Insidious Review

Insidious movie posterSynopsis
Shortly after Josh (Patrick Wilson), Renai (Rose Byrne) and their children move into their new home, strange things begin happening around the house. After an accident, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) slips into a coma, meanwhile Renai begins to see unexplainable things around the house. Thinking the house is haunted she convinces Josh to move the family into a new home. However, it soon becomes clear that it wasn’t the house that was haunted, but their son, Dalton.

Review
I’ve said this a few times but in case you didn’t know, I’m not a fan of horror movies. However, over the past few years, I have come around to a few sub-genres of horror films, namely supernatural horror. Mama and Insidious were the films that got me to budge on my no horror stance. Given that today is Halloween, I’ve decided to go back to one of the few horrors I’ve enjoyed (so far).

Many horror films like to rely on jump scares to get the audience’s heart pumping. Insidious employs this technique but it doesn’t use it in excess. Also, they aren’t “false” jump scares, meaning every time something is there to make you jump it’s because the thing is worth jumping at, such as a ghost or one of the demons. There isn’t anything like a door closing loudly or an object falling over to make you jump when in actuality it’s nothing to jump at.

A decent portion of the film, almost a third or more, is simply spent with the Lambert family before the antics happen. I liked this a lot because it allowed the characters to be fleshed out quickly and without interruption. So when the crap hits the fan, there is a connection with the characters and I cared more about them getting through their ordeal together and unscathed. They are a very relatable family and you may find aspects of you or your family in them.

The sound editing for Insidious greatly adds to the atmosphere. I am impressed by the score, composed by Joseph Bishara. It is eerie and creepy and just fits perfect, adding to the tense moments during the final act, as well as the intimate moments towards the beginning I mentioned before. Adding to the ambiance was the vivid colors, or rather deep reds, heavily present during the third act of the film. It gave off this uneasy feeling that fit the environment well.

If you look closely, this film is composed of several horror genres. It starts out as a haunted house film, then turns into a possession film, then into something all it’s own (or at least nothing I can classify, but as I said, my knowledge on the subject isn’t that extensive). It acts as a homage to these different types of film while trudging its own path, and doing so successfully. Rather impressive for a movie genre that can be considered saturated.

Despite my initial hesitation, I found myself enjoying Insidious. After watching this again, I’ve realized my horror survival kit doesn’t cover ghosts and demons and those are hard to outrun. So… yea. Oops. Anyway, Insidious is a fun twist on the horror genre that offers up several good (and meaningful) scares. Even if you think horror isn’t your thing, give it a try. Who knows, you may end up enjoying it like I did.

Rating
3.5/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
James Wan – Director
Leigh Whannell – writer
Joseph Bishara – Composer

Patrick Wilson – Josh Lambert
Rose Byrne – Renai Lambert
Ty Simpkins – Dalton Lambert
Andrew Astor – Foster Lambert
Barbera Hershey – Lorraine Lambert
Lin Shaye – Elise Rainier
Leigh Whannell – Specs
Angus Sampson – Tucker
Joseph Bishara – Lipstick-Face Demon
Philip Friedman – Old Woman
J. LaRose – Long Haired Fiend
Corbett Tuck – Nurse Adele
Heather Tocquigny – Nurse Kelly

Lightning Review: The Next Three Days

The NextT hree Days movie posterSynopsis
John Brennan (Russell Crowe) is a community college professor who has been a single dad after his wife, Lara (Elizabeth Banks), was convicted of murder. For the past three years, he has been planning a way to break out his wife from prison. When his wife unexpectedly gets transferred to a maximum security prison, he has three days to execute his plan.

Review
When I think of The Next Three Days, I like to think of it as very similar to a heist movie. Rather than stealing jewels or money from a vault, Russell Crowe is stealing his wife from prison. Seventy-five percent of the movie sees John Brennan, Crowe’s character, formulating a plan to break his wife out of prison. This is my favorite part of heist movies, seeing how the character scopes out his target, performs recon, and formulates his plan. It tends to be slow and tedious, and this film is no exception to that, but the payout is worth the buildup. I also enjoy how the movie didn’t reveal what happened that caused Lara (Elizabeth Banks) to get charged with murder until the very end. Plus it didn’t say outright whether she was guilty or innocent until the last few minutes. This helped create some tension during the slower first two acts.

There was a short scene where John was talking to his class about the book Don Quixote and the title character’s perceived reality around him. John’s lesson paralleled what he was experiencing with his wife’s imprisonment and was fun to see how the same lessons he was teaching could be applied to him. Russell Crowe has proven time and time again he can do drama, but I was a little surprised by Elizabeth Banks. I don’t remember seeing her in many dramas. She’s more of a comedy actress to me, but she nails it. The Next Three Days is a movie about a jailbreak but feels like a heist movie at heart. The pace may not be for everyone, but if you can muster through to the end, the payoff is worth it.

