Tag Archives: reviews

First Friday – Redbox Reviews

With storms and chilly weather, it’s nice to spend a night at home. Check out what we’ve been watching this week!

Morgan – Need For Speed
Okay so if I’m being honest, I didn’t rent a movie this week because I saw that Need For Speed had become available on Redbox. I saw it in theaters when it first came out and I never got to tell anyone how great it was! I seriously enjoyed this movie, even though at first I wasn’t super stoked about it. Aaron Paul is what got me sitting down in the theatre. Otherwise, it would have been just another racing movie to me. Basically, Toby (Paul) is framed and goes to jail. After he is released, he makes it his mission to get invited to this super exclusive race to get his revenge. If you win the race you win the opponents’ vehicles, which ends up being like, billions of dollars altogether. I like this movie a lot, mainly because it is realistic as far as racing movies go, and you can tell Paul is actual driving, which is rad. Also, Kid Cudi is in it and is hilarious.
Bottom Line:
 it’s your typical action movie, but better than usual and definitely worth a rent. Plus, Aaron Paul ❤
Rating: 4/5

Jordan – Belle:
I have been wanting to see this movie since it came out earlier this year. The story centers around a girl named Dido Elizabeth Belle (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw). When her mother (a free black woman) passes away, her estranged father (a captain in the Royal Navy) brings her into his family. He leaves Dido with his uncle and aunt to be raised alongside her cousin Elizabeth of the same age.
As the two girls grow up, we see tension arise around Dido’s ethnicity. She is welcomed as a full member of the family until guests visit. Even though she has a larger dowry compared to Elizabeth, men are hesitant to court a “mulatto.”
The plot takes a very predictable turn when a young clergyman’s son takes an interest in Dido. He is idealistic, radical, and blunt (did someone say Fiddler on the Roof?). He is lobbying on a high-profile case involving the treatment of slaves.  Dido has to deal with the Sophie’s choice of picking between a pretty decent guy and the right guy.
All of the actors played their parts well. There is a lot of tension and depth that they all have to deal with. However, I’m not a big fan of the fluffy talk of some period pieces – this can get very Pride and Prejudice at moments. 
Bottom Line:
All in all, I liked the movie. History, race relations, romance, Draco Malfoy. It had everything I like.
Rating: 3.5/5

Kurtis – Oculus:
Since it’s October, I thought it was the perfect time to rent a horror movie for this month’s Redbox post. Oculus came out last year, but is back in Redbox with Halloween coming soon. The plot device is a little over done; there’s an object (in this case, a mirror) that causes someone to go crazy. Tim Russell was just released from being in protective custody after ten years for the murder of his parents, but his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) is determined to finally prove that it was the new mirror their father bought that caused their parents’ deaths. Kaylie tracks down the mirror, investigates its past owners and learns of their similar fates. Tim and Kaylie eventually find themselves fighting off the malevolent powers of the mirror. Like I said, the device of a “haunted” object tearing a family apart is pretty overdone, but directors Mike Flanagan and Andy Ross mix current day scenes with flashbacks of the family’s first go-around with the mirror and that helps to keep the movie fresh. I really enjoyed that Oculus doesn’t rely on “jump out” scares but attempts to really mess with your mind, playing tricks with perception. Oculus leaves the door open for sequels, and this could a good first film in an even better series of films.
Bottom Line: Oculus is a subtle horror movie, gradually building with dread, suspense and psychological tricks. It’s a quality entry into the genre and horror fans will be satisfied once this one’s over.
Rating: 3/5

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

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First Friday – Netflix Reviews

Every month Netflix gets a whole list of new titles to watch! Check out what’s worth your time this week.

Kurtis – Cool Runnings:
Okay, this movie just hit Netflix September 1st and it’s important you all know about it. Cool Runnings is now streaming on demand, any time you want it. If you thought the addition of the Mighty Ducks was a big deal, now there’s even more mid-90s goodness to enjoy. For those unfamiliar, Cool Runnings is based on the true story of the rag tag group of Jamaicans who dreamed of being at the Winter Olympics as a bobsled team. There were some problems to start, but eventually, the first Jamaican bobsled team makes their way to Canada for the Olympics. In the freezing weather Derice, Sanka, Junior and Yul are laughed at because no one can take a Jamaican bobsledding team led by a previously disgraced trainer seriously. But, like so many other Disney movies, we learn that heart and character help all heroes overcome. Starring John Candy as the coach and featuring so many quotable lines (“Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! Cool Runnings!”) this movie features some powerful nostalgia for all of us who grew up in the 90s. If you look at this from solely a technical standpoint, it doesn’t blow anyone away. It doesn’t have an incredibly unique story, the writing, while funny, is pretty straightforward and nothing particularly interesting is going on with the direction. But it’s a kids movie, and it’s fun, and it’s funny and heartwarming, and it stirs great memories of when you actually had to go to a store to borrow a movie you didn’t own. So don’t miss this blast from the past on Netflix.
Bottom Line: If you grew up with this movie like I did, you owe it to yourself to revisit it. If you’ve never seen it before, go in expecting something light and entertaining, and I think it’ll totally hold up.
Rating: 3/5

