Tag: Joey King

The Kissing Booth 3

Here we go, here we go, here we go.

First of all, I apologize for never writing out my review of The Kissing Booth 2. I had a lot to rant about and did it live in person a few times, but never got it all down on a review, and that made it worse since it made my worst film of the year last year.

So I knew with the final (better be) film I would make sure to jot it all down. The Kissing Booth 3, a movie that seemingly exists just to make it a trilogy, because they damn well could have finished the storylines established at the end of the 2nd film, but left it with a cliffhanger because they think resolving any aspect of a movie is pointless, I guess.

I am mostly fine with cliffhanger endings in general, in a planned series, but I also would demand that the film tells a complete story. Avengers: Infinity War ends with a sour note, kind of a cliffhanger (because the bad guy wins?) but it also tells a complete story and no one should leave unfulfilled. The second movie ended with a single decision to make and just suddenly decides to not do it.

Fuck that.

Fuck this.
As you know, of course, the last time we left off, Elle (Joey King) not knowing where to go college. Harvard, or Berkeley. Because of course if she goes to Berkeley, which she has talked to going for years with her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) and was their dream. But her boyfriend, Lee’s older brother, Noah (Jacob Elordi) is a year older and in Harvard. If she chooses to go there, she will pick her love life, her future, and you know, it is Harvard. Should she care about a promise to a best friend? Well, she is already lying to both of them saying she is wait listed on both, so she can take her time.

After a few weeks of travel with them and Lee’s girlfriend (Meganne Young), they still have a lot of summer left, and decide to go to Lee and Noah’s family beach house. But oh no! Their parents (Molly Ringwald, Morné Visser ) are going to sell the place after this summer! The kids somehow convince the parents to just let them live there the rest of the summer then, and they promise to clean it up and get it ready for the market. This is where Elle finds an old Beach Bucket list that she made with Lee. They decide to make it the best summer ever, especially since Elle has decided to go to Harvard.

But that isn’t all the plot! For example, her dad (Stephen Jennings) is maybe finding love after all these years, someone to help raise the much younger son (Carson White). And Elle hates it.

But that isn’t all the plot! Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez) is still around, making Lee jealous. And Chloe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) is still around, not making Elle jealous. Also Lee has to deal with the fact that he will be in a long term relationship with a girl he already has problems remembering, because he is a goddamn man-child. And Elle has to come to terms with the fact that she is in a relationship with Noah, who keeps having emotional bursts of jealousy (usually for good reasons), but also because he is a goddamn man-child. And Elle has to come to terms with her own shiftiness, because she is a goddamn womanchild.

Wow, good pristine condition after 8-10 years. 

How does one start to talk about a movie, nay, a franchise, like The Kissing Booth. Something written by a teenager, and every aspect of that fact is obvious through every scene, decision, and dialogue choice.

The fact that it is called The Kissing Booth isn’t even an issue. It is, for all intents and purposes, a minor part of the first film and still fine to be a dialogue. The dialogue choices from the narrator to overhype the minor part, and constantly try to bring it back through relevance, is really what hurts. Because in the second movie, it has even less of a point on the plot, and of course, in the last movie, is just once again unnecessarily brought back up in the epilogue, six years in the future, because apparently that is where several characters need to meet up at and pretend they never really stayed in communication the times before that.  This aspect of the movie makes more sense if the movie was set in the 1920’s, where maybe there was never a kissing booth beside it, because then we could all understand the strange hype and obsession with it.

The main character Elle is a terrible person. And role model, in case anyone looks up to her for that. You can have movies about bad people, but usually those people have some sort of consequence for their action, or a really hard choice that they will live with for regret to get to their power. Important things to show that those who hurt are hurt in return. But Elle? The girl who actively cheated on her boyfriend while he was away at college, both physically and mentally, and kissed another boy publicly. The one who demanded all the free time of her best friend so much that he literally forgot about her girlfriend who for some reason stuck it with him.

