Top 4 worst films of 2017

by Brandon Matzke

I decided that I’d cover this topic earlier than I would my top 10 best films of the year, as I want this year to end on a high note. However, that means I have to discuss the worst films I saw from this year. Oh joy. Well, I might as well say that I haven’t watched every bad movie from this year, and I honestly don’t want to. So, there’s no Emoji Movie or Wish Upon, because quite frankly I don’t want to torture myself that badly. But don’t worry: there’s still plenty of material! ….(sobs)

4. The Dark Tower

When I walked out of this film, I was stunned. Not in the way I was after watching other Stephen King adaptations like The Shining or Shawshank, but in the way you’d be stunned after watching a violent train crash. This film is trying to be way too many things at once: is it a deep philosophical film? Is it a dumb action flick? Is it a fantasy movie? Is it a horror movie? The film has literally no clue what it is, and just focuses on one thing: money. First of all, I had no idea if this was supposed to be an adaptation, or a sequel, or what it was. If you need to read an entire Stephen King book series to understand what you’re watching, chances are it’s not worth your time. Matthew McConaughey gives a performance so terrible that it makes the cast of Maximum Overdrive look Oscar-worthy, the script is extremely cluttered and confused, and this film just reeks of Stephen King cliches. What should’ve been the most epic film based on King’s work ended up being one of the most forgettable of his adaptations.

3. The Mummy

Based on the classic 1930s horror flick (and I do mean 1930s, since the ‘99 version was a remake), this retelling of The Mummy stars Tom Cruise (or should I say his ego) as the most cliched and desperate attempt at being an action movie star. This movie (like Dark Tower) has no idea what it’s trying to be, and ends up completely imploding on itself. The script is absolutely awful, from the 52 year old Russell Crowe calling the 55 year old Tom Cruise a “young man” (gee I wonder who wrote that line), to the cluttered and overly confusing motivation of the title character, this film is the definition of rushed. It’s so rushed, the first trailer wasn’t even finished when it was released! I put a link here because holy cow it’s hysterical. This film is lazily directed, poorly written, and just feels like a cliche. The universal monsters deserve a comeback, but not like this!

2. Transformers: The Last Knight

Michael Bay, just stop. I seriously consider Bay to be the worst director working today, and this film only proves my point. According to Bay, “girl power,” as those terrible trailers showed off, is only having 5 minutes of screen time and not even doing anything important to the so-called plot. Like any Bay movie, the acting is terrible! Mark Wahlberg basically sleep walks throughout the film, never showing any emotions, or charisma, or even reacting to anything. I could probably punch him in the face, and he wouldn’t even flinch! The plot makes literally no sense, but it’s probably the result of trapping 12 writers in a room decorated with Transformers memorabilia as Bay proclaimed. Here’s the thing about writing movies: when you have twelve people writing a script at the same time, there’s always going to be a major loss in communication. One idea can be misinterpreted by another, or arguments break out, or plot points are ignored or dropped. It’s a miracle if even three can make a decent film! And this film only proves that. At least this awful line of Transformers films is over. Wait, I take it back. They’re making 14 more movies

1. The Bye Bye Man

This is seriously one of the worst horror films I have ever seen. I thought horror films couldn’t get any worse after The Wicker Man (2006), but The Bye Bye Man couldn’t wait to prove me wrong. This film is laughably bad from the opening tracking shot with atrocious acting, to the so-called “cliffhanger” (which is really just a desperate attempt to make this a franchise). The characters in this film are absolutely terrible, from the so-called teens trying to make the film watchable (and failing), to the laughably bad “adults”, it’s an epic failure all around. And I haven’t even gotten into the script (one that’s only use should’ve been toilet paper), the stupid attempts at directing, and that stock violin sound they play about 10 TIMES to achieve “tension.” This is one of the worst films of the decade, one of the worst horror films of recent memory, and easily one of the worst films I’ve seen in my early career. My advice: don’t say it, don’t think it, don’t watch it.

45th Anniversary Review of The Godfather (1972)

by Nevin Hooper

TV- version

Hello, once again fans of classic films, and I am so, so happy to finally talk about this film. It is considered one of the best films of all time and is a perfect film about the struggles of family life, the Italian mob, and just a perfect film in general! So, here we go into one of the most celebrated films of all time, The Godfather!

If you are not familiar with my grading system it goes like this: I grade films on a scale from 0/10 (movies that are so horrible that they should have never been made) to an 11/10 (movies that are so good, so amazing, that you just can’t give the average 10/10 grade).

This magnificent film tells the story of the struggling Corleone Crime Family after its leader, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando, in one of his best roles), survives an assassination attempt from another family. Because of this, the new patriarch of the Family, the youngest son of Vito, Michael (Al Pacino, who gives by far his best performance), is determined to avenge his father. The rest of the film follows the near fall and hysteria of the Corleone Crime Family.

