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Fall Movie Preview!

Goodbye summer, hello fall!

It’s the one season with everything: sweater weather, ASU football, pumpkin-flavored everything, and of course great movies.

Here’s what we’re excited for, skeptical about, and just downright not going to see this fall:

Most Excited to See: The Theory of Everything – Nov 14 (Trailer)
This looks like an amazingly beautiful movie about how Stephen Hawking met his wife Jane at university. As their love blossoms, however, he is diagnosed with ALS and given two years to live. I’m sure I will sob all the way through it, seeing as the trailer made me cry.

Skeptical, But Probably Still Gonna See It: Into the Woods – Dec 25 (Trailer
Another popular musical is adapted to film. We’ve seen this go well (Les Mis) and okay (Jersey Boys). I’m not super emotionally attached to this play. Maybe going in with low expectations will make me enjoy it.

No Way Am I Seeing This: The Boxtrolls – Sep 26 (Trailer)
I was originally intrigued when I saw the first trailer, because the art and design is so breath-taking. But since then I’ve seen more plot in other trailers and it does not look good at all. Disappointing.

Most Excited to See: Fury – Oct 17 (Trailer)
Just from the trailer, the visuals and the acting in Fury look amazing. Based in Nazi Germany, Fury looks to be the perfect kind of historical fiction; capturing the grittiness of war and marrying it with a sensational story that feels unlikely and entirely possible at the same time. I’m going to have to check this one out in theaters.

Skeptical, But Probably Still Gonna See It: Dumb and Dumber To – Nov 14 (Trailer)
When I first found out they were making a sequel of one of the funniest movies of all time, and that it’d be starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, I was so excited. Then the trailer came. There definitely seem to be some aspects of what made the original so great in tact but the Farrelly brothers seem to have added a whole lot of extremely crude and sexual humor this time around and that’s not really my thing. I’m probably going to see it but I don’t have very high hopes that it’ll even come close to the original.

No Way Am I Seeing This: The Judge – Oct 10 (Trailer)
Talk about a movie that’s trying way too hard. It looks to be about the most cliched movie ever made and I really want nothing to do with it. This is also by the director who made I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry back in 2007, so take that as you will.

Most Excited to See: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Dec 19 (Trailer)
I think this series has been my most anticipated movie for the past like, four years. Or at least since they announced the project. I wasn’t as big a fan of the second as I was the first, but I still have high hopes for the remaining installments.
Honorable mentions: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1The Maze Runner

Skeptical, But Probably Still Gonna See It: The Book of Life – Oct 17 (Trailer)
The first time I saw the preview for this movie, I thought it could be okay. The second time around it looked less appealing. I’m not really sure why. I think the idea of Channing Tatum in an animated movie kinda freaks me out. But I’ll see it anyway, mostly because I think Jordan will make me. 😉

No Way Am I Seeing This: The Interview – Dec 25 (Trailer)
I can’t exactly put my finger on it but there’s just something about Seth Rogen that drives me up the wall. I just can’t stand him, and I usually don’t enjoy his movies. I think this movie will definitely have some good humor, but I’ll probably be the only person not to see it.


Stop messing up my childhood, Hollywood

Hollywood loves to recycle old ideas. This month alone we have a TMNT reboot, two book-to-movie adapations, and another comic book movie. Some are great (Guardians), some are good (The Hundred-Foot Journey), and some are destroying awesome memories from our childhood (The Giver).

We decided to take a look back at some of our favorite and least favorite reboots and remakes. With the added bonus of what we actually want Hollywood to make. As long as they don’t eff it up like The Last Airbender.

