The Belko Experiment – Review

Periodically, a film arrives in theaters that I know absolutely nothing about. I walk up to the kiosk, glance over the familiar titles and select which cinematic adventure I’ll be experiencing. This is that rare case where I walked into the theater knowing only who wrote it and the basic premise. So let’s dive in and take a look at “The Belko Experiment” in this box office review…

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The plot is kill or be killed. A group of 80 corporate employees in Bogota Columbia are trapped inside their building and told that in order to survive they must murder one another by any means possible. When the group is first instructed they are reluctant to take a life of a colleague. However, it’s quickly discovered that the tracking chips they have implanted in their heads (in the event they’re kidnapped in Columbia which is common practice in this film) is actually a bomb. Because they refuse to kill one another, some of their heads start exploding, their mindset changes and the movie is off and running.

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I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this film. I walked in with zero expectations because I didn’t know anything about the movie except people go crazy and kill each other. I was not disappointed in the amount of murder. This film begins with 80 people and ends with 1. Some of the murder scenes were gratuitous but on the whole the death scenes were typical action movie quality. The characters each had a specific purpose in the film and it’s safe to say that your favorite character most likely will not survive. Don’t get attached because it’s a nonstop thrill ride of bloody death.

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The writing in the film was the highlight for me as I watched from start to finish. It was a great balance of humor, perspective, fear and sadness. There was also great determination by several characters and their dialogue was written wonderfully to convey that survival instinct. The comedic moments were also timed perfectly and felt natural. Imagining you’re in this particular world with this collective of personalities, each line of dialogue that was humorous provided a bit of necessary levity, I was shocked, disgusted and the laughing. It was well written and because of that I believe this film will become a cult classic.

The Belko Experiment” is in theaters now. I recommend everyone see this film who enjoys psychological, murderous, thrill rides with laughter. I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this movie. My only concern is that it could, I’m not saying it will, but, it could turn into a franchise akin to “Saw” or “Resident Evil.” Just cheaply made, garbage films that keep trying to capitalize on the greatness that was the original. I found this movie to be a quiet gem and it could end up being my favorite sleeper film of 2017. There was no marketing for this. I never saw a single trailer. It quietly snuck into theaters and then it impressed me enough to recommend you see it too. Go now!

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Logan – Box Office Review

The X-Men franchise is now 9 movies in length. There are 6 X-Men movies and 3 Wolverine movies. Have they all been terrible? Nope. Have they all been awesome? Also, nope. However they’ve each delivered something special and entertaining so let’s dive in and take a look at “Logan” in this box office review…

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This film dares to be something uniquely special in the franchise of the X-Men universe. It takes challenges that previous films have not. For example, this film explores what it means to treat the elderly who are suffering mental illness, like dementia. What it means to grow old. What it means to protect those you love. What it means to confront the inner demons individuals struggle with. This film goes deep and does it well. At its heart, the root story, is that of the reluctant hero who must come to terms with being a team player while his life has led him to isolation. He must confront the reality that he’s no longer alone and his life has new purpose, despite the fact his life might not last that much longer.

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The character of Wolverine in the comics is violent. This might be the first in 9 films to explore that facet of his personality. Sure he kills folks in previous films but the rage monster that he transforms into when he is pushed to the edge really has not, until now. This film captures the berserker fury well and does so with the new addition of Laura, aka X23, also. This movie is an examination of what it means to be family, and equally, what it means to be lose control and turn to savagery. We see the world around Logan attempt to remain in control, even if that’s through dark manipulation, while he himself loses control to save those he still holds dear. It’s a beautiful dichotomy.

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Logan” is in theaters now! I heard someone describe this film as a western meets science fiction and I won’t disagree with that description. I really enjoyed this film. The character of Wolverine is one of suffering and loss. He’s also one of great passion and love for those he ever truly grows to let in. This film captures this and more. It’s a great finale to the Wolverine Trilogy and it sets up future X-Men movies nicely. It’s violent but it’s not unnecessary. The action is all part of the character and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Go see this film!