Morgan – Forces of Nature:
This week I watched Forces of Nature, with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck. And let me start out by saying that it was bad. So, so, painfully bad. The storyline is okay; it’s about a guy named Ben who is about to get married, and on his way to his wedding his plane crashes (sorta). He meets Sarah (Bullock) on his flight, who is also trying to get to Savannah, and they decide to take the rest of the trip together. After that, just about everything goes wrong. From then on, he takes it as a sign that he isn’t supposed to get married, and every one and everything is telling him he shouldn’t. I thought I would maybe slightly enjoy this movie, despite the fact that Netflix predicted it as a 2/5 stars for me. I mean it’s a rom-com, what’s not to love? I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but I just hated it. I feel like it was trying to hard to be more than it was. It wasn’t really that funny. It was pretty boring, even though I felt like a lot happened. It doesn’t end how you think it should, which I hated, but was also kind of happy about.
Bottom Line: There were few things I liked about this movie, totaling seven minutes, maybe. However, not worth your time. And I love Sandra! Just skip it.
Rating: 1/5

Jordan – Jerry Maguire:
I always love when Netflix adds new movies. It forces me to try something new. Or in this case, something twenty years old that I’ve never seen. Jerry Maguire popped out to me because Kurtis said part of it was filmed in Arizona, and I’m all about AZ pride right now. Starting the movie, I realized I knew nothing about the movie other than the one liners. The story opens with Jerry (Tom Cruise) as a big shot sports agent who grows a conscience. His firm fires him and snatches all his clients except Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). An accountant Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) also leaves the company with Jerry. As they start working together, Jerry bonds with Dorothy’s son Ray. Dorothy is totally enamored and they start a relationship that can only be described as toxic. The two leads are not my favorite actors. And instead of being together, I think their characters need counseling.
On the other hand, Jonathan Lipnicki is a diamond in the rough. He is adorable. Cuba Gooding, Jr. and his movie wife (Regina King) are phenomenal and steal every scene. The famous lines are way better with context, for sure.
Bottom Line: if you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a watch! Get some major pop culture. If you haven’t seen it in 20 years, watch it and enjoy the 90s nostalgia.
Rating: 3.5/5

What are you watching on Netflix? Tweet or Facebook us with #fnbnetflix.

Now Playing at a Theater Near You

Due to our hiatus last month, we haven’t reviewed a new release in a while. So this week is a new release round-up! Here are the movies we saw in July:

Kurtis – Deliver Us From Evil:
I’m a sucker for horror movies and since 9 out of 10 are terrible, I’ve started going into them with lowered expectations. On the whole, it’s helped me enjoy them a lot more than I otherwise would. Deliver Us From Evil is a fresh approach to a played-out premise but is far from perfect. Eric Bana plays Detective Ralph Sarchie who comes face to face with true evil while investigating a series of creepy and gruesome crimes. He teams up with a priest who’s particularly versed in the supernatural to help stop the demonic possession from spreading further in the city. While it has a supernatural undertone to it, Deliver Us From Evil plays out more like a psychological thriller in the vein of SE7EN rather than Poltergeist or The Exorcist and it’s more satisfying that way. Director Scott Derrickson does a fantastic job in creating a creepy and interesting atmosphere. Sarchie and his partner (Joel Mchale) work the graveyard shift so every scene is particularly dark, creating palpable suspense throughout the film. DUFE also boasts a pretty remarkable exorcism scene that engages the viewer completely and bookends the film nicely. The problems with the film are that it’s definitely predictable (the plot twists are hardly twists at all if you’ve ever seen another scary movie) and that it doesn’t quite deliver (pun intended) the scares I was hoping it would. There was only one pop out scare that caught me off guard, but other than that it just wasn’t very frightening. If you like horror/suspenseful flicks, I think you’ll dig this one too, it’s a solid film that’s written and shot well and is enjoyable despite its flaws.
Bottom Line: It’s good, but not great, and is an enjoyable (albeit predictable) scary movie. Wait for it to hit Redbox, turn off all the lights, kickback, and enjoy.
Rating: 3/5

