Welcome! I'm MovieKnight

Movies are my passion. Movies are my life. If you can't talk about movies, I can't talk to you.
I don't have a "5 Stars" or "two thumbs up" rating system of my own. I rarely see a rating I agree with, and I'm not about to make the same mistake myself.
I do my best to make this blog interesting, useful, and informative.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Elysium (August 9, 2013) R

A shot from space of the Elysium space station with earth in the background
The giant space-station Elysium orbiting earth
(Photo taken from wired.com)

Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, True Grit, The Bourne Identity)
Sharlto Copley (District 9, The A-Team)
Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver, Panic Room, Flightplan)
Alice Braga (I Am Legend, Repo Men, Predators)

Directed by: Neill Blomkamp (District 9)

Once again Microsoft is kicking itself in its own butt HARD for not working with Neil Blomkamp to make a Halo movie.  This movie was a bloody, gritty, hard-shooting middle finger to Microsoft.  Blatantly and hilariously.  I love it.
Matt Damon as Max
(Photo taken from magazine.foxnews.com)

Read my blog, how often have I referenced the director of the films I review?

Matt Damon plays the ex-con gone factory-employee who is quickly thrust from a dead-end but steady industrial job to dying.  Radiation overdose, "In five days you will die," said the robot EMT who treated Damon's character Max.

And Max is appropriately named because he no longer gets his five-day death sentence that he decides to bring the pain to the people who sentenced him by going after Elysium--the halo-shaped off-world luxury space station where the rich, famous, and powerful live in a world separated by thousands of miles from earth and its burned-over poverty.

Sharlto Copley delivered as always with his debut antagonist role of Kruger, the ruthless and over-the-top sleeper agent who lives on earth, but serves at the mercy of the powerful President and the Defense Secretary (Foster).

I don't wanna give away too much, but as I was watching Copley all I thought was, "The next Joker...?!?!"  I don't know any other actor who could follow up Heath Ledger's portrayal of the iconic Batman villain.

Sharlto Copley for Joker.  Let's make signs.
Sharlto Copley as Kruger
(Photo taken from fansshare.com)

If you like District 9; you'll LOVE Elysium.

If you like smart action movies; you'll LOVE Elysium.

If you like Elysium; you should LOVE Elysium.

Factoid: Blomkamp worked with Weta Workshop--the same special effects company who did District 9, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Hobbit trilogy.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ender's Game (November 1, 2013) PG-13

Asa Butterfield (Hugo, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)
Harrison Ford (Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Romeo and Juliet)
Ben Kingsley (Hugo, Shutter Island, Gandhi)
Aramis Knight (The Dark Knight Rises)

Ender about to start a competitive game
with Colonel Graff watching
(Photo taken from hollywoodreporter.com)
I read the book of the same title, as well as its twin brother Ender's Shadow.  Both books are excellent.

As a fan of the book, I am disappointed with this movie.  They skipped over so so many brilliant parts of the book.

I call this movie, "a skeleton of the Ender's Game book."  No guts, no meat, no brain--just a skeleton that resembles what the book is.

People who never read the book liked this movie, from talking to some friends of mine.  So that's something, I suppose.

But me, I will never see this movie again if I can avoid it.  It could have been so much.  It could have been Good Will Hunting meets Lord of the Flies meets Starship Troopers with a $110 million budget.  Instead we got a rushed, "let's get this movie over with" disappointment that made me depressed the rest of the night.
Asa Butterfield filming one of the school battle scenes
(Photo taken from hollywoodreporter.com)

Shame on you, Director Gavin Hood.  You ruined X-Men Origins: Wolverine and now you've ruined Ender's Game.  Seriously, shame on you.

Factoid: The U.S. Marine Corps has Ender's Game on its recommended reading list for officers, because of its lessons in "training methodology, leadership, and ethics."

Gravity (October 4, 2013) PG-13

Sandra Bullock (Miss Congeniality, The Lake House, The Blind Side)
George Clooney (The Perfect Storm, Ocean's Eleven, Up in the Air)

Bullock and Clooney working on Hubble
(Photo taken from telegraph.co.uk)
This movie deserves the Best Picture Oscar.

