GAME TRAILER: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Once upon a time Hideo Kojima redefined espionage with METAL GEAR SOLID. The series had ups and downs afterward, ending with GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS where and old snake (not a fan) worked his way to a glorified end. So too, was the series supposed to end. And here we go again. This trailer is of course, all over the place, but does sport some pretty impressive visuals. Whether or not the game's narrative will hold up is a mystery at this point, but as I'm ever the enthusiast, I find myself hoping team Kojima has learned from their mistakes and can create magic once again.

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TRAILER: The Wolverine

Many people loathe X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, but I have to say I enjoyed it immensely. I loved seeing (a version of) the Weapon X storyline and it was nice to see Hollywood get Sabertooth right (one of the low points for me in regard to X-MEN). Did I care to see Logan take a slice out of Japan? Not really, but I think everyone involved with THE WOLVERINE is trying give the fans the best ride possible. I for one can't wait for this, and know for a fact I'll love it. And as far as all the haters go...watch something else dumbasses, because Hugh Jackman is one of the best things to happen to comic book films. Both versions are here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

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REVIEW: Olympus Has Fallen

"A touch over-the-top, but fantastic in the action department."

After losing the President’s wife in a car crash, secret service agent Mike Banning (Butler) is transferred to a desk in the Treasury department.  That is, until the White House is attacked by terrorists and Mike becomes honor bound to save both the President and his son.

Due to world events and the way society reacts to them, we haven’t seen nearly as many terrorist movies as we used to.  To be perfectly honest, I was taken aback when I first saw this trailer, thinking “damn, that’s gonna hit a nerve”.  I think the only time I’ve ever seen the White House structurally damaged (aside from the show 24) was in INDEPENDENCE DAY, so it’s a bit jarring to see half the building explode in the trailer.  Personally, I’m able to distinguish the line between fiction and reality quite well, so if you want to blow up the White House, Pentagon or half the damn world—in a movie—I’m cool with it as long as it’s for entertainment value and not shock value.  No worries on the latter here, this baby’s all about entertainment and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

It’s only fair that I start by saying welcome the hell back Gerard Butler, it’s great to see you back in the action game.  I won’t bash romantic comedies or dramas (you were the bomb in CHASING MAVERICKS, YO), but Butler became a household name after his awe-inspiring performance in 300 and as a fan of action flicks, I know an action star when I see one, Butler can pull it off.  It was frustrating seeing him go from 300 to P.S. I LOVE YOU, but I can’t complain too much because GAMER, LAW ABIDING CITOZEN and the UGLY TRUTH were all good times.  That said, Butler is right at home putting foot to villainous ass and I’m hoping he sticks around rather than go awol from the action game for another three or four years.

For a movie pushing the two hour point the pace was razor sharp.  I was also quite fond of the dialogue and characters throughout.  I felt the kid thing was a bit rushed and the wife angle unnecessary simply because it all felt a little “been there, done that”.  The story was average as far as bad guys and world domination goes, I have to say though, whether they succeeded in their mission or not, did they really think they could go into the White House bunker and actually come out unscathed?  Felt like a suicide mission to me.  I liked the Cerberus system, but let’s be real, there’s no way that would have went down the way it did—and hacking one of the codes?  Come on, that can’t seriously be possible.

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is a powder keg of an action ride that will blow your eyebrows clean off your face.  There’s no debating the entertainment value here if movies like this (and shows like 24) are your thing (Antoine Fuqua knows his action).  I’m more than a little curious about two portions of this takeover however, one, being how in God’s name did a gunship of that caliber (it’s not exactly inconspicuous) avoid hitting a red flag on the radar until being about five minutes from the White House?  And I don’t know about you, but in my experience, crossing the American border is no fun these days so I’m perplexed at how they managed to get vehicles armed to the teeth with high powered weaponry and soldiers so easily onto American soil, let alone to the White House lawn.  Hollywood definitely isn’t without a sense of humor.


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TRAILER: World War Z

This new trailer gives us a broader outlook on how far up the creek the world is without a paddle, and in my opinion, gives off a very dramatic feel more than it does action or horror. Either way, not having read the book, I'm going into this hoping Brad Pitt won't steer me wrong. It's also worth mentioning that the CGI doesn't look nearly as clunky as it did in the previous trailer, which is a plus.

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TRAILER: Dispicable Me 2

The first one was a gem, a hilarious spectacle that blew me away. Will they strike gold twice? Probably not, but I'd be happy to see more over the top gadgets and bumbling from his minions.

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TRAILER: Hatchet 3

I loved the first two films and had the chance to interview writer/director Adam Green as well as most of the cast of the second, so I'm totally game for more Victor. This isn't showing us much, but I have only one question for these people, why in hell do you keep going back to that damn swamp?

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REVIEW: The Call

"A mostly solid thriller."

