4Aces Film Reviews

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Thought I'd start my own review thread here for the the films I'll be watching and reviewing this year.

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Good to see another review thread.

i enjoyed your review but i didn't agree with it. I rated Jurassic World alot higher than you have, and tho i do agree that theres moments that remind you of the original Jurassic Park.. i think it was actually a nice touch. It was great to see the park fully functional, and the story is what you would expect from a Jurassic Park/World movie anyway, i mean thats what we all want isnt it? Big frightening dinosaurs eating everyone .
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Good to see another review thread.

i enjoyed your review but i didn't agree with it. I rated Jurassic World alot higher than you have, and tho i do agree that theres moments that remind you of the original Jurassic Park.. i think it was actually a nice touch. It was great to see the park fully functional, and the story is what you would expect from a Jurassic Park/World movie anyway, i mean thats what we all want isnt it? Big frightening dinosaurs eating everyone .
Thanks for the response.

I figured I'd be in the minority with not rating it particularly high, considering the staggering amount of money that the movie has made. Always seems to be a running theme with my movie tastes, not rating the wildly popular films all that high. It's never been a contrarian thing where I just do it in order to go the opposite way, but a lot of the time it seems to end up looking like it.

I actually liked the monster they had in the large tank that ate the great white shark towards the beginning or early middle of the film a lot more. That seemed new and appropriately massive for a film that was trying to push the bigger-and-better angle. Granted, you run into the issue of it not being particularly threatening because all you have to do is stay on the land to avoid it, but they could have created something similar to it (maybe even genetically engineering it to be able to walk on land) to provide the film with a scarier antagonist. That's what really worked with the original film, as the T-Rex and raptors were scary. Their seeming domestication in this film along with the lack of an antagonist that could match them in terms of their ability to terrify was a big mark against it for me.

"""" Hulk Smashhhh."""
Thats something i can agree on. The mosasaurus scene was great and i really wish they included it in the movie a little more. Maybe something could of went wrong with an underwater viewing station while all the carnage was happening. My son loved The Mosasaurus, i took him to buy a Jurassic World toy after he watched the movie and thats what he picked.

Bare (2015)

Bare is the feature film debut of director Natalia Leite, featuring the first lead performance in a motion picture by Dianna Agron, best known for her work on TV's Glee.

Agron plays Sarah, a girl working at a grocery or WalMart-type store who wants out of her small-time existence. Getting fired from her job in the early going helps with this, and leads her to meet the enigmatic Pepper (Paz de la Huerta), who has broken into her father's antique store to sleep for the night. Ultimately this leads to something of a whirlwind relationship between Sarah and Pepper, as they find something in each other that seems to be missing from the other, or so they think anyway. It also leads Sarah to perform at the Blue Room, a gentleman's club that Pepper serves as something of an unofficial talent scout.

Bare is an indie film through and through, very much low on budget and plays to a lot of the sensibilities one would expect from a typically average film of this type. The film received quite a bit of publicity because it features a nude scene from Agron, who had been considered rather conservative to this point in her career. Those types of films can usually go one of two ways: gratuitous or tasteful. Luckily, Bare goes the latter direction, opting for a tasteful scene that actually feels pivotal to the plot and the progression of the two main characters as they each feel out where they are looking to go in the future.

The performances are about what you'd expect. For her first lead performance, Agron is solid. She's shown herself to be a capable with potential for more in earlier supporting roles, most notably after holding her own with Robert DeNiro in The Family, but she's now shown to have the potential to carry a film on her own if need be. Paz de la Huerta is, as she has shown in several films prior to Bare, not a strong actress. Now, I'll say that this this performance is better than I've seen from her before, so perhaps there's an indication that progress is being made, but she's still not showing herself capable of turning in strong performances. The scenes in which her Pepper and Sarah are together, it is Agron carrying the proceedings.

Overall, a solid if completely unspectacular film that almost entirely serves as a vehicle for Agron to break free of the stigma of Glee, even though that's almost certainly not the way this film was conceived in its early stages. I'm torn to a degree on what rating to give it. 2.5 seems to low and 3 seems to be bordering on too high. It'll get a 3, but with reservations.

Jurassic World (2015)

I grew up with the Jurassic Park franchise, seeing the first film at probably too young an age and even read Michael Chrichton's novel well before I was at the reading level required to really understand it. Anyway, I loved Jurassic Park when I was a kid, and found some enjoyment out of the sequels as well. So, with the franchise lying dormant for a long time following Jurassic Park III, it looked like the series was over. And I was fine with that, as I thought the third film was a decent send off for the franchise, luring Sam Neill back for another adventure after sitting out The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

This brings us to 2015 and the release of Jurassic World, the franchise's fourth installment. The park envisioned by the original film is now fully operational and has become commonplace in our rapidly advancing world. The film follows Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a velociraptor trainer who is working to make raptors obey human commands, and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the operations manager for the park, as they seek to contain a genetically-engineered dinosaur after it breaks out of its holding area.

