CAPTAIN MARVEL GETS A NEW TRAILER!

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The Adventures of Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) are headed our way on March 8, 2019 and a second trailer has landed! Captain Marvel is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and co-stars Samuel L.Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn !

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source: Youtube

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CAPTAIN MARVEL GETS A TEASER TRAILER!

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The Adventures of Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) are headed our way on March 8, 2019 and we finally get a first trailer! Looks like it could be another hit for Marvel! Film is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck!

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source: Youtube

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REVIEW: KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017)

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KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2014)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

This new version of the King Kong legend takes place in 1973 at the end of the Viet Nam War when an uncharted island is discovered by satellite in the center of a perpetual storm system in the South Pacific. The monster hunting Monarch organization from Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla wants to send an expedition in, with the hopes of getting there before the Russians find out about it. Agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) heads the expedition team, including former SAS tracker, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), combat photographer, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and a military escort lead by Lt. Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). Immediately upon reaching the island, they find a hostile environment populated by hostile creatures and manage to piss off the ruling predator, a 100 foot tall ape the local natives and stranded WWII airman Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) call Kong. After a confrontation with Kong that leaves the military escort decimated and the expedition stranded, the group begin to plan their escape from the island…all but the vengeful Packard, who wants to finish what he and the enormous simian started. Little do they realize, that there is a greater threat living beneath the grounds of Skull Island and Kong may be their only hope of surviving it.

The entire reason this reboot exists is to set up the eventual collision between the giant ape and Godzilla, now that Warner Bros has the rights to both and is starting their proposed Marvel-esque “Monster-verse”. In a way it shows, as this flick is directed somewhat by-the-numbers by Jordan Vogt-Roberts from a script by three writers, no less, including Godzilla scribe Max Borenstein. This new interpretation is a fun monster movie that is loaded with action and filled with an assortment of critters, but by removing the tragic elements and the Beauty and The Beast angle from the original story, the makers remove the parts of the tale that resonated the most and gave it emotional depth. Now it’s just a routine monster movie and while it does entertain, it is also a bit forgettable once the credits finish rolling. Vogt-Roberts moves things fast enough, but never succeeds in giving the film a sense of wonder or an emotional center. Even Kong seems more of a generic monster here, though a bit of a noble one and we don’t endear to him like previous incarnations. The film is still a fun time, but not much is going to stick with you after it’s over. The FX are top notch and the monster scuffles are fast and furious, but the film lacks the heart and soul that the original classic…and even, to a lesser extent, Peter Jackson’s remake…had that made them memorable and endearing. Aside from re-introducing Kong in order to set up another movie with The Big G, there really isn’t a point to this version and despite the monster menagerie and some likable characters, it’s a bit shallow, when all is said and done.

The cast are all good, though and overcome some stale dialog to make their characters enjoyable to watch, aside from the big CGI ape. Hiddleston is solid as former military man Conrad and proves again he is leading man material. Here he plays a tough guy with a heart and does so very well. Brie Larson is also very charming and likable as seasoned photographer Mason Weaver. She can scrap and battle monsters with the boys and hold her own with both Kong and Samuel L. Jackson and not loose her girl-next-door appeal. She conveys a strength and grace that should bode well for her upcoming MCU turn playing Marvel super-heroine Captain Marvel. Goodman avoids the clichés that come with government operative characters and gives his Bill Randa a boyish sense of wonder at what he has found on Skull Island. While the character did keep secrets, he is never portrayed as a villain. Samuel L. Jackson is dead-on as the battle-hardened warrior who is not going to let a giant ape get away with wiping out his squad, especially after a disappointing exit from the Viet Nam conflict. Jackson’s bravado and intensity does make him a suitable adversary for the gigantic ape. Rounding out the leads is John C. Riley, who gives the film a little comic relief and some heart as a man who has been stranded on the primordial island since WWII and has bonded with the natives and learned how to survive it’s beastly population. His Hank Marlow provides us with some important exposition about Kong and his homeland, too. The supporting cast are all fine, as well and the strong cast helps make this as fun as it is.