I'm really glad I saw this in 3D.  This was one of the most intense, white-knuckling experiences I've ever seen on the big screen.

This was that movie you saw trailers for where Bullock and Clooney are working on Hubble when it's suddenly impacted by high-speed space debris.  The rest is a battle for survival primarily featuring Bullock.

In a day where I feel like I've already seen it all, this movie is ground-breaking.
Bullock on an International Space Station
(Photo taken from digitaltrends.com)

I LOVED Gravity.

Factoid #1: If the events in Gravity really occured it would make space travel impossible for decades, according to NASA scientist Donald Kessler

Factoid #2: Sandra Bullock underwent 6 months of physical training to prepare for this film.  She is on camera nearly the entire time.

Inception (July 16, 2010) PG-13

(I wrote this FOREVER ago, but never Published it...)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Cobb) watching Ellen Page (Ariadne)
as she changes his dream world on a big scale
(Photo taken from trailers.apple.com)

Leonardo DiCaprio (Romeo + Juliet 1996, Hoover 2012)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick 2005, Live With It 2010)
Tom Hardy (Eddit and the Cruisers 1983, Last Will 2010)
Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins 2005, Shanghai 2010)
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins 2008, At Swim-Two-Birds 2010)
Dileep Rao (Drag Me To Hell 2009, Avatar 2009)
Ellen Page (Hard Candy 2005, Super 2010)
Marion Cotillard (Nine 2009, A Good Year 2006)
Pete Postlethwaite (Romeo + Juliet 1996, The Town 2010)
Michael Caine (The Dark Knight 2008, Gnomeo and Juliet 2011)
Lukas Haas (Brick 2005, Crazy Eyes 2010)

Even though the previews made this movie seem too good to be true, I STILL was not disappointed. In fact, this movie was even better than expected. I entered the theater with NO idea what I was in for, and left the theater raving and wanting to see Inception a second, third, and fourth time while it's still in theaters.
DiCaprio (Cobb) worried he's still in a dream
(Photo taken from collider.com)

The film features a few of Director Christopher Nolan's personal favorite people (Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, and Ken Watanabe). It was cool to see them together again, even though they never had any scenes together in Batman Begins.

The film was extremely modern, in fact it's unclear when the story takes place, but I believe it takes place in the near future.

In order to understand what this movie is about (because the trailers are ambiguous) you must understand two words/ideas. The first is "extraction."

Extraction is the idea of entering a person's mind through their dreams, exploring around, and gathering information from the person that they would never--in the waking world--divulge freely.

Inception is the idea of going into a person's mind through their dreams with the intent and purpose of planting an idea in the person's mind--an idea that will take hold even in the waking world. An idea that person will act upon. This concept is believed to be impossible...

Gordon-Levitt (Arthur) in combat with gravity acting up...
(Photo taken from moviemail.com)
What surprised me about this movie was the amount of action in it. I went into the theater expecting an intellectually intriguing film (which it was), but I was not expecting it to be so completely action-packed.

Factoid: Many Hollywood producers and executives thought that this high-budget drama-action film would do poorly in theaters because it was "too smart" for audiences.  $160 million budget, but the film's gross worldwide ticket sales exceeded $825 million, landing it in the top 50 top grossing movies of all time.

Lone Survivor (January 10, 2014) R

(Left to right) Taylor Kitsch, Mark Wahlberg,
Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch
(Photo taken from fool.com)
Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, The Other Guys)
Taylor Kitsch (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, John Carter)
Ben Foster (Alpha Dog, The Messenger)
Emile Hirsch (Alpha Dog, Into the Wild)
Eric Bana (Troy, Star Trek)

Bone-breakingly intense.

Those parts in the preview where you see the Navy Seals rolling down the mountain, and you think, "Wouldn't that hurt a Lot?"
YES.  They get hurt A LOT A LOT.
Ben Foster who plays Matt "Axe" Axelson

The acting was superior.  It really was.  But I think the acting was boosted quite a bit by the fact that Director/Writer Peter Berg (The Rundown, Hancock) seemed to have done a TON of homework on real-life military procedures, proper Seal lingo, and what happened to these real heroes.