So what does she do this movie? Well, she is more trusting of her boyfriend that he won’t cheat on her, which is great, because he never did. And she decides that means she can hang out and plan things with someone she did cheat on him with, who made it obvious he wants to still win her over? She also decides to get upset with her best friend who wants to do so many things with her, when it was both her idea to make him feel better for it (after lying for over a month) and she did the same thing last year with no care for repercussions?

Let’s be clear on the things that happen to Elle negatively this film. One, her dad is dating a woman and Elle gets mad at her, and lashes out cause of her other shit, over one of the worst board games ever made (Monopoly), and still doesn’t care, until her dad calls her out on her bullshit and makes her feel bad. Second bad thing that happens to her is her boyfriend broke up with her over her bullshit.

Wow. Well let us make it obvious. She has a lot of bullshit and keeps making mistakes and never learning from them. He should have never been with her over the events of The Kissing Booth 2.  But even more importantly, SHE SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN WITH HIM DUE TO THE EVENTS OF THE MOVIE THE KISSING BOOTH. Where he was shown to be emotionally abusive, and threatened other guys to leave her alone for years while he was on his own path of getting experience before trying out her. He is shown to not handle any really conversation or argument well time and time again, which is why he runs off and does dumb shit all the time. And so does she. They are both really bad people, which doesn’t make it a good fit for them. Nor does it warrant spending three movies to talk about this relationship.

The problem with this movie is the impressions it leaves on people. Since there is almost no real consequences for any of the characters being terrible, it just helps reinforce that being terrible is a great thing for people to be. After all, look at all the fun they are having. Did you see those costumes? [Editor’s Important Note: Why the fuck does the go-kart track at a water park have stands for people to watch. Do people just sit there all day and look for exciting basic races? It was more than just a parent sitting area.]

I could talk so much about the other technical problems with the movie. Like how all over the place it is in time. When was it set? When did they make the beach bucket list? Why is going to Berkeley on a beach bucket list? Why would they hide it in a hidden time box if the goal was to actually complete it, and they went to the beach every summer? Why does the box have a Super Nintendo Mario Kart design, as if it was set in the 90’s? That goes with my earlier question about time. Because things on the list don’t make sense for various age groups they would have written it.

This is a trilogy that trivializes high school, relationships, proper communication, and the ability to fucking apologize.

0 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Online Releases 2018

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Online Releases 2018! Basically, things that started out on the internet, ideally a streaming website, because it is a loose theme, and I will take it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.

Online Releases 2018

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Can we go wrong with the Coen brothers? Yes, we totally can. But I can’t help but feel something wonderful when they continually try to do something different, or make the normal a lot more eccentric. This time, they went back to the former, while also going back to some of those old timey western roots, which are arguably their best movies. Except this time, it is straight to Netflix, and an Anthology movie with six short films instead. The only connection? Western.

This ends up working really well, even if I can say I didn’t love every part of the anthology. Unfortunately, the best and most fun was the first of the stories, and probably me least favorite was number two. I really enjoyed the one about the prospectors and the woman with her not dog too. When it works, it really works, and when it doesn’t work, it is still well made and a bit beautiful, if not full of fuckery. This is not a happy movie, and it can easily be watched in parts, and deserves praise for its individual shorts that work out amazingly well.

3 out of 4.

None of these people share a scene with the others.

The Kissing Booth

On the other hand, Netflix has made it clear its strategy isn’t to appeal to just the best movie ever, but to instead go for all the demographics so that they all have something to watch, which is fair. Netflix having a shit movie doesn’t mean that Netflix is bad, I just don’t have to watch it…if I am a normal movie goer.

But this movie is something else, and it has crawled out of the pits of hell thanks to some teenage girl. Yeah, it is based on a book, written by a teenage girl, on some website, and now its a movie. An uninspired romance movie, that seems to rely on the kissing booth as a feature, despite not being featured too heavily in the grand scope. It features a love interest who is super controlling, threatening, and uses his fists to solve problems. Ah, what good values to instill in our youth.

0 out of 4.

