Rapid Review: The Nice Guys (2016)

the nice guys poster

“I think I’m invincible… I don’t think I can die!”
– Holland March

SYNOPSIS: A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. – via IMDB

the nice guys gun toss

GRADE 7You know, I went into this with pretty high expectations. Not impossible, but pretty high. You all know I freaking love Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I wasn’t expecting anything on that level, but I was expecting more than I got. The Nice Guys looked and sounded good, I will give it that. The outfits were fantastic and it was shot well, and the movie did pay attention to little details, and I always appreciate the smaller things. It was consistent with that, too. I also really liked the ’70’s vibe here, it was great. But then there were the pitfalls. For one, the little girl irked me. Hell yeah she did. What the heck is up with Shane Black writing in these pesky little kids as huge characters (hem hem Iron Man 3)?! It is so grating. Not because Angourie Rice isn’t a decent young actress, but because I do not want to be watching a movie with private investigators and having them drag some obnoxious little rugrat around. Okay, I will stop there on that. As you can tell that irritated me no end. Moving on from the little girl, the movie isn’t as smart as it would like to be, either, and the humour was not as sharp, and the dialogue was not as witty as I was expecting from someone like Shane Black. The cast was really good though, all things aside. Gosling was on fine form here (though I expected no less, and he can totally handle a comedic role), and Crowe was solid, as always. The two also work wonders with each other, so at least Black’s pairings still work without a hitch. There were scenes that entertained (I thoroughly enjoyed the elevator scene), but I did not have any real laugh out loud moments. Oh well. The Nice Guys is a decent, albeit hollow, watch. Nothing I will be rushing out to see again, that’s for sure, and not something I will be in a hurry to add to my collection. I will give it another shot again sometime. Maybe something changes, but I don’t really think so.

 

Review: She’s Not There – P.J. Parrish

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SYNOPSIS: They say it’s better to battle the devil you know. But what if you don’t recognize him before it’s too late?

She knows her name is Amelia, but after waking up in a hospital battered and bruised with just the clothes on her back, it’s all she knows. Unable to piece together her shattered memory, she’s haunted by a vision: menacing faces and voices implying her nightmare is far from over.

Relying only on her wits and her will to live, Amelia becomes a fugitive from a mysterious man, and a life she can’t even remember. But the past she’s fleeing has no intention of letting her go. – via Goodreads

GRADE 6.5I have never read anything from Parrish before (I also know now that they are a sister writing duo), and took a stab at it the other day when cruising around Amazon. I found She’s Not There to be quite a decent read, though not my favourite. I always think that books handling amnesia can take total opposites of the good/bad spectrum. I felt that the book dwindled quite a bit, and could have been tightened up more, but this did not mean that I was not interested in seeing where the story would go. It is also quite a quick read. I have to admit that there weren’t any real characters that I liked in there (aside from Hannah). Buchanan and Amelia were the main characters and were better than the others, but they were still not characters I was completely invested in, if we are being honest. At the rate the big reveal was being touted and teased at throughout the book, I seriously expected something far more intricate than we got, which was a little disappointing, to say the least. Anyway, there isn’t an awful lot to say about She’s Not There. It is a quick, decent read, albeit flawed and slightly predictable at times, but an alright filler if you haven’t been able to make up your mind about what’s next. Or you want something engaging but not overly complicated and dramatic. I know it sounds like I am putting this down, but I am not.

Stranger Things: Season 1 (2016)

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*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • The score. Like really. It was awesome, and very reminiscent of Drive. It resonated every step of the way, and was so important.
  • The opening credits. They are dead simple, no frills, bells, and whistles, and yet it is awesome. That music, the neon, the letters? I really liked this.

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  • The child actors. These kids were good. Usually kids in movies annoy me, their acting is stiff and unbelievable. But here? These kids were compelling. I am particularly a fan of Dustin.
  • Hopper. Initially you meet this dude that wakes up, brushes his teeth, chains a cigarette, washes down pills with a beer, all at the crack of dawn. However, as lost as this man appears in the beginning, it does not detract from the fact that he has a cop’s mind, and it is amazing to watch it kick into gear.