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A Cure for Wellness – Box Office Review

Trailers can present an idea of a film so well that you know exactly what you’re getting when you walk into the theater. The trailers for this particular movie did their job well. The spooky nature and mysterious look are all driving factors for this story. So let’s dive in and take a look at “A Cure for Wellness” in this box office review…

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I walked into the theater with an expectation to have my mind messed with. I had an idea from the trailers that this movie was going to play inside my brain and attempt to freak my mind over and over again. It succeeded, in a way. The basic premise of the film is a rich CEO goes mental and has to find sanctuary in Switzerland at a place that no one who checks in ever checks out. An upcoming new talent is sent to the center for wellness to retrieve the CEO and the story unfolds from there. “From there” takes a long time unfortunately. This movie wastes so much screen time on shots of people walking or looking at things. I understand that it’s attempting to build suspense but I believe that is possible without having to watch Dane DeHaan crutch his way across a hallway while he suffers a broken leg. I get it. His leg is broken and the wellness center is creepy. Let’s stop watching the lead actor hobble his away across the screen while looking confused. Get… to… the… point.

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The cinematography in this film is enjoyable. To be fair, Gore Verbinski films typically look great. The mysterious eels, the colors of the hallways, the clothes of the patients, the washed out look on the faces of the people both worker and patient are as creepy as the movie intends them to be. This movie looks good! Plus, the main actors do a great job delivering on the persona’s they’re meant to portray. To recap, I really enjoyed the look of this film a great deal and the main characters were great.

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A Cure for Wellness” is in theaters now! I don’t know how to recommend this film. It takes some curious turns. It borders on bizarre monster movie, meets psychological thriller meets incestuous madness. The ending takes an odd turn that transforms the film from psychological thriller to something entirely different. It wraps up the questions I had regarding two characters, but wow. It takes a weird turn at the very the end. If you see it, comment below and share your thoughts. If you don’t see it, that’s ok too. I’m not sure how to or how not to recommend this film. It’s just very different but I walked out the theater enjoying the film but not liking how long it was.

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John Wick 2 – Box Office Review

The most enjoyed action film of 2014 was John Wick. Unfortunately, I missed it in theaters and enjoyed it on BLU-Ray. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed this action film about an assassin for the criminal underworld. When the sequel was announced I made sure not to miss this in theaters. So let’s dive in and take a look at “John Wick: Chapter 2” in this box office review…

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The incredible action sequences and gun play from the first film were not lost in this sequel. In fact, there was new styles of shooting in this film that made a scene like walking through a crowded tube of folks engaging as the characters had to try and shoot each other subtly. Yes, you read that correctly. This film loves martial arts, gun play and of course, John Wicks new dog. I was pleased with how the story wasn’t just a rehash of the previous story. It had an element of that in the very beginning of the film but Wick’s decision to settle differences leads the film in a completely fresh direction.

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In General, the story is predictable up into the ending. It’s a story about an assassin who wants to leave the world he’s a part of but that world isn’t ready to let him simply leave. I was surprised by the ending because the whole movie I was able to see where we were headed and by the end I didn’t want predictably to reign. It didn’t. The ending was surprising and I was grateful. I’m not sure where the third film in the franchise will go as the ending of the film really drives separation between John Wick and the world he inhabits. By the end of the movie though, he still has his dog which also was a major difference from the first film.

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John Wick: Chapter 2” is in theaters now! If you love action movies you need to see this movie on the big screen. I walked out of the theater so happy about what I just watched. It’s a great action flick and the style of martial arts and gun play are entertaining on fresh new levels. Keanu Reeves can play this character for as long as he wants in my opinion. This is a role he excels in. I’m even ok if the creators want to make a spin off movie that deals with only the Hotel Continental. I can’t recommend this movie enough to action movie lovers. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll probably want to start wearing more black when you walk your dog.

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Fist Fight – Box Office Review

Comedies should be designed to make people laugh as the top priority. If the film decides to venture into deeper concepts of life, mortality, racism, money, etc. that’s ok. However, the primary purpose of the comedy should be to make the viewers laugh, first and foremost. So let’s dive in and take a look at “Fist Fight” in this box office review…

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This movie was garbage. Plain and simple. I walked into the theater with an expectation to laugh. I barely laughed at all. Unfortunately, the majority of the “funny” scenes were those that were in the previews. I was so bored by the cheap jokes, poor writing and made for tv acting that I wanted to pull my hat down and fall asleep in the theater. Fortunately, Kumail Nanjiani has the comedic chops to be funny in any situation and he was the one character that kept the pulse alive for this film. There were two recurring jokes in the film that had some level of redemption and they made me laugh but overall the story is hot garbage on a windy day just blowing stink everywhere.

