Nick Valdez

Box Office Numbers photo
Box Office Numbers

Box Office Numbers: Still Outta Compton


Aug 24
// Nick Valdez
As Summer comes to an end, Straight Outta Compton is free to reign until it's all over. It's a weak release weekend for sure, but Compton's intake doubles every other film's with $26 million. So glad it's caught an audience, ...

Fear the Walking Dead Series Premiere Recap: Pilot

Aug 24 // Nick Valdez
Fear starts promising enough. Opening on Nick (Frank Dillane) post-drug induced coma in a dingy church, he's the first character in the series to witness a zombie attack. Naturally, he assumes the woman in question is freaking out badly and runs into a passing car. This sets a pretty great direction for the rest of the episode since the account of the attack comes from an unreliable source. But while we all know there's an apocalypse brewing, Nick's mother Madison (Kim Dickens) and her second husband Travis (Cliff Curtis, who's always hired to play a vaguely ethnic character) have their hands full trying to bring Nick back into the familial fold.  The only problem with this major addiction story is that we've seen it all before, and the same can be said for the entire episode overall. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind stories with a lot of set up, but it's got to feel like it's going somewhere. It's pretty much a stretched out version of the first ten minutes you see in most zombie apocalypse films and at times it certainly comes off that way. But there's certainly enough here to keep me attached as Nick's story is pretty compelling. Sure it's going to lead to the whole "withdrawal while zombies attack" or "need for a fix puts everyone at risk" plot contrivance, but focusing the story on an unhinged individual works wonders creatively. Take a look at the Summer's biggest hit, Mr. Robot, for a better example of that. It certainly could work if done properly.  As the show moves forward and focuses more on this family deals with the impending trauma, the skimpier plots will work themselves out. Nick's sister Alycia is a well-off student on her way to college and to "escape" from her family's troubles, but right now she's focused on her boyfriend that's gone mysteriously missing. I'm waiting for the inevitable "you ruined my life" fallout, but the longer the show keeps her in a stagnant role the worse it'll be for all of us. In fact, the rest of the family gets eye to eye with the second zombie while she's literally sent home. Treating women and minorities terribly was a conceit of the original series' first couple of seasons, but since one of the problems worked itself out there, I'm hoping the same happens here. Then again, Madison's entire plot is wrapped around her son. Soooo, I don't really know what to think.  Observations: There's a "man vs. nature" speech lol Nick starts the show wearing a shirt no human being has ever worn ever. Speaking of Nick, Frank Dillane is the best actor of this whole thing. Having him at the show's center will definitely do wonders for the rest of the cast.  The urban setting will eventually lead to more Latinos, something the original show's Atlanta setting never amounted to. I guess non-whites never made it to Georgia since they're too busy dying all the time on that damn show.  While I love Cliff Curtis, I don't like how he's become the go-to race guy. But at least his character is Maori, too.  While fans will certainly miss the massive zombie attacks, the ones here are personal. That stings way more than a generic mass ever could. 
FTWD Recap photo
Shuffling slowly
It's pretty much guaranteed Fear the Walking Dead's premiere will be compared to The Walking Dead's first episode. While the latter's premiere gave birth to a juggernaut, Fear most likely will be unfavorably, and unfairly, ju...

Scouts Trailer photo
Scouts Trailer

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Red Band Trailer is full of zombie boobs and cats


Aug 21
// Nick Valdez
Zombie movies are a dime a dozen. Everything and anything you can think has probably been done at this point, so each zombie film is already starting in a hole. The best thing any film can do is be just kooky enough to stand ...
Hell and Back photo
Hell and Back

Red Band Trailer for stop motion comedy Hell and Back is trying way too hard


Aug 21
// Nick Valdez
R rated films are extremely rare films, let alone stop motion animation, so I really wanted this first trailer for Hell and Back to succeed. It's certainly got the pedigree as it's handled by the same animation studio that wo...

FTWD photo
FTWD

Watch Fear the Walking Dead premiere's opening scene


Aug 21
// Nick Valdez
Regardless of what you think of The Walking Dead, it's become this juggernaut of a thing. I'm not into much anything going on, yet I still park my butt every Sunday and watch it with everyone else. It's the closest we'll ever...

