2014

September 5, 2014

Stage Fright

Stage Fright – Tropes

TROPES
I love horror, I really, really do. Ever since I was a kid something drew me to monsters, killers, dark alleys, and I feared what was under my bed or what waited for me in the garage. In recent years, however, the horror genre has really let me down though. Sure, there are a handful of decent flicks that slip through the cracks, but for the most part, the heyday of horror has long been….dead. However, when a new horror flick that even remotely looks interesting comes around I feel compelled to give it a try and give it a fair chance. Enter “Stage Fright“, the ultimate mash-up of “Glee” and Argento, and while some of it works, it devolves into typical horror tropes that are all too familiar to fans of the genre.

“Fright” takes place at Center Stage Theater Camp. Camilla, the daughter of a famous theater star who was murdered on the night of the premier of “The Haunting of the Opera”, along with her brother, Buddy, are the cooks at the camp. Upon learning that The Haunting of the Opera is to be revived, with a Japanese twist,  at the camp, Camilla decides that it’s her destiny to play the role of Sofia, the same role her mother played the night of her murder. Meanwhile, Roger, played by Meat Loaf, is trying to revive his career by having Broadway agent Victor Brady visit the camp during the premier. As we inch ever closer to Opening Night, strange happenings are a foot as a masked killer is wrecking havoc leaving a trail of bodies behind. Will Camilla survive to perform another day, or will the Opera Ghost seal her fate?

There are actually some good ideas floating around in “Fright”. While I’m not a huge musical fan, I appreciate the way the music is worked in, but doesn’t take center stage throughout the film. The numbers actually reminded me Troma’s Poultrygiest and Phantom of the Paradise, and there is the added coolness that Meat Loaf is hamming it up almost as much as he was in “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. Allie MacDonald, who plays Camilla, turns in a fine performance as well and gives off a pseudo-Kristen Connolly look with her expressive eyes and almost “babe-lost-in-the-woods” look.

While there are some good points, halfway through the 2nd act, Fright devolves into standard slasher fare. Toss in a few red herrings, a chase through the woods, imaginative kills, some Argento gore, and the standard “twist.” What I also found a little weird was the fact that the film really played up the stereotypes of “theater kids” either being weird, bullied, or gay, which is played up quite a bit between two characters. While it’s done tastefully, it just seems like an overused trope that is too often used for comedic effect in films that revolve around singing or dancing.

Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, Fright is good because it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. You’re in, you’re out, and it’s not too painful of a watch despite the fact you’ll probably be rolling your eyes come the credit roll. For fans of musicals with a splash of gore, Fright will be right up your alley, but temper your expectations.

Fun Fact: Magnolia Pictures, Stage Fright’s film distributor, is co-owned by Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban.

August 14, 2014

Simplistic Rememberance: Robin Williams

No death is easy to take, but you can rest easier if it’s someone that has lived a full life and their time has come. Whether it’s a family member, close friend, acquaintance, or in this case an actor, when it’s sudden, it kicks you right in the gut, and the news of the passing of Robin Williams is one of the most devastating in recent memory.

From his humble beginnings on TV playing Mork from Ork, to his stand-up on HBO, and his numerous film roles playing everything from a cross-dressing nanny to a 10-year old trapped in a 40-year old’s body, and his Oscar-nominated performances as a Vietnam-era DJ, a schizophrenic ex-professor on the edge, an English teacher who single-handedly invented YOLO, and of course his Oscar-winning performance as Will Hunting’s therapist who reminded Will it wasn’t his fault, the man did it all.

As a genie, an alien, a doctor with a clown nose, and of course Peter Pan, Williams was both the gregarious clown and the dark, brooding character we were surprised to see from time to time. While some actors are tight-cast as either dramatic or comedic actors, Williams was able to do it all. He could bring you to tears with one word and have you bent-over gasping-for-air laughing the next. Not many actors in the past 50 years, or even 100 years for that matter, have been able to strike the perfect balance between manic and hysterical, crushing and comedic, or simply happy and sad.