I will just go out and say that in my opinion, this is the best American film ever made. I have never seen a single movie throughout my entire movie-watching journey that I have found better than this one. Some may back down and not watch this film and it’s equally amazing sequel because of it’s length, but because of that, these people are missing a phenomenal film. Francis Ford Coppola’s direction is stunning, along with the brilliant Oscar-winning screenplay that so believably brings to life these characters. The cinematography is also excellent with interesting metaphorical imagery to express the difference between these people’s “normal” life and the crime business life in which they are forever entrapped. And I do believe that almost every single shot in this movie could be a perfect framed photograph. The performances in this movie by everyone are also perfect. Marlon Brando does an amazing job portraying the heartbroken Don, which garnered him a very worthy Best Actor Oscar. But, by far the best performance in this film, that I also think is still to this day the most Oscar-snubbed performance ever, is from Al Pacino. Sure, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for this film, but why in the world did he not win it?! He deserved that Oscar so badly, but of course, he did not win it, and I have to deal with that. I mean, even in the second movie he gives a performance that some may argue is a better performance than what he does in the first one, and he still didn’t win Best Actor for that film either! Anyway, I just can’t talk about this film enough to tell you how great this movie is. It is a timeless masterpiece, and will forever be a cinematic masterpiece, and definitely deserves my highest grade of an 11/10.

Review- Justice League

by Brandon Matzke

Well, this film exceeded my expectations. But then again my expectations were extremely low, ever since last year’s Batman V. Superman. Look, despite my disliking of almost every DC movie since 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, I am a DC fan. And a Marvel fan. I have a foot in both worlds. So, I’ll try not to make this a biased review. Now, let’s look at Justice League.

Positives:
For one, this is an entertaining film. Much more so than the borefest that was Batman V. Superman. The action feels energetic (especially with Ezra Miller’s Flash) and it’s more abundant (which was exactly what this DCEU needed). Speaking of Ezra Miller, let’s discuss his take on the Flash; I could tell he genuinely enjoyed making this film. He was charming, fun, and just felt good to watch. Now, onto the negatives..

Negatives:
Zach Snyder’s directing. Look, I feel bad about “bashing” this man since his family crisis, but I genuinely do not like his style of directing. I honestly think he’s one of the worst directors working today. He gives every frame so much unnecessary bleakness, makes everything too dark, or just makes everyone in his films a whiny little jerk. Thankfully, his influence decreased drastically compared to Batman V. Superman, but when it shows, it shows. Everyone except for Ezra Miller (who really does look like he’s having a good time) looks bored out of their minds, especially Ben Affleck as Batman.

I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of “Batfleck” as fans have called him. I do know Ben Affleck can be a great actor (just watch Argo, Good Will Hunting, or Gone Girl for evidence), but he felt like he was the exact opposite of what Batman should be. He never came off as intimidating, or charming, or smart; he just felt bored.

And the writing: I like Joss Whedon, but I felt like the script was almost identical to The Avengers at times. Like, shot-for-shot identical.

And the CGI? For the weird insect things, it looked fine. But CGI Batfleck gliding through the air? Ha ha, no. What this film should’ve been was an event. Marvel nailed this “Cinematic Universe” thing perfectly: build up characters, hype up their crossovers, and make the big crossover feel like it’s own thing. This film barely builds up it’s characters (trying to make Aquaman cool, I guess), it barely feels well-deserved at this point in it’s “universe”, and it just felt like it was supposed to build up other films in this franchise!

Overall:
I don’t have much hope for this DCEU. I only decided to see it for three reasons. One, I liked this year’s Wonder Woman. I hoped DC learned from their mistakes. Two, I told a lot of people in the school I’d be seeing it. And three, because the little boy in me always wanted to see a Justice League movie. And now that I’ve seen it, I’ll say this: it wasn’t worth the wait. I give Justice League a 5/10; it’s not downright awful, but it had so much potential to be better. On the bright side, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, Christmas draws nearer every day, and I plan on seeing Coco for my next review.

Review- Murder On The Orient Express: An exercise of train of thought

by Brandon Matzke

Rating: PG-13

This is a weird film for me. It’s the first film I’ve seen in years that truly has me split on how I feel about it. For months, I highly anticipated it. I was beyond pumped. I went with a friend to a 4:55 showing (and arrived an hour early), had plenty of snacks (I am a major Starburst addict), and sat back, preparing to have my mind blown. As I sat through it, I became more and more conflicted about my feelings on it. I’ll get onto my thoughts and feelings later; for now, let me focus on the plot.

Based on the novel by Agatha Christie, the film follows the “world’s greatest detective” (Hercule Poirot, played excellently by Kenneth Branagh), who has to investigate a mysterious murder on his “off duty” train ride. As the case unfolds, it becomes more and more sinister.

For me, the positives and negatives kind of combine. Of course, Kenneth Branagh nails the role of the detective with the best facial hair of 2017, but at the same time he overshadows some of the other talents in the film. I mean, Johnny Depp is in here as a mob boss, which sounds awesome, but he’s only in the film for less than 10 minutes. The cinematography is excellent, but at times it feels a little too “artsy”, distracting from the performances and plot. For the first third of the film, I honestly thought I walked into a comedy. Then, it got much darker as it went on. I can see why (to represent the plot), but it felt very jarring. I sadly predicted the plot twist, but the way it was done felt very original in execution. The soundtrack was great- after the the first third of the film.

