Monthly Roundup & Favorite Movie of June 2014

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Man, where has June go??! It’s nuts that this weekend is Fourth of July already which means we’re already halfway done with Summer 😦

I feel that this month is a blur already, I actually have a hard time just what in the heck I’ve been watching this past month. Well, one thing for sure, I’ve been doing more Toby Stephens marathon since May. When I say an actor is versatile, I truly mean it with Toby. The man can play virtually ANY role brilliantly and no matter what genre he tackles, the British thespian effortlessly fits right in. It pains me how underrated he is as immense talent + chameleonic ability is quite a rare combination in an actor, the fact that he’s SO easy on the eyes is of course icing on the cake.

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Clockwise from top left: Toby in Black Sails (2014), BBC Jane Eyre (2006), BBC Wired (2008),  and The Machine (2013)

So thanks to my pal Becky (aka Prairiegirl), I got to catch up on Black Sails! I’ve only got half of the 8-episodes of Season 1 and it’s pretty good! Of course I’m not going to lie that Toby’s the main reason I watched it and he’s definitely the BEST thing about it. I LOVE what The Guardian said about Toby’s role as Captain Flint: “Stephens’s Flint is every inch the modern anti-hero that those accustomed to the moral greys of Tony Soprano or Walter White will appreciate.” I’m impressed by the quality of the series though, it’s definitely not the clichéd pirate stuff that’s often depicted by Hollywood. Can’t wait to see more from Season 1 and Season 2 can’t come soon enough!! I’ll definitely be doing a review of it once I’m done with the first season. In case you have no idea what the show is all about, here’s an inside look video of season 1:

Ok, on to the monthly recap!

Posts you might’ve missed:

New-to-me Movies/TV/Miniseries:

Rewatches:

I just realized I watched quite a lot of period dramas this past month! I wasn’t planning on it, but hey, it’s one of my favorite genres 😀

  • Belle (2013)
  • BBC’s Jane Eyre (2006 miniseries)
  • Ever After – A Cinderella Story (1998)
  • Love, Actually (2003)
  • Mansfield Park (1999)
  • The Machine (2013)
  • Pacific Rim (2013)
  • Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Favorite Movie Seen in June 2014:

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I think Edge of Tomorrow is pretty darn good but I have such a soft spot for Hiccup, Toothless & co and this second installment definitely lives up to the fantastic original! Plus the soundtrack by John Powell is simply astounding. Stay tuned for a John Powell Music Break coming soon!


So, what movies did you get to see in June and which one is your favorite?

FlixChatter Double Review –Transformers: Age of Extinction

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Ted’s Review

After a three year absent, the Transformers are back on the big screen. They still have to deal with annoying human characters, fight the bad Transformers and destroy every big city as much as they could.

The movie picked up about 5 years after the last one, we’re introduced to some new human characters Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz). Yeager is a failed inventor and he’s close to being broke and lose his farm. One day he found an old truck which happens to be Optimus Prime, he’s hiding from the government. Apparently after the events of the last movie, all of the Autobots are being hunted down by the CIA. The mission is being spearheaded by a high level CIA executive Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer). When Attinger finds out that Optimus Prime is hiding out at Yeager’s farm, he sends his operatives including its leader James Savoy (Titus Welliver) to bring Prime in. Of course things didn’t turn out well as they’d hoped and Yeager, his daughter and Optimus were able to get away from the agents. I was going to write more about the “plot” of the movie but let’s face it, no one go to see this movie for its plot, which by the way didn’t make a lick of sense. If you’re a fan of the previous three movies and enjoy all the explosions and robots fighting then you’re going to love this one. For anyone who can’t stand this franchise, I’d advise you to stay far away from it!

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Wahlberg stepped in as the new leading man this time and I didn’t think he was as annoying as Shia LaBeouf but he didn’t really add anything much to the movie. Since he’s done many action movies prior, the writers did write in scenes where he’s part of the action instead of just running and screaming like LaBeouf did in the previous movies. Young actress Nicola Peltz became the new eye candy in this one, when I say eye candy, I meant it literally. Bay pretty much focused the cameras on every part of her body, just like he did with the other pretty girls in the previous movies. Another young actor (Jack Reynor) showed up as her boyfriend and I think he’s supposed to play LaBeouf’s part because I found him quite annoying. Then later in the movie, Stanley Tucci showed up as this Steve Jobs type of a character. Grammer was pretty much your typical one dimensional villain, he’s bad, he’s greedy and he doesn’t about anyone but himself.

Now let’s talk about Michael Bay and his Bayhem. I don’t know if it’s possible but this movie might have had more climatic action scenes than any other movies I’ve ever seen. Bay kept blowing things up and robots smashing into one another for close to 3 hours! The man has no restrain and as long as people keeps paying to see this franchise, he’ll never stop. I remember a while back he said he’s done with the franchise but I guess the studio probably offered him money more than any average person would ever see in their lifetime.

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Now I do have a couple of good things to say about this movie. First, it’s the first movie to have been shot with the new IMAX 3D cameras and since I’m a big fan of IMAX, it’s nice to have seen it on the biggest screen. If you’re going to see it on IMAX, know that it will have aspect ratio switching. Second, the 3D effects were quite impressive, maybe one of the best I’ve seen. There were scenes where I felt like I was in the movie, Bay did a good job there with the 3D. Of course the 3D supposed to enhance the story and not be the story, so it gets tiresome about an hour into the movie.

The movie is expected to be the summer’s biggest hit and I have no doubt that it will be a big hit. If you’re a fan of the franchise then you’ll love it, but for me it’s another bloated piece of turd from a director who only cares about making money and not quality films.

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Ruth’s Review

Ok so this is not so much a straight-on review as my rant reaction to this movie [if you can even call it that]. I’ve only seen the first movie [only because I was at a friend’s party and everyone wanted to watch the Transformers movie], and frankly I had no interest in seeing any more from this franchise. The only reason I went to this press screening is because it was at the IMAX theater and this was supposedly the first film shot with IMAX 3D Digital Camera. Silly reason really, and definitely NOT a worthy one to waste three whole hours on (more if you include the bazillion trailers before the movie starts).