-Matt

We at Simplistic Reviews mourn the loss of one of film’s greatest actors, and there will never be another actor, or human being for that matter, like Robin Williams. Below are some of our fondest memories of Williams and some of our favorite films. Leave us a comment and let us know what you thought about his over 40 years of genius material.

DJ’s Top Three:

1. Good Will Hunting
2. Good Morning Vietnam
3. Popeye 

Matt’s Top Three:

1. Good Will Hunting
2. Aladdin
3. Death to Smoochy

Justin’s Top Three

August 11, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 (Matt’s Take)

BEFUDDLED

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles –Befuddled

I consider myself pretty leveled headed and reasonably arbitrary when it comes to film, TV, and pretty much anything else. I give most anything a chance and I try to watch anything for the purpose of having my say in an argument. The worst thing you can run into is a conversation with someone who one, doesn’t have frame of reference of a topic, and two, simply tries to flame you into an argument and put you on the defensive. It’s common for these two things to happen in this day and age of Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, etc. I just wanted to preface all of this before I get into this review of THIS GENERATION’S “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” produced (not directed people) by the grand auteur Michael Bay. It’s a befuddling experience in nostalgia, childhood, and finding my place in the world.
“Turtles” is the origin story of everyone’s favorite heroes in a half shell, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. In this adventure they are tasked with stopping The Shredder and politico Eric Sacks from destroying New York City. With the help of April O’Neil and cameraman/news van driver Vernon Fenwick, the turtles have to save the day while finding out about their past. This is the basic plot, if I was to tell you anymore, I’d only confuse you and probably myself.
Where does one start with this film. My first thought when watching this was “did I just miss the first part of the movie?” I literally thought I was dropped into the middle of a film. There was no character development and characters are shown as you should already known who they are. As a life-long Turtle fan it’s a good thing I didn’t need to know who everyone was or I would have been lost. However, even with knowing who most of these characters are, this new adventure is befuddling and the way most of the characters are portrayed is simply, sad.
One of the main arguments that most fans made was the new look of the Turtles. After watching the film, that was something that really didn’t bother me, and honestly, it never bothered me in the first place. Despite the departure from the comic book, cartoon, and original film, you have to know what mutation does to something(s). When something is mutated things change from the molecular level and not everything will look the same. Bottom line, I like the look of the new Turtles. I also liked the look of Splinter, and from it’s base form, I liked the look of the new Shredder suit. I understand the need to upgrade things from an aesthetic standpoint, but this brings me to how characters are portrayed.
The main gripe about these Turtles is their likeability. I honestly didn’t like them. Sure, if you’re a kid you might like the fart jokes, and their rocket skateboards or nerd glasses, since “geek chic” isn’t something going away anytime soon. Just an aside, and to educate those less informed, the “geek” derives from people in the old circus sideshows that would bite the heads off of chickens. Just putting that out there. But aside from Raphael, who I think they kept as close to the comic, TV, and film versions, I just didn’t like the personalities, especially Michelangelo. His dialogue was irritating and it made him seem like a douche-bag teenager with ADD, and this brings me to his “relationship” with April O’Neil, played by Megan Fox. Where does one begin here. Unlike Judith Hoag, or even Paige Turco, Fox provides nothing of substance or memorability to one of the key figures in Turtle history. Her blank stare and vapid dialogue are hard to really get past, and I can only wonder what could have been with another actress in that role. First, give me a REAL redhead; Anna Kendrick would have been great in this role, almost perfect if you ask me, but of course I’m partial to Ms. Kendrick. Back to the dialogue. There was an air of weird stalker/rapeiness that seemed to permeate off of Mikey. Yes, he’s a teenager and his turtle hormones are running wild, but wow was it uncomfortable. 

