Review: Homefront

Homefront

As opening scenes go, I enjoy a bunch of rednecks getting a good ass kicking after an annoying confrontation at a gas station. That was the first of several clichés that are all too familiar with when we watch a movie set in the Deep South. This is a film where we get to familiarize ourselves with the culture of a small hidden town that makes their own rules, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Phil Broker (Jason Statham) is an ex DEA agent who goes undercover to infiltrate a biker gang and their meth ring. He succeeds for the most part, but their leader yells at him with red in his eyes, “You’re dead,” as he’s being taken away in handcuffs. Well, we know we’re not going to see the last of him. So after a successful mission, Phil hides out in the deep South where no one would ever suspect anything more than that he is just another hard working American…with a British accent. So a couple years pass and Phil now lives a peaceful life with his daughter Maddy and all is well, until the school bully decides to pick on his daughter one day at recess. This reveals some suspicious fighting skills that seem unusual for a 9 year old girl and gives the bully an ego check. Giving the movie credit, people actually seem to want to know how a 9 year old developed the fighting skills of a UFC flyweight.

Kate Bosworth plays Cassie, the bully's meth head of a mom, and her performance is disturbingly effective. She reacts with outrage to the altercation between Phil’s child and her own, demanding that the daughter receive disciplinary action for hurting her angel. The cops know the situation and believe that it is under control, but the mom does not want to give up that easily. After that Cassie and her husband antagonize Phil with hurtful words demanding respect, the dad takes it a step further and from then on we know where her daughter got those skills from. A key part in this film is the stylistic approach of the fighting techniques displayed. Jason Statham turns it into an art-form.

After a humiliating beat-down, we know that these people want justice. Cassie calls up her brother, Gator (James Franco,) to teach Phil a lesson. Gator is the psychotic small-town drug lord who cooks and supplies meth for all the citizens of the town and he makes damn sure that no one else does. While Gator plans his sister’s revenge, he digs up some dirt on Phil and realizes who he is. That is where the real trouble starts and establishes brand new motives. The concern from good old fashioned small town interrogation builds to something much bigger than that.

The plot was well executed and fast-paced and made for an intriguing storyline. The fighting scenes definitely make you clench your fists and jump up with a surge of adrenaline and scream, “Fuck yea!”

I was, however, a little disappointed in James Franco’s character. The way his character was built up wasn’t convincing, and his character arc should have been better developed. Honestly I didn’t feel as threatened by him as I should have been. The way they were talking him up, you would think he would be some form of the devil, but his presence was ineffective and we all knew that Phil would most likely humiliate him just as bad as any other man that comes his way. Homefront is an effective film with a punch that takes you for a ride. Jason Statham fans will be pleased, and if you’re looking for a decent beat-em-up action film with some entertaining performances, you could do worse.

[easyreview title= "Review of Homefront" cat1title="Brady's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]

Review: This Is The End

This is the End

I’ll just come out and say this right away - This Is The End is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. And if you’re afraid the trailers revealed too much, don’t worry - there is so much more to come.

Attending an advance screening is always a mixed bag. This one, for instance, featured the very first metal-detection and pat-down I’ve ever experienced at a movie theater (yay Baltimore!) The crowd was also different than what I was expecting, being made up of about ⅓ press nerds and ⅔ members of the Maryland Film Festival. This fine organization gives its members the chance to attend advance screenings like this throughout the year, and let me tell you, they were excited to be there. Usually that means the movie being screened will get very positive reactions from the audience, as the audience is made up mostly of fans. This film didn’t need cheap laughs from the crowd to help sell it.

This Is The End features all the good ol’ boys from the last ten years of Hollywood stoner comedy playing themselves during the apocalypse. I’ll stay quiet on exactly what kind of apocalypse they’re surviving, but it adds to the hilarity. Jay Baruchel flies to L.A. to visit his buddy Seth Rogen, and they’re quickly off to a party at James Franco’s house. The first twenty minutes are hysterical, with a bunch of celebs making cameos and then rapidly dying. Also; you will never look at Michael Cera the same way again.

After the initial mass casualties we’re left with Jay, Seth, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride doing their best to survive with, well, no skills whatsoever to draw from. If you’ve ever wanted to see a sequel to Pineapple Express, wait no more. Hilarity ensues and after a little moralizing and a lot of cum jokes, everyone realizes what’s really going on. I mean, there’s maybe a little bit of message with some of it, but I think that’s a fallacy. This is just an excuse for all those guys to smoke a bunch of weed and say hilarious shit to each other and get paid for it.

