Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Men In Black III Review

Written by Stuart Cooper

Men in Black III (2012)

Starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin

Well its summer blockbuster season and you know what that means…sequels! This summer features another Batman film, an Alien prequel, a Spider-man remake, and the latest installment in the Men in Black franchise. Today I will be discussing “Men in Black III”, a film I was surprised by and enjoyed quite a bit. Both Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith return for this sequel, and Josh Brolin plays a pivotal role in the film as Young K (Tommy Lee Jones). Many have a bad taste in their mouths regarding Men in Black after the very lackluster and terrible Men in Black II, but I assure you this one is much better. The story is more interesting and the acting is top notch. The film actually reminded me a bit of the short lived animated TV series that the WB created. It’s like the first film with more aliens and a weirder storyline.

In this installment of Men in Black we see the classic team of J and K (who has aged quite a bit since the original) embarking on a mission involving time travel. I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but basically J (Will Smith) gets caught in the middle of a rivalry between K and an old nemesis of his by the name of Boris the Animal. Boris is played by the always awesome Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords. Clement seems to have no problems adjusting from a comedy band/show to feature films. I really loved him in Gentleman Bronco and Dinner for Schmucks. Boris the Animal is a criminal that was caught by K in the 60’s and has since been detained in a prison facility on the moon. That’s right, a prison…on the moon. That idea sounds pretty awesome to me. This prison seems to be reserved for the most dangerous criminals, and you will definitely see why Boris is such a threat as the film progresses. The film opens with Boris escaping the prison. Boris eventually makes his way back to earth and gets his hands on a time travel device. This is when the evil plot begins to take shape. Boris intends to go back in time and stop K from injuring and arresting him. He aims to kill K. Agent J soon finds out about this plan and it is up to him to stop it. This means that Agent J must go back in time and find Boris before he kills K. The story is immediately better than the last film and the fact that they don’t waste time on a romantic interest in this one certainly helps. Sorry Rosario Dawson but you kind of ruined the second film. So put your concerns to rest and enjoy the film because it is pretty much a comedy action thrill ride from the beginning.

When J travels back in time he must team up with a young K, played by Josh Brolin. Brolin does a superb job of mimicking Tommy Lee Jones and if you close your eyes and just listen to his voice, you would swear they were the same person. The two men together have the same comedy element that exists between Jones and Smith. One is the loud mouth goofy type, and the other is a stone cold robot of a man who finds little to smile about. The dynamic works perfectly and though I love Tommy Lee Jones, I was equally pleased with Brolin’s performance in the film. One aspect they play with is life in the 60’s. We see some racial humor with Will Smith that is pretty funny, though they play it safe and I seriously doubt little kids going to see this film would pick up on some of it. There is a funny moment when J goes back in time and immediately gets pulled over by the cops. My favorite part in the film is when J and K both meet up with Andy Warhol at one of his parties, and Warhol is played by the always hilarious Bill Hader. This scene has to be seen to be believed, truly funny stuff. Another character in the film that is an integral to the story is Griffin, an alien that can see multiple time dimensions at once. The character is played by up and coming actor Michael Stuhlberg who portrays Arnold Rothstein on Boardwalk Empire. I had no idea this guy had such a comical side and I ended up really enjoying his character. So the casting is definitely very pleasing. I think every character in the film offers up a unique style that adds to the universe that Men in Black takes place in.

The film maintains its comedic tone and you are treated to joke after joke from Smith’s character J. Some of the jokes are funny, some are not so funny. But what is important is that the film brings you that feel good chaotic alien action that was so good in the original. I wouldn’t say MIB III is as good as the original, but it is certainly a worthy sequel. If anything, go see this movie for Boris the Animal, possibly the coolest villain I’ve seen in years. The only things missing from this film were Rip Torn as Zed, and the classic “here come the men in black” song from the original that we all secretly love. My only complaints are that the final showdown is a little lackluster, and they could have done a bit more with J and K teaming up in the 60’s, but other than that it is quite an enjoyable addition to the franchise. I would suggest going to see this one in theaters if it’s still there, or wait for the Blu-ray. I didn’t waste my time on the 3-D version of the film, so I can’t speak for the 3-D effects. All you need to know is that it’s a better sequel then part 2 and that was good enough for me.

