fun

August 29, 2014

1984-A-Thon: Runaway

Before we begin I would like to thank Forgotten Films for allowing Simplistic Reviews to join this fantastic 1984-A-Thon. A lot of great reviews for the amazing year of 1984. Head over to Forgotten Films for more!

And use #84athon on twitter to keep up to date!

So what does Tom Selleck’s Mustache and a Dog sniffing robot have in common? They’re both part of a special division of the police department called the Runaway Squad that goes after Gene Simmons of KISS.

Yep that’s right there is a movie that has that and it’s called…

Runaway: Fun
1984 – Action – 99 mins

Runaway is a futuristic film staring Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons, Stan Shaw, Cynthia Rhodes and Kirstie Alley. Selleck plays a police officer that specializes in malfunctioning robots. This future robot driven world was Directed and Written by the late great Michael Crichton, who I think created a very interesting film that doesn’t get much attention. Runaway isn’t a bad film it’s extremely fun to watch and it’s a damn shame this film isn’t better known.


The Good

Tom Selleck was great in his role as Jack Ramsay. Michael Crichton takes a risk casting Kiss’s Gene Simmons as the bad guy, Charlie Luther. Simmons looks the part, his stare is fantastic. He is very menacing and in my mind knocked it out of the park. I only wish his delivering with his lines was a bit better, otherwise I was impressed. Kirstie Alley pops up for a few scenes and she was pretty good. Cynthia Rhodes did a very good job playing Selleck’s partner and love interest. It’s a shame she doesn’t act anymore I really liked her in this film.

Jerry Goldsmith comes in for music and kills it with his first pure electronic score. I really dig this film’s score and feel it works perfectly with Crichton’s vision.

Crichton does a good job directing this one. He really understood how to create suspenseful scenes. There is a scene with a robot killing family members and Crichton sets this up that makes you go to the edge of your seat. The other is when Ramsay goes up in a elevator. Ramsay is scared of heights and you can feel his pain as he makes his way up.

The Weak

For me the pacing is a little off in this film. I feel some scenes get too slow and others a bit unneeded. The writing is okay, from Crichton I would expect more. It’s not bad but every time I watch this film I get very annoyed with Selleck character’s name being thrown around. Turns out Ramsay is said 52 times which is more then once for every two minutes. I thought it was just me, but IMDB has this in their trivia so I’m not the only one that thought that apparently.

The Bad

For me the the worst part of this film is the beginning. It starts off with Selleck and his new partner, Cynthia Rhodes going after a malfunctioning farm bot that ends pretty cheesy. This beginning is very unneeded and if I had my way I’d take it out. Yes there is some foreshadowing going on in this scene but my feeling is we could of moved it to the next malfunctioning robot scene.

For anyone watching this film for the first time might start losing there attention here. The bot isn’t dangerous and is just running around. Yet the group of “male” farmers call in the police to chase it. For me these farmers could easily stopped the bot (Maybe it’s for insurance purpose, maybe) but it wasn’t dangerous. And in doing so we have this guy and girl having a Benny Hill police chase that ensues with a farm bot. Every time I watch this scene this is what I see and hear, which isn’t what you want in a dark film like this. The ending for this scene is the two officers jumping together with arms spread outward onto the bot which cuts to them carrying it with dirt and smoke covering their faces. Maybe if the robot was killing farmers and cattle I would find this a tad more interesting, but the comical chasing makes this scene weak.

All in all Runaway is a good watch. If you haven’t seen Runaway do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a fun 80’s film to watch. It has 80’s action, 80’s boobs, 80’s Tom Selleck and Tom Selleck’s Mustache. Gene Simmons is a great bad guy and Goldsmith delivers once again on music.

Check out Forgotten Films for more of the 1984-A-Thon!

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.

July 13, 2014

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.
November 1, 2013

This is Halloween: The Haunted Mask

The Haunted Mask: Fun
22mins each/44mins Total/Horror/1995

The Haunted Mask is the 11th book and episode 1 and 2 of season 1.

It’s about a girl, Carly Beth who gets picked on because she’s easily scared. She’s the joke of the school and because of that is pushed into buying a mask that will turn her weakness into her ultimate revenge.
This book stands out as of of the more popular stories. I became a big fan when the 2 part episode was released on VHS. As a kid this was one of the films that I would play ever year for Halloween. 
The acting is what you would expect from a 90’s children’s TV show. The real reason this is a staple of 90’s kids is the story. It works almost too good. It’s not just about a girl who wants revenge, but the mask Carly picks changes her, it attaches to her and takes her over.