Overall, this is a fun Saturday or Sunday matinee monster movie with plenty of creatures and numerous monster brawls to pass the time. The solid cast elevates a routine script and some stale dialog and the film is fast paced enough to keep us from thinking too much about things. The tragic soul of the original story is lacking and while there is a brief bonding moment between Kong and Larson’s Mason Weaver, the epic Beauty and the Beast element is missing as well. This Kong never gets to see New York or fall in love, but if he is still a growing boy as Hank Marlow seems to suggest, he should be big enough to lock horns with Godzilla as Warner Brothers plans them to do in 2020…which is the entire reason we got this movie. A fun, but forgettable monster mash.

Be sure to stay through the credits for a Marvel-esque post credit sequence that reveals Godzilla’s “co-stars” in the upcoming Michael Dougherty directed sequel Godzilla: King Of The Monsters due in 2019.

-MonsterZero NJ

  3 big apes.

 

 

 

 

 

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KONG: SKULL ISLAND GETS A NEW TRAILER!

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King Kong is Back! The new re-imagining of the classic character is scheduled to hit theaters on March 10th 2017 and this new trailer brings out the King and the critters! Flick stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson!

-MonsterZero NJ

source: Youtube

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REVIEW: ROOM (2015)

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ROOM (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Room is the heartbreaking story of a young woman, Joy Newsome (Brie Larson), who was kidnaped at age seventeen and held in a storage shed for seven years by a man she knows only as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). The only thing that means anything to her, is her five year-old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who was conceived from Nick’s nightly visits. All Jack has known is captivity inside the four walls of what they call ‘room’ and after a daring escape, he and his mother are finally free. Now Jack has to get used to a whole new world he has never known and his mother must re-acclimate to a world she never thought she’d see again.

Lenny Abrahamson tells a powerful story from Emma Donoghue’s script adapted from her book. The first half of the film paints a harrowing portrait of captivity and the crushing acceptance by the subject of her situation. At the same time we get the perspective of a child born in that captivity, who knows nothing else. If not for the love of her child, Joy might never think at this point of escape, but does so that Jack may be free. Once they do escape ‘room’ it becomes a powerful tale of a young woman trying to readjust to a world that has drastically changed while she was away, such as her parents’ divorce and that she last saw her home as a teenager. On top of that it’s a story of a young child discovering a whole new world he’s never seen before and it’s a little overwhelming for both of them. Add in the pressure from the media to make them a news sensation and Joy’s father’s (William H. Macy) rejection of Jack because of how he came to be and there is a lot of emotional turmoil. Abrahamson tells the story skillfully and without overdone melodramatics. The subject of Nick’s repeated rape of the now compliant Joy is done so deftly, that it is far more powerful than if the moments were portrayed far more graphically. A lot of the film is very subtle and while it does have some strong dramatic moments, the director resists taking advantage of the emotional weight of what unfolds and never makes it manipulative. Our emotional reactions are genuine, not provoked as in  the cookie cutter, feel-good flicks Hollywood likes to churn out. It’s far more gratifying to feel strongly because of what you are watching unfold, than to have things unfold specifically to elicit a strong emotion rather than narrative necessity.

The cast, especially our leads, is fantastic. Brie Larson deserves the accolades she has gotten for her role as Joy. She gives the part such a subtle strength as we watch her try to be the best mom she can while held captive in that room. Once free, she conveys the complex emotions of readjusting to the world with simple facial expressions and body language. Again, all this is accomplished without overblown melodramatic moments, Larson is most effective in Joy’s quieter moments with simple glances and looks. Young Jacob Tremblay is simply amazing as young Jack. He is simply perfect as a little boy raised in a very confined space, yet still eager and imaginative, creating his own little world. Once outside, he portrays a little boy both awestruck and afraid at the breadth of his new surroundings and terrified that what was familiar to him is now gone. He is simply brilliant, all the more so for being just eight years old when this began filming. Joan Allen gives a strong performance as Joy’s mother, a woman who is trying to be patient and supportive of her returned daughter and her new grandson as they adjust to life back at home…or in a new home in Jack’s case. Macy is only onscreen in a limited role, but his selfish refusal to accept little Jack does elicit strong reaction thanks to the actors intense portrayal of this rejection. Sean Bridges is also only onscreen briefly, but we get a sleazy and domineering individual in Old Nick whom may not be the focus here, but the strong characterization makes the oppressive atmosphere of ‘room’ believable.