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Fist Fight” is in theaters now and it shouldn’t be. This movie isn’t worth your time via RedBox or theaters. If you decide to go out and do some day drinking and get pretty hammered and then turn on the TV and it’s playing, you might enjoy it. If you’re not hammered drunk though you’ll probably notice how you’re wasting your life by watching this film.

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Morgan – Box Office Review

The box office is filled with sequels or reboots and I hear often how people want new concepts or stories on screen. Well, when these movies come out it’s exciting because we’ll be treated to something that we can’t precisely figure out from the trailers. So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts of “Morgan” in this box office review…

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I was excited about this film from the time I saw the first trailer. I sat in the theater after the trailer ended and could only look forward to something that felt original, terrifying and well acted. The cast in this film was an immediate selling point and I’d recommend following the link to the IMDB page at the end of this review to see all the talented actors. Unfortunately, this film failed to live up to my expectations and according to Rotten Tomatoes I’m not alone in my feelings. This film has a audience score of 35% and the Tomatometer is Rotten 40%. This film was a disappointment.

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The short-comings weren’t actor based and they weren’t special effects based. The actors I enjoyed and the look of the film and the special effects all were entertaining and drew me in. The story fell short, as well as fell apart, in the 3rd act. There’s a scene early on where Morgan is in the forest and sees a deer that is dying because it was impaled by a tree branch. She kills the deer. This is only important because near the end of the movie the character that is chasing her, trying to kill her, also becomes impaled on a tree branch.  Unlike the deer however Morgan doesn’t kill the lady chasing her. So I guess that deer scene wasn’t important because if it was, the tension building towards that ladies death would’ve been completed with her death by Morgans hands. Follow the story telling logic, deer is impaled Morgan kills dear. Lady chasing Morgan trying to kill her is impaled, we as the audience just saw Morgan kill the deer so our tension builds because Morgan should be killing the lady and a surprise character will be responsible for killing Morgan or letting her escape. Either way, the lady chasing Morgan should die because that’s what the deer scene was foreshadowing!

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There’s more to the ending that I won’t spoil because while I hated the third act of this film I’m sure some people might enjoy it and I don’t want to take away the shock value that the film tried to create at the very end. The very end, by the way, also frustrated me. There is almost zero acknowledgement in this film that the ending would be possible. After the final scene I did say out loud in the theater, “Oh come on!” because it was so ridiculous. I get surprise endings where we as the audience are shocked or stunned but there’s usually some ground work laid in the film prior to that “WHOA!” moment at the end which makes that scene more impactful and believable. The only build up I recall is one scene where Morgan is looking at the top of her hands and then the palms of her hands but that’s not enough to build an ending off of. If you look down for popcorn or yawn (which is possible in the third act) you’ll miss it and then the ending makes even less sense.

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Morgan” is in theaters now. If you like science fiction horror than the first two acts you’ll enjoy and whether or not the third act is enjoyable will entirely be up to you. If you enjoyed the film comment below and please explain why. I’d love to read why someone enjoyed this movie as a complete film. Maybe you’ll change my mind and I’ll go back and revisit it. Maybe you won’t. Either way let me know.

Bad Moms – Box Office Review

When the trailer begins playing there are times we instantly know what we’re getting from a film and there are times we do not. In this particular case, I knew exactly what I was getting from the trailer and I was glad to walk into the theater, turn my brain off for a bit and just be able to laugh. So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts of “Bad Moms” in this box office review…

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The first surprise, almost immediate, was that the main character Amy played by Mila Kunis was not a single mother. She was married to a good for nothing man who offered little to the relationship or the family. From the previews I assumed she was a single mother and in fact she may as well have been because the husband offered zero support and only heightened her stress/frustrations. He’s caught jerking off to porn but it turns out that it’s not porn it’s actually a video chat with a girl across the country. And so, the story begins.