Help, help, I’m trapped in a 90s movie.

My Dinner with Hervé

Over on HBO, they also like to do movies, and shows, and documentaries. In this one, we have dudes as the stars, with one of them being one of their biggest stars of their biggest show. Makes sense. Peter Dinklage playing a biographical role, of possibly the most famous little person in history (before Peter Dinklage and Verne Troyer), Hervé Villechaize. Made famous for being in Fantasy Island and The Man With The Golden Gun.

Now, this is all according to a journalist, but it is based on the night out on the town with Hervé, where he also recounts his whole life story leading up to the point, his rises, and his many many downfalls. Dinklage does an amazing job of transforming himself, or what I know about himself, and this is an extremely touching tale of a childhood of abuse and sadness, while still trying to make something about it. It never seems to go deep enough into the sadder parts though, and probably skirts around important details. I just knew that it started off way better than it eventually ended.

2 out of 4.

And that is also true about life, I suppose.


Slice might not technically fit this theme, because it came out on VOD, but hey, my themes are loose, and I want it in this post. Slice is the type of movie that is just so out there, it is hard to believe that it even exists. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, murder mystery, pizza store, witches, and such a strange plot and concept. It is the type of movie that when describing it you know will have a cult following and probably LARPing in the future.

But in all honestly, it just doesn’t work out well. The only redeeming factor is that it definitely feels original. It just is a weird mash of ideas that aren’t fully explained because it isn’t fully thought through. It is cool, it is weird, but it is definitely not good.

1 out of 4.

Although, it made me want pizza, so good job there.

The Tale

Finally, another HBO movie (sorry Hulu), that I didn’t even know came out this last summer. I would have never known it existed if it didn’t get nominated for a Spirit award. I mean, it has a big name in it, and it is about sexual abuse when someone was a child. Sure, a fictional tale, but a tale that resonates due to how often similar “tales” have been told by other girls in relation to their coaches while growing up. Hell, the gymnastics scandal was in 2018, maybe even going on after this movie. It is very relevant.

Dern plays someone very vulnerable and stubborn at the same time. It doesn’t end with fireworks, but plays it in a more realistic way. More importantly, the girl who plays the younger version is amazing at her role. Her acting, in normal kid way, amplifies the creepiness of everything. It puts the viewer in a dark place and really helps bring the hate towards these sexual predators.

3 out of 4.

These two adults are now on my despise list, well done!

Overall, steaming platforms put out a lot of duds, and some successes. And especially Netflix, because I will never catch up on on their new releases. Or, maybe I will, if I just keep the review format like this and not larger. But these ones caught my eye for some reason or another and I chose them to watch to review, and never got around to actually writing.

Wish Upon

Sometimes it is really hard to remember all the genre specific films that come out in a year. Especially 2017 and horror.

When did Wish Upon come out? I don’t remember. I might have gotten an invite, but I don’t remember. Did I choose to not go, or was there something better to watch? Who fucking knows!

But at the end of the year, Wish Upon was already out, and I gave it a check because of the name and I knew that some shitty horror films had to be out there as well. And our star was not used to the leading role, but she was used to some horror films, so there was potential.

I bet the word viral is used in this movie at least twice.

Clare Shannon (Joey King) is your typical high school outcast. Small group of friends (Sydney Park, Shannon Purser), into some weird hobbies, sort of poor, normal stuff. Here mom (Elisabeth Röhm) committed suicide when she was younger, which haunts her occasionally. Her dad (Ryan Phillippe) has an embarrassing trait where he likes to dumpster dive for treasure for friends, but really it just makes him a hoarder and their house is a disaster.

And then one day, he finds a Chinese box that looks cool and leaves it in her room. She only dabbles in the language, and can see that it has wish on it, so for the lolz, she wishes this bully girl at school (Josephine Langford) will just rot away. And lo and behold! She gets a disease on her face and doesn’t return to school. Hooray!

