Monthly Archives: August 2016

“Sausage Party” Movie Review

CG-animation, the cast of This is The End, and sexual jokes. Gotta admit: you’re a bit intrigued. This computer-animated comedy was released on August 12th,  2016, raking in $46 million against a $19 million budget. This film has had a tumultuous pre-production, with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg trying to sell the spec script to different studios for over 10 years. But now it’s here in theaters, awaiting my objective response. The story follows the various food products in a supermarket who believe that getting chosen by human shoppers is like the Gods bringing them into heaven. The main character, a hot dog sausage named Frank, decides to go on a quest to uncover the truth about their beliefs, soon discovering that everything they’ve ever known is a lie. Now Frank has to move to save his friends. In all honesty, I was laughing really hard for the majority of the film’s runtime. First of all, the voice cast is all great. Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig lead the charge as Frank and his love interest, Brenda. Behind them is an ensemble that includes Edward Norton as a Brooklynesque bagel, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as Frank’s two best friends who are also hot dogs, Salma Hayek as a lustful taco, James Franco as a druggie (who would’ve guessed), and Nick Kroll as a villainous douche. That’s not metaphorical whatsoever. The primary villain in this movie is an actual douche. Talk about taking things in a literal way. Michael Cera stands out from the crowd with his role as Barry. He’s always a funny actor, but his turn as a deformed yet lovable hot dog friend of Frank is easily the best part of the movie. As for the overall sense of humor, that can all be summed up in one word: offensive. Holding nothing back, the screenwriters took their sweet time in the 88-minute feature to exploit every single social and political stereotype in the book. From Nazis hunting the Juice section to street-talking chips, they certainly leave no group of people out of this equation. One minute, you could be laughing your ass off to a specific stereotype. The next, you could be taken aback by how offended a scene left you feeling. And yes, since this is a Seth Rogen movie, there is bound to be some gratuitous nudity. In fact, for a large portion of the running time, I thought, “It’s going to happen soon, and I’m not looking forward to it.” But it turned out to be a mass food orgy. Even though it was animated, it had to be one of the most graphic sex scenes I’ve seen in any movie to date. I looked over to my friend, and they were just gaping in disbelief and disgust. Oh, and in case it hasn’t been made obvious by this point, Sausage Party deserves every aspect of its R-Rating. So please do not see this movie with your children, your younger siblings, parents, or anyone you may feel uncomfortable with. For the rest of you, you are assured to have a damn funny time with this innovative and unforgettable animated comedy.

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“Suicide Squad” Movie Review

After the lukewarm reception of Batman v Superman, can Suicide Squad signal a change in pace for the DC Extended Universe? Let’s find out. This super villain blockbuster movie was released on August 5th, 2016, breaking records with an opening of $280 million in box office receipts. A few months after the events of Dawn of Justice, the government has grown weary of how the “next Superman” might not share the same beliefs of peace and grace. So Amanda Waller decides to assemble a team of super villains who she believes can do some good. So after Task Force X- or the Suicide Squad -is assembled, they get sent to do the government’s dirty work in exchange for shortened prison sentences. If they fail, they will get thrown under the bus using plausible deniability. Gotta be honest, I had a lot of fun with this movie. Why a bunch of critics and fans decide to hate it, I don’t know. Right off the bat, the team is really cool. With villains including Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, and Deadshot, most members had a chance to prove their own worth. Margot Robbie owns it as Harley Quinn in every aspect. She’s funny, sexy, really tough, just plain nuts. No disrespect to Arleen Sorkin’s voice performance in the Animated Series, but this is the only Harley Quinn that I want to know about. Another great performance comes from Will Smith as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot. I always thought he was a great choice, being one of the most charismatic actors in the business. In the movie, he provided a lot of funny lines of dialogue and proved that even in his old age, the Fresh Prince can still kick ass. Even Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang was awesome. He may not have much of a character arc, but he was still really snarky and cynical. Now is as good a time as any to talk about Jared Leto’s version of the Joker. Alright, when his reveal photo was released last year, I took one and said “I don’t like how they’re doing him.” He looked nothing the Joker we are all accustomed to seeing. However, I saw where they were going with the character in the movie and liked it. He’s not the main villain the Suicide Squad, but more like a wild card. A catalyst for scenes revolving around Harley. So the bummer is he has about 30 minutes of screen-time. In fact, that’s my biggest complaint about the movie, is how not all of the characters got enough screen-time to fully flesh out. If you’re a fan of Killer Croc, you may be disappointed in that he doesn’t say a whole lot. However given the stupid nature of his backstory and Adewale Akkinouye-Agbaje’s pitch perfect portrayal, I won’t complain much. My favorite character in the movie hands down is El Diablo, played by Jay Hernandez. Given arguably the most satisfying character arc in the movie, he is, for all intents and purposes, the good guy in Task Force X. He really doesn’t want to fight in this war because of all the harm he’s capable of, but joins because he recognizes it as a good cause. Some of the CGI in the movie did look fake, especially in the latter half when they go head to head against the main villain, Enchantress. But most of it looked fine up to that point. And there’s something that bothered me with Enchantress/June Moone. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a cool character, but I just didn’t like the way Cara Delivigne portrayed her. If they had cast someone else to do the role, I don’t think it would have hurt the overall quality. It’s also worth noting that there a few pacing issues spread out here and there. In particular, during scenes when certain characters are thrown into flashback mode. But that’s a meager gripe, given the need to give characters some form of backstory or another. Yet even with those minor issues, Suicide Squad gave me exactly what I wanted. For a movie that features nearly 11 comic book characters whom audiences have no familiarity with, it does a pretty solid job at introducing them all. It gave great dialogue, fun humor, and an overall sense of heart. Oh yeah, and the soundtrack is awesome as well. That bar scene from the trailers was probably the best and most character-driven scene in the entire movie. Though this summer has been fairly disappointing, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the DC Extended Universe. One last note: there is a mid-credits scene afterward that bears an important connection to the Justice League.

