Monday, September 23, 2013

4 Thoughts on the Emmy Awards

1. The host - Neil Patrick Harris is adorable and I will always be a fan, but this was one boring show.  The beginning was a struggle to get through.  Really, the big opening number is a montage of television shows, weirdly edited together, so that it seemed like he was interacting with the characters. That's it. It was simplistic, boring and not funny at all.  Then, he did a very short monologue that included a joke about Paula Deen (which was only funny because of his "not soon enough?" jab).  Then, he was accompanied by some previous Emmy hosts including Jane Lynch, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. Again, none of it was funny.  I didn't really blame NPH on the catastrophe, until Tina Fey and Amy Poehler appeared and I realized that I would prefer if they stayed on stage instead.  They have the ability to make jokes that don't work, still funny.  It's a talent that not many people have, but it's a must for an awards show host.

2. The winners and losers - When the first two big winners were announced (Merritt Wever and Tony Hale), I was actually really, really excited about the rest of the show.  I am a HUGE Merritt Wever fan. She created the most memorable "wallflower" character in recent memory, as Zoey on Nurse Jackie, and she is the only reason that I have stuck with the show (Edie Falco is also awesome, as expected. The show, however, has its ups and downs).  Tony Hale is pretty fantastic, although I don't watch Veep (it's next on my list, after I catch up on Boardwalk Empire and Californication), I believe that he is deserving. I had a feeling Julia Louis-Dreyfus would win for Veep, as well, and people seem to love Jim Parsons (I don't get it).  It seemed like we were in for an upset on the comedy category with a Veep win, but alas, Modern Family won the big award. I'm not as upset as most seem to be - again, after 4 seasons it is still consistently funny.  I have major love for Louie, but I think it should have won in the writing category (it didn't), not the big award.  When the Drama announcements began, things were looking good with Anna Gunn winning for Breaking Bad. I have never been a huge fan of Skyler, but the way the show was written from the beginning, I would argue that you are not supposed to like her and that's what makes the role and Anna's acting so brilliant.  I wasn't too upset when Aaron Paul didn't win (of course, he is who I was rooting for), because I heard Bobby Cannavale is superb on Boardwalk Empire (I'm not there yet).  But after that, the show went to shit. Jeff Daniels. Come on. I don't watch The Newsroom, but I would love for someone to show me one article, review, anything that states that Jeff Daniels is better in his role than Bryan Cranston or Jon Hamm (It doesn't exist. I've already searched).  Also, Breaking Bad should have won the writing category (that was, like, a given). Then, Claire Danes won over Vera Farmiga.  I would have accepted Kerry Washington, just because I love her, but Farmiga is by far superior to anyone in that category for her portrayal of Norma Bates on Bates Motel.  Claire Danes relies on her "ugly cry face" for every scene in Homeland and everyone thinks she's amazing (I'm half kidding. She's very good on Homeland, but not Emmy good.). I was also rooting for Sarah Paulson to win because she was terrific on American Horror Story: Asylum, but when Ellen Burstyn is in a category, then Ellen Burstyn should win in that category (always and forever). I started to get really nervous towards the end that Breaking Bad wouldn't win but luckily, The Emmys came to their senses. Keep in mind, I am still terribly confused by the many snubs this year (like SouthLAnd and Michael Cudlitz, also Mae Whitman and Monica Potter from Parenthood, everyone and everything about The Americans).