Pretty much the only thing one needs to know about the Transformers universe is this: the Autobots are the good alien robots and the Decepticons are the evil ones. The humans are disposable creatures, as interchangeable as the parts in a kid’s toolbox. So supposedly an epic battle had happened in the previous film that left the world in pieces, though you wouldn’t know that from looking at the shots of Chicago and Beijing as they look pretty much unscathed with all of the skyscrapers intact. For some reasons, the Autobots are now being hunted down by the CIA, whilst the top level CIA agent (Kelsey Grammer) happily makes deals with another group of alien robots as they agree to leave earth. Meanwhile, a lowly farmer inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) inadvertently discovered that a beat-up old truck is actually the leader of the Autobots, called Optimus Prime. So of course soon enough Yeager and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) become fugitives themselves as they want to keep Optimus from getting caught. That’s pretty much the gist of it.

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As if the obtuse storyline wasn’t enough, Michael Bay‘s execution and directing style makes this fourth installment so unbearable in every sense of the word. At 165-min long, it’s overstuffed yet hollow, loud and verbose with nothing to say. As the end credit rolled, my hubby and I just shook our head. Yes I know it’s not the first time Hollywood studios spent a mind-boggling $180 mil budget on such a stinker, but this one is especially horrid with barely any redeeming quality whatsoever. Now, I’m not saying I can’t enjoy a movie about monstrous alien robots. After all, I LOVE Pacific Rim, which I’ve rewatched several times and still entertained by it. Funny that the lead character’s name is Yeager sounds just like Pac Rim‘s robotic weapon Jaeger. If only this movie is even half as entertaining!

Bay’s Transformers franchise should go down in film history as the quintessential piece of garbage, as it represents the worst thing that one dreads from a Summer blockbuster… vapid, trite, overindulgent, overwrought, plus a dose of self-satisfied smug-ness. After all, Bay remains defiant, here’s his response to those who are critical of his *masterpiece*: “They love to hate, and I don’t care; let them hate … They’re still going to see the movie! [per mtv.com]. Wish he were wrong but he’s not. As I’m writing this, the movie has made over $40 mil in one DAY, on track for a $100+ mil weekend [sigh] It’s ironic that the title tagline is ‘age of extinction.’ Well, it seems that creativity in Hollywood is on the verge of extinction [if it isn’t already]. The best line of the movie comes early in the movie, inside a ruined vintage cinema, when an older man lamented how all movies these days are sequels and remakes. Was Bay poking fun at himself and what he represents? Highly unlikely, considering his comment above.

You know something is out of whack when during watching a movie, you’re thinking about why so many good actors sign on to this and wonder how much money they made for it. That is if you’re not busy counting how many product placements are scattered during the action scenes [hint: it’s too many to count]. Every actor here is utterly wasted, Wahlberg is not immune to bad movies [The Happening, anyone?] but I’m still baffled as to why he signed on to do this. You would think he’s got enough cash that he never need to do a project only for monetary reason. Talented young actors like Sophia Myles and Jack Reynor probably just want the exposure one could get from mainstream blockbusters, but it’s still painful to see them in something THIS bad. Let’s hope they pick better roles in the future. As for Peltz, she is an exact embodiment of a damsel-in-distress, yet another eye candy type for the purpose of Bay’s unabashed female objectifications. As Wahlberg’s character complained about her daughter’s skimpy outfit, Bay set up a shot from between her thighs as she stood with her short shorts that barely covered her behind. Peltz was only 18 during filming, Bay’s nearing 50. It’s really a new low even for Bay.

I don’t know what’s worse, the wooden acting or the clichéd dialog coming out of their mouths. Even Stanley Tucci who’s always watchable even in a bad movie made me cringe here. His character is a multi-billionaire Tony Stark-type inventor who has been making man-made robots from the remains of the evil alien robots Decepticons. For someone who’s supposedly a brilliant scientist, his character does the most idiotic things throughout. In the third act, the main characters resort to dragging an alien *seed* that can turn organic material into metal. You’d think they’d be more careful with something THAT lethal, but it’s as if they’re dragging a body bag. It’s like watching a slapstick comedy except that it’s neither funny nor entertaining.

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I better end my rant now as I’m running out of adjectives to describe this movie. This FilmInk reviewer sums up my sentiment perfectly: “Transformers: Age of Extinction has appalling dialogue, deplorable representations of women, un-self-aware action sequences, very little humour and racial stereotyping. In other words, it’s a Michael Bay movie.” Suffice to say, this is by far the worst movie I’ve seen in a long time, rivaled only by Die Hard 5 but even that one is still more watchable as it’s only about half as long. I actually had to make a new rating graphic for this one as I’ve never given a rating this low before. I don’t care what state-of-the-art equipment is used to make this or even how good the visual quality is. I actually took my 3D glasses off a few times just to give my tired eyes a break. It’s really a sensory overload in the worst possible way.

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Well, what do you think of the latest Transformers movie? 

Everybody’s Chattin’ & Question of the Week on Movie Franchises

Happy Thursday everybody! I’m going to hit two birds with one stone today in combining two post *series* in one. Well, inspired by my recent viewing of Transformers 4 and some other news, the topic this week is: Hollywood Movie Franchises.

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Ok, so let’s start with some of my favorite posts from the past couple of weeks:

  • RIPEliWallachI LOVE actors appreciation posts! Cindy wrote a fan letter to the great Bill Murray, while Fernando paid birthday tribute to Queen Meryl, as in Meryl Streep. As we’ve just lost Eli Wallach, Michael paid tribute by listing his favorite films of one of the master Hollywood character actors. RIP Mr. Wallach.
  • A few reviews of 2014 movies I haven’t seen yet: Josh reviewed ENEMY, Sati reviewed MALEFICENT, and Melissa reviewed PALO ALTO, which was by yet another Coppola, Gia Coppola (Sofia Coppola’s niece)
  • Keith reviewed QT’s latest from 2012: DJANGO UNCHAINED and Mark reviewed a 90s sci-fi that’s definitely worth your while: CONTACT.
  • On the classic film front, Steven just reviewed yet another film by Douglas Sirk, Written On The Wind, starring Rock Hudson & Lauren Bacall.
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  • Now, Andrew has been doing Recasting Posts of Best Picture Lineups, which is a VERY cool idea! Of course this one on Roman Holiday caught my eye, I mean I don’t think anyone could top Gregory Peck/Audrey Hepburn, but still it’s fun to see his picks.
  • Mikey recently interviewed Eli Roth & Lorenza Izzo and talking about the World Cup!
  • Vic gave us an updated list of what’s just been added to Netflix Streaming. Very informative, thanks Vic!
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Hitchcock w/ Jimmy Stewart on the set of Rear Window

Now for Question of the Week!