I’m split on this film. I don’t know whether I love it, or if I’m disappointed, or what I feel. I usually don’t do this, but I looked up other people’s thoughts on the film. They’re as mixed as mine are. Some absolutely love it; others downright despise it. My friend who took me to see the film loved it. Others in the audience were scratching their heads in confusion. I think I’ll have to give this film three separate ratings: for the first third, it’s a 6/10. For the second third, 10/10. And the final third is a 8/10. I do recommend it, however.

I think films like this are few and far between. This film did make me think about my opinions on it, rather than making me say “I adored it” or “I hated it” or “eh” like most films this year. I think that deserves a medal on it’s own. I think this film may be one of my picks for the most memorable films of the year, but not in the way I thought it would be.

What the critics are saying:

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%

IGN.com: 9.1/10

Roger Ebert.com: 2/4

Common Sense media: ⅘ stars

IMDb: 6.8/10

Metacritic: 53/100

Four “Nerdy” November Things to be Excited About

by Brandon Matzke

Well, goodbye October. You were fun. Hello, November! There’s a lot for us “nerds” to be excited about, from gaming to movies, and even comics. So, let me dive into the things I’m looking forward to this month!

4. Gaming

I’m not much of a gamer, but I wanted to inform all you PS4, Xbox 1, and Switch owners about the games coming out. You Call Of Duty fans have a new game coming soon: WWII (PS4, Xbox One, PC). The Xbox fans have the Xbox One X (a lot of Xs now that I think about it…). Us Sonic fans (yes I play Sonic The Hedgehog games– Sonic 3 and Knuckles are my favorites), have the anticipated Sonic Forces (Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC) coming out, a late 25th anniversary present to us from Sega. Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon (3DS) is here for Pokemon fans, along with Star Wars Battlefront 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) coming in time for The Last Jedi. For the family, Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) releases November 14. For the more grown up, the Resident Evil Revelations Collection (Switch) releases on the 28th. There’s probably a few hundred Steam games I failed to mention, but either way, November is an exciting time for gamers.

3. Netflix and Hulu

Oh, Netflix. How we love thou. Thee has brought us hours of entertainment, from your excellent exclusives (Stranger Things, Marvel’s Daredevil, Bojack Horseman) to the excellent films and TV you add, there is plenty to love. And in November, the party continues. Several new movies and tv shows were just added today, including the acclaimed Pursuit of Happiness, the popular action/comedy classic Men In Black, and severely underrated Field Of Dreams (trust me it’s more than a dumb baseball movie) and 42 (based on the life of Jackie Robinson). But maybe those don’t appeal to you. Maybe you want something dark, gritty, and violent. Well, thankfully for you, Marvel’s Punisher comes out on the 17th. And on the other end of the spectrum, The Boss Baby comes out on Netflix on the 22nd. What if you have Hulu? Well, you still have plenty of luck: Marvel’s Runaways comes out on the 21st, the best picture nominee Fences makes it’s Hulu debut on the 24th. And while you’re waiting, a ton of stuff was just added today; about half on the classic Bond movies (Dr. No, Goldeneye, Goldfinger to name a few), the comedy classic Airplane! (which both Nevin and I adore), crime classics like Ocean’s Eleven and The Usual Suspects, one of Nevin’s favorite Woody Allen movies (The Purple Rose Of Cairo), one of my favorite action movies (Terminator 2: Judgement Day), the horror classics Scream and Bram Stroker’s Dracula, and for the family, Aristocats, Brother Bear, and Mister Holland’s Opus. Just whatever you do, don’t watch Kazaam. That’s just pure torture.

2. Comics

I love comic books. I personally think they’re super underrated. And I know I’m not the only fan of comics in this school, so I’ll inform you about the comic releases this month. Of course you have the ongoing series (Batman #34, Green Lanterns #34, Spiderman #234, etc.), but you also have your new ones (Deadman #1) and the much anticipated Doomsday Clock event from DC comics, which will be a crossover involving the Watchmen (from my favorite graphic novel ever) and the traditional DC Universe. So, if you ever wondered who would win in a fight between Superman and Doctor Manhattan, here’s your opportunity to find out.

1. The new movies!

Half my job revolves around movies, so of course I had to cover these. November seems like a big month for movies. We’re getting two superhero films (Thor Ragnarok (the 3rd) and Justice League (the 17th)), a remake which I hope will be amazing (Murder On The Orient Express, coming on the 10th), an adaptation of a bestselling novel (Wonder (17th)), a film about the true story of Winston Churchill (Darkest Hour, 24th) and another about a civil rights leader (Roman J. Israel, Esq, coming November 17). And for Pixar fans there is Coco (24th). And, for you guys who like Will Ferrell, Daddy’s Home 2 comes out on the 10th. Just keep in mind I’ll be too busy watching Murder On The Orient Express to check it out.

Well guys, those are the things I’m looking forward to this month (other than Thanksgiving). Tell me in the comments what you’re excited for, and be sure to follow this awesome blog. Next I’ll be reviewing Thor Ragnarok. Enjoy your week!