3. The show - What a weird show. It can't all be blamed on the host. The set-up was weird, the "in memoriam" sequences were odd, and there were musical numbers that made no sense (Don Cheadle talking about The Beatles, then Carrie Underwood butchering "Yesterday").  And what about that choreography number? At first, I was like, Ok....that's kind of cool, but then I changed my mind quickly. It's not The Tony Awards.  Does anyone really believe that television enthusiasts care about the choreographers of reality shows? Because we don't. We care about writers, actors and directors. The biggest highlight of the show was in the beginning, with Merritt Wever's non-speech "Gotta go...bye" are the best words uttered on that stage in a long time.  How can you not love her? The lowest point is probably the constant reminder that everyone dies. It's very weird that the producers decided to highlight iconic people that have died this year - the "in memoriam" montage works...why fix it? Why give the audience something else to complain about ("this person should have been highlighted...not that person" bullshit)?  The biggest complaint seemed to be about Cory Monteith - obviously I will stick up for his inclusion, but I think Jane Lynch said it best, in that we are mourning "what could have been".  Yes, more "iconic" people have died this year, but Cory didn't even get the chance. Also, the fact that he was on a current show (an extremely popular show), proves that his death was under different circumstances.  The whole thing was just unnecessary, especially watching Edie Falco fighting back tears when talking about James Gandolfini.  As Steven Levitan said in his speech, it's "the saddest Emmy's of all time".

4. The fashion - For the second year in a row, Leslie Mann wore my favorite dress.  She is just so stunning.  I pray that my body looks like that in 10 years.  You can tell that she has an amazing body in that dress even though she is barely showing any skin.  I also loved Taylor Schilling's dress; I usually hate white dresses at awards show because they look like wedding dresses, but that ain't no wedding dress. She looked hot. I loved the top half of Robin Wright's dress - it's cool and futuristic, but I think it would have looked a lot better if it was a short dress; the solid black made it look too heavy for her. As for the worst, Lena Dunham's dress is hideous, but it's very "her", so I'll let it slide. Amy Poehler's dress was also really unflattering, but when asked what she was wearing, she said "a good attitude", so she is forgiven as well. So, I'm going to go with Melissa Leo, because that white embroidered shirt/skirt combo was inappropriate for a black tie event. Also, Jon Hamm needs to right now.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

3 Thoughts on Blue Jasmine

1. It's not what I was expecting - I didn't watch the trailer. I did, however, read a summary/description of the movie (I'm pretty sure it was from Entertainment Weekly) and from that, it seemed like the movie was about the breakdown of a marriage because Alec Baldwin's character cheats on Cate Blanchett's character with a younger woman, causing her to have a meltdown.  Instead, it was more about the meltdown, itself, and it really had nothing to do with this relationship.  The "main" relationship is focused on Jasmine (Blanchett) and her sister, Ginger (played by Sally Hawkins), as Jasmine has lost everything (except a few designer dresses and some Louis Vuitton luggage) and moves in with her sister, in order to get her life back in order.  Jasmine is a self-involved, materialistic, shrew of a woman, drenched in self-loathing and it's absolutely fascinating to watch.  The movie isn't quite as fascinating. The story isn't exactly new territory, in fact, it's predictable.  It moves really slowly, and the dialogue isn't up to par with previous Allen movies.  I can't say that I was bored though, and that's for one reason: Cate Blanchett.

2. And the Oscar goes to.... - So far, there is no competition for Cate this year.  This performance is powerful, memorable, disturbing and simply sublime. The supporting cast is good, but pale in comparison to the lead performance.  I'm not a huge fan of Sally Hawkins; I find her grating to watch - but to her credit, I think that is how her character is supposed to be.  The men (Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K. etc) are all in top form. But really, this is Cate's movie. There is no other reason to watch it.

3. It made me feel sane - While I can easily argue that Woody Allen is one of the most successful misogynistic directors around, I can also very easily argue that most of his female characters are fascinating, multi-layered and intelligent (and they are usually more interesting that his male characters).  There are women like Jasmine in the world and Allen captured "her" well.  I felt like I knew this woman personally, and I think that is a hard thing for a writer/director to accomplish.  I felt really satisfied with the movie, because it made me feel really sane, while watching it. I am so thankful that I've never relied on anyone else and that I've never really cared for the monetary things in life.  Sometimes, I feel a little crazy, but this is a wonderful reminder that I'm actually very sane (yes, maybe I'm a little too self-aware). It's odd that watching someone else self-destruct made me feel better about my life, but I came out of the theater feeling reluctantly good.