The Mask
The “unobtainable, unloved ones” all look pretty cool. In fact I find that I like some of the others more then the one she picks. But that’s not to say the one she picks isn’t good, it really is badass looking. The issue is the lighting. They should of made it a bit darker because the mask doesn’t work as awesome in the brighter night shoots. But the voice and the darker scenes really make the mask work, especially when she begins to get angry and the mask begins to sweat.
These episodes aren’t the scariest of the show. But they’re very enjoyable and have a deeper meaning of excepting ones self and not trying to be different for anyone else.
Thanks for reading guys and girls!
Happy Halloween!
October 17, 2013

Big Fan

Big Fan: Intense   …But fun.

88mins/Comedy/Drama/2009

Patton Oswalt plays a lovable but passionate fan of his football team. Not just any football team, but his New York Giants. To him no other team should even exist on this earth. But then one day his favorite player kicks the crap out of him. This puts him in a bad place.

Emotionally he becomes unstable and it leads to a place that surprised me at first.  He has to pick between him or his football team and the way it plays out was pretty awesome.

This is a film that I couldn’t really guess what came next. So many films anymore are very predicable. Patton Oswalt really shines in this film. This may be a comedy slash drama, but I would really like to see him go more toward the drama end. He really just fit this film in such a way I couldn’t see anyone else play. Micheal Rapaport and Kevin Corrigan also star, both hold a screen present not too many can. The ending will leave a smile on your face and wanting more. I would also like more from director and writer, Robert D. Siegel who on top of this wrote, The Wrestler. Both films I enjoyed and only wish we got more of his work.

Been a fan of Oswalt for the longest time, and this film might just sealed it for you as well.

August 20, 2013

The Conjuring


The Conjuring: Fun
112 min  –  Horror | Thriller  –  19 July 2013

It’s a simple film, unlike the recent past horror films; this one takes a simple classic approach. I’ve always thought horror films were a somewhat beat to hell genre these last few years. Anytime a new “horror” film would come out, all I could think was cheap filmmaking for a quick buck. A lot of shitty remakes have come out to the point I called this genre, dead.

Well after watching this I can happily report, we are back on the right road. I’m not the type of person who gets scared or jumpy, just the type of moviegoer who sits there entertained with a smile on his face. And watching this I had that smile on my face.

It’s not a perfect film but one I think did its job, and did it pretty well. I honestly was suppressed that it wasn’t one of those cheap horror thrills; we’ve gotten so much of lately.

The story uses Ed and Lorraine Warren (of Amityville Horror fame) who where paranormal investigators as the vehicle to introduce and explain everything a regular viewer would need to know. It starts off with a real creepy short doll story, which sets the mood right away. It’s something fun to see, which also pops up again later one.

All in all the whole thing was just a real fun popcorn film. Sadly we didn’t have that so much this summer, but if your looking for a fun film to watch give this one a try.

May 19, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (DJ’s Take)

FUN

Look.  I’m going to make this fast.  One, because I’m on the way to go watch this movie for a second time.  Two, because I want to try and stay as spoiler free as I can.  With a little introspection brought on by something well put from MovieBob Chipman in his own negative review of this same film, I’ll admit my duty and privilege as a reviewer is to tell you if I thought a movie was good or not and to tell you why in either case.  It is not to preserve secrets, not to geek out, and not to just relegate myself as a proverbial cog in the already powerful marketing machine of said movie.  However, my objectivity sometimes waivers when a movie manages to personally effect me either emotionally, nostalgically, or both in this case.  So, I’m hesitant to just come out and say that Star Trek Into Darkness is the most FUN I’ve had in the theater since Skyfall.  I’m hesitant to just come out and say that it is the best Star Trek film I’ve seen since…you know what.  I’m hesitant to just come out and say that it gave me everything I wanted and so much more.  I’m hesitant to just come out and say that it will probably be the best summer blockbuster you’ll see this year…PERIOD.  Hesitant not because it isn’t all of those things.  Hesitant because if I do you’ll chock it up to just tiresome Trekkie hyperbole.  But I’ll risk it because…Star Trek Into Darkness is worth the risk.

