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.

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★★★★★☆

 

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.

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★★★★☆☆

Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Maggie (2015)

Movie My Way: Maggie

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.

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★★½☆☆☆

Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Blackhat(2015)

Movie My Way: Blackhat

Blackhat

Blackhat is a film based on a premise that I have heard a lot about in the news.  What if a cyber-criminal could gain control of systems that control things like our utilities, transportation or other ‘critical’ systems?  How much havoc could they wreak?  According to this film, quite a bit.  It is an intriguing concept for sure.  Too bad this film doesn’t capture much of what could actually happen.  Working with computers everyday, I am fairly familiar with how they operate.  I just shake my head and sigh when I hear TV shows and movies start throwing around words like “IP Address”, “Firewall” and “Virus”.  They do it  A LOT.  I understand.  Most people don’t know the difference so why go the trouble?  Most people don’t even use a mouse on these shows.  Just lots of lout typing.  I don’t know.  The truth isn’t that hard to figure out and tell in a realistic manner.  Anyway, Blackhat does its best to show the above mentioned terrorist acts in a slow and somewhat plodding way.  With jarring and stilted dialogue and no likable characters that make no real sense in their decision making, I was hoping for more with this film but in the end was just a weird film to see all the way to completion.

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Seventh Son

Movie My Way: Seventh Son

Seventh Son

Saw a trailer for this film over a year and a half ago.  Guess this film had a lot of production issues which prevented it from being released.  Seventh Son is based on the books ‘The Wardstone Chronicles’.  A book series I am completely unfamiliar with.  It entails a witch hunter named Spook played by Jeff Bridges who, as the name says, hunts witches and demons.  In a confrontation with a powerful witch, Spook loses his apprentice and needs a new one.  Which is where the Seventh Son comes into play.  As good as this film looked, the story was just something I wasn’t able to get into.  It was paper thin and in the end, I just didn’t really care much about any of the characters, protagonist or antagonist.  Thinking maybe the books are a bit more engaging but I doubt any more films in this series will be made because of the lackluster start with this one.

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (2014)

Movie My Way: Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie

I was originally made aware of the Angry Video Game Nerd and James Rolfe about 6 years ago when I came across seeing one of his more popular AVGN episodes about some Nintendo game I had never played.  I was  little too old to grow up playing Nintendo and cut my gaming teeth with a much older console.  Some of you may have heard about the Atari 2600 with all its wonderful wood grain finish.  So even though I didn’t hit the target market for most of the AVGN videos, I still found them fun and full of some pretty well made video making for just one guy to do on his own.  As a result, I ended up tuning into his production companies website, Cinemassacre to find out that Mr. Rolfe is not only a video game fan but an even more passionate film maker.  He has been making films since he was in a kid and he has grown a real appreciation for classic films.  Something about the thoroughness of his videos as well as his commentary and writing just engages me and makes me want to watch pretty much all his films as well as introducing me to several films I have never even heard of before.  So through crowd funding, James was able to get funding to finally film his very first, full length independent film using the character that made him internet famous.

Angry Video Game Nerd The Movie is a film about his character only known as “The Nerd” and his fans constant desire to see him finally review what has once been touted as the worst video game ever.  The infamous Atari 2600 video game based on the hit blockbuster, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.  The story goes that the game was so bad and sold so poorly that Atari recalled millions of them and buried them in the New Mexico desert in Alamogordo.  The act eventually lead to Atari’s demise and the home console market of the 80’s.  Or so the legend supposedly goes.  This film takes a quite humorous look at the Nerd and his quest to prove that these cartridges do not exist which in turn means he doesn’t need to review this game.  With his best bud and and cast of wild and over the top characters, this film takes every boyhood fantasy of monsters, explosions, video games, fast cars and humor with the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure.  I flat out enjoyed this film.  It isn’t perfect by any means since the budget was on a shoestring but that only adds to its charm.  It invites you in to see how they made the cheesy effects.  Model airplanes with sparklers in the rear to people wearing suits smashing up miniature sets just like Godzilla.  Every scene was done with a purpose and every scene was done for the purpose of making the film Mr. Rolfe wanted to make.  I was so happy to support his film by buying the blu-ray.  Speaking of which, the blu-ray has over 10 hours of additional behind the scenes footage and interviews.  Well worth the price.  In a way, it is almost inspiring to think that if I was even able to put my mind to it, I could write and make my own film too.  Not likely to happen but I have had ideas for movies in the past.  In listening to interviews with Mr Rolfe, it is clear he just went out and made the film he wanted to make.  Because no one else is going to make your film for you.  I hope that this entire experience convinces Mr. Rolfe to write and shoot his next film.  Fortunately, he is still making his shorts on Cinemassacre which I will watch each and every week, gladly.