3 Thoughts on We're the Millers

1. Jason Sudeikis is not funny - I really don't get it. He's mildly entertaining, at best.  Definitely not funny enough to be the lead in a comedic movie.  I'm not an avid SNL viewer (although I used to be), but he's been on the show for a decent stretch and I can't remember one skit, scene, character etc. that blew me away. He was the worst part of Horrible Bosses and ugh....remember when he hosted the MTV Movie Awards? Just awful. He's just so ordinary. Although, I could very well be jealous; I mean, he's engaged to Olivia Wilde. The world is an unfair place.

2. The "stand-out" moments - Overall, the movie is unexpectedly bland.  However, there are 3 things from it that I will remember for all of eternity.  These 3 moments made the other 95 minutes worth it.  The ironic part is that 2 of them, have nothing to do with the movie.  The first moment, happens right at the beginning with David (Sudeikis) browsing YouTube, watching this video: . It's a 3 year old video with over 70 million hits, but I'm not really a YouTube watcher, so I've never seen it (I know, seeing that I am a self-identified crazy cat lady, most people assume that I sit around and watch cat videos all day, but I promise, I don't).  I can't stop watching it. It's the cutest thing I've ever seen.  The second moment is Kenny rapping to the 'Left Eye' part in "Waterfalls": (this is from the trailer, so it's not a spoiler, really.  Although, I didn't see the trailer before the movie, so I wasn't expecting this).  I laughed. I laughed hard - almost brought me to tears.  Kenny (played by Will Poulter), is the best part of the movie.  He out-shined the "big name" co-stars by a mile.  The third moment is part of the outtakes at the end. It's the last moment of the movie and it is the funniest. It's an outtake from Kenny's big rap moment and it's Friends related. I won't link it because all of the videos of it were obtained illegally (but you can totally find it, if you want).

3. So much potential - The most disappointing part of the movie is that it has so much potential to be a hilarious movie.  It has all of the key elements required - great cast (even though I'm not a fan of Sudeikis, his mild tone works well with Aniston), great supporting characters, a fun "dysfunctional family" plot and some solid jokes.  The movie tries too hard to be mean-spirited, offensive and shocking that it loses everything that makes it good.  It's tedious to sit through and it feels really, really long.  When a comedy is good, I don't want it to end; with this movie, I found myself wishing for the end more than a few times.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Star Trek: Into Darkness -  I enjoyed J.J.'s Star Trek much more than I was expecting to, but I really had no interest in watching the sequel.  I read very mixed reviews about it; strong reactions on both sides of the spectrum from people that I usually trust with movies, so I had no idea what to expect.  I think I land somewhere in the middle.  I am just not a big Star Trek fan, I don't like the characters and obviously I don't "get" all of it since I've never seen the original series. The only real problem that I had with the movie, is the choppy editing. It did not flow well at all. It's a decent summer flick, though. It features a really strong villain (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and some really intense visual moments (the ship crashing into the city is really well done - I'm sure that looked brilliant on a big screen).  So let's talk about that famous, gratuitous shot of Alice Eve. **Prepare for my venting** Yes, the shot is completely unnecessary, but so are most shots of women in their underwear. I get so aggravated when someones sole criticism of a film is that it's misogynistic or sexist (and it's a real struggle to read critics who don't know the difference between the two words.  I read an article from a well-respected film blogger about the "rise of misogyny" in the movies from this past summer and literally every example he gave was about sexism and objectification - none of it was based on a hatred of women. Even worse, a ton of women commented how great it was that a man was writing about misogyny in the movies. It took every inch of restraint to not comment.).  My theory is this: Films are art. Art is a representation of life. Misogyny and sexism will be represented in art as long as it exists in life. If you want to "fight the good fight", then focus on rape, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, equal pay, sexual harassment, etc. IN REAL LIFE! I know, I myself, have criticized films for this very thing (I'm a walking contradiction! aka - human), but I often point out romantic comedies because they usually perpetuate an unrealistic stereotype of women and relationships. It's different when you a have a movie, like Mud, for instance, that is just a product of its environment.  The story in Mud is very misogynistic in nature, but it is a representation of life; it's a fantastic movie, criticizing if for something like misogyny is pointless. Criticizing a movie like Star Trek, a film geared towards men, for an underwear shot of a beautiful woman, is also pointless. Get it? It's confusing, I know. Personally, I don't think a man wanting to look at a beautiful woman is sexist (it's called human nature).  But my point is this: focus your anger and energy on real life issues.  The movies won't change until life changes.

