Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: San Andreas(2015)

Movie My Way: San Andreas

San Andreas

San Andreas is the big budget, over the top earthquake movie that stars Dwayne Johnson as our muscular hero working for the Fire Department of Los Angeles rescue team flying helicopters, racing boats and even airplanes.  From the start, this film had the strong odor of an Emmerich film.  You know the type: ID4, Day after Tomorrow, 2012.  Turns out, Toby Emmerich was a producer on this film which means there is a pretty strict formula that this film must follow:

  1. It must be over the top – We can’t just have a collection of serious earthquakes.  They must be the biggest quakes ever recorded.
  2. It must defy logic – I’m no architect or even structural engineer but even I know that structures built in the last 50 years are designed to handle some shaking and rattling and not just crumble to the ground.
  3. All action must be death defying – You can’t just escape a tense situation with plenty of time to spare.  Each time, it must be at the last second with a large crescendo of music and hugs all around.
  4. Your family must be more important than everyone else – Even if you are a firefighter, you must ignore all of the people around you and only focus on the ones you love.
  5. Destroy everything – Since we have CGI now, we can just go crazy and obliterate anything and everything.

So I won’t go so far as to say it is a bad film but this film knows what kind of film it is.  If you like to watch all kinds of artificial destruction, then give it a go.  If you want to see Dwayne Johnson’s abnormally large pecs then this movie is your Casablanca.

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Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Hot Pursuit(2015)

Movie My Way: Hot Pursuit

Hot Pursuit

You know that move where you pinch that spot between your eyes at the top of your nose and let out a big sigh?  That sigh is the ninety minutes that is Hot Pursuit.  I can’t understand how Reese Witherspoon can go from being nominated for an Oscar with her role in Wild (which was a pretty good film)to a film like this so quickly.  I understand that sometimes you want to mix it up or do a film for your kids but the writing in this film is just atrocious. It just screams “I am contractually obligated to do this film.”  Also, if you enjoy the screeching car alarm that is Sofia Vergara on Modern Family, then you will be thrilled to hear this tornado siren sound off for the entire film.  If you are looking for a buddy cop film with female leads, then I recommend The Heat.

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Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Unfriended(2014)

Movie My Way: Unfriended


Social media is here to stay like it or not.  Though most of my generation invented most of the tools used today like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc., it is certainly the younger generations that have lapped up these technologies and have integrated them into their daily lives.  So with that, you’ll understand that I found Unfriended a bit hard to relate to from that perspective.  I am far too old to be affected or care about being “cyber bullied” but do realize it is a real thing and that kids these days invest a lot into how their digital personas are presented to their peers.  Unfriended is a horror film that focuses on 5 high school friends that regularly use these tools to interact and share.  It is a unique way to tell a story because the entire film is set on the screen of one of the friends in this movie.  It shows all the notifications, web cam Skype calls, Facebook messages and these users reactions to them.  For the first two acts, Unfriended almost pulls it off.  It had me intrigued, I’ll admit but once act three started, it all went downhill.  It lost its focus and started to veer too much into an electronic version of truth or dare.  Also, the very last scene of this film made me take a full star off the review.  Disappointing because it showed a little promise.

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Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Extraterrestrial(2014)

Movie My Way: Extraterrestrial


I thought for sure I would hate this movie.  There are tons of them out there like it.  “Horror” films that take themselves too seriously and attempt to sell themselves as the next big thing.  Have you seen the trailers where they film the audience with night vision?  Yeah, almost all of those are the kinds of films that take things too seriously and end up adding to the pile of bad horror films.  Right from the get go, however, Extraterrestrial set a great tone for the whole film.  A nice variety of interesting characters, decently timed comic relief combined with a fairly decent story and some pretty good production values made this a really fun 90 minutes for me.  Even had a really good soundtrack to boot.  Not trying to oversell it at all but to me this is why I like watching the more obscure horror films out there.  After trudging through many, MANY films in this genre, it is nice every once in a while that a film isn’t a complete waste of my time and I actually come away entertained.

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Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Movie My Way: Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

It certainly has been a while since the universe of Mad Max has been visited.  It went out with more of a whimper than a bang with Beyond Thunderdome back in 1985.  Not that it was a terrible film but it was the first film that attempted to make the series more commercially accessible to a wider audience(read PG-13).  After that, the series just sort of faded into the background of action films.  The newest installment ,Fury Road, is a high caliber return to high paced vehicle based action set in a believable post-apocalyptic world.  It combines some really interesting characters and set pieces into some of the best car based action I have seen in quite some time.  Though this film is set in the Mad Max universe, the film doesn’t really revolve around the Mad Max character played by Tom Hardy.  Instead, the filmmakers decided to focus on the antagonist of the film and secondary character, Furiosa played by Charlize Theron, attempting to flee from said antagonist.  I wouldn’t have thought this direction would work but it really made for a pretty good film and story.  One of the many things that stood out for me about this film was the dialogue.  Just like the characters in this film, the dialogue was very unique and done in a way that almost sounded natural like it truly evolved that way from the lack of any civilized populations.  A times, it even almost sounded Shakespearean and poetic.  Really added to the tapestry of the entire film.  I have read that this film is the first in a trilogy and am looking very much forward to see how this universe evolves.  Very enjoyable action film for adults.