Interesting that on the same day I saw Transformers 4, I read Josh’s post on 10 Movie Series (Franchises) that he gave up on. Fortunately there’s only a couple there that I have seen, Twilight and Underworld, both of which are NOT worth following anyway.

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This past week I’ve also seen news updates on the reboot of the Mad Max franchise from the late 70s-mid 80s. In place of Mel Gibson, we’ve got the charismatic & bad ass Tom Hardy in the role. Check out the cover of EW with the first look with Hardy and Charlize Theron. Boy it’s been FIVE years since I first started blogging about that movie! Everything is old is new again, as it’s always been the case in the Hollywood… as the creativity has dried up long ago. I also heard news about the upcoming PREDATOR sequel or reboot, what have you. Something that made Tim VERY happy indeed 😉 He’s already offered up 5 Ways to do the Predator sequel right.

Well, I don’t mind some reboots and not every sequel is automatically horrible. I for one am anticipating this Mad Max movie that’ll be out May of next year. I’m also looking forward to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the third Hobbit film, as well as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I later in November. Speaking of which, check out the latest teaser:

Whoah, that’s pretty creepy! Can’t wait to see that one.

But out of the few movie franchises I do like, there are dozens and dozens I wish would never get made. I think all that Josh has mentioned in his post are such time-wasters, and I definitely would add Transformers on the list as this fourth installment is so mind-numbingly horrible! And at 165 min (that’s nearly 3 hours long!!), it’s such another overindulgent Michael Bay’s plaything masquerading as a movie! It’s like eating the most gut-growing, heart-threatening, life-shortening junk food saturated with sugar & fat, but the worst part is, it doesn’t even taste good! Ok I’ll save my rant until my review this weekend.


So my question to you is two-fold:

Which film franchise(s) are you a big fan of & don’t mind that it keeps on going and which ones you wish would die a thousand deaths?

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION interview with Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz

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Hello everyone! Earlier this month, on June 8th to be exact, I got a chance to interview a couple of cast members from TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION: Nicola Peltz & Jack Reynor. It’s part of their press tour around the country and they showed clips from the movies as well as signed autographs for fans. Surely most of of you already know what the movie is about, after all it’s the fourth one in the franchise. I personally have only seen the first movie which was years ago, so I’m not exactly well-versed in the Transformers universe. So here’s what to expect in this latest movie:

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION begins after an epic battle left a great city torn, but with the world saved.  As humanity picks up the pieces, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history…while an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in its crosshairs. With help from a new cast of humans (led by Mark Wahlberg), Optimus Prime and the Autobots rise to meet their most fearsome challenge yet.  In an incredible adventure, they are swept up in a war of good and evil, ultimately leading to a climactic battle across the world. 

 Trailer:


Thanks ALLIED for co-ordinating the interview roundup at Mall of America. There are seven interviewers in the roundtable so below are all the questions, I marked MY questions with an (*) in front of it.

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Here’s the transcript from the interview with Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz:

Q (for Veronica): With a lot of the strong female leads in entertainment films these days, does your character continue the strand of [being] strong female character in this movie?

Nicola: Tessa is definitely… you know how in the beginning of the movie she lives a normal life day to day, and she’s suddenly thrust into this extraordinary situation where she has to fight for her life and get back with her family. But she’s definitely a tough girl, she lives in a farm. She definitely gets her butt kicked a lot… a lot, but she has her moment.

Jack: I think she’s probably more of a bad ass than a lot of the other franchises that are around right now, in all honesty. She’s not the sensitive wilting flower [Nicola: she’s no wilting flower]… more of a bad ass, I mean she’s going out with a race car driver so she better be [laughs]

Q: So what scene do each of you guys enjoy shooting the most?

Nicola: I don’t know if you guys saw the trailer but when we were running, Jack, Mark and I were running in slow motion and there’s this huge explosion…well that was real. We found out about it like four minutes before. We got on set and we had no idea. We saw all these explosives, twelve cameras and we’re like ‘What is going on?’ Michael does add random scenes so we’re very pleased. So he got on set and said: you have to run from here to here in 4.6 seconds and we had our practice runs and then he said, ‘Ok are you ready?’ And we’re like ‘Ok, yeah.’ And so we just did it and he said, ‘Well don’t mess it up ’cause we can only do it once.’ It was so exciting though, I mean your adrenaline was going crazy, it was really fun.

Q: To follow up on that… could you just talk about the different challenges about doing television or independent films versus doing a monumental blockbuster film like this one?

Jack: Well for me at least, independent films and films like this aren’t really that different in terms of my approach to my character and a performance. You still have to try your best to suspend your disbelief and draw on your imagination and your emotion and invoke certain thoughts for yourself to invest in your character. The real differences are that with a film of this kind of budget and scale is that there are so many more people around all the time. And the effects are so heavy and the wait time between shots are kind of substantially longer. So things like that are really different. Y’know people ask all the time how does it feel like to star opposite a giant imaginary robot, well I think it’s not so different from any other films you try to do. Like I said it’s about drawing from your imagination, so it’s an extension of that from the world of independent film and television.

And with Mark being on set, and Michael, and don’t get me wrong, Stanley [Tucci] and Kelsey [Grammer] as well, these are all veterans of the industry, they’ve all done a movie like this before. So for Nicola and I to be able to observe them in the environment, ehm making a blockbuster film has been an eye-opener for us and it’s taught us a lot on how to relate to the industry and how the industry relate to us. It’s very beneficial for us at our stage of our careers.

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Photo courtesy of sciencefiction.com

*Q (for Jack): Since you’ve done a bunch of independent films like What Richard Did and then this movie. You sort of touched on that a little bit but then you’re going to be doing Macbeth [Jack: I’ve finished Macbeth]. Is there anything that’s particularly memorable in filming this as opposed to those indie films?

