Geek For E!

Movie Review: “Everybody Wants Some!!”

everybody wants some onesheet“I know what we’re doing here.  We’re playing baseball.  What are all these other people doing here?”

Liked Dazed and Confused, with it’s ensemble cast and “day in the life of” vibe?  Well then, Everybody Wants Some!! will be more of the same, straight from D&C‘s Richard Linklater.  Everybody is a cool-ass trip for those of us who grew up in the 80s, but could scare a lot of kids who don’t really wanna know what their parents were up to when they were young.

Everybody starts off at fictional Southern Texas University in August, 1980, with baseball-scholarship frosh Jake getting to his digs for the year.  The baseball team has been given two houses just off campus, to help with the overcrowding at the dorms.  Jake meets his teammates, bon-vivant Finn (Glen Powell, Scream Queens), stoner Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), laid-back Dale (J. Quinton Johnson), badass Mac (Tyler Hoechlin, Teen Wolf) and many more.   He’s one of four freshmen added to the roster that year, so in the days before school officially starts, he’s got to navigate the new world of college as well as the bro-culture bonding of his House.  Not to mention finding the time to figure out who that cute girl is he saw when he first arrived. (That’d be Beverly, played by Ringer‘s Zoey Deutch…) No problem.  Bring on the keg stands! [Read more…]

10 Cloverfield Lane

10 cloverfield lane onesheetNutshell: 10 Cloverfield Lane is a worthy successor to the original Cloverfield, actually beating the sophomore slump and rising above the first film.  Not in the handheld/found-footage genre (there’s nary a shakey-cam moment to be found) , but in the sense of dread, terror of the unknown, and a screenplay that manages to keep the adrenaline pumping.  The climax is well-executed crazy, thanks to this film’s game ensemble cast.  But are there monsters, you ask?  Depends on your definition of monster… Grade: A-

“I focused on being prepared. And I was…. And here we are.”

If you’re a kaiju nerd like I am, you were stoked for Cloverfield.  And while it wasn’t exactly the huge monster throwdown many of us were hoping for – that’d be Pacific Rim, a movie that actually grew on me on repeat viewings – Cloverfield‘s hints at a strange, unsettling mythology had me hooked.  Not exactly fully invested in its teasingly vague story, but willing to sit for more.  So?  More!  Well, kinda. J.J. Abrams still sticks with the producer role, and with Cloverfield director Matt Reeves also going the producer route in this sequel-ish film, Dan Trachtenberg gets his first feature-film directorial shot.  With a smaller ensemble cast – a mere three actors – this film is a sequel to Cloverfield in its ability to unsettle, play with your expectations, and leave you wanting more.

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“Gods of Egypt” is a godawful, glorious mess

gods of egyptNutshell: Can something be awful and amazing at the same time?  Well, Gods of Egypt is certainly giving it its best shot.  With crazy action scenes, a nutso plot, and CGI that feels like the SyFy channel and 1999’s The Mummy had a lovechild of doom, this film tries for Glorious Epic and comes off 50s Throwback.  And I haven’t even started on my #GodsSoWhite rant yet.  Bumping this up half a grade for its sheer balls, and for Geoffrey Rush’s weird fishtail braid.  Grade: C-

“Oh, bother.”

Nope, that quote above isn’t from Winnie the Pooh.  Well okay, it is.  But it’s also here in Gods of Egypt.  And not only is it spoken by one of the “Gods”, it’s probably what every member of the cast and crew thought to themselves once the reality of this movie really set in.  But hey, everyone’s got a mortgage that needs to be paid, amirite?

Director Alex Proyas seems determined to complete the downward spiral he’s started after his work on 1994’s brilliant Brandon Lee superhero flick The CrowI, Robot, Knowing, and now this…movie.  Gods of Egypt is like the world’s craziest D&D campaign run amok, where the DM has taken the rule book, the mythos for the world, and any semblance of coherence, and chucked ’em all out the window.  But if you’re ready to settle in — after a few beers or better yet, several shots of the strongest liquor in your cabinet (something white, to set the mood) — I’ll dig a bit deeper so you know what you’ll be getting yourself into.

