“Lucy” is insane, makes very little sense, doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and is an absolute blast. Really, if you like having fun at the movies and pretending to be smart while doing so, you ought to see it. It doesn’t matter how silly it all seems later. Writer and director Luc Besson decided to take off all the filters, remove all the restraints and just go full-bore crazy, both visually and with the story. Scarlett Johansson proves a willing accomplice by playing things straight, the calm in the middle of a raging storm. She plays the title character, a student living in Taiwan. Her boyfriend (Pilou Asbaek) dupes her into delivering a briefcase to a Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi), a mysterious mobster-type. This does not go well. The briefcase contains a drug in packages that Jang’s henchmen implant in the abdomens of Lucy and others; they are mules, with no choice in the matter.
But Lucy’s packet is punctured. The drug begins leaking into her body, which absorbs it, causing her brain to work at an increasingly high level. Besson shifts back and forth between all this to Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman), a professor in Paris giving a lecture about how humans use only 10 percent of their brains. He speculates on what might happen if we were able to use more. Cut back to Lucy, with an on-screen graphic showing the rising capacity of her brain function as she escapes her captors. The effect of the drug is not just Lucy’s increased intelligence, but an ability to control other people, as well as everything around her. She contacts Norman and rushes to meet him, to try to figure out what will happen as she grows toward 100 percent brain capacity, while Jang and his thugs pursue her relentlessly. Being able to control matter comes in handy in a gunfight, turns out.
Besson puts some highfalutin concepts into play, about the nature of life and intelligence and what we’ve done with it, that sort of thing. But he can’t stop himself from having fun. When Lucy’s boyfriend is trying to talk her into delivering the briefcase, for instance, he cuts to a quick shot of a mouse contemplating the cheese in a trap. When Jang’s men are approaching her in the lobby of a hotel, Besson makes a quick cut to a cheetah pursuing its prey. A tad obvious? Sure. Who cares? What saves “Lucy,” in addition to Johansson’s performance, is Besson’s sense of humor. Despite the serious-sounding subject matter, he never takes any of it too seriously. Or if he does, he misses the mark so badly that it’s funny anyway.
The visuals are often stunning, as we see what Lucy sees: basically everything, without distraction, all at one time as her mental capacity increases. Johansson shifts into a monotone — fitting since, as she explains, she no longer feels pain or emotion. The implication is that these are traits for those of us lower on the brain-function scale. With this, “Her” and “Under the Skin,” Johansson is on a roll of late. This film isn’t the equal of those two, but it doesn’t really try to be. Besson seems instead determined to mix genres and ideas and let Johansson hold it all together. She does, and “Lucy” is an unlikely romp as a result.
“Code Black,” which is the term used to describe the common situation in which the Los Angeles County (public) hospital emergency room is full, takes us into what looks like complete chaos, groups of doctors and nurses surrounding patients on tables to treat gunshot wounds, stabbings, heart attacks and presumably bad headaches. In some graphic takes, we are privy, like the interns and medical students who sit in the balcony as spectators, to surgery involving attempts at CPR some of which are unsuccessful, and invasive procedures involving the placement of instruments deep inside the hapless patients’ ribs, chests, and abdomens. We take a look at the masses of people who sit close together on upholstered chairs looking as though they’re waiting for Godot, not a single one of them using the time to read, to do puzzles, or distract themselves to make the time go by more quickly.
When the county received a spanking new hospital paid for by the taxpayers, an additional problem arose. More government regulations were put into place requiring doctors to spend additional time filling out forms rather than dealing wholly with patients. One young doctor is put off by the separation he now feels from the patients.
The director is kidding himself if he thinks this isn’t a political doc, or at least an issue film, but that doesn’t mean he’s not noble in his romantic view of healthcare. And it’s always an interesting angle to focus on the doctors as heroes, rather than the patients as subjects that the audience can relate to (see Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare for a more conventional doc that does this, too). Code Black is never boring and actually blows through its brief 78 minutes so quickly that it leaves us wanting more — in all areas, including information, history, character study, arguments, solutions, medical procedures, but maybe not gripes. With all the medical TV series out there playing this stuff for soapy drama, this doc shows us something far more stimulating, visually and intellectually, and I’d be interested in seeing it continue.
