Category: Hey, have you seen…


Sharknado

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This picture needs no funny caption. Just… just look at it.

I… I don’t even… how do you… what?
So it’s a shark tornado? Aw, hell yeah!

Look, I love these types of movies. They’re a total guilty pleasure of mine. Mega Piranha, Blue Demon, Curse Of The Komodo, Shark Attack, Shark Attack 2, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, the infamous Sharktopus, and my personal favorite, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. I could go on and on. I live for this crap. So when I was watching Sharktopus on Syfy and saw an ad for this I knew exactly where I would be on Thursday at 9pm.

We begin our “film” with our hero Fin Shepard (the return of Ian Ziering). He’s a surfer. What does this matter to the plot? Nothing really, except he saw a shark once. And that somehow plays into the “plot.”
We see him with his best friend, the clichéd Australian cool guy Baz (Jaason Simmons, he’s too cool to only have one “a” in his first name). He says all sorts of clichéd shit like “That shark got a taste of good old Baz and wants more” or something.” So yeah, he’s taken right out of the badass catalogue found under “Australian.” The page consists of him and Paul Hogan.

Fin also owns a bar frequented by George (John Heard. You know… from Home AloneBig? He’s… he’s not come a long way) our resident drunk. What do we know about him? Well, imagine any token older lovable drunk guy in any movie ever. Yeah, he’ playing him. He likes to go there to hit on women half his age, most notably the bartender Nova (Cassie Scerbo). She doesn’t like sharks. I mean this movie goes out of its way to make sure you know she really doesn’t like sharks. It’s like irony or something. If she didn’t like guinea pigs, would the movie be called GuineaPigNado?
Yes. Yes it would.

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Look! It’s an actor! And Tara Reid!

So a giant storm rolls in and its so powerful it lifts f***ing sharks out of the water right into the tornado. It lifts sharks… out of the water… into tornadoes. Shark… tornadoes.
Can you imagine if Guillermo Del Tor had directed this? It would have been the greatest movie ever made. Period. Move over Citizen Kane.

So Fin decides he needs to make sure his ex-wife, her dick boyfriend, and their kids are ok.
Because of course he has an ex-wife. Who has an asshole boyfriend. And of course she has custody of the kid. And of course one of them is a daughter who’s mad at her dad for never being there. And of course he also has a son who literally doesn’t show up until he becomes necessary to the plot.
This movie is so original it makes me want to cry.

So he goes to check on his wife April (Tara Reid, a formerly famous “actress” from that one movie you like and those 20 movies you hate). So her boyfriend’s a dick, the daughter’s pissed, the ex-wife is being all ex-wife-ey, and none of them have a damn clue about what’s going on.
Sure there are sharks falling from the sky, the pier was destroyed, the Ferris wheel became unhinged and crushed everything in its path before taking down a building, and countless people are dead. But let’s face it, if no one you follow tweeted about it, you wouldn’t know anything going on either.

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Quick! Save them from that prop from the Jaws ride!

So the boyfriend dies almost immediately- oh shut up about spoilers, are you really complaining about me spoiling f***ing Sharknado?- and the ex-wife and daughter, Claudia (Aubrey Peeples), come along to find their son, Matt (Chuck Hittinger), who’s at flight school. They all finally meet up and it’s up to our rag-tag crew to take out the sharknados and save Los Angeles.

Now that’s all well and good, but I have just one small question… where the hell is the military? Where’s the army? The navy? The marines? The God damn post office? I mean, are they really jut sitting this one out? “We can take out terrorists and global threats on a nuclear level, but sharks? Uh-uh. Why don’t we let the guy from 90210 and the girl from American Pie take them out. No, not Shannon Elizabeth, the other one. No, not Alyson Hannigan, the other one. No, not Natasha Lyonne, the other other- it’s Tara Reid. Jesus.”

So I won’t spoil how they take out the sharknados because it’s jut too God damn ridiculous and too awesome and too stupid all at the same time, I don’t want to deprive you of the “what!?” moment I so gloriously experienced.
All I’ll say is the son we met 5 minutes ago is suddenly the key to taking them out. Look, Sharknado, I know you’re no Shakespeare when it comes to writing, but you can’t introduce someone this important this late. Do me a favor, look up Chekov’s Gun and get back to me, m’kay?

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She really doesn’t see that? What happens to the kids she babysits?

Oh, and he gets back together with his ex-wife. Because of course. And Nova the bartender who was hitting on him throughout the whole movie even though he’s old enough to be her dad? Yeah, she develops a thing for his son.
It’s Greek in scope.

Now that that’s all out of the way, where do I even begin?

