BARE BONES: CONDEMNED and THE INTERN

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

condemned

CONDEMNED (2015)

Awful movie has spoiled brat Maya (Dylan Penn) leaving her posh digs and arguing parents to live with her musician boyfriend (Ronen Rubinstein) and some fellow squatters in an abandoned NYC tenement building…that somehow still has electricity and running water. They live amongst an assortment of unsavory characters including meth-heads, drug addicts, drug dealers and sadomasochists. Soon a virus caused by all the filth and meth maker Cookie’s (Perry Yung) toxic refuse, creates a rabies-like infection that starts to turn the squatters into vicious killers.

Watching this 28 Days Later meets Rent…without the musical numbers…is like staring into a toilet for 80+ minutes. Writer/director Eli Morgan Gesner just keeps a steady flow of filthy imagery, deviant behavior and then over-the-top gory violence for pretty much the entire film and that might have been fine if there was any wit or cleverness to it. There isn’t and it’s just a parade of how gross can we be for 83 minutes without any suspense, tension or even fun…and if you’re looking for a point or message, you’re wasting your time. The acting and dialog is equally terrible though the make-up FX aren’t bad. You’ll want to take a shower after watching this, if you can get through it, and not in a good way. Only if you must.

-MonsterZero NJ

one star rating

Humerus-Bone1

intern

THE INTERN (2015)

Sappy and overly sentimental flick has retired widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) wanting to get back out in the world and applying for a senior citizen internship at a fast growing e-commerce fashion company. The company is run by multi-tasking entrepreneur Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) who reluctantly takes on Ben as her personal intern. Soon not only does Ben start to brighten things up around the office, but his bonding with Jules helps her get her personal life into perspective, too. 

On the positive side, this flick is completely harmless and is actually well acted by it’s leads. Otherwise, it’s also over two hours of complete schmaltz, that is so contrived by writer/director Nancy Meyers, that it seems almost as much a fantasy as say, The Lord Of The Rings. Not that a senior citizen couldn’t excel in an internship at such a company surrounded by hipsters without a clue, but the whole solving all of Jules’ problems both business and personal…including somehow saving her failing marriage…is just a bit much. All De Niro’s Ben needed was a magic wand and some fairy dust. The film never even tries to exist in the real world, especially when it comes to Jules all too accepting attitude toward her husband’s (Anders Holm) unfaithfulness. It’s like she blames herself for being a busy businesswoman and chasing him away. Really? What is the message THERE? Add to that, some of Hathaway and De Niro’s scenes together came off as very uncomfortable. Was there supposed to be a hint of something more between the 70-ish Ben and the thirty-something Jules? Nothing happens, but at times it seemed like it was on the verge, as they just seemed a bit too chummy despite Ben’s interest in company masseuse Fiona, played by the more age appropriate Rene Russo. Regardless, after the over two hour running time you basically sit there asking yourself…what was that supposed to really be about?…and what was the point?

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

BARE BONES: MAS NEGRO QUE LA NOCHE, BIG HERO 6 and NIGHTCRAWLER

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

mas_Negro_Que_La_Noche_Poster_Oficial_Mx_JPosters

MAS NEGRO QUE LA NOCHE (Blacker Than Night) (2014)

Spanish film is a remake of a 1975 flick and is a fun and very gothic haunted house movie. The story finds pretty Greta (Zuria Vega) inheriting an old mansion from her Aunt Ofelia (Lucía Guilmáin), as well as, her fortune and her strange black cat, Becker. She moves in with her three friends, Maria (Adriana Louvier), Vicky (Ona Casamiquela) and Pilar (Eréndira Ibarra) and soon things start to get strange. When Maria kills Becker, whom she suspects savaged her beloved ferret, the unexplained apparitions and strange behavior of the house’s occupants starts to build to a shocking and bloody conclusion, where dark secrets are revealed both past and present. This is a fun flick as written and directed by Henry Bedwell and has some very gothic atmosphere to go with it’s ghostly apparitions, revealing flashbacks and possibly spirit-influenced behavior. It’s taken seriously but, there is a sense of fun about it, as our four beautiful Latinas start to feel that there is something very wrong in this house…and obviously there is. A haunted house thriller and a bit of mystery too, adds up to an entertaining flick with some nice eye candy as it’s lead characters. Gets the whole gothic drama thing far better than Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows did. Also stars Margarita Sanz as the housekeeper Evangelina, who obviously knows more than she’s saying. Not great but, fun.

