Showing posts from April, 2015

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

This is not the story straight from the bible. Instead, this is a story "inspired by" the story in the bible. As a result, the story lacks quite a bit of what made it significant. I know what happens in the biblical story, as I heard it many times, but I was actually confused with quite a bit of what was going on a lot of the time.

Who the hell thought that John Turturro (of Transformers fame) would make a good Egyptian king? Well, he plays Seti I, father of Ramesses II and mentor of Moses. He does a crappy job with a role he shouldn't have even gone to the casting call for. Like everyone in this movie, he tries to do an accent, and I really don't know why. It's not like they were all doing Egyptian accents, either. John tries a British accent - kind of. It's really bad.

Christian Bale is British, so surely his accent will be spot on, right? Have you ever seen the TV Show Vikings? Rather than have real accents, they have a kind of stilted way of speaking that…

Wild Card (2015)

It's hard for Jason Statham to do something different. I mean, he's not going to significantly alter his fighting style overnight, and action is what he's all about. He tried to do something with a lot less violence, and it was a critical and box office failure. So, he likely looked at his options and considered what he might do to break out of the mold.

With this movie, he doesn't break through anything. Well, he breaks through a few arms, knees, heads, and other various body parts, but the story is pretty damn weak. See, Jason is a bodyguard/PI/something else, and he claims to be the only one in Nevada. That's right - our movie called Wild Card is set in Sin City itself - Las Vegas. So, we've definitely embraced the obvious  and straight-forward stereotypes and established tropes that will give the whole movie a bland and uninspired story.

Really, the story is another illustration that Jason can't pick a story for the life of him. I don't know if his …

Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA

You had me at Hop. Any good IPA has to be very, very hoppy, and this one touts its hop credentials very proudly on the label. It says hop twice, and it appears that they mean it. They say that they even use hop oil, so it's also gt that going for it.

The copious sticky foam sits like a crown atop the deep gold of the beverage. The aroma is predictably hoppy - with floral hops and a distinctly bitter twang to the smell. I think I smell a hint of lemon in there, too, but not much actually makes it past the hops.

A sip brings the bitterness of a teenage child who is sure that his parents don't "get it" when the grounded him for just a couple of joints - I mean what's the big deal, anyways? Jeeze, Dad, I don't need the lecture like this. When I'm 18, I am out of here, and I'll smoke as much weed as I want!

Sorry, I got off on a tangent there... where was I? Yes, I was talking about the sip, and it was very hoppy and bitter. Here's the thing - it is od…

Housebound (2014)

No, this is not yet another Australian movie that I'm going to fawn all over. This is a New Zealand movie I'm going to fawn all over. Okay, I may be a bit more reserved than all that, but this is another delightfully entertaining movie from an area of the world that I always thought either was filled with exiled criminals, hobbits, or novelty folk bands.

In this movie, we have the disillusioned daughter (Morgana O'Reilly) who is forced to come back home to live with her mother and stepfather under house arrest for ineptly attempting to steal money from an ATM with an equally inept male friend. Whittling away the hours of her confinement, being as non-productive as possible, she eventually starts to believe that the house she is in - the house she grew up in - is haunted.

This is where I would normally sarcastically say that hilarity ensued, but this movie actually brings the entertainment. I still don't understand why I've been finding these Australian, New Zealand…

The Imitation Game (2014)

They spent money on this Alan Turing biopic. They started off by getting Benedict Cumberbatch, and that doesn't guarantee success, but it's a step in the right direction. Toss in some Mark Strong brooding in the background with the stunning Keira Knightly (not her best hairdo, but she makes it work) as the female interest, and you have a pretty good start (unlike the last Turing movie I watched).

Benedict plays Turing like he's an even more recalcitrant and dispassionate genius than he plays Sherlock. He's off-putting to everyone around him as a result of his brusque mannerisms and inability to understand the usual way of interacting with other people. Just like the characters he's interacting with, it is easy for the audience to dislike him at first. Once you get used to his affectations, his ways become clear, and he becomes likable - just like Sherlock.

The sad thing about Keira Knightly is that she basically just gets lumped in with the other members of Turing&…

Codebreaker (2011)

Alan Turing was a fascinating British mathematical genius whose work resulted in breaking the code of the enigma machine and predicted the application of computers and AI before they were invented. It's hard to make his life story boring or unmoving. Somehow, that's how I came away from this movie - unmoved.

This movie tries the tactic of mixing facts doled out by historians and researchers about Alan and his escapades with bland dramatizations. The mix of drama and interviews would normally work okay, but the dramatizations are entirely in the context of a series of visits to his therapist. As a result, it's very tedious to watch the exceptionally effeminate affectations of Ed Stoppard hesitantly spill everything to the entirely unhelpful psychiatrist played by Henry Goodman. The effect is to make the significant and life-altering events that Turing encounters less important or less interesting.

