Jersey Boys: The Music Makes The Movie

Jersey Boys FilmHaving seen a great number of movie musicals and movie biographies, not to mention movie musical biographies, I am sad to say that Jersey Boys did not live up to its much hoped for expectations.

The movie, which begins in New Jersey in 1951, and chronicles the story of the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, is a sad tale whose only bright moments come with the musical performances, which are brilliant in themselves but are many times cut short so favorite songs are brought down to snippets of songs instead of full length performances.

The movie could have been bettered titled The Angry Jersey Boys as the story revolved again and again around lies and deceit as well as extra-marital affairs and constant fighting among the four characters. There were very few smiles even at the highest points of the boys’ careers. There always seemed to be a grudge or a feud. To be honest I couldn’t wait to get to the music to get away from the story. When the music came your foot starts to tap and you cannot help singing along with the standards that are still part of our countries musical heritage.

I think the fault lies directly with the script, which is interesting since the screen play and the Broadway version were both written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elise. I think they may have wanted to fine tune their original effort but instead they fine-tuned the heart out of the story. Another difficulty is the passage of time is only marked by the style changes in clothing and hair. If you are not familiar with these styles or do not remember the year certain songs debuted it is very difficult to know how much time has padded between scenes.

The four leads John Loyd Young (Frankie Valli) Vincent Piazza (Tommy DeVito) Johnny Cannizzaro (Nick DeVito) and Erich Bergen (Bob Gaudio) all did well with the material they had to work with and their voices were incredible. Clint Eastwood did a masterful job of directing what he had to work with, it was just that what he had to work with was not enough to sustain interest in a story lasting 135 minutes.

The high point of the movie comes at the end when a full cast finale is done with “Oh What A Night” I will find myself watching the finale over and over again as soon as it hits YouTube. It is fun and exhilarating and we find that Christopher Walken can dance.
With the price of movies now, I would suggest you wait for this to hit Redbox. Definitely see it but it will translate just as well to the small screen as it was on the big screen and you won’t have shelled out as much of your hard earned cash.
This movie is rated “R” but only for VERY strong language.

The post Jersey Boys: The Music Makes The Movie also appeared on PCM Reviews.

‘Maleficent’ Review

Maleficent manages to put an entertaining spin on the tale of Sleeping Beauty, by attempting to tell the story from the villains perspective. Early scenes of the character, and later interactions between Malificent and Aurora successfully add depth and intrigue, but overall falls short in creating a unique backstory for the character. Despite the immersive visual effects and Angelina Jolie’s excellent performance, there is really nothing all that compelling about Maleficent.

Based on Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent(Angelina Jolie) has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal-an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora (Elle Fanning) holds the key to peace in the kingdom-and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.

Brought to life by first time director Richard Stoddard, Maleficent looks stunning. The film successfully transitions a cartoon to live action, capturing the color and vibrance of a Disney animation while adding the depth of a live-action film. Angelia Jolie really does an excellent job bringing Maleficent to life, and delivers a great performance. The action scenes, although few and far between, are the most impressive moments of the movie, particularly the first major battle sequence in the film. Stoddard comes from a background of special effects and a ton of experience from big-time projects, so it should come as no surprise that the visuals are the highlight of the film.

The first portion of the film is when Maleficent is at its strongest, both visually and story quality. Although the visuals remain outstanding throughout the movie, the story is pretty much downhill from there. The film is centered around Maleficent but focuses so heavily on her simple motives, we barely get to see Jolie embrace the evil her character is known for. Sharlto Copley as Stephan is entertaining at times, but I wouldn’t consider him a huge a highlight of the film. I would argue that this is due to flaws in the story and the under-development of his character rather than the actors performance.

There are multiple plot holes and inconsistencies throughout the film, particularly surrounding the use of magic and towards the end of the movie the are a few moments that are ridiculously silly and very hard to believe. I do appreciate that some of these moments were designed simply to keep the story moving, but still the efforts and struggles that lead up to the end of the film really don’t make ton of sense.

Overral the characters are flat, their motives are basic and the plot is pretty thin. To be fair that is pretty much what you should expect out of live-action film centered around a Disney cartoon. I also recognize that I am not the target demographic, and there are plenty of people out their that will truly enjoy this film. If your a big fan of the story, or looking for a night out with the family, then odds are you will  likely enjoy Maleficent.

This film was designed for the big screen, so if you do intend on seeing Maleficent in theaters , I would highly recommend checking it out in IMAX 3D. If the visuals are the only reason you are going, I would recommend holding off. As impressive as the film looks, there really isn’t enough there to pay the price of admission.

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VOD: ‘Non-Stop’ Review

Non-Stop is an action thriller starring Liam Neeson as Bill Marks, an alcoholic US Federal air marshal on a nonstop flight from New York to London.  Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously worked with Neeson on the 2011 thriller Unknown, Non-Stop brings Liam Neeson in the air and forces him against an anonymous threat, who promises to kill someone every 20 minutes unless he is paid $150 million dollars.  Bill, slightly drunk and just having smoked a cigarette in the airplane lavatory, receives an anonymous text detailing that this person knows he is the Federal Marshal on board, and unless he receives the money will kill someone on the plane every 20 minutes.  From there things get weird.  Bill must rely on people he can barely trust to find the killer, and in the process must examine his own demons as he questions reality and the threat turns from bad to worse, with nobody to trust.

Non-Stop-Liam-Neeson-602x361The entire film besides some establishing scenes takes place on the airplane.  That’s not a lot of room to be able to try new things, and films that suffer with this problem, often have issues arising from a constrictive shooting location.  Non-Stop was able to visually keep the film interesting, as it not only built tension but had unique shots that brought the audience closer to the action.  The first two acts do a great job building the tension that inevitably must be resolved in some way during the third act.  The audience is kept questioning who the threat is while being shown that almost anyone could be a suspect.  The passengers are all suspects, and the film does a good job in building up to its conclusion.  The third act and ending are not as good as the setup, which is why the score is not higher.  It’s not a terrible ending, however, it lacked something special.  Still, for the type of movie it is, most of the audience seeing the movie know what they’re getting, and for the most part Non-Stop is an overall fun movie.

non-stop-movie-photo-4Within the last couple years  Liam Neeson has come into his own as an action star.  At the tender age of 61, Neeson is as strong as ever as a true bonafide action star.  Neeson is believable as someone who can hold his own in a fight, and he’s also a pretty good actor.  Many action stars we have come to love in our movies can’t really act.  Audiences forgive the lack of acting ability in favor of electricity on screen, but it’s nice to see an action star who’s really an actor first.  Non-Stop mostly features Neeson, often by himself attempting to solve this mystery and stop the killer.  Neeson is one of those actors that has that look about him; he can convey emotions without speaking a word.  In this film, Neeson, even as an alcoholic US air marshal, will still get sympathy.

Non-Stop is a movie that doesn’t attempt to be anything that it’s not.  It embraces its relatively cliché plot and lets Neeson handle most of the load.  The supporting cast of Julian MooreMichelle DockeryNate Parker, Linus Roache, and Shae Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) more than back up Neeson’s efforts and add to the overall quality of the film.  I would have given it a higher score, but the originality of the plot and the third act held it back.  Overall, Non-Stop is an incredibly fun film to watch.  You will be trying to guess who the killer is for most of the film, and you get to see Liam Neeson do what he does best, kick some ass.

Non-Stop can now be purchased on Video on Demand (VOD), and will be available to rent Tuesday June 3.


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