Now, I don’t want to make this a bash-fest, because there were scenes that I really liked about this film. Contrary to popular belief, I thought the re-imagining of the Turtles’ origin was actually pretty interesting. It kept the overall spirit, but it added an extra wrinkle that will likely come into play if they decide to keep this franchise going, which I’m sure they will. Two, like I said before, I liked Raphael. I thought they made him a bad-ass and he really was he backbone of the film. Donatello wasn’t bad either, and him being my favorite Turtle, I thought it was an interesting take, but I think they played up the nerd angle a little too hard, and this is coming from a nerd. Finally, I loved the snow chase that closes the second act of the film. It looked great and showed something the film lacked a lot of; the Turtles acting like a team. It was an engrossing sequence and it made me forget about much of the things that bothered me up to that point. But, low and beyond, to take me out of the zone, we get a shot of Megan Fox’s ass. I get it, and I understand why it’s in this film, but come on…..

Overall, I’m not the biggest fan of this version of my beloved Ninja Turtles, but I can see why some people will love it and will call it THEIR TMNT, just like I still consider Tim Burton’s “Batman” as MY “Batman,” and this generation will consider Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” THEIR Batman. If anything, after seeing this version of TMNT it re-affirms my love for the 1980s cartoon and the film from 1990. See this new version of the “Turtles” at your own risk.

Fun Fact: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created the “Turtles” to poke fun at some of the biggest comic books of the 1980’s including Frank Miller’s run of “Daredevil.”

August 5, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (Matt’s Take)

ANTI

Guardians of the Galaxy – Anti

Usually once a year, there is that one movie that you know is a foregone conclusion. I won’t dance around it, it’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” this year. But before I get into the meat of this review, a brief story; the night before I was all set to watch “Guardians” the next morning, a sense of dread washed over me. I thought, “what if this movie isn’t as good as I thought it would be?” “What if I walk out feeling slighted?” “What if everyone else is walking out happy and I’m walking out disappointed?” I would have to really take a look into my soul and see what was wrong with ME? Alas, that wasn’t the case, “Guardians” was wonderful, it was great, it was down-right groovy. For me, “Guardians” is the anti-Marvel movie. It plays by it’s own rules, and for the first time in Marvel’s Phase Two films I wanted more, got more, and wasn’t letdown, and before you attack, I also loved “Captain America 2” but “Guardians” has taken that big step forward that Marvel was lacking; it’s expanding the universe to places you wouldn’t believe.

“Guardians” tells the tale of Peter Quill, aka, Star-Lord, a space pirate working with Yondu, leader of the Ravangers. While exploring the desolate planet of Morag, Quill stumbles upon a mysterious orb and is attacked by Korath the Pursuer, but escapes. Needless to stay an adventure plays out that features Quill teaming up with a living tree named Groot, a sexy, green, ass-kicking assassin with a past, Gamora, a gun-toting, wise-cracking raccoon called Rocket, and Drax, a tattooed convict with nothing left to lose. Together the “Guardians of the Galaxy” have to save the planet of Xander from Kree extremist, Ronan the Accuser. It’s typical comic book storytelling with a rebellious and anti-Marvel bite that we haven’t seen since “Iron Man.”

Since day one, it just seemed that “Guardians” would succeed, but only with those that were willing to give it a chance, and after it’s first weekend $160 Million international haul, plenty were willing to give something new a chance. The cast is one of the best, but one of the oddest that you might ever see. Led by Chris Pratt, who so many know as the former Pawnee City Hall shoe shiner Andy Dwyer in “Parks and Recreation”, makes it known he’s ready for Hollywood in a “star” making performance, and the cast only gets better. From Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, and even Glenn Close, the cast is the perfect mix for a film this eccentric.
While the parts played by humans are great, it’s the CG characters that really steal things and create an unexplainable emotional connection with the audience. Who would think that a raccoon and a humanoid tree creature would create some of the most emotional scenes in film this year. It’s a testament to direction, which I’ll get into shortly, script, and performance. You believe that Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, is real, and his implied tragic back-story brings the feels in a major way, and this leads me to his relationship with Groot, his bodyguard/whipping tree, if you will. At heart, their relationship is simple; Rocket is a raccoon, who lives in a tree. The beauty is in the simplicity. The most human emotions out of the entire film are from the film’s two non-human characters.