It's not that the actors do a terrible job of acting, but they are fighti…

These Final Hours (2013)

There is impending doom. Don't worry - it's going to hit Australia. Unfortunately, by the time the movie started, it has already hit the US, and we're all pretty much dead. An asteroid has hit the earth near the eastern seaboard of the US, and the wave of destruction is slowly (relatively) making its fiery way across the land and sea, killing everything in its path. So, the movie starts off on a high note.

Life, it seems, loses most of its meaning, and most of the social taboos are pretty much ignored when there is a measurable, known, and finite amount of time left for everyone you've ever known on the planet. Lawlessness, killings, and theft are pretty much ubiquitous. People are killing themselves in spectacular ways, and that is where our main storyline picks up - with a guy who feels the need to run back to his girlfriend (leaving the woman he actually loves) and going to a massive party to end the world.

I'm not entirely sure that we should be supporting this…

Would You Rather (2013)

Someone thought that movies like Cube, Chariot, and Redline were all leaving something on the table. Their somewhat implausible stories were still too realistic, and the whole thing needed more pizzazz! So, we will have a secret society of millionaires billionaires quardrillionaires to bring in people who have no money are are in the midst of hard times who will endure pain and hardship for the entertainment of the rich few in hopes of getting some of that sweet, precious money.

Our hero is a girl who needs help with her brother's medical bills, her own bills, and getting her life back on track. She is invited to a dinner party with a bunch of other people who are similarly in need of assistance, and it is revealed to them all that they will eat and then there will be a game that will result in one of them winning and living a life of wealth while the others will most likely die. Everyone is given a time limit to decide if they will do the action that they are tasked with - which i…

The Possession of Michael King (2014)

These kinds of possession movies really haven't gone very far since The Omen and The Exorcist. It's hard to come up with a fresh take on it, and that's why not too many possession movies stray very far from their roots. Well, you need to introduce this kind of movie to the modern audience with more sophisticated tastes and relatively limited attention spans, so let's cut down the scenes with priests and stuff, and let's give them what they really want: found footage!

I hate found footage style movies. Maybe it was because one once punched me in the nose, or it might be because they are a cheap way of making movies that really kind of suck, but the audience is a willing participant in ignoring the flaws held within. So, you have the obsessed guy who has something to prove, so he carries a camera around with him everywhere, installs cameras all over his house, and most people don't even really question him about it.

This camera obsessed guy is dealing with his wi…

The Anomaly (2014)

Written by, directed by, produced by, and starring... the same guy. Very little good can come from this kind of thing. I've seen Leonard Nimoy try to tackle too much, and even someone with that much skill struggles at the idea of directing and starring in a movie. Well, the last time I saw this guy, Noel Clarke, he was Rose's love interest on Dr. Who. He did well enough as an actor in that, but there is a lot to deal with when you're doing this much in a movie.

It's a sci-fi thriller where our hero (Clarke) is seemingly jumping in time. He occupies his own body, but he jumps from one time to the next, never knowing what situation he's going to wind up in next. My wife commented that the jarring nature of the jumps is reminiscent of the ones that happen in Twelve Monkeys. I have to agree - they are nearly identical, but they are much more frequent. In each location, he is almost always in a situation with a guy who MUST be a bad guy, played by the bright eyed Ian So…

Einstök Ölgerð Icelandic White Ale

Iceland: home to a viking heritage, volcanoes, and cities that I can't pronounce or spell. Also from this magical island is this beer. Is it any good? I think we all hope it is, but I won't know until I try it.

It is clear and gold - a very yellow gold. It looks very much like your average American macro brew, which is odd for a beer that claims to be bottle conditioned. Normally, I would expect a bit of murkiness from the detritus that allows for the proper finishing of the beer. The foamy top leaves a very significant amount of lacing on the sides while the aroma of thin malt, lemon, orange, and maybe coriander waft a very short distance from the rim.

First sip reveals a very crisp, orange and very light hops. The spices and malt exist as background, and I fear that a full swig is going to bring out a lot of wateriness. But, I might just be worried about nothing. Let me take a proper gulp.

Tip-in is slight carbonation burn with orange and coriander.  The middle tingles with …

Fort Collins Brewery 1020 Pale Ale

The other two Fort Collins beers I've had were very, very good. As a result, I have high expectations for this one. It's an ale, so it already has that going for it - I'm an ale guy, and I don't care who knows it. I bought this as part of a six pack, so I certainly hope I like it, or I'm choking down five more of them.