Marcus Luttrell played by Mark Wahlberg
Seriously, this wasn't one of those dumb, shoot-em-up movies where the hero stands in the open hip-firing head-shots while the dumb bad guys can't hit squat.  This movie was SMART.  It was as smart as it was painful to watch sometimes.  Especially since it's based on a true story.

I always thought that whole Marine Corp, "You got shot?  Rub some dirt in it!"-thing was just a saying, like an inside joke or something.  Didn't know it was literal...

This is one of those movies that everyone should see so that we can better appreciate the sacrifices that our soldiers make for world freedom.  It's not for the feint of heart, though...

Taylor Kitsch who play Michael Murphy
I loved this movie, and I plan on seeing it a second time.  Not right away though, because it was really hard to watch at points.

Factoid: Despite the big names starring in this film, the total budget was only $40 million.  The Director, Peter Berg, accepted the minimum Director salary that the Director's Guild allows ($17,000/week) and both Wahlberg and Kitsch took major salary cuts.

Factoid: SEAL Marcus Luttrell was awarded the Navy Cross, and SEAL Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Her (January 10, 2014) R

Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Two Lovers, Signs)
Scarlett Johansson (Scoop, The Avengers, Hitchcock)
Amy Adams (Enchanted, Julie & Julia, Man of Steel)
Rooney Mara (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Awkward... but Oscar-worthy!

I tell ya, there were some scenes in this movie that actually had me feeling as uncomfortable as the characters...
Amy Adams (Amy) with Joaquin Phoenix (Theodore)
(Photo taken from macguff.in)

Her is about a man named Theodore (Phoenix) who gets a new, advanced, AI-powered OS (Operating System) self-named "Samantha" that is synced to his phone and home computer system.  The AI is a female voiced by Johannson who develops feelings for Theodore and vice versa...

This movie would simply be "eHarmony meets Skynet," but it was so beautifully  put together that I don't want to label it so cynically.  I laughed, I cried, and I felt what the characters were feeling frequently.

And I must point out the magnificent directing by Spike Jonze.  He's not a widely known director, but he's got a lot of Oscar buzz going on from Her.

I'd like to watch this movie a second time, actually, to see some of the things that I maybe missed because the AI was just so interesting and the whole movie was so well written.
Theodore out for a walk with Samantha enjoying
the view from his shirt pocket and bluetooth
(Photo taken from indiewire.com)

Date movie?  Yes, and you'll be talking about this movie for hours afterwards.

Factoid: Scarlett Johannson was not present for the filming of Her.  The entire movie was filmed and editing began when director Spike Jonze decided to recast the role, giving it to Johanson.  The original voice of Samantha was actress Samantha Morton.  Morton gave her blessing to Jonze before the recasting occured.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (December 13, 2013) PG-13

Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The World's End, Hot Fuzz)
Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek: Into Darkness)
Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Elizabethtown)
Evangeline Lilly (LOST, Real Steel)
Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6, The Raven, Immortals)

Come.  Step into the light!
The dragon, Smaug, played by Benedict Cumberbatch)
(Photo taken from funnyjunk.com)
I LOVED this second installment of The Hobbit.  WAAAAAY more action-packed than the first one.

The acting was spot on and the story was brilliant.  I was impressed with how closely they stayed to the book in many parts, and equally impressed with some of the liberties they took--such as including Legolas in the story as well as the made-up character Tauriel played by the beautiful Evangeline Lilly.  Her character really helped bring the elves into the story more, which I'm sure will come to play more in There and Back Again.

The smaller-scale battles, the barrel ride down the river, Laketown, and ultimately the enormous treasure of Erebor were exactly what I'd hoped they'd be.  My imagination was surpased in much of it.  And Legolas' battle with the Orcs in Laketown was his best fight scene yet--and yes I remember him killing an Oliphant.

The real cherry on top was Smaug, portrayed in voice and facial-capturing by the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch.  The voice was absolutely perfect, the CG was beautiful, and Smaug himself was a mountainous force to be reckoned with.

