In My Humble Opinion: Insidious: Chapter 3 is another exciting installment in the Insidious franchise that opens the door to further possible sequels…or prequels depending on how you look at it. Although it’s titled Insidious: Chapter 3, the movie itself is actually a prequel, taking place some years before the events of the first two films. During the movie the audience is given bits and pieces to the backstory of our favorite paranormal psychic Elise Rayner portrayed by Lyn Shaye. Her character’s backstory accompanied by what transpires in this installment ties all three movies together very well. In this film Elise reluctantly agrees to use her psychic abilities to help a teenage girl reach out to her mother who passed away a year earlier. I don’t want to give too much away, so I will just say that Elise’s reluctance is well founded, because once she gives in and agrees to help Stephanie Scot’s character Quinn Brenner, all hell breaks loose.
I’ve typically found movies that restrict the audience from seeing the danger can prove to be the scariest. In Jaws, you don’t see the shark for like the first three quarters of the movie? Paranormal Activity you never really see anything physical. Surely I could go on and on but my point is movies like this feed the audience’s imagination in order to scare them. Well, Leigh Whannell, who wrote all three Insidious films and makes his directorial debut with this installment, has a sixth sense when it comes to the horror genre. Whannell has a way showing you what might frighten you, showing you the danger, and still scaring the shit out of you. Not one of his incarnations; Jigsaw, The Bride In Black, The Man Who Can’t Breathe, Red- Faced Demon, etc. have failed to instill terror and fear. Bottom line, Insidious: Chapter 3 is definitely worth checking out and Leigh Whannell will continue to emerge as a go to guy when it comes to horror films.
In My Humble Opinion: The new Poltergeist remake serves as another nail in the coffin when it comes to the idea of movie remakes. Don’t get me wrong, the idea isn’t completely dead and there have been a few remakes that proved it can be done, and done well. Unfortunately for every Cape Fear or Nutty Professor type remake that succeeds, there is a mass of Total Recall, Red Dawn, Halloween, types that unseat my confidence in the whole idea of remakes. Poltergeist, unfortunately is another remake that not only shows how bad remakes can be, but just how bad movies themselves can be.
Poltergeist stars Sam Rockwell (which is part of the reason I was hoping this movie would do well, he’s awesome!) and Rosemarie DeWitt as married couple Eric and Amy Bowen. When we first meet the couple and their three children, the family is in the process of buying a new home. Amy doesn’t work and is contemplating on writing a novel, while Eric has recently been laid off from his employer. Hopefully, after reading that, you’re thinking the same thing I was when I watched the movie. Neither parent is working, but they’re buying a home? What is this, the great market crash all over again? Anyway, if you’ve seen the original then you know the basic storyline. A poltergeist begins terrorizing the family, all in an attempt to kidnap the youngest of the Bowens, little daughter Caroline so she can lead all the tortured souls “into the light.” Although in this version the youngest daughter’s name is Maddison (Yeah, cause that will surely distinguish this movie from the original). Spooks and scares ensue, or least that’s what I think the filmmakers were trying to do, before an expert is brought in to save the Bowen family, yada yada yada.
Forget that the movie is a remake for a second, and you still find yourself thinking, “God, this movie is just really…bad!” Never mind the fact that the movie doesn’t deliver up a single scare; the writing is all over the place with no real continuity leaving you with a feeling that the movie was being mapped out as it was being filmed. As far as the performances, the actors themselves seem to be disappointed with the fact that they agreed to be in the movie in the first place. The most evident aspect of this is Sam Rockwell. The normally engaging and magnetic actor is dulled down to a morose, sad sack father with no real passion whatsoever. All in all, the movie was a huge disappointment and the only thing haunting about the movie is the fact that it was ever green lit in the first place.