Review: Hitman: Agent 47

Aug 19 // Nick Valdez
[embed]219790:42560:0[/embed] Hitman: Agent 47Director: Aleksander BachRated: RRelease Date: August 21, 2015 Based on IO-Interactive's Hitman series, Agent 47 follows Katia (Hannah Ware) a woman with mysterious heightened skills searching for her father, a man who once ran a covert government (which government? Who cares!) experiment that lead to the creation of super soldiers with highly advanced tactical skills known as "Agents." When Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) claims he's trying to help save Katia and her father from Syndicate agent John Smith (Zachary Quinto), she doesn't know who to believe and must decide whether or not to rely on her mysterious abilities to survive. As you can probably gauge from the synopsis, 47 is as generic as they come. It's a trite plot that doesn't waste time with intricacies or honest characterization. But in the same vein, the flow of the film benefits from the lack of plot or heavy knowledge of the characters. For example, Rupert Friend is "fine" as Agent 47. The film specifically doesn't ask much more of him than to be an emotionless blank slate, but it's strangely never boring. It adds an interesting air of sterility to the film that pushes all of the violence of the film into hilarious territory (since the grit stands out so much). When you watch a guy listlessly kill a guy with a bible while a techno-metal soundtrack blares in the background, you can't help but laugh.  It's almost as if the film is trying to replicate the videogame series in that sense. By having a blank slate as the main character, 47 is trying its best to capture the feeling of experiencing the beats of the story through a direct avatar. It doesn't always work since cinema fundamentally can't connect with an audience at such a base level, but that's why 47 makes the inspired decision to choose a different main character. Rather than follow the blank slate, we're supposed to care about Katia. While that doesn't quite work either since she eventually collapses into the violent world of the film, it allows 47 to be "inhuman" for a bit and lets the audience enjoy how ridiculous the film's world is. It's a near perfect action formula which almost feels nostalgic in the way it wants us to just enjoy this guy shooting other guys.  Evidence of this is 47's fantastically storyboarded opening. With airs of Terminator, two agents follow Katia. The "inhuman" 47 does this awesome slow walk (but thanks to his emotionless state, the film believes in its audience enough to infer that he's walking with pompous confidence), while Quinto's John Smith has this awesome Kyle Reese vibe. Then they fight on the subway tracks and the film becomes a cartoon. It's pretty awesome. To explain why it turns into Terminator would give away the fun of the opening, but it really isn't a big twist if you've seen these films before. Although the plot is generic, Agent 47 does whatever it can to make everything else super fun: action sequences are faithful to the videogames as 47 uses the environment around him to take down a room, the bad dialogue makes the banter between the action hilarious, and the soundtrack seems overbearing at first but eventually subsides.  I'm left wondering whether or not I was "supposed" to enjoy Hitman: Agent 47 in the way I did. The film begs the question of whether or not we're "supposed" to laugh with it or at it. After writing my thoughts down here, I think it's a little bit of both columns. Hitman: Agent 47 is full of intentional goofy choices in order to keep the film fresh. Unlike films that try and be a bad movie in order to reach a cult status, 47 doesn't care whether or not you're going to watch it later. It's invested in keeping you entertained now and doesn't care whether or not you're invested back.  While Hitman: Agent 47 is too generic of an action film for pure action fans, it's got enough flair to appease casual fans of its namesake. It's got bad dialogue, bland characters, but it's so brisk only some of that matters. Hitman: Agent 47 hits its target well enough I'd be interested in seeing what another of these can bring. 
Agent 47 Review photo
A near hit, man
Despite never quite getting a videogame adaptation right, studios are still trying to churn out film after film in order to hit that elusive sweet spot where they please both new audiences and fans of the original videogame. ...

Disney's Gigantic photo
Disney's Gigantic

Disney working on Jack and the Beanstalk animated musical, Gigantic


Aug 17
// Nick Valdez
Along with all the Star Wars and live action reboot first looks, last weekend's D23 Expo also revealed a good amount of Disney's in the works projects. One of the more exciting to pop out was Disney Animation's next film, Gig...
Box Office Numbers photo
Box Office Numbers

Box Office Numbers: Compton


Aug 17
// Nick Valdez
I love when Hollywood realizes there's a huge audience out there for films like Straight Outta Compton. I worry about biopics all the time, and I was worried Compton would suffer the same generic fate. But thanks to its timel...
Rogue One photo
One rogue, one love
Thanks to Disney's D23 Expo over the weekend, we've got a few interesting tidbits about the coming Star Wars movies and spin-offs. The biggest announcement by far is the cast additions to the first spin-off, which is now goin...

Schwarzenegger photo
Schwarzenegger

Here's every single explosion in every Arnold Schwarzenegger movie


Aug 14
// Nick Valdez
We here at Flixist love Arnold Schwarzenegger, but you know what we love more? Explosions. Thankfully, Arnold has answered our prayers and delivered unto us the video to end all videos. To promote Arnold's After-School All-St...
Jem Movie photo
Jem Movie

Listen to the Jem movie's first original song "Youngblood"


Outrageous?
Aug 14
// Nick Valdez
I'm rooting for Jem and the Holograms. Firstly because there's a good chance this film will inspire other films like it, and we need more girl power band films, and secondly, I don't feel like we've got a good look at the fi...
Cassius and Clay photo
Cassius and Clay