The Good: X-Men prequel series (2011-2014), reboot from X-Men series (2000-2006)
Okay, for whatever reason these are considered part of the same franchise, but since it’s a (mostly) new cast in a different time period I’m counting it as a reboot. After seeing X2, I was ready for the X-Men series to retire. The fun and excitement of zillions of superhero mutants died in the slow pacing of the last movies. I was nervous to see X-Men First Class, but I wasn’t disappointed. First Class and Days of Future Past have better pacing, tone, and story than the first three.
The Bad: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), adaptation from the book series (1999-2006)
This was my first encounter with reading the books first and then seeing the movie adaptation. My sixth grade teacher read the first book to us in class, but then I could not stop. I probably read the first ten books within those two years. The movie ruined any drive to finish the series. The greatest downfall was the choice to cram the first three books into one movie. It didn’t do the books justice and I’ll never forgive them.
The Dream: The Song of the Lioness book series by Tamora Pierce (1983-1988)
This book series was the beginning of my reading addiction – specifically for anything fantasy. The Song of the Lioness series is about a young girl Alanna who trades places with her twin brother Thom. She travels to the capital to learn to become a knight, but only boys can be knights. I think this would as good a time as any to have a coming-of-age story set in a magical medieval-ish kingdom, thanks to Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones, but it may never happen.

The Good: Where the Wild Things Are (2009), adapted from the book (1963)
This children’s book-turned movie captures all of the whimsy and innocence of Maurice Sendak’s classic but still elevates it for an adult audience. WTWTA is equal parts childhood imagination and complex emotions like feeling misunderstood. Spike Jonze weaves live action, puppeteering and cgi together in such a beautiful way that you can’t help but get swept up in the land of the wild things.
The Bad: Psycho (1998), remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)
Yeah, I could have pointed out how Michael Bay is continuously ruining the beautiful things from my childhood but I think, in reality, Psycho might just be the worst remake in history. Directed by Gus Van Sant, right off the heals of Good Will Hunting, the new Psycho is basically a shot-for-shot duplication of Hitchcock’s classic but now in color and starring Vince Vaughn. No reinterpretation, no creative vision, no innovative cinematography… Just Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche mucking about in a motel. At least Michael Bay is trying to do something different/creative (even if I have severe reservations of his methods). If you want to see Vince Vaughn in a great thriller, go watch The Cell and forget all about this terrible rendition of Psycho.
The Dream: Captain Planet and the Planeteers television series (1990-1996)
I think the world is finally ready for a live action Captain Planet movie. Granted, I think the possibilities of a Captain Planet film are about a 90% chance of being awful. The right writing and directing could just make it work. Think something with the time of a Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or Space Jam, something that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Hollywood, Robert Zemeckis, let’s  make it happen, let’s take pollution down to zero once and for all.

The Good: Monsters University (2013), prequel for Monsters, Inc. (2001)
I am obsessed with anything Disney or Pixar. Every single movie is just perfect (with the exception of Brave maybe). That being said, Monsters University is my favorite reboot. Monsters, Inc. was such a good movie with a strong and original plot, they could have gone in any direction with the new one and it would have been good. They could have sent the monsters to the moon and I would have loved it.
The Bad: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), adaptation from the Roald Dahl book (1961) and remake of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Honestly, this particular reboot was an abomination in my opinion. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was perfect just the way it was. CATCF tried to hard to be fun with a slight twist of freaky, and just ended up being weird. Especially with Wonka (Johnny Depp, who I normally like). Gene Wilder even made a “rare public appearance” to state that the remake was “an insult.” If I were Tim Burton, I would be ashamed.
The Dream: The Breakfast Club (1985) or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
This is a tough one for me. I almost want to say I’d love to see either of these, simply because I think it could be really awesome. Either what the group is up to now, or maybe a story having to do with their kids. It would have to be the whole original cast, which is sometimes hard to do. But at the same time the movies are great the way they are and a second one might ruin the originals. So there’s that.