Jordan – Begin Again:
I think the fact that every time I said I wanted to see this I called it “Once Again” just proves what kind of movie it is. It is written and directed by the writer/director of Once and even has a song by Glen Hansard. Gretta (Keira Knightley) is a songwriter who moves to New York City with her douchey boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) after he lands a record deal. They split up soon after because of his douchery (more-or-less). Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a record executive who can’t find any real talent. He is always drunk, lives separated from his wife and daughter, gets fired from the record label he founded, and is a wholly unlikable character in the beginning. Through the magic that is NYC, Dan and Gretta meet and decide to make beautiful music together (literally). It plays like a fairly predictable rom-com musical, but really adds its own flavor. Knightley is much better cast in this movie than the last one I saw. And Girl can sing. James Corden will always have a special place in my heart because of Doctor Who and this clip. And according to Kurtis, Mark Ruffalo is never in a bad a movie.
Bottom Line: Lovely movie that you should see, but you can wait to rent/buy it. And I’ll probably end up buying the soundtrack.
Rating: 3.5/5

Morgan – Wish I Was Here:
This week I went to see Wish I Was Here, directed by and starring Zach Braff. First of all, I love Zach Braff and almost everything that he touches. So I was definitely excited for this film but tried to go in with low expectations, on the off chance that I hated it. However, I was not disappointed. WIWH was a truly phenomenal piece that I would already go back to watch again. It is the story of struggling actor Aidan Bloom’s life after finding out that his father’s cancer is back, and aggressively. This forces him to examine his life and truly face himself. The first few minutes were hard, only because his character seemed so J.D.-esque to me. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was just different than I expected. As the film goes on, he becomes more of a typical, if a bit unconventional, Jewish family man. I don’t know how he does it, but Braff has a way of making everything— situations, characters, emotions, dialogue— come to life and seem so real and raw. WIWH is no exception. There was little about this film I did not like. Also, Pierce Gagnon (Aidan’s son) is perfection. Bottom Line: Wish I Was Here is now playing everywhere, and I highly recommend it.
Rating: 4.5/5

 

Last Week: Netflix Reviews ————————————— Next Week: Guardians of the Galaxy

I’m the King of the World!

It’s our second week of Leo Month!
We’re looking at the start of Leo’s career with our favorite movies from the ’90s!
Jordan – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993):
Okay admittedly, I hadn’t seen this movie before this week. And I had no idea what it was about until I had started it. But this definitely has to be one of Leo’s best films, not just during this decade. He plays a mentally challenged boy who is coming up on his 18th birthday. He always says what he wants and does what he wants, but you really can’t not love him. Johnny Depp (the true lead of the film) plays his protective older brother, Gilbert Grape. It’s such a sweet and sad movie about a weird family in a weird town. Leo definitely steals the film though. You forget that he’s the superstar from Titanic and The Departed. You just fall in love with this simple boy who wants nothing more than to climb the town’s water tower. I think this has become one of my favorite movies. (And it’s Johnny Depp in a non-Tim Burton role. That’s always a good thing.)
Kurtis – Romeo + Juliet (1996):
This was a quick decision for me, Romeo + Juliet is easily my favorite 90s Leo movie. Yes, Titanic is iconic and a pretty great movie in itself but director Baz Lurhmann’s reimagining of this Shakespeare classic is too good to ignore. The cinematography and set design turns the all-too-familiar love story turned tragedy of Romeo and Juliet into a post-modern masterpiece juxtaposed starkly against the original Shakespearean dialogue written in the 1590s. The story follows Romeo and Juliet navigating the feud between their two families that seems bound to keep them apart. The Montagues and Capulets are bitter enemies whose hatred and fighting shows no sign of ever being resolved which is bad news when these two meet and fall in love. They have to hide their love from the world because they know that their parents will not allow them to be together. They can’t stand the idea of having to live apart and the pressure their feuding families lead the two young lovers to take drastic measures. Both DiCaprio and Claire Danes capture the youthful innocence and rebellion of Romeo and Juliet perfectly, maintaining Shakespeare’s original vision for the heart of the characters and their message to the viewer. Everything about Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet is picture perfect, an innovative approach to a classic story that respects the source material enough as to not step outside its established essence.
Morgan – Titanic (1997):
So it’s probably pretty stereotypical, but I don’t even care. My favorite Leo movie from the 90s is Titanic. This movie is just such a classic. It’s one of the first movies that comes to mind when you think of great love stories. Everything about it is great. Kate Winslet is perfect; the innocent, seemingly unattainable aristocrat. Leo, of course, as the sweet and charming troublemaker, a little rough around the edges. Even the bad guy is perfectly played. It’s a little disappointing when you watch him escape the boat by sneaking onto a lifeboat with the women and children, but you feel a little better knowing that he still didn’t end up with Rose. And Rose taking Jack’s last name is just the icing on the cake. I think it was a real turning point in Leo’s career; something you could look at and say “That’s where it all started.” Also, it won eleven Oscars, so there’s that.

