Frank Review

eef1da3d488bd6ab24447aad765f51efFrom the trailer, Frank had the potential to be very great or very wierd. From the opening moments, Frank is fantastic and unlike any other movie I’ve seen recently. The direction and the script is excellent as is the cast. It’s hysterical and emotional, completley original and is one of my favorite movies of the year so far.

Frank follows Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), a struggling musician trying to write a new song. One day, he happens upon a band called Soronprfbs when their keyboardist is trying to drown himself. Don (Scoot McNairy) asks Jon if he can play and Jon says he can and he goes to play with them that night. While there he encounters Frank (Micheal Fassbender), the lead singer with a paper machte head and Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal). They play but the equipment breaks and the show ends. Later, Jon gets a call fron Don inviting him to join the group and Jon goes with them to a cabin in Ireland to record a new album. All the while he is posting on Twitter and social media about them.

Frank manages all of it’s elements fantastically. From it’s humor to it’s dramatic elements, Frank fires on all cylinders. The best part is the writing though. For the first 2/3rd’s, Frank is hysterical. The band is very weird as are it’s members and their creative process is very fun to watch. There is also a social media aspect of it that works as well. The transition between the comedic first 2 acts and the thematic and sad final act is handled very well with a good level of emotional content. The tone shift does not feel jarring but natural as the story progresses. This also works because of the strong direction. With another director, this could have felt very jarring and weakned the movie. But luckily, the director makes it work adding to the quality of the movie.

The key piece to making this all work is the cast. They are fantastic. Micheal Fassbender is excellent with the giant head on his head only using his body for great physical comedy. Gyllenhaal is biting as the vicious guitar player and has some of the best comedic lines including one fantastic scene with Glesson that is unexpected and hilarious. McNairy is fantastic as the band manager and Gleeson is hilarious as the new member of the very odd band. Overall, Frank is hysterical, emotional, contains an excellent cast and is bolstered by a very strong script.

Frank has not been rated yet by the MPAA as it does not open in the US till the end of August. It will probably get an R for strong language, thematic elements and several others items. I give Frank an odd A.

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South Park : The Stick of Truth Review

south-park-the-stick-of-truthSouth Park : The Stick of Truth is fantastic and one of the best games of 2014 so far. It’s hysterical and feels like an episode of the show with the animation and writing. The town is realized in a large open world and the combat is very fun. In the vein of the show, there are almost non-stop pop culture refrences and jokes and spoofs and satire of video game cliches.

In South Park : The Stick of Truth, you play as a new kid who just moved into South Park. When you leave your house, you encounter and save Butters. He befriends you and takes you to Kupa Keep where the Grand Wizard Cartman resides. You then go through several tutorials of combat, choose your class, name your character, and get your first weapon. Cartman then shows you the Stick of Truth. Then the Elves attack and you must defend the Stick. During the battle, the Elves steal the Stick and the Humans must get it back from the Elves.

South Park : The Stick of Truth is a great game. What helps is the fact that it was written by Trey Stone and Matt Parker. Due to this, the game feels like a long episode of South Park. With that, there are tons of nods to the show, pop culture jokes and a satire of video game cliches. The animation style is also exactly the same as the show. Exploring the town and seeing all the locations from the show is also a lot of fun. There is a lot of exploration especially in the first few hours. The town is huge and it takes time to get to the mission objective. Luckily, there is a fast travel system that is unlocked as the flags are found.

Besides the exploration, combat is very fun. The style of combat is a turn based RPG where each of your party members attack and then your foes do the same thing. It is not just press a button and do an attack. There is a good level of interaction that keeps it from being boring. It’s consistently engaging and fun.

The writing is the best part of this game though. Written by Trey Stone and Matt Parker, the writing is just as sharp as the show and is hysterical. This is easily the funniest game of 2014 so far. There are pop culture references and other jokes constantly and there are also satircal jokes about video games. There are also tons of references to the show with friends, missions and items. The references range from the very beginning to very recently.

The pop-culture references and jokes function just like the show does. Your quest log with your inventory, abilites and party members is an obvious parody of Facebook. There are also other references thrown in with dialogue and quests. What is one of the best parts of the writing are the jokes and satire on video games. There are numerous game referecences and jokes including one combat mechanic that is a direct and hysterical parody of another fantastic and popular game. There also many satrical jokes about video game mechanics and culture. They make fun of the cliches and it is absolutley hysterical. Overall, South Park : The Stick of Truth is rated M for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Mature Humor, Nudity, Srtong Language, Strong Sexual Content and Violence. I give South Park : The Stick of Truth a sticky A.

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Gone Girl Trailer/Book Review

Gone Girl

Recently, the first trailer for David Fincher’s Gone Girl was released. I read the book last year and wrote a review for it. Here it is followed by my thoughts on the trailer.

At first, Gone Girl may seem like any typical mystery, it soon becomes apparent it is not. It is a lot better than that. Published in June 2012 and written by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl is a great thrilling twist filled mystery that is also darkly funny.

Gone Girl is about Nick and Amy as they are approaching their 5th anniversary of being married. Their marriage is rough as they were initially living in New York but Nick got laid off from his magazine job and had to move home to Missouri to care for his ill parents. The morning of the anniversary, Amy disappears. Nick has to find her with the help of the town and police while also solving the yearly anniversary treasure hunt Amy laid out. This alternates with Amy’s diary about the previous 5 years and their ups and downs.