The overall story was, I felt, relatable because the characters express many frustrations, concerns, insecurities and emotions I have heard in real life from mothers. Now, being that I am clearly not a woman I can’t speak on the level of relatability but I feel that at least one of the women in this film will speak to mothers on a personal level, if even briefly. The stress for work, self, the home, the kids, the family and more is all discussed and made humorous as well as touching. You don’t dig much further than the surface for these characters but as I stated previously in this review, we knew that from the trailers.

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The story wastes no time which was nice. In fact, I believe the story goes from a crawl to a sprint within the first act. The two mothers who are more reserved and professional turn into party-time, booze infused, dirty talking, morally questionable women in no time. It’s a race to claim freedom and become something from a personal disaster or a sheltered existence. These characters wasted no time and go so far as to have a humorous adventure at the grocery story while shopping for their family, or at least that’s the reason they went to that store to begin with. While this film deals with a few characters it’s “Amy” who drives the narrative and the coming of age tale is fulfilled. What starts off as a comedic look at the life of a woman who is trying to do it all evolves into the story of a woman who does what she can but in that she does all she can for her kids, her work and her personal life.

“Bad Moms” is in theaters now. If you want a fun comedic film that won’t tax your brain, go see this film. It’s funny, at times emotional, and possibly relatable for some women who are single mothers or mothers in a relationship that’s more of a relationshit. If you don’t like crude humor I’d stay away from this film but if your sense of humor knows little boundaries you’ll probably appreciate the comedy and you’ll probably never look at a hoodie the same way ever again. It’s almost hoodie season too which is a shame for those of us who enjoyed and laughed way too had during that scene.

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Sausage Party – Box Office Review

There’s something to be said for the freedom that animation provides with regards to storytelling. What is possible on screen using live action is not always best and it might be animation as the key for particular stories told well, or well enough. So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts on the animated film “Sausage Party” in this box office review..

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This film starts off letting the audience know exactly what to expect. It’s a song about life as grocery store items and humans being the gods they long to be with. It veers into satirical goodness almost immediately as the German Food items want to kill the “Juice” items and it only grows from there. This film starts with absurdity and ends with food porn so fantastical if you aren’t offended you’ll be crying from laughter. This movie pulls no punches and finds a way to make light of even the big question, “What happens after we die?” It also examines life through two perspectives, one the food and the other the humans with “bath salts” being the only way to bridge the gap between the two worlds. It’s pure insanity and hilarious.

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The characters in this film are basic stereotypes that are exaggerated for the purpose of comedy. We are even treated to a douche, a literal woman’s female hygiene product, being the antagonist who acts like his namesake. If you’ve ever been to a nightclub or a pool party and met anyone who acts like “the douche” than you will find his character well written and humorous. We have a Jewish Bagel and Middle Eastern bread trying to cope with the fact they hate each other but must find a way to coexist in the small strip of shelf space that divides them. It’s fantastic.

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Sausage Party” is theaters now! If you love comedies that make fun of almost everything you will enjoy this film. If you laugh at inappropriate jokes, crude humor and sexual innuendo this is the summer comedy for you. If you hold your religion or personal beliefs to closely to find humor possible, do not see this film. The jokes pull no punches and we are treated to a comedic look at life through the eyes of grocery store products and how life might be if we discovered there is no after life, only this life.

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Suicide Squad – Box Office Review

The last of the summer blockbuster films held the #1 box office spot for its first 3 weeks in theaters. It’s a testament to the quality of the film if you pay attention to these types of things. If you prefer to check Rotten Tomato scores you are probably surprised it was #1 for 3 weeks. So let’s jump in and take a look at my thoughts on “Suicide Squad” in this box office review…

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When asked by people not familiar with the stories of “Suicide Squad” what to expect I would compare it the Dirty Dozen. It’s a band of criminals brought together to stop something terrible that would most likely result in their death. I will say that this was one aspect the film got right. The movie explained, mostly, who the villains are and why they’re in jail. I felt the story could’ve added more depth to what makes them so terrible instead of just bad guys. Also, I didn’t understand why we needed a double introduction for two characters, Harley Quinn and Deadshot, at the beginning of the film. The first time I saw the movie it didn’t bother me but the second time I realized what a waste of screen time that was and became annoyed at that one item.