Jack: Yeah again, it’s that crazy scale… rolling through f***in’ giant explosion y’know, crazy car chases. I mean driving rally cars having helicopters flying over my head. Cars with cranes chasing me and stuff like that. I shouldn’t be driving behind the wheel of a car like that, that’s mental. But yeah, it’s a really fun experience. It’s great. It’s a massive departure for me from the world of independent films so I enjoyed it, I relished the challenge, certainly.

Q: Transformers is a whole different animal from what the work you’ve done in the past. Have you found that your life changed now with the added exposure that comes with being in the Transformers 4 movie?

Nicola: My life? No, not at all. I still walk around and no one really cares. But then we just started this tour. We haven’t had the premiere yet which I’m super excited for but yeah, it’s been amazing.

Jack: Well on a personal level, for both of us on a personal level, things hasn’t changed an awful lot as of yet. In Ireland for me, a lot of people are really happy there’s an Irish guy as part of a massive franchise like this. We don’t have an Irish character in movies like this ever, this is kind of the first time we’ve actually seen an Irish character kind of in a large supporting role so that’s a real great thing. But professionally, on a professional level I think both of us have certainly noticed that we’re in a position that we can potentially finance the kind of projects that we want to make ourselves and we have a lot more freedom and leeway in what we want to do. And it’s afforded us a lot of opportunities in the industry and we both want to take full advantage of that. So that’s been a definite difference.

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Q (for Nicola): Transformers is known as more of a guy film. So what do you think will bring the female audience in.

Nicola: Well I grew up with six brothers so I’ve always been into more of the guy movies and action films, those are the kind of movies I’m excited to go see. But Tessa is really relatable to a lot of girls, I know I can relate to her. Her dad is overprotective, I know I can relate to that definitely with six brothers. She’s in a no-dating household so I get all of that. But she is definitely relatable to a lot of girls. She is a tough girl, I think a lot of girls would be into this. I know I am.

Q: I saw an interview with Mark Wahlberg, and he had said ‘Jack and Nicola’s life is going to change quite a bit when the movie comes out. And it’s something you could deal with so well or it’s going to be a problem.’ Specifically as a mentor and father figure, as you enter huge celebrity, can you tell us a bit what that meant to you and what his best advice was?

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Jack: Well the thing is, during filming at least, Mark really lead from the front. And just to be able to observe him in that environment is something that’s very beneficial to us. It helps us to develop a healthy work ethic in this industry.

[ed note: Jack and Nicola has quite a lot to say about working with Mark Wahlberg and their thoughts on fame and celebrity. I figure I’ll let you take a listen to it yourself so you can hear what both of them sound like. Jack still has a pretty thick Irish accent as he still resides in Dublin.]

Q: So going more into the story of the film. What’s at stake for each of your character. What does your character stand to lose if you fail?

Nicola: Our lives [laughs] Well like I said in the beginning of the movie you see them live their lives, how they’re all normal relatable people and they’re thrown into this crazy situation. So in the film my character got separated from my dad and being a 17-year-old girl it’s really scary. And for her to be in this crazy situation and not being with her dad is super intimidating and scary. So she’s definitely scared about her life and also not only worrying about herself but also worrying about her dad. Is my dad ok? Is my boyfriend ok? So yeah there’s a lot of that.

Jack: At the heart of my character. Well he’s a young Irish guy who lands in Texas and he has this incredible ability to race rally cars. It gives him confidence in himself and y’know gives him the ability to assume his position in that world and also in terms of his relationship with Nicola’s character. I think that throughout the course of the film, he’s trying to find his place, he’s trying to prove who he is, what he’s worth. At the same time, his relationship with Nicola’s character is something that helps her to become more independent and to grow and approach the adult world and to diverge her relationship with her dad in a healthy way. So that’s the purpose that my character serves.

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Q: So Transformers is like an extremely beloved series. Do you guys feel any pressure to live up to what has become of this franchise?

Nicola: Well we’re not replacing any character, so there’s no pressure to live up to something that we’re not replacing. But as me being a huge fan of Transformers and growing up with boys and being obsessed with it and I knew the whole story… I’m also a huge fan of Michael Bay and everyone involved in this film, so even being able to audition for this film and then to being able to be a part of it is so exciting for me. That’s all I was worried about. I’m just so excited to go on set and to work with such talented people.

And that’s a wrap! 😀
The interview was only 15-min long so that was the last question.


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Pardon the blurred photo. I was actually standing to the left of Jack in this photo but it was so blurry it’s best to just cut me off from the picture.

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Reynor recently wrapped filming on the human trafficking story Glassland, alongside Toni Collette in Dublin, Ireland. This is the second feature from Irish director Gerard Barrett. Reynor has recently begun filming the upcoming adaptation of Shakespeare’s MACBETH, directed by Justin Kurzel. He will be playing the role of Malcolm alongside Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender.

Last winter, Reynor garnered rave reviews for playing the titular character in the Irish independent film What Richard Did. Labeled as one of the best movies to come out of the Tribeca and Toronto Film Festivals, it is a story about a young boy who has to confront the question of who he is and who he wants to become. Reynor delivered a spectacular performance receiving glowing remarks from film critics around the globe. “Mr. Reynor’s portrayal of this man-child is an extraordinary screen performance…,” stated Stephen Holden of The New York Times. Leslie Felperin of Variety wrote “Promising young thesp Jack Reynor particularly impresses as the title character… The climactic scene between Peter and Richard is powerfully thesped, especially by Reynor.”

Proving his multifaceted talent, Reynor made his US film debut in the recently released Vince Vaughn comedy DELIVERY MAN (Dreamworks) which came out in theaters nationwide on November 22nd 2013. Reynor was born in Colorado, but grew up in Ireland.

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Later this summer Peltz will also star in Kevin Asch’s Affluenza which is set for limited release in July. The film is a coming of age story inspired by The Great Gatsby and is set amongst the upper class in the Long Island suburb of Great Neck during the weeks leading up to the financial meltdown of 2008.

On the small screen Peltz is currently reprising her role as Bradley Martin, a troubled high school student, in the second season of A&E’s critically acclaimed series Bates Motel. The series is a modern reimagining and prequel to the1960 Alfred Hitchcock cult classic Psycho, which focuses on the life of Norman Bates and his mother Norma portrayed by Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga.