It's a bit murky, and the color is a slightly yellow gold with a fairly sticky head that reduces to a very thin blanket that still manages to cover the entire top of the beer. The aroma is surprisingly not laden with lots of floral hops. Instead, there is a bready and citrus smell. Way deep down, I think I can smell a bit of pine hops, but I'm starting to think that I've been drinking too many IPAs lately.

First sip is a very sharp with its lemon zest, some grapefruit oddness, the more noticeable pine, and the background bready malt. It's got a lot going on, and I'm not sure it's all mixing together as it was intended. The aft…

Citizenfour (2014)

There are few times where you can actually watch history in the making - not as it is presented to you, but as it is - in the raw. The closest I'd come was seeing Reagan shot of TV or maybe even just seeing that picture of Obama and his staff as Bin Laden was being hunted down. There is a certain power that comes with the feeling of being inside the inner circle when something happens that has a profound effect on the world around us.

This movie is little more than strung together behind the scene clips of Edward Snowden giving his stolen NSA information to Glen Greenwald and several other reporters. As a movie, then, it doesn't really tell much of a story, but it definitely stirs feelings in the audience. Some people think he's a terrorist, some a traitor, some a hero, and everyone seems to have an opinion. In this movie, he's brought to you in the form of some guy who's good with computers. He's been working for secretive agencies for a while, and he has deci…

The Babadook (2014)

This is quite possibly the best horror flick I've seen in quite a while. The name of the movie combined with the poster (or, worse still, the trailer) might give you the impression that this is a creature movie. It isn't. It's so much better and so much more insidious. It is a more cerebral film about a mother descending into madness, and her son following her on the ride. It all happens in Australia, so I am left wondering if this kind of thing might be normal there, and I just hadn't been exposed to it.

Recent horror movies that I've watched have either focused on gore, have relied on jump scares, or have relied on the found-footage-style production quality to generate fear. All of these are cheats in their worst form. They are attempts to bypass actual effort by dazzling or confusing the audience more than generating actual fear. Recently, I started to think that the problem was with me - that there was no story or way to film that would generate the thrill of a…

John Wick (2014)

Keanu Reeves was miscast in this movie. It's a shame that he was, as he actually does a good job with his role in what is otherwise a very good action movie. The story is very simple, so there isn't much to go wrong with it, and action movies of this kind are fairly easy to plot out from a camerawork perspective. Really, there isn't much to make this movie stand out, and that's why pretty much no one has ever heard of it.

The actual fight choreography is the reason to show up and watch this movie. It's not Tony Jaa in Ong Bak kind of fighting, but it is its own way of doing things the right way. Keanu does most of the fighting using guns, and his gunplay is very good - nearly at the level of Tom Cruise in Collateral - but probably more in line with The Way of the Gun. The quick moves and rapid acquisition of fresh targets is stellar, but it is combined with a systematic finishing off of opponents that most action movies never get around to. He puts a man down, engag…

Interstellar (2014)

Imagine you were a car enthusiast and you heard there was going to be a car movie where an actual car expert like Bob Lutz was going to be on staff to explain what can and cannot be done with cars, what each car is supposed to sound like and drive, and how each one alters perceptions around it. This movie had Kip Thorne, world-renowned astrophysicist as an executive producer, so I was anticipating that the science could drive this movie. Specifically, I knew that a black hole was involved, and I wanted to see a Hollywood depiction of spaghettification.

The story is about Matthew McConaughey as a father, son, former experimental pilot, drone hacker, engineer, and part-time philosopher. He is dealing with a pending global apocalypse that has manifested itself with the "blight" that is some kind of organism that breathes nitrogen and eats crops. It is accompanied by the Midwest equivalent of the dust-bowl. He works as a farmer who also helps people automate their farming machi…

Rosewater (2014)

Jon Stewart is a smart, talented man who poured his heart and soul into this movie. It seems like a shame to crap all over it, but it crapped itself on me first. I really wanted to like this movie, but it just wasn't that good. I know I must be in the minority, as it appears to have gotten generally favorable reviews elsewhere, and while I know that its box office was pretty terrible, that isn't really the whole story on if a film is good.

This film has some solid acting. Even the bit part by Jason Jones (playing himself) was very good. Everyone does a fine job with their roles - that's not the problem. The story revolves around the relationship that is established between the wrongly accused protagonist and his interrogator, and they seem to interact pretty well. As a result of the things that this movie does right, it's hard to put a finger on why I felt so detached from the characters and almost disinterested in the movie I had been looking forward to.

The pacing of…

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)

What can you really expect from a movie that is about a group of people that you already know going in are litigious, predatory jerks who shield themselves from the law and government itself by spending vast quantities of ill-gotten gains to protect their status as a church? When this is the known information about the Scientologists, where is there to go? Do they mistreat their members? Yes, it has already been well-documented that they do. Are they essentially a corporation that goes out of its way to persecute people who speak ill of them? Who didn't know that by now?