Benedict Cumberbatch doing voice and facial-capturing for Smaug
(Photo taken from screencrush.com)
And, true to its Lord of the Rings brothers, the movie ends with you going, "Oh, come on!  I gotta wait another year!"

Factoid: Cumberbatch studied iguanas and Komodo Dragons to prepare for the role of Smaug the dragon. He provided the voice as well as facial and motion-capturing for the character, as well as voicing The Necromancer (Sauron).

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (November 22, 2013) PG-13

Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, Winter's Bone, X-Men: First Class)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games, Zombieland, Out of the Furnace)
Elizabeth Banks (W., Invincible, The 40-Year-Old Virgin)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, Red Dawn) 
Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games, Reign Over Me)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Mission: Impossible III, Twister)
Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)

Loved the book, LOVED the movie.  This movie had no notable flaws.  I thought hard about that last sentence; it's staying.

(Left to right) Effie Trinket, Cinna, Katniss, Haymitch,
and Caeser Flickerman
(Photo taken from sciencefiction.com)
The true supporting actor in this movie, if I could only pick one, was Sam Claflin's character Finnick Odair.  He was perfect for the part.  I wanna see Claflin in more movies.  I'm more excited to see Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2 because he's going to be in them.

The story stayed true to the book to a T.  It kept all of the parts I wanted to see, sped thru parts that it could afford to, and even added the background conversations between President Snow and Plutarch that we never read in the book, but must have surely happened for events to unfold the way they did.  Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent in his new role, in the few scenes he is in.

Finnick and Mags, the tributes of District 4
(Photo taken from dontforgetatowel.com)
I remembered my ONE complaint, and that is at the very end it concludes on this PERFECT note and mood and Jennifer Lawrence basically lets us know that "It's on" for the next two movies... but then after that perfect mood-setter they show this computer-animated Mockingjay pin that Katnis wears and it transforms into the different logos from the books...?  I could understand that being after the credits, but not when the mood had just been perfectly established by Lawrence.  I found the animation off-puting.

Factoid: Catching Fire was the first film with a sole female lead to top the annual box office since The Exorcist in 1973.

Out of the Furnace (December 6, 2013) R

Christian Bale (Batman Begins, The Machinist, Newsies)
Casey Affleck (Ocean's Eleven, Gone Baby Gone, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games, Now You See Me, Seven Pounds)
Willem Dafoe (Boondock Saints, Spider-Man, Daybreakers)

From the first moment when Woody Harrelson nearly beat a dude to death, I knew this was definitely not a feel good movie... This movie didn't pull a single punch and was COMPLETELY unpredictable.
Casey Affleck as Rodney Baze, Jr., bare-knuckle fight scene
(Photo taken from craveonline.com)

The acting is incredible, if you can't tell from the cast.  Christian Bale goes without saying, and Casey Affleck already showed me how dark and brooding he can be with Robert Ford, but Woody Harrelson's character was just the worst kinda guy.  Harrelson just played that kinda guy you hope you never have to do business with, or talk to.  Like ever.

This is a dark drama about doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons, and how far some men are willing to go for family.

Woody Harrelson as Harlan DeGroat, GREAT villain
(Photo taken from spinningplaters.com)
Definitely not a date movie, but a perfectly acted artistic piece if that's your thing.

Factoid: In the steel mill scenes in the beginning, Christian Bale is actually operating the furnace.  He had to learn how to do it so that a stunt double didn't have to be used.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (December 18, 2013) PG-13

Will Farrell (Step Brothers, The Other Guys, Blades of Glory)
Christina Applegate (Anchorman, Mars Attacks, Married With Children)
Steve Carell (The Office, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Despicable Me)

I'm not gonna waste much time on this review.

I wasn't impressed with this movie.  It had an awesome scene here and there, but overall I was checking my watch frequently.
L to R-- Brian Fantana, Ron Burgundy, Champ Kind,
and Brick Tamland
(Photo taken from c-ville.com)

It re-hashed all the same humor as the last Anchorman.

I was really excited for this movie and was disappointed.

Bla bla bla see it don't see it I don't care.

