The Revenant Is Chock Full Of Raw Emotion And Intensity

the-revenant-DF-05287R_rgbPhoto credit: Kimberly French /Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

(PCM) There is already strong buzz that The Revenant will be a strong contender as we head into awards season, as it has already been nominated for four Golden Globe awards including Best Drama and a well-deserved Best Actor nod for star Leonardo DiCaprio. The film, directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, did an absolutely brilliant job of showcasing the raw emotion and intensity that main character Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) must endure to survive the horrific ordeal splayed out before him in the film.

The film is based off the true story of Hugh Glass and set in an 1820’s American West. Glass was a trapper who, after his hunting party is viciously attacked by Native Americans, takes off with a group of survivors in search of a remote military outpost. During the search, Glass is savagely attacked by a bear and left fighting for his life, which is one of the most intense and brutal scenes in the film. He is discovered by the other members of his hunting party who make an attempt to rescue him, however they need to leave him behind when nature conditions become too intense to continue.

Three men, including Glass’s son Hawk, agree to stay behind the group for a few days to care for Glass, who they feel is very near death at this point. One of the other men that agree to stay behind is John Fitzgerald played by actor Tom Hardy, who villainously has his own agenda when it comes to ensuring Glass’s safety and ultimately commits the ultimate act of betrayal. Glass, however is blessed with the will to live and guided by the spirit of his dead wife, a Pawnee Indian woman whose life was taken in a raid by white men, who reminds him to never stop breathing.

Director Iñárritu has a way of being able to showcase the art of beauty in both chaos and death and did so with great finesse throughout the course of this film. From a strictly visual standpoint the film is stunning, showcasing the epic filming locations in both the Canadian Rockies and the Argentinian wilderness. While it may be beautiful to behold, nature becomes yet another grueling obstacle that Glass must overcome during his quest for both survival and revenge and becomes a very cruel and unforgiving character in this film.

Iñárritu made sure that viewers were able to truly feel at one with Glass and we felt as if we were truly suffering right alongside him as he made his journey across the icy rivers and snowy mountains facing as seemingly unending number of horrors along the way. Due in large part to the terrific performance from DiCaprio many of these scenes were able to play out with very little dialogue forcing the viewer even further into Glass’s intense internal struggle and the many often gruesome lengths he was forced to go in order to survive.

The moments on-screen between Glass and Fitzgerald are gripping and Hardy deserves his own nod for taking on this incredibly heartless and self-serving character, a type we have seen him portray in several other films, and breathe in new life for this particular villain. Their final confrontation is fantastic and bloody spectacle and the balance between these two characters is spot-on.

Overall, The Revenant is an incredibly visceral and gut-wrenching experience not only for the characters, but for the audience as well and we are left to form our own conclusions when all is said and done.

The post The Revenant Is Chock Full Of Raw Emotion And Intensity first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Review (Spoiler-Free!)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a film that should have been doomed to fail. Having the nearly impossible task of living up to the gargantuian expectations set on it by the fans, as well as the legacy of the original trilogy, the film should by all rights should fall flat on it’s feet. Luckily, Star Wars: The Force Awakens  has the confidence to surpass these problems, but garner a whole set of new ones. The film holds it’s weight with the original trilogy, and by most standards is very good. Some may say that it’s even as good as A New Hope (it’s not, but ill get to that later). Put simply, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a film that is pretty damn good, but suffers from several fundamental flaws that hold it back from from being truly great.

Star Wars The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens has a lot going for it. Besides the top notch technical aspects to this film, the use of anything practical whenever possible, and a heavy dose of nostalgia, Director J.J. Abrams has been able to re-capture the magic of the original films. By bringing a diverse ensemble of new characters, along with a return from the holy trinity from the original films (Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer) along to support them, Abrams finds a nice balance between new and old. For what each actor is given, the performances are top notch. From the returning members of the original cast to all of the newcomers, everyone seems to be relishing the opportunity they’ve been given. None more so than Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. While I won’t delve into spoilers, I will say that Driver has created a villain that is wholly three-dimensional. Flawed, quiet, and broken, Kylo Ren proves to be more nuanced than we’ve seen before from any characters in the past.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The greatest thing about Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the feeling that it gives you when you watch it. It reminds you why you fell in love with the series to begin with. It restores the sense of fun to these movies that the prequels sorely missed. But most importantly, it reminds us why we go to the movies in the first place– to be transported from our mundane lives, into a special world of the unknown. J.J Abrams has always been good at achieving this. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams has successfully brought us something new, while at the same time presenting a story that feels wholly familiar. Unfortunately, by focusing on the things that made the original film so endearing, Abrams has inadvertently kept himself from making something better than the very thing he’s trying to live up to.