In 2012, she starred alongside Melanie Lynskey and Campbell Scott in Eye of the Hurricane, a compelling family adventure about a small Everglades community struggling to put their lives back together in the wake of a devastating hurricane. In 2010, Peltz starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender opposite Dev Patel and Jackson Rathbone. The film was written, directed and produced by Shyamalan and was based on the first season of Nickelodeon’s animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Peltz made her feature film debut in 2006 in Deck the Halls with Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth.

A New York native, Nicola made her stage debut in 2007 opposite Jeff Daniels and Alison Pill in the Olivier Award-winning production of “Blackbird” at the Manhattan Theatre Club directed by Joe Mantello.
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 TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION in out in theaters this Friday, June 27


Hope you enjoy the interview! What are your thoughts on Transformers movies and/or the cast?

June 2014 Blind Spot Film: REBECCA (1940)

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As with a lot of the BlindSpot viewings this year, there are a lot of firsts in regards to REBECCA. No, it’s not the first Hitchcock film I saw, but it’s the first Laurence Olivier AND Joan Fontaine film I ever saw. I didn’t know David O. Selznick produced this, which was interesting given that I first saw Fontaine’s sister Olivia deHavilland in Selznick’s epic drama Gone With The Wind just the year before.

This was billed as a dramatic thriller, as well as a gothic romance, which immediately made me think of Jane Eyre. Interestingly enough, I noticed a few similarities with Charlotte Brontë’s classic tale (and not only because Fontaine did play Jane Eyre in 1943 with Orson Welles). Both of the protagonists in Jane Eyre and Rebecca are still haunted by his first wife. A wealthy man named Maxim de Winter (Olivier) meets a young, naive girl who accompanies her employer on a trip to Monte Carlo. Their first meeting wasn’t exactly a ‘meet cute,’ in fact he was rather rude towards her [yet another similarity to Jane Eyre‘s Rochester] but after a whirlwind romance, the two got married and he took her to his estate, Manderley.

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Now by the time the film starts, Rebecca is no longer in the picture, but no doubt her presence is felt throughout the film. Rebecca is definitely an overwhelming force despite the character never being shown on screen, not even in flashback. And that’s definitely what the filmmaker wanted Fontaine’s character to feel throughout the movie, that she’s overwhelmed by this unseen force who clearly still has a strange hold on everyone in Manderley.

The real suspense starts to build as soon as the couple get to Manderley. The big, expansive mansion looks and feel eerie, not unlike the ominous Thornfield Hall with a strange woman locked in the attic. The house is almost a character in itself, and it definitely plays a big role in the story. Manderley’s domineering, creepy housekeeper Mrs Danvers (Judith Anderson) definitely gives me the hibijibis. I really feel for Fontaine’s character and what she had to go through, not only did she have to endure her husband’s coldness, she also has to deal with a deranged, obsessive housekeeper who wanted to be rid of her. I kept wondering though why they couldn’t just fire Mrs. Danvers, I mean she is after all an employee at the estate. Right from the very moment she’s introduced in the movie, Mrs. Danvers is one of the most spine-chilling characters that really gets under my skin. I think the most terrifying scenes in the movie is when she gives Fontaine’s character a tour to Rebecca’s room, reminiscing on her former master and her obsession with her.

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Mrs. Danvers: [just as the second Mrs. de Winter reaches for the door] You wouldn’t think she’d been gone so long, would you? Sometimes, when I walk along the corridor, I fancy I hear her just behind me. That quick light step, I couldn’t mistake it anywhere. It’s not only in this room, it’s in all the rooms in the house. I can almost hear it now.

Mrs. Danvers: Do you think the dead come back and watch the living?

The Second Mrs. de Winter: [sobbing] N-no, I don’t believe it.

Mrs. Danvers: Sometimes, I wonder if she doesn’t come back here to Manderley, to watch you and Mr. de Winter together. You look tired. Why don’t you stay here a while and rest, and listen to the sea? It’s so soothing. Listen to it.

[turning away towards the window as the second Mrs. de Winter slips out the door]
Mrs. Danvers: Listen. Listen to the sea.

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You could say Judith was quite the scene-stealer in this film as you simply can’t shake her for some time after you’ve seen this film. She’s THAT creepy. The rest of the cast is equally excellent in their Oscar-nominated performances. I’m quite impressed by the luminous Joan Fontaine who’s the heart of the film whomI sympathize with right away. She went from being this frail, nervous and self-conscious young bride in the beginning, to a woman who’s able to hold her own by the end. Her character definitely *grew up* as the film progressed and her transformation is very believable. Sir Olivier is perfectly suited as the wealthy tortured soul type, hardened and enigmatic. The British thespian has played another Bronte’s dark hero, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights just the year before, sounds like the type of roles he could play in his sleep. There’s not much chemistry between him and Fontaine but given the plot of the story it sort of make sense. Based on the documentary included in the disc, apparently Olivier was keen on having his then-girlfriend Vivien Leigh to play Fontaine’s role, but I personally don’t think Leigh would suit the role as well.  George Sanders plays this weasel character who’s trying to frame Maxim, I’ve seen him play a similar character in All About Eve not too long ago. His character seems too lively to be really sinister or threatening however, I think out of all the characters, I feel that his performance is the least convincing to me.

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As to be expected from the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock truly delivered the goods with this one. This is his second feature adaptation from Daphne Du Maurier novel and clearly the material suits his style. The gothic story lends itself to the eerie, bone-chilling atmosphere, and Hitchcock is the master at building up the suspense and that dreaded sense of impending doom. Every frame, sound, ambiance is carefully crafted, coupled with Franz Waxman‘s ominous score for a total immersive experience. I didn’t see the twist coming which is always nice when that happens. Yet Rebecca isn’t reliant on that twist for you to truly appreciate the film because it’s more than just a gimmick. The story is rich, with a deep, layered symbolism that stays with you long after the credits. It’s also a beautifully-shot film with the lush setting, gorgeous costumes, and evocative lighting that brings out its supernatural quality.