In this documentary, then, we get a lot of the same stuff that has already been out there, but there is at least an attempt to convey an understanding of how people are indoctrinated. The issue with it is that it is also the exact same story that has been told many, many times about other cults. Really, that's the issue I have with this movie - a documentary is supposed to try to break new ground or see the is…

Green Man Toad the Wet Hop Ale

The last Green Man beer was pretty good. This one is a special brew honoring Toad the Wet Sprocket. It never occurred to me that a band would issue a commemorative beer, but that appears to be something along the lines of the case. Presumably they have high standards, and this beer must have passed the test with all the band members, roadies, managers, etc. So, let's hope they all liked good beer.

The color is a murky brown with the Photoshop/GIMP red hue turned slightly up. The fulsome head is thick with big, round carbonation bubbles, and it leaves gentle if somewhat spartan lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is thicker than the head, with the smell of floral hops, lemon, and dinner rolls wafting from the top of the beer.

First sip isn't fantastic. The beer is trying too hard to be different, and every little component is getting in the way of a good beer. One of the tricks for making a good ale is to give it enough malt in the right way to keep the hops from turn…

Stone Delicious IPA

From the makers of Arrogant Bastard comes this IPA that they arrogantly called "Delicious." I'm not sure they can judge their own beers, but I hope they are on the money. I have heard so many good things about this brewery, and I want to see the spark that everyone else sees.

The slight orange hue makes this beer more amber than gold. The sticky head leaves copious amounts of lacing on the side - very attractive. The aroma is bready and very thick with floral hops. I detect some spiciness to the beer as well, and I can't wait to try some... in fact, why wait?

First sip is a laid back affair. It's like a simple hamburger that is well crafted, but it doesn't have to try too hard to be delicious. This beer has light spices and citrus with the floral hops, and the taste is simple and elegant. I'm almost afraid to take a full swig, as the sip is probably the best way to drink it, but I give you readers what you want. And what you want (I assume, as most of you…

Left Hand Brewing "Wake Up Dead" Nitro Russian Imperial Stout

I've had many Left Hand Brewing beers before. The Milk Stout and the Nitro Milk Stout are a couple of my all-time favorites (even though I haven't gotten around to reviewing the regular Milk Stout yet). As a result, I'm very much looking forward to this one, even though I have not liked many imperial stouts in the past.

The color is a deep, deep red brown to the point of being (for all intents and purposes) black. The minimal head settles to a firm mattress of nitrogen bubbles floating gently on top of the oil black beverage. The aroma is sweet and chocolaty with a hint of coffee. I'm still trusting the LHB knows what they're doing.

First sip is very different than either of the Milk Stouts. Its got bitter chocolate and coffee with maybe some fig tossed in their for good measure. It is nowhere near the smooth sweetness of the Milk Stouts. Instead, it's still a smooth sip, but it also brings that bitterness with it. As a sipping beer, it isn't bad, but it'…

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout

A friend gave me this can of beer. Well, I say he's a friend, but he should know that CANS of beer are not what people come to this blog for. Yes, there have been good cans reviewed here. Actually, come to think of it, I have only had pretty good cans. So, I guess a can is okay. Free beer is certainly good, so I think Robert might deserve a thank you, even if I don't like this beer. In fact, I'm sure of it.

It is nice and black. I'd say that (like most stouts) it is probably so dang dark red that it appears to be black, but it may as well be black. The head is a thin brown cap of dense bubbles that grip the sides very well and leaves a few islands floating on top, waiting for a life outside the glass. The aroma is dark roast coffee and oatmeal.

A sip brings an onslaught of toffee and chocolate and lots of other, more interesting tastes that all kind of merge together to form a puddle of nonsense that just doesn't scream palatable to me. I suspect life will be bette…

Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail

I have never had an Evil Twin beer before. I'm not saying this is make or break for them, but my recent experience with Green Flash (combined with a friend's anecdote) have all but made me swear off of them with a single beer under my belt. Let's hope Evil Twin works out better.

A translucent, hazy beer, it is the color of light copper. The aroma is sweet and floral. I suspect they added enough sweet malt to cover the bitterness of the hops and then some. There isn't a whole lot of head to it, and it goes away very quickly. The remnants are a mere wisp of bubbles clinging for dear life around the edge of the glass. There isn't enough of a head to leave any lacing, so that's kind of a disappointment. But lacing is just window dressing, and it's the taste that makes a beer.

First sip is sweet as all get out. It has a LOT of sweetness to it with some nuts and flowers added for good measure, but that is just a whole heck of a lot of sweet. I've had sweet be…