Rest in Peace Richard Lynch (1940-2012)

Written by Stuart Cooper

Today the world lost a true cinematic villain in Richard Lynch. Lynch portrayed many classic evil and villainous roles throughout the years. Richard was born in 1940 and was most active throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Personally my favorite role I remember him in was the villain in the Chuck Norris classic action film “Invasion USA” where he portrayed the ruthless ex-military bad guy. Lynch made his name mostly through the horror and science fiction genres. Rob Zombie recently used him in “Halloween” and apparently he has a role in the upcoming “Lords of Salem” project, which sadly will be his last role. He passed away at the age of 76. Those who knew him had nothing but amazing things to say about him and his acting talents. The cause of death is unknown at this time. You will be missed buddy, I’ll see you inside the big theater in the sky, save me a good seat.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Written by Stuart Cooper


Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Ibris Elba

One of the most iconic franchises in film history is back! Well kind of. “Prometheus” hit theaters this past weekend. Without a doubt this was one of the most anticipated films in the past couple years. Definitely qualifies as a summer blockbuster. Ridley Scott returns to the director’s chair to once again direct his baby (or face hugger) and in my eyes it did not disappoint. The first thing you must do before seeing this film is to separate yourself from the ALIEN franchise you know prior to this film, because I will tell you now it has elements of the franchise, but if you are looking for wall to wall gun fighting and acid blood, you will be disappointed. The film centers more so on the origins of the xenomorphs and the “space jockey” character from the original ALIEN. Now I will try my best to avoid any major spoilers because I want everybody to go see this film and judge for themselves, but I will discuss some basic plot details. Don’t worry I will leave plenty for you to discover on your own.

The film stars Noomi Rapace as the main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw. Her husband is played by Logan Marshall Green, and together they make up a couple who have devoted their entire lives to researching the origins of humanity. The couple travels the world examining artifacts and caves, examining signs of what could only be referred to as Ancient Aliens. If you watch the show on the history channel, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. The film immediately ties itself to a real life theory that is more popular and acceptable now, than ever. I myself am actually a believer in the Ancient Alien theology (to an extent) and if you are open minded in your beliefs; the film may actually hit home on certain pre-existing theories. So the film immediately makes the situation in question, a relatable one.

The couple, along with Weyland (of Weyland Industries from the other Alien films) opts to form a scientific expedition with the purpose of seeking out this alien life they believe to exist. As far as actual plot details, that is as far as I can go without spoiling anything important to the story. But we can at least talk about some of the characters in the film. Charlize Theron, sexy as always, plays a stern corporate representative for Weyland named Vickers. She is responsible for making sure the money spent on the expedition is worth the effort, and she also monitors the activity of the crew and can give orders if needed. Theron was very effective in this role and I thought it was perfect casting. Another notable cast member is the android David, played by Michael Fassbender. I’ve been a fan of Fassbender ever since he popped on the scene, and he is perfect in the role of David. He does a very good job of playing a cold emotionless android. David is not as two dimensional as some of the other androids in the previous films though, he actually seems to have a childlike curiosity and hunger for knowledge. David is really there to seek out answers, and assist the crew. But as you know with the previous ALIEN films, the android’s behavior is questionable, and the true motives are hard to predict given the emotionless character. This makes for quite the interesting contrast in comparison to other characters on board. The other cast member worth noting is the charismatic captain played by Idris Elba. Elba definitely has some good acting chops and he fits the role quite well. There is just something very badass about his attitude that he brings to a lot of his roles. There is a few other crew members as well, each seem to be from some type of scientific background, while others are there for security purposes. Together all of these people journey to the unknown planet, in search of answers to the burning question that we all have “Where did we come from?”. The film makes a habit out of answering one question with another question. Some people seem to have taken issue with this, but I am fine with it. I don’t expect a director or writer to spoon feed every aspect of a story to me, so I really enjoyed the way things are laid out. You learn a lot about the space jockey and the alien race behind the space jockeys, whom are referred to as “Engineers” in the film. You see several things that will remind you of the things you love in prior ALIEN films, but some of these ideas are slightly altered, implying that they will evolve into things you are familiar with. This is also something people seem to take issue with, but again I see this as a pointless complaint. I think that is part of the reason why Ridley Scott told people it was not a prequel, so they would not bring a heavy handed bag of nostalgia with them to the theater, but people did that anyways, and as a result had unrealistic hype and expectations. For those that didn’t do that, they seem to have loved the film.

