Homefront

  Homefront (IMDB)

-Image from IMDB.com

Release Date: November 27, 2013

MPAA: R

Director: Gary Fieder

Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, and Winona Rider.

Number: 4.5/5

Mister Marquee Says: Action At Its Best

DEA Agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) moves with his daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) to a small town in the middle of nowhere after an undercover mission in a drug pushing biker gang goes wrong. Not long after, Maddy beats up a bully on the playground and draws the ire of the boy’s junkie mother Cassie (Kate Bosworth). Cassie goes to her brother Gator Bodine (James Franco), who runs a meth monopoly in the area, and asks him to intimidate Broker. 

Homefront, aside from having a deceptively terrorist-ish sounding name, is based on a novel of the same name by Chuck Logan. The screenplay was written by Sylvester Stallone, and finding the fact out is one of those “oh, that makes sense” moments.

Homefront 2 (Yahoo)

Image from Movies.Yahoo.com

Oh, you want to try to mess with an action hero? Sign me up!

The main strength of this movie is how raw it feels. The set design and locations are very rustic and earthy. The costumes are grungy. The fight scenes are quick and brutal. There is nothing pretty about the fighting in Homefront; it’s strait up carnage. Jason Statham once again demonstrates how few people can kick an ass as many ways or as decisively as he can.

Don’t get the idea that this movie is nothing but Jason Statham kicking ass for and hour and forty minutes. Homefront’s formula flows suspense first > story second > action third. The plot builds slowly, and director Gary Fieder does a great job of building anticipation for the climatic gunfight. My main complaint production wise is an over reliance of quick cuts that make certain scenes nearly unwatchable, what I like to call “Marc Foster Syndrome”.

James Franco and Kate Bosworth steal the show as Gator and Cassie. For someone with so much swag, Franco sure pulls off the dirty low life well. His performance as Gator Bodine is similar to his performance as Alien in Spring Breakers, only more subdued. Kate Bosworth is entirely believable as a methed-out, crude, in-your-face hick.

Homefront (Yahoo)

-Image from Movies.Yahoo.com

Mmm…meth. 

It really kills me that Statham doesn’t end up in more quality films. He has a very captivating aura to him and is just about as good as an action star can be; yet he continually gets stuck in crap. Here, Statham is put in a movie with a decent concept and surrounded by quality co-stars and the result is a wholly entertaining movie. Homefront is a simple film, but it is a very likeable one.

 

 

Where Are All The Bathrooms In Star Trek?

By Hans A. Carpenter

I have seen quite a bit of Star Trek over the years. Of all the times I’ve watched the Original Series, The Next Generation, or any of the movies or spin offs I can’t remember even one time seeing a toilet. Do people on the Enterprise not use the bathroom?

While it is true that sinks are shown from time to time, especially in The Next Generation, not once do I remember seeing someone turn the corner for a quick wiz. Not once do I remember Captain Picard leaning in to Riker and muttering “take the bridge number one, I have to take a number two.” They have long hallways on the Enterprise with light up panels that direct people from room to room, and yet we never see a restroom sign. Picard has a comfy office just off of the main bridge, and yet it doesn’t include a bathroom. It would be such a rip off to have an area to do all your command duties yet not have an easily accessible private place to do your personal duties, if you catch my drift.

It can’t be easy to design a space ship with over 1000 people from all over the universe. What kind of special restroom accommodations do different species need? In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, there is an alien who has his genitals located on his knee. Who knows how many different ways different species evacuate waste.

If there are bathrooms that we never see, do they have to design custom bathrooms for everyone on the ship? Or is there some sort of multipurpose uniform super toilet in the future? Do people poop in the future?

Paul Walker Dies In Car Crash

Fast and the Furious series star Paul Walker died Saturday night in a car accident, according to USA Today. The report states that Walker was riding back from a charity event in a friend’s car when the accident happened. Walker will always be remembered for playing Brian O’Connor in the Fast and the Furious franchise, for which Walker was working on a seventh installment before his death. According to another report by USA Today, the future of the Fast and the Furious franchise is up in the air, with its fate likely resting in Vin Diesel’s hands.