With more and more doctors turning away men, women, and children who do not have insurance, emergency rooms are filled with patients who can spend 12 to 18 hours waiting to see a doctor. Most of those who come to this ER are working-class people. The title of the film, Code Black, refers to these inhumane jammed waiting rooms where sick people are intermixed with screaming children, mentally deranged street people, and victims of violence. A handful of zealous residents try to set up a new system for moving patients from the waiting room to a face-to-face session with a doctor but the experiment fails when there aren’t enough nurses (many nurses have quit because of poor pay). Three cheers for the young doctors in Code Black; we hope and pray that they will not burnout or compromise their ardent idealism.
If I didn’t know going in that it was a true story, I would have in no way believed it. From the moment Nate and his best friend Topher hatch their plan, I was hooked. You get a first hand look at how money, power and drugs turn best friends into adversaries who eventually end up only looking out for #1, selling anyone and everyone out to be able to stay out of prison blues. It’s a pretty interesting window to be able to look through, watching their “crack team” of mules go from small time to big time overnight. Eventually doing the exact opposite of what John C. McGinley and his sage Canadian weed grower wisdom advised them against before their first trip across the border. The bragging to friends, throwing raging parties and buying all the toys money can buy, it was that excess and greed that eventually end it all. While it was never my life, I can’t lie, the first three-quarters of the movie looked like a pretty fun ride. Basically it’s the Wolf of Wall Street for stoners, trading Wall Street for Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and stocks for weed.
It also takes a different approach in the lessons embedded in the story by providing many examples of exactly what not to do. Neither are documentaries, but at the same time contain a great deal of surprising truths. Besides learning by counter-example and having lots of amusing, stranger than fiction scenes, the film throws in the one thing that is exactly what you’d expect with young people with lots of money stuck in Idaho: lots of partying, pursuit of the beautiful, and sex. The filming and perspectives also capture, at least with the women, parts and views that rarely get done well in film or TV. There’s an actual appreciation and understanding of women’s bodies by the director and camera crew. Despite the fun, sex, and young cast, the film as a whole is a well-acted tragedy with a deep impact.
This mostly young or youthful cast give an almost Goodfellas level performance with the excellent narration work by Jonathan Daniel Brown pulling the story along really fluidly and very naturally. There is no old establishment type stereotypical bunch of munchie seeking dude nonsense. What you are given is a very adult story from a great bunch of professionals of all ages, and from a completely open to new things standpoint. I Enjoyed the fullness of the entire movie, and the delivery from the actors, and so I recommend this to people that are open to the new things that are happening, and some history some people who found their own loop holes.
Sometimes, you know a movie is going to be bad right off the bat when you know who is behind it. Case in point, Transformers: Age of Extinction, another entry into a franchise directed once more by Michael Bay and written by Ehren Kruger. Originally, I didn’t want to see it, but I got dragged in to see it, much to my disgust. Now to be fair, I did like the first one somewhat because it did have some sort of plot to it, but considering all the sequels an how disastrous they are, you’d think Bay and Kruger would learn their lessons and better themselves, right? I’ll let you laugh at how absurd that sounds. Once again, the plot of the movie moves at a snail’s pace. For a movie that’s got 2 hours and 45 minutes long, the story sure takes its time to get going. The story could’ve been fine and all, but it takes so long for it to get going. By the time it does, it quickly dissolves into a typical Bay movie, complete with explosions, chases, and “jokes” from the Transformers.
Trying to start fresh with a new cast that includes Mark Whalberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Sophia Myles, Kelsey Grammar, Li Bingbing; the cast is a good addition to the new franchise, with everyone getting to shine in some way or another, having some good camaraderie between each other. But as with every Transformer film, it’s the Autobots and Decepticons who are the main characters of the show, especially continuing the story with fearless leader Optimus Prime. Along with the old familiars like Bumblebee, Brains and Ratchet; we’re also introduced to Hound, Crosshairs, and Drift. And those very evil Decepticons led by Lockdown and Galvatron, causing a great three-way conflict within the universe.