Now getting on to the one thing I definitely wanted to discuss, the breathtaking visuals! This film is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! The world that Ridley Scott created in the previous films is expanded even more so, and in ways you couldn’t even imagine. The ships in the film are incredibly unique and detailed; the look of the interior inside the Prometheus is similar to that of the Nostromo from ALIEN, with a few tweaks that set it apart. The look of the aliens in the film are also quite unique, not exactly what I expected but I was not let down in that respect. The eerie feeling that you get from the other ALIEN films is also very present in this one. You will definitely feel like you are watching a part of the ALIEN mythos, without being beaten over the head with xenomorphs. There are also a few nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey which I really got a kick out of. I can’t really talk about them without giving away details of the plot, but I think if you are a fan of 2001, you will spot these similarities immediately.

The one thing I always found creepy about the original ALIEN was the feeling of isolation. That is what made the film so eerie. You can run, but you can only run so far and at the end of the day, it’s just you and whatever creature is following you. No back up, no police, no family members, no safe house, it’s just you, space, and whatever occupies that space. In space no one can hear you scream…never rang so true. Another aspect of the film that seems to be discussed quite a bit is questions it provides concerning evolution, religion, purpose, all of these big issues that every human thinks about. Some find the fact that these things are discussed unnecessary, but I think it is a vital part of the story. These questions being posed in the film are good. These questions make it more than a space thriller; it makes it a deep, multi-layered universe that is thought provoking. So if you like movies where you can turn your brain off and let the characters explain everything for you, you may not like this film. A lot of things in the film are open to interpretation and I loved that about the film, but some critics find this aspect challenging and dismiss it as “plot holes”. I think the film may have a few things here and there that could be done better, but overall I enjoyed the storytelling and the questions posed. If anything it gives you more reason to care about the universe that the story takes place in, as opposed to just watching people shoot aliens. Something “Battle: Los Angeles” could have used.

Overall I think “Prometheus” is a unique and thought provoking film. If you are a fan of the ALIEN mythos and the style of Ridley Scott, this film is worth your time. If you enjoy the art style of H.R. Giger and the eeriness that exists in the previous films, then I would recommend this film as well. If you like your films cut and dry, black and white, without any questions, then you may dislike the film. So I think it’s really up to the viewer as to how they interpret the film. Don’t let the unrealistic hype train known as the internet ruin this film for you. Go into the theater with a clear head, no expectations, and enjoy the ride. Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace give powerful and enjoyable performances, the visuals are stunning, and the storytelling is bizarre and unique. It’s everything I wanted and more.

Bonus Video: ALIEN trailer done in the style of PROMETHEUS...very cool.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Abe Lincoln vs. Zombies Review

Written by Stuart Cooper

Starring Bill Oberst Jr, Don Mcgraw, and David Alexander

Four score and seven years ago, America faced a civil war and was briefly interrupted by a zombie outbreak…wait you mean you don’t remember that? Well the latest Asylum Hollywood mockbuster “Abe Lincoln vs. Zombies” centers on this idea. As most of you know there is a film coming out this summer called “Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” which is based on a novel in which Abe Lincoln hunts Vampires in the midst of the Civil War. In usual Asylum fashion a film was crafted with a similar premise, except instead of Vampires, Honest Abe is faced with a small zombie outbreak. Believe it or not this film actually ended up having a little bit of charm that makes it an entertaining watch all the way through.