Netflix Review Friday

We’re back from hiatus with post number TWO this week! (Go check out our first post about Leo Month here.)

We decided to start back with a fan favorite: Netflix Reviews!

Morgan – I Give It a Year (2013):
It’s the story of newly weds Nat and Josh who fell in love and got married after only seven months of knowing each other. Almost immediately after coming back from their honeymoon, they discover that being married to each other is more difficult than they thought. Both their families and their friends think they won’t make it past the first year. I thought the plot was interesting, however, the execution fell short for me. It’s a British rom-com, making the humor sometimes funny and sometimes terribly, terribly awful. I usually really enjoy British love stories, but this is no Love Actually. Rose Byrne and Simon Baker were both huge pluses for me which made the movie semi-bearable. And while it ended how I thought it should, the road map to get there was ehh at best.
Bottom Line: It’s a great movie to watch for a girls Pinterest night. In other words, if you’re not totally paying attention.
Rating: 1.5/5

Kurtis – Prince Avalanche (2013):
I was really excited to watch Prince Avalanche; an offbeat buddy comedy starring two of my favorite actors, sign me up. My excitement was soon met with disappointment as Prince Avalanche delivers a story far more scattered than nuanced. Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch) are two road workers spending the summer isolated in the mountains repairing and rebuilding from a devastating wildfire. The two men start out at odd with one another because their ages and personalities greatly differ and over the course of the film they become trusted confidants and even friends as they each try to work through the demons in their personal lives that have brought them out into the mountains for the summer. The film, however, tries so hard to be existential and contemplative that the subtext and unspoken messages are too muddied to take the viewer in any direction. All in all, Prince Avalanche is too thin on substance to be an engaging feature-length film and would have been better suited as a short film, as it moves too slowly making 90 minutes feel more like 180.
Bottom Line: Prince Avalanche feels as though it were made for critics to drool over and not for viewers to engage with. Skip it, much better options on Netflix right now.
Rating: 2/5

Jordan – Can’t Buy Me Love (1987):
I love high school teen romantic comedies. I don’t know why, but I do. Can’t Buy Me Love starts with Ronald (Patrick Dempsey aka McDreamy on “Grey’s Anatomy”) as the biggest nerd in school. He mows lawns during the summer while all the popular kids get to blow their parents money on clothes at the mall. Cindy (Amanda Peterson) is the most popular girl in school. In comes the She’s All That plot line. Ronald pays Cindy to pretend to be his girlfriend for one month. Slowly, they become friends and Cindy falls for Ronald. But Ronald falls for popularity.
It’s a fun movie. Great laughs, great characters, and always fun seeing the current heartthrob in his dorky teenager days. It’s definitely kick back and relax movie. Like on a Saturday when you’re cleaning your house. Bonus: it was filmed in Arizona, and that’s always a plus in my book.
Bottom Line: Not as iconic as Clueless, but would be great as a part of a high-school-movie marathon.
Rating: 3/5

 

What have you been watching on Netflix lately?

WELCOME TO LEO MONTH!

We’re back from summer hiatus! And we’re back with a bang!

For those of you into astrology, you know that the end of July marks the beginning for the Leo sign. But for the rest of us, Leo just makes us think of one thing: LEONARDO DICAPRIO. (Sorry, DaVinci.)

Really, we’re just finding any excuse to watch Leonardo DiCaprio movies. Because he’s greatest.  So for the next five Tuesdays, we will have special posts looking at the best and worst of our favorite post-Growing Pains star.

Let’s kick it off with a round of Trifecta!

Morgan:
Most Popular – Titanic (1997):
Uh DUH. This was Leo’s breakout role that finally landed him on the map. There really is no other choice for this category. And if you haven’t seen this movie, you either live under a rock, or were born in ’97, am I right?
Worst – Critters 3 (1991):
If we’re being completely technical here, Critters 3 would take this category. It received a 0% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, making it literally the worst.
Most Underrated – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993):
This is young Leo, even younger than Titanic Leo. He plays Johnny Depp’s younger, autistic brother. It’s such a great performance for his age. I also feel like he gets overlooked in this film due to Depp being the lead.