However, this wish box has a deadly side. Every time it grants a wish, an entity the wisher knows will die. And if the wishes ever get used up, their own soul will be taken as well. But she doesn’t know Chinese, let alone ancient! And her old friend (Ki Hong Lee) can only help her so much, especially if she doesn’t listen. Time to wish for stupid stuff, consequences be damned!

Also starring Mitchell Slaggert.

Behold, foreign mysticism as your villainous holder of items!

A horror movies where wishes don’t go as expected? That isn’t new at all. But these wishes basically work out well, except for the whole dead friends or neighbors or family members part. However, it takes way too long for the lead to realize the wishes are real, happening, and the box is the culprit.

By the time she for sure knows, she also knows she has seven max. She has done four of seven, and knows that she is running out, and that it brings danger to people. And she fucking wishes her fifth wish for school popularity.

It is so goddamn stupid. That is the sort of wish you can imagine in the first three, maybe, especially when testing to see if it worked. But at this point in the film, it is already clear the writers had lost their goddamn minds.

Wish Upon takes a regular story and tries to add some Final Destination elements to it. Because they quickly start playing up the deaths, so we can sort of guess and see how they will die. Or even WHO will die, as they show multiple characters in potentially deadly circumstances. But they feel cheesy and not scary, unlike the FD franchise.

And really, the ending is horseshit as well. This is a horror film about a girl of below intelligence, who thinks she is above average intelligence, and then some people die.

0 out of 4.

The Boxcar Children

Ruining child classics is one of Hollywood’s favorite past times.

But this is not one of those examples. Because Hollywood is not behind this movie, just some low budget independent company. That’s right. The Boxcar Children, a book made in the 1920s and repopularized in the 1940s, it then spawned 159 follow up books and specials. WHAT. More impressively, they are are still making more. Four of them came out this year and a few are scheduled for 2015 already.

Of course, that series after the first book decided to go completely boring and make it a strange good-natured mystery series.

But hey, I read The Boxcar Children in like, second grade. In fact, it is the first legit book I have read. It had zero pictures, something called chapters and I didn’t read like 8 of them in one reading session.

So bring on the kids who do good things and live in the woods.

And who are as happy at winning as that one spelling bee kid.

Four kids. All brothers and sisters. And no parents. Wandering around, sleeping in bakeries, paying for bread with money they presumably earned by helping old ladies cross the street.

We got Henry (Zachary Gordon) 14 and technically the leader because he is oldest. Next is Jessie (Joey King), 12 year old girl, who is the mom figure and thus the cook. She runs things when Henry is out earning change for a living. After that is Violet (Mackenzie Foy) who I have nothing of note to say outside of the color purple and she is kind of weak and useless. But not as weak and useless as Benny (Jadon Sand) who is six and has no redeeming qualities outside of being cared for by others.

They are wandering around because their mom died or something and they don’t want to go to their mean old grandparents home. So they literally ran away, walking from town to town, being runaways with a 6 year old kid.

They are afraid of getting put in orphanages so they run into the woods afraid of some baker couple. And hey look, a box car from a train on an abandoned track for some reason. K. So they live there.

And story. Also with voice talents from Martin Sheen, J.K. Simmons, D.B. Sweeney, and Audrey Wasilewski.

They literally have to drag that kid along it looks like.

And now, my analysis where I talk mostly about how creepy the movie looks.

Man, this animated film is super creepy. Not like, uncanny valley creepy, like it is so close to human just a slight step away. No, it is just creepy because the animation is really really bad. Like, worse than video game bad. Like worse than Hoodwinked Too!. Like beyond terrible. Like before PSX graphics bad. I just don’t get it. The Snow Queen was an independent movie from like Russia and they had better animation than this one.

Watching characters eat or grab things, but having that object floating next to their hand and not holding it. And the animation was especially bad with water. And unfortunately they seem to awkwardly interact with it throughout the movie.

Gah. The animation. Gah gah gah.