The movie drags a little bit in the third act, but there’s some excellent creature design on hand and one last excellent cameo to look out for. And the finale is, well, it’s something else. I left the theater making a lot of comparisons to Kevin Smith movies, and I think it’s apt. The whole thing feels like a hilarious mash-up of Seth Rogen’s films and Kevin Smith’s films, and that’s damn near perfect comedy for me.

Bottom line, if you already like these guys go see the movie, you’ll love it. If you’re on the fence about it, have no fear, this is money well spent. I haven’t laughed this hard in the theater since 21 Jumpstreet, and there’s plenty of laughs left for you.

Fuck science!

[easyreview title= "Review of This is the End" cat1title="Jack's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="5.0" overall= false]

Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz-the-Great-and-Powerful This is the film 3D has been waiting for. Unfortunately no one told this to the writers. Have you ever wondered how the Wizard got to Oz has amassed so much power? Well Disney has decided to tell us that tale with cult favorite director Sam Raimi at the helm. Just how does a simple carnival magician put aside his greed and womanizing ways to become the Great and Powerful benefactor of a land of enchantment?  Now I don’t want to tell you just how much of the Land of Oz’s origins are revealed because I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say that we get a bit more than the trailers let on. We also get a lot in between that we could do without.

Let me just get this out of the way… this movie is BEAUTIFUL! From black and white opening to full coloring closing this movie is a spectacle to behold. I’m not a big fan of 3D as I believe it is over used on movies that don’t need it or were never meant to be 3D. However this time I reveled in it just as Raimi clearly did while making it. Just like the original Oz film we start in the land of monochrome. To emphasize the difference the backgrounds are very flat which stands out in a very cool way in 3D. Think Monty Python animations in 3D as in we have multiple two dimensional planes playing with our eyes. It’s just a ton of fun. But then we eventually get to Oz and it switches over to full color and and I simply have no words for how beautiful this place looks! Thankfully Raimi does reel in the wonderment so we are not distracted the whole time but when it’s time to stun us he does so with style! Raimi is just the perfect director for a 3D movie. He knows when to let it help the story and when to have things pop and fly about to really make you feel the film. There is one shot that comes to mind where wooden spikes are jutting at Mr. Oz and it was just GREAT!

However I need to calm down before I just slap five stars on this movie because of the eye candy. I need to talk about the story we are given. The film loses an awful lot of points because the story really isn’t that complex. It doesn’t need the two hours we have to tell this tale and therefore it’s severely padded and drags on in many places. To help that along we do get a few twists. There is an obvious one in the beginning and then a later twist that upsets the first twist that I honestly didn’t quite see coming. This movie reeks of red herrings.

So we have a pacing problem. One thing that can fix that is interesting and lively characters. This is the Land of Oz! We shouldn’t be able to throw a yellow brick without hitting a few dozen of those, right? Right? Dammit, no. While Dorothy got a fun crew together that introduced themselves through uplifting songs that stay in your head your entire life we get a couple of almost interesting characters that introduce themselves by… being there. Oz comes along, helps a couple of characters and they stick with him. Just two. And they really aren’t very interesting at all. The first, a small flying monkey voiced by Zach Braff, should be incredibly helpful but honestly spends most of his time dragging around Oz’s bag or carrying the second member of the group a tiny porcelain girl that never gets a name. She is more of a hindrance aside from one small role in the end of the film. Oh, and they don’t sing. No one does. I feel like this film would have really benefited by filling this time with some song and dance but the only time that happens our hero shuts it all down.

So Oz, the man not the place, is played by James Franco. In the beginning he does an amazing job as a douche bag carnival magician but as the film goes on and he discovers himself he acts more and more like James Franco and therefore less interesting. And while I really want to speak about our main villain I also don’t want to spoil the big twists. Let’s just say the villain doesn’t work and that due to the person they chose to fill the role. While I’m sure that person had fun it just isn’t a good fit in the slightest.

In the end this movie is frustrating. The visuals pump this movie through the roof for me! But the story and pacing and characters drag it way back down.

[easyreview title= "Review of Oz the Great and Powerful" cat1title="Cheetimus' Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="3.0" overall= false]