Factoid: Kanye West is in this movie, and he was in an awesome scene, and the scene he was in was so awesome that even Kanye West couldn't ruin it.  Kanye West sucks as a person.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (December 25, 2013) PG

Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Meet the Parents, Tropic Thunder)
Kristen Wiig (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, MacGruber, Extract)
Adam Scott (Step Brothers, Parks and Recreation, 
Sean Penn (The Thin Red Line, I Am Sam, Gangster Squad)
Walter Mitty (Stiller) and Sean O'Connell (Penn)
(Photo taken from blogs.indiewire.com)

While I'm not usually one to go out of my way for a "feel good" movie (who wants that?) I genuinely enjoyed Walter Mitty.  I loved this movie.  I saw it twice.

It's a great date movie, by the way ;)

The acting was excellent and I'd say all in all my only complaint was Adam Scott's beard.  His beard was RIDICULOUS.  You have to see it.

I read the short story of the same title in college and heard years ago they were making a movie, but until I saw the previews I wasn't overly excited for this movie because of the nature of the short story.  The short story sort of spins its wheels just like the main character, Mitty, does.  

I highly recommend taking your wife, girlfriend, or just the girl you like to see this movie.  I think everyone who isn't happy with their life should see it.

Factoid: Greenland and Iceland are heavily featured in this movie, but all scenes for both countries were filmed in Iceland.

The Wolf of Wall Street (December 25, 2013) R

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed, Shutter Island, Gangs of New York)
Jonah Hill (This is the End, 21 Jump Street, Moneyball)
Margot Robbie (About Time, Vigilante)
Kyle Chandler (Early Edition, Zero Dark Thirty, Super 8)
Jon Bernthal (Snitch, The Walking Dead, Mob City)

One of the best movies of 2013, some of the best acting I've seen, and definitely Jonah Hill's best acting I've seen to date.
Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) and coworkers midget-tossing in the office
(Photo taken from au.movies.yahoo.com)
This movie was as explicit as it was histerical.  I've been calling it "the Goodfellas of Wall Street movies".  The similarities it shares with Goodfellas are many and describing them would spoil key plot points.

DiCaprio's acting was up to the DiCaprio bar that he's set with excellent movies like Gangs of New York and Shutter Island, but his excellence was frequently overshadowed by Hill's performance.  The scenes between Hill and Bernthal were highlights to me; their chemistry, how much their characters hated each other, it was all perfect.

This movie wasn't made to be a comedy, but I difinitely laughed harder in this than in Anchorman 2.

Donnie Azoff (Hill) having a genius break-through 
with Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio)
(Photo taken from postgradproblems.com)
Factoid: The Wolf of Wall Street has 508 f-words (at 3 hours in length that's 2.8 f-words per minute), the second most of any movie ever released on the big screen.  The #1 spot goes to a documentary about the widely used f-word simply titled "Fuck" starring Drew Carey.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (January 17, 2014) PG-13

Chris Pine is the new Jack Ryan, filling
the shoes of Harrison Ford and
Ben Affleck before him
(Photo taken from geektyrant.com)
Chris Pine (Star Trek, This Means War, Carriers)
Keira Knightley (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)
Kevin Costner (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Mr. Brookes, Dances With Wolves)
Kenneth Branagh (Valkyrie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Wild Wild West)

Despite the unoriginal plot and lack of surprises and twists, I enjoyed watching this spy thriller.  It would have been a "nothing movie" if not for the excellent acting of Chris Pine.

There was good character development in the beginning, but it did more to explain how Jack met his girlfriend rather than explaining how Jack had such incredible spy abilities.

The villian was nothing new, typical Russian who hates America and was going to destroy the United States similarly to how Al Queda did in 9/11.

Thoughts: The fact that Jack Ryan has a sub-title suggests that there will be sequels.  The character Jack Ryan has been in other Tom Clancy movies such as Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and Shadow Recruit is a prequel to those movies even though it takes place today in our time.  It is blatantly and deliberate post-9/11, and yet it's prequel to movies from the 90s.
Jack Ryan meets his future mentor, Thomas Harper
(Photo taken from joblo.com)

I think the producers are going to treat the Jack Ryan character like James Bond.  We'll see multiple actors play him, and his stories could go on forever.