However, nothing would work in “Guardians” if it wasn’t for one person; director James Gunn. From humble beginnings working with Lloyd Kaufman at Troma Studios to his first directing gig on the ultra-underrated throwback creature feature “Slither,” and now as Marvel’s golden child directing what could be the high-grossing film of the year. It’s been quite a road. What Gunn brings to Marvel is a rebel mentality. He’s never been a guy to conform, but at the same time he knows how to strike the perfect of pleasing the fans, while still creating something that fits his twisted sensibilities. Plus, he cares about the material. While on the media trail, all Gunn would talk about is how everyone is going to love what he called “the raccoon.” Normally, directors will build up their biggest stars and the big action set pieces, but all Gunn went on about is how Rocket is going to steal the show…..a raccoon….was going to steal a nearly $200 million dollar space epic produced by Marvel and Disney in the middle of the Summer movie season? Well, Gunn was right, he….was….right.

So many things could have gone wrong with this film too. One, not many people know about the “Guardians” outside of hardcore comic fans. For the normal reader I’m sure the idea of talking trees and other misfits might be a little “alien.” Two, this was a huge gamble for Marvel/Disney. Taking a chance on Gunn as a director and trusting in Pratt as the lead wasn’t something on anyone’s radar, except for Kevin Feige. Three, creating another comic book team up, but only doing it in two hours as opposed to three movies (I would count “The Incredible Hulk” but for some reason people don’t see that as canon now). Comparing “Guardians” to “The Avengers” is natural; their both team-based films fighting a big bad, oh, and they argue a lot. What sets “Guardians” apart however is the heart it has. I’m not saying that Joss Whedon doesn’t have heart, hell, he’s one of the biggest fanboys working in film today and Marvel wouldn’t be where they are without him, but Gunn not only created something out of what could have been considered nothing, and surpassed “Avengers” in my opinion. And yes, “Guardians” has become a huge comic commodity recently but only if you are a true die-hard comic reader could you say with a straight face that you’ve been a “Guardian” fan from the jump. That, or you’re almost 50 years old at the time of this reading.

This might sound sacrilegious, but “Guardians” is better than the “Avengers.” Yes, it is. On first viewing I still had “Avengers” in the lead by a little bit, but sitting down the second time, this time with the wife, I felt so much more emotion watching it again. First, I could relax a little more and simply enjoy the film this time and not worry about the overall story. I had the chance to focus on the little things that made the film special. Gunn has a habit of including little tid-bits for fans of his older films, including the always entertaining cameo by his mentor Kaufman. The other thing was watching this with my wife. At heart, we’re both nerds; however, we butt heads when it comes to things like Harry Potter vs. Lord of the Rings, but this is one of the films that we were both looking forward to this year. Not only is “Guardians” great fun, but it also brings my wife and I closer together. We cried in the same parts, we cheered when our heroes finally came out victorious, and most importantly when we walked out of the film we both looked at each other said, “let’s see that again!” That’s a win in my book, and something I’m sure a lot of people are doing around the world.

Finally, and this is for the cynics. I understand your stance on comic films. They are campy, fairly vapid, and maybe worst of all, don’t add much to the film landscape in terms of increasing awareness of women’s rights, the plight of those overseas, or contain some sort of message that is supposed to make us better people. Well, maybe it does, at least with the last point. When a person walks out of a film and wants to see it again, or that little kid falls in love with a gun-toting raccoon, maybe that’s their way of changing the world. It’s making it a better place to live when we can all be together in a darkened theater and enjoy what is happening on the screen and feel like we are one community sharing a goal; to have fun. Look, I enjoy art-house film as much as the next person, but in a world that is this shitty, and hard to live in, why not have some fun with a wise-cracking rogue, a walking thesaurus covered in tattoos, a genetically engineered killer looking for redemption, a tree that gives flowers to little girls, and of course the raccoon. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is everything it was meant to be; a fun, balls-to-the-wall space adventure that gives cynics the finger and allows someone who I consider the “anti-Michael Bay” to show the world what he can do on the grandest of all stages, and its worthy of your love, admiration, and at times, tears.

