Darren's Movie Reviews & News

New Trailer for “Seventh Son”
In Theaters, 3D and IMAX 3D February 6, 2015

New Poster for “Seventh Son”In Theaters, 3D and IMAX 3D February 6, 2015

New Poster for “Seventh Son”
In Theaters, 3D and IMAX 3D February 6, 2015

New Trailer for “The Flash”
Premiers October 7, 2014 at 8pm

New Poster for “The Flash”Premieres on October 7, 2014 at 8pm

New Poster for “The Flash”
Premieres on October 7, 2014 at 8pm

New Character Posters for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1”
In Theaters November 21, 2014

New Photo from the set of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”In Theaters, 3D and IMAX 3D May 1, 2015

New Photo from the set of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”
In Theaters, 3D and IMAX 3D May 1, 2015

New International Trailer for “Annie”
In Theaters December 19, 2014

First Official Photo from “Ant-Man”In Theaters and 3D July 15, 2015

First Official Photo from “Ant-Man”
In Theaters and 3D July 15, 2015

The Giver

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Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Odeya Rush, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Cameron Monaghan, Emma Tremblay

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Based on the Novel by Lois Lowry

Run Time: 94 min
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction, Drama
Release Date: August 15, 2014

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 30%

My Score: 8.5 out of 10

Synopsis:

Jonas (Thwaites) upon turning of age is given the role of Receiver of Memory in society. The mysterious role comes with some rules that Jonas is not certain about, but after beginning training with his trainer, who he knows simply as the Giver (Bridges), Jonas quickly discovers that the world he has been living in is a lie and is faced with life defining questions that will shape the rest of his life and that of his society’s forever.

Review:

After reading the book, I was nervous that the movie would have a hard time capturing the essence of Lois Lowry’s best seller while maintaining the simplistic story as a feature film, but I was very impressed by the film. The fact that the movie was able to stay faithful to the source material, but expand it into a larger story without losing the thought provoking ideas of the novel but make them more profound is a great adaptation in my books.

The film’s biggest asset is without a question the cast. Jeff Bridges as the Giver is a perfect match, Bridges has the feel of the older veteran who has seen the heartache of the world and is exactly what I imagined the Giver would be like while reading the novel. Bridges gives a great performance, and its essential for the film to succeed. Brenton Thwaites was an excellent Jonas as well. After only seeing him in small supporting roles in films such as this summer’s Maleficent, I was very impressed with his acting. Jonas is a tricky character as he has no emotions at the beginning of the story, but develops them as his training progresses, and Thwaites did a great job portraying this personal journey. He pairing with Jeff Bridges was great as well, the two shared the screen very well and Thwaites held his ground very well, selling the main relationship of the film. The other notable performance of the cast was Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder. Her villain was just great, she gave you the chills and really made this character that was present in the background of the novel a threatening force not to be messed with in the film. The weakest part of the cast had to be Alexander Skarsgard who did very little in his role as Jonas’s father and Katie Holmes as Jonas’s mother who never had a change of emotion for the entire film and delivered every line with the same style. It was great at first as it fit her character, but it got old after a bit.

The other part of the film I loved was the artistic vision that Phillip Noyce took while adapting the novel. The film starts off in black and white, staying true to the novel’s absence of colour. And as Jonas begins to receive the memories from the Giver, Noyce builds in colours into the film and keeps expanding them as Jonas’s horizon expands, which is so true to the book and a great artistic representation of Jonas’s evolution through out the film.

Plot wise. the movie stays very true to the main themes of the novel. While it changes many small details that frustrated me at first, when you see how it builds into the expanded story of the movie, the changes make sens and actually help build upon the original story. The film expands the roles of many characters that were just present in the novel but had no real role in the story, to full fledged characters which makes the film more interesting to watch as there are more than just two characters as in the book. But, even with the expansion of the story, the main theme is never lost which is great. Nor is the movie given a Hollywood ending. The ending is exactly like the book, the same imagery and line from Jonas, and its just a beautiful end to the movie. While some may question the ending for its lack of decisiveness, fans of the novel will rejoice that Noyce has not at all faltered from the message of Lowry’s timeless novel. And for everyone saying this is merely a Hunger Games rip-off, don’t!! The book was written back in the 90’s, a decade before Hunger Games and is the original teen totalitarian novel, and its Hunger Games that stole many of its ideas from this story.