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This is perhaps my biggest problem with the film, the fact that it wants to be too much like A New Hope, and not enough like The Force Awakens. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t offer new elements to the universe, it does plenty of that, actually. The problem is that the story almost feels like a beat-for-beat remake of A New Hope. Seriously though, when you see the film, think about it. Almost all of the major beats are nearly identical, although details between those major events have been altered. There are plenty of references to the original film throughout The Force Awakens, but this sense of heavy nostalgia that Abrams brings to the table begins to overshadow the telling of the story towards the second half of the film.

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It’s funny, because I don’t quite know what this movie would be like without Abrams’ involvement. He’s always been the type of filmmaker that ends up holding himself back, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens is no exception to this. Don’t get me wrong – I think that The Force Awakens is is a great return to form, but it is by no means better than the original film. A few years down the line, the hype will have worn down, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens will largely be remembered as the film that opened the floodgates to a larger universe. A film that sacrifices it’s own interest at crucial points to create something larger. A film that believes it will be worth the sacrifice now, to create something unforgettable down the line. But in the grand scheme of things, is that so bad?.

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The post ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Review (Spoiler-Free!) appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

Film Review: Ted 2

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(PCM) I went and saw the movie Ted 2 and I don’t want to say that it was better than the original, but yeah it was definitely funnier than the original, at least I thought so anyway. Don’t get me wrong Ted was an awesome movie. But being able to follow this character into a sequel was definitely a treat.

Ted 2 follows up where the original movie from 2012 left off. Only a couple years later. Ted and his wife Tami-Lynn want to have a baby but have many hurdles to go through. Because of Tami-Lynn’s past she is unable to have kids which leads the couple to try and adopt. But the state has a problem they deem Ted as property and not a person. Which sets up the whole movie’s plot and the exploits that follow.

Mark Wahlberg is back as Ted’s best friend John and does an awesome job. Mark Wahlberg is a hell of an actor and is yet again a perfect fit for the character of John. John is recently divorced from his wife. Who was played by Mila Kunis in the first movie, but her absence is only missed for a little while in the movie. The very beautiful and talented Amanda Seyfried plays a stoner hippie lawyer who helps Ted and John on their travels. She does an amazing job filling in the role of the woman that is missing out of John’s life.

This movie definitely  had a bigger budget than the first one. The opening dance number was awesome and shows Seth MacFarlane’s love of show tunes. (MacFarlane is the voice of the raunchy Ted just so you know.) A lot of the original cast is back for the sequel including Giovanni Ribisi who plays Donny. And of course Donny tries to kidnap Ted again. Jessica Barth plays Ted’s now wife Tami-Lynn and does a great job. She defiantly can play a better wife than Michelle Rodriguez did in Furious Seven. Sam Jones is back and funny and coked up as ever. My favorite scene in the movie involves him trying to talk the duo into doing a line with him and they look over and comedy gold happens on-screen. Patrick Warburton is back as Guy and is hilarious. Morgan Freeman plays a lawyer and is just Morgan Freeman. Enough said. Liam Neeson makes a funny cameo as well.

If you liked the first movie. You will love the second. Seth MacFarlane is a true comedic genius!

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5 Things You Should Know Before Seeing Avengers 2

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Over the past decade we have watched Marvel adapt their comicbooks for the big screen. A few years ago we finally got to see the Marvel Studios shared universe come to fruition, leading up to the 2012 release of The Avengers, one of the largest critical and financial pay-offs in cinema history. So obviously there is alot of anticipation surrounding the release of the upcoming sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron. Here are 5 Things you should know before seeing Avengers 2 from our friends at AgeOfTheNerd.com!

1. This movie is a cumulation of multiple plot threads, laid out in the many MCU installments. Unlike the first Avengers film, this movie definitely assumes the audience is up to date on the lore of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Although each installment in Phase 2 succeeds as a stand alone film, they also add to the shared universe and continue to expand on the over arching storyline that this is all inevitably leading up to. I’m not saying that every open-ended plot point will progress or even be adressed, but would like to remind the audience that this film is more of a continuation of Phase 2 than it is a direct sequel to The Avengers. Similar to the first time around, its fair to expect writer/director Joss Whedon to make mention of the of key story arcs and characters, along with quick ways to write them out of the film.