A great movie without a doubt. An oft told story from a unique perspective that draws emotions out of you with sheer story telling and not plotted manipulation. Add in two brilliant performances from Brie Larson and her young costar Jacob Tremblay and you have a powerful and satisfying drama about how love does indeed conquer all.

-MonsterZero NJ

4 stars.

four stars rating

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: TRAINWRECK and ALOHA

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TRAINWRECK (2015)

Trainwreck is a bit of a return to form for director Judd Apatow, who hasn’t made a really funny movie since Knocked Up. Film tells the story of Amy (Amy Schumer, who also wrote) a party girl who uses her wild ways to avoid getting truly close to anyone. That is until a writing assignment (Why do all these movies feature lead’s who work for magazines?) introduces her to dorky sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). Now faced with possible true love, will Amy’s self destructive behavior ruin the best thing that’s ever happened to her?

Obviously, a big factor in why this routinely plotted romantic comedy works is it’s feisty, funny leading lady and the cast she is surrounded with. Schumer’s script is also legitimately funny and not only has some laugh out loud moments, but has some actual wit behind the more vulgar humor…a condom story Amy tells at a baby shower is particularly hysterical. She and Bill Hader have an off-beat chemistry and helps keep us engaged even as the move is about 15 minutes too long and gets a bit too sentimental for it’s own good. Also stars Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, Tilda Swinton and some surprisingly funny appearances by WWE Superstar John Cena, as a muscle-head Amy’s dating and a scene stealing LeBron James as himself.

3 star rating

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ALOHA (2015)

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, who has given us more than one classic, this flick has quite an engaging cast and might have been a good movie, if it ever decided what it was about. Is it about military contractor Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) helping billionaire entrepreneur Carson Welch (Bill Murray) get his communications satellite in orbit?…Is it about Gilcrest trying to uncover what’s in the satellite’s secret payload?…Is it about Gilcrest trying to win back former flame Tracy (Rachel McAdams) who’s in a troubled marriage?…Is it about Gilcrest falling in love with the military aide (Emma Stone) acting as his Hawaiian liaison?…or is it about Gilcrest discovering the daughter (Danielle Rose Russell) he never knew he had?…we don’t know and neither does the movie! Add in some rambling dialogue sequences that go on and go nowhere and you have a waste of 105 minutes and a very solid cast…not to mention beautiful Hawaiian locations. Also stars, Alec Baldwin and Danny McBride as military officers. An oddly schizophrenic screenplay and very haphazard direction from a filmmaker who can direct stuff like this in his sleep…and maybe this time he did!

2 star rating

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 -MonsterZero NJ
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REVIEW: DON JON (2013)

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DON JON (2013)

Before I get into actually reviewing this film, I have to say that being from Northern New Jersey all my life, I was a little insulted by the fact that writer/director/star Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays pretty much everyone in his Garden State set movie as a Sopranos/Jersey Shore reject. The scenes with his Jon Martello and his dad Jon Sr. (Tony Danza laying it on really thick) in their matching ‘wife beaters’ and gold chains at post church Sunday dinner could have fit into either one of those shows without missing a beat. I’m not saying there aren’t people here that fit the stereotype but, c’mon… we don’t all talk/act like that and the clowns on Jersey Shore weren’t even from Jersey. But, ironically, I do think that in the context of portraying those stereotypes, Levitt and his cast… especially Johansson… gave really strong performances. They did make their characters work and gave them life beyond the stereotypes but, I was irked that this is how the Texas born Levitt sees us all here in N.J which is a pretty diverse state. But whadda ya gonna do…eh? Fuggedaboutit!