Mister Marquee’s Take

This is a sad situation, but not an unfamiliar one. As the second USA Today report points out, this is similar to the situation that The Dark Knight and The Crow experienced, although those movies were much further along than the new Fast and Furious movie.  The Dark Knight was totally finished and The Crow was very close to done (which makes Brandon Lee’s already suspicious accident even more suspicious). It will be very interesting to see what happens next. Hopefully what ever happens will be done with class and good taste.

Catching Fire

Catching Fire Poster (IMDB)

Image from IMDB.com

Release Date: November 22, 2013

MPAA: PG-13

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth.

Mister Marquee Says: LEGENDARY

Number: 5/5

In the sequel to The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has become an icon. She has become a symbol of hope to the oppressed citizens of the Districts following her victory in the 74th Hunger Games. Fearing Katniss may inspire a revolution against the Capitol, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) takes the advice of the new gamemaker (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and orders that the 75th Hunger Games will reap tributes from the pool of former winners. Katniss and Peeta Mellark are once again forced to fight to survive in the arena. 

In many ways, Catching Fire is a much better film than The Hunger Games, which was a very good film in it’s own right. Less of this sequel takes place in the arena, leaning less on gimmick than its predecessor. Catching Fire is a more thematically complex film, exploring the power of icons and martyrs. Once an idea like rebellion is let out of the box, it can’t be put back in. This is the battle President Snow struggles with: how to fight an idea. Catching Fire is extremely similar thematically to The Dark Knight Rises, which is also centered around the theme of hope and the power of icons. In fact, thinking about the similarities makes me yearn for Bane to enter the Hunger Games.

Director Francis Lawrence keeps Catching Fire evenly paced, even during a lengthy set up period. Visually, the Hunger Games universe is one of the more distinctively styled with the stark contrasts between the dirty, impoverished Districts and the lavish styles of the Capitol in which every citizen looks like they stumbled out of a David Bowie video.

Catching Fire Img 1 (Yahoo)
Image from Moves.Yahoo.com
Ziggy played guitaaaaaaaar. 

More than anything, Catching Fire is aided by an amazing performance by Jennifer Lawrence. As Katniss, Lawrence is compelling and unbelievably good at making the audience feel for Katniss, which is an uphill battle considering Katniss as a character that is somewhat hard to like.

Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson have much better chemistry than the fire time around, which is vital. The relationship between Peeta and Katniss is complex, complicated even more by President Snow’s demand that they maintain the illusion of love for the rest of their lives. At many points, the line between act and actuality is blurred.

Catching Fire Img 2 (Yahoo)
Image from Moves.Yahoo.com
This has been a rough year for the Santa Claus administration.

Catching Fire not only lives up to expectations; it surpasses them. Hopefully the upcoming two-part end to the series Mockingjay doesn’t drop the ball.

Did Family Guy Just Jump The Shark?

By Hans A. Carpenter

SPOILER ALLERT!

Last night, Family Guy made good on a promise to kill off a member of the Griffin family. Brian Griffin was mowed down by a car and died with the rest of the Griffin family by his side. Stewie had dismantled his time machine earlier in the episode and was unable to repair it and prevent Brian from dying. Brian was replaced by a new dog named Vinnie. While it is still possible that Brian may somehow be brought back in the future, for now it looks like the talking dog is legitimately dead.

 Family Guy has had a good run, but its quality has slipped noticeably over the last several years. It relies more on gimmick more than any time in the past. Even worse, the character centric Family Guy episodes recently have been painful. This episode, while very funny in the early goings, may signify the beginning of the end for Family Guy. This may be the moment when Family Guy jumped the shark.

“Jumped the shark” is a phrase that traces back to the infamous episode of Happy Days in which Fonzie jumped over a shark on a pair of water skis. It refers to the point in a sitcom’s life cycle when the show must stoop to publicity stunts and gimmicks to hold onto its audience. Killing off a major character or adding one are prime examples of jumping the shark.

