Tag: Evan Peters

American Animals

American Animals only came up on my radar because the company sent me a link. I almost didn’t watch it. I accidentally had free time because I didn’t feel like leaving the house to watch Incredible 2.

I didn’t know the cast, the story, or anything.

I just knew the shitty title. I haven’t been a big fan of movies American in the front. There are a ton. At this point it lacks any amount of originality. I am not saying that the title makes me hate the film while watching it, but it does make me annoyed. It makes me lose interest before I even start it, which is why I almost decided to skip this film.

And occasionally, I can forgive the film if the title matters.

Old Men
I cannot even confirm all four of these old men are American! Show me your papers!

This story mainly centers around two individuals, Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) and Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan). We are supposed to believe that these friends have are really different people. Warren is more outgoing and reckless. Spencer is reserved and good-natured. Once Spencer met Warren he got into more trouble, but whatever, they are just kids.

And now Spencer is at college, at Transylvania University, hoping to become an artist some day. And while on tour, he is taken with a crowd to the special rare books department, and he sees The Birds of America by John James Audubon, a large book full of very detailed paintings of, well, American birds. And it is incredibly rare and worth millions. So are other books in this tiny room in a library.

Once he mentions this to Warren, Warren wants to steal it. Why not? They just need to get a buyer ahead of time, and work on a plan. It isn’t a very security heavy area, no one would expect it, they could probably get away with it and get super rich. They have to overall bring in two others, Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson) and Chas Allen (Blake Jenner) as their getaway driver. And then they can work on being infamous. Or at least infamous enough to get a movie made about them.

Also starring Ann Dowd as the rare book collections librarian and Udo Kier as mysterious man. Oh, and the real four thieves, narrating the story and telling their point of views as they recall the events.

We know they get caught because we know this story exists.

I loved American Animals. It was captivating, and despite knowing the eventual outcome, it was thrilling nonetheless. And of course, the title technically fit the film, but I can’t help they still chose it because they thought American sounded cool like the other movies.

A lot of the time having the real people involved in the picture means bad news. Did you see Act of Valor or The 15:17 to Paris? Both dreadful. But the real culprits of this act were not acting, they were just telling their story. They added a documentary element to this story, making it a sort of hybrid. Having them tell the story, disagree with each other, changing how the story played out was fun. Also adding in the elements of who can you trust from these various point of views was very well done and added a more ominous tone by the end.

Our actors who played the crew did a very good job, displaying appropriate amounts of angst and fear and young stupidity. I was definitely shocked and a bit afraid during the actual heist, heart pumping and on the edge of my seat.

American Animals took a real story, framed it in a unique way, and created suspense in a story where we already knew the outcome. Needless to say, this film surprised me in all the best ways. It makes since that it was directed by Bart Layton, who has only done documentaries in the past, most famously The Imposter, an amazing documentary.

4 out of 4.

Elvis & Nixon

Presidents in the modern era meet with almost everyone. Celebrities, athletes, civil rights leaders, union leaders, foreign leaders, gym leaders, you name it. So it isn’t weird to see a picture of Obama hanging out with Justin Bieber.

But maybe back in the day it was a bit more odd. Like, a famous picture of Elvis Presley shaking hands with Richard Nixon. One of the biggest entertainers of the last few decades and a president with a lot of…well, character, I guess. It was a really famous image and sort of set the country into jubilee at just the thought of these two larger than life men in a single room talking about who knows what.

And just what led to this monumental meet up and what did they talk about?

Well, it would take a movie named Elvis & Nixon to get to the bottom of it I suppose!

This really just feels like fanfiction. Who wrote this? When do they get undressed?

In 1970, the US was in disarray. There was a war going on that not everyone loved, the parties were divided, drugs were big in the news and in our suburbs. Basically, not too different from today.

But one man was sick and tired of it all. His name was Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon). He was tired of these drugs, these gang fights, people stoned at concerts. He was in the army before and people loved him, so he figured he could go undercover as himself, into their events and protests. And maybe convince them to say no to drugs and put an end to it all. He could be a really big help, hell, he knew karate!

So he wants to head to the White House. He has a damn plan. He will talk to President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey), he will convince him to swear him in as a federal agent at large to work secretly for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Brilliant, great, wonderful. Except Nixon didn’t care to meet with him. Even if a meeting could boost his popularity with the youth and the south. Except Elvis doesn’t want to hold a concert, he wants it all to be a secret, no publicity.