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Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: It Follows (2014)

Movie My Way: It Follows

It Follows

It Follows is a simple concept horror film.  Don’t let that stop you from watching it though because that simple concept is fresh, creative and very well executed.  It Follows is essentially about “it” following whomever it gets passed on to.  It can take the appearance of someone you know or someone you don’t.  Only you can see it and it won’t stop until it reaches you.  It is slow but it is relentless.  This film is a great creepy slow simmer that pulls you in gradually and keeps you thinking.  The soundtrack was very unique as well and gave the film a very 80’s feeling.  One of the things I really appreciated about this film is that it ignored almost every currently “accepted” horror trope and got its scares from very subtle and clever ways.  This film gets under your skin, but in a good way.  I happy to see such a unique story told in a creative way instead of all the “low investment – high return” PG-13 horror films that flood the genre.  I don’t think this film got a very wide release so if you are a fan of these types of films, seek it out.

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Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Chappie (2015)

Movie My Way: Chappie


Neill Blomkamp returns with yet another Sci-Fi film featuring his awesomely animated robots/aliens.  Similar to the theme of Ex Machina, this films with how we could perceive and treat a “birthed” AI that becomes aware that it could one day die.  How do we treat it?  How does the AI react to this information?  This is the central plot of Chappie.  Unlike Ex Machina, Chappie plays things pretty loose and takes a lot of the philosophy, intensity and ethics out of the question and adds a lot more action and destruction.  I’m not saying it is bad, but it certainly wasn’t as good as I had hoped.  Neill Blomkamp’s films always look very distinct (District 9, Elysium) and I think that has to do with his South African and Johannesburg upbringing.  It is a plus in my opinion because a lot of films of this genre tend to follow the same look.  If you are looking for a fun action film and want to see some unique scenery and some very well animated lifelike robots, then Chappie is a good time.

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Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Ex Machina (2015)

Movie My Way: Ex Machina

Ex Machina

I don’t know if I can put into words how good this movie is.  It explores some pretty deep philosophical concepts that made me a little uneasy through the entirety of the film.  Is Artificial Intelligence something to be ignored and made to be like fodder for films like Terminator?  Or is it something that should be feared and treated with critical apprehension and study?  We think that this is something that can never be achieved in our lifetimes.  Although this may be true, with the amount of data that large companies like Google and Facebook are collecting from each and every one of you, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.  Even Steven Hawking has acknowledged that our accomplishments could be our undoing if we aren’t careful.  I am not as fatalistic as Mr. Hawking, but I do realize that this is a subject that needs to be treated with some consideration.  The code that creates even hypothetical systems will be deliberately created.  With one or multiple goals in mind.  There is no amount of emotion or feelings that can play into it that will bring “common sense” into the equation.  This film is one of the best Science Fiction films I have seen in several years.  I highly recommend that you watch this film and consider its points carefully.  It is a very tense experience. It could potentially change the way you think about technology and how far it has come in the last 30 years.  And where it could go in the next 50.

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Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

Movie My Way: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

I was in college when Nirvana broke onto the music scene.  I remember being a little shocked at how many people were praising their sophomore album Nevermind.  Not because I thought it was bad but because it sounded a little “too indie” to be so popular and mainstream.  I had traveled to Europe that summer and I couldn’t believe how far and wide this band had reached in a short amount of time.  Banners and posters everywhere.  Several of my host families kids could not stop talking about Nirvana either.  I didn’t understand it then but in retrospect, I should have known that something huge was happening.  The Montage of Heck is a documentary based on the life of their now famous front man Kurt Cobain.  It contains video and audio footage supplied by Cobain’s family, friends and wife.  It also contains several of his own personal audio and video recordings.  The majority of the film revolves around many of Kurt’s journal writings about everything and anything.  What to name his band, to drawings, art and lyrics.  It also contains a lot of morose insight into the fragility of this talented but scared and hurt man.  Some incredible animations were used to illustrate some of his entries of frustration and pain.  It really reemphasized that he was just a product of being hurt as a child by his family with nowhere to turn but the path he ultimately ended up going.  As we know now, personalities like this have trouble being under such constant scrutiny and being the “voice of a generation”.  It was a great documentary but it can be hard to watch at times and doesn’t shy away from some pretty dark themes.  I enjoyed all the interviews with family and band members but was surprised that there were no one on one interviews with Dave Grohl.  Krist Novoselic is usually the guy who doesn’t do interviews but was present in this film.  Keep in mind this film is more about the man behind the band rather than the band.

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Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Maggie (2015)

Movie My Way: Maggie


I’ll start out by saying that Maggie is a zombie movie.  That said, it is a pretty creative one at that.  Similar to Life After Beth, this film takes a look at what might happen if a new virus moved slowly and the infected could actually live several months with the disease before being turned.  How would families react if their loved ones could still be their loved ones knowing full well the ultimate outcome is just around the corner.  It almost speaks to a lot of other illnesses we currently face as a human race today.  Though not perfect, this film was a very creative and unique story.  It stars Abigail Breslin and Arnold Schwarzenegger as father and daughter trying deal with the situation they are currently in.  To date, I think this is Arnold’s most dramatic role to date and pulled it off fairly well even though it was a little hard to believe him as a mid-west farmer with his still very present Austrian accent with the name of Wade.  So don’t expect perfection with this very somber film but certainly expect something you haven’t seen before done pretty well.

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