Perhaps the biggest sin of this movie isn’t just how racist it can get, or how the women are treated in this film(What is it with Bay writing women so badly?), it’s that it is so boring. While it has lots of action scenes, the film is so boring in many ways. The action is dull, the dialogue is dull, and the characters are dull as well. The attempts of characterization, the few there are, are horribly done and the bad screen writing don’t make it easier. And again, this film is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. You’d think that with so much time in it, they’d find a way to tell a good story, but everything is so slow in this film and the pacing is so bad, I feel like someone purposely put the film on slow mo to torment the viewers. The bottom line is that, once again, it’s another Michael Bay movie that is no different from his other work. There’s really not much good I can say about this film other than the effects look good, but that’s to be expected from Bay movies. And at least Megan Fox is not in this film at all.
So how many movies has Michael Bay made so far? Ten features in his almost 20-year career, Bay might never make a fulfilling story. His last film Pain & Gain (which I admire) might have been it, or The Rock, but beyond that, nobody can do the explosive action the way he does. Other than that, this film is not worth your time, money, or anything worthwhile to you. Nevertheless, the fighting sequences are spectacular, especially in 3D. Watch it, I may be indifferent with my reviews. Judge it for yourself.
When a filmmaker like Randy Moore has the guts, balls, courage or any other similar word you can think of to go under the microscope of the usual Hollywood politics and pull off something deemed impossible and literally think outside the box; well that’s just endearing filmmaking my friends. Randy Moore writes and directs Escape From Tomorrow; a film that was done entirely in Disneyland and Disney World WITHOUT the permission of said theme parks and it’s associates/affiliates to create one of the most mind numbing and exhilarating movie experiences in history. Okay, I might be jumping the gun here but it’s a film that when you have that thought of “They did this WITHOUT their permission” in the back of your mind while you watch it, you begin to watch the film in a sense of naughty awe like “I’m not supposed to be doing this but damn does it feel good.” This is the future of filmmaking.
Escape From Tomorrow stars Roy Abramsohn as a father who takes his wife and children to Disney and to just get away from real life for awhile. While the family is there enjoying themselves, he begins to experience a weird sensibility that nothing around him is what it seems and that his mind is playing tricks on him. He sees a duo of teenage girls and is fascinated (or just has the hots for them, whichever you prefer) by them like he’s just seen a ghost and subsequently follows them for most of the movie. He also meets a mysterious woman who may or may not be a psychopath and he goes on a trip like nothing he’s ever been on before.
The film has a lot of scary images and the editing by Soojin Chung is done in such a way that it tries to convince you that everything you are witnessing onscreen is real. It’s great work by Chung and is a master of the craft. The film is surreal and while it may not be some film of epic proportions it pushes the boundary of what is okay and what is not in how we can make a movie. The guerrilla, outside the box, camera style is ideal and if it were done any other way, may have detracted from the overall scope. Nevertheless the last 20 minutes or so feels too Hollywood for a film that’s certainly NOT but it doesn’t defer much from what director Randy Moore is trying to do. The performances by the leads are outstanding and the use of black and white as the color scheme really helps with the viewing pleasure. It’s the definition of eccentric but undermines it by feeling normal in an eerie, uncanny way. Do yourself a favor and seek out Escape From Tomorrow. You may not look at Disney the same way again.
It starts out annoyingly unspecific, leads with building one character who then plays no part in the overall storyline. But then again, there is basically no storyline. Often it feels as if the director has read about a new technique and just wants to experiment with it. Some of these techniques such as the hand-held camera in the office chairs are actually pretty neat but because the director doesn’t stick with one style throughout the film loses any sense of unity. There’s also the issue with the plot. There are a couple of lengthy flashbacks that seem to serve no purpose later on, as if the writer changed his mind about the film’s direction after they’d been filmed. Then, once the film proper is underway he brings it neatly under control before realising he doesn’t know what to do next. So, he changes direction again, upping the action and gore in a truly ludicrous fashion (the fight scene with the amputee veteran is probably the nadir of the film in this regard).
