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Ever wonder what it's like to be in that moment between struggling artist and published author? Read on and find out.



Monday, October 6, 2014

Movie Review - The Maze Runner


The Maze Runner  $$$ ½

 
 

PG-13
113 Minutes
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong, Lee, Will Poulter, and Kayda Scodelario.
Director: Wes Ball.
 

I hadn’t read the book, but the trailer looked cool so I decided to see the movie and am glad I did. Now I need to read the book. 
Thomas wakes up in an elevator. He doesn’t know who he is, where he is, or pretty much anything else. He finds himself in a glade with a bunch of other teenaged boys in the center of a mammoth maze. The question on the minds of the boys in the maze and the audience as well is why are they there? That is enough to keep your attention throughout this movie and wanting to see the next one in the series.                

            Here is how I rated the film:

1. Fun – If you like a movie that places you squarely in the middle of a mystery then you should like this film. I did. The drive to find out what was going on kept me riveted.
The Maze Runner gets a Full MB for keeping me guessing.

            2. Story – This is an interesting story. The premise of placing a bunch of teens in the middle of a maze as some sort of experiment, and possibly more, is unique enough to be refreshing when so much of what we get out of Hollywood is remakes of what we have already seen. 
            The Maze Runner gets a Full MB for a an intriguing storyline.

            3. Technical – The set looked great and the special effects were excellent. In this situation it is more about setting the mood for the story and I think they accomplished that quite well.
            The Maze Runner  gets a Full MB for putting me into a brand new environment.

            4. Acting – The acting didn’t really stand out. Everyone was compentent enough that their acting didn’t get in the way of the story, but failed to grab my attention—with the exception of Aml Ameen as Alby and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt. I really enjoyed watching both of these actors on screen and look forward to seeing them do more.
            The Maze Runner gets Half a MB for acceptable acting.  

            The Maze Runner gets a rating of 3 ½ Movie Bucks. I suggest seeing it at a matinee or other discounted showing. It is a little intense in a few scenes and may not be appropriate for very young children, but I do recommend it to anyone who enjoys watching a mystery unfold.  

                        Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Movie Review - The Remaining


The Remaining  $$

 

PG-13
83 Minutes
Starring: Johnny Pacar, Shaun Sipos, Italia Ricci, and Alex Vega .
Director: Casey La Scala.
 

            I happened to spot this film listed at the theaters and decided to check it out because it runs along a similar theme as The Gathering novel of mine. I wanted to see what the competition was doing. Watching it made me reconsider writing any more books about the Second Coming. If people have the same reaction to my books as I had to this movie, then I owe the world an apology.
            Tommy (Johnny Pacar) is recording the events around his friends’ wedding when the events of the “Rapture” hit the Earth, leaving the unbelievers behind to face the horrifying events signifying the end of the world.
            Hail, earthquakes, violent storms all make a very brief appearance in the film and seem to have minimal effect, considering their implied severity. Most of the film deals with attacks against the population by “The Fallen.”
            This wasn’t so much a movie as a piece of propaganda designed to terrify the audience into immediately accepting God, in a specific manner of faith. Should you fail to fall into line with the correct methods of worship before the Rapture happens you will be torn to bits in a very painful way. 
             

            Here is how I rated the film: 

1. Fun – Not fun. Two scenes caught my attention and I felt they could have led to some interesting possibilities. The first is when softball sized chunks of hail started slamming into the street. I thought that the film would deal with the prophesied disasters and that would have been entertaining. The second scene is when the great trumpets in heaven are blown announcing the breaking of another seal. Perhaps it was just the fact that the theater had the sound system turned up to a ludicrous volume, but it felt awesomely terrifying—in a good way.
Unfortunately, neither of those were more than mere moments. I found the rest of the film boring and tedious.
The Remaining gets Half a MB solely for the blasting horn that has given me plenty of pause to wonder if that is what the event would really sound like.   

            2. Story – The temptation for me is to judge this section of the movie on the potential for a great story that it didn’t deliver. However, that wouldn’t be fair. The story that they did provide was dull. Since they needed something to string together all the scenes of killing people off, they added a love triangle. Since everyone dies, who cares which of the two friends gets the girl?
            The Remaining gets Half a MB for a predictable, unexciting storyline.  

            3. Technical – The special effects are decent and the trumpet in heaven bit was excellent. Technical also includes the direction of the film which I found to be totally lacking. On the positive side the film is quite spooky, so kudos to La Scala for getting that part of it right.
            The Remaining gets Half a MB for its spooky feel.  

            4. Acting – The acting talent for The Remaining was decent enough. I had a connection with Italia Ricci and Bryan Dechart. John Pyper-Ferguson did alright with the material he was given, but I think better material would have allowed him to stand out in the story. All-in-all it wasn’t painful to watch any of the cast deliver their lines, but neither was I sitting on the edge of my seat to see what they would say next.
            The Remaining gets Half a MB for acceptable acting.  

            The Remaining gets a rating of 2 Movie Bucks. I believe that the film has a limited appeal for those who adhere to the doctrine of the Rapture. Non-believers are unlikely to enjoy the film—in my opinion. If you are a believer I suggest checking it out at a matinee; you don’t want to miss that outrageous horn-blowing scene. If you are not a believer this should probably be a pass for you.
 

                        Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.

 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Movie Review - The Giver


The Giver  $$$$


PG-13
97 Minutes
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, and Odeya Rush.
Director: Phillip Noyce. 
 

            This seems to be the year of the misleading movie trailers. In the case of The Giver, I suspect it has hurt the success of the film. Based on the trailers I expected a typical dystopian movie for the teen market, but boy was I wrong.
            Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a perfect community. They have done away with war, violence, greed, envy, and emotion. Everyone gets up in the morning and takes their mandatory injection and then goes and does the job they have been assigned. Life is good.
            That is, until Jonas is assigned to be the next Receiver of Memories.   

            The Giver is not a fast-paced action flick. Which is not to say the film was boring. Far from it. Be prepared for a thought-provoking, emotion-provoking tale about human nature that I think you will be mighty glad you watched.
                         

            Here is how I rated the The Giver: 

            1. Fun – I absolutely loved this film. Within the first five minutes I was hooked and sat in the audience mesmerized by the story.
            The Giver gets a Full MB for fun.

            2. Story – Of the four areas which I rate a movie The Giver rates highest in story. It is well-crafted and meaningful. Lots of great emotion and it makes you think. If I could give it a higher rating for this I would, but instead will let it raise the rest of the ratings.
            The Giver gets a Full MB for story.

            3. Technical – Excellent. Some beautiful CGI. Some work with muted colors to enhance the storytelling. A nice futuristic set. All the work to make you feel somewhere else was nicely done. My hat is tipped to Phillip Noyce. I feel the directing of this film is largely responsible for the success of the story.
            The Giver gets a Full MB for Technical.

            4. Acting – Jeff Bridges, as the Giver, does a great job playing a man bearing the burden of a dark secret. Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush, and Cameron Monaghan are adequate as the friends entering the adult stage of their world. They neither impressed me with their acting skill, nor detracted from the movie. It is possible that I am unfairly discounting their efforts since I felt that the movie was a success. I really enjoyed the performance of Alexander Skarsgard as Father.   
            The Giver gets a Full MB for acting even though this is probably the weakest area of the film. Not bad, just not as stellar as everything else. 
 

            The Giver gets a rating of 4 Movie Bucks. I’m going to see it again and take my wife with me this next time. This is definitely one I am considering picking up for my home movie collection. I highly recommend film for adults. It may be too slow for younger audiences.
  

                        Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.