 A 911 dispatcher takes over an abduction call in hopes of saving a young girl’s life only to find out she’s dealing with same killer who killed a young girl during one of her previous calls.

I should start by saying how much respect I have for the men and women who work the 911 hotline/Hive as it looks like a foreboding job that could easily suck the life out of you.  To get into the mindset of her character, Halle Berry, actually sat in on some real 911 calls to see how it all goes down.  Berry, for me, has always felt like a supporting actress rather than a lead, that said, I loved GOTHICA as well as enjoyed many of her other films like SWORDFISH and X-MEN movies (although I wish she didn’t change Storm’s accent every movie).  Berry’s performance here was strong, and I’m glad considering her presence in the abysmal MOVIE 43 made me lose some respect for her.  She earned it back tenfold.

Where this film stands apart from other serial killer thrillers is how they navigated through the Hive with our kidnapped girl Casey (ZOMBIELAND’s Little Rock all grown up).  Casey (Abigail Breslin) pulls her weight and at the very least, doesn’t simply roll over and die like many a damsel in distress these days—I especially loved the paint angle, very smart.  The phone tag scenario felt a little less believable due to the fact that with technology being as advanced as it is, you’d think they’d have triangulated that phone in fifteen minutes flat.  Sure, it was a throwaway, but damn, if it was that easy to just disappear off the grid everyone (killers and regular people alike) would be using them.

I’m a big fan of our demented killer, Michael Eklund, who’s come a long way from guest appearances on SMALLVILLE and SUPERNATURAL.  One of Eklund’s most powerful/disturbing performances came from the post apocalyptic thriller THE DIVIDE—good flick, I definitely recommend it.  He plays a great psycho (loved the teeth chattering and the sister angle with the hair).  Getting the kidnapped Casey from A to B takes up a good hour of the film, which rocks and keeps you on the edge of your seat without a doubt, but a couple of the things that happen along the way bring me back to the idea of him getting pinpointed in  a much quicker fashion.  However, it is a movie after all, so I just rolled with it (and here’s a big HOLLA to Michael Imperioli–Chris from THE SOPRANOS).

THE CALL is a good thriller that’s slick, quick on its feet and smart.  The final act is a “take or leave it” dose of suspension of disbelief that I won’t ruin for you, but seeing as how the trailer shows you that (at some point) Berry and the killer end up at the same place, I can discuss it a little.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ending, I’d have made the same decisions leading up to it, but Berry’s character isn’t a detective, so how she ends up where she ends up is a bit of a stretch.  It’s a small complaint to be sure, but I was shaking my head despite my grin.  All in all, this is a well made, intricately angled thriller that hopefully marks a comeback for Halle Berry.

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REVIEW: Dead Man Down

"This takes revenge to the next level."

Two lost souls consumed by revenge meet and form and complicated alliance in hopes of seeing both of their dark ambitions to fruition with no thought of the devastating consequences that may follow.

One of the things I loved about director Niels Arden Oplev's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was his artistic style and unforgiving visuals as his pictures tend to say a thousand words--a method more than a few directors seem to have forgotten of late.  DEAD MAN DOWN looks and feels the same, albeit with a bigger budget and thus a more glossy finish, but it encompasses Niels unique vision.  Add to that a slow burn tone--something that's always a mixed bag with audiences and critics alike--and you pretty much had a an idea of what to expect here.  Though not perfect, it's not just another revenge flick either.

No matter the ups and downs Colin Farrell faces in his illustrious career, I'll always be in his corner.  His character, Victor--a man of few words whose soul has been whittled down to nothing--is the animal backed in a corner you just don't want to mess with.  His humanity is still intact, something that becomes evident when we see him watching old movies and of course, by his willingness to help Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) rather than just kill her and be done with it.  That's the one thing I don't get about this flick.  Beatrice is also consumed with thoughts of revenge, but seriously, you watch a guy smoke another guy and then decide it's a good idea to try and blackmail him into helping you?  It takes some brass cojones to do what she did, which I commend, but I can't help but think if that happened in the real world she'd have ended up sleeping with the fish.

My other conundrum is with actress Noomi Rapace.  I'm still not sure if I like her or not.  Don't get me wrong, I loved her vision of Lisbeth Salader much more than the newest one, but I didn't care for her much in SHERLOCK HOLMES or PROMETHIUS.  She has her moments and obviously plays the broken character persona down to a "T", but I'm just not sure that's enough.  Terrence Howard, on the other hand, is the man and I was overjoyed to see him revert back to his villainous roots.  Howard is great no matter the role, or side he's on, but something about him just "fits" when he's playing the bad guy.  He's funny, ruthless, paranoid and cunning all at the same time--I've said this before, but I still wish they'd kept him on as Rhodey in the IRON MAN films, the series would have been so much better for it.