Bill Oberst Jr. steps into the presidential shoes to play Abe Lincoln in the film and does so with full force. You have to give props to Oberst Jr. for taking the role seriously and actually bringing some good acting chops to the role. I really enjoyed his portrayal of Lincoln, while hokey at times, still entertaining. Though I couldn’t help but notice his voice is quite similar to that of the old police chief from Police Academy, I had to double check IMDB to make sure it was not the same guy, their voices are that similar! The film starts off with pretty much the exact same premise as Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Abe loses his mother to a zombie attack (as opposed to a vampire attack) and this causes him to form an intense hatred for Zombies and a bit of a dark side as he is actually forced to decapitate the zombie with a sickle at a very young age. Apparently Abe kept this sickle the entire time because it is his weapon of choice throughout the film (again, as opposed to the axe in the vampire version). Abe finds himself in the middle of a small zombie outbreak when he and his men are at a fort preparing for the next Civil War battle. The men accompanying Lincoln are actually an early version of the secret service, so that was kind of cool to see. After Lincoln accepts that the dead have risen, he organizes a group of men to hunt down and destroy every zombie they can find. Of course these men have moral complications since they don’t really believe in the undead, and feel as if they are being ordered to kill sick people. Funny enough one of the men that is helping out Lincoln is none other than his arch rival John Wilkes Booth. Obviously this film would not be historically accurate, so I can forgive the fact that Booth is randomly at his side during the film, though the character is actually deceptive throughout the movie, hinting at his obvious dark side. There are actually a few other historical faces that pop up throughout the film, most notably would be General Stonewall Jackson, who runs into Lincoln after a group of his men are found hiding from the zombie outbreak. Stonewall is actually quite the entertaining character throughout the film and honestly made me wish we could see Stonewall Jackson vs. Frankenstein or something. Another historical addition to the film is a Young Teddy Roosevelt who is apparently mothered by a group of prostitutes that Lincoln is friends with. It was very hard to type that sentence without laughing but it is part of the movie none the less! So there are certainly some funny moments in the film, whether they are intentionally goofy or not, I’m not really sure.

The actual look itself of the film is also not bad. Considering there is very little reason for CGI in most of the film, you aren't overloaded with low budget effects, and that certainly adds to the charm of the film. With most asylum films you are usually witnessing some type of giant CGI monster or CGI alien invasion, but since most of this film centers around humans, you only see a few little CGI tweaks here and there. Another cool little thing I noticed is that Lincoln calls the zombies "un-fortunates" instead of undead, I thought that was a nice touch. The Lincoln character definitely has that wise man persona that we've come to love about the real life figure. At one point he even tells young Teddy Roosevelt to "walk softly and carry a big stick" except instead of the original context of that quote, he means it quite literally since Teddy actually uses a big stick to fight off zombies.

If you have a free night and are up for redboxing a cheap fairly entertaining film, this one wouldn’t be a bad choice. If you keep in mind that you are watching a mockbuster and not a Hollywood summer blockbuster, there is definitely some enjoyment to be had. Compared to some of the latest Syfy originals, you could do a lot worse. Bill Oberst Jr. makes Lincoln a funny and badass character to watch, and the addition of Stonewall Jackson and John Wilkes Booth to the film makes for quite the interesting historical “what if”. I would say if you are in the mood for a cheesy horror film, this one is worth a watch. If you are a history buff like me, you might get some enjoyment out of the absurdity of the situations throughout the film. If you are very sensitive about historically accurate films then you might want to pass on this one.

Snow White and The Huntsman Review

Written by Bobby Ramos

Snow White and The Huntsman (2012)

Starring Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworthy, and Kristen Stewart

If you were to ask anybody what is the first thing that came to mind when they heard the name Snow White, (Seven Dwarfs), but to me growing up it was always the Evil Queen. Some of you would probably think that I was a very messed up kid cause who would focus on something so evil?, especially at the tender age of 5 years old, well I answer that question with another question, What's not there to be fascinated by?. You have this Evil Woman who has a friggin mirror that talks to her when asked a question, and is able to poison an apple and make someone die from biting into it, AWESOME.

Snow White & The Huntsman touches up on the key elements of the story but presents it for what the whole story is, DARK. There are frightening hallucinations, blood and the forces of evil are clear in this tale, death takes no side line because there are plenty of people who die in this movie. It brings back the great PG-13 movie of my childhood, where yes it can be viewed by kids but you will have to let them sleep in your room because they can't look at the mirror in their room.

Charlize Theron shines brightly and is sexy as ever with her show stealing performance of the Evil Queen “Ravenna”. You find yourself rooting for her to win this one because you find out reasons why she is the way she is. Chris Hemsworth replaces his Thor accent for a Scottish (Sometimes Stallone esq) accent but is not the weak link of the film. Kristen Stewart does not have that many lines in this movie but stands out as the weak point of the film, You could almost play a drinking game to how many times she is just breathing heavy in this movie (But you could do that with all of her movies, also how many times she does her lip bite). But despite the lackluster performance it does not take away from the movie. Also keep an eye out for some familiar British actors playing the dwarfs.

In closing I say that Snow White & The Huntsman is definitely worth checking out in theaters, it is beautifully shot, well written and well has you wanting to see more of the grim adaptations brought to the screen.