An argument could be made that Family Guy actually jumped the shark a long time ago with the two part “Stewie Kills Lois” special that ended up being a total let down. Still, killing off Brian and replacing him with an Italian-American stereotype sure looks worthy of the jumping the shark distinction.

Brian may not have been my favorite character (far from it), but he has still been developed perhaps more than any other in the Family Guy universe. It’s hard to feel too optimistic about Vinnie’s chances to be entertaining when looking at Seth MacFarlane’s track record with new characters on The Cleveland Show (they ALL suck). Time will tell, but we may well look back on Sunday, November 24 2013 as the day Family Guy jumped the shark. 

The Walking Dead Review/Recap-The Governor is Back…For Real This Time

By Hans A. Carpenter

This is a recap of The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 7 “Dead Weight”. There are nothing but SPOILERS.

Last week, The Governor made his triumphant return to The Walking Dead…sort of. In what may be the best episode in the show’s history, the savage, mass murdering madman played by David Morrissey returned, but he was quite different than in season three.

Throughout season three, the Governor’s image changed from that of a charismatic yet subtle leader to a murder crazed psychopath slowly and methodically. The best character arc in the series took a strange turn in “Live Bait” as we saw what became of The Governor after the fall of Woodbury. He wondered aimlessly, a shell of his former self, and seemed to be remorseful for his crimes. He shacked up with a group of survivors and through them found a new family that mirrored the wife and daughter he lost when the apocalypse started. With them, his humanity slowly returned to him and by the end of the episode it seemed as if he had turned a new leaf.

At the start of “Dead Weight”, the Governor is again face to face with Caesar Martinez, the last of his Woodbury followers. Martinez is in now in charge of a sizable camp of survivors that includes ex military personnel. He agrees to accept the Governor (under the alias “Brain” into the group as long as Brian can accept Martinez’s command.

After a successful supply run, Brian and Martinez are drinking and hitting golf balls off the top of an RV. When Martinez makes some comment about the inevitability of Brian losing his new family, then saying that he “hoped” he could keep the camp safe, Brian hits him in the head. He then throws Martinez into a pit full of walkers. There it is…The Governor is back.

Soon after, The Governor is on a supply run with new camp leader Pete and Mitch when they encounter another group of survivors with supplies. Mitch suggests they attack and take the supplies, but Pete vetoes. In this moment, Pete sounds very much like Rick. They come back later to find the people in the camp dead and the supplies gone. That night The Governor loads his new family into a car and attempts to flee the camp now run by Pete, but their escape route is blocked by a group of walkers stuck in the mud. Returning to the camp, The Governor goes to visit Pete the next morning. When Pete lets him in, The Governor stabs him in the back. He convinces Mitch to tell the group Pete died on a supply run and give The Governor command of the camp.

At the end of the episode, The Governor is back where he was three episodes ago; standing outside the prison watching Rich and Carl work. He then sees Michone and Hershel gathering supplies, and raises his pistol.

As in season three, the audience is led to believe that The Governor is a decent man before a fit of cold blooded murder rips that illusion down. It’s amazing how many times a viewer can think “hey, this guy isn’t so bad after all” just to have The Governor turn around and do something horrible. Who knows…if Carl had died along with Lori who’s to say that Rick wouldn’t be just as much of a monster as the Governor? He showed signs of being capable of incredible cruelty when he became unhinged. What makes what The Governor did any different that what Carol did to get banished from Rick’s group? As The Joker said in The Dark Knight, “madness is like gravity…all you need is a little push”.

The Governor is a natural foil for Rick, and makes for the most interesting character in the entire series. If it wasn’t for the epic battle we were duped out of at the end of season three bring teased during the credits tonight, I would say forget the prison and just make the show all about The Governor.

N&F November 24: Catching Fire Dominates Weekend Sales

According to Box Office Mojo.com, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire took home the top spot at this weekend (big surprise). Catching Fire managed to rake in a staggering $161,000,000 this weekend, having already made back well over its estimated $140,000,000 budget.

One interesting side note is the Vince Vaughn comedy Delivery Man opening only at #4 behind Thor: The Dark World and The Best Man Holliday with just over $8,000,000.