Rating
4/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Paul Higgis – Director / Screenplay
Fred Cavayé – Screenplay (“Pour elle”)
Guillaume Lemans – Sceenplay (“Pour elle”)

Russell Crowe – John Brennan
Elizabeth Banks – Lara Brennan
Michael Buie – Mick Brennan
Ty Simpkins – Luke
Jason Beghe – Detective Quinn
Aisha Hinds – Detective Collero
Olivia Wilde – Nicole
Remy Nozik – Jenna
Kaitlyn Wilde – Julie
Toby Green – Three Year Old Luke
Tyler Green – Three Year Old Luke
Liam Neeson – Damon Pennington

Iron Man 3 Review

This was actually the first review I had done when I started writing reviews earlier this summer.  I forgot about it until a few weeks ago, so I held off posting it until the the home release of the film.  If I had written it more recently, I would have included something about how the ending offers a potential origin for Ultron in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, but I’m posting as-is.  I hope you check out this film because it’s truly amazing.  But enough of my blabbing, onto the review!

Iron Man 3 movie posterSynopsis
After the events of Marvel’s The Avengers, Tony’s (Robert Downey Jr.) world is flipped upside-down. Realizing there is much that he does not understand, he buries himself in his workshop. Meanwhile, The Mandarin (Ben Kingley), leader of the Ten Rings, increases his reign of terror across the US. When his Malibu home is destroyed, Tony is forced to confront his demons and learn if he makes Iron Man or Iron Man makes him?

Review
Wow. Just wow. Iron Man 3 is an ingenious film crafted by Marvel and a good cap to the journey we have seen Tony make through Phase One. In Iron Man and Iron Man 2, we get to see Tony transform into Iron Man and what he can do while in the suit, but he is still a playboy throughout most of those movies with some of that changing towards the end of 2. But in The Avengers we see him make the full transformation into a hero, including self-sacrifice. All of these events have made an affect on Tony that is a central focal point for Iron Man 3. In my opinion, The Avengers was essentially Iron Man 2.5, building on Tony Stark’s character more than the other heroes.

One of my favorite aspects of Iron Man 3 is we get to see how Tony is able to operate while outside of the Iron Man armor. Sure, I would have liked to see more of the Mark 42, it was an awesome suit, but we have seen Tony in armor for three movies already. It’s a nice change of pace to see what he can do outside the armor, using just his brains and ingenuity.

There is a TON of humor laced throughout Iron Man 3 and it works. Whenever things get too serious, a joke is made to lighten the mood back up. There were a few times it felt a little forced, but for the most part it was well executed and enjoyable.

Despite not being in the suit too much, there are quite a bit of action sequences. And they are all awesome! It is obvious that a lot of time went into the special effects and it pays off. The effects are beautiful and almost worth the admission price alone. Plus, not only does Tony get a few punches in outside the suit, Rhodey and Pepper get in on the action as well. Pepper even dons the suit for a while!

It will be a sad day when RDJ hangs up the Iron Man suit for good.  He has become synonymous with Tony Stark and it is difficult to imagine anyone else in the role.  On the other hand, I have started to accept Don Cheadle as Rhodey, but there is a part of me (most of me, actually) that wishes Terrence Howard would not have been replaced.  It is still awkward to see RDJ tower of Cheadle then have them see eye-to-eye when they are in the suits.  And I think Howard had better chemistry with RDJ than Cheadle does, but Cheadle has definitely grown into the role.

I only really have two big gripes with Iron Man 3. My first is the portrayal of the Mandarin. I’ll admit that I was one of those comic book guys who were salivating when I saw him in the trailer. I was really excited to see Iron Man’s greatest enemy (Mandarin is to Iron Man as Green Goblin is to Spider-Man) finally hit the big screen. I won’t spoil anything, but his depiction wasn’t what I was expecting. But you know what, in the context of this film, I’ve excepted it and realized it actually made the plot that much more exciting and interesting. Had the Mandarin been exactly like his comic book counterpart, it would have changed the entire film, and it is hard to say if the product would have been better.

My other grievance is the use of extremis, although this is due more to the comic fan boy in me than the movie itself. Since extremis essentially rewrites DNA, this allows for endless possibilities for super powers. However, all we see is the ability to melt things with their bodies. The final fight at the end would have been a perfect place to showcase how versatile extremis can really be. But like I said, that is just the comic nerd inside me.

Iron Man 3 is an excellent film that blends characterization with action, while never detracting from either and forms an excellent kick-of to Marvel’s Phase Two slate of movies.

Rating
4.5/5

Also check out my reviews for the other films in Marvel’s Phase 2: Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man.