The story itself? Well, it follows the book pretty darn closely. That is good for your purists. But it also turns out that the book doesn’t have a whole lot going on for it. It is a pretty boring story. But if you liked and remembered the books, then you might enjoy this not completely shit animated film version of it. But I am disappointed in that a nice live action version is something I might enjoy more. Then it won’t feel so damn creepy.

2 out of 4.

Wish I Was Here

I have wrote before about the secret feud that must exist between Zach Braff and Josh Radnor. They both were the stars of long running comedy sitcoms that were ingrained in pop culture. They also both directed movies, Braff had Garden State and Radnor had HappyThankYouMorePlease. Both, very indie drama/comedies.

But then Mr. Radnor changed the rules. No longer willing to just copy Mr. Braff, he went and directed a second movie called Liberal Arts. Not only that, but the very indie movie dealt with sex. That is a huge game changer.

So Braff looked at Radnor, knowing he had to direct another movie to get back at Radnor’s arrogance by jumping the line. He decided to direct and write a film called Wish I Was Here, trying to out indie the latest indie movie of Radnor. Braff just had to use the power of Kickstarter to do it. On plot alone, he might have done it too. Braff was attempting the very rare, and usually very good, indie family road trip movie.

With at least one Turkleton by his side.

Now, this is a story all about how Aidan Bloom’s (Zach Braff) life got flipped-turned upside down. Hmm, not entirely true. One could argue it happened after his mom died and left a sizable sum of money to his brother (Josh Gad) who seems to be wasting it all. One could say it has been bad for the last couple years, as he is a struggling actor, unable to find work in LA, living in a shitty home. His wife, Sarah (Kate Hudson), is working at a shitty job with annoying coworkers and is taking out her frustrations on her husband who isn’t providing income.

But at least his kids (Joey King, Pierce Gagnon) are going to a good school. They are in a private Jewish school, thanks to funding from his father (Mandy Patinkin). But even that is about to change. Looks like his cancer is back, and he wants to use the rest of his savings for a risky procedure to maybe get rid of the cancer for good. Maybe.

Well, Aidan didn’t have a good life in public school, so agrees to home school his kids. But does he know how to teach them? They are quite different, and he wasn’t the smartest in school either. But with so much in his life going sour, Aidan really doesn’t even know what to do. According to the Rabbis he is failing, that is for sure.

Also featuring Braff’s friends. You already knew Donald Faison was in here, but what about his Garden State buddies, Jim Parsons and Michael Weston? Natalie Portman was presumably busy.

Braff literally carried around his Kickstarter money until the film was finished. Every last scene.

I know a lot of people were disappointed with this film, calling it “Not Garden State” but this film wasn’t going for Garden State at all. Garden State was about depression, this film just has depressing subject matter. I was completely wrong with the genre though, the trailers made it seem like a road trip movie, and there is some traveling, but most of it takes place around LA.

It is about a man trying to cope with his existence, with what his family expects of him, with what others expect of him, and whether or not he truly is the reason that everything in his life is falling apart.

The film also has a strong indie feel, especially when Braff gets caught up in his imagination (not like JD). But it doesn’t feel so indie that I am pissed off by the end, wondering what the entire movie was about. That’s an indie stereotype. This film sort of celebrates the bizarre of every day ordinary life and of raising a family. And it does a decent job at the story it wants to convey.

Funny and serious, Wish I Was Here was better than I thought it would be, and certainly better than Liberal Arts, which I have to compare it to. Just arguably both of these gents had better first films than their second films.

3 out of 4.

Family Weekend

Family Weekend I probably could have gone my whole life without seeing or even really knowing it existed. It wasn’t on my main dvd relese website, wasn’t in theaters, it is a film I’d have to have seen on accident.

So let’ just say that. Yeah. I saw it on accident. (Cough)

But it appears to feature bondage, so it already has that going for it.

The Smith-Dungy family is pretty unique, and yes they are one of those families. You know. Free spirited. Kind of. Alright, everyone has a unique personality that is set to 11. Emily (Olesya Rulin) is the oldest daughter and a champion jump rope speed jumping champion. Just ask anyone, like her crush Chris (Chase Maser), how great she is. She just qualified for states this weekend! But don’t ask her family. They didn’t show up to her competition.