This is definitely one of those films that lives up to the hype. The heightened suspense and tension is what I expect from Hitchcock — he brought Du Marier’s story alive and kept me engrossed from start to finish. Just like the literary work it’s based on, this film has that timeless quality that would stand the test of time. I am surprised that this is the only Hitchcock film that ever won Best Picture Oscar. I definitely think it’s Oscar-worthy but I haven’t seen his later works such as Vertigo and Rear Window that’s far more popular than this one. I definitely have a lot of Hitchcock to catch up on and I’m looking forward to it!

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This is the fifth entry to my 2014 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil at The Matinee, and continued by Dan Heaton at Public Transportation Snob .


What do you think of  REBECCA? I’d love to hear what you think!

Weekend Roundup: Two Austen adaptations, an espionage comedy + a Hitchcock classic

Wow, where has June gone? Can’t believe July is just 10 days away, seems that we barely had Spring and now we have been having a very showery Summer 😦

I haven’t done a Weekend Roundup in a looong time. Well, I didn’t go to the cinema at all this weekend, but I did see some older movies and one re-watch. I must say it’s quite fun to watch not only one but TWO period dramas with my hubby.

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Inspired by my recent Austen Recasting post on Mansfield Park, I started watching the 2007 BBC version that I haven’t seen before. My hubby was looking at stuff on his iPad next to me whilst I was watching this and I kept making a comment at how much I prefer the 1999 film version that he’s curious to check it out. Well, since both are on Netflix, we decided to watch both!

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Well suffice to say, the 1999 version by Patricia Rozema is still my favorite adaptation, though it’s definitely a bolder and darker version than one might associate with Jane Austen. I think it’s interesting that it touches on the issue of slavery as the primary financial income of the Bertram family, though I could use without the nudity [albeit a brief one] as it really detracts from the story. What I do like about the film version is how beautifully-filmed it is and the music by Lesley Barber is equally gorgeous and evocative. Plus the casting is fantastic all around, especially Frances O’Connor as Fanny and Alessandro Nivola as Henry Crawford. I also love the ending, it’s romantic and sweet and Jonny Lee Miller has such an earnest quality about him that fits the role of Edmund. I actually like Fanny’s narration in this movie and I’m not always fond of the use of narration on film. It seems that Fanny is not people’s favorite’s Austen heroine but I actually like her and I really connect with Frances’ portrayal of her.

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On the other hand, I’m not fond of the 2007 version at all. I really try to like this but I just feel that Billie Piper is so miscast in the role. Sorry but I find her teeth VERY distracting. I know it’s not nice of me to say but I wasn’t bothered by her when she was in Dr. Who but she just doesn’t seem like she belongs in a period drama, and the way she’s swooning over Edmund just feels wrong and stalker-ish. At the same time, there’s no chemistry at all between her and Blake Ritson (Edmund), who looks like Adrien Brody but with slightly feminine features. All around the acting is just not convincing, most especially Joseph Beattie as the completely charm-less Henry Crawford! The abrupt ending is also very awkward that my hubby was like, ‘what the heck was THAT??’ I think this is my least favorite BBC adaptation of ANY literary works. I doubt I’d ever watch it again. I think the only fun part here is watching the lovely Haley Atwell as Mary Crawford.

On Saturday, we ended up watching an older spy movie that’s been sitting in our Netflix Instant queue for some time.

Sneakers (1992) 

Sneakers1992posterI saw on the description that it was a lighthearted espionage movie, but we didn’t realize that this was more of a comedy! The movie took a while to get going, but fortunately the cast kept me intrigued. The plot itself seemed complicated at first, as a lot of government conspiracy involving hacking, cryptography, etc. can be, but by the second act, it actually got to be pretty predictable. In fact, I had a hunch from the opening scene who the villain was. It’s interesting too just how relevant this topic is with the whole NSA expose by Edward Snowden, etc. In fact, Kingsley’s speech at the end about who controls the information is quite eerie because it’s really not far-fetched at all.

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It’s quite amusing to see the likes of Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Ben Kingsley, David Strathairn, who are usually in serious roles being quite goofy in this one. Strathairn especially as a blind man with killer hearing power and instinct, but the last scene had him driving a truck directed by Redford on the phone! None of these actors are at their best here though, in fact, they seem underutilized for the roles they’re playing, but still it’s fun to watch.

Btw, really sad seeing River Phoenix here. This was released a year before his untimely death in 1993 at the age of 23. Like the rest, his role is so minor, similar to a tech guy in those Mission Impossible movies, with Redford as the Ethan Hunt character, y’know. I remember seeing Phoenix in teen drama A Night in the Life of Jimmy Riordan years ago and thought how talented he was. It’s so tragic how these young talents were gone far too soon. In any case, I quite enjoyed Sneakers, especially the more action-packed third act and the humorous ending. James Earl Jones had a memorable cameo that’s pretty hilarious.

Lastly, I saw Rebecca (1940), a Hitchcock film that won Best Picture Oscar, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. I shall have a review of it this Tuesday for my June Blindspot entry, so stay tuned!

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Well that’s what I saw this weekend. What about you? Seen anything good?

Special Collaborative Post: Recasting Jane Austen AdaptationPart II – Mansfield Park

Today I bring you the second one of our collaborative Austen Recasting Series with a fellow blogger, and fellow British actor aficionado, Anna from Defiant Success blog. The first one we did was Sense & Sensibility, this time we’re tackling the screen adaptation of Mansfield Park. If you haven’t read the book or seen any film adaptation of Mansfield Park, this Sparknotes article gives a good insight about its characters.

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Anna’s Picks

Sophie Turner as Fanny Price

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Admittedly, this choice is the result of watching too much Game of Thrones. Knowing what her character of Sansa Stark goes through on the show (well, at least up to “The Mountain and the Viper”), Turner seems perfect for the role of Fanny. (Then again, what Fanny goes through is practically idyllic compared to Sansa’s ordeal.)

Ben Whishaw as Edmund Bertram

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I was initially considering Whishaw for Edward Ferrars on the Sense and Sensibility casting post, but I realized he was must better suited as Edmund. A few of his roles have him as kindhearted but naive, which easily sums up Edmund.

Rebecca Hall as Mary Crawford

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It was Hall’s work in Parade’s End that made me think she’d be right for this role. Her character of Sylvia Tietjens uses her looks and charms to conceal her more deceitful nature, much like what Mary does throughout the book.