Jersey Blogs

Jersey Boys (2014) | Trailer
Run Time: 134 minutes

Rated: R (For language throughout.)
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

Jersey Boys is the film adaptation of the Tony Award Winning Broadway hit of the same name. It follows the rag-to-riches story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, from a mafia influenced neighborhood in New Jersey to becoming one of the most iconic rock groups of the 60s. Their music has stood the test of time and helped shape a generation, but Jersey Boys focuses more on the relationships between the group than the music itself. The movie gives an in depth look at the rapid rise if the group and the devastating blows they experienced along the way; from family breakdowns, personal tragedy, gambling debts and mafia shakedowns. I’m sure this story just explodes off the stage, but director Clint Eastwood somehow managed to suck all of fun and excitement of this broadway hit in its translation to the big screen. Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellently crafted scenes that soar, but they are few and far between and that brings the whole film down as a whole. John Lloyd Young kills in his role as Frankie Valli, it’s clear he was meant to at this part on both stage and screen. Young brings an innocence to the character that even in the films darkest moments comes through and is the one characteristic that isn’t found anywhere else in the movie. His performance, as well as the rest of the band, is really fantastic and I’d love to be able to see them execute these roles on stage. Where the film falls apart is the directing, all of the magic of an on-stage musical is missing from this movie. When I compare this movie’s framing with recent broadway-to-big screen stories like RENT and Les Misérables, there is such a stark contrast in how the source material was handled and, unfortunately, Jersey Boys isn’t even in the same league as the others. The music still shines, the acting is inspired, but overall, the movie is too unevenly paced and safely played by Eastwood and the producers that it feels inconsequential and boring.
Bottom Line: Nowhere near as exciting and imaginative as it could have, and frankly, should have been but at no fault of the actors…Wait for it to hit Redbox, or just download the soundtrack.
Rating: 2.5/5

The first time I saw the trailer I knew I wanted to see this movie. And I just watched it again before writing this post. GOOSEBUMPS. I imagined this movie was going to be amazing, like an R-rated That Thing You Do. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical! But the adaptation to film just didn’t live up to my expectation. I felt like the story jumped around a lot. As if they couldn’t fit everything from the musical into the movie. Why did only some characters tell only part of the story? What’s up with Frankie’s daughter towards the end of the movie? She seems like an afterthought.
It wasn’t a perfect movie, but I still liked it. The actors who play The Four Seasons were wonderfully cast, especially Erich Bergen. (His goatee on the other hand…) There are plenty of laughs, tons of smoking, and a good amount of F-words, cheating on wives, and stolen goods. Nothing out of the normal for a mob movie set in the ’60s.
Bottom Line: Not bad, but not great. I know my parent’s generation will love it, because they’ll sing along to all the songs like I did. Maybe just wait to see it at Gammage next month.
Rating: 3.5/5

Going into this movie I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never seen the original play, I had no idea who the Four Seasons were, but I love musicals. So I was game. It wasn’t as much of a musical as I thought it would be, but more of a movie about music. I thought the narration was annoying, and that it started out a little slow, which made me hate the first hour. After that, I really started to like it. I thought that Eastwood (yes, I was surprised too) did a good job of portraying their road to fame and their eventual fall out. The acting was a little cheesy, but as a friend pointed out to me, that was the style of the musical so it makes sense that it carried over to the movie. The movie made me realize that I actually liked that style of music. I loved Mike Doyle as Bob Crewe, the group’s producer. He was perfect comedic relief in an otherwise serious film.
Bottom Line: Sue me, but I liked Bobby Gaudio’s voice better than Frankie’s. Nonetheless, it’s worth your time if you’ve got an evening to kill.
Rating: 3/5


“First” Friday – Redbox Reviews

Man, summer movie fun has started off with a bang! We’ve had birthdays, a ride-along, and plenty of superhero movies. But now we’re going to take things easy with a night in and a Redbox movie. Check out what we’ve been watching this week!

