Film Review: All This Mayhem — 3.5 stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wDiszmA2o8


ONE WORD REVIEW: Tragic!

SUMMARY: All This Mayhem showcases the rise and fall of the world’s best skateboarders; two brothers from Australia who launch from the vert into the limelight only to come crashing down under the weight of their own fame.

DETAILS: All This Mayhem is the most appropriate title this tragic documentary could have. It tells the story of the Pappas brothers (Tas and Ben) who grew up in Australia and started skateboarding as young kids. The motion of the skate ramp is very symbolic of the lives of Tas and Ben. Once they learned to ride the vert (half pipe) their careers and personal lives follow the same arc; fast motion, enormous energy, up the ramp, launch into the air, gravity kicks in, free falling back to the ramp… oh, and by the way, any error in timing the landing can and will be catastrophic. Soon after Tas and Ben learned to push the limits they took the skate world by storm and helped redefine the sport. As brothers, they went head to head with skate legend Tony Hawk… and they beat him, pushing the boundaries and creating new tricks every step of the way. But fame can lead to drugs, and drugs can lead to the downward spiral that would eventually wreck both Tas and Ben’s lives. Their tailspin includes arrests, drug abuse, physical abuse, and eventually murder, suicide, and prison. It’s a tragic story of two boys who couldn’t handle their own success. They had everything a skate kid could ask for… except the sense to handle it all.

WATCH THE TRAILER
SCORE: 3.5 out of 5 stars
RELEASE: 2014
RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

Film Review: Boyhood — 4.5 stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0oX0xiwOv8

ONE WORD REVIEW: Brilliant!

SUMMARY: Boyhood captures the growing up years of Mason Evans, Jr. and shows us how messy life can be… in a whole new way.

DETAILS: Boyhood is a coming of age story that is told in a whole new manner. One of the beautiful elements of this film is that it was shot over a twelve year period using the same actors throughout, so literally we watch our protagonist age before our very eyes. The film begins when Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) is six and ends on his first day of college life. In those growing up years we see divorces, remarriages, family moves, the loss of friends and the making of new ones, teenage struggles, and the guts of what blended families can look like. It’s a sad story on many levels as father figures come and go from Mason’s life and yet his real father (Ethan Hawke) is always there for weekend visits, regardless of what disaster is going on in Mason’s homelife. Mason’s mother (Patricia Arquette – Academy Award Winner for Best Actress in a Supporting Role) does her best to better herself along the way through education and trying to marry good men, but the baggage they bring is always a new form of disfunction; drinking, rage, intolerance, control, etc. The film shows the ugly side of divorce, failed marriages, blended families, and broken homes in a powerful way and yet it also shows us that the bloodline that runs from mother and father to son is often the only thing that can hold us together. Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture, the film is 2 hours and 45 minutes, but it didn’t feel long. We get to know our characters in ways that traditional motion pictures can only attempt to do through makeup and the artificial aging of characters. Boyhood shows hairstyles, weight gains, weight losses, growth spurts, pimples, and facial hair like no other film has ever done… because it’s what the actors brought with them to the set year after year of production on this epic film. Written and Directed by Richard Linklater, Boyhood is a well done, unique film that is truly one of a kind and worthy of viewing.

WATCH THE TRAILER
SCORE: 4.5 out of 5 stars
RELEASE: 2014
RATING: R
ACADEMY AWARD – Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Patricia Arquette)

Film Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel — 4.5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Stylized

SUMMARY: A hotel concierge is accused of murdering one of his wealthiest guests in this highly-stylized, fun-filled comedy.

DETAILS: Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) is the loved and respected concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel at the height of the hotel’s fame in the 1930’s. His guests all love him, especially the wealthy, old, blond woman whom he cares for, flatters, and often sleeps with. But when one of the wealthiest ends up murdered, the fingers are pointed at Gustav. He and his Lobby Boy, Zero (Anthony Quinonez) soon are on the run from the family and their hired hit man in a chase that takes them from a prison break to the highest slopes of Europe in this highly-stylized, artfully-directed, comedy that hopefully will find room on it’s shelf for an Oscar or two.

 

SCORE: 4.5 out of 5

RELEASE: 2014
RATING: R

Film Review: Unbroken — 4 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Powerful!

 

SUMMARY: A U.S. Olympic athlete turned WWII Airman survives a plane crash, 45 days on the open sea, and the remainder of the war in a Japanese prison camp… all the while remaining unbroken.