Dominic Cooper as Henry Crawford

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I must thank Andrew from Encore Entertainment for this suggestion because quite frankly it’s almost impossible to cast the men in an Austen adaptation. (Key word: almost.) Cooper could easily play a man who thinks he’s entitled to any woman he fancies, regardless whether they return the affection or not. (It doesn’t hurt that he had previously played another Austen cad.)

Stephen Dillane as Sir Thomas Bertram

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Dillane has done his fair share of authoritative roles (Game of Thrones comes to mind) and often times they’re not that sympathetic. With Sir Thomas, Dillane could continue that role and have the chance to become kinder towards the end (particularly after a “my God, what have I done?” moment).

Natalie Dormer as Maria Bertram


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Okay, last Game of Thrones actor, I promise. Anyway, Dormer could easily play a woman who’s arrogant and thinks she’s entitled to anything (or anyone) that catches her eye. (It would certainly be satisfying to see her comeuppance towards the end.)

Emily Blunt as Julia Bertram

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Similarly, Blunt could play a character like Maria albeit in a less vain manner. (At least Julia gets a happier ending than Maria.)

Emma Thompson as Lady Bertram

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There’s just something about seeing Thompson in a role that would have her being lazy and indifferent most of the time that sounds so appealing. After all, she’s played so many prim and proper roles throughout her career. It would be nice to see her to do a role like Lady Bertram.

Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Norris

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Likewise, most of the roles I’ve seen Staunton in had her as the kind matronly figure. Suffice to say, it would be a bit of a shock to see her being absolutely vile to the main character.

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Ruth’s Picks

Jessica Brown Findlay as Fanny Price

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I LOVED Frances O’Connor as Fanny in the 1999 adaptation so it’ll be hard to top her in my mind. I think of Fanny as a strong young woman who keeps to herself a lot as a result of her circumstances. Growing up in her wealthy uncle’s estate, she often gets belittled and degraded, especially by her aunt Norris, but she remains dutiful and patient. She’s gentle but does NOT mean she’s a feeble character. In fact, her strong moral compass and sound mind makes her indispensable to the Bertram family. After seeing Findlay as Lady Sibyl in Downton Abbey (and the unfortunately dreadful Winter’s Tale), I think she’d make a suitable Fanny. She’s effortlessly likable and sweet, but she’s also steadfast in her will, as evident in her refusing Henry Crawford no matter how hard he tries.

Sam Reid as Edmund Bertram

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After seeing the Belle movie twice the last couple of months, I’ve been quite taken with the 27-year-old Aussie-native. In fact, as I watched his character John Davinier in Belle, I knew immediately he’d make a fine Edmund. In the book, Edmund desires to be a clergyman and Davinier was the son of a vicar. Sam Reid is classically handsome but he has a kindness about him, an earnest demeanor that’s perfect for this character. Edmund is Fanny’s only true friend in Mansfield Park, and it’s easy to see why Fanny would fall for him.

Lara Pulver as Mary Crawford

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I LOVE Lara Pulver in BBC Sherlock and Robin Hood. I think she’s absolutely stunning and is the kind of girl that can make any man fall for her. Mary is charming and bewitching, as she practically steals Edmund’s heart. There’s a certain seductive quality about her as well that Lara would be perfect for.

Tom Hardy as Henry Crawford

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Henry is as equally charming as his sister Mary. He’s what you’d describe as a bad boy, perhaps even more so than Willoughby is in Sense & Sensibility. Tom Hardy simply oozes charisma and sex appeal, plus he has that playful quality that would make him quite an irresistible scoundrel. I think Hardy can display a certain sensitivity for the role for when Henry falls for Fanny and he ardently pursues her.

Iain Glen as Sir Thomas Bertram

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I’ve always liked Iain Glen since he played the villain in the first Lara Croft movie. Yes he even out-shined pre-Bond Daniel Craig in that one. Later on he popped up in the later season of BBC Spooks and now he’s in Game of Thrones. There’s a certain gravitas that commands respect which makes him suitable to play a wealthy landowner who’s tough on his children. His authoritarian style drives away his eldest son Tom, and he’s quite harsh to Fanny when she refuses to do what he says. But in the end he realizes the error of his ways and I think Iain can also display vulnerability when the scenes call for it.

Gemma Arterton as Maria Bertram

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Maria is described as vain and pretentious, and she’s a bit of a bully to Fanny. She’s obviously materialistic as she only marries Rushworth for his money. I could see Gemma play this role. She may look like a sweet English rose but there’s an icy quality about her that could work well for the role.

Rose Byrne as Julia Bertram

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Julia is not as mean nor cocky as Maria and deep down she resents her sister for being so over-indulgent. Seems that Rose has been in a lot of American comedies lately, I’m curious to see her in a period drama like this one.

Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Bertram

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I always see Helena being so feisty all the time, I’d like to see her play a rather lethargic character. Lady Bertram is described as neurotic as she’s dependent on her pills and all she does is lounge around in the house doing absolutely nothing. There’s something childlike about this character that I think Helena can pull off with aplomb.

Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Norris

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Having played Mrs. Benett in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, I somehow think it’d be interesting to see her play a mean-spirited character here. I absolutely loathe Mrs. Norris, especially her treatment to Fanny, always reminding her of her *place* in the family in the cruelest way. Blethyn often plays comedic character and sometimes comedic performers often make convincing villains.


Previous Jane Austen Recasting Post:

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Well, those are our picks for the main characters Mansfield Park. Let us know your thoughts and feel free to offer your own picks in the comments!

Wordless Wednesday: 7 Favorite Scenes of Man & Machine

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Hello everyone! It’s a bit late and I already skipped a month without Wordless Wednesday, ahah well I guess I’m consistent at being inconsistent in keeping up with my own blog series, ahah. In any case, as I did in my previous Wordless Wednesday on Emma Thompson, I choose a random Wednesday of the month to shine a spotlight on or pay tribute to something/someone with clips and/or gifs I find on Tumblr.