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  • The references and vibes! Carpenter, King, Hawkins, Stand By Me, everything!
  • The humour. It is just fantastic. Really had me laughing at times.

stranger things hopper mornings are for

  • The character development. People were not left to stagnate – while the kids were learning about themselves and El, so were Johnathan, Steve, and Nancy learning about themselves and changing. Joyce and Hopper discovered things and had to adapt the way they saw things, and embrace it. Brilliant. Everyone was involved here.
  • Mr Clarke. Seriously, this teacher was the best for so many reasons, and a character I absolutely adored! Here are some.

What I didn’t like: 

  • There are leaps and bounds in the logic that aren’t always explained, and don’t always make sense.
  • Nancy annoyed me endlessly. She was selfish and grating and silly. What an annoyance. However, her character changes and grows so much that she actually becomes someone decent later on.

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  • I love less is more when it comes to the monster, and while this show managed that for the most part, I still feel that we saw too much of it, and it sort of killed the creep factor for me.

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Rating:
GRADE 8.5I was so eager to check this out. I saw a trailer for it a few months back, and thought it looked like something that was totally up my alley. Then it released, and the reviews came back really positive, so I knew that I just had to get on it. Well, my husband and I watched it in three consecutive work nights, and then we were done. Done, and sad, because it is over now for a while. The minute this show started, I was pleased. It had a dark, creepy intro scene, some unseen monster, and then some ridiculously simple, cool opening credits. Everything was so eighties and old school and horror like, I was happy. The characters are introduced to us, and they are quite sweet, or interesting, or strange, depending who you meet. The boys and their Dungeons and Dragons tournament was endearing, and from there, the show kicks in.

stranger things dungeons and dragons

Stranger Things features a lot of heart, and that was cool. Yes, shows have relationships and you get invested, I am not disputing that, and great friendships. But Stranger Things shows you about the deep bonds that kids form as friends, their innocence at adding a latest, mysterious addition to their little ensemble, the love a struggling mother has for her child, and the ties between brothers. It was quite multilayered, and worked wonders.

stranger things johnathan nancy steve stranger things steve bat

Let’s talk about some characters I really liked. I was a big fan of Hopper – no matter the washout you think he is, the man has a cop’s brain, and is extremely good at what he does. He is also a tortured dude, but does his best to help people, even if he would prefer it happen after coffee and doughnuts. Then there is Mr Clarke, and he is just awesome, and brings a lot of humour to the screen, which I love. He is also a great teacher, and encourages passion for these kids, which is awesome. Winona Ryder is in fine form here as Joyce, and totally brings a lot to the table.

The kids need their own paragraph. Eleven is a great character, and Millie Bobby Brown played her so well. You pity her, but you also sort of fear her (because let’s face it, she is a bit of the unknown). She learns about all these totally foreign concepts (friendship, promises, etc.) and picks up on these things and embraces these concepts with open arms, without questioning, as only a child can, despite whatever has happened to her. Let’s not forget about Dustin, Michael, and Lucas here. These kids had their friendships with one another tried and tested, and are all at that age where things start to change in their lives. They learned more about trust, honesty, courage, and bravery in a short period of time than they would have even if years had passed. Of the original group of boys, Dustin was, without a doubt, my favourite. He is hilarious, has heart, tries to keep everyone happy and together, and has a real smart mouth. Definitely love!

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Stranger Things is a tense watch, and draws you into this fictitious world effortlessly and completely, and while you know that so much that is going on is fantastical and bizarre, you totally just give in and take it on. You get invested. While they did not show too much of the monster, I still feel that they showed too much. I am all for the less is more when it comes to monsters. Give me flashes, give me more atmosphere, and while the show handled that successfully for the most part, I still feel that we saw too much of the monster, and it totally killed the freaky vibe with it. Anyway, all that said and done, Stranger Things is fantastic, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. All I  can say is watch it. Watch it now.

stranger things van flip

JB & The Chop Do: Saw VII: The Final Chapter (2010)

JB AND THE CHOP PRESENT SAW

This is it, the final chapter! Here we are, JB & The Chop, at another close to yet another franchise.

saw 3d the final chapter poster

SYNOPSIS: As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror. – via IMDB

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The final freaking leg folks – yes, pun intended! This was definitely not the most grueling franchise that Eric and I have ever covered, but it certainly was the nastiest! Anyway, final stretch here, let’s see how I felt about it.