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

big hero 6

BIG HERO 6 (2014)

I enjoyed Big Hero 6. it’s a fun, colorful and fast moving animated adventure about a group of teens and their lovable robot Baymax, who are forced to become superheroes to thwart a masked villain. As a kids movie it’s got enough action and likable characters to keep the young ones occupied but, as an adult, I kept seeing bits and pieces lifted from other movies. This would be fine if the film was a homage and acknowledged it’s influences but, this Disney flick seemed to flagrantly borrow designs and ideas without giving those sources a nod. There are designs and concepts taken from Tron and Stargate as well as scenes lifted from films like Spider-Man 2, Kick-Ass and even last year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. They even ruin a great post credits cameo by showing the surprise guest in a portrait about halfway through. So, while the film did it’s job and entertained, I just felt it could have been so much more if the makers either came up with more of their own ideas or at least had the decency to give their influences a bit more of a nod.

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

Nightcrawler-movie-poster

NIGHTCRAWLER (2014)

Without a doubt, Jake Gyllenhaal gives a dazzling performance as creepy thief and con-man Lou Bloom, who, after a chance encounter with a crew filming a car wreck, decides he can make good money following the police bands to film the aftermath’s of crimes and accidents to sell to the news media. The more gruesome events he catches and the more money he makes, the more the immoral and unethical Lou sees profit in manipulating events to get that money shot…regardless of the laws broken or innocents that may get caught in the way. Despite a very intriguing premise and Gyllenhaal’s fantastically sleazy portrayal, I found this film was overall predictable and ran out of gas about halfway through. You can see clearly, early on, where this is heading and it goes exactly where you expect and with the predicted results. I definitely give this extra credit for the acting and the interesting idea but, overall was a bit disappointed that the film, directed by Dan Gilroy, didn’t really grab me and hold on to me like it should. Worth a look but with cautioned expectations. Also stars Rene Russo as an equally unscrupulous newswoman.

3 star rating

Humerus-Bone1
bars

MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THOR and THOR: THE DARK WORLD

MZNJ_SNDF

now playing

double feature_thor_thorTDW

bars

Yes, it’s true I have covered both these films before but, with Thor: The Dark World recently being released on home media, I decided to revisit it and the first film together. They actually make a really cool double feature with each film bringing it’s own style thanks to two different directors yet, they still blend very well together with their mix of fantasy and real world adventure. It is also interesting to see Thor as we first saw him, the arrogant hot-head, in contrast to the more noble and humble warrior he has progressed into over the course of the first film and The Avengers. That and his relationship with Jane Foster is resumed as well. A really entertaining night of popcorn entertainment with a little extra courtesy of two contrasting yet equally talented directors.
Thor_poster

THOR (2011)

I’m not that familiar with the Marvel comics version of Thor, so, I have to take the movie at face value and as such, Thor is a lot of fun. The film takes place both on Earth and in Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) home realm of Asgard and Kenneth Branagh does a nice job of switching back and forth between both worlds and keeping the tone even and the narrative flow fairly smooth (more on that later). The film fits in very nicely with the world created in the Iron Man films and yet has it’s own style and flavor as it tells the story of arrogant Prince Thor and his path from banished and disgraced warrior to hero of both Earth and Asgard. The cast works really well together and in filling their roles. Hemsworth brings a nobility to Thor, as well as, keeps him charming during his arrogant beginings and then makes believable his humble awakening during the course of the film. Natalie Portman is energetic as the pretty scientist and love interest, Jane Foster and she and Hemsworth have a nice screen chemistry together that actually gave their growing relatrionship a realistic touch despite the fantasy story elements. Tom Hiddleston makes a good villain as the devious Loki, Thor’s brother and Anthony Hopkins is a regal and strong Odin. Kat Dennings is cute as Portman’s sidekick, Darcy and her antics are just enough to provide humor without being annoying and Stellan Skarsgard is fine as a fellow scientist, Dr. Selvig who grew up with norse mythology and provides some exposition for those not in the know. And I would be remiss in not mentioning Rene Russo as Thor’s mom. There is plenty of action and the SPFX are top notch especially in the portrayal of the mystical Asgard which is beautifully designed and realized. Thor’s flying was the hardest thing to pull off and they smartly keep it to a minimum and it works withing the context of the scenes. My only gripes are minor. The middle of the film slows down for about 20 minutes… though it does give the opportunity for some nice character interaction… but, soon picks up as the film heads toward it action filled last act. The earth sequences don’t quite flow as smoothly as the Asgard sequences leaving me to believe there was some editing to get the fim under 2 hrs but, it is not jarring. And, finally, the set of the New Mexican town just doesn’t quite look like a real town, it’s layout does make it look like a set, well built, but still a set. But these problems are small and don’t ruin what is an overall very fun and entertaining movie that has some nice fairy tale touches as well as plenty of action. Stay through the credits as usual with these films.