Movies like this aren’t supposed to be viewed with a critical eye the way we watch real movies. The plot is absurd, the acting is laughable, the effects look weak even for an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the writing is so basic and so weak it’s not even worth mentioning, and the directors are there just to make sure the cameras are turned on.

Now that being said… this movie kicks ass! It’s dumber than tree bark on acid… but it kicks ass! The premise alone is enough to make you want to throw an entire box of popcorn in your microwave and break out the booze, because anyone who watched it know multiple drinking games are about to be created. I say anytime they “reference” Jaws, you take a swig.

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Chainsaw… into mouth… of shark…

SPOILERS: I mean, there’s a scene where a character falls out of a helicopter mid-flight and lands directly into a shark’s mouth. Oh, and it’s the girl who really, really hates sharks. About ten minutes later, Fin runs at a falling shark with a chainsaw and jumps into it’s mouth, only to cut himself out of the shark’s belly about a minute later. And surprise, surprise, he pulls out the girl.
So she survives that long, he survives in general, and out of the thousands of sharks falling from frikking tornadoes, he happens to jump into the one with the bartender.

That’s Sharknado. It’s big, it’s stupid, it’s poorly written, it’s dumb, it’s poorly acted, it’s ludicrous, the day for night photography is unbelievably poor, it’s stupid again, and all the other people in the background (you know, the people who aren’t paid actors) seem oblivious to the fact that there’s a God damn SHARK TORNADO in Los Angeles.

And the military is doing nothing about it.

HurriKangaroos

(yes I made this. I know, I’m amazing)

I guess the most baffling part is how popular this movie has so rapidly become popular among the already large number of people who watched the initial airing. What makes this movie so much more appealing than say Sharktopus or Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus? It might be the absurd title, but is it really more absurd than Sharktopus? Is it Ian Ziering? Is it John Heard? Is it Tara Reid- no it’s not Tara Reid. Who by the way, kudos for being able to look at a tornado and deliver the line “Are those sharks?” as if she were in a real movie.
God bless Tar Reid and her attempts at acting. And her old boobs.

It’s a Sharknado. Enough said!

Now time for a sequel! I personally hope to live in a world with HurriKangaroos.

As a real movie, Sharknado barely gets 

But as a God damn Sharknado? It rains down upon us from a tornado and gobbles up ★★★★

the-way-way-back-poster1It happened last year with The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, and it’s happened again with The Way, Way Back.

Now I don’t mean it’s my favorite movie of the year, it’s too soon to tell. But it’s another one of those coming of age tales that comes seemingly out of nowhere and then sticks with you when it’s done. It actually took me a while to do this, I saw the movie back in April and I still think about it from time to time.

We begin with our teenage lead, Duncan (Liam James) who’s on the way up to a beach house with his mom Pam (Toni Collette), her boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), and Trent’s daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). Steph treats him like crap because he feels like a burden to her and she’s a teenage girl who doesn’t have time for him or even care very much. Trent treats him like crap because he’s just a total asshole. And Pam doesn’t seem to notice much because she tries not to, she’s really trying to make this relationship work, even if Trent isn’t trying as hard.

Duncan’s at that stage where he’s vulnerable, figuring himself out, and all around got some of his own things he’s got to deal with. His self-esteem, however, isn’t being helped at all by Trent who’s just the biggest douche. Excuse the term, but go see it yourself. You’ll be calling him a douche in no time.
Trent constantly brings Duncan down makes him feel like less than he’s worth.

So they get to Trent’s beach house and we embark on our coming of age adventure. There’s no boulders chasing Duncan down long corridors, but I can still call it an emotional adventure.

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Right away we’re introduced to their next door neighbor Betty (Allison Janney), her son Peter (River Alexander) and her daughter Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb). Remember her, she’ll be our love interest for the remainder of the picture.
And then later, even more people show up, friends of Trent’s. Kip (Rob Corddry) and his wife Joan (Amanda Peet). Now I’ve said in the past that I’ll watch anything with Amanda Peet, and this is no exception. She’s not as central as the other characters, but both her and Corddry make the most of their scenes as they always do.

It soon becomes too much for Duncan and he takes off to be by himself, something he’s good at. He takes a bike and roams the town. While out he meets Owen (Sam Rockwell). Say hi to the resident scene-stealer. This guy… this guy just owns.
Owen works at the nearby water park along with his own love interest Caitlyn (Maya Rudolph), fellow employees Roddy and Lewis (Nat Faxton and Jim Rash, who also wrote and directed the film).

Getting tired of me reeling off big star names yet? Don’t worry, I’m done.
Or am I?
No, I am.