DETAILS: Based on the true life experiences of Louis Zamperini, Unbroken tells the story of a U.S. Olympic athlete turned WWII Airman (Jack O’Connell) who survives a plane crash in the ocean, 45 days on the open seas, and the remainder of the war in a Japanese prison camp. Zamperini continually hears his brothers words of encouragement though all of his trials, beatings, and torturous experiences. In the end he remains unbroken and eventually chooses to forgive his enemies. This screenplay, written by Joel & Ethen Coen (and others) contains several scenes that portray strong themes of faith and redemption, including a “crucifixion” scene, and a beautiful baptism scene where Louis and all the prisoners ultimately receive their redemption. Directed by Angelina Jolie, the story doesn’t cover the entire novel by the same name, but certainly is an inspiring telling of Zamperini’s early life.

 

SCORE: 4.0 out of 5 stars

RELEASE: 2014
RATING: PG-13

The Giver — 3.5 out of 5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: 1984ish

SUMMARY: In a world where all emotions have been neutered, a young man sets out to free them all.

DETAILS: Based on the 1993 novel by Lois Lowry, The Giver tells the story of a young man in a world free of emotion. Each individual is assigned work based on their giftedness, but Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is special. He’s given the responsibility to carry the history for the people, an extremely rare assignment that literally places the emotional weight of the world on the one who carries it. The Giver (Jeff Bridges) shares his gift with Jonas who soon learns that he has the opportunity to help bring emotions back to his world.

They say I should have read the book before seeing the movie. I wish I had. I really wanted to like this more, but certain parts of the story (i.e. the boundary being crossed to restore emotion) just fell flat for me.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 5

RELEASE: 2014
RATING: PG-13

The Fault In Our Stars — 3 out of 5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Sad

SUMMARY: A depressing ride to death through the lives of people with no hope to hold onto.

DETAILS: Sad… this film is sad on a couple of levels. Sad in that it deals with death and dying. Our main characters are on their way to the grave. But more sad in that no one in the film has a hope to hold onto… there is no afterlife, no heaven, no God, no hope. The brief glimpse of any Christian influence is done in a mocking manner of a cancer support group leader who makes a hook rug of Jesus and is portrayed in a very cheesy way. The part that I did like was the Willem Dafoe character… who really is the God character in the film. He is the author of book that our heroes love… but the book literally ends in the middle of the sentence. Our characters must travel across the sea to meet this author and ask him why and what really happened next. When they arrive they are sorely disappointed and they learn that “God doesn’t care about them or for them” or so they perceive. But in the end this God character comes to our heroine and leaves letter that she won’t read until later, a letter that brings an element of redemption. The farther I get from this movie, the more I like it… or at least parts of it. Or maybe I just like being far from it???

SCORE: 3 out of 5

RELEASE: 2014
RATING: PG-13

A Night In Old Mexico — 3 out of 5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Duvall

SUMMARY: If you love Robert Duvall, watch and enjoy this movie… but don’t look for brilliance from him or the storyline.

DETAILS: Duvall… Robert… He’s one of my favorite actors. But the storyline of A Night In Old Mexico seems a little tired and worn. There are some good moments, but things are a bit unbelievable in a film that wants to be gritty and real. The story begins with Duvall’s character wanting to end his life when a grandson he’s never met shows up. Together they end up in the adventure of lifetime with bullets, money, bad guys, and a beautiful señorita…. yeah, she’s contributes to the unbelievable part. Not her performance (which I liked) but her falling for Duvall who happens to be getting up there in age. If you love Duvall, watch it. If not, skip it.

SCORE: 3 out of 5
RELEASE: 2014
RATING: NR

God’s Not Dead — 1 out of 5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Ugh…
SUMMARY: Another “Christian Film” to help Christians feel better about being Christians 
DETAILS: Ugh… I don’t even know where to start. How many unconnected characters can we jam into one movie? Lots. Will everyone come to Jesus? Of course! Can we kill off our main antagonist? Yes, but not before he accepts Jesus as his Savior. Can we turn “witnessing to our friends” (via text message) into blatant self-promotion of the film? Yes! Can we tack on Christian Celebrity in a totally meaningless fashion that is in no-way connected to the storyline? Absolutely. I would like to continue this rant, but I feel the need to go vomit! It’s film’s like this that make me never want to be connected to the Christian Film Industry and why I refer to myself as a follower of Christ who happens to be a filmmaker and not a “Christian Filmmaker”.

SCORE: 1 Star out of 5

RELEASE: 2014
RATING: PG