Objectively, Levitt’s directorial debut isn’t that bad. It’s an odd little romantic comedy/drama about Jon Martello (Levitt) a young man whose lady killer skills are renown in his hood, hence the moniker “Don Jon”. But, despite his ability to have a different girl in his bed every week, Jon is addicted to internet porn and actually prefers it to real intimacy. Real life sex never lives up to what he sees on his lap top. Jon then meets and falls head over heals for the beautiful Barbara (Scarlett Johansson, who hits it out of the park with her stereotype Jersey Girl) and begins a torrid relationship with her. But, despite the heat in the bedroom, Jon still can’t kick his torrid relationship with Pornhub.com… that is, until the manipulative Barbara makes him take a night business course and he meets quirky older woman Ester (Julianne Moore). Now Jon must decide where his heart really lies…control freak Barbara, the sweet but odd Ester… or with his box of tissues. Can Jon finally give up his digital fantasies for real intimacy or will he stick with cyber love? I won’t say Joseph Gordon Levitt’s directorial debut is bad. It’s not. He actually does give the film his own style and gets good work out of his cast. It’s a well made and directed little movie. But, it also strongly gives the vibe of being a vanity project where the writer and director creates a character for himself that is a hot looking, jacked-up Romeo that can get the most beautiful girls in the bar into a cab and his bed with little or no effort. And he casts one of Hollywood’s hottest actresses to play his lover with multiple make-out and love scenes. The film is entertaining and has some laughs but, the obvious vanity of the role is intrusive. And let’s face it, even at under 90 minutes, the story of a guy with a porn addiction is not exactly feature film length material and the thinness of the story also shows as, once we reach the film’s conclusion, we realize we really didn’t go all that far. The plot could have been handled in a half hour sit-com episode or an hour TV drama at most. A feature length film is pushing it. There are a lot of scenes of him in front of a computer watching his favorite skin flicks, we got the point about 5 scenes back, and there are the numerous scenes of him at church and then dinner with his family after. I understand he was using this to show his characters progression but, they start to feel like we are re-watching the same scene rather quickly. It gets repetitive. The thing that really works is the performances. Despite my bitching earlier about the use of exaggerated stereotypes as characters, the actors really do good work in portraying those stereotypes. Levitt… who I’ve been a fan of since 3rd Rock and Brick is good and very charming as ‘Guido extraordinaire’, Jon. He’s a simple guy who loves his single guy lifestyle and is not anxious to see it go despite his mom’s (Glenne Headly) pressure for grandkids. Perhaps his addiction to porn and aversion to an intimate relationship is his way of preserving that life. Odds are it is. Johansson is borderline brilliant with her portrayal of a stereotypical Jersey girl complete with the accent and expressive hand gestures, talking while waving her perfectly manicured nails… I’ll admit, these girls do exist and I have encountered them and Johansson nails it with the nails. Danza is a little much with his Jon Sr. I will admit I have never been a fan of Tony Danza, he’s like the 70s Ashton Kutcher. You just keep wondering how he continually gets an extension on his 15 minutes. But, he lays it on thick as the ‘Goombah’ dad and sometimes it’s grating. Moore is spared a Jersey stereotype but, does play another stereotype, the quirky soul who you would find reading poetry in a Village coffee shop and probably has a lot of crystals and incense in her house but, she is an exceptional actress and gives Ester a very human quality and when she reveals her inner pain to Jon, it is a very heartfelt scene. Much like the other leads, she turns a stereotypical character into a three dimensional person which is the film’s saving grace. And that is what elevates Levitt’s filmmaking debut above it’s flaws and made it enjoyable enough to watch, despite some annoyingly stereotypical characters and a thin and sometimes crude story,  the actors made real people out of caricatures and in the end you did root for Jon to find intimacy that didn’t require a laptop. The actor/director also has a great chemistry with both his leading ladies which also makes things work far better then it should. Levitt does show potential here as a filmmaker. Interesting to see what he comes up with next. Also stars Brie Larson as Jon’s sister Monica who spends 95% of her role ignoring everyone around her while texting. The character literally speaks once.

Film earns a few extra points for filming in Hackensack, N.J., which is in my neck of the woods, and for Scarlett being volcanically hot.

3 Jersey Girl Johanssons… the film really deserves 2 and 1/2 but, I don’t have the heart to chop the lovely Scarlett in half…

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