The Way Way Back

The film then juggles the different aspects of Duncan learning to stand up for himself with Trent, first love with Susanna, and life lessons from Owen and the crew. It’s a story that we’ve seen so many times before, but it really is the cast, writing, and directing that make it work. They make it feel fresh and real, despite various clichés.

Nat Faxton and Jim Rash, both coming off an Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants, have style that finds humor in real life, but without becoming your typical indie dramedy. They bring a style and tone that speak to the truth of what Duncan has to go through ,finding himself and all, while also being very accessible to a wide audience. The story flows, the dialogue is fresh and real, and there’s a palpable connection between the material and the audience. Even if you can’t relate to Duncan, you definitely feel for him. If he wasn’t you, then you definitely knew him.

However, this movie belongs to Sam Rockwell. Plain and simple. This guy has made a habit of stealing movies even when it’s and ensemble as big as this. The lines he throws out as such a rapid pace, the likability he brings even when he’s slacking or making life hard for Caitlyn, the truth in his words despite his comedic delivery. He comes off at first as the comic relief but as we go on, as in any good story, you start to understand more the depth of his character. There’s more reason to why he’s helping Duncan out other than to just be a nice guy.
Seriously, when is this guy gonna get nominated for an Oscar? This is getting ridiculous.

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The relationship between Duncan and Susanna is an interesting one. She’s of course the one who has to make the first move, noticing that he really needs a friend, and growing tired of the vain crowd she’s surrounded by, including Steph. She’s the kinda girl you wish you knew when you were his age. She’s fun, smart, easy to talk to- well… unless you’re Duncan, which in that case it’s hard to talk to anyone. But they have a sweet connection without any of the complications that come from a normal relationship, and I think they pulled it off well. They had good chemistry, you believed it, and AnnaSophia Robb did a really good job of making you like this girl.

And this brings us back to our lead, Duncan. I give major chops first of all for leading a cast as impressive as this in a story by two filmmakers as talented as they are. He portrays that shut off nature really well, while remaining vulnerable enough for the audience, and in turn both Owen and Susanna to see the person underneath the shell. It’s again a character we’ve seen before, but  that’s not something you find yourself noticing because you’re too busy rooting for this kid.
screen_shot_2013-04-11_at_4.53.39_pmAs for the performance itself, he was in no way bad, in fact he was quite good and did a great job of holding his ground and bringing the character out, but when he’s surrounded by such a big cast who’s all doing a great job, he sometimes falls in the shadows. He just seems to pale in comparison, while still doing a really good job. But hey, when you’re in a movie with Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, and Amanda Peet, can you blame him for not being quite up to par? In fact, I give him props again.

Especially Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney. Between the two, the rest of the characters barely have any spotlight left. Although we can’t forget Steve Carell who also did a really good job of being a douche. I’m telling you, you’ve never seen him like this before and he kills it.

Not to mention, this film follows the standard of the genre for having a great soundtrack. It really captured the mood and helped further portray the various changes in tone. Really good soundtrack, props for that too.

la_ca_0415_the_way_way_backAnd as we go, we stumble upon bigger issues and more dramatic scenes, but it all plays out to and ending that’s not necessarily an unexpected one, but a real one. At the end, he has to leave, but after all he’s been through there, it’s hard. You feel the journey he goes on and the troubles he faces, and you get attached to the characters the way he does. The relationships between these characters get you interested, and all the actors give such real performances that you stay interested.

With this film along with The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, along with films like Stand By Me and Super 8, I think I’m quickly growing a fondness for these types of coming of age movies, and this film is no speed bump in that regard.
It’s a really good coming of age movie that brings you back to the good old days without compromising on the reality of it, while also making you feel really good about it.
And seriously, Sam Rockwell, man. Sam Rockwell.

The Way, Way Back goes way, way up with ★★★1/2

00001_trek_posterSpace. The final frontier. But not Star Trek V: The Final Frontier That movie sucked.

The year was 2009 and everyone thought Star Trek was dead as a franchise. Then J.J. Abrams released his reboot in 2009. It was awesome. We were reintroduced to the old crew, but with new faces. And he reset the timeline with a clever black hole plot point that opened up the way for sequels that will go places we’ve never seen.

In this film, he delivers on that promise

We open up and we’re immediately thrown into the middle of one of the starship Enterprise’s missions. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) are being chased by alien natives through a red forest, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is wearing some metal suit, there’s a volcano about to go off, Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) are flying around in a shuttle, it’s hectic.