Sure, these men might not see eye to eye, but they want similar things, so maybe they can work together. Or maybe their assistants and staff can force them to work together. On Elvis’ side, we have Jerry (Alex Pettyfer) and Sonny (Johnny Knoxville), with Jerry trying to get out of working with Elvis to focus on his own life and maybe engagement. The president aides include Krogh (Colin Hanks) and Chapin (Evan Peters), both people later involved with the Watergate scandal, fun fact!

And so yeah, the meeting is of course them setting everything up and what their conversation may have entailed in that mysterious room.

Here is a picture of a recreation of that picture!

Two powerhouse men can only be played by two powerhouse actors, and we certainly get that with Shannon and Spacey. When I saw the casting, I was almost flabbergasted with excitement. To repeat, almost flabbergasted, not fully flabbered nor gasted. Despite loving each actor from many of their recent and older roles, I still found both of them hard to see in their collective role.

Now, in this film, they both did great jobs. But Shannon has such a unique face, I never really fully believed he was Elvis, he was always an actor. Basically the same for Spacey. For both of these roles, it could be due to the fact that these characters over time have become very exaggerated and in real life they weren’t so intense, but it just never really fully clicked.

The story itself is decently amusing. The cast of characters while small added a lot to the film. The movie is also under 90 minutes long, so it never drags and a good third or more to it is actually focused on their actual discussion in the white house.

The film just has a lot of build up for this moment and honestly, doesn’t go too many places. Elvis & Nixon won’t take up a lot of time and is pretty amusing. Hell, you will learn a lot about an event that is just all sorts of weird in American history. But one that never really elevated more than cool tidbit.

2 out of 4.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Here it folks, the big one. The Apocalypse is coming, despite everything Idris Elba did to cancel it.

The recent strange reboot of the X-Men franchise has been wildly successful. I enjoyed First Class and loved the crap out of Days of Future Past (which made my top of the year list), while also fixing some continuity issues that had been brought up. I used to like X2, but honestly, it hasn’t aged well with me, and I am tired as fuck of the Wolverine origin stories.

As a fan of the X-Men stories, Apocalypse has always felt like their biggest and greatest enemy. He is their Thanos or Darkseid. Not their main enemy, just their biggest threat. So to see it finally come to fruition on the big screen is both exciting and frightening. It is obvious why I am excited, but I am also frightened that I am over hyping the film. Days of Future Past did a lot of things right, so it will be hard for them to live up to that film. There are so many ways for X-Men: Apocalypse to go wrong.

But despite all this, I will do my best to not make fun of the way he looks.

He looks a lot less like Ivan Ooze in the actual film!

Ten years after the events of the last film, the world has changed for Mutants. After Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) speech, mutants are a bit more understood and not completely seen as threats. In America, they can look weird and walk around and most people seem to accept them. It helps that Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has gone into hiding in Poland to live a new life, and Xavier’s (James McAvoy) school is a rousing success!

Until shit starts hitting the fan. Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) discovers cults that are worshipping ancient beings believed to be the first mutants. Sure enough, bad events occur, and En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) is out and about after being trapped and asleep for almost 5700 years. Go fuck yourself, Rip Van Winkle. What’s an ancient deity gotta do to get some respect around here? Make a new team of individuals to help him gain more powers and enslave the world of course! That is why we get to see new people, like Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Mowhawk Storm (Alexandra Shipp)!

Ah, the end of the world. The best time to introduce young new guys to the fold too. Like Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclopes (Tye Sheridan) who is of course Havok’s (Lucas Till) brother, Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Jubilee (Lana Condor).

Also returning: Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Evan Peters as Quicksilver, and Josh Helman as Col. William Stryker. And featuring Warren Scherer, Rochelle Okoye, Monique Ganderton, and Fraser Aitcheson as the original four horsemen.

Something new, something old (Apocalypse), and a whole lot of somethings blue.

With X-Men: Apocalypse, we now have our third 2.5 hour Superhero film of the year, which must the new normal. Please be different Dr. Strange. The timing felt good for Civil War, but it was too much of a run time for this film. Plenty could have been cut out to give a more straight forward and less clunky film.