2. Now You See Me - I really love this cast. I don't think Jesse Eisenberg has much range as an actor, but he does this sarcastic, wise-ass, borderline asshole character really well.  Isla Fisher is adorable.  Woody Harrelson is hilarious. And I'm slightly in love with Dave Franco.  The four of them are the "four horsemen" - a group of magicians, mentalists and illusionists that use their talents to rob banks.  Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent are the cops trying to stop them (and figure out how the hell they are accomplishing such a task through the use of "magic").  There is a lot of elaborate planning that goes into the plot, it moves rather quickly, has a lot of witty dialogue and keeps the audience guessing through its entirety.  There is also very little character development and the elaborate plots are completely ridiculous.  A lot of the "magic" is explained, but too much is left unexplained which, to me, felt lazy.  I wasn't blown away by the twist, even though I didn't guess it, I still felt like it was a little obvious.  It would be interesting to watch it again, to see if it works (reminds me of the way I felt after Trance), which leaves me with an uneasy feeling.  I prefer when twists are like "HOLY SHIT! I DIDN"T SEE THAT COMING, BUT IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE" and then I spend hours feeling like an idiot for not predicting it.  Instead, films like these have such a ridiculous twist, it's more like "Well, of course, I didn't predict that...because that's dumb".  It kept me entertained, though, and I think that's all it is meant to do.

3. Safe Haven - This is not a good movie. At all. I mean, it's based on a Nicholas Sparks book. Still, I have to admit, this isn't the worst movie of the year. Surprisingly, it's not even in the top (bottom?) 10.  I assumed it would make me really angry, as most of these types of movies do.  I call them "domestic abuse-lite" movies; ones that take this serious topic that effects millions of women and turns it into a cute romance.  This is probably the one time, where I won't go into my usual personal experience/tangent, because it's just too personal.  However, because of my past, I have a lot of emotions when it comes to the subject, but I find films like Sleeping with the Enemy (which is pretty much what this movie copies) far less intrusive on my emotional stability as opposed to haunting movies like Tyrannosaur.  It's a hard subject to tackle (and to get it right).  Safe Haven plays it pretty "safe".  While it shows how dangerous it is for some women to leave abusive relationships, giving insight into the "why don't they just leave" argument; it also makes it seem incredibly easy. Women can't just leave and become another person (buy a house, get a job, etc.) on a whim. There has to be a plan (and that's not even considering that she may have children to think about). The movie also ignores the psychological effect of abuse (nightmares would be the least of her problems).  The reason that I was able to look past all of this is because of the "other" part of the story.  The "twisty" part. I actually looked up the twist in the movie when it was in theaters, because the fact that there was a twist in this sort of film is intriguing.  The twist is really, really stupid. However, it did add a little bit of depth to the story.  Julianne Hough has a strong screen presence, here.  I haven't liked her in anything prior to this, but I think this is a more fitting role for her.  She is also one of those lucky women that look far better without makeup on.

4. Parker - Really silly action film.  I really liked parts of it, at least more that I thought I would.  I think it would have been a much better movie if JLo wasn't in it. I mean, if her character didn't exist.  It felt like the only reason they brought a female character into the plot was to make it sexier (which is exemplified by the "Take off your clothes" scene).  It makes no sense as to why she would get involved in such a dangerous situation. The movie did a terrible job at making me care for this "thief who cares".  I really had no investment in his story. They could have cut JLo and used that time to develop the main character more, and that would have been a solid story.  Also, I always thought Michael Chiklis was a respectable actor (I've heard amazing things about The Shield, but I know him from The Commish), but he was terrible in this movie. Embarrassingly bad.

