[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 15 – Drive-Thru (2007)

drivethru2007a

Director: Brendan Cowles, Shane Kuhn

Cast: Leighton Meester, Nicholas D’Agosto, Melora Hardin, Larry Joe Campbell, Lola Glaudini

Screenplay: Brendan Cowles, Shane Kuhn

83 mins. Rated R for strong horror violence and gore, drug use, language and some sexual content.

 

Well, after the last couple of days, I thought it might be time for a disappointment. Okay, not really, but it still happened.

drivethru2007b

Drive-Thru is the story of A Nightmare on Elm Street…oh wait, I better start again. Drive-Thru is the story of Mackenzie Carpenter (Leighton Meester, TV’s Gossip Girl, The Judge), a young woman who is losing her friends, one by one, to a sadistic murderous clown named Horny, who takes his garb from the fast food restaurant Hella Burger. Horny is picking off teens with poor insults, bad puns, and also a big meat cleaver. As the bodies pile up, Mackenzie and her boyfriend Fisher (Nicholas D’Agosto, TV’s Gotham, Final Destination 5) learn that her mother Marcia (Melora Hardin, TV’s The Office, Self/less) and the other parents have a horrible secret that links Horny the Clown and Hella Burger directly to Mackenzie.

Wow, I really hate this movie. I hate it so much. The characters are cruel and annoying, the screenplay is overly cliché and riddled with poor dialogue, and the directing by Brendan Cowles and Shane Kuhn is downright dreadful. Now, I do have some defenders among my colleagues who claim that the film is self-aware enough to satire itself. “It’s so bad it’s good!” No, no it isn’t. It’s terrible.

The film is a disappointing remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street in a lot of ways (you might use the term rip-off even), and it can’t even muster to get an accessible and relatable story because Horny the Clown can’t stop making bad puns. Hell, the Leprechaun movies have better puns, and that’s really saying something.

In fact, the only scene in the film that I enjoyed at all is the Morgan Spurlock cameo. I won’t spoil the scene, but suffice it to say that the scene is mildly amusing in an otherwise underwhelming film.

drivethru2007c

Drive-Thru is awful. I’m thankful I can review it now so that I never have to watch it again. Every part of it is terrible, and the one element that works can’t even save this film’s score.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

 avengersageofultron2015a

Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson

Screenplay: Joss Whedon

141 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive content.  

2012’s The Avengers was something of an anomaly. A film which combined several superhero franchises into one mega-franchise shared universe successfully…that doesn’t happen. But with writer/director Joss Whedon (TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Much Ado About Nothing) at the helm, it did. And it was good. Billion-dollars good. It jumpstarted Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and continued a winning franchise for years to come. Now, we see if the official sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, can continue that tradition.

avengersageofultron2015b

The Avengers have been looking for an end to the villains before they start. When billionaire genius Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., The Judge, Chef) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island, The Normal Heart) create Ultron (James Spader, TV’s Boston Legal, Lincoln), an artificially intelligent being created to be Earth’s mightiest defense system, but Ultron quickly realizes that the biggest threats to the world are humans and decides to do away with them. Now, the Avengers must assemble to defeat Ultron, who has allied himself with two very special twins: Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kick-Ass, Godzilla) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen, Martha May Marcy Marlene, Oldboy).

Avengers: Age of Ultron had a bunch of set-ups. The biggest flaw comes from realizing that it has very little payoff. The entire film felt like its function was to tie up the loose ends of Phase 2 and start unpacking the storylines to Phase 3. Was it entertaining? Mostly, yes. But was it good? I really don’t know. I liked a lot of this film but I was scratching my head at times wondering why certain events were kept in the film while so many other moments were kept out. The film has Whedon’s classic dialogue, and its characters are further fleshed out, but the film felt like too many puzzles pieces from too many different puzzles that just won’t fit together.

As far as performances go, the films newcomers are pretty great additions to the shared universe, specifically James Spader’s menacing Ultron and the Vision, played by Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind, Mortdecai) in a new role. The film also features a plethora of previously introduced characters back in the fray, like James Rhodes (Don Cheadle, TV’s House of Lies, Crash) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie, Million Dollar Baby, Black or White). The returning Avengers cast have all grown closer and you can feel the comradery when needed. The Hulk and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation, Lucy) in particular have grown much closer since we last saw them together.

There are some particularly great sequences here, such as the moment when we are introduced to mind control due to Wanda’s abilities. We get a chance to dive into these characters’ psyches a bit further Joss Whedon even plays with our expectations that this film is going to be exactly like the previous film, opting to give more important screen time to Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker, Kill the Messenger). We also get our first look at Hulkbuster (named Project Veronica, as a play on Betty & Veronica, the Betty being Bruce’s previous love interest from The Incredible Hulk).

avengersageofultron2015c

Avengers: Age of Utron is the first Marvel film that absolutely cries out for an extended cut. There is just too much missing here, and its noticeable. There are numerous plot threads that don’t get the resolution they need. The film is explosively entertaining, but perhaps the most noticeably flawed Marvel film yet.  

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe  

So what did you think of Avengers: Age of Ultron? Did it assemble a perfect viewing experience or leave you wanting a different Vision of the superhero team? Let me know!  

For my review of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, click here.

For my review of Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk, click here.

For my review of Anthony & Joe Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, click here.

For my review of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, click here.