Final Thoughts:

The Giver is a faithful adaptation of Lois Lowry’s though provoking novel, with great performances from Brendan Thwaites, Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, Noyce’s film never sacrifices the novel’s main theme to make it appeal to the masses, which may upset some viewers but for any fan of the novel, there is no reason not to love this adaptation!

The Expendables 3

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Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Kellan Lutz, Mel Gibson, Glen Powell, Victor Oritz, Ronda Rousey, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Kelsey Grammer, Robert Davi, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Directed by Patrick Hughes

Run Time: 126 min
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action
Release Date: August 15, 2014

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 35%

My Score: 7 out of 10

Synopsis:

After Barney (Stallone) finds out that Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), an enemy from his past, is still alive, Barney retires his fellow Expendables (Stathm, Lundgren, Couture, Crews & Snipes) and creates a new team of fresher blood: John Smilee (Lutz), Luna (Rousey), Thorn (Powell) and Mars (Oritz). Armed with his new team, Barney hunts down Stonebanks but discovers that even with a new team that Stonebanks is a deadly force who won’t go down without a fight.

Review:

Walking into the press screening tonight, I had no idea what to expect from this film. I watched the first two this week, and while they were fun action flicks, they had no real substance. So when this one displayed a decent plot, I was impressed and actually found the film quiet enjoyable, though it is no top-notch action film.

The film has a Mission: Impossible feel to it. Barney retires the older members of the team and hires a bunch of new wild cards, played by Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, Victor Oritz and Ronda Rousey; and the go after a ghost that has risen from Barney’s past. While Barney is okay doing it the old fashioned way (aka. shoot em up!) the youngsters introduce a world of espionage to the film with their use of technology and create an entire heist sequence for the film. The plot takes a turn, and the original cast members are brought back as the film builds to the end action sequence that features the entire cast having at it, in what felt like an overlong Michael Bay fight scene but its too fun to not enjoy.

Cast wise, the old guys are getting old. I don’t know how long they can keep it up. Yes, they are still entertaining action stars and the film had almost every big star from the 70’s and 80’s minus Sean Connery and Jackie Chan, but while watching the film it looked like they were setting up the new young cast members to take over the franchise. And that to me is a smart move. Kellan Lutz while a bit underdeveloped at first, surprised me and showed that he had the action hero quality in the film and could take over as the leader of a younger crew. While he was flying around on a motorbike shooting everything in sight, there was no question that he could do it. Ronda Rousey was a great female addition to the film, taking away the notion that only the guys can do the action, and she would even be a good star for the long rumored Expendabelles film. Rounding out the young cast with Glen Powell and Victor Oritz, you have every basis covered from action hero to techie covered which could help this franchise move past its silly premise and could turn into a decent Mission: Impossible type franchise.

My biggest complaint about the film, were the holes in the plot that forced you to accept stuff and the terrible script. The lines were terrible, but luckily the cast members all have their own famous delivery of lines that it made up for this quiet easily. Literally, any time Antonio Banderas rambled on or Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke a line, the theater was laughing very hard not because of how bad it was but because it was generally entertaining.

Final Thoughts:

This installment in The Expendables franchise is easily the best due to the presence of a plot that keeps the movie flowing at a good speed, while numerous big names speak the lines from a bad script that features so many funny lines for the wrong reasons, while the action flies from start to finish. The younger cast provides some new life to the franchise and sets up the franchise for a potentially new and exciting young cast continue the series!

Hercules (1997)

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Voice Talents of Tate Donavon, Josh Keaton, Roger Bart, Danny DeVito, Susan Egan, James Woods, Frank Welker, Rip Torn, Samantha Eggar, Lillias White, Cheryl Freeman, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Vaneese Y. Thomas

Directed by Ron Clements & John Musker

Based on the Greek Myth

Run Time:
Rating: G
Genre: Animated, Action, Musical, Family
Release Date: June 27, 1997

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83% 

My Score: 9 out of 10

Synopsis:

After losing his immortal powers as a baby due to Hades’s evil plan, Hercules is raised on Earth but still retained his god-like strength. But when he learns of his true heritage, Hercules embarks on a mission to become the world’s greatest hero and reclaim his place among the gods on Mount Olympus.

Review:

This is a Disney favourite of mine! Hercules was one of my favourite movies growing up. It had the amazing music that you had come to expect from a Disney movie, action galore for my standards as a child, and it was very funny. And I’m happy to find that years later its still as entertaining!

I watched the movie on the recent Blu-Ray release, and I have to say it looked great. The animation is vivid and full of colours, the only thing that is bad about it is the CGI Hydra that Hercules fights. It looked cool as a child, but it really sticks out like a soar thumb as its so fake looking compared to its surroundings.