5. To the Wonder - I really wasn't a big fan of The Tree of Life.  It's a beautiful film, but it's just so empty and pretentious.  To the Wonder feels exactly the same way, but I liked it slightly more, simply because I liked the story more.  I can connect to stories about relationships more than I can connect to stories about family.  It's not a better movie, but I liked it better.  There is still the monotonous dialogue and people wandering around, for no apparent reason - i.e shots like this: 
That is from To the Wonder; but it could have easily been from Tree of Life. It's beautiful to look at, but it gets tedious after a certain amount of time (my max is at about 90 minutes). Malick does have a way of making drop dead gorgeous females, even more drop dead gorgeous.  The best thing that I got out of To the Wonder is the line, "To commit yourself, is to expose yourself to failure...". It sucks that people let the idea of failure control how they live their life and the relationships that they choose to explore (or not explore).  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fall TV Preview: 12 New Shows

1. Dads - Probably the show that will be canceled the quickest this season. However, the two reasons that I want to watch it are: Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi.  Both of these guys crack me up.  I can't imagine not laughing at this show. I've read it's supposed to be offensive (like, too offensive), but there are a lot of offensive shows that are still really funny and smart (Archer comes to mind).  I'm going to ignore the critics on this one and watch it with an open mind (like I always do).

2. The Blacklist - James Spader, as a wanted fugitive, who surrenders to the FBI and then begins helping them capture other criminals.  That sounds amazing, right? (It's also an Alias plot, but whatever...). It sound especially amazing, since the article in Entertainment Weekly references both The Usual Suspects and Silence of the Lambs in describing it.

3. Hostages - I haven't heard much about this show, which isn't surprising since I don't watch much CBS. The fact that it is on CBS is probably the worst thing about it, for me.  It's so rare that I like one of their shows (Elementary is the only one that I really like and I've tried many).  Apparently, this series is supposed to be much different than the usual procedural shows that CBS is known for.  It also has a heck of a cast -  Dylan McDermott, Tate Donovan and Toni Collette. I will watch anything with Toni Collette. She is superb.

4. Mom - Another CBS show (I think there might even be a few more on this list. What is happening to me?!).  I love, love, love Anna Faris. Love. I always thought she deserved to headline a comedy series.  I'm not sure this is the right one, but hey, it's a step in the right direction.  She plays a single mom who is struggling to stay sober (and that's supposed to be funny, I guess) and Allison Janney plays her mom - which is perfect casting.  Did I mention that I love Anna Faris?

5. Lucky 7 - I think this will be another quickly canceled show, but I really like the idea - the employees of a gas station win the lottery and their lives are turned upside down.  I feel like it's been done before, but I can't remember the show.  It's interesting to see the "money doesn't solve everything" theory (but come on, it totally does...) and also interesting to see how money changes people.

6. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - I almost don't want to watch it, just because of the ridiculous title. I'm actually not that impressed by the commercials I've seen, but it's an Avengers spin-off and it's Joss Whedon.  The problem is that it's probably the most "anticipated" show of the fall, which puts a lot of pressure on it.  I think it's going to be held to a higher standard than most shows. I have a feeling it might disappoint.

7. Betrayal - The commercials for this show must be on repeat, because I rarely watch commercials (I DVR everything), and I've seen the commercial at least a dozen times. At first, I was like " thanks", then I was like "hmmm...ok...maybe", then after the 10th time, I was like "OK FINE I WILL WATCH IT, STOP WITH THE COMMERCIALS!".  It's being compared to other scandalous shows like Revenge and Scandal,  and I love both of those shows, so who knows, maybe I will love it.

8. The Originals - The Vampire Diaries spin-off! Yes, please!! The Vampire Diaries is one of my favorite shows currently on the air.  Yes, the last season was its weakest, but it's still damn good vampire drama.  I'm not really a big fan of all the "original vampire" story line, but I think it was because it was taking up too much of the plot on TVD, so I'm happy that they are separating the stories.  It was too distracting for TVD, but now that I can focus my energy on them as a separate entity, I think I will love it.  Also, I already love the characters - especially Rebeka.