Here is the good stuff though! I almost gave this a 3 out of 4, because what worked really worked. There is a scene that actually made me tear up in this film. It was then immediately when extra lives were somehow lost without making a whole lot of sense. I will say that Magneto’s reason for getting involved seem almost completely justifiable, and like normal, Fassbender and McAvoy basically carry the film. Lawrence isn’t bad in her role, although Mystique’s arc seems just a bit weaker. In terms of new characters, Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler does a fascinating job and Turner as Jean Grey grew on me over time. Quicksilver was a lot more involved in the plot and his moments were some of the highlights of the film again. It is great that they made him more integral to the plot and confirmed some of his backstory.

And finally (a vague spoiler) we have a film where characters can actually die from these extremely powerful individuals doing battle. Thank goodness.

For most of the other players, everyone else feels underutilized. Psylocke is only really used in one fight, we get a decent amount of Angel but it isn’t great, and Storm doesn’t have many great moments. And if you were one of the dozens excited to finally get Jubilee in film, then quickly suppress that excitement, because she does diddly squat. And of course we have the wonderful OSCAR ISAAC to play the big bad guy, but for half the film his voice is distorted and there is never really a moment where he can really display any great acting, which makes the casting feel a bit wasteful.

It could have been the 3D and theater settings, but the CGI felt weaker than Days of Future Past. Apparently Apocalypse’s powers involve turning items into sand and sand into items for the most part with the occasional cool purple thing. Add in Magneto’s electric field near the end and we just get a used over and over again ugly look to the whole film.

This movie is not as good as Days of Future Past, and maybe not even as good as First Class. It is still decently enjoyable though, but it features a clunky plot with a lot of underutilized characters. The good news is that for the parts that work, they work really damn well. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy some nice fan service?

2 out of 4.

The Lazarus Effect

Hey, didn’t I just talk about this? Yeah, last week or so! The weird genre of watching a bunch of people famous from TV shows make a movie together. I just talked about it with Adult Beginners, and now I can talk about it again with The Lazarus Effect.

This time we have a guy from The League, a girl from House, and a guy from Community.

The good news about all of this is I have never really seen a group of TV stars do a horror movie. It is almost always, 100% of the time, an independent comedy drama where not a lot happens.

But this is a horror! Time to party because it is new and different!

Science! Party! Happy times!

This isn’t just a scary movie. It is a scary SCIENCE movie, about science going to far and playing god.

The scientists in question are Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde), who are not only partners, but also dating. Oh snap. Personal lives mixing with work lives. How scandalous. They started their university research into something about coma patients, but now they are on to something even bigger and more sciency. Instead of helping coma patient, it might bring the dead back to life. Kind of fucked up, right? After doing some science stuff, they are finally able to get it to work on a dog. They had some assistants of course, Niko (Donald Glover) and Clay (Evan Peters), for more witnesses.

Speaking of witnesses, they even have a girl with a video camera, Eva (Sarah Bolger), so no one cries bullshit after success.

Well, obviously the dog is now alive, but the dog is acting a bit weird. Aggression based weirdness mostly. Oh well.

What’s that? They can’t do more research because it is awkward and sneaky and some pharmaceutical company is going to take it all? What’s that, Zoe is suddenly dead thanks to an accident while trying to re-do the experiment? Oh my goodness, Zoe is back alive? That is fantastic. It works on humans. Now they can find out what it is like to die and what she can tell them and hopefully she doesn’t turn all psycho and kill everyone.

That wouldn’t be okay!

Hide bitch!
I would also probably hide if Olivia Wilde came walking down the hall.

The first thing you will notice about The Lazarus Effect is that it is unusually short. Some horror films are short because everything takes place during a small amount of time, like in Unfriended, and it worked very nicely. Unfriended also got to the “horror” part of the film pretty early on, so there wasn’t a lot of time wasted.

This film, however, dawdles pretty hard core. They had what felt like several different plot lines going on to lead up to the sudden human trial to save Zoe’s life, but that also took up at least a third if not half of the film. That would be the plot about getting the science right, dealing with a slowly more aggressive dog, and the company coming in to take their work and having them lose everything. That is a big chunk of the movie, but none of it is really that scary. So that is pretty disappointing. You would think with less than 80 minutes of film, that sort of thing can be rushed or already assumed to get us to the part most viewers would care about. For instance, it can start with the formula just working on a dog? Yeah, that would give us more time to focus on scary stuff!

But alas, it is a mostly non terrifying horror movie which is a shame. The acting also is nothing special, and rarely is in a horror film.