First thoughts, right off the bat. Brad and Brian???? Guys, what did you do over there at Hard Ticket To Home Video???? Goodness!

I don’t know if I have just become super desensitized or something throughout the duration of these movies – but that opening act was lame. Also: “I think we’re breaking up with you Dina.” – I actually cringed. More so than usual. WTF?! This is just beyond sketchy.

Prior to this movie, all the victims had involvement with Kramer and what went wrong in his life. These victims? Nope. No story provided for them, either, which is unlike this series. Another issue I had was the survivors – I honestly didn’t recognise most of the, so, uhm, what the hell? These traps were obviously not devised at the spur of the moment by Hoffman to hunt down Jill, I am sorry, I just cannot buy into that.

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This final chapter is one of the most fucking useless movies I have ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, the previous six were not exactly a wealth of amazing movies or anything, but this thing? It is so stupid, and so pointless, and it looks awful! Even Saw, with its tiny ass budget, didn’t look nearly as horrendous as this. Let’s not even forget that fuck it, nobody must win in this thing, and the acting was atrocious. This movie didn’t tie in neatly with the rest, either, and sort of languished in the glory of the name of this franchise, but brought nothing to the table.

GORDON LIVES! WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUCK?! Finally, this is answered! The Chop and I have been wondering about this since the first bloody film!

Wow amityville

Ugh. to say that this movie was bland and formulaic is the understatement of the century. The fact that our “protagonist” was an asshole and let everyone die is so not a shocker. Ugh. What a freaking dweeb and a loser. The traps were also pretty unimaginative this time around (yes, now I must admit, watching these movies have desensitized me too much), and the movie takes forever to slog through the 90 minute runtime. The logic is also so damaged – not because the other six were brilliant, but at least the freaking things were more consistent than this pile of trash.

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I was actually getting a little antsy by the end though about Hoffman not paying for his deeds, because that would have pissed me right off. He is a jackass, and deserved to be punished, whether by legal system or… other means.

saw vii game over

Thanks to all of you for sticking this out with us, reading, commenting, and sharing the love/disgust/whatever. We will always appreciate you guys!

chop saw

This is it!! For now at least… god damn this movie sucked…. at least with the previous six they tried to make some sort of tie-ins. This time the dead Jigsaw is just killing random people for things like cheating on each other. And in public. And he seems to be dressing them in the worst fashion ever:

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I don’t know why this irritates me so much but it does. Who was in charge of the costume department that said “Let’s put these guys in matching overalls. All the kids today are wearing brown overalls.”

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Also – this opening scene was so fucking stupid I couldn’t stand it.

“I love you!! Kill him!!”

“You bitch!! I’ll kill you!!”

“No I meant I love you!! Kill him!!”

The fucking worst.

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I don’t even know what to say about this movie. Jigsaw is killing random people from beyond the grave. Again. Kill me now. Here’s our obligatory picture of Betsy Russell’s boobs:

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For some reason, Powder is in this and here are his boobs:

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Review: The Kept Woman – Karin Slaughter

the kept woman cover

Will Trent #8

SYNOPSIS: A body is discovered in an empty Atlanta warehouse. It’s the body of an ex-cop, and from the moment Special Agent Will Trent walks in he knows this could be the most devastating case of his career. Bloody footprints leading away from the scene reveal that another victim – a woman – has left the scene and vanished into thin air. And, worst of all, the warehouse belongs to the city’s biggest, most politically-connected, most high-profile athlete – a local hero protected by the world’s most expensive lawyers. A local hero Will has spent the last six months investigating on a brutal rape charge.

But for Will – and also for Dr Sara Linton, the GBI’s newest medical examiner – the case is about to get even worse. Because an unexpected discovery at the scene reveals a personal link to Will’s troubled past. The consequences will wreak havoc on his life and the lives of those he loves, those he works with, and those he pursues.