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“Race” shows the man and the times behind the legend

race onesheetWe all know Jesse Owens; he’s the runner we all hear about in sophomore year high school American history class.  The guy that went to the Berlin Olympics in 1936 and showed Hitler that the idea of an Übermensch needed to be retooled a little.  A lot.  But filmgoers get a bigger picture of Owens in Race, a film that takes Jesse Owens and his considerable talent, and puts him into his time, complete with bigotry, politics and the spectacle of the Olympic Games.

Director Stephen Hopkins (House of Lies, and one of my favorite Tales From the Crypt episodes, “Abra Cadaver”*) balances all of this beautifully.  What could have been a by-the-numbers history lesson or a pedestal-buffing hosana to a legendary athlete, instead is a compelling story of one man’s struggle to find himself amid the slings and arrows of his times. [Read more…]

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – Bay delivers the boom and bitterness of battle

13 hours“You can’t put a price on being able to live with yourself.”

If anyone has ever fist-pumped about a Michael Bay film, it’s this gal right here.  Let’s face it; Michael Bay Go Boom.  And it’s glorious.  Except when it’s heartbreaking too.  In 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (that I’m shortening to 13 Hours for this review because c’mon now) Bay and his cast dig deep, giving moviegoers not only the pomp and circumstance of war, but the pain, fear and uncertainty that goes along with all the ooh-rah.

For me, I’d only really heard about Benghazi in the news, usually when the city’s name was tossed like a grenade into some sort of political debate.  So for everyone else who needs a bit of a refresher?  On September 11th, 2012, a United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by Islamic militants, killing a United States Ambassador and a member of his staff.  Hours later, the militants attacked a CIA compound approximately a mile away from the first attack, killing two United States government contractors serving as the CIA’s Global Response Staff  (GRS).  13 Hours follows the story of the six GRS members — former US military — on the weeks before, and all through, the attacks. [Read more…]

“Concussion”: powerful, but not particularly hard-hitting


Nutshell: If anyone walks away from Concussion without grieving for those who suffered/are suffering from CTE?  They’re dead inside.  Amazing performances by actors playing affected football players (most especially David Morse as Mike Webster) bring this issue straight into the feel center of the brain.  The rest of the movie is too light a touch, possibly because it tries to cover CTE, Omalu’s love story with his now wife, and the Big Bad that is the business of sport.  Still, this film takes the real-life subject matter and makes it easy to understand, and Smith’s performance is genuine, if not a bit too heroic. Grade: B-

“I’m just asking back what I gave….Help me.”

I have to admit I’ve made my share of “bell-rung jock” jokes in my life.  Y’know, the whole “he’s barely coherent, look at him — one too many tackles” kinda jabs.  Ha ha funny, right?  Sure.  When it’s simply a jest at the expense of musclebound moneybags who are laughing all the way to the bank, with not a care in the world beyond a bone or muscle injury that could sideline them. [Read more…]

TwitView: Joy


An interesting premise that stalls upon execution.  Saved from complete dreck by Lawrence’s amazing performance.  Grade: C-

Just when you thought David O. Russell was getting better and better?  He delivers Joy, a film that proves you can take an interesting true story and turn it into a wobbly, scattered  mess.  Based on the real-life entrepreneur  Joy Mangano, the creator of the Miracle Mop, Huggable Hangers, and a slew of stuff you never knew you desperately needed ’til you saw them.  (Note: I am a Mangano gal that has nothing but HSN Huggables in all my closets.  What?  They were a bargain, the one-color look make my closets seem organized, and they’re fuzzy.) [Read more…]

TwitView: Sisters

sisters onsheetIn Sisters, Fey and Poehler show that just because you’ve got a few decades (or more) under your belt, you’re not necessarily a grown-up.  And while that could be a downer of a storyline, they keep it light and focus on the bonds you keep and the ones you’ve broken along the way.

A goofy, borderline tacky, gloriously out-there screenplay by Paula Pell turns Sisters into a glorious mash of The Big Chill, Superbad and every “this one goes to 11” house party you ever went to.  Add the light Pitch Perfect touch of director Jason Moore, and Sisters becomes Generation X slapstick in all its raunchy glory.