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The film itself left me feeling divided on how much I actually enjoyed it. The high points were high and the low points were low. The Deadshot scene where he is killing one monster after another was incredible. Most scenes with Captain Boomerang were boring. I don’t recall a moment that left me thinking simply, “that was enjoyable.” I was either loving it or hating it and after seeing it twice I’m leaning towards the negative by maybe 1%. I loved the character of Harley Quinn and Deadshot. I even enjoyed the Rick Flag character. I don’t understand why Katana was in this film at all. The purpose of her sword is to steal souls and that wasn’t used at all to it’s potential. The end of the film could’ve been done with any sword, knife or sharp object. She served no purpose. I was hoping she’d serve as a character like “Snake Eyes” from the GI Joe film but she didn’t. She was pointless and her dialogue was terrible, including delivery.

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Additionally, the CGI animation towards the end of the film was atrocious. I mentioned this on the podcast review I did with “Cinema Head Cheese” but it’s worth repeating here, the special effects towards the end looked like something from the Brendan Fraser “Mummy” movies. It was awful. For a big budget film the special effects should’ve been much better. Also, why do I care about Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, and pretty much anyone else? The story revolves around 5 characters and they are, Harley, Deadshot, Flag, Amanda Waller and Enchantress. Everyone else in this film felt like they were there because someone wrote them in and refused to remove them despite their uselessness to the overall story. The Harley story almost felt like a secondary plot to the film because there was this heavy subplot of her relationship with the Joker running throughout. It was almost two completely different movies.

Suicide Squad” is in theaters now! If you wanna turn your brain off and see some pretty dope action sequences and Margot Robbie in tiny booty shorts, go see this film. If you’re looking for a great summer action flick, this isn’t it. It misses the mark one time too many but I will say that the DC live action movies do make me think more their competition. Unfortunately, those thoughts are usually my figuring our how it’s possible to mess up great existing stories in the way they only seem to be capable of anymore.

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Florence Foster Jenkins – Box Office Review

The summer blockbuster season has come to a close and what better way to usher in the dramatic, character driven films of “Oscar” season than a Meryl Streep movie? “Florence Foster Jenkins” is based on the true story of a New York Heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer despite her wretched voice.  So let’s dive in and take a look at my thoughts on this film in this box office review…

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It’s refreshing to see Hugh Grant back in the role I enjoy him performing. The classic gentleman is a personality that I have always enjoyed from his performances, when called for. He always shines when his character is a bit reserved but driven, caring and thoughtful. While he does entertain moments of base desire his character overall is remarkable once realized. The lengths we see him go to for his love is enough to make you feel a sense of warmth and by the end of the film you might be touched emotionally by his characters story. I was surprised by the relationship he and Florence had not knowing anything about the true story this is based on and I couldn’t appreciate him more by the end.

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There’s plenty to be said for Meryl Streep’s performance as Florence because we are treated to a woman who is suffering, should be dead but survives her life because of passion. She lives on because of her hearts drive for music and the arts. That is what keeps her going and it’s the journey Streep takes us on as this suffering character who is purely a passionate being that is incredible. The interactions between characters is telling if you pay attention to her reactions. She is passion and the moment she senses any false emotion her expression and demeanor changes signaling to us the audience she is aware and feeling stifled, if not lied too. It’s her passion which inspires characters throughout the film, not her talents, to find something within themselves they might not have discovered otherwise.

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The overall story is a period piece set in New York City and the story does well to capture the time. I wasn’t distracted by minutia which can become overwhelming if done poorly in period piece films. I don’t want to be distracted by music that isn’t from that time or slang that represents modern day unless the piece is set in modern day. This film captured the 1940’s, including artists, slang and clothing style. I was completely taking in by this film.

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Florence Foster Jenkins” is in theaters now! If you enjoy character driven stories, or movies based on true events this will definitely wet your appetite for “Oscar” season. I did, at one point, wonder if people were cutting onions in the theater because I found myself getting a bit misty eyed towards the end. So, if you decide to enjoy this movie on the big screen you might ask the folks at the theater for the non-onion theater show times. It’s a touching film with a great cast and the story is about one woman’s passion for music and the arts and how that passion can inspire others, even strangers.