Remakes

June 24, 2014

22 Jump Street

COMFORTABLE
22 Jump Street – Comfortable
Taking a chance on a film that really doesn’t need to be made is one thing, but taking a chance on a film that was a surprise success is another thing entirely. In there lies the beauty of “22 Jump Street,” a film that is so comfortable with how good it is it’s willing to take itself entirely unserious (a word?) during its entire run-time. I usually would save this for the end, but this will possibly be the best comedy of 2014.

“22” once again stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as Detectives Schmidt and Jenko, respectively, as they try to stop a new(er) designer drug called “WHYPHY” being spread across college campuses. Basically, it’s “21 Jump Street” with a different drug….in college….and a bigger budget. The film’s self-awareness and the chemistry between Hill and Tatum are once again the highlights of a film that could have easily been a mockery and easy cash-in, but both Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were also responsible for stellar “Lego Movie” earlier this year, find just enough originality and heart to make this sequel equal, if not better, than it’s predecessor.

What differentiates “22” from “21”is also the pacing and the use of ancillary characters from the first film. You have some great cameos, and the use of Ice Cube in a larger supporting role yields some of the funniest moments of the film, including a twist you probably don’t see coming. Speaking of Cube, it’s interesting that when he actually gets good material to work with, he’s a real good actor. Yes, I didn’t see “Ride Along” but it’s hard to forgive films like “Are We There Yet?” Sorry Cube, maybe I’m playa’ hating a little bit, but it looks like you’re back on the right track.

While most of the performances are very funny and memorable, not all of the performances are memorable for the right reasons, namely Jillian Bell, who might know from “Workaholics.” Now I’m not saying she isn’t funny, she just happens to be the least funniest part of this film. Her schtick wears thin pretty quick and while she ends being a bigger part of the film come the end, she really wears out her welcome with her brand of comedy. Will Bell doesn’t ring all that well for me, Wyatt Russell, the son of the legend Kurt Russell, and the Lucas Brothers, give some memorable performances and balance out the zaniness of both Hill and Tatum.
With self-aware comedy, Hill and Tatum at the top of their game, and some real great action set pieces, “22” is a winner for all the right reasons. Granted, I will say if you’re a fan of the first film, I’m pretty sure you won’t enjoy the sequel, even though this sequel makes sure that even if your didn’t see the first film it provides you with a handy “previously on” segment to start the film, which I think was a stroke of genius that only a film this comfortable with itself would be able to provide.
Fun Fact: Across the United States there are five 22 Jump Street address; include two Florida.
December 1, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: November Edition

As Turkey Day draws to a close, the boys recap the month of November with Anime and Asian Cinema aficionado Neal DaSouza.  They talk about black films, black Kermit The Frog, and Blacklist.  Not necessarily in that order.

The boys also introduce an old game with a new twist.  A game titled with the infamous anagram K.F.M. (Look it up on the interwebs kiddies).  Remakes, Wolves of Wall Street, and Roadhouse throat rips.  Gobble up all that and more, pilgrim, on the Thanksgiving edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  Yes, that was a pretty bad use of word play.  So what?  Sue me.  Wait, don’t sue me.  I’m so incredibly poor.

Show Notes:

Kermit The Frog
Roadhouse
K.F.M. Game
The Blacklist
Sleepy Hollow
The Wolf Of Wall Street


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

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April 2, 2013

Sneak Preview: Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead – Ode

*I’d like to thank aintitcool.com for putting on this sneak preview of the film down in Miami, FL, and of course for bringing Bruce Campbell.*

I’m not one for April Fool’s pranks. I find them annoying, stupid, and most of the time, ridiculous.  But there are times when one happens, and its wonderful.  It’s even better when you are going to see one of the most classic horror films of all time, 1981’s “The Evil Dead” with Bruce Campbell in the audience introducing the film and conducting a Q&A after the film.  It’s even better when the film starts, gets about a minute in, and the film breaks, revealing the trick, which I had a sneaking suspicion was coming.  April Fool’s, you’re not here to watch “The Evil Dead” ’81, you’re here to watch “Evil Dead” 2013.  Truly, truly awesome, and now I’m lucky enough to bring you kids a review of the as-of-yet-unreleased “Evil Dead” remake, which is an ode to everything wonderful and right with horror remakes.

Everything you’ve heard about “Evil Dead” is warranted; it’s a brutal, bloody, gory, sick, twisted, squirm-inducing nightmare.  In the best way possible.  While, as a rule, horror remakes are usually unnecessary, I really thought “The Evil Dead” was in need of a tune-up.  Coming out three years after “Halloween” and merely a year after the genre game-changer “Friday the 13th,” “Dead” made it’s mark as The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror.  It was low-budget, gritty, and a new take on the slasher genre.  It had the demonic spirit of “The Exorcist” but the wink-wink-nod-nod of “Friday the 13th” and even some old Herschel Gordon Lewis films.  However, if you look at “Dead” now, it seems dated.  You can tell that it only took them about $300,000.00 to make the film.  Still, I believe in keeping a classic, a classic, and not messing with a good thing.  Come some 30 years and two sequels later, a new vision of “Evil Dead” is about to be unleashed nationwide, and with the blessing of Sam Raimi and Mr. Bruce Campbell, I can honestly say we got a winner.

While keeping with the spirit of the original film, we follow five teens who have decided to head out to the middle of nowhere to a cabin in the woods.  The added twist this time around is that they are there for an intervention for Mia, played by Jane Levy, who could be America’s newest Scream Queen, a heroin-addict who just suffered an overdose.  I liked the fact that the teens are in the woods for a reason, because in films like these you always get a lot of red herrings, namely the Necronomicon, which is unnamed in this version, but you should know what the Necronomicon is at this point, where you have to suspend disbelief nearly the entire film, and don’t worry, you’ll have to do it anyway for most of this movie, in a good way.

While the story is reasonably strong for the genre, the violence and gore is ramped up to 11, and it’s wonderful.  The gore effects are great, and I was surprised to see that WETA was behind some of the work, and it makes sense, because some of the effects are right out of “Dead/Alive,” before Peter Jackson got all Hollywood on us genre fans.

As a horror film, “Evil Dead” is fine, a bloody-romp in the vein of what most people are used to out of the horror genre these days, as a remake, one of the best ones made.  And while I use the term “remake,” “Dead” is more like a re-imagining of the original.  There are various odes to Raimi’s masterwork, including our heroine wearing a Michigan State sweater, to the old car that she is also sitting on.  We even get some chainsaw, yes, a chainsaw, what would an “Evil Dead” movie be without some chainsaw.  With all that being said, if you’re a purist, go into “Evil Dead” with an open mind, and have fun with it; there are plenty of odes to the original, and if you’re new to the world of Ash and the Deadites, do your homework and watch “The Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn” and “Army of Darkness” (the primitive screw-head next to me kept calling it “Evil Dead 3.”  I wanted to tell him to go home because his mom called, and he had chores to do, plus it was a school night).  2013’s “Evil Dead.”  In a world full or remakes and bad ideas, its nice to see they got something right.  Hail to the King, baby…..

Fun Fact:  Look closely at the car Mia is sitting on and you’ll notice that it’s an Oldsmobile Delta Royale 88, the same car used in the original “Evil Dead” trilogy. Which begs the question, could this possibly be a sequel as opposed to a remake, or just coincidence?

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