However, in amongst all this there are some good points. The performances might not be Oscar worthy but they are solid enough and some of the relationships are nicely drawn, especially between the two veterans and also the deaf couple. There are also a couple of nice scenes, notably with the pregnant woman and the cyclist and the old marine and the veteran. There’s also the setting with its seemingly random safe spots and oppressing atmosphere. But then we come to the reveal. This is where it lost most of its points. Up until this point this has been a mildly intriguing look at the way people interact under stress. There are some nods towards religion and to modern society that hint that maybe this film has a point to make, some sort of message to impart. Had the reveal somehow linked to this, even in a way I disagreed about, I might have seen some worth in this enterprise. Instead the reveal turns the whole film into little more than a genre film (and a cheap genre film with rubbish CGI at that). There’s nothing wrong with being a genre film but you’re going to need to do a whole lot better than this if you want to stand up against the far better examples that are out there.
It does depict various types of human behavior when stuck in a dire and deadly situation but falls short of pulling out key moments that would hi light that particular persons psyche. It does present you with various options though: will you run, help, fight, connive, manipulate or kill? And in presenting all of them it shows what may happen in all of the choices. It gets interesting again towards the end when the film seems to pick up in tone like the openings pace. Somewhere in the middle the cliché horror vibes start to take over and are not necessarily the most ‘new’ thing about “The Human Race”.
In the ENTIRE movie there is literally nothing of any interest that happens whatsoever. Then, just as you think the movie is coming to an end, and let’s face it, you’d be glad if it did, it doesn’t. Instead, out of absolutely nowhere it takes the movie to a whole new level of absurdness which will be hard to find in any other movie. At the end of the movie I genuinely sat trying to comprehend what the hell had just happened. Overall the movie is a huge disappointment considering a potentially very interesting story line. The makers of this film didn’t seem interested in telling a story, instead they took an interesting idea and just threw in enough violence and head explosions to gain an audience.
I love a good science fiction B-Movie. Even some created by Asylum are pretty good. After reading the plot summery I decided to watch this movie. I was confused while watching at the plot summery had nothing to do with the movie. The movie had nothing to do with the sun, as far as I saw and nothing to do with an anthropologist or the pyramid of the moon. I honestly do not know what movie the plot given by Asylum actually belonged to, but it was not this on.
If you go into this wanting the effects a summer blockbuster has, you are barking up the wrong tree. But if you want 90 minutes of fun and sometimes ridiculousness, this is the place! The only thing that disappointed me was that the synopsis wasn’t accurate…but I thought the spacesuits looked pretty spiffy and the locations were cool. First off, Kelly Hu doesn’t seem to age one bit. She is forever 35 and looks great. Robert Picardo is excellent, as always. Lane Townsend who plays the firefighter and Anthony Marks who plays Captain Wheeler are two up and comers to watch for, as well as the girl who plays the firefighters daughter. The space crew ain’t too shabby either.
Considering the time to make and the budget this is one of Asylum’s better movies, certainly the effects, props and sets are some of the best I have seen from them. Plus Edge has yet to cover its budget with the box office takings and Age will cover its budget within 3 months like all of the Asylum movies do. All that aside I guess people are thinking they are similar movies by the title and I expected the same, from what I have heard and read Edge’s story is nothing like Age’s story, the only similarity is the title. I can see similarities with Armageddon, Aliens, Avatar ETC but not Edge. Back to Age of Tomorrow, we have the usual new or has been actors, with average performances, special effects, sets and props I have already mentioned but what lets it down more than anything is the messy, flawed, goof ridden make it up as they go along story. Seriously, I would not give this film the time (which I obviously have, hence this review lol) in terms of watching. It has been very badly made, very cheap and tacky, very poor acting and special effects are awful. As they say ‘ I’ll give this a pass ‘……never a truer word said. This movie is diabolical trash. My expectations were, slightly, a little high for this movie, but after watching just 5 minutes of it, I knew then that it was very much a exceedingly low budget movie done, even for this trash of a movie, very much on a basis of ‘ quickly done with little thought ever being put into it ‘.