Unfortunately, Jurassic World somewhat devolves into a quasi-remake of Jurassic Park. While it's true that there probably aren't too many different directions to take films like these, what we're given here is a film that treads on a lot of familiar ground. Unstoppable predator escaped from its cage? Check. Children of protagonist alone and in danger? Check. A lot of talk about the ethics of dinosaur cloning and genetic engineering? Check. The main difference here is that the number of potential victims for the escaped dinosaurs is noticeably higher, as the park is full of tourists when the Indominus Rex (the new creation of the genetic engineers at the park) escapes and begins wreaking havoc on the park, while also managing to free other dinosaurs from captivity in the process.

To give director Colin Trevorrow some credit, Jurassic World looks very good. It's a very sleek film. That's also part of its problem, as it often feels a bit too shiny, a bit too pristine, instead of having the grittiness or dirtiness or sense of danger that a film like this should have, and the Spielberg original did have. We end up following Pratt and Howard around while they try to save her niece and nephew from certain death alone in the park while Vincent D'Onofrio seeks to release the supposedly trained raptors out into the park to take down the Indominus Rex. This all leads to a horribly predictable climax that will leave you rolling your eyes because it can be seen coming from several miles away.

Jurassic World does have its moments, but they're mostly the moments that make you recall Jurassic Park, and that leaves you wondering why you didn't just put that film in the DVD player and give it a watch instead. Hopefully for the inevitable Jurassic World 2 they decide to break away from the formula a bit and do something unexpected.

Contracted: Phase II (2015)

Contracted: Phase II is a rather unnecessary sequel to the zombie/body-horror indie Contracted from 2013. That film, which followed a young woman named Samantha after she was sexually assaulted at a party and contracted an STD which had unspeakable effects on her body. Phase II picks up right where that film ended and continues following the ramifications of that infection.

The problem with Contracted: Phase II is that it's completely unnecessary. Part of the "charm" (if that word can be used) of Contracted was that it was a zombie film from a different perspective. Most zombie films begin at the point where the outbreak makes its public debut and hell has already begun to break loose. Contracted showed us the lead-up to that moment, how such an epidemic would begin, and does so at a personal level. Now, that film wasn't anything to write home about. It had its share of problems, but as an experiment it was worthwhile. It was certainly much better than its sequel.

Contracted: Phase II follows Riley (Matt Mercer) from the first film, who came into contact with Samantha. The film is about his descent into a similar situation. This film, however, doesn't put quite the focus into the body-horror that the original did, even though there is still quite a bit of it. That's probably a wise move, but what they do with the additional time isn't worthwhile at all.

The other part of the film focuses on the police investigation as they rush to try to stop BJ, the man who began it all in the original film, from further spreading the virus. This investigation is headed up by Detective Young (Marianna Palka). Palka tries giving her character an accent in the film and it completely destroys the character. The accent is all over the place, causing her character to be an unnecessary distraction every time she is on screen. The investigation scenes really don't add much to the narrative other than introducing the fact that BJ is still out there and someone that needs to be stopped.

The first film managed to get around its shortcomings because of a solid central performance, making you care about Samantha as she went through a horrific transformation, regardless of how ridiculous everything around her seemed to be. That's not the case here, as the acting is pretty much subpar across the board. The film only clocks in at about an hour and twenty minutes, yet it feels overly long. Whatever urge there may be for a Contracted: Phase III, I hope they resist it. The first was decent enough, but the laws of diminishing returns suggests that there is absolutely nowhere else left to go with this franchise that we couldn't get in another other zombie movie or franchise.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 (2012)

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 is one of two films that serve as an adaptation of Frank Miller's classic comic of the same name. The film finds Bruce Wayne having been forced some time ago to retire the Batman persona and essentially watch Gotham descend into a condition worse than when he decided to take the fight to the criminals.

Gotham is now ruled by a criminal gang known as The Mutants. One night, as Bruce Wayne is walking home his is cornered by two members of the gang, who are clearly going to kill him until he stands his ground, something they were not expecting. This shows early signs of Wayne contemplating returning as Batman, but it's not until later in the first half of this film that an old foe re-emerges, forcing Wayne to don the mask once again and take off into the night.

Some of this film, we've seen before. There are elements of it in the Christopher Nolan Batman films. For instance, the moment that the police realize Batman is back is depicted rather closely in The Dark Knight Rises. It's also clear that many elements of this story will feature in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, judging by the trailers. But, even with a pretty good familiarity with this material, this animated feature still stands as a worthwhile viewing.

The voice acting in Part 1 is pretty solid. Peter Weller is on hand as Bruce Wayne and Batman this time around, giving an older sound to the character that is fitting since Wayne is now in his fifties. There are times, however, in which Weller's voice doesn't quite sound right as Batman, though. This is most notable when he speaks for longer than a sentence or two, and this is more of a problem in Part 2 than it is in this volume. When the scripts keeps Batman's words to a minimum, Weller is quite effective. Ariel Winter is also quite good as Carrie Kelly, the new Robin in the story.