2. ‘Agents of Shield’ is irrelevant. I’m sure plenty of sites will sit down and point out all the tv show tie-ins and easter eggs, but at the end of the day that show is pretty much irrelavant when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In my opinion 2 seasons attempting to generate a fan following, and coming up short is a pretty big failure. I find it kind of insane because anything live-action for Marvel sells itself at this point, yet ‘Agents of Shield’ just can’t seem to grab the viewers attention. Despite gaining some critical steam over the past season, the show still doesn’t pull in strong numbers. Maybe its because the show is poorly promoted and they have yet really sell me on the idea that it ties in the to the larger shared universe. This show is supposed to provide me with my weekly fill of the Marvel universe. Not even the fan favorite Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) can draw me in and except for the ocassional theatrical tie-in episodes, which are still often lack luster and few and far between, there is nothing compelling about the show. Overall I would have to say ‘Agents of Shield’ fails to properly utilize the Marvel brand.

3. This is not the same Quicksilver as depicted in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
In this film Quicksilver is portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, not Evan Peters. There are obviosuly similarities between the two, but there are also some major differences. Some of these differences are related to the studio rights, which prevents Marvel Studios from reffering to any character as a mutant or using any of their mutant backstories. This leaves Whedon and company in charge of creating a fresh origin for the character, along with a unique film technique to showcase the characters’ powers (X-Men really set the bar for Quicksilver if you ask me). In the end we can debate over which version is better following release, but just know this is 2 different intrepretations of the character performed by 2 different actors.

4. If you can’t sit down and watch them all, here are ‘The 3 Marvel movies you should see before Avengers 2.’
As I previously mentioned this film definitely makes the assumption that the viewer is fairly up to date on the overall shared universe. You don’t half to watch all 10 of the previous MCU installments to be in the know but there are definetely a few you should check out before hitting the theater. Here is what I consider to be the three most important films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date.

  • Lets start off with Marvels first installment in their shared universe, Iron Man. This is one of the most relevant standalone films in the MCU, at least as far as the pre-Avengers movies go. Tony Stark is not only one of the main characters of the Avengers, but is also the center point for many key plot threads throughout the film. Eleven movies deep and the actions of Tony Stark are still rippling through the MCU and effecting the universe in unpredictable ways. If you dont have the time to sit down and watch the entire Iron Man franchise, make sure to at least check out the first installment.
  • After Iron Man was firmly established Marvel moved on and used Phase 1 to begin development on the rest of their shared universe, introducing the other key characters, mainly through stand alone origin films. Despite the fact that I enjoy these films and could make a compelling argument on why each one is a necessary viewing experience, the truth is that if your not interested or your pressed for time you can skip ahead to our next main title, The Avengers. Like I previously mentioned Avengers: Age of Ultron is not really a direct sequel but it is still a sequel nonetheless. This is cause enough to go back and revisit the teams’ first outing before heading to the box office. The Avengers was the first time we finally got to see all the key players on screen together and kicking @ss. This film was also the worlds first real look at this shared universe fleshed out and really coming together. And lets not forget to mention you need to see the first installment so you can join the inevitable “which was better” debate that has really already begun.
  • Excluding Iron Man 3, I pretty much like every movie in the Marvel phase 2 line-up. We got follow-up sequels to all of our main characters, plus the addition of The Guardians of the Galaxy. We can quibble over the best phase 2 installment all day, but I have to say Captain America 2 has the most impact on the shared universe, at least for the immediate future (GOTG arguably has larger long-term implications). Although every installment in phase 2 has tie-ins to the larger story arc and shared universe, its Captain America: The Winter Soldier that really feels like a follow-up to the Avengers, and a lead-in for the sequel.

5. Avengers: Age of Ultron is not the final installment of Marvel Phase 2. Just 2 months after the events of Avengers 2, we will finally get to see Marvel’s tiniest hero on the big screen in Ant-Man. The first Avengers film ended the Marvel’s phase 1 initiative and returned to the big screen with a group of sequels designed to further develop the characters and lay the ground work for the future of the shared universe. This time around, we will be introduced to a new character in the final chapter of Phase 2. Weather this is due to the fact that Ant-Man is an essential aspect of Phase 2, or they just decided this would be the best time to introduce a new character, is not yet clear and honestly I feel it could go either way. It seems to me if they just planned on introducing us to a new character in a fresh solo film, Edgar Wright would still be attached to the project. At the same time there really isn’t much to suggest that Ant-Man will tie-in to The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Honestly only time will tell (Thank god we don’t have that long to wait!).

Avengers: Age of Ultron will be hitting theaters in the U.S. on May 1st, 2015. Let us know what you think about the return of Earth’s Mightiest in the comments below!

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Film Review: Kill Me Three Times

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Our colleague Taylor Salan of Age Of The Nerd.com provided us with an in-depth review of the upcoming film “Kill Me Three Times” starring Simon Pegg, Alice Braga, Callan Mulvey, Theresa Palmer,Sullivan Stapleton and Luke Hemsworth.

