't let all this talk of character development fool you.  When sh%t hits the fan in this film, it gets truly hair raising...and hair burning.  Matt Reeves (The man I so wish was taking over directing duties on Star Trek from friend J.J. Abrams) improves on every set piece and utilizes even more of the extraordinary CGI work from WETA.  Reeves gives the film so much weight and scale while still keeping it very intimate.  I have a feeling that the inevitable third installment to this franchise will keep the director carousel going, but Reeves staying onboard might be the better studio decision.  

This is usually the part of a Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes review where you're supposed to say something about Andy Serkis.  And trust me, any amount of praise I can think of to give that man would not be enough.  Serkis is a true revelation, and has been one for some time now.  I mean, Gollum was over a decade ago!  However, lost in the hefty shadow of Serkis are some of the other great performances in this film.  Toby Kebbell is terrific from beginning to end.  He more than holds his own with Serkis as his right hand ape Koba, which is truly saying something.  You might say he has the advantage of getting the more animated bits of acting to do, seeing as Caesar is more reserved than Koba.  However, it is in his more quieter scenes that Kebbell really brought this character to life.  A scene where he explains to Caesar about "human work" is one of my favorite moments in the film.  Jason Chalke has been one of the most underrated character actors for a while now.  His performances in Dawn and in Lawless and in Zero Dark Thirty and even in the unfairly cancelled Chicago Code all have one thing in common.  They are all real.  Chalke never seems as though he is acting to me.  He seems as though he is just a real man in this world experiencing what we as an audience are experiencing.  He is a perfect protagonist for this.  Gary Oldman is...well, come on...it's Gary friggin' Oldman.  Nolan's Batman trilogy showed the world one thing that it never knew before.  It showed that Oldman can play characters as well subtly as he can play them over the top.  His character Dreyfus is played similarly subtle here.  He is not a caricature of a hero or a villain.  He is just a man who wants to do what he thinks is right.  

Serkis caught some flack for a comment he made that seemed to minimize the work of the CGI guys and gals behind Dawn.  I, like director Matt Reeves, think his comments weren't meant to downgrade the CGI work for this film.  It is nearly impossible to do so if you look at one frame of it.  Serkis and Kebbell and Nick Thurston and Karin Konoval and the rest of the motion capture actors are doing amazing and sadly unappreciated work.  YOU HEAR THAT ACADEMY?!?  However, the work they do is equaled by the work of the CGI team.  To use a Star Wars prequel parlance, both of their amazing work forms a symbiotic circle and makes the insane concept of a talking ape convincing.  

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a much needed chunk of QUALITY filmmaking jammed into this rather ho-hum summer blockbuster season.  It will be lauded as one of the best Planet Of The Apes films ever and one of the better sequels of all time.  Well, not by the people I work with from 9 to 5.  They most likely won't see it because the monkeys do not jump up and down in front of a 10 foot tall black monolith or speak in iambic pentameter.  Don't be as shortsighted as them...also, never give an ape whiskey...or an AR-13...watch it...then tell me I'm wrong.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

SR Podcast (Ep. 27): July 2014 - Lethal Weapon 2 - Movie Commentary



FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY


Alright folks, it's time to dust off your flannel, feather your mullet and bust out the VCR again because it's time for another Simplistic Reviews Movie Commentary. We return to 1989 with another classic; "Lethal Weapon 2." The sequel to another classic,"Lethal Wepon," "Weapon 2" pretty much ups the ante over it's predecessor and exceeds and it some ways. This time around Riggs and Murtaugh are on the trail of a group of South Africans who are into some shady dealings, including a guy who might be David Warner.

Whereas "Weapon 1" was a pretty dark film, "Weapon 2" is a the perfect balance of humor, bombastic action, and gritty cop drama. With that said, sit back, strap yourself in (if you're into that type of thing) and get ready to yuck it up with three guys who make Jones, Mahoney, and Hooks look like legit cops with "Lethal Weapon 2."

Show Notes:
Riggs Might Go Nuts

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Simply Indie: Pizza Shop: The Movie

HOMAGE

 Pizza Shop: The Movie - Homage

Unlike most films, I've always believed that comedy is the hardest genre to make work for an audience. Comedy is extremely subjective and what one person might find funny another person will not find funny at all, kind of how I feel about "Workaholics," I love it but my wife will merely tolerate it. That's why I commend anyone who, first if all, creates something, and I'll give them double commendation when they create a comedy. "Pizza Shop: The Movie" is a nice homage to comedy of the 80s and even some more modern comedy with it's tongue planted firmly in its cheek.

"Pizza," directed by George O'Barts, is centered around a pizza shop and it's colorful staff. Told through what seems to be a series of montages including training the shop's new delivery boy, going the extra mile for that tip, creating new and exciting tomato sauce recipes, and pulling off the perfect prank on a co-worker. The main story revolves around Pete, the shop's pride and joy, and his co-worker Jason, who wants to see nothing more than Pete fall from grace. As things heat up and Pete is finally sent over the edge, a battle of wills between Pete and Jason threaten to tear Pizza Shop apart and could land them all behind bars.