Her mom (Kristin Chenoweth) is now super busy doing business stuff, always on the phone or texting about work. Her dad (Matthew Modine) is too free spirited, an artist, willing to talk about too much and is just in general forgetful. She has an older brother Jackson (Eddie Hassell), who is gay (/faking gay) and and artists. Lucinda (Joey King), a younger sister, who is really obsessed with acting out as characters from famous older films for some reason, and a younger brother who likes animals and has a perfect memory.

Well, Emily decides that her parents need to relearn what it means to be good parents, like they were before, and must undergo some nice reconditioning, tied up for a few days, before they stop being such dicks. Chloe Bridges is also in this movie.

Competitive Nature
I always knew jumping rope would lead to adultnapping.

For a random movie requested for me to see, it wasn’t all bad. No, the plot overall went exactly where I thought it would go, and all lessons got learned, but the journey to end had its own twists or turns.

Kind of. Now I am just being vague, and I apologize, but this might be the quintesential 2/4. Not 2 out of 4 for being average, but by having equal parts I liked and disliked, turning it average. The former version is just average throughout, never really fantastic or shitty.

Olesya was pretty believable as an overachiever finally snapping and really wanting to do good, without realizing she has reached almost insanity. Her siblings Joey King and Eddie Hassell are both immediately forgettable, but since they don’t go away, they reach annoying levels. The parents are both pretty unique and interesting in their own ways, but of course they set up the dad to be the cool one and the one who is more willing to change. Despite making him more likable to the viewer, they are (for a little bit) able to allow us to feel some sympathy for the mom.

The unfortunate downside of this film is none of it just feels real or natural. It all feels fake, it just feels like a movie. The acting isn’t incredible anywhere, so I don’t think these characters actually changed, which just ruins the ending for me (which was a let down on its own). Hard to describe, but just doesn’t work on the most basic level. Despite that, I still enjoyed the idea of the premise, and some parts.

How many typos are in this review?

2 out of 4.

The Conjuring

The Conjuring is the second horror movie to come out during the 2013 Summer Season (the other being The Purge) and I can honestly say I didn’t see this one coming. Seriously. I saw zero previews for it in the theater. I didn’t even know it existed until about a week ago. The good news is that I never actually watched the trailer ahead of time, which is a rarity now in my position, so the movie could be a completely new experience for me.

Check out the rating for The Conjuring. It was rated R “for sequences of disturbing violence and terror.” You hear that? It was rated R literally for being too scary. No nudity, no language, no gore, no sex, no drug usage. Just R on terror alone. As a well established coward, let it be known that I am freaking out already.

Shit, matches in the 70s used to be awesome as shit.

The Conjuring tells the “true story” of a case studied by Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) in the early 1970s. I agree that those two were real human beings, with Ed being a Demonologist, and Lorraine a clarivoyant. They traveled around, helping with exorcisms, clearing houses of spirits, and other similar activities. They are most famous for helping the Amityville people.

The family they end up helping in this film are the Perrons: Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their FIVE daughters (Kyla DeaverMackenzie FoyJoey KingHayley McFarlandShanley Caswell). Poor Roger, you can tell he needs help before the ghosts come.

Well, strange things start occurring around their house. All of their clocks stop at 3:07 am. Their dog died, birds fly into windows, their daughters get tugged on at night, sleep walking, ghostly spirits. Not to mention doors slamming in their faces and literally having demonic ghosts jumping on them.

They cannot move, having put all of their money into this house and land. Sucks to suck. Thankfully the Warren’s agree to help. They bring along their crew (Shannon Kook), set up cameras, microphones, and other devices, pre-modern day ghost hunters. After confirming that there are indeed spirits in the house, they set out to determine if they are sinister or just playful.

Yo dawg, there are rancid feet behind you. DO YOU NOT SEE THAT?