In My Humble Opinion: The 1996 film The Frighteners is a generally forgotten film when it comes to horror movies. Granted, it’s far from the scariest movie out there, but it’s a truly entertaining picture that successfully blends both the horror and comedy genre together. The 1996 film written & directed by Peter Jackson was the last film he wrote, produced, and directed before descending upon Middle Earth and becoming a household name for his Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit trilogies. The film stars a young Michael J. Fox as Frank Bannister, a psychic paranormal investigator who is haunted by the loss of his wife, who died in a car accident years prior. Plagued with grief, Bannister now uses his ability to see and interact with ghosts to con people out of money in order to make ends meet. Low and behold his abilities and integrity are put the test when the “Grim Reaper” turns up in the small town Bannister inhabits to continue a murder spree that was put in motion many years earlier (I’m trying to avoid spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie yet so I’ll end the description here).
Considering the movie was released in 1996 the special effects are surprisingly impressive. The “ghosts” embody what I imagine we all typically envision when we think of what ghosts would look like if they existed in real life. The “Grim Reaper” is a digitally created nightmare that, despite the movies comedy chops, instantly reminds you why the film is considered horror as well. The New Zealand – American film was a moderate success grossing $29.3 million at the box office compared to its $26 million budget. The film earned Saturn nominations for writing, directing, special effects, music, and certainly put Peter Jackson on the map with regards to his writing and directing abilities. If you haven’t seen the film yet I strongly encourage you to check it out, especially with Halloween approaching. If you have seen it, make some time to break out of the repetitive viewing of other classics like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare and Elm Street, and re-discover this commonly overlooked horror classic.
In 2029, the leader of the human resistance, John Connor, leads the war against the machines. At the Los Angeles offensive, John is notified by his army unit, Tech-Com, that Skynet will attack him from two fronts, past and future, and will ultimately change warfare forever. In response, he sets up 2 units; the Colorado Unit which is tasked with destroying the heart of Skynet, and a second unit lead by himself and Kyle Reese which is tasked with destroying Skynet’s final weapon, a time machine.
Before the resistance can reach the time machine, Skynet sends a T-800 back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, John’s mother. John agrees to send Kyle Reese back to protect Sarah. As Kyle is floating in the machine’s magnetic field, he experiences new memories of his 12-year-old self with a young Sarah Connor, and a warning that “Genisys is Skynet” and it will come online in 2017.
The T-800 arrives in 1984 Los Angeles, but is quickly dispatched by Sarah Connor and the Guardian, a reprogrammed T-800 with aged human tissue. Shortly after, Kyle is ambushed by a T-1000 and is rescued by Sarah and the Guardian. Kyle is informed that the original past has changed, Sarah already knows about Skynet, Judgment Day, and Reese’s role as her protector and John Connor’s father (although Kyle doesn’t know he is John’s father). They lure the T-1000 to a sewer, where Sarah disintegrates it with acid.
Sarah explains to Kyle that the Guardian was sent back in time to 1973 in order to protect Sarah the T-1000. The arrival of both terminators caused a fractured timeline that differs from Kyle’s. After saving and protecting Sarah, the Guardian raised and trained her to face her destiny, which she adamantly tries to reject. They have built a time machine to time travel forward to 1997 and stop the creation of Skynet. However, Kyle, convinced by his new memories, persuades the Guardian and Sarah that they should travel to 2017. Kyle and Sarah time-travel, while the Guardian spends the next 30 years preparing for their arrival.
Kyle and Sarah materialize in the middle of a highway and are captured by the police, followed by the Guardian. While they are being treated for injuries, Sarah is introduced to Genisys, a soon-to-be-unveiled operating system that will be used on every computer, mobile device, and military application. They are unexpectedly rescued by John Connor. As John leads the pair to the parking garage, the Guardian catches up with them and shoots John, revealing him to be a nanomachine replication of John, the T-3000. After a brief battle, the T-3000 is temporarily incapacitated with an MRI machine.
The Guardian takes Kyle and Sarah to a safehouse near Golden Gate bridge where they prepare to destroy the Genisys building before Genisys is online. The T-3000 tracks them down, and the battle reaches the Golden Gate bridge, where Kyle and Sarah are once again captured, this time with the Guardian. They are freed by Detective O’Brien, who was saved by Kyle in 1984, and is convinced that they are time-travellers with good intentions. The three hijack a helicopter and head to the Genisys building, pursued by the T-3000.