Gone Girl is a great novel. It throws new twists into the story frequently and will keep you guessing about what is going to happen. It may seem obvious where the story is headed but then it will take an unexpected twist and change. These twists are what keep the book at the high quality level. They also develop the characters more and show their true characters and their depth. The characters are very well written and have many layers that are revealed. This is yet another strength of the book.

 It also keeps the events moving at a good pace besides part 1. Part 1 is slower and more like a usual crime thriller. That is not bad as the book is still good but not as good and engrossing  as the rest. The rest is fantastic and well paced with twists throughout. There is also a layer of dark humor that is prevalent that really works. This dark humor comes from what the characters will do and do to achieve their goals. It also comes from the dialogue.

There is also some great commentary on how the media affects types of cases. The media ranges from TV talk shows to social media and how that can affect public opinion unfairly with unfair verdicts and judgments due to TV law shows and what that does to the people involved. Overall, Gone Girl is a great dark twist filled darkly funny well written mystery.  I give Gone Girl a gone A-.

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The trailer seems to be exactly like the book. It is a fantastic trailer with great cinematography. While at first, the song seems off, it makes sense establishing the tone. If the story looks generic or the last shot of Amy looks like a giant spoiler, don’t worry.

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Non-Stop Review

non-stop2014 continues to be a strong year for movies, with the latest being Non-Stop. From the trailer, Non-Stop looked very stupid and ridiculous – but also fun in a very popcorn movie type of way. Luckily, Non-Stop is a lot more than that. It’s a great, well acted, suspenseful and tensely directed thriller.

Non-Stop is about Air Marshal Bill Marks (Liam Nesson), who is an undercover air marshal whose job is to fly undercover and watch the passengers. He has a dark past and goes to work on a regular day. Upon arriving, he encounters several passengers and makes a mental note of them all. The flight begins and is in progress until he gets a text message saying that unless money is transferred to an account, someone will die every 20 minutes. He thinks it is fake, until someone dies after 20 minutes. This begins a mystery of who is sending the texts and how to stop them before more killings occur.

Non-Stop is a very tense thriller due in part to it’s very strong direction. The direction is easily one of the best elements of the movie. The style works in favor of the story and the direction also helps as a it is directed as a condensed location thriller.  It keeps up the suspense alive, even though the script occasionally falters.

The script is overall strong. Luckily, the trailer does not give away much, unlike many trailers recently. The script continually takes twists and turns, featuring all the elements that make a good mystery thriller. It does get unbelievable and ridiculous at times with motives and directions the story takes.  But  the other elements of the movie make up for it.

The overall strong script and tense direction create the atmosphere lasting throughout the movie. The cast also is uniformly strong. Overall, Non-Stop is a great suspenseful thriller that overcomes it’s occasionally weak script with strong direction.

Non-Stop is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some, language, sensuality and drug references. I give Non-Stop a non-stop B+.

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The Lego Movie Review

the-lego-movie-posterHilarious camoes and pop culture references, fantastic animation, a heartfelt and intelligent story all combine in this great animated movie that is the best movie of 2014 so far.

The LEGO Movie is about Emmet (voice of Chris Pratt). He lives in the city. And every morning following the instruction booklet, he turns on the TV and watches President Business (voice of Will Ferrel), who says there will be a Taco Tuesday. And follow the rules or be put to sleep. He then drives to his construction work while listening to “Everything is Awesome”, the popular pop song. At work, everyone sings it and Emmet remarks that he could sing it for another 5 hours. Cut to 5 hours later, and they are all singing it still while blowing up buildings. The day ends and while everyone else heads off in groups, Emmet is left behind and sees an unmarked person in the rubble looking for something. The person pulls back their hood and it’s is a girl Wildstyle (voice of Elizabeth Banks). He follows her, falling into a pit, and discovering a unique item. He touches it and gets a vision that is a prophecy that he is the special and will save the world.

The LEGO Movie is many things but one of the best things is that it is hilarious. The script is very witty with clever jokes that come fast and non-stop. The jokes are also very varied. There are subtle social commentary jokes and visual gags. Combine that with fantastic cameos and pop culture references about Lego and other things, and The Lego Movie is a blast.

Besides the fantastic comedy, another thing that is excellent is the animation. It looks like a combination of CGI and stop motion filming – even though it was all CGI. It blends very well and seamlessly between the two.  The blending of close up and landscape shots of the characters works as well.

Besides the expected humor and great animation, The Lego Movie also has some unexpected heartfelt moments. These moments work and were very unexpected.  Adding a depth to the movie that was a very pleasant surprise. They also are what is probably drawing the comparisons to Toy Story.

The voice cast does a fantastic job as well. Chris Pratt is hysterical as Emmet and Will Ferrell is great as Lord Business. Morgan Freeman is hilarious as the leader of the rebellion and the rest of the cast is great as well. Overall, The Lego Movie is a hilarious, intelligently and heartfelt written, excellently animated and well voiced animated movie that is the best movie of 2014 so far.

The Lego Movie is rated PG for mild action and rude humor. I give The Lego Movie an animated A-.

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