To me, The Conjuring felt like it was celebrating horror at its most basic roots. The story itself combines a bit of Poltergeist with The Exorcist, but into its own unique tale. The major elements in this movie are things we have seen before, but the smaller details are what make it something special.

I always talk about how hard it is for me to figure out a rating for a horror movie. Presumably it is based on some hidden formula combing entertainment and scare factor. After all, people go to horror movies to be scared, so if it ends up just being entertaining, you will be disappointed, and if it is just scary imagery, you will be confused.

I think The Conjuring combines these two elements in a pretty even fashion. It didn’t make me jump out of my seat every minute, but after the intro, I found myself at the edge of the seat until the credits rolled. The chill that something could go wrong at any moment stayed with you. It teased really well, and similarly had well placed humor moments just to throw you off guard.

The Conjuring proves that ghosts and hauntings are still scary. but even more surprising is that this movie was also well acted with a decent plot, truly the scariest thing about it. Similarly, this is the first horror I have given this rating in the last two years of hardcore movie watching.

4 out of 4.

White House Down

Some people enjoy eating competitions, fireworks, and BBQs for their Fourth of July celebrations. Not me. As a heavy movie consumer, I tend to spend a lot of time watching patriotic movies. You know which ones I am talking about. The kind that cause you to get out of your chair and start chanting U-S-A at the top of your lungs, or maybe even run down your street with an American flag (usually reserved for the Olympics). I am talking about the big heavy hitters, like Top GunRocky IV, The Mighty Ducks II, Red Dawn, and of course Independence Day.

Which is why I’m glad we have new movies coming out around the same time as the festivities, that only want to help us express that pride we have deep down inside ourselves. What is more patriotic than a movie involving an attack on the White House, by Americans, for Americans? My fellow Americans, I give you, White House Down (Trailer).

Guns Means Patriotism

The movie takes place in a time when America is dealing with a lot of conflict in the Middle East. AKA, modern day America. President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) wants to be a great man and known forever in history. He has decided to pull all of the troops out of the Middle East and also offer up a peace treaty for around twenty countries in that area. It is a pretty bold move that has a lot of people angry, including the vice president who will quit if it goes through.

John Cale (Channing Tatum) might not think too highly of the new order either, after all, he served three tours in Iraq/Afghanistan himself. But now he is back to living in DC, working as a body guard for the Speaker of the House (Richard Jenkins). His dream is to work for the secret service, the highest honor in the land, especially since his daughter Emily (Joey King) is obsessed with politics, and he wants to get back on her good graces.

But while on a tour at the White house (lead by Nicolas Wright), a bomb explodes on the Capital building, putting most of DC on lock down. Too bad a group of mercenaries have all infiltrated the White House to take the president prisoner. Why you might ask? Plenty of reasons, just pick one. Surely it isn’t just for money though. Either way, it is time for John Cale to prove himself capable of being a member of the Presidential Guard, or else there might not be a country to save.

We also have Maggie Gylenhaal as a head secret service agent, James Woods as the Head of the Presidential Detail, Jimmi Simpson as a big bad hacker, and Jason Clarke as a mad mad mercenary.

Yep. Everyone in this picture will kill someone by the movies end. For America.

I am not allowed to review White House Down without mentioning Olympus Has Fallen, which I loved. It had great action, it was tense, but it still had its weak moments. Olympus Has Fallen was a much more serious film, whereas White House Down is going for Action/Comedy and is much closer to being a Die Hard variant. It isn’t rated  but even the smallest details seem to be throw backs to Die Hard. Just look at Tatum himself. His garb mimics Bruce Willis in the first film, with the white tank top and ruffled hair as seen here.

Roland Emmerich is used to bigger disaster films, so I am surprised he was able to contain the destruction to basically only two buildings. Despite the small scale, I found myself at the edge of my seat as Tatum and Foxx were running around the White House trying to be action stars. Foxx’s character wasn’t as much of a bad ass, as he is the President, but he has a few moments.