“Kill Me Three Times” is a film that is very bittersweet. On the surface, “Kill Me Three Times” has a lot of things going for it. An ensemble piece at heart, the film’s structure is something that makes it unique. The interesting thing about the structure of this film in particular is that many of the things that make it good, often get in the way of making it truly great. The film, which is directed by Australian director Kriv Stenders (Red Dog), strikes the perfect tone for the subject matter. However, this alone is not enough to save the film from it’s own ambitions.

In case you are unaware, the plot of “Kill Me Three Times” follows Professional assassin Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg) as he descends on the small town of Eagles Nest to perform a hit on Alice Taylor (Alice Braga), the wife of Jack Taylor (Callan Mulvey), wealthy local bar owner who holds a safe full of cash. This would all be fine and dandy if femme fatale Lucy (Teresa Palmer) and her hapless husband Nathan (Sullivan Stapleton) weren’t also trying to kill Alice to collect much needed insurance money. If this weren’t complicated enough, Alice is also secretly having an affair with the local mechanic (Luke Hemsworth) due to the abuse from her alcoholic husband.

“Kill Me Three Times” is the type of movie that is a slave to the structure that makes it so special. The film is essentially told in three parts, each from the perspective of a different pair of characters. While I commend the film for trying a more experimental structure like this, part of the problem is that I don’t know who to root for. With so many characters that are the focus, I found myself at one point asking who the main character was. I know whom the film thinks is the main character, but as an audience member I don’t believe in that person’s story enough to care, especially when they are surrounded by much more interesting characters. The relentlessness of the film to impress the audience is part of the reason why I checked out towards the end, but that doesn’t mean that the film is bad.

As I mentioned earlier, “Kill Me Three Times” has a lot of good things going for it. Simon Pegg is easily the best part of the film as Charlie Wolfe, and it’s quiet honestly amazing to see how Pegg completely nails this character. The other cast members are also good here, with the standout of these being Sullivan Stapleton, who plays a hilarious version of the village idiot. The score does a serviceable job, despite being too over the top and repetitive for my taste, and there are a great number of laugh-out-loud moments throughout the film (mostly from Pegg).

The tone itself is consistent from section-to-section, and that is enough to make the film serviceable, but therein lays the problem. Despite the multitude of things that work for the film, it ends up being just okay. The fact that it should be both great and memorable but isn’t is by far the most frustrating thing about “Kill Me Three Times”. Ultimately, this keeps the film from being anything other than just another Simon Pegg film. Ironically, “Kill Me Three Times” receives 3/5 Stars.

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Fifty Shades Of Grey Is Better Than Expected

fifty-Shades-of-grey2(PCM) We certainly had our doubts going in to catch an early screening of the highly anticipated film “Fifty Shades Of Grey”, but were pleasantly surprised that the movie ended up exceeding our initial expectations.

The film is based on the best-selling novel by the same name by British writer E.L. James and basically covers book one of the world-famous erotic trilogy. Starring Dakota Johnson as the innocent and sexually naive Anastasia Steele and Jamie Doran as the sexy, BDSM-loving billionaire businessman Christian Grey.

The push and pull of this pairs relationship is what truly makes the film. Both are incredibly intrigued by the other and the opposites attract scenario plays out beautifully. Anastasia appears to be the first woman to have the ability to begin breaking down the stone-cold walls around Christian Grey’s heart. Her intelligence, defiance, and snarky retorts are incredibly compelling to Grey, while she is intrigued by his mysterious nature, his fetish lifestyle and of course his drop-dead gorgeous appearance.

While of course many of the novel’s steamier details were left out of the film, director Sam Taylor-Johnson did a phenomenal job of showing the audience just enough and leaving the rest of the scenario to play out in our imaginations. Isn’t that about the same way that it worked when reading the novels?

While the film does bank on the fact that most of the audience has read the series of novels to fully grasp what is going on with the plot. This was especially noticeable in the way that the film dealt with time. Situations in the novel were stretched out for weeks and months, while the film made it appear that nearly everything occurred within a two to three week time period.

It is quite apparent that actress Dakota Johnson is the stand-out talent in the film as her intellect and wit truly shine and while Jamie Dornan held his own as the mysterious and sadomasochistic Christian Grey, he was never truly my first choice when imaging actors in this particular role. A film that deals with strong sexual content, especially BDSM can be an exceptionally tough one to tackle, I have to hand to director Sam Taylor-Johnson who handled it just beautifully. The artistic side of the film really flourished and everything was done to the best of her and the actor’s ability in an incredibly tasteful and not derogatory way.

This film could have very easily ended up coming out like some kind of trashy soft-core pornography, however the end result was a very artsy and cinematic take on a trash novel that is sure to satisfy those who are looking for a fun date night film to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

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