9. The Millers - Another CBS show, and yet again, what attracts my attention is the cast.  Will Arnett, Margo Martindale(!!!) and Beau Bridges.  That has to be funny.  I'm still not over the canceling of Arnett's last show, Up All Night (which is the second, Christina Applegate show that I've loved and got canceled - the other is Samantha Who?, which was incredibly hilarious).I feel like it's a comedy that will appeal to the lowest common denominator, but with that cast, I have to give it a shot.

10. Ravenswood - Another spin-off series! This one is from Pretty Little Liars.  Yes, I am too old to be watching this show and yes, I consider it my "guilty pleasure".  It's damn entertaining and the cast of young girls are all fantastic.  No, if you look at the series as a whole, it doesn't make a bit of sense and the revelation of who "A" is, has to be the most ridiculous plot point ever.  I. Don't. Care.  I love it.  I don't know if I really care that much about Ravenswood, but I am nervous that there will be stuff revealed that is essential to Pretty Little Liars, so I have to watch it.

11. Dracula - Jonathon Rhys Meyers as DRACULA!! I am there! However, it seems like NBC doesn't have much faith in the show to put it on Fridays. I love vampire stories, and I think that is sort of frowned upon since the popularity of crap like Twilight, and the ridiculous show, True Blood (and by "frowned upon", I mean that I won't tell people I like vampire stuff because then they automatically think I watch that garbage).  Maybe, Dracula will bring back a little bit of respect to the genre (although I think The Vampire Diaries is also a respectable show.  It's smart, thrilling, dramatic and fun).

12. Almost Human - The show that I am most excited for!!  It's J.J. Abrams (as executive producer) and J.H. Wyman (the showrunner of Fringe - one of my favorite sci-fi shows, ever).  While Abrams has disappointed me in the past (*Cough*....Revolution), I will always look forward to his new stuff.  Almost Human has a great futuristic plot, with a great lead actor (Karl Urban) and well, that's actually all I need to know.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Lockout - Fairly generic action movie, with absolutely nothing memorable to even mention in this short post.  In theory, it should be good - It's touted as "Luc Besson presents...", stars Guy Pearce as the protagonist who must rescue the president's daughter from a group of thugs, who have taken over a prison (in space!), in order to clear his own name.  It's futuristic, original and moves quickly, but it fails to make any sort of impact.  Guy Pearce did a good job of trying to make it fun, but the dialogue isn't as witty as you want it to be.  The plot had potential, but it didn't grip me. It all was pretty straight-forward and linear. I can't really take Maggie Grace very seriously, especially with her specialty role of "the victim".  I would love to see something different from her. I do really like Joseph Gilgun, though.  He is awesome as a bad guy.  And I totally just remembered that I'm at least a season behind on Misfits! There is just always so much to catch up on!

2. Welcome to the Punch - Having just recently watched Trance, and liking it, I was really looking forward to this movie just because of James McAvoy.  I love when he does action movies (like Wanted, minus the American accent), because he's not like a "typical" action star, yet he does it better than most. I prefer when the star of the movie has charisma and personality, instead of a dull muscle-man. I also love that he never does anything expected; his next film, Filth, looks really dark and fucked up (I can't wait!!). Welcome to the Punch is an action-packed cop/gangster thriller, that relies heavily on suspense and violence, but I kinda already knew the twist (I mean, come on...that guy is always the bad guy), and the violence seems empty and cliched.  It's entertaining enough, but it doesn't really pack a "punch" (had to do it.).  The supporting cast is solid - Mark Strong (speaking disappointing is Low Winter Sun?!), Peter Mullan and Andrea Riseborough (I'm not familiar with her, but she is really good here. Definite screen presence.), but I'm not sure if the movie would have held my attention if it weren't for McAvoy.