The story itself is very fun, and therefore very Disney. Hercules finds his true destiny and learns a lesson about fame along the way, and it has such memorable characters. Of course, you will for sure remember Hercules as he is the hero of the film but Pegasus and Phil are incredibly funny.

But the best part of the entire music is the rocking soundtrack. The Muses are showing off their pipes, and this is one of the few Disney movie’s to have a R&B style soundtrack and it sounds great! The best is easily "I Won’t Say I’m In Love" but all of the songs are memorable and they have been playing on my iPod almost constantly since watching the movie on the weekend. 

Final Thoughts:

Hercules is easily a great Disney animated classic that is full of action, characters and great songs, despite some ill-timed CGI characters.

Endless Love (2014)

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Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Gabrielle Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick, Rhys Wakefield, Dayo Okeniyi, Emma Rigby, Anna Enger, Patrick Johnson

Directed by Shana Feste

Based on the Novel by Scott Spencer

Run Time: 105 min
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance, Drama
Release Date: February 14, 2014

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 15%

My Score: 6.5 out of 10

Synopsis:

David (Pettyfer) catches the attention of the reclusive beauty Jade (Wilde) who he finds beautiful and sweet, and the two embark on a summer romance that sends Jade’s father (Greenwood) into a rage that could split them apart forever. 

Review:

I’m not going to lie, I actually enjoyed this movie. It seems like your typical teen romance, and it is without a doubt, but the story is very light and enjoyable to a fault for anyone who likes a movie that features happiness and some minor life drama.

The story is so simplistic, but for this genre of film it only needs to be engaging. And this romance story is just that, despite having almost the exact same premise of every single romance film made. Class separation comes between the two lovers, and despite their efforts its going to try its best to tear them apart. The acting is enough for the film, the performances are nothing to rave about but they fit the movie nicely. Alex Pettyfer and Gabrielle Wilde are a very attractive couple, and while they don’t have chemistry that lights fireworks off, it’s a sweet chemistry that is more than enough to sell their relationship. Bruce Greenwood is tolerable as Jade’s father, but its Emma Rigby as David’s ex-girlfriend who got the short end of the stick by being casted in a poor written role that you were meant to hate.

Final Thoughts:

For an easy to enjoy romance film that is light and enjoyable, Endless Love is a perfect choice. It has a likable cast, but just don’t expect an epic romance, as you will be let down for sure. 

Not Another Teen Movie (Unrated)

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Starring: Chris Evans, Chyler Leigh, Jamie Presley, Eric Christian Olsen, Mia Kirshner, Deon Richmond, Eric Jungamann, Randy Quaid 

Directed by

Run Time: 99 min
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: December 14, 2001

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%

My Score: 7 out of 10

Synopsis:

After Jake (Evans) is dared by his friend to transform the geeky, paint covered overalls Janey (Leigh) into a gorgeous prom queen, Jake makes his goal to win Janey’s attention but begins to fall for her while trying to fulfill the bet, while Janey is doubtful of Jake’s intentions.

Review:

Spoof films are always hard to pull off. Typically, they spoof really popular films that are loved by masses, so the spoof has to be clever. Some films have worked great, such as the first few Scary Movies and the Twilight spoof Vampires Suck (because all it needed to do was point out how ridiculous the films were!) But spoofing romantic comedies is tricky as they are already funny to begin with. But Not Another Teen Movie in my opinion was an entertaining watch and did a very good job at spoofing the targeted films.

The reason it succeeds is because of how it spoofed them. Instead of doing a scene by scene spoof of romantic comedies, it created its own stereotypical plot of a romantic comedies which each character being a stereotype of a character typically found in a romantic comedy. The plot is not original at all, but follows the rom-com genre and makes a spoof in each scene of typical events of rom-coms and sometimes it directly tackles a specific scene from a notable film. The cast isn’t bad, most of them are funny enough to sell the movie. But easily Chris Evans is the funniest, he is great as the jock who falls for the quiet artistic girl, and he draws some of the biggest laughs of the film. Exhibit A: the banana and whip cream scene! I need to say no more.

The film even goes far enough to spoof musicals in a prom musical number, which was surprisingly pretty good. The cast is singing and making fun of singing about prom, and its just funny. The film is enjoyable, and it will get you laughing for sure at times, but its far from perfect but how many R rated comedies are perfect. They are bound to be silly and ridiculous at times but if they get me laughing because they’re funny, I say they’re worth the watch, and Not Another Teen Movie definitely falls into that category.