A solid 3 and 1/2 hammers!

Thor rating

plus

THURS_003B_G_ENG-GB_70x100.indd

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)

Thor was one of my favorites of the Marvel Phase 1 movies. I loved it’s fun mix of fantasy and real world adventure and thought Hemsworth made a noble and very likable hero. And now the Norse God turned superhero is back in his second solo adventure and a welcome return it is. Thor: The Dark World opens 5000 years earlier with an alignment of the planets being taken advantage of by the Dark Elves and their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) to unleash a weapon called The Aether which will convert all the worlds into dark matter where only the Dark Elves may exist. Thor’s grandfather Bor (Tony Curran) defeats the invaders and they are assumed destroyed and The Aether is hidden away never to be found… or so Bor hoped. But, in the present, the worlds are aligning again and the long dormant Malekith and the remaining Dark Elves seek to destroy all once more and, as fate would have it, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) stumbles upon the hidden weapon and it is absorbed within her. Now hunted by Malekith, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) brings Jane to Asgard against Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) wishes and must somehow find a way to stop Malekith, banish The Aether and save the woman he loves and all the known worlds… and the only one who can help him is his devious stepbrother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) imprisoned in Asgard’s dungeons by Thor’s own hand. This second solo adventure is this time directed by Game Of Thrones and Deadwood director Alan Taylor who creates a much grittier and down to Earth version of Asgard then the bright and magic kingdom-ish version we saw in the delightful first feature directed by Kenneth Branagh. It’s still recognizable as Asgard and it blends perfectly with the first Thor but, we get to see far deeper into the city and into it’s halls and pubs and get a more lived in and functional look at Thor’s homeland. The tone of the film is also darker at times and that was a nice change from the upbeat first film and Avengers but, so not to get too dark or grim, the film is punctuated with a lot of fun and humorous sequences especially those involving Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), the latter’s trip to Stonehenge being especially hilarious. I thought the humor and the darker story elements were blended just fine and there was plenty of action and strong drama throughout till the big free-for-all ending set in London where Thor and Malekith finally get to throw down. And the action and special effects do not disappoint, they are top notch as with all the previous Marvel films. The budget is onscreen in all aspects of the production from sets to costumes to FX. Taylor gets good work from all the cast. There are some nice character moments in between the drama and destruction and all the actors are now very comfortable in their roles and work very well together. Hemsworth is once again a noble hero who has grown since his first visit and the battle in New York. He and Portman still have a nice chemistry together and I liked their scenes especially when Thor has to explain where he’s been for two years. Dennings gets a bit more screen time and handles it well getting some of the bigger laughs and Hiddleston is once again scene stealing as Loki. It was also nice to see Rene Russo finally get a big scene and have a bit bigger part this time and Hopkins is still endearing as the weary but, majestic Odin. We also get some nice scenes with supporting characters Heimdall (Idris Elba), Sith (Jaimie Alexander), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (now Zachary Levi) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) but, those expecting expanded roles from this bunch will be disappointed. Newcomer to Thor’s world Christopher Ecceleston, is OK as villain Malekith but, he really doesn’t make a strong impression or stay with you after the film is over. To me his somewhat tepid villain is the film’s only real stand out weak point and a stronger villain or more screen time to really establish Malekith as a threat would have made this flick even better. Taylor’s interpretation of Don Payne and Robert Rodat’s script is highlighted by a moody score from Brian Tyler and some nice cinematography by Kramer Morgenthau. Overall, Thor: The Dark World is a very entertaining follow-up that gives us enough of the action, drama and suspense we are looking for and takes it in enough of a different direction to keep it fresh but, not straying too far as to alienate us. It’s not perfect, as stated the villain could have been stronger, there are a few slow spots here and there, especially in the first half and we can tell there was a bit of editing to manage the running time but, for all the entertainment we get, those minor flaws can be overlooked. A fun and worthy sequel to both Thor and The Avengers and certainly less schizophrenic then the mixed bag that was Iron Man 3As with all Marvel films stay through the entire credits for not one but, two additional sequences and keep an eye out for a couple of really fun cameos. Another solid bit of entertainment from Marvel and Disney.