We see the crew as the end of the last film promised, they’ve grown closer. They’ve been on missions together, they’ve been through the gauntlet, and their relationships have matured. Spock and Uhura are still in a relationship, but she’s having trouble with his lack of emotion. Kirk and Spock are buddies now, but Spock is having trouble adjusting to Kirk’s leadership style, and Kirk is having trouble explaining the human reasons for most of his choices. Pike (Bruce Greenwood) is starting to feel like he;s made a mistake making Kirk captain, and Kirk feels like he’s let Pike down because of it. McCoy is caught between them and often has to act as referee while also dishing out his own shit. Scotty (Simon Pegg) is having his own problems with being kept out of the loop and underappreciated. And Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Sulu are there… doing… doing their thing.

startrek01Things are shaken up when an explosion goes off at a Starfleet building and the man behind it is identified as John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch. Seriously, is that not the greatest name ever? Go ahead, say it out loud. Only do it with a little accent and a head bob. Isn’t that fun?) supposedly an ex-member of Starfleet.

After another attack that gets personal, Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) gives the Enterprise the go ahead to take Harrison out. With the addition of science officer Carol Marcus (Alice Eve, aka the chick who’s in her underwear in one scene for no Goddamn reason), they go after him, but gradually begin to realize things aren’t as they seem.

The film is admittedly a little thinner on plot than the first film, focusing more on the characters. All the plot points and twists stem from characters. The main focus seems to be the relationship with Kirk and Spock. Now, I didn’t really want to see the same old “I’m gonna make this rash decision” “But that’s against regulation” back and forth between Kirk and Spock this time around. I wanted to see their relationship grow. And I kinda got both. They still do that, but it’s for different reasons. It’s not so much about Kirk’s unpredictable nature and Spock’s love affair with regulations, instead it’s more about how Kirk’s actions and reactions make him human and Spock lack of understanding that. This all culminates in a scene at the end that would get even the hardest man choked up.

trek12217The opposite element of all this is Benedict Cumberbatch. This guy is the cat’s meow. He’s the bee’s knees. He’s the (insert animal)’s (insert animal trait)s. He’s one of many super humans left in cryosleep, and then awoken 300 years later. He sets out to destroy Starfleet and the less I say about his character and his motives, the better.

While the bad guy in the first film was good,m and had a killer performance from Eric Bana, it wasn’t necessary. the film could have had any old villain and the movie still would have been great. Here, the film is all about the villain and how he affects the course of events, and his motives, the way he manipulates and hurts the crew. He was written extremely well ,but if you don’t have the right actor to pull it off, the film suffers. Benedict Cumberbatch does a hell of a job. He plays him as someone to be feared, but never buries the emotion and pain of the character. You feel bad for him at times, but you still don’t want him to win. You understand, but you disagree. He’s a villain with depth that shapes the movie.

trek12224Again, J.J. Abrams’ directing combined with a screenplay from Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof, we get a film here that both honors the original series and films (or in this case, one film in particular) yet still crafts the film as a solid, solitary piece for new fans to understand and enjoy. They’ve mad a Star Trek for the new generation and I love it. And the score from Michael Giacchino is excellent. A blend of wonder, excitement, and sheer scope.

It’s a non-stop ride, at times literally. The second half of the movie is pretty much non-stop action with a few scenes (some heartbreaking) riddled throughout. But it never feels like a typical slam-bang action sci-fi thriller with the sole purpose of delivering bitching action scenes. You care about these character (even the villain) and it means more when they are in jeopardy or they’re double crossed.

But here is where I have a few problems. The crew is underused. Kirk and Spock of course are the highlights, with Uhura and McCoy fulfilling their screentime with various important scenes, some vital. Scotty however makes up for his lack of screentime in the last one by being actually a big help to Kirk, especially in the second half. But Sulu and Chekov are basically secondary characters. Sulu gets this cool scene where he gives a small, albeit badass, little speech. But other than that, both him and Chekov probably could have been anyone else. As opposed to the first film where their parts were minimal, but they still each had their moments of severe importance.

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Uhura I also feel suffers the fate her character did in the first film where she’s an integral part of the film in the beginning, being part of most of the big scenes, but then as the film goes on it becomes more about other characters. Her relationship troubles sets up an important part of Spock’s arc, but we never really find out where she stands on it near the end of the film. Although she does becomes an important part of taking down the bad guy.

The film is no doubt a great summer film, but not without some of its nitpicks. The cast is in stellar form, the pacing is brisk, the effects are breathtaking, and the emotional impact is palpable. What more could you want?
I haven’t decided which of the two films I liked more, which if anything is a testament to how good this movie considering how much I love the first one.

Star Trek Into Darkness beams up ★★★★