But Sara’s scene-of-the-crime diagnosis is that they only have a few hours to find the missing woman before she bleeds out . . . – via Goodreads

GRADE 8Ah man, it was like Christmas when I saw that there was finally another Will Trent novel! The man is just phenomenal, and I am always itching to read about him. This book? No exception! I have to say, I really wish the characters in this series (and I am not talking about that bitch Angie) would stop telling Will that Sara is too good for him. I mean come on! They are both human, and he is not a person who is “not good enough” for anyone, or not allowed to have someone to love him. Pfffffff. I am also not pleased with how Sara treats Will – really. The man has had it rough in life, and he loves the heck out of her and will do anything for her, and she is trying to make him jump Jeffrey hoops, and carry on as though he has never had an issue in life, and it is not fair. Anyway. Coming back on Will and his crazy past, that also brought that nasty piece of work, Angie, back. I was not pleased when I saw how large a part of the book she got, especially when the story flipped to a telling from her side. I swear, I like her about as much as I like Lena Adams. In fact, I like her less, and that is not an easy jump to make. While Angie took up way too large a part of the book (for me), I was glad to see that she had finally pushed Will far enough, and that he finally saw her as others see her – a horrible person, terrible, cruel, and nasty. Dangerous. I really do enjoy any books that feature Amanda – call her what you will, I think that woman is sassy, badass, and a touch crazy, but I thoroughly enjoy her. It was really nice to see a return of characters we all know and love. The pacing and story for this are both good, and they keep you hooked and engaged the whole way though, and the novel barrels along. I was pleased to read a little about Jeffrey Tolliver again – I know it was nothing in depth, but that he finally breached into Sara and Will’s relationship was a relief. He is an issue that has always been skirted. I wish Sara would stop being a bitch and just come out and tell Will how she really feels about him, and about how special he is. Nobody has ever done that for him, so why can’t she? Anyway, The Kept Woman was another solid entry to the Will Trent series, and definitely worth checking out.

Rapid Review: Midnight Special (2016)

midnight-special-poster

“Sometimes we are asked to do things that are beyond us.”
– Doak

SYNOPSIS: A father and son go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child’s special powers. – via IMDB

midnight-special

GRADE 6.5Alright, so obviously this movie got a lot of hype. I have seen both other hyped films of Nichols (Take Shelter and Mud) and I was rather underwhelmed by both. Not because they are bad, but because they weren’t as good (for me) as they were for others. I didn’t think I was going to love this movie, and thought I would feel pretty similar to his others. I was right. It was okay, but totally overhyped. I liked the way they looked at a cult (not as in depth as I would have hoped, but I always find it fascinating). I thought that the reveals and the explanations were very slow, if ever they did make an appearance, which was rather annoying. Not because I need to be spoon fed a movie, but this was just a mess and all over the show. I also have major complaints about how dark the movie was at times. And no, I don’t mean content, I really mean the lighting. I hate not being able to see chunks of a film because of that. I thought that Joel Edgerton and Michael Shannon were, as to be expected, extremely good and the movie is well worth the watch for them alone. They really carried the whole film for me. I feel that the characters were flat and there was no character development in the movie, which did frustrate me quite a bit, too. It felt a bit hollow. The movie did look really good though, I have to say. Every time I hear about this movie, I think about the Creedence Clearwater Revival song. So does my husband, so I am not alone. Midnight Special is not a bad movie, and I know a hell of a lot of people that enjoyed it immensely, but I was not one of them. I thought it was alright, but not something I will be rewatching anytime soon.

JB & The Chop Do: Saw VI (2009)

JB AND THE CHOP PRESENT SAW

Since JB and I are always about honesty and integrity, I’ll be honest and say that, despite my enduring and lifelong contracted love for JB, I’m getting tired of these movies and don’t really see how they have endured so long and made so much money. It’s the same fucking story EVERY time. Opening grossness, weave some new characters into the background of Jigsaw’s life,  burn them, chop them, emulsify them, super fucking twisty flashbacks that try and tie everything together, end. Sigh. At least this is THE FINAL CHAPTER, right!!! Right??? No – CRY CRY CRY

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SYNOPSIS: Agent Strahm is dead, and FBI agent Erickson draws nearer to Hoffman. Meanwhile, a pair of insurance executives find themselves in another game set by jigsaw. – via IMDB

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Like I said in the opening, I’m getting tired of these things BUT, one thing I have always liked about them are the sexy nurse posters they put out each year for Halloween Blood Drives. Harrumph harrumph!