I'll put this out there right away, if you're easily offended or gross-out comedy really isn't your slice of pizza, you might be a little shocked. O'Barts pushes the limits in some scenes and it's fun to see someone taking a risk in their comedy. "Pizza" reminds me a lot of "....Waiting," a touch of "Poultygiest" with it's wacky cast of characters and even a little bit of "Clerks." I love all three of those films and to see some influences from those films makes me appreciate "Pizza" even more.

You can see the comparison to "Clerks" in the way that film cuts from scene to scene, jumping from story to story. While there is a complete narrative, O'Bart is still able to break the film up into different sections that each tell a different story about an individual character, or group of characters.

All in all, "Pizza" is indeed the raunchy off-color comedy it claims to be, and it does it quite well. The production design is strong, the camera work is actually quite good for a small budget indie, and the story is fun and reminiscent of gross-out comedies of the past. They say "imitation is he best form of flattery" and "Pizza" is able to pull enough from the past while still being it's own film.

You can find more information about "Pizza Shop: The Movie" right HERE. I'd like to thank George O'Bart with furnishing me with a copy of his film to review.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 26): June 2014

 FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

The end of June brings another edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  This month the boys discuss Batman's out of control property damage, play a game of Word Association, berate Chelsea Handler, swoon rather uncomfortably over Fargo, Godzilla's tail and Eva Green, then promote the Patrick Dempsey 80s classic Loverboy.  Yes, we are using "classic" loosely.  All that and more on a dog days of Summer edition of the Simplistic Review Podcast.

Show Notes:
Loverboy
DJ's Hidden Eli Wallach Reference
Mad Max Reboot
Pacific Rim 2 Announcement
Cloud Atlas Valleyspeak
Gary Oldman Apology
Jonah Hill Apology

Music Notes:
Birds & Brass By Sort Of Soul

Simply TV: The Leftovers

AGAIN
The Leftovers - Again

Whenever there is a new show premiering on HBO it always seems to be an event. One, their marketing team could make a show about a misplaced sponge seem interesting and the fact that TV has pretty much overtaken film as the medium of choice for A-list actors, writers, and directors says a lot. Two, HBO gives no f*cks when it comes to outlandish ideas and taking risks that no other network does, outside of FX perhaps. Three, and most importantly, HBO has two series' ending this year, "True Blood" is mercifully coming to an end after six seasons, and surprisingly, "Boardwalk Empire" is ending after only five seasons, the latest being one of the strongest seasons to date. Bottom line, HBO needs some new programming that is going to stick outside of "Thrones" and they just might have it with "The Leftovers," again another series that is a huge risk, but can pay huge dividends.

What we know about "Leftovers" after the first episode is that on October 14th, 2% of the Earth's population suddenly disappeared. The series seems like it will take place primarily in Mapleton, USA, and follow the town's police chief, played by Justin Theroux, and features antagonists like the "GRE" a chain-smoking cult which doesn't speak, and Wayne, a mysterious man who people come from all over country to seeks his guidance. There are also wild dogs, a cool phone app on the iPhone, and high schoolers using the "c-word."

Created by Damon Lindelof, of "Lost" and "Prometheus" fame, or infamy, depending on how you look at it, and Tom Perrotta, who wrote the novel in which the show is based, leave a lot of questions on the table in the series pilot, but any good show will do that. If you are looking for immediate closure on plot lines that are just opened after one episode, than this show isn't the one for you. Plenty of interesting characters are introduced, and just as it was done in "Lost" we catch brief glimpses of flashbacks when characters are introduced. There is also a certain "Twin Peaks" creepiness to the town of Mapleton. Even with it's idyllic nature, there seems to be a dark underbelly that is being hidden by the officials in charge.

While some people give Lindelof a bad rap, I've never had a real issue with him. Yes, I think he can bite off a bit more than he chew as seen with "Prometheus" and "Cowboys and Aliens" but that isn't to say that the guys doesn't have a vision. As frustrating as "Lost" might have been for millions, that didn't stop those millions from seeing the entire show through. With Perrotta as a co-writer on the show, and helping Lindelof with the showrunning duties, I believe that "Leftovers" can be an interesting watch, as long as you're willing to commit yourself to the show.

Bottom line, I think there is a lot to like about "Leftovers." I enjoyed the performances for the most part, sure, there is some overacting, namely by Theroux, and Liv Tyler isn't exactly showcasing her "range," but I think Amy Brennaman is going to be one to watch along with Christopher Eccelston, who I think is criminally underrated and I'm surprised he hasn't found more work in Hollywood. As long as HBO is willing to see this series through (I see maybe 2-3 seasons tops to finish the narrative that Lindelof might have in mind) I believe both "Leftovers" and a little show called "True Detective" will be able to carry HBO through some thin times that I see in 2015.

Fun Fact: A study in 2012 reported that Americans throw away nearly $165 Billion in leftovers, annually.

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