The T-3000 enters the Genisys building first, kills all the security guards and moves the count down forward from 13 hours to 15 minutes. The Guardian, Kyle and Sarah plant bombs at key points in the facility, all while holding off the T-3000. After a lengthy battle, the Guardian successfully traps the T-3000 in the magnetic field of the prototype time machine. After Kyle and Sarah navigate to a bunker beneath the facility, the time machine explodes, setting off the bombs and leveling the building, preventing Genisys from coming online.
With their mission over, the Guardian, Kyle and Sarah travel to young Kyle’s home, where he repeats the warning of Genisys to young Kyle. Sarah is relieved to know that she is now free to choose what to do with her future, and chooses to be with Kyle. The three then drive away. In the epilogue, the Genisys system core hidden in a subterranean chamber survives the explosion and the holographic projection of the now self-aware Skynet looks on.
In the Eastern European country of Sokovia, the Avengers – Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton – raid a Hydra outpost led by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who has been experimenting on humans using the scepter previously wielded by Loki. They encounter two of Strucker’s experiments – twins Pietro, who has superhuman speed, and Wanda Maximoff, who can manipulate minds and throw energy blasts – and apprehend Strucker, while Stark retrieves Loki’s scepter.
Stark and Banner discover an artificial intelligence within the scepter’s gem, and secretly use it to complete Stark’s “Ultron” global defense program. The unexpectedly sentient Ultron, believing he must eradicate humanity to save Earth, eliminates Stark’s A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S. and attacks the Avengers during a victory party at their headquarters. Escaping with the scepter, Ultron uses the resources in Strucker’s Sokovia base to upgrade his rudimentary body and build an army of robot drones. He recruits the Maximoff twins, who want revenge against Stark for their parents’ deaths from his company’s weapons. Together, they visit the base of arms dealer Ulysses Klaue in an African shipyard to obtain vibranium. The Avengers battle them, but Wanda subdues the heroes with haunting visions, causing the Hulk to run ramped and forcing Stark to use his powerful “Veronica” armor to stop him.
A worldwide backlash over the resulting destruction, and the fears Wanda’s hallucinations incited, send the team into hiding at Barton’s safe house farm, where they meet his wife, Laura, and children. Thor departs to consult with Dr. Erik Selvig on the meaning of the apocalyptic future he saw in his hallucination. Realizing an attraction between them, Romanoff and Banner plan to flee together after fighting Ultron. Nick Fury arrives and encourages the team to form a plan to stop Ultron. In Seoul, South Korea, Ultron forces Banner’s friend Dr. Helen Cho to use her synthetic tissue technology, vibranium, and the scepter’s gem to create the perfect body for him. When Ultron begins uploading himself into the body, Wanda is able to read his mind; discovering his plan for human extinction, the Maximoffs turn on Ultron. Rogers, Romanoff, and Barton hunt Ultron and retrieve the synthetic body, but Ultron captures Romanoff.
The Avengers fight amongst themselves when Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. – who is still operational after hiding from Ultron inside the Internet – into the synthetic body. Thor returns to help activate the body with lightning, explaining that the gem on its brow – the Mind Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones and one of the most powerful objects in existence – was part of his vision. The synthetic being, now referred to as the Vision, and the Maximoffs accompany the Avengers to Sokovia, where Ultron has used the remaining vibranium to build a machine that lifts a large part of the city skyward, intending to crash it into the ground and cause global extinction. As the city begins to lift, Banner rescues Romanoff, who awakens the Hulk for the battle. The Avengers fight Ultron’s army while delaying Ultron from activating his plan’s final procedure. Fury arrives in a Helicarrier with Maria Hill, James Rhodes, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to assist in evacuating civilians, but Pietro dies when he shields Barton from a barrage of fire. A grieving Wanda abandons her post to destroy Ultron’s primary body in revenge, inadvertently allowing one of his drones to activate the machine. The landmass plummets, but Stark and Thor overload the machine and shatter the city into pieces. In the aftermath, the Hulk, unwilling to endanger Romanoff by being with her, departs in a Quinjet, while the Vision confronts Ultron’s last remaining body.