Fun Fact: After you put the kids to bed, make sure you check out James Gunn’s “PG Porn.” It’s arousing.

August 4, 2014

Early Returns: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Justin’s Take)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ludicrous
101mins – Action/Adventure – 2014

Why Ludicrous? Because Ludicrous: So foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous.
That sums up this film perfectly.

Just because Turtles can talk and are ninja’s, doesn’t mean there are THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

After the film begins with a somewhat enjoyable animated prologue that explains where the turtles come from, things begin to go down hill.

Unless your 6, then this film is amazing in every aspect and the horrific Transformers films are nothing but masterpieces. Sadly in those kids minds God is spelled Bay… Ugh.

If your not 6 and grew up with the birth of the greatness that is the Turtles then this film will leave a tear down your cheek, not a happy one.  That’s because that great time known as my childhood of Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is now dead. My reviewing partner and Transformers Gen. 1 fan DJ Valentine was right 4 years ago when he said, “Bay killed my childhood now he’s coming after yours.” It’s over and honestly if you want to believe those days are right around the corner again then Do Not Watch this film. Keep those happy thoughts of yesterday alive and well.

Before I get into things let me say, this is not the same TMNT I watched grow as I grew myself. Turtles of those days where fun, in words and looks. This movie kills that thought process and reimagines them as ugly hulks and not those cute Turtles in a half shell. This is a rebirth for a new generation. My generation is given a door. A door with crappy nods and abuse from the silver screen. The new generation of Turtles amazes me. They had a perfect formula that invited all ages to come and enjoy; yet they changed that formula for a version that, in my mind, is darker and unfriendly toward kids. I’m a guy who doesn’t give a crap about anything. Nothing will offend me and I love to curse. But when Michelangelo talks about Turtles getting aroused then I believe we crossed a line that didn’t need to be crossed. I would think we would of made a friendlier form of Turtles and not these horny hulk-like creatures.

There’s that word again, hulk. Yes the Turtles are horrible looking and again I wonder why this is the way they went. Oh yeah Bay, that’s right. The Hitler of destroying childhoods, yes he didn’t direct this film, but he did have input. A lot of input. His fingerprints are all over the place with over complicated fighting, over the top CGI, comedy that feels forced and over sexualizing the whole film. Damn there it is again! I feel like an old guy angry about where this film went and not where it should go…and I’m not that guy. I live in a R rated world, I mean listen to our podcasts, we do not hold back. But this is the Turtles. They’re better than this.

This film should have a tagline like, Plot holes galore!

There is a scene with Whoopi Goldberg (April’s Editor) laughing April out of the station due to her attempt to break the story of the Turtles. Here’s the kicker, she took a photo with her phone, and why she doesn’t show her that will make you run out of the theater alone. I mean if she wanted to break from the crappy exercise pieces she does, you’d think she’d show the photo. Don’t worry I’m not telling you everything.  There is more about Blood and Fire, but I’ll let you see that for yourself. The connection of April to the Turtles is also stupid.  Now they are her childhood pets. There that’s it, oh wait this is Bay, there is much more to that which will leave your head shaking.

Even though Megan Fox wasn’t as bad as Megan Fox usually is I still believe she wasn’t cast right. She killed the film for me, even before seeing it. I hated the idea of her being used mostly for her looks, but that’s how Bay is. There are other more qualified and prettier actresses out there that could have easily fit better. That said, she wasn’t that bad. However, there are worse choices in this film. The Turtles themselves aren’t what I expected. The voices are horrible. Michelangelo might have been the best but his dialogue is the worst. Never thought I’d want a Turtle to shut up more. Leonardo played by Jonny Knoxville (coming in late to replace the original Pete Ploszek) just felt lazy. Donatello was okay, though again bad dialogue comes into play, which hinders it. Raphael’s voice just doesn’t work for me. Being played by Smallville’s Aquaman, The hotheaded Raphael seemed kind of quiet and soft-spoken. I just didn’t feel it. Then again, I like my Turtles with Brooklyn accents and that’s just thrown away here.