To get into plot points of Into Darkness would ruin some of the films best moments.  So, I’ll put it like this.  Into Darkness takes the best parts…THE BEST PARTS…of the original franchise’s BEST films and literally puts them all into one balls to the wall action sci fi space adventure.  AWESOME!  It takes those nostalgic moments that fans loved from the originals… cleverly and surprisingly turns them on their ear…which somehow makes it suddenly into a new and equally rewarding experience.  BRILLIANT!  It managed to give me the FUN and the humor that Iron Man 3 gave me, but also give me the stakes and gravitas that Iron Man 3 didn’t.  THANK YOU!   It surpasses all the best moments of the 2009 remake, which I loved by the way, in under twenty minutes.  STUNNING!  It, despite my  preconceived notions to the contrary, has some of the best 3D conversion shots I’ve seen…um…ever.  BEAUTIFUL!  And flatly, the film just works.  No matter what nit-picky flaw you could conjure, no matter what prejudices against Star Trek you carry, the film just works.  I attribute this to two overall things.  The cast and the director.

Whenever I see a tv show or film where the cast just doesn’t fit or when I’m trying to explain actor chemistry to someone, I seem to always bring up Star Trek 2009.  When you have perfect casting in not just a film, but an iconic franchise, your stories can be literally about anything.  Hell, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home had the original crew go back in time and save whales for crying out loud.  And it was the highest grossing Trek film until 2009.  Why?  Mainly its because you just want to see these guys hang out and share their adventures.  That is why casting for the new franchise was, ironically, paramount.  With Into Darkness, the cast has bonded even more.  Even the tiniest interaction between two characters, whether it be Kirk and Spock, Bones and Sulu, or Uhura and Scotty, just seems to hit the mark every time.  The uninitiated can’t help but feel the chemistry and the die hard Trekkie can’t help but smile at the homages.  That is a testament to Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe, Karl, Simon, John, Anton and Bruce.  They understand their characters and have totally made them their own now.  It’s house money the writers are playing with, and thankfully they don’t just rest on their laurels with it.  The story and the dialogue is strong enough for each of the characters to shine brightly.  What about the newbies?  Well, Mr. Cumberbatch was an addition that I knew would be amazing, due to his previous efforts as Mr. Holmes.  Any amount of screen time for him is always going to be too little for me.  However, it is the performance by Peter Weller that is really going to stick out after you watch this.  Robocop himself, is so very strong here that  I found myself wondering why he doesn’t work more.  Its a small role, but he totally knocks it out of the park.

I figured that this was going to be JJ Abrams mic drop as he exits the franchise for a galaxy much farther away.  And boy you can tell.  For those of you who were worried he’d sleepwalk through this after being given the reigns to Star Wars, fear not.  Abrams throws so much into this film it is amazing.  The action is flabbergasting.  Especially because I didn’t figure there’d be so much of it.  However, Abrams does manage to let you catch your breath for the comedy and some really solid emotional moments.  He brings…I don’t believe I’m saying this…balance…proper balance to this film.  My colleague Matt Stewart did say that this was going to be our best first look at what JJ will have in store for us in Episode VII.  And if that is true, The Force has nothing to worry about.

Star Trek Into Darkness is not only a great Star Trek film, but an action blockbuster that can hold it’s own against any blockbuster film that has come before it (Sorry Iron Man 3) and will come after it (Your move Man Of Steel).  My favorite film of the year so far.   It has a lot of moving parts but never forgets to stay true to the thing that James T. Kirk covets above all things.  FUN.  Set course for it…maximum warp…chase it ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares Maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

July 29, 2012

Cloak & Dagger

Cloak & Dagger: Imaginary

Cloak & Dagger came out in 1984 (a fantastic time in movie and music history) and it holds up over all this time, even with the weak dated graphics. This is one of those films that you watch when you where younger and it sticks with you…Forever!

Why watch this film? Well…Do you like video games? Do you like 80’s films? Do you like good kickass films? This film is a good reason films are made. And today if you want to escape from the real life and sit down and enjoy a solid 101 minutes this film is for YOU!

It’s a fun kid’s film to watch. Yep thats right. It’s a family film even though people get shot and killed, especially from the 11 year old main character. When people say they don’t make them like they used too, here is a example. Could you imagine a kids film today with kids shooting spys? Yeah I too was totally born at the wrong time.

Without spoiling the story, it’s simply about a 11 year old kid named Davey (I know, such a dated name) who stumbles onto classified information hidden in a game cartage. And spys chase him down to retrieve the cartage.

This film also has one of the greatest scenes you will always remember. After seeing these two older people help this kid, that no one believes including his own father, your nightmares begin. I won’t even try to write it…
Watch this clip to see what I mean!

Trust me you will love watching this film!

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