Monday, August 31, 2015

Movie review of Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation (PG-13) - review by Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 131 min

Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation is a new action movie and the fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible film franchise that began with the 1996 original. Christopher McQuarrie directs this time around, while Tom Cruise once again stars in the lead role. The rest of the supporting cast includes: Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson and Ving Rhames. Overall, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan of the Mission: Impossible franchise, but I do believe that the series has gotten increasingly better and 2011’s Ghost Protocol actually stands out as one of my favorite action movies. This blockbuster franchise has definitely benefited from having a different director for every movie, as it makes each film feel fresh and original.  Having said that, I was really looking forward to this movie and hoping that upward trend of the series would continue.

Following a plane heist that opens the movie, IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is determined to prove the existence of an international criminal organization known as the Syndicate. Essentially, the Syndicate operates as anti-IMF, as they are on the same elite skill level and are committed to destroy the IMF no matter the cost. Now it is up to Ethan Hunt and the rest of his team to come together once more in order to bring down the Syndicate organization, in what has been deemed as their most impossible mission to date.

Right from the thrilling opening scene to the end credits, I had a great time with this movie. As expected from any summer blockbuster, there were plenty of action scenes, but each and every one of them was exceptionally filmed and incredibly entertaining. There was one particular motorcycle sequence that is easily one of the best chase scenes I’ve watched in years. Furthermore, the acting was great across the board and Simon Pegg offered some perfect comic relief with his character. 

Also, say what you will about Tom Cruise, but the guy is one of the most committed actors in Hollywood and it shows yet again with all of his own impressive stuntwork. If I had one problem with this movie, which really goes for all of the series, it is the lack of a strong villain. Putting that one complaint aside, I had a blast watching Rogue Nation, and it is an excellent action movie that is certainly one of the strongest in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

Movie Review of Paper Towns (PG-13) - Review by Emma Davis

As someone on the brink of entering her senior year of high school, there is something about a high school movie that I can finally begin to resonate with. And while I do see my own life in some of the notable firsts and lasts that the characters experience throughout the movie, Paper Towns is a little bit more than the typical teen-romance you might think. After seeing past the prom-centric timeline of the film, it proves to live up to its self-aware and thematic novel of the same name, while maintaining a sense of humor that entertains audiences of all ages. 

Paper Towns is YA-author John Green’s second cinematic adaptation, following last summer’s tearful success, The Fault in Our Stars. TFiOS supporting actor, Nat Wolff returns to the screen this time starring as high school senior Q, short for Quentin. Paper Towns tells the story of Q and his childhood partner-in-crime, the enigmatic Margo Roth Speigleman. Victoria’s Secret Model-turned-actress Cara Delevigne proves many wrong with her exceptional performance playing a character who could only be described as the female Ferris Bueller. 

That being said, Margo isn’t actually present for much of the movie considering she disappears before the first half, presumably on another one of her wild adventures that she is infamous for. Despite living just across the street from each other, it isn’t until the end of high school that the two childhood friends reconnect, though only briefly. Margo ropes the typically reserved Q into accompanying her on a night of “righting wrongs and wronging rights” only to disappear again from his life but this time leaving cryptic clues as to where she went. 

Just a few weeks shy of senior prom, he makes it his mission to find her. Q and his friends use what they think they know about Margo to piece together where she could have gone, before embarking on a road trip from Orlando to New York in search of her. In their efforts to find Margo, what Q found was that the idea you may have of people isn’t always who they truly are. Much like the superficiality of the high schoolers’ home city, they learn that their assumptions about people are equally as depthless. What separates Paper Towns from other coming-of-age films is that it addresses the dangers of the manic-pixie dream girl persona that Margo embodies, and that most teen movies breed. The characters learn that while Margo may be an unconventional girl, she is no miracle, and that Q is much more than just the archetypical boy next door. 

All John Green fans and avid readers- who are generally an adaptations harshest critics- will be surprised to find their own preconceptions shattered. And those unfamiliar with Paper Towns shouldn’t dismiss it as “another high school movie”, because while the cliches might prevail, the genuine sincerity of the movie might just change your mind.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Movie review of Fantastic Four (PG-13) - review by Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 100 min

Fantastic Four (aka Fant4stic) is a new superhero movie and ironically enough, the fourth live action film adaption of the popular, same named superhero team from Marvel comics. The movie is directed by Josh Trank and features a talented, young cast of Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell. I never got a chance to check out the unreleased 1994 film titled The Fantastic Four, or 2007s Rise of the Silver Surfer, but I have seen the 2005 movie. Honestly, I must say that the 2005 Fantastic Four film is one of the worst comic book movies I have ever seen and this new reboot surprised me in the sense that I truly didn’t think that the franchise could get any worse.

