snowden_film_posterThe world we now live in is a shady one. The last few years alone has (whether we want to accept it or not) opened Pandora’s Box of interpreting the blurred line between surveillance and privacy. George Orwell was very right and very wrong. He was right about everyone being under constant surveillance one day. He was wrong when the people all freely agreed to it.

“Snowden” is the docudrama based on the career of Edward Snowden, a whistleblower who worked for multiple government agencies working in surveillance and clandestine security. Completely blindsided by what his own government was doing, as Snowden continued to work in government agencies and had more of the digital veil removed from in front of his own eyes, was when he made the decision to go public. Doing so, of course, would result in treason, mutiny, and every classified violation under the sun.

Oliver Stone sets the movie primarily in a hotel room in Hong Kong as Snowden gives his first interview to British and American journalists. The rest is told in flashback regarding his very short-lived military career and his quick rise to the top-secret top of what was shown to essentially be a CIA hacking school. Only soon after to be ping pong’d around the world for a variety of surveillance missions for the entire alphabet soup of government agencies. All with his girlfriend in tow who seems to understand (though not always agree) with the rule of being unable to ask any questions regarding the specificity of the work Snowden does.

Stone’s display of the dramatic and overly dramatic played well in showing suspense, intrigue, and anger; the emotions the character Snowden displays throughout the film. Yet, I personally never felt confused or overwhelmed in following the plot.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt absolutely nailed the role of Snowden, at least in regards to his cadence and the presumed reactions he would’ve had to all of this. I read that Gordon-Levitt (along with Oliver Stone) travelled to Russia several times (where the real Snowden now resides) for research.

“Snowden” is a fantastic movie that no matter what side you sit on at the political table will leave you somewhere between intrigued and infuriated. I highly recommend it.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

imagesI remember hearing about this hypothetical comic book crossover wet dream becoming a reality over a year ago. Naturally, I wrote about it as soon as I heard. How more perfect could it be for me? My two favorite comic/movie/television franchises of my lifetime uniting for what I was certain would be an epic series and storyline. I’m only mad at myself for not thinking of it sooner and creating my own storylines for it. (But who’s to say I won’t even after this?)

The first (of the six-part issue) released in December of 2015 and the final issue of the series released in May of 2016. Back in May of 2015, I called every comic book store I could find in Los Angeles. No one had them and/or they would sell out within hours of receiving them. So I looked to eBay and the individual issues would sell for anywhere from $20-$45 each!! As much as I wanted to read them, I knew that it was more important for me to be able to eat and pay rent.

So I made an executive decision:  (more…)

Suicide Squad

tumblr_o14a20KvDG1u5ntugo1_1280The resounding popularity of the comic book genre movie is unquestioned. Most (if not all) are automatic cash cows for the studios that produce them. Despite the amount the money they make, most (especially in the DC franchise) are stuck in a sort of critical purgatory. Fanboys and film critics alike get into shouting matches via online message boards defending their stances, often comparing it to the last franchise/actor who portrayed that character. I have been guilty and will be guilty of that a little bit throughout this review. In the case of “Suicide Squad,” there was a very unique opportunity to be had. For the first time (in live-action anyway,) the villains were the main characters. It was their time to shine.

I will admit that I did break my own rule a little bit with this one. Generally I stay away from reading critiques and asking my friends what their thoughts were on a movie before I see it. I like to go in with a clear head and zero expectations. But this time around, there was one major controversy that just kept building up. I’ll get back to that later.

In regards to the movie as a whole, “Suicide Squad” is the story of all the super villains sent on a mission under the control of a sociopathic government agent to stop a supernatural being from taking over the world. It does sound a bit cliché, but again, so much potential because the main characters are all the bad guys with unredeemable qualities. Right? Much like my review of “Stranger Things,” I’m going to break this down with a little more detail than I usually do. In particular with the characters because there are so many and so crucial to the flow and progression of the story.

Some minor spoilers ahead.


Jason Bourne

jason-bourne-conclusionFirst introduced to us on the silver screen in 2002, Jason Bourne (the character) has always been a fascinating and exciting enigma. Originally based on a book series published in 1980 and written by Robert Ludlam, the character and a majority of the films have been fleshed out beautifully by Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass as actor and director respectively. “Jason Bourne” (the film) appears to be the final chapter-with Matt Damon playing the lead-in the Bourne film franchise. It pains me to say this… but I think Matt Damon is too old to keep doing it. He started the role fifteen years ago.

Nevertheless, after a 9-year hiatus and one okay spin-off film starring Jeremy Renner in the middle of that time, Damon and Greengrass reunite to lay the Jason Bourne saga to rest. Or does it? (more…)

Stranger Things

ouos14xohz62qr1dydb4“Stranger Things” is the story set in a small town in middle-of-nowhere, Indiana, that just happens to be the perfect setting for all the supernatural and terrifying things that occur there. Set in 1983, this show does a shameless but brilliant nod to the masterpieces of film, literature, and science fiction of its day. Nods to classic films and stories from John Carpenter, Stephen King, and Steven Spielberg are layered on so thick-and yet so brilliantly-it almost suggests that those stories are better suited in the world of “Stranger Things” than from the original source.

This will be a comprehensive review. I’m going to take you deep into the Upside Down and back (without revealing any spoilers) of this eight episode series because every nook and cranny of this show deserves to be discussed.    (more…)

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters_2016_film_posterNormally I’m against reboots. I often consider them cheap knockoffs of their superior originals. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? Once in a blue moon, however, a reboot comes along that pleasantly surprises you. This is certainly one of those times.

“Ghostbusters” (the 2016 reboot) is a wonderful surprise considering how much backlash it got when the trailer was first released a few months ago. I think it actually set some sort of record on YouTube for most dislikes. I don’t know if it was just bad editing on the part of whomever edited those trailers or if it was intelligent reshoots after the fact; maybe a little bit of both. But regardless, this all-female cast of SNL veterans and a Hemsworth gave these characters a unique depth, personality, and humor that I thoroughly appreciated.

Without any spoilers, my generation will appreciate all the cameos (and respect given to the one we lost) sprinkled from start to finish. Never scene-stealers, they helped move the story along quickly and humorously. I strongly encourage the younger generation to find the 1984 original “Ghostbusters” and witness the comedic genius of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson.

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Great characters, a great story, well-directed, and wonderful visual effects puts this as a great start to the must-see 2016 summer blockbusters.

On the advice of a friend, I’m going to end my reviews with related recommends. If you saw and enjoyed this movie, I also recommend “The ‘Burbs” and “The Heat.”



The Secret Life of Pets

pts_adv1sht5_rgb_0125_7sm2I’ll make this short and sweet: over twenty years after “Toy Story,” the same concept is presented to us with animals. An awesome little dog named Max is having the time of his life with her owner Katie. When Katie is not home, Max converses with his neighboring pet friends with distinct and humorous personality quirks. But when Katie brings home a new dog, Duke, there is a power struggle for territory and Katie’s affection.

When Max and Duke go missing because of a careless dog walker, the other pets must unite and form questionable alliances to bring Max and Duke home. Max and Duke obviously are trying to find their way back themselves, but run into an assortment of problems including a gang of alley cats and a power-hungry bunny.

The voice-acting included an all-star cast including Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks, and Eric Stonestreet. But what was really impressive throughout the movie for me was the animation and how it showed nearly every facet of New York City.

“The Secret Life of Pets” is a cute and funny movie, but had a very predictable story.