Later, the Avengers have established a new base in upstate New York, run by Fury, Hill, Cho, and Selvig. Believing the Mind Stone is safe with the Vision, Thor returns to Asgard to learn more about the forces he suspects have manipulated recent events. As Stark and Barton also retire from the team, Rogers and Romanoff prepare to train new Avengers: Rhodes, Wanda, the Vision, and Sam Wilson.
In a mid-credits scene, Thanos retrieves the Infinity Gauntlet2 and, dissatisfied with the failures of his pawns, vows to hunt for the Infinity Stones personally.
In My Humble Opinion: Michael Keaton should certainly walk away with the Oscar for Best Actor; if not based solely on his performance in Birdman, but for the years of work he has put into his career and the memorable roles he has given us. I know, I know, it’s not about how much work an individual has done or how many projects he/she has completed; it’s about the performance he/she is nominated for that particular year…or at least that’s what some people will theorize. Should I bring up Peter Jackson’s Best Director snubs for LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, but finally winning for The Return of the King? Or maybe George Clooney being snubbed for Best Director for Good Night and Good Luck, but the Academy not wanting him to leave empty-handed so they gave him Best Supporting Actor for Syriana, robbing Paul Giamatti, William Hurt, and Jake Gyllenhaal who I feel gave better performances.
Anyway, back to Michael Keaton and his nomination for Birdman. Let’s take a look at everyone that’s nominated for Best Actor to gain some perspective. First you have good ole Beetlejuice himself Michael Keaton, who has been entertaining audiences for the last 40 years. The next actor who has a good chance of walking away with the statue is Eddie Redmayne for his role in The Theory of Everything. This young lad has been in the game for 23 years (I know, I was surprised he’s been acting that long too). Next is Benedict Cumberbatch who is nominated for his role in The Imitation Game. Benedict has been acting for about 15 years and will surely have many more nominations down the road. Bradley Cooper makes history by being one of a handful of actors receiving an Oscar nomination three years in a row, not bad for someone that’s been acting for 16 years. This year he is nominated for his role in American Sniper. Lastly we have Steve Carell…yes you read that right. The funny man who has been acting for 29 years received a nomination for his serious performance in Foxcatcher.
Every actor listed above is obviously talented, and will surely continue to receive accolades and recognition for their performances in the years to come. I just feel that with Mr. Keaton’s extensive career in acting and his strong performance in Birdman that maybe he deserves a little more recognition this year, in the form of an Oscar. Maybe some of the performances by other actors listed above were better, like I said, this is my opinion. It’s always a tricky thing when you try to decide who the “frontrunner” is and who may be that dark horse that comes from behind and takes home the trophy…right Giamatti, Hurt, and Gyllenhaal? Surely we all remember when Cuba Gooding Jr. won for Jerry Maguire. He beat out Edward Norton for his role in Primal Fear which in my opinion was a gross oversight…Norton should have clearly walked away with a statue that night.
Here’s hoping the powers that be will recognize an actor that’s been in the game for over half his life and has given us some memorable performances. The list could go on and on but to name a few: Beetlejuice, Jack Butler in Mr. Mom, Carter Hayes in Pacific Heights, Robert Jones in My Life, Douglass Kinney in Multiplicity, Bruce Wayne in Batman, and now Riggan Thompson in Birdman. Here’s hoping the powers that be will honor this seasoned performer and that Michael Keaton can soon add “Oscar Winner” to his list of achievements!
In My Humble Opinion: There is no way to make a definitive list of, “the best war movies” ever made. Hell, you can even argue with what constitutes a “war” movie itself. With that in mind, I humbly submit this list of movies that I believe fit the bill of great war movies or great movies with military themes. Please feel free to comment below with any movies I may have left off the list that you feel should have made the cut. Dedicated to all that have borne the battle on this Veteran’s Day.
In no particular order:
1. We Were Soldiers
2. Full Metal Jacket
5. Saving Private Ryan
7. Black Hawk Down
8. Stalag 17
9. The Messenger
10. The Deer Hunter