Morgan – How to Train Your Dragon
In honor of it’s highly anticipated (at least if you’re me or a seven year old) sequel, this week I watched How to Train Your Dragon. It is literally impossible not to like this movie. Hiccup is a young, kind-hearted Viking under pressure from his father to become a meaner, more viking-like Viking. He does his best and ends up wounding the elusive Night Fury, a rare and dangerous dragon. He slowly gains his trust, names him and becomes his friend. Then they conquer the giant dragon’s nest and are free to live with the Vikings happily ever after. Toothless is obviously the best part; he’s cute and cat-like and hates eels. In a word, he’s adorable. Toothless is also impossible to not like. The cast of voices for this movie is also great; Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, and even David Tennant.
Bottom Line: This movie is cute and great and I’m super excited for the second one.
Rating: 4/5

Jordan – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit:
This movie is definitely uncharacteristic movie for me. Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is discharged from the Marines after he is almost paralyzed when his helicopter is shot down. A CIA operative (Kevin Costner) approaches him during his recovery to join the CIA, but only after he returns to school for his PhD in Economics. Ten years later, he’s working covertly as a stock broker. SNOOZEVILLE! I mean, one diplomat threatens another with “economic war.” And the lead action star is working on Wall Street… Not off to a good start.
Things finally pick up when Jack finds some suspicious trading by one of his Russian clients, Viktor Cherevin. He travels to France to meet Viktor, and within five minutes, his driver tries to murder him. Jack has to defend himself and his Marine training kicks in. In desperation, he drowns the driver in a sad and creepy sequence.
The rest of the movie Ryan has to come grips with the new dangers of the mission – only heightened when his super annoying girlfriend (Keira Knightley) surprises him for a romantic weekend.
Bottom Line: A decent action movie, but I imagine the plot and characters make more sense in the book.
Rating: 2.5/5

Kurtis – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) has been working for sixteen years at LIFE magazine as the manager of the film negative assets and leads an unremarkable life. He is a daydreamer, escaping into a world of fantasy many times a day to make himself a hero. He has a crush on his coworker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) but he is too shy to invite her on a date, however, she quickly becomes the catalyst for Walter’s transformative journey. The magazine is preparing to release the last print edition, and with downsizing looming for Walter and Cheryl, Walter decides he needs to travel to Greenland to track mysterious photographer Sean down to find the missing negative to be used for the final cover. That decision, at Cheryl’s suggestion, begins an unbelievable adventure that even Walter couldn’t have dreamed up. I really wanted to love this movie, and at times, I really did. But overall, this film just kind of falls flat. The adventure scenes look amazing and do a great job of turning this movie into the spectacle it was meant to be. Unfortunately, nothing in the storyline develops into a strong enough anchor to bring it all together. I really appreciated the way The Secret Life looked at the themes of loneliness, the desire to be long, and the search for love and meaning; very touching without being overly sentimental. It’s a fun movie with some good underlying messages, but it never takes that all-important step to make you fall in love with the characters or the story.
Bottom Line: Honestly, you can probably skip this one. It falls short of expectations, and is pretty inconsequential compared to some of the other great films that came out in 2013.
Rating: 2.5/5

What have you been renting lately? Have you tried Redbox Instant yet?

Captain America: The Winter Blogger

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) | Trailer
Run Time: 136 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (For intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout.)
Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo

Ah, another Captain America movie, all is right with the world. Just when you thought H.Y.D.R.A. was defeated, it rears its ugly head(s) and turns Captain America into a fugitive of SHIELD. The Captain now has to find the double agents within SHIELD with the help of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and his new friend The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). The Falcon is a former paratrooper who volunteers his time at the VA and quickly becomes the perfect partner-in-justice for Captain America, providing comedic relief and awesome Exo-Skeleton flying. The crew finds themselves fighting a deadly assassin known only as The Winter Soldier. He’s believed to be responsible for deaths over the past 50 years and some don’t even believe he exists. This all comes to a head for Rogers when he finds out just who’s behind the mask of The Winter Soldier. This movie has everything you want from a comic book movie. It’s got plenty of shield flying action, awesome fight scenes and special effects, and a particularly fitting political element that relates to our world today. Chris Evans shines again as Captain America and has become even more appealing this time around. Evans brings an incredible balance between the “aw-shucks” reality he once knew with the fear-based realities of the modern world. Joe and Anthony Russo are surprisingly adept at creating an action film, as their previous experience may lead viewers to maybe doubt their ability in this genre (You, Me and Dupree, “Community,” and “Arrested Development”). They provide compelling scenes, wonderfully composed and full of in-you-face action without going completely over the top. This movie stands alone in the Marvel universe like none of their other films do, it’s a great spy-thriller with stellar writing and perfect acting performances. Marvel is building towards something big and this is an immensely enjoyable stop along the journey.
Bottom Line: This installment really raises the stakes compared to the first film, providing an incredible storyline, tons of character development and all without skimping on the action. If you’ve enjoyed the Marvel journey so far, this movie lives up to and exceeds expectations. Go see it this weekend. (PS. Stay for the two bonus scenes after the credits.)
Rating: 4.5/5