Poehler (Maura; kinda strange but kindhearted) and Fey (Kate; kinda slutty but fiercely loyal) riff off each other like you’d expect them to.  But they’ve surrounded themselves with other talented comedians, including Maya Rudolph (the girl who was never invited to anything), Rachel Dratch (the woman who has food as her FB profile pic), Samantha Bee (the wild child who settled down…kinda), Bobby Moynihan (the one with all the stupid, stupid jokes) and John Leguizamo (the big mistake guy who keeps hoping for a comeback.)  Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) plays Maura’s love interest with equal parts sweetness and serious comedic chops.  But he’s a MadTV alum, so that’s kind of a given.  Speaking of comedic chops being kind of a given, Kate McKinnon plays Sam, a fellow alum and Ellis Island house party regular from back in the day.  Even the lines McKinnon downplays are a hoot — man am I glad this woman is getting the recognition she so rightly deserves.

But what works best here are the truths Fey and Poehler show us.  Parents of grown-ups can get sick and tired of their failing-at-adulting kids.  Children of fully grown but still infantile adults are saddled with more maturity than they want, or can handle.  Parties for folks over 40 are all about getting a babysitter, talking about health stuff, and putting your damn feet up.  But when it comes right down to it, everyone wants just one more shot at Party Time.  When that happens, Sisters shows us that friendships can be mended, love connections made, and maybe even a little bit of growing up can make the scene…but cleanup the next day is gonna be hor-ren-dous.

Comic Book Review: Zacharia Thorn #1

Zachariah Thorn 1An intriguing premise hobbled by a lack of exposition or real character introduction.  Events happened 10 years ago that changed Zack and made him a super demon hunter…but readers are pulled along with the story, rather than being able to sink in and get lost in the vibe.  Thorn #1 reads like a halfway point, rather than a brand new series.

Still, Scott Reichert looks to have stumbled on a cool story; Thorn feels like Constantine and Buffy got together and partied in the local graveyard.  Bonkz Seriosa’s artwork is on-point, coupled with Robert Reichert’s vibrant colors. One misstep in the art department: Seriosa’s inclusion of his own name on a prominently placed gravestone during the climax of the issue feels amateurish.  It’d have been cute if that stone was far in the back; a nice shout-out for fans to swoon over.  But loud and proud thisclose to a main monster?  Yanked me right out of an already flighty narrative.

In another issue or two, Thorn could be a series worth watching.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing how they flesh out the story, and these characters.  But #1 is a halting look at the tale, and those wrapped up in it.  Luckily it’s a damn pretty view.  Grade: C+

[NOTE: I received a copy of this title thanks to the graciousness of the creators.  I received no compensation for my review.]

Review: Our Brand is Crisis

our brand is crisisBullock and Thornton have great frenemy chemistry as competing political stragegists in Bolivia, and the setting and story are captivating.  But the plot feels random, with some hits and some near misses when it comes to connecting with the audience.  Then there’s the “Blond White American Chick Saves Bolivia” ending, complete with slow-mo walking and Bullock’s temp-blond mane blowing beautifully in the breeze.

Not to say that Crisis doesn’t have anything to say.  There are some serious topics here, including how far someone should go to win, and the consequences of one’s actions.  Add in a no-foolin’ look at the political instability of Bolivia, and the idea that perhaps US spin-doctors shouldn’t try to stir things up just for a buck.  But Crisis skims over these ideas, as if showing an unhappy, rioting mob is enough to get the feel of what’s really going on down there.

Crisis is fun to watch, with believable dialogue and a cast that’s eager to dig into their roles.  Bullock does some great work here, hopping from comedic to dramatic with ease.  Thornton’s rival politico is practially a shaved-head Snidley Whiplash, complete with inappropriate sexual comments and lots of disingenuous posturing.  Then there’s Zoe Kazan, who does a remarkable job as the enigmatic LeBlanc, a political dirt-digger that’s so talented she’s almost an Inhuman.  And speaking of the MCU, let’s not forget Marvel’s Falcon, Anthony Mackie, as Bullock’s 2nd in command/confessor/guy who got her to come to Bolivia in the first place. We like him.

But there’s not enough depth in this film, which leaves this film in the ranks of kinda-true-story entertainment lite rather than hard-hitting satire.  Check out the documentary if you want to really dig in.  Hit this film if you’d like to see Bullock kick ass and take names.  Grade: C