“Stranger Things” T.V. Show Review

Unless you’re living under a rock, there’s no way you haven’t heard of this new series. I’ve binge watched it, all of it. Now it’s time to talk about it. This science-fiction mystery horror show debuted all eight episodes of its first season on Netflix on July 15th, 2016, followed by immediate critical acclaim. Created by the Duffer Brothers, the story follows various people in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. On November 6th, 1983, 12-year-old Will Byers goes missing without a trace. While many residents begin their own investigation, a mysterious girl appears, and strange things start happening. Throw in some government secrecy, and we now have a classic 1980s story. And an engrossing one at that. When you take a look at the promos and the premise, you may feel like you’ve seen this hundreds of times before. I’m here to put those predictions to rest, because it just progresses in an absurdly original way. What keeps the narrative fresh is the wide cast, bursting with interesting and unique characters. Perhaps intentionally, it utilizes actors and actresses from the 1980s such as Mathew Modine, Winona Ryder, and David Harbour in key supporting roles. Ryder, in particular, stands out as a grief-stricken mother who will do anything to get her son back. The back-and-forth sway between love and insanity is flawless, and may even score her an Emmy nomination soon in the coming year. Even the child actors are stunning. Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Milly Bobby Brown, Natalia Dyer, and Charlie Heaton provide memorable characters with more dimensions then most cops on police procedurals.  It may be too early to tell, but I believe that each child actor has a bright future ahead of them (As long as they make smart decisions) I haven’t even gotten to the technical part of it. The soundtrack for the series is fantastic. The various pop and rock songs, as well as the opening theme song, solidify the 1980s vibe with aces. The cinematography is equally impressive, with long wide shots contrasted perfectly with close-up camera work. Props to the various directors of photography for giving a wider scope to the world and the story. Perhaps the most impressive technical aspect is the overall atmosphere. It remains consistent throughout every single 52-minute long episode. At times it amplifies the feeling of heartbreak, the next moment could feel absolutely terrifying. But no matter what, it provides an aura of mystery and suspense that keeps you guessing until the very end. In all honesty, finding any flaws in this show would just feel like a chore. If there is one at all, it would have to be the scenes involving the main character’s sister, Nancy. Which may compromise everything I’ve just said, but I found myself slightly less interested during moments centered on her drama. But even then, it was still superbly acted and written character development. No matter how short the first season may be, Stranger Things is by far the best and smartest new television show to debut in a long time. Picking elements from the early works of legends such as Stephen King, David Lynch, and Steven Spielberg, it boasts an incredibly satisfying story with an amazing cast of intriguing characters. After watching the end of the series, I’m not quite sure how the Duffer Brothers can progress into future seasons. But I’m open to the possibilities.