Kurtis:
Most Popular – Titanic (1997):
Now Leo’s been in a lot of huge, very popular movies over the years but for me it still comes back to Titanic. Titanic launched Leo’s career and it’s impossible to think about one without the other. It’s also a really great movie, one of those watch-on-a-Saturday-afternoon-on-TNT kinda movies. Plus… “Near, Far, Wherever, You Are…”
Worst – The Beach (2000):
Awful, just awful. Now, disclaimer, I haven’t seen this movie for a few years and should maybe revisit it, but from what I remember it was all around terrible. It’s a jumbled story wrapped in philosophical themes that just falls completely flat on its face in the last third of the film. J. Edgar is a close second for me, I’d avoid either of them if possible.
Most Underrated – The Aviator (2004):
I’ve always given this spot to Catch Me If You Can in the past, but I’ve realized The Aviator is a bit more underrated. Whereas a lot of people simply forget about CMIYC being a great movie, most people I talk to haven’t even watched The Aviator to begin with. It’s an amazing biopic following Howard Hughes’ descent in becoming a recluse, featuring one of DiCaprio’s most masterful performances of his career. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a go, it’s a long movie but it’s wonderfully paced and you won’t be disappointed.

Jordan:
Most Popular – Titanic (1997):
It’s one of the most popular movies of all time. Nothing else stands a chance.
Worst – J. Edgar (2011):
Kurtis and I redboxed this a while back. And it turned out to be a very similar experience to watching The Master. In theory, with great actors and interesting character arcs, you should get a good movie. Not the case. You only get instant regret.
Most Underrated – Romeo + Juliet (1996):
It doesn’t even land this in the Top Ten most critically acclaimed for Leo. but it should. So give this movie some love and rent it. Or show it to a ninth grade English class; that’s where I first saw it.

My Fellow Ameriblogs

Happy 238th birthday to the best country in the world! You don’t look a day over 200! 😉
To celebrate, we’re picking three movies each that we think define ‘MERICA and all her beauty.

Morgan: 
3. The Patriot (2000):
The title really says it all. Mel Gibson (pre-insanity) plays Benjamin Martin, a widower during the Revolutionary War. After the death of one of his sons, he fights and defeats America’s archenemy at that time. His son, played by Heath Ledger (swoon and RIP), is determined to fight for the Continental Army and defend his family and his country. One of the last scenes begins with Martin riding forwards carrying an American flag before going into battle. It doesn’t get more American than that.

2. The Sandlot (1993):
There is not a single 90s kid in America who did not see this movie at least twenty times throughout their childhood. It’s everything American you could ever need: Converse shoes, fireworks, amusement parks, swimming and of course, baseball.

1. Lincoln (2012):
First of all, Lincoln is played by one of the most iconic American actors of all time. If you don’t love Daniel Day-Lewis, you might not be American. Second of all, it’s two hours all about one of the most influential presidents in history and his greatest accomplishment as such. I know I said it couldn’t get more American than the flag thing in The Patriot, but this is the one thing that tops that.

Kurtis: 
3. D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994):
America vs Iceland in the Goodwill Games. Nothing is more American than Kenan Thompson shooting the knuckle puck.

2. National Treasure (2004):
Conspiracy. Espionage. Nic Cage. And stealing the Declaration of Independence. What more could you ask for?

1. Remember the Titans (2000):
So all of my movies ended up being Disney movies, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Remember the Titans is all about what makes this country great; perseverance in the face if great obstacles, bonds between men from vastly different backgrounds, and football. God bless America.

Jordan: 
3. Clueless (1995):
America invented the teen high school comedy. Yeah, I know, Clueless was originally based on Emma by Jane Austen, but loose adaptations are also America’s thing (10 Things I Hate About You, Fever Pitch, etc.) Iconic movie.

2. Argo (2012):
After years of conflict between Iran and the US, the US embassy in Tehran is invaded by angry nationals. Only a few employees are able to escape, and six of them find refuge in a Canadian ambassador’s house. Enter Ben Affleck with a sweet 70s beard with an elaborate plot to smuggle those six out of the country. I love that it shows both the American and Iranian perspectives in this crisis. (Even winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards was seen as promoting the American agenda.)

1. Forrest Gump (1994):
ICONIC. This movie is culturally significant. It spans so many different important moments in American history, including the Vietnam War, the AIDS crisis, counter culture, and ping-pong diplomacy. We even got a restaurant chain out of it. Can’t get any more American than that.

What do you think?
What movies encapsulate everything awesome about our favorite country?