The reason I am giving it the average passing score is that at least it tried to make a reasonable and not completely shitty plot. The main issue is that the plot seemed to also forget the fact that it is a horror movie. I need two things to happen in a horror film to give it a rating above a 2. It has to be both scary AND entertaining. This one has only minor scary parts near the end, and is average on the entertainment.

Should there be a sequel, which I doubt, it should be able to deliver more scares as we should be passed all the set up. But it also doesn’t really deserve a chance to make up the lack of horror.

2 out of 4.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

X-Men, oh X-Men, where art thou X-Men?

This is the seventh film of the franchise. SEVENTH. X-Men: Days Of Future Past. When I first heard about this, I was excited. It was a very ambitions plot and storyline to go for, time travel tends to do that. Couple that with the fact that X-Men: First Class was actually decent meant the series might be headed off in a certain way.

But you know what was terrible? The advertisements for this movie. By having two time lines of cast, we have a shit ton of characters, and Fox decided the best way to advertise it was to give every character its own…thing, whatever. So, magazines would have 30 unique covers, or 30 individual character posters, or whatever. No giant cast pictures, no, just an overabundance of individual character shit.

Here is one of the real reasons this bugs me. Anna Paquin. It was stated a long time ago, in the year of 2013, that she was basically cut from the movie. Then it became a rumor. Then it became true and then changed to say that she would just be a cameo. Just a cameo? And still getting full ad treatment? Boo. That is almost worst than the 47 Ronin ad issues, because she is supposed to be a bigger character.

Finally, in the credits, her name was higher than many other people in the film. Because she is more famous? Than Ellen Page? Fuck that. She was in the original X-Men movies then a shitty TV show, while Page has had a big lucrative film career. It is just nonsensical, and most of this doesn’t matter for the actual movie.

No, but these robots matter. AW YEAH SENTINELS!

In the near future, everything is bad, lots are dead. Mutants. Humans who would give birth to future mutants. The sentinels have destroyed it all. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has an unexplained ability to also let people go back in time with their consciousness to their body and like, change the future. But only for a few days, maybe a week. This is long enough to help their band of mutants survive and run, but not long enough to fix it.

No, they’d have to go back to the 1970’s, before Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) (who’s actual mutant power seems to be very limber leg maneuvers) kills the creator of the Sentinels (Peter Dinklage). But the process to send back a consciousness would tear apart a brain. Unless of course, the brain can heal itself. Hmm.

Enter Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) ready to travel back in time, convince past Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and past Xavier (James McAvoy) to work together, change the future, and fix their stupidity.

Here is where I talk about everyone in the film, but in one giant paragraph. Maybe the new people first? Like, Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Toad (Evan Jonigkeit), Bishop (Omar Sy), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Warpath (Booboo Stewart).

Of course we have Old Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Old Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Storm (Halle Berry), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and of course ROGUE. Just kidding. Bullshit cameo.

Do we get Jean Gray (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), or Old Beast (Kelsey Grammar)? Well, maybe.

I will only advertise one character per picture, as per movie tradition.

Yay Sentinels! Like a lot a folks in my age bracket, the Sentinels were one of the first X-Men plots I was exposed to, thanks to the first two episodes of the X-Men Animated TV Series on Fox. Shit, that is where I learned most of my basic plot lines, and why to fear the motherfucking Juggernaut. They were fascinating to see and I love the changes made to them. They were TERRIFYING and kept the viewers on the edge of the seat.

What else rocked? Most of the movie. Sure, some plot elements could have been explained better. But the Xavier/Magneto back story was great, a good continuation from First Class. Speaking of dickheads, Fassbender as Magneto is a huge one, and it was awesome to see. The best part is, you can easily relate to where he is coming from and he isn’t just a mindless villain.

Speaking of even more awesome, Fox’s adaption of Quicksilver was so entertaining. He didn’t have the bigger role in the movie, but whenever he was on screen, you paid attention to him and no one else. They really went all out to make him stand out, kind of a big middle finger to Marvel, daring them to raise the bar in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

To make this long review a bit shorter, here is the quicker analysis: So many characters, but outside of tiny cameos, they all were great and wonderful. Special effects and action was good. Story and plot was good. Holy shit, give me Apocalypse.

Did this 100% fit the continuity issues between a few of the movies? Heck no, but at least it gave it a good try and an entertaining one to boot.

4 out of 4.