Archer creator's new post-apocalyptic show Cassius and Clay sounds amazing


Aug 11
// Nick Valdez
FXX has just picked up what might be the best animated series of 2016. To premiere alongside Archer (which is moving to FXX as a lead in), Cassius and Clay is a post-apocalyptic action comedy in the American South writte...
The Purge 3  photo
The Purge 3

Frank Grillo teases a 'politically charged' Purge 3


#CrimeDay, #CrimeDeux, and #CrimeTrois
Aug 11
// Nick Valdez
Back before The Purge: Anarchy released, I was one of the loudest voices against it. While The Purge had a neat idea, it squandered it on a simple home invasion movie. We even started the #CrimeDay game on our old podcast and...
Supergirl Trailer photo
Supergirl Trailer

Newest Supergirl trailer is a super tease


Aug 11
// Nick Valdez
Now that we're branching out to TV, I can finally talk about Supergirl on CBS. From part of the team that brought you Arrow and The Flash on The CW (which we'll definitely talk about soon), Supergirl will follow the life of K...
Box Office Numbers photo
Box Office Numbers

Box Office Numbers: Kim Possible


Aug 10
// Nick Valdez
Despite its best effort (or worst apparently, according to our review) Fantastic Four could not accept the impossible mission of taking the top box office spot over the weekend. Mission: Impossible remains a basic average gir...
Nightmare Reboot photo
Nightmare Reboot

Nightmare on Elm Street is getting rebooted...again


Nightmare on Reboot Street
Aug 06
// Nick Valdez
Just like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street is getting yet another reboot. Not having learned their lesson from 2010's debacle (which I actually enjoyed, but it was largely i...
Agent 47 Trailer photo
Agent 47 Trailer

Newest Hitman: Agent 47 trailer hits you with its best shot


Aug 06
// Nick Valdez
Excuse the pun in the title but seeing as how this latest trailer for Hitman: Agent 47 goes all goofy with it, I don't see why that's a problem. Based on the Hitman videogame series, Agent 47 is about one super agent who kill...

Snaxist: Denny's Slamtastic Four Menu

Aug 05 // Nick Valdez
The Invisible Woman Slam Usually I take on these foods alone, so I had grown accustomed to getting one dish at a time. As I finished one I'd slowly make my way to the next in an effort to become one amorphous blob of constant digestion. But on this trip I hadn't calculated how bringing others would alter the rhythm and that was the first of my many, many mistakes. They had brought us all of the food at once (sans desserts because I'm not made of money, you jerks) and it was certainly a sight to behold. In fact, I had become intimidated by the beast in front me. Staring the lion in the eyes, frozen until one of us made our move. If I had been alone, this would've been the end of my journey. Thankfully, one of my compadres began eating and I snapped out of my fear coma.  The Invisible Woman Slam's main feature are its blueberry pancakes topped with other fruit as everything else is what you'd expect from a standard grand slam. Covered with a sickly sweet glaze from the fruit, it was quite tasty really. Pancakes weren't too doughy, and it was definitely better before you added syrup. Lots of soaked in flavors (without feeling like I ate a stick of butter), but very heavy. But this would be far from the heaviest thing on the menu.  The Fantastic Four-Cheese Omelette As this was the first dish I took on alone, I felt ill prepared. I had recently moved to New York and grown accustomed to a lighter diet lacking in all of the heavy meats and cheeses I used to eat back in my hometown of Viking Land. It's like I wanted to climb Mt. Everest after retiring thirty years prior. But like with any massive undertaking, I couldn't climb the mountain until I took the first step. But I was still so nervous. What would this beast do to me? How would I change? Could I just go back to the modern world once I've become one of the savages? So I took the first bite and, nevertheless, slowly became the monster I used to know.  The Fantastic Four Cheese Omelette (neglecting a representation for Mr. Fantastic since that dude's such a nerd, and nerds don't eat food) was touted as stuffed with cheddar, swiss, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses and it certainly delivered on that front. As a startup meal (or if it's you're only dish seeing as how the rest of you are smart thinking adults) it's perfectly fine, but it's basically the same as any other omelette du fromage. I never did get my two pieces of toast though. I know I had I food mountain in front of me, but I feel like I really did miss out on that toast.  The Thing Burger  Before I knew it, the omelet was gone. I faded in and out slowly. The plates in front of me were just some random blurring motions. Yet, I still felt the hunger. It compelled me forward as my conscious mind begged for it to stop. "Why are you doing this to yourself?" "Please, stop." and "Is this truly what you want out of life?" were all questions my body seemed to ignore as I moved toward the next dish. I felt my jaw unhinge in order to completely destroy the meal in front me. In my savage mind, it was the only way. But my body was slowly changing. Palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy, and there was vomit on my sweater already, mom's spaghetti... The Thing Burger was the item I most looked forward to. It's the only truly different item on the menu as the other dishes are variations of ones available on the other movie menus. A burger patty topped with hash browns, bacon, an egg, and something called "The Thing Sauce" (seriously) all between two cheesy buns. It's the perfect breakfast burger, and I'll go as far to say it's the best thing on the new menu (pun intended). Each bite was great, and I'd imagine this would taste wonderfully after a night of getting drunk off your ass. Couldn't figure out what the sauce was as the taste of the burger kind of blended into one indistinct flavor (though the bottom bun was soaked from the grease), but at least the taste was interesting overall. Fries were good, too.  The Human Torch Skillet The burger was eliminated, so I was ready to move on to the final dish. But thanks to my inner turmoil, my monstrous form was weakened. Staring into the face of the dish's black abyss I thought of my family back home. What would they say if they saw me now? How would they judge what their son has become? Are you proud of me now, Ma? Are you proud of your son? Look what they've done to me! Look at what I've done to them! I've reached into the abyss and pulled out the heart of god!  The Human Torch Skillet is a spicy variation of the skillet available on Denny's other movie menus.  With jalapenos, pepper jack cheese (which I didn't notice until I packed the dish into a to go plate because it blended in with the egg) and pico de gallo, there was no way I could finish this. It's smothered in cholula (which is a smoky hot sauce) and that completely killed the rest of the dish's flavor. Even as I tried mixing it with the cheese or sausage, all I tasted was cholula. That's also why the dish was so dark. It's a shame since this could've been good. It's the furthest thing from spicy, and it's the furthest thing from tasty.  Overall, this was a fun trip and Denny's is the only restaurant that experiments with its food like this. Sure my stomach is pretty much demolished at this point, but I always love the madness of it all. But, sadly, I'll never be the same again. 
Snaxist photo
It's sloberrin' time
Every so often, there'll be a product with a spark of genius. Something that comes along and makes you think, "Why wasn't this a thing already?" like donuts based on Ghostbusters, Avengers cereal, and even that time Denny's c...