[#2015oscardeathrace] The Judge (2014)

thejudge2014a

Director: David Dobkin

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, Billy Bob Thornton

Screenplay: Nick Schenk, Bill Dubuque

141 mins. Rated R for language including some sexual references.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert Duvall) [Awards Not Yet Announced]

 

What happens when a judge becomes the suspect in a murder?

thejudge2014b

In The Judge, Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr., The Avengers, Chef), a high-powered defense attorney, is going to home to bury his mother who has just passed. Being barely on speaking terms with his father Joseph (Robert Duvall, The Godfather: Part II, Hemingway & Gellhorn), a small-town judge, Hank wants to get in and out and on his way. But when Joseph Palmer is charged with vehicular manslaughter in the death of a man he let off easy years earlier, Hank stays on to help his father as the two rebuild their fractured relationship.

I would like to see Downey take on work that flexes his abilities better than the same character he has played in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and the recent Sherlock Holmes films. That being said, Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall have tremendous chemistry, or anti-chemistry, in their portrayal of father and son on the brink of collapse here. These two save an otherwise faulty film with some major flaws.

First of all, Hank’s rekindling of a friendship with old flame Samantha (Vera Farmiga, TV’s Bates Motel, The Conjuring) comes off as boring, unneeded, and somewhat silly. It could’ve been sliced and brought this film down to a more accessible two hours. The courtroom scenes are far less engaging than they should be, wasting the talented Billy Bob Thornton (Armageddon, Entourage) on what almost seems like an extended cameo at most.

thejudge2014c

The score here is great and the two leads have some truly tense and unforgettable scenes, but overall The Judge is too long and too little about actual courtrooms. The entirety of Joseph’s criminal trial is uninteresting and useless at building anything. The Judge could have been better under a more capable set of hands (director David Dobkin is known for his goofy comedies like Wedding Crashers and The Change-Up and less so for anything serious).

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Oscar Madness] Iron Man (2008)

ironman2008a

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Gwyneth Paltrow

Screenplay: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holiday

126 mins. Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and adventure, and brief suggestive content.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Visual Effects

So, let’s talk Iron Man, Marvel Studios’ first, and arguably biggest, gamble.

IRON MAN

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes, The Judge) is a billionaire genius, a more asshole-ish version of Bruce Wayne. He is the ultimate playboy, in charge of his father’s company, Stark Industries, maker of weapons of all sorts. But when a routine weapon demonstration in Afghanistan leads to Tony’s being taken captive, Tony must use all his cunning and a little bit of luck to escape. He builds a suit of metal to make this escape, and in the process, Tony Stark becomes Iron Man.

Was there ever a doubt in my mind that Robert Downey Jr was the right man to play Tony Stark. He is the perfect embodiment of this character and just understands it to the extreme. His relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, Se7en,  Mortdecai) is one of general endearment, complete sweetness. Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, Seventh Son) gives a slightly over-the-top yet wholly understandable performance as Obadiah Stane, mentor and friend to Tony, a man who is out to protect Stark Industries from all threats.

Then there’s Terrence Howard (TV’s Empire, Prisoners). I don’t think Terrence Howard understands this movie, or in fact, this role. I just don’t think he gets that this is a good time at the movies. He’s far too serious at all the wrong time.

Jon Favreau (Chef, Cowboys & Aliens) directs this film with some perfect flair. Were I the heads at Marvel Studious (I’m looking at you Kevin Feige), I wouldn’t have trusted someone like Favreau to make or break my company with this picture, but that’s why I’m not making the big bucks. Jon Favreau gives this film a big style, everything here is crazily over-the-top, and the funny thing is how much it works.

ironman2008c

Now, the film does run on a bit, and Tony Stark is rather annoying for a bulk of the film, but this is still one of the funnest (that’s right, I said it) times at the movies. It isn’t my favorite of the Iron Man films, but the first in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is a great place to start.

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

For my review of Louis Letterrier’s The Incredible Hulk, click here.

For my review of Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, click here.

For my review of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, click here.

For my review of Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, click here

For my review of Jon Favreau’s Chef, click here.

Puss in Boots (2011)

Puss_in_Boots_poster

Director: Chris Miller

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Zach Galifianakis, Salma Hayek, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris

Screenplay: Tom Wheeler

90 mins.  Rated PG for some adventure action and mild rude humor.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Not too long after the completion (for now) of the Shrek franchise, Dreamworks got the bright idea to expand the slightly off-kilter world of fairy tales by telling an origin story of one of the favorite side characters, Puss in Boots.

In 2011’s Puss in Boots, we meet Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas, Desperado, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie: Sponge Out of Water) during his dark days of hunting for bounty, when he is enlisted by old thief and ex-confidante Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover, Birdman) to steal a golden goose. He is aided in this effort by Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek, Frida, Grown Ups 2), a silent but deadly assassin and thief. Matters are further complicated by the bandits Jack (Billy Bob Thornton, Armageddon, The Judge) and Jill (Amy Sedaris, TV’s Bojack Horseman, Strangers with Candy), who want the goose eggs all for themselves.

This movie plays out its one trick, and its one trick is played out pretty well. The one trick referenced here is the “he’s a cat” joke. We have seen the cutesy work before with the dough eyes to escape torture or the way he drinks his milk. It is funny, but by the time the film comes to an end, we as viewers understand why Puss in Boots has always been a side character.

The references to the fairy tales upon which these characters are based work pretty well, too, but not for children. This is the candy for the adults, and in that way, I feel like Puss in Boots was merely stuck in its place by not knowing its audience. It spends equal parts trying to please everyone with cheap jokes. Now, I liked the movie, but it didn’t stand up with the first two Shrek films.

puss_in_boots_by_alicevon_stevart-d4r10jg

See Puss in Boots, it has the ability to make you love it, but it also has the ability to annoy you away. Take the chance but not a guarantee.

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

For my review of Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson’s Shrek, click here.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