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★★★★½☆

Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: The Imitation Game (2014)

Movie My Way: The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is a film about the now well known mathematician Alan Turing and his quest with the help of the British government to break the once thought unbreakable Enigma device that the Germans used for all military communication during World War II.  I tend to grow tired of films set in World War II just because of the sheer amount of needless destruction and death these films convey.  To an extent, this film doesn’t focus so much on the fighting but the “back office” of the war and takes an interesting look into what goes on.  Having not lived through a war on our own soil, it is hard to imagine what life was like living in England during this time.  The threat of bombing attacks daily with not knowing where your next meal may come from are aspects we tend to forget.  I appreciated seeing this side of things and made both my wife and I wonder how the government and military leaders of Germany thought it was okay to wipe out almost all of Europe for whatever reason.  I am sure there are volumes  written about this topic out there but it is just hard for our brains to grasp at times.  Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Mr. Turing, does a wonderful job as the brilliant mathematician and forefather to the modern computer.  It is unfortunate that it took the British government and monarchy so long to recognize his accomplishments just for the fact that they couldn’t get over who he chose to sleep with.

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★★★★☆☆

Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Interstellar (2014)

Movie  My Way: Interstellar

Interstellar

Christopher Nolan is getting pretty good at making films.  Interstellar is probably his best film to date and easily his most complicated.  The entire film revolves around bringing theoretical physics into reality wrapped in a “forced to save the earth” story.  This film throws a lot of complicated scientific theories and facts at the audience in a way that is approachable and consumable.  It is not your typical science fiction film because it has its roots in real science.  So in that regard, it almost isn’t science “fiction”.  It is a very nice combination of heady and heartfelt emotions tied together with a thrilling adventure story.  With a wonderful Hans Zimmer soundtrack, this film will delight people who want a deep and introspective, yet action packed time.  If you are looking for a popcorn style that will just wash over you, you probably won’t get as much out of it.  This film will get better with multiple viewings.

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★★★★☆☆

Brad Has Reviewed a New Film: Life After Beth (2014)

Movie My Way: Life After Beth(2014)

Life After Beth

This film was meant to be a dark comedy but I think most people thought it was going to be a “much lighter” dark comedy than it was. This film was wickedly smart. Almost cutting edge. Which is why I don’t think it was very well received. I think most were hoping for a Shaun of the Dead meets When Harry Met Sally. Though I thought it delivered on some fronts, I think most thought it either wasn’t funny enough or not scary enough. I thought it was just right in the middle of both. With its stellar A-List cast(Garry Marshall, John C. Riley, Paul Riser, Molly Shannon, Anna Kendrick, Cheryl Hines, just to name a few) to its intelligent writing, I think people were expecting something a little more “date” friendly and approachable. Being an avid horror film, I have to admit that this was one of the more refreshing and subtle approaches to the whole “zombie apocalypse” genre that has gotten popular over the years. What if the zombie apocalypse wasn’t as apparent as you thought it would be? What if it was subtle with people who you hadn’t seen if a few years started showing up? How would you react? Not as straight forward as you think it would be. This movie was fun but I can see why most would be turned off by it.

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Kingsmen: The Secret Service(2014)

Kingsmen: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsmen is a film that was HORRIBLY marketed. I have run into several people who thought this film was yet another teen-book-to-novel movie and just didn’t bother with it. Most thought it was maybe a British version of Spy Kids. This film is the absolute furthest thing from that and well worth the investment of time to watch over and over again. In reality, the Kingsmen is based on a comic book by Mark Millar and directed by Matthew Vaughn. You know, the guys who brought you the Kick Ass. That pedigree should tell what kind of film this is. An action movie for adults. A GREAT action film for adults. Not only does it bring some great action to the screen but some really laugh out loud comedy as well as some very interesting and rich characters. Samuel L. Jackson plays a great anti-hero with some wonderful dialogue and motivations and almost steals the entire film. I saw this film by myself while I was visiting my brother in Fresno. There were only four other people in the theater. Once I saw it, I knew that I had to get my brother to see it so I saw it again the very next day without hesitation. I can’t remember the last time I have even considered that. This film is that much fun. I will definitely be picking this up on BluRay once it is released and intend to see if I can’t get my hands on the original comics as well for a read. If this film is still in a theater near you and you are a fan of fun action movies for adults (read, this movie is very violent), do check this movie out. It is a blast!

My Movie Rating:
★★★★★★★★★☆

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