Deadpool Trailer photo
Motherf**ckers and avocados
We've been anticipating this first bit of footage for some time. After all of the talk, all of the images, all of those years stuck in development, and all of the advertising, Deadpool is actually film that exists. The traile...

Don't bother with MTV's Scream TV Series

Aug 04 // Nick Valdez
We're at the halfway point in the series (episode six is premiering later this evening), and I feel like I'm hate watching just to see how much worse things could get. This completely goes against the showrunners' initial philosophy of getting the viewers at home to care about the characters as much as possible before offing them one by one. It's also a terrible way to watch slasher films. When you start rooting for the killer themselves, the film isn't taken very seriously. Take mid-franchise Nightmare on Elm Street, for example. When those films started making themselves all about Freddy's antics (and only served to develop his personality rather than any of his victims), the goofy tone made it a horror franchise in name only. While there's definitely an audience for that kind of property, it's definitely not what MTV's Scream wants.  But I don't know where it all went wrong. Things started off sort of promising in the pilot episode (written by film series writer Kevin Williamson), but that episode was full of so many problems. Pointed dialogue, archetypes, and its intro, while well done, only mirrored the series' openings thus far. It seemed adapting the films was a fool's errand as Scream 4 completely destroyed its own existence already. The fourth film already did what you'd expect a modern Scream to do: used new technologies in an interesting way, break down existing archetypes, and establish a new status quo (which was, hilariously, the old one). So when the TV series seemed to be taking a step back, it already lost. It would've been fine had any of its new choices felt compelling.  What are those new choices? Existing in a universe completely separated from the films (its yet to be confirmed if the "Stab" movies exist, so I'll assume this is just a new timeline or something), it's set in a town named Lakewood where a killer named Brandon James once terrorized kids in a high school. The new Ghostface's mask is based on that guy's face, too. So the main mystery of the series is figuring out how much this new set of deaths has to do with the old one. But, five episodes in, I don't care about any of it. Everyone in this show is terrible. Terrible characters make for good TV all the time, but that's when there's adequate drama to be mined from their poor decisions. Here it just seems like there's some deficiency in each character's core that causes a disconnect with the audience. It doesn't help that there's a noticeable drop in quality in each episode where someone doesn't die.  For as many missteps Scream has had, there's definitely some hope. With only a few episodes to go before season end, there's plenty of potential for the show to hit that "so bad, it's good" sweet spot. Episode three "Wanna Play a Game?" was great in that regard. It was so bad, all of the terrible decisions actually coalesced into a great sequence. Spoiler, I guess if you still want to watch this show despite me asking you not to, one girl dies while facetiming and her last words are "I can see the stars." It's magical, and the series has yet to bring that same kind of ingenuity to the table again. I'm hoping that it'll happen once more, but that's a thin hope. It's like hoping the garbage doesn't smell so bad after you've been forced to take in it so many times.  [embed]219713:42526:0[/embed] It