DEAD MAN DOWN is a stylistic, dark action thriller that whispers revenge in your ear almost seductively as it glides along at a slow, creeping pace.  The dialogue is smart, the characters are emotionally broken, but not to the point where they lose their realism.  Revenge is sweet, but we don't always think about the consequences.  This flick deals with both sides of the coin, and balances them well.  The action is also well done, from the sick looking flaming explosion to the rat interrogation (loved it).  There's more meat to this film then you'd expect, something that surprised the hell out of me considering this is a WWE produced film (I know, right.  And yes, they did squeeze in a wrestler who shouldn't be too hard for you to spot).  Like I said in the beginning, it's far from perfect, but there's something special here for fans of noir type action films that begs it not be missed. 


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TRAILER: The Hangover 3

The first film was pure genius, but the second took us for granted. This teaser isn't doing the third run any justice so lets hope they're saving the best stuff for the actual trailer. Either way, I don't have high hopes for this film, it's one of those "its been done to death" scenarios.

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TRAILER: Iron Man 3

This new trailer for IRON MAN 3 looks fantastic. It brings a humanizing feel to Tony Stark as he's no longer the carefree billionaire he once was. He's got something to lose now, and he's making choices based upon this idea. Mandarin should be an interesting villain and I'm guessing Tony will fight him as Tony Stark rather than in the suit. At any rate, this is sure to be one of this summer's high notes.

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REVIEW: 21 & Over

"A hell of a good time."

Casey and Miller surprise their High School bud, Jeff Chang, on the day of his 21'st birthday for a wild night of booze and fun.  Problem is Jeff has a med school interview at seven am and if he misses it his dad will kill him.  After some coaxing, the boys head out for a night they won't soon forget.

I remember seeing the poster for 21 & OVER about a month or two ago and thinking, "what the hell is that?"  Why?  Because this film got virtually no viral or commercial advertising up until about a month or so ago.  I mean I get it, this is another PROJECT X (which got even less advertising) looking comedy about guys getting hammered and pulling off over the top antics, but so was SUPERBAD and look at how much advertising that got.  And it's not like this is coming from chumps in the writing department as it's from the boys who brought us THE HANGOVER, THE HANGOVER 2, FOUR CHRISTMASES and THE CHANGE-UP.  Jon Lucas and Scott Moore know their comedy, so why no buzz?  I'm disappointed simply because this flick was pretty damn funny as far as this type of movie goes.

The key dynamic for these movies comes via the casting.  Were EUROTRIP or SEX DRIVE all that great?  Not really, but they were funny as hell due to the camaraderie of the cast.  The exact same thing can be said of all the movies I've mentioned thus far, and the good news is these guys work well off one another and make for some truly funny moments.  Sure, the dialogue is raunchy, but it's still witty and comes off as real as best friends can get.  I like the friend dynamic here, it's nothing new, but as a guy who went through this, I know for a fact you don't ever have friends in your life like you did when you were in High School and University.  Once the trials of life hit, it's easy to see these bonds weaken.  They don't ever go away, you might have that once a year or once every couple years venture, but it's never the same and it's a daunting feeling when it finally hits you. 

Friendship is at the heart of this film, but wild partying and hilarious circumstances are what fuel the ride.  Jeff Chang is that adorable guy you can never get mad at or hate.  He's pumped to be 21 and as such gets more and more aggressive as he approaches each bouncer guarding the doors of the next bar in their path.  His behavior inside is even better.  I loved the mechanical bull bit (I have to say though, who in their right mind tries to do that with a stomach full of booze) and though gross, the peeing part was absolutely priceless--somewhere R. Kelly is nodding his head in approval.  But the boys aren't one song wonders here, all that happens in the first half hour.  The rest of the film features poor Jeff Chang passed out (of sorts) in a WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S style adventure with his two buds, Miller and Casey.  Trust me, those two are just as entertaining, if not more so.  Oh, and Jeff Chang's dad = awesome.

21 & OVER is another hit when it comes to raunchy, over-the-top laughs with friends, booze and ripping it up like it's nineteen ninety-nine.  These films aren't for everyone, but the people who love them (like me) will appreciate what this entry brings to the table.  I feel for the boys' main plight--they came back to visit Jeff Chang at his dorm and since they'd never been there before, have no idea how to get him home once he passes out--because when me and my buddy Dave went to visit our friend Jenessa in Toronto (for the first time), we all got wasted and hit a rave bar, but when it was time to go home we thought we could walk back and find her place without her.  We got lost and walked for three hours.  We didn't stir up any mascots, shoot guns or steal cars, but as farfetched as this movie's premise may sound, it's an easy mistake to make.  Crashing a female dorm or two along the way would've been a fun way to pass the time.   



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GAME TRAILER: Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Now you know you're some kind of badass when Blackbeard himself is giving you outright praise rather than trying to take you down. I couldn't get into these games though they've gotten a fair amount of praise. This one marks the birth of a new hero and if the trailer is any indication, it'll be something to look out for. I may have to pick this one up.

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