Playing Catch-Up: The Accountant, Carnage Park, The Choice, The Legend of Tarzan


Continuing my look back at the films of 2016, here are four mini-reviews of some films that really didn’t make enough of an impression to demand a full review.

The Accountant (dir by Gavin O’Connor)

2016 was a mixed year for Ben Affleck.  Batman v. Superman may have been a box office success but it was also such a critical disaster that it may have done more harm to Affleck’s legacy than good.  If nothing else, Affleck will spend the rest of his life being subjected to jokes about Martha.  While Ben’s younger brother has become an Oscar front runner as a result of his performance in Manchester By The Sea, Ben’s latest Oscar effort, Live By Night, has been released to critical scorn and audience indifference.

At the same time, Ben Affleck also gave perhaps his best performance ever in The Accountant.  Affleck plays an autistic accountant who exclusively works for criminals and who has been raised to be an expert in all forms of self-defense.  The film’s plot is overly complicated and director Gavin O’Connor struggles to maintain a consistent tone but Affleck gives a really great performance and Anna Kendrick reminds audiences that she’s capable of more than just starring in the Pitch Perfect franchise.

Carnage Park (dir by Mickey Keating)

I really wanted to like Carnage Park, because it was specifically advertised as being an homage to the grindhouse films of the 1970s and y’all know how much I love those!  Ashley Bell plays a woman who gets kidnapped twice, once by two bank robbers and then by a psycho named Wyatt (Pat Healy).  Healy chases Bell through the desert, hunting her Most Dangerous Game-style.  There are some intense scenes and both Bell and Healy are well-cast but, ultimately, it’s just kind of blah.

The Choice (dir by Ross Katz)

The Choice was last year’s Nicholas Sparks adaptation.  It came out, as all Nichols Sparks adaptations do, just in time for Valentine’s Day and it got reviews that were so negative that a lot of people will never admit that they actually saw it.  Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer play two people who meet, fall in love, and marry in North Carolina.  But then Palmer is in a car accident, ends up in a coma, and Walker has to decide whether or not to turn off the life support.

As I said, The Choice got terrible reviews and it’s certainly not subtle movie but it’s actually better than a lot of films adapted from the work of Nicholas Sparks.  Walker and Palmer are a likable couple and, at the very least, The Choice deserves some credit for having the courage not to embrace the currently trendy cause of euthanasia.  That alone makes The Choice better than Me Before You.

The Legend of Tarzan (dir by David Yates)

Alexander Skarsgard looks good without his shirt on and Samuel L. Jackson is always a fun to watch and that’s really all that matters as far as The Legend of Tarzan is concerned.  It’s an enjoyable enough adventure film but you won’t remember much about it afterward.  Christoph Waltz is a good actor but he’s played so many villains that it’s hard to get excited over it anymore.

San Andreas Once Again Takes Out the Golden State


San Andreas Banner

With all the rocking and rolling and metal headbanging the site has been on of late it’s just appropriate that we  take a quick intermission with a different sort of rocking and rolling.

The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson will take on the Big One and only one will come out victorious.

San Andreas is set for a May 29, 2015 release date.

Movie Review: Texas Chainsaw 3D (dir. by John Luessenhop)


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I like to use 2010’s Nightmare on Elm Street as the basis for horror remakes I’m not fond of. So when Texas Chainsaw 3D was announced, I automatically wrote it off as being something you could put on the shelf right next to this one. I have to admit I was actually surprised. Yeah, it’s a bad movie, but I didn’t find myself scoffing nearly as much as I did Nightmare, which really didn’t work for me at all. I just don’t see myself running back to see this one. I believe part of this has to do with the way the film opens.

Having gone into the film blind, I expected a remake of the remake. Essentially the same story we had with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. The shock was that the film starts with the events of the original Tobe Hooper film, rendered in 3D (which was very cool, I might add). It then moves to the afternoon after the last victim ran away. This gives anyone who may be unfamiliar with the original a bit of a bridge, and personally having never liked any of the original sequels, I liked the aftermath that takes place.

Essentially, Texas Chainsaw 3d is the story of Heather Miller (played by Percy Jackson’s Alexandra Daddario), who receives word from her lawyer that she’s inherited a home in Dallas, Texas. What she doesn’t realize is that this inheritance comes with a few problems. She decides to hop in a van and head down there, accompanied by her friend Nikki (Tania Raymonde), Nikki’s date Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sanchez), and her boyfriend (Tremaine “Trey Songz” Neverson, who the girls in my audience gave the same whoops and catcalls normally reserved for Pattinson/Lautner in a Twilight Showing).

Basically, the movie becomes the cliché “draw this person into isolation and Bam!” that every horror film has, but I’ll admit that I watched a lot of those scenes with my eyes averted, so in that aspect, it got the job done. The visual makeup effects were done by Robert Kurtzman, the “K” in the KNB Effects group (The Walking Dead’s Gregory Nictotero and Howard Berger are the others), and there’s no shortage of blood in this film. While it’s not quite on the level on what the upcoming Evil Dead looks like – that appears to be on the epic Dead Alive levels – Chainsaw does have limbs lost, blood spurting and Leatherface’s signature weapon used to fullest extent. Those moments of isolation come of as very intense, and the direction isn’t bad.

The 3D in the film was nice, though used sparingly. To be honest, the best use of the effects was in what it added to the pieces of the original film that were used. I really enjoyed the outcome there and there are a few key “weapon in the camera” shots that may make you flinch.

Horror films have their eye candy. Sex sells, let’s face it. In Chainsaw, both Raymonde and Daddario had the guys captivated, and Scott Eastwood (Clint’s Son) works for the ladies. While there’s no nudity in the film, good considering how many kids were at my showing, there’s enough skin to appreciate.

What I didn’t like about the film was that in this day and age where you have smart heroes in horror stories – one need only look at Cabin in the Woods here – Chainsaw resorts to the classic “two step, drop” method, meaning that characters meaning to escape will only make it a few steps before stumbling over their feet. I don’t know if that works anymore for audiences. The times that it happened at my showing brought about more laughter than it did horror. Granted, I can’t say I’d be the best of runners with someone wielding a noisy chainsaw behind me, but you’d be damn sure I’d be up or kicking from the floor if I had to. Additionally, the heroes make a few stupid mistakes, which they have to I suppose. Still, I would have liked a few more smart moves. One other thing is that Leatherface himself, while menacing, doesn’t have the same effect that the Brynarski one in Marcus Nispel’s film with Jessica Biel. The Leatherface in that film was a hulking behemoth of a dude that ran with football player like speeds. Chainsaw 3D’s Leatherface is more like your grandpa that caught you stomping around his rose garden and chased after you with garden shears. It’s the equivalent of seeing Dawn of the Dead running zombies and going back to shuffling walkers.

Overall, Texas Chainsaw 3D isn’t anything fantastic and new. You can wait for it on 3D Blu-Ray. If you are an absolute fan of the series, it’s worth a look for both the connections to the original and a cool Gunnar Hansen cameo. Or you can watch it just for Daddario. Just make sure someone else buys you the ticket.

Hottie of the Day: Alexandra Daddario


My pick for Hottie of the Day for January 5, 2013 is Alexandra Daddario.

While Texas Chainsaw 3D will probably a blip in the January 2013 movie set, I doubt anyone seeing the film will forget it’s heroine, Heather Miller, played by Alexandra Daddario. Audiences may know her from Parenthood or Blue Collar, but she’s perhaps best known as Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena in Chris Columbus’ Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. With a pair of brilliant blue eyes, this Italian / Czechoslovakian beauty will also grace audiences with Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters later this year and hopefully, more in the future.

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