Early on in this movie, five young scientists work together on a project to create a teleporting machine that will take them to an alternate universe. Following a freak accident on a newly found planet, they soon gain unique powers while one of them is left stranded. Reed Richards (Teller) can stretch his body into unreal shapes. Johnny Storm (Jordan) gains the ability to shoot fireballs and fly. Sue Storm (Mara) can become invisible and create force-fields. Ben Grimm (Bell) has transformed into a stone-bodied superhuman. Together, these four must team up to save Earth from Victor Von Doom (Kebbell), who was left behind in the accident and is now ready to abuse his own powers.

Put aside the comic book genre for a moment, this new Fantastic Four movie is one of the worst films I have ever seen. I look for a summer superhero movie like this to entertain me on some level, and this movie utterly failed to do that. Everyone involved just seemed so uninterested and bland, starting with the four title heroes that we as an audience are supposed to connect with. That is a sad thing to say, especially for a guy like Miles Teller, who blew it out of the park with his performance in 2014s Whiplash. Ultimately, this disaster of a film is the opposite of fantastic as they couldn’t even pull off decent visual effects with their $122 million budget. Furthermore, the storyline was just plain boring and spent far too much time building up to absolutely nothing. If you’re making a trip to movies soon, stay away from “Fant4stic”; it is pure garbage.

Movie Review of Southpaw - review by Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 123 min
Southpaw is a new sports drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whittaker, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. In my opinion, boxing has been the most successful sport to bring to the big screen (Rocky, Raging Bull, The Fighter, etc.) so for that reason alone, I was looking forward to this movie. Add the factor of Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role, and I really couldn’t wait to see this. Gyllenhaal is one of my favorite actors working in Hollywood today and I really think that he is one of the most underappreciated as well. From his early work in Donnie Darko to his Oscar-snubbed performances in Prisoners and Nightcrawler, this guy is one of the best in the business. 

Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) is an undefeated championship boxer living with his wife Maureen (McAdams) and their daughter Leila (Laurence). Not too long after he wins the World Light Heavyweight Championship, tragedy strikes and Billy Hope’s life begins spiraling out of control. He soon turns to drug and alcohol abuse as he seems to lose everything he has. Now, Hope seeks the help of a veteran boxing trainer and gym owner named Titus “Tick” Willis (Whittaker) in order to get his life, as well as his career back on track. 

Southpaw is a very emotionally powerful film that was truly far more intense than I anticipated. This is largely due to what is yet another Oscar-worthy performance from lead actor Jake Gyllenhall. His physical and psychological transformation shined bright in this movie and this is certainly some of his best work to date. It still blows my mind that he wasn’t nominated for last year’s Nightcrawler (Netflix users, check it out), but maybe the Academy will get it right this time, giving him some well-earned recognition. Having said that, the rest of the cast was on their A-game as well, and I must say that this is overall, the best acted film I have seen this year. Furthermore, the boxing scenes were brutally realistic and incredibly entertaining. I suppose you could say that this movie’s one minor issue is the “boxing movie clich├ęs” that it has, but everyone involved did such an incredible job and the film was so powerful that it really wasn’t a problem for me. I highly recommend Sotuhpaw if you are prepared for an emotionally intense movie that is easily one of the best films of 2015. iusHis

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Movie Review - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - review by Emily Maier

Run Time: 105 min

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl follows the friendship of an unlikely trio during their senior year of high school. The drama film focuses its attention on Greg, a socially inept teenager played by Thomas Mann (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Project X), who enjoys making parodies of classic movies with his “co-worker” Earl. Much like Greg’s life, however, these movies have never made an impact on anyone. This is mainly due to Greg’s reluctance to share any part of himself with others, including his stash of movies, which only he and Earl are allowed to see. But when Greg meets Rachel, a girl diagnosed with leukemia, he embarks in what he calls a “doomed friendship” that will nonetheless change him forever. 

The cast alone was fantastic. I’ve been a fan of Thomas Mann for a while now, and he portrays the awkwardness of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood perfectly.  Olivia Cooke plays the secondary main character, Rachel, and Connie Britton, Nick Offerman, Jon Bernthal, and Molly Shannon are the key supporting characters. Even the lesser known cast members, such as RJ Cyler, played their characters beautifully. 

The director, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, is pretty new to the movie-scene, but he’s directed a number of TV episodes in series like American Horror Story and Glee. I expect that his career is just beginning to really kick off, and that we’ll see much more from him after his work with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The movie was more than enough of an incentive for me to go out and find the book it was based on, by the same name and written by Jesse Andrews.

I went into the theater expecting a repeat of The Fault in Our Stars, but I was pleasantly surprised by a unique movie with snappy dialog and heartfelt emotions. It had just the right amount of weirdness, wit, and sincerity to work. The intended audience was definitely aimed at my own age group, with topics such as fitting in and choosing our paths in life, so I could completely relate to many of Greg’s insecurities. Even so, I think any age group could really enjoy this movie. Another thing I liked about the film was that it never romanticizes cancer. Instead, it focuses on themes like friendship, regret, growing up, and the impact we have on each others lives.