A Birder’s Guide To Everything is a fun entertaining film starring Kodi Smit-McPhee as David Portnoy; a kid still grieving over the loss of his mother who happens to be an unsung hero in the bird-watching community. David has liked birds all his life and continues to follow in her footsteps of birdwatching. He has a rocky relationship with his dad (James LeGros) ever since then who is grieving in his own way by marrying the nurse who took care of his wife during her final moments. One day David believed to have seen a previously thought extinct bird and recruits his fellow bird lover friends Peter (Michael Chen) and Timmy (Alex Wolff) to show the picture he took to local birdwatching celebrity Lawrence played by Oscar Winner Ben Kingsley. The three friends, joined then by Ellen played by Katie Chang because she has a better camera than the what guys currently own and the adventure begins.
The film is a complete triumph in every shape and form. The characters are fun to watch, the actors do a great job in their respective rok especially and the film itself looks fantastic thanks to the extravagant work of Tom Richmond and the direction of Rob Meyer. It’s has some smart comedic moments thanks to Alex Wolff’s performance as Timmy who acts like he’s the coolest kid in town but in reality is just a poser but doesn’t want to admit it. Michael Chen also does great work as the well reserved Peter who is the leader of their Birding club and conducts a meeting like you’re watching Congress at work when they are actually doing something. Katie Chang lights up the screen as Ellen who may be the most mature of the whole group. She’s the only girl amongst them which gives the boys an awkward vibe at the beginning. But it’s Kingsley and Smit-McPhee who truly get to showcase their talent and they both do some magnificent work here especially Kingsley who continues to show why he’s one of the great actors of our time.
The script is well written and doesn’t stumble at all even during the slow moments and at a short 86 minute running time doesn’t feel strained or uneasy. There are some pretty funny moments such as when the friends steal Timmy’s car and when they all confess around a campfire to each other about their lack of a sex life especially Peter which Timmy then proceeds to give off a sarcastic answer. While there may be a couple of cliched moments in this film, A Birder’s Guide To Everything is a joyous ride that may make you interested in birding. For a moment or two.
Best Friends Forever stars Brea Grant as comic book artist Harriet who goes on a road trip from Los Angeles to Austin Texas to start a new life with her crazy party animal best friend Reba played beautifully by Vera Miao. Miao and Grant co-wrote the script together with Grant directing the feature and Miao relegated to producer duties. The film is notable for having a successful campaign on Kickstarter and being filmed completely on super 16mm film giving the picture a grainy and punkish look. Along the road trip the two girls meet a group of guys who subsequently steal their car and also meet a deranged trucker before finally getting their car back.
The chemistry between Miao and Grant is relevant to the story and for the most part you can tell they are best friends although sometimes they feel more like acquaintances than friends but they play well off of each other in the film’s lighter moments such as when they discover the guys who stole their car and they find themselves literally in the middle of the road. Early on in the film as their car is driving to the end of frame, a mushroom cloud is seen behind them signaling their LA home has been destroyed but neither of them know until Harriet sees on a TV screen that LA has been destroyed. It’s a secret she holds onto because she doesn’t want Reba to panic. It feels genuine because you begin to think about what you would do in that situation. Would you tell your best friend a horrible secret like that or would you keep it to yourself? It’s something that Grant’s Harriet thinks about and Grant does a good job of showing the subtle struggle she has with such a decision. One of the other aspects of Best Friends Forever is when the text “Hours Until Disaster” show up on a black screen with a number underneath. While you see an explosion early on, the film tells you that the “disaster” will be something different. When the “disaster” finally happens, you may feel either satisfied or very disappointed in it’s anticlimactic nature but it really depends on what you are expecting.
It’s cool to see a disaster film in the eyes of women and it works for the most part. There are a couple of technical issues such as the film looking too dark in a couple scenes and the action scenes looking a bit clunky but overall it’s an adequate film that shows a different and welcoming side to the average apocalypse disaster film. Like the girls see on a sticky note throughout the film, “You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.” The film is exactly what it’s supposed to be.