If I had to choose one word to describe the new Captain America movie, it would be badass. No question about it. I don’t remember much about the first one, but I’m pretty sure I thought it was good, but slightly boring. The Winter Soldier is anything but that. The story line is complex, intriguing, and has just the right amount of perfectly placed humor. This is definitely the beginning of the dark side to the Marvel comics, and I’m super excited about it. (It made me want to actually read the comics). It’s like they finally realized, if Christopher Nolan can do it, so can they. Also, Chris Evans is like, the most perfect Captain America. Not only in the fact that he’s an all-American guy, but also in the sense that he is so pure and truly cares about the world. And I’ll always think of Agent Hill as Aunt Robin with a much cooler job.
Bottom Line: See it. See it now. If you don’t like Captain America, you don’t like America.
Rating: 4.5/5

Captain America: The Winter Soldier improves upon its predecessor by presenting a more action-packed and character-driven film to go along with a complex and often compelling storyline. The Russo brothers do a fine job of providing a good mixture of the typical, needed, Marvel action as well as implementing real character development that most Marvel movies seem to lack. The Winter Soldier possibly offers Samuel L. Jackson’s best performance as the character Nick Fury as well as receiving yet another solid showing from Chris Evans as WWII hero, Steve Rogers. Though it has its flaws (it is a Marvel movie), its positives outweigh those negatives and gives us something to just sit back and enjoy.
Bottom line: Probably my favorite Marvel movie since the first Ironman; The Winter Soldier is a lot of fun and is a great addition to this very successful movie franchise.
Rating: 4/5

Okay, so I’m not an Avengers expert. But I have to say this is the best one I’ve seen. There are sometimes that the plot gets away from itself (like a Nazi scientist’s consciousness uploaded onto a government computer, what?!). But I think what the plot lacks is made up in character development and BA action sequences. I mean, they must have just brainstormed creative ways to kill red shirts or for Cap to use his shield in impossible situations. Black Widow and Falcon balance out Cap, showing him (and us) that superheroes don’t have to All-American order-followers. PLUS, Black Widow and Robin Scherbatsky were both awesome characters, heroes in their own right.
(P.S. Shout out to my family for coming on assignment with us this week! Totally worth it, right?)
Bottom Line: Fun movie any time.
Rating: 4/5


Captain Bloggips – Guest Blogger!

Since January has a fifth Friday, we wanted to give you fifth blogger! Check out our movie friend Dahvede‘s review of this Academy Award Best Picture nominee:

When asked to guest blog I wasn’t sure what film I would write about. I haven’t seen as many movies in the last month or two. Then I saw Captain Phillips. Wow. Hands down one of the best dramas I have seen in a long time. Tom Hanks gives a powerful and compelling performance as a freight captain fighting for the lives of his crew. Barkhad Abdi brings to life the head Somali pirate with startling realism.

While it briefly toed towards being a tale of American exceptionalism, Phillips stays on course delivering a riveting story from start to finish.. Throughout, I was struck by the burden of leadership required of Phillips, his first mate, and others involved. At its heart, Captain Phillips centers on the decisions leaders must make in times of crisis and desperation and it does not disappoint. Late into the night I found myself wondering what Phillips and his mate were thinking at each crossroads they faced. A remarkable story finely crafted, Captain Phillips surely does not disappoint.

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