But here is what I didn’t like. The run time is over two hours, far too long for this kind of movie. I think the main problem lies in the pre-explosion intro, which dragged on and on, trying to set up everyone’s story. None of the twists are really too surprising, as it fits a very common formula. I didn’t see the last twist coming, only because a twist there felt nonsensical. The final twist was also a bit rushed and a bit anti-climatic.

Regardless, I am willing to state that both White House invasion films from 2013 are probably worthy of a watch, at least once. This one has a limo chase seen on the presidential lawn, while Olympus Has Fallen has a limo fall into an icy river of death. The difference in limo usage probably highlights the main differences in the films. I wouldn’t describe this as a “dumber” version of OHF like other critics, but it definitely takes itself less seriously.

I am looking forward to 2014 when I get to see two versions of Hercules. (Hint: You can already tell which one will be better).


3 out of 4.

Oz The Great And Powerful

It turns out, more than one movie came out this weekend. That is right. The very strongly advertised and anticipated Oz The Great And Powerful. Really, I feel bad for any other movie trying to make money. It’d be like coming out vs The Avengers.

Of course, there is also the potential for naysayers. You can’t touch The Wizard of Oz after all. It is too nostalgic to be remade, re-imagined, or even associated with anything. Okay sure. Maybe the classic was based off of a book and not original. But at least it was the only one, right?

Fuck to the no. That classic was at least the 6th or 7th movie version of it, in a 30 year span. I just like to point this stuff out to people, who are quick to say Hollywood is no longer original, always rebooting. The movie you love was a reboot on its own.

So if they want to make up a prequel, with a lame china doll girl, by all means, I say let them!

Go figure, it takes place in Kansas. Oz (James Franco) is working at a traveling fair, being quite the ladies man. Maybe too much of a ladies man. His assistant Frank (Zach Braff) he treats like a trained monkey! Foreshadowing. Either way, he makes the Strong Man angry. Has to run, hops in a hot air balloon. Oh no, Tornado! Boom, Oz.

Shit is all in color and widescreen. Potentially dangerous as well.

Good thing he was found by Theodora (Mila Kunis) and not some creepy flying monkey. She is a witch, but thankfully not wicked. Nor is her sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz), the current pseudo-ruler of Oz. They are all stoked, that the prophecy is coming true! An Oz will save the day, destroy the witch, and he will rule the land. Yay!

Or you know, shenanigans. Greed. Oz isn’t really the nicest or most honest man. Not to mention not actually being a wizard. Can he, will he, kill the witch? Well, just think about the fact that this is a prequel, then figure it out.

Featuring Michelle Williams as Glinda the Good, Joey King as china doll girl, Tony Cox as a helper, Bill Cobbs as a “Tinkerer” and Bruce Campbell. Why Bruce? Because its a Sam Raimi film.

Plot Twist: Bruce Campbell is the wicked witch!

I watched Oz on the opening night, in 3D, of course. It opens with a long title sequence, and its pretty fantastic. Really sets the mood. If you couldn’t tell from the trailer, the Kansas scenes are in a brown tinted lack of color scope, and squarely in the middle of the screen. Thats okay.

But Oz? Oz kind of turns into a CGI slugfest, over the top and extraordinary. I should have known it when I saw it was Alice In Wonderland producers, which might have had 2 real actors the whole movie as far as I could tell. Nothing wrong with special effects, but most of the time, the cast felt out of place or up against a green screen.

The acting in the movie isn’t the best either. Franco seemed like he wasn’t trying, nor did really any of the witches. Kunis plays some odd naivety, Weisz typical angst, and Williams felt like she had nothing to work with.

I might have been a bit bored halfway through, waiting for the eventual plot changes.

But you know what? The ending is kind of amazing. The attack on Oz, to the playful tricks (some of which are obvious, but not all of them), to the resolution, all feels pretty dang great. Not to mention a small part where Sam Raimi actually threw in an Evil Dead reference, which made me as giddy as a school girl.

Was this movie a lot less spectacular than advertised? Yes. But the ending almost made it super worthy to me.

2 out of 4.