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So what’s going on in here? To be honest again, I watched this over a month ago. Before I went to New Jersey and before I went to Jamaica. I remember the opening act was fucking disgusting and this chicks chops her own arm off to save her life while another person dies gruesomely.

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Then we are introduced to some pitiful Insurance Company Executive who reminded me of the second Darrin on Bewitched:

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He fucks Jigsaw out  of insurance money for his incurable brain cancer so Jigsaw decides to murder EVERYONE. I still didn’t and don’t understand where Jigsaw got all of the money, time, peace and quiet and parts to make all of these elaborate death traps but OK. Didn’t it turn out that he owned the meat packing plant where most of this shit takes place? It doesn’t seem like it was truly successful considering how shitty the state of everything was…. it looks like the place has been abandoned for 60 years.

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I can’t remember if it was Jigsaw himself or one of his many helpers but somehow they kidnap EVERY member of the Insurance team and place them in traps around the joint. Darrin 2 can either let them die or kill himself so he doesn’t really try very hard to save them.

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Elsewhere, Jigsaw’s busty widow is running around town carrying out his last wishes.  Wishes he recorded on a videotape before he dies knowing that two million different decisions would have to happen EXACTLY the way he planned them to get to this point. Jigsaw’s widow (the one in the dress):

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I don’t know – I guess this just didn’t do much for me. At least with the Amityville movies – as awful as they were, at least the plot was different each time. As pitiful as they were, at least it was something different the next go around. I wonder what’s going to happen in the next one? Something new?????? I doubt it. The only thing I remember about number seven is that the commercial showcased some guy in overalls. There’s nothing I hate more than overalls.

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jb saw

You just know shit is bad when the big celebration point when every film starts is noting the run time.

Goddammit, the opening for this one is really fucking gross! I mean, not that any of them have been particularly savoury or anything like that, but this is just… why?!

saw vi opening

Recipe? Naturally. Nothing really changes. Shall we count the ways…?

  • Gory opening? Check.
  • Billy the puppet? Check.
  • Inundating the viewer with gruesomeness? Check.
  • Flashbacks? Check. Check. Check.
  • Past characters? Check.
  • Overly complicating the narrative with insane, unbelievable history? Check.
  • Jigsaw “teaching lessons” and “rehabilitating” people? Check.
  • Plot twist? Check.

saw vi

Well, you just knew there was going to be some major payback in this one the moment a health company was revealed – sharks, man, and this movie was really heavy handed with hammering that point home.

Losing Strahm sucked, he was a solid character and Patterson was really good. I was real peeved that his colleagues could think it was him. I mean this was out of the blue, and I am glad Perez reviewed the charges thing, and got Erickson on board, it would be too easy for Hoffman to get away with all that shit.

What the fuck kind of dysfunctional marriage did you have if you lose your baby, your husband goes cuckoo and leaves you and starts playing life and death games with people, and after all of that shit, you still get involved with his plans? Bitch, are you cray?

this bitch cray

Man, I thought the movies had moved on from being overly noisy. Evidently I was wrong. Also, more flashbacks than you can shake a stick at here, which is utter madness. These movies are super formulaic, no two ways about that. This one has victims facing off against each other and leaving their fate up to another man, such madness on the loop. It would take something extraordinary from this series to shock me, if I am being serious. It’s all just so nasty and grotesque and gory and trying to be so much smarter than it is. Oh, well. Who the hell knew that one tiny-ass budget film from back in the day was going to spawn all of this afterwards? Wan and Whannell sure as shit had no clue.

On a totally unrelated note, something that has been bugging me for the last few movies is that Detective Hoffman has a mouth like a fucking pouty fish. Plus they were downright glossy in this movie!

fish lips poutCostas-Mandylor-hoffman pout

Not seeing a major difference…