3. The Devil Inside - Exorcism tale told in a faux-documentary style.  I was in the mood for a stupid horror and that's what I got.  I like that the story is from the perspective of the daughter, as she investigates what drove her mother to murder 3 people.  In the beginning, she expresses her concern for the future of her own mental stability (unfortunately, I have the same concerns) and wonders how much of her mothers sickness is genetically predisposed.  Instead of focusing on this, though, the movie tries to convince the audience that her mother has been possessed by an evil force.  In order to believe in this, one must believe in God and the Devil, and since I don't, the whole movie seems a bit ridiculous. I think it all can be explained by mental illness, disorders, chemical imbalances, brain aneurysms, tumors, etc (and from people faking it, which I guess, is also a form of mental illness).  It didn't convince me. Not even a little bit. The movie is gory, predictable and poorly acted.  However, the woman that plays the daughter, Fernanda Andrade, is so absolutely stunning. I could not take my eyes off of her.

4. Dredd - I never saw the Stallone version, Judge Dredd, so I decided to watch that right before the updated version.  It wasn't a great movie, by any means, but it was fun and entertaining.  I've never read the comics, so I didn't have the issues that those fans have with it.  I was surprised at how different Dredd is from its predecessor and if it is closer to the comics, like I've been told, then I understand why people hated the Stallone version so much. Dredd is a much darker movie, with a much better lead character. Karl Urban is really hot, so I was a little disappointed that he never removes the helmet. The best part of the movie, though, is Lena Headey as Ma-Ma (speaking of, every time someone said the name "Ma-Ma", I thought of Raising Hope, with Cloris Leachman as "Maw Maw". It made me laugh, which is obviously not the desired effect).  Lena is absolute bad-ass perfection in this role.  In contrast, I really didn't dig Olivia Thirlby. Her presence should have been stronger, a "good" bad-ass to compete with Lena's evilness. Plus, no offense, but she's no Diane Lane (but not many women are...). Dredd reminded me (a lot) of The Raid, and it seems like I'm not the only one who thought that. It's violent, thrilling, stylish and filled with constant action confined in small spaces.  Overall, it was fun and entertaining, yet a completely different kind of fun and entertaining than Judge Dredd is

5. The Iceman - I don't know if I can properly give my thoughts on this movie, because I got instantly distracted by the fact that the main character, a notorious contract killer, lived in Dumont, New Jersey.  This is where my mom currently lives with her husband, who has lived there his entire life.  It's such a tiny, little suburban town (or "borough", as NJ likes to call them), that it came as a complete shock to me (although, there has been some recent incidences in the town like this one:  I spent most of the movie browsing the Internet for information about him and his time in Dumont.  Turns out, he lived only a few blocks away from my mom's current location.  I can't wait to ask her husband about him. He knows everyone in his town, so chances are he has some information.  Too bad talking to him would involve me calling my mother and that is the biggest chore in the world.  Anyway, like I said, I was distracted for a lot of the movie, but to be honest, it didn't really do much to catch my attention.  Michael Shannon did a terrific job at being a cold-blooded killer, but that's expected.  Since I did so much Internet searching on the subject matter, I find it weird that a lot of stuff was over-looked for the movie - like the fact that he was allegedly abusive to his wife (he may have even stabbed her).  I think they were trying to stick to the "facts", but Richard Kuklinski was only convicted of 3 murders and the movie definitely shows him murdering more people than that.  They showed a brief flashback of him being abused by his father, but it was a "barely there" moment that should have been explored.  The movie just seemed to play it safe; stuck to the surface level of a murderer instead of digging down deep.  I am constantly looking for stories that show the cyclical nature of violence and abuse - most of my interest lies from the female perspective of women who stay in abusive relationships, but it's also extremely interesting to think about the cyclical nature of the male abuser (ones who have been abused or witnessed abuse themselves, as a child).  That's obviously not the story that these filmmakers wanted to tell, but it would have been far more satisfying.  Even weirder is the fact that the poster states: "Loving husband" - Ummmm....what?  That's completely offensive, considering that she has actually stated that she was abused. That just makes me think that the filmmakers either didn't do enough research, or really had no interest in telling the truth.