If they can’t get the Turtles right I’m not even going to get into Shredder. I did like the way the Foot Clan looked, so that’s something. Will Arnett is Will Arnett. William Fichtner plays a William Fichtner scientist. Really wish there was more to say about ’em, but there isn’t.

After this reboot, the idea of a sequel seems extremely unappealing. I’m going to bet we get one, which sadness me. I honestly think this film will bomb. I’ve been very good at guessing which films would fail and which ones would succeed. But in a world where Transformers 4: Age of Extinction can be the first film of 2014 to rake in $1 billion, nothing makes sense anymore.

I feel I should say goodbye to the memory of my beloved Turtles for good.  However I’m lucky that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lives on with Nickelodeon. It’s not the greatest but it’s been getting very good lately. If you would like for your child to get into TMNT, give them that option and skip the ludicrous movie that has nothing to do with those hero’s in a half shell.

So, for now I’m going to raise my hand in defiance of this forgone conclusion failure of a film and yell, “Turtle Power!

August 4, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 28): July 2014

 FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

As Summer continues, the guys from Simplistic Reviews get a little hot under the collar. This month DJ and Matt rip into Kate Mara for her contempt of comic book films and their fans, while also paying their debts in a new segment where they FINALLY review the 2004 Ice Cube motorcycle classic “Torque.”

The guys also go over what they took away from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con and get their quote on with another addition of Simply Quotable with the stakes even higher this time around.
All this, and so much more, on this month’s edition of the Simplistic Review Podcast.

Show Notes:
Kate Mara on FF4

August 2, 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy (DJ’s Take)

REWARDING

The road to Guardians Of The Galaxy has a been a strange one if you think about it.  When Marvel’s cinematic universe potentate Kevin Feige announced at 2012’s San Diego Comic-Con that the next big film coming down the pipeline was going to be Guardians, many were floored.  It was supposed to be a victory lap for Marvel after The Avengers changed the comic book movie genre forever…but they decided to come out with Guardians Of The Galaxy next?

Most didn’t even know who the hell the Guardians Of The Galaxy were.  I, being a comic book reader since I was seven, knew who they were and still was confused.  The balls on Marvel.  The balls indeed.  This WAS their victory lap.  The Avengers success allowed them to take a chance on a property that no one knew, and have it fly under the radar pressure free.  And it did.  Until that trailer came out.  A trailer that played up the film’s unfamiliarity with audience for a laugh.  A trailer that showed us why Feige was so confident in the property to begin with.  Guardians Of The Galaxy looked like it was going to capitalize greatly on one of the strengths of Marvel.  That strength being their films are fun.  It also looked as though Guardians was going to take advantage of the growing desire for a lighthearted sci-fi space adventure before even their Disney brother Star Wars Episode VII could.  I mean look at this poster

If Only Serenity Came Out Now

Trailer after trailer came out, each looking better than the last.  Excitement grew.  Critics fawned.  DC pouted.  Then about two weeks before release…rumblings of worry began about Guardians Of The Galaxy possibly not living up to the hype.  A film about characters no one knew four years ago was now being thought of as too good to be true.  The whole thing reminds me of another risky venture that Marvel took back in 2008.  And we remember how that turned out don’t we?

THE TANK = COMIC BOOK FANBOYS’ MINDS

Guardians Of The Galaxy is merely another risky venture by Feige and the boys at Marvel.  The verdict?  Not only does it live up to the recent hype you’ve been hearing, it is possibly the most REWARDING experience you’ll have in the theater all year. 