For an animated film, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 has more of an edge than you'd expect, continuing the recent trend of such films aimed at a more adult audience. The filmmakers do a good job of transitioning Miller's comic over to the screen, creating a Gotham that feels a bit more alive than what we sometimes see in the animated Batman adventures. At 76 minutes, things do feel a bit rushed at times, and perhaps both Parts 1 and 2 could have benefited from another 15-30 minutes to let things breathe a bit, but ultimately, this film is a very solid entry in the Batman animated franchise.

Really enjoy this thread. Nice review on the Batman movie. Would it be suitable for my 4 year old?.

I would definitely say that it's not suitable for a 4 year old.


Costa-Gavras' Mad City is the story of Max Brackett (Dustin Hoffman), a disgraced network reporter slumming it in the local news game, and Sam Baily (John Travolta), a recently-fired security guard at a museum.

Brackett is sent to the museum to do a puff piece on the museum and its curator Mrs. Banks (Blythe Danner) when Bailey stumbles his way into the museum and ends up taking Brackett, Banks, and a group of children hostage. From there, one might simply expect the film to be your typical hostage standoff film, and it does a decent job with those elements, even if others have done it much better. But, what the film focuses on is the way the media manipulates and tries to shape situations for their own interests and gain, and that's where it's a more successful film.

Hoffman plays Brackett as a sly manipulator, but manages to walk that tight rope of playing that angle while also maintaining his position as the protagonist of the story. His dealings with Sam Baily manage to go back and forth between moments of seemingly genuine compassion and moments of blatant manipulation. Travolta, for his part, does a good job of giving the audience reason enough to root for Baily, yet still managing to give the audience reason enough to be unsure of him as well. Like with Hoffman, he has a tight rope to walk and does a pretty good job of it for the most part. The supporting cast is solid, featuring Alan Alda, Mia Kirshner, Ted Levine, and William Atherton.

Mad City isn't going to go down as one of the all-time great movies about the media. It tries to be too many things to really accomplish any kind of true reform on the industry, as it tries to be a hostage-thriller, a critique of the media, as well as something of a personal drama for the two men at the heart of the story. Still, it's a reasonably entertaining film, one that is a great watch on a lazy afternoon with nothing else to do. It's thought-provoking enough to get you to care about the issue for a few minutes after the final credits roll, but its issues don't stay with you too long after that.


After the abysmal 2002 Bond outing Die Another Day, which saw Bond surfing on a CGI-tsunami and battling a henchman with diamond acne, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson thankfully saw it fit to reset the entire 007 franchise and take Bond back to his roots, back to the original James Bond novel: Casino Royale.

Casino Royale marks the debut of Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming's master spy. Gone are the groan-inducing quips that plagued the scripts of Pierce Brosnan's Bond films. In their place was a new toughness, a new sense of danger that the franchise had not seen since 1989's Timothy Dalton outing Licence to Kill. Going in that direction was a risk, given the popularity of Pierce Brosnan and his films and the public rejection of Licence to Kill, but with an eye firmly trained on what the Bourne and Batman franchises were doing and the successes they were having, EON wisely marched on in this new direction.

While I do have my issues with Casino Royale as an adaptation of Ian Fleming's novel, it can't be denied that the film is an excellent film on its own merit. The film, thanks in large part to Martin Campbell's steady hand behind the camera, has a sense of class and elegance that had gone missing from many of the other recent entries to that point. In some respects, most notably in the atmosphere and the more serious tone of the film, it does feel like something more in line with Fleming's novels, albeit obviously updated to reflect a more modern sensibility.

Daniel Craig proved his doubters wrong in this one, showing that he was the perfect Bond for this new post-9/11 world where audiences want their heroes more serious and tougher than in the past. Craig excels in all aspects of the role here, turning in a much more nuanced performance in the role than we'd seen in a long time, possibly even as far back as Sean Connery's first two films. He portrays Bond as all aspects of the character. We see the superman aspect of him, the toughness, the charm, but also the levity and dry wit that had become a staple of the character thanks to Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

His co-star, Eva Green, is also superb as the mysterious Vesper Lynd. Green easily cements herself as the best Bond girl in ages, playing off Craig's Bond excellently. Their love affair is a bit underdeveloped in the script, one of the marks against the film, but Green and Craig do a good job of selling it, giving the audience enough reason to become invested in it.

There are problems with Casino Royale. As already mentioned, the love affair isn't entirely believable, at least in the way its structured in the script. Craig and Green sell it, but in terms of how its actually depicted, it is rushed. The film is also front-heavy, featuring two over-the-top action set pieces that feel more like holdovers from the Brosnan films than something that belong in the same film as the second half of Casino Royale. I've always maintained that completely axing one of these set pieces could have allowed Campbell more time to spend on the love affair between Bond and Vesper, and could have allowed more time for Vesper to be terrorized by the eye-patched Gettler towards the end of the film, which would have brought the film more into line with Fleming's novel.

Still, Casino Royale is an excellent film, the kind of Bond film that was needed in 2006 when the Brosnan films had grown too outlandish for their own good. Craig established himself as one of the best Bonds of all-time with this film, signaling great things to come in future entries.