Final Thoughts:

Pulling off a great spoof and having Chris Evans being a funny cool jock, Not Another Teen Movie is a fun R rated comedy that is funny enough to warrant your attention.

The Expendables 2

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Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Yu Nan

Directed by Simon West

Run Time: 103 min
Rating: R
Genre: Action
Release Date: August 17, 2012

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

My Score: 5 out of 10

Synopsis:

Following the murder of a member of their team, Barney (Stallone) and the rest of the crew begin tracking the team responsible for their comrade’s death and they won’t stop until every single last one of them is dead.

Review:

I was shocked after watching the first Expendables film, despite how entertaining it was in a bloody silly way, that it managed to earn a sequel. But the sequel managed to fix some of the faults of the first film.

First off, although there is not a plot for the film, their is a real motive behind the characters action that drives the movie from one crazy action sequence to another. The team is out to revenge the death of a fallen comrade, and its enough to give reason for the whole movie. Apart from that, the bad guys are hatching some evil plan that is barely explained nor do they have motive for it, but oh well. You’re not watching this movie for the plot, its for the explosive action sequences. And they are entertaining. This time around they are less brutally violent and have more fun intertwined, while still keeping the extremely violent nature and gore content (but less) that was featured in the first film.

The cast expands this time around, and there are some nice new additions. Liam Hemsworth is a good addition of the youngest member. He adds some needed stamina to the team as he is one of the few members that could theoretically complete the action sequences without passing out, and he adds some youth to the group. The other nice addition is Yu Nan as Maggie, giving the team the female member that can keep up with them. The downside, she’s not given enough action spotlight and this film is still the guys blowing up and shooting up everything in sight. At least its entertaining.

Final Thoughts:

Offering some improvements on the first film, The Expendables 2 has some better characters and action sequences, but its still pretty much as silly as the first film.

Snowpiercer

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Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Go Ah-sung, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, Ewen Bremner, Luke Pasqualino, Alison Pill

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Based on the Graphic Novel by Jacques lob, Benjamin Legrand &Jean-Marc Rochette

Run Time: 126 min
Rating: R
Genre: Science Fiction, Action
Release Date: June 27, 2014

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

My Score: 8.5 out of 10

Synopsis:

The year is 2031. The Earth has frozen over due to chemicals attempting to prevent global warming, and the only survivors remain alive on a train that travels around Earth’s surface. The train itself is divided by class with the rich and wealthy at the front of the train with the poor and sick starving to death at the back of the train. But when Curtis Everett (Evans) begins a revolution from the back of the train to remove Wilford (Harris) from control of the train, he embarks on a dangerous journey to the front of the train with fellow members of the back of the train in hopes to change life on the train forever.

Review:

This is film was a nice break from your typical science fiction blockbuster. The movie does not follow your typical plot line that all good and bad science fiction blockbusters follow. This film was not afraid to be different, which made it an exciting watch.

First off, the acting was very good. The film boasted a talented cast, and each role was very well cast and in my view didn’t have a single actor or actress that didn’t fit their position. Tilda Swinton under went a complete transformation to play Mason, and the result is amazing. Swinton is a great villain, her performance gives you the goosebumps as you see her so calm and slightly joyful as people are being gunned down and tortured around her. But its Chris Evan’s performance that stood out the most for me. Evans is most famously known for playing Captain America, where he stands for everything that is justice and stands up for anyone in danger. But this time around as Curtis, Evans is the leader of the revolution that occurs on the train, but he is anything but a hero. His performance is dark but brilliant, he still seems like the good guy to you as your watching, but the intensity in him is amazing making you root for him but fear him at the exact same time.

The plot is also great, a very nice change from every other science fiction film I have seen this year. The dystopic future on the train is great, an excellent class division has been setup on the train to create tension for the film’s plot. But what I love is how the film never wavers from doing the unexpected. It kills of individuals in a bloody matter without a second thought, and uses its shock value to add to the excitement of the film. It also uses gross images and ideas to make its dystopic message that much more shocking, and it delivers exaclty what it sets out to. But its the final act twist that makes the movie stand out from any other science fiction film. It is completely unpredictable and the fallout from the twist is what the movie needed at the end of the story. There is no Hollywood ending to the film, which makes it a satisfying watch as everything is not happily resolved by the end of the film.

Final Thoughts:

Incredibly violent, but incredibly well acted with brilliant performances from Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer is a great example of how amazing foreign films can be and easily stands out as one of the more exciting movies of the summer season!