3 and 1/2 hammers!

thor TDW rating

bars

REVIEW: THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

THURS_003B_G_ENG-GB_70x100.indd

bars

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)

Thor was one of my favorites of the Marvel Phase 1 movies. I loved it’s fun mix of fantasy and real world adventure and thought Hemsworth made a noble and very likable hero. And now the Norse God turned superhero is back in his second solo adventure and a welcome return it is. Thor: The Dark World opens 5000 years earlier with an alignment of the planets being taken advantage of by the Dark Elves and their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) to unleash a weapon called The Aether which will convert all the worlds into dark matter where only the Dark Elves may exist. Thor’s grandfather Bor (Tony Curran) defeats the invaders and they are assumed destroyed and The Aether is hidden away never to be found… or so Bor hoped. But, in the present, the worlds are aligning again and the long dormant Malekith and the remaining Dark Elves seek to destroy all once more and, as fate would have it, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) stumbles upon the hidden weapon and it is absorbed within her. Now hunted by Malekith, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) brings Jane to Asgard against Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) wishes and must somehow find a way to stop Malekith, banish The Aether and save the woman he loves and all the known worlds… and the only one who can help him is his devious stepbrother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) imprisoned in Asgard’s dungeons by Thor’s own hand. This second solo adventure is this time directed by Game Of Thrones and Deadwood director Alan Taylor who creates a much grittier and down to Earth version of Asgard then the bright and magic kingdom-ish version we saw in the delightful first feature directed by Kenneth Branagh. It’s still recognizable as Asgard and it blends perfectly with the first Thor but, we get to see far deeper into the city and into it’s halls and pubs and get a more lived in and functional look at Thor’s homeland. The tone of the film is also darker at times and that was a nice change from the upbeat first film and Avengers but, so not to get too dark or grim, the film is punctuated with a lot of fun and humorous sequences especially those involving Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), the latter’s trip to Stonehenge being especially hilarious. I thought the humor and the darker story elements were blended just fine and there was plenty of action and strong drama throughout till the big free-for-all ending set in London where Thor and Malekith finally get to throw down. And the action and special effects do not disappoint, they are top notch as with all the previous Marvel films. The budget is onscreen in all aspects of the production from sets to costumes to FX. Taylor gets good work from all the cast. There are some nice character moments in between the drama and destruction and all the actors are now very comfortable in their roles and work very well together. Hemsworth is once again a noble hero who has grown since his first visit and the battle in New York. He and Portman still have a nice chemistry together and I liked their scenes especially when Thor has to explain where he’s been for two years. Dennings gets a bit more screen time and handles it well getting some of the bigger laughs and Hiddleston is once again scene stealing as Loki. It was also nice to see Rene Russo finally get a big scene and have a bit bigger part this time and Hopkins is still endearing as the weary but, majestic Odin. We also get some nice scenes with supporting characters Heimdall (Idris Elba), Sith (Jaimie Alexander), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (now Zachary Levi) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) but, those expecting expanded roles from this bunch will be disappointed. Newcomer to Thor’s world Christopher Ecceleston, is OK as villain Malekith but, he really doesn’t make a strong impression or stay with you after the film is over. To me his somewhat tepid villain is the film’s only real stand out weak point and a stronger villain or more screen time to really establish Malekith as a threat would have made this flick even better. Taylor’s interpretation of Don Payne and Robert Rodat’s script is highlighted by a moody score from Brian Tyler and some nice cinematography by Kramer Morgenthau. Overall, Thor: The Dark World is a very entertaining follow-up that gives us enough of the action, drama and suspense we are looking for and takes it in enough of a different direction to keep it fresh but, not straying too far as to alienate us. It’s not perfect, as stated the villain could have been stronger, there are a few slow spots here and there, especially in the first half and we can tell there was a bit of editing to manage the running time but, for all the entertainment we get, those minor flaws can be overlooked. A fun and worthy sequel to both Thor and The Avengers and certainly less schizophrenic then the mixed bag that was Iron Man 3. As with all Marvel films stay through the entire credits for not one but, two additional sequences and keep an eye out for a couple of really fun cameos. Another solid bit of entertainment from Marvel and Disney.

3 and 1/2 hammers!

thor TDW rating

bars