Well, since I was just talking about Man-Machine relationship on my Question of the Week yesterday, I figure why not feature some of my favorite scenes. So here goes:

Tears in Rain – Blade Runner

Are these feelings real? – Her

Superman! – The Iron Giant

Frank & robot doing some light exercise – Robot & Frank

T-800 tries to smile – Terminator 2

 

Helo & Sharon (Boomer) – Battlestar Galactica (2004 series)

I LOVE the tricky yet passionate relationship between human (Helo) and cylon (Boomer), one of my fave couples in the space-opera.

 

Vincent & The Machine – The Machine

[originally posted on my Tumblr] Can’t find the exact scene of this one [hopefully someone will post it now that the Bluray is out!] but I LOVE the dance sequence in The Machine… sleek, eerie, ethereal and sexy all at the same time.

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These are just a sampling of my favorite Man-Machine scenes. Feel free to share yours.

Question of the Week: What’s your favorite film(s) on Man-Machine relationship?

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I saw The Machine back in April and while I didn’t think it was perfect, it’s a pretty darn good sci-fi that’s worth your while. I think the concept is intriguing, with fantastic acting [Toby Stephens, natch!] and compelling direction. I have been re-watching clips of this film recently, especially the scenes between the scientist Vincent (Stephens) and his robotic creation Ava (Caity Lotz). At the core of it, it’s the relationship of man and machine that makes the story memorable.

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One of my favorite scenes in the movie

Sci-fi classic Blade Runner, which The Machine undoubtedly paid homage to, explores that man-machine relationship brilliantly. I actually love the original title of Philip K. Dick novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?‘ Now it doesn’t sound as cool but it’s effective as it immediately makes you think about the humanity [or lack thereof] aspect of man-made machines better than Blade Runner.

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All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain …

I love sci-fis, especially those that explore this topic, perhaps even more so than sci-fis involving aliens from outer space. So no doubt I love movies like Terminator, Iron Giant, The Matrix, A.I., Her and the Battlestar Galactica (BSG) TV series, which is a big space soap opera of Cylons (android race) and humans. I think there’s something about ‘men playing God’ aspect that captures my attention, as in some ways these androids are part of us humans who create them, in the same way that we’re created in the image of our Creator. But of course the fantastical aspect of seeing machines somehow developing consciousness is what I find fascinating AND entertaining.

Often the depictions of these androids actually remind us of what it means to be human, as the Blade Runner ‘tears in the rain’ scene so poignantly illustrates. In this scene in The Machine, Vincent [a scientist akin to Dr Frankenstein] asks his own robotic creation…

‘Just who are you really? How do I know that you’re alive and not just some clever imitation of life?’


Now even Vincent himself probably realizes he might never find the answer. Now another the burning question being asked time and time again is can man and machine co-exist? In the BSG series, the Cylons threaten human extinction, forcing the humans into deep space confined in a spaceship. The tagline of The Machine says ‘They Rise. We Fall.’ which suggest that the much-more advanced and powerful machines are more dominant and that the future seems uncertain for the humans.


So what are your thoughts on this topic? What’s YOUR favorite movies about man & machine?

FlixChatter Review: 22 Jump Street

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I’m a big fan of the TV show 21 Jump Street, heck I think I’ve seen every episodes of the show during its original run. When it was announced that a movie version was coming to the big screen, I was bit a skeptical. I mean how are they going to turn a soap opera crime drama into a feature film? I remember reading online about the film’s early development, they were thinking of making it a full out action/adventure. Thankfully someone at the studio got smart and decided to make it into an action-comedy instead. After the big success of the first movie, a sequel was quickly greenlit and now we get to see more adventures of buddy cops Schmidt and Jenko.

This new movie picked up where the last one ended, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are still doing undercover work. They’re trying to bust a vicious drug dealer known only as The Ghost (the always entertaining Peter Stormare) during a sting, of course their plan didn’t go smoothly and The Ghost and his men got away. After the botched bust, both Schmidt and Jenko got demoted to the Jump Street unit, again. This time instead of going undercover as high school kids, they’re going to college. After a student at a local college was killed in what appeared to be a drug deal gone bad, both heroes were sent to the school to investigate.

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Once they got to campus, Jenko was able to make friends quickly with the school’s football players, especially the team’s QB Zook (Wyatt Russell, yup he’s Kurt Russell’s son). Schmidt on the other hand is not a jock and felt he didn’t belong with the group, so he ventured out to a new area on campus and met a beautiful art student Maya (Amber Stevens). They hit it off quickly and later spent the night together at Maya’s dorm room. Since their work is to investigate who’s behind the drug dealings, Zook and Maya became their main suspects. Of course both Schmidt and Jenko had to go through lots of shenanigans before they solve the case.

Basically the plot of this movie is exactly the same as the previous one, but that’s not a bad thing. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller did a good job of moving the plot along and didn’t linger too long on some of the jokes. Although I wish they’d cut back on the self aware aspects of a sequel, yes we get it, the movie is a sequel and you might not able to top the original. I thought the jokes worked at the beginning but as the movie progresses, they became a bit tedious and I kind of got annoyed by all of those self-aware references.

Hill and Tatum have a great chemistry and the movie works because of them. Tatum’s Jenko joined the football team and became a star and he’s now questioning whether he made the right choice by becoming a cop. Hill’s Schmidt on the other hand, he’s right back being the nerd again and feels he didn’t belong with cool kids. I also like the supporting cast, including the love interests Zook and Maya. Yes you heard it right, Wyatt Russell‘s Zook was sort of a love interest to Tatum’s Jenko, they had this bromance going on throughout most of the movie and of course  that made Schmidt jealous. Ice Cube also returns as their always angry Captain Dickson. A little plot point involves him and Schmidt might be the funniest gag in the movie. Nick Offerman again appeared in a brief scene as Chief Hardy and he delivered some of the funniest lines in the movie.

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Overall I thought this was a good sequel and I think I might liked it better than its predecessor. It has some laugh out loud moments and everyone seems to have a good time in the movie. What I found a bit surprising was how tame it was for an R-rated comedy. Considering the story took place in college, I expected to see lots of nudity and gross humor. But with the exception of some F-bombs and some mild violence, the movie contained no nudity or any toilet humor and it’s quite “clean” by today’s R-rated comedy standards.

If you enjoyed the first movie then I’m quite sure you’ll have a good time with this one. It’s recommended if you’re in the mood for some good laughs.

3.5 reels


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What did you think of 22 Jump Street?