So, what is Guardians about?  It’s about a group of emotionally scarred kindred spirits coming together to become a family.  What?  It is.  The kindred spirits just happen to be raccoon, a tree, an earthling, a deadly alien chic, and a crazed warrior.   Sure there is a plot revolving around the retrieval of a mysterious macguffin (A Favorite Trope For Marvel) and various quests for revenge.  However, this is really about the unity of these characters amidst their differences and obstacles.

You may think that I am crapping on the plot of Guardians, but I’m not.  I merely want to bring attention to the real accomplishment of this film.  That accomplishment is the quality of these characters themselves.  Each one of them are so rich and fleshed out, the story almost feels inconsequential.  You’ll fall in love with them equally and so deeply that you’d be willing to watch them regardless of their journey.  The Guardians are as uniquely lovable as Han, Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewie, 3PO and R2 or Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Wash, River, Book, Kaylee, Simon, and Inara.  And that is just on paper.  You still gotta cast the thing.  Thankfully Gunn and Feige knocked that out of the park as well.

Matthew McConaughey is an actor that has taken a meteoric rise over the past few years.  However, his McConaugh-sance has smoke screened most from the arrival of Chris Pratt.  This guy has been in projects ranging from Parks and Rec, Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, Her, Lego Movie and has crushed his performance each time.  Peter Quill now might very well be Pratt’s Han Solo role, while his part in the new Jurassic Park might be his Indiana Jones.  Pratt is that magnetic and the magnetically charming throughline for this entire film.  Quill could soon become a Marvel favorite after audiences get a glimpse of Star-Lord, even with Robert Downey Jr. still walking the earth as Tony Stark.  It is nearly impossible not to fall in love with this character from his very first frame on screen, much like how we did with Downey Jr. in Iron Man.

Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is not as entertainingly devilish as Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow.  However, she has the tough task of being the film’s straight man or woman as it were.  Saldana is solid in the role and has undeniable chemistry with Pratt.  Whenever she is given a scene to carry, she delivers.  Dave Bautista was the one character that I was worried about.  He essentially plays the Thor role of the team, which could be bad if done poorly.  However, Gunn plays into any stilt and stiffness that Bautista could of have had and uses it as a character trait.  A decision that makes Drax possibly the most humorous characters in the film.  A stroke of genius if you think about.  Bautista’s acting, which is still quite good in this, is now nearly immune from criticism.

Diesel and Cooper make icons of their two CGI characters.  Cooper especially lends something to Rocket that I never expected.  He is the fan favorite master of wisecracking, of course.  However, there is a very terrific and subtle thread of emotional trauma that Cooper brings to Rocket.  Just one of the many examples of the detail and time that went into creating these characters.  A feat completed through the writing and directing of James Gunn.

I think Gunn might be Marvel’s new golden boy.  I understand why there were rumors of him taking over Avengers after Joss Whedon.  Gunn and Whedon’s thematic voices are different, but they seem to approach the material in a similar way.  They both never forget to service their characters first.  They both embrace fun without letting it get too silly.  And they both seem to love the material they are working with.  (Trust me…that is not always a guarantee…ahem…Marc Webb…ahem…Michael Bay)  Gunn brings so much life to this world, I’m amazed the budget was as low as it was. ($170 million)
With the freedom Marvel seemed to have given Gunn with Guardians and the success that I think it will be, I can only imagine what we will be in store for in the sequel.

Guardians Of The Galaxy was a high risk, but ended up becoming a high REWARD.  We should all go out and claim this REWARD, and by doing so, prove that strange and different is not automatically box office poison.  Hop aboard the Milano…grab a prosthetic leg…never call Drax a thesaurus…Watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  And if you don’t…Peter Quill has a message for you.

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

July 26, 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.
July 15, 2014

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.
Welcome to the new home of SimplisticReviews.net - We're currently still working on the site. You might notice a few issues, please be patient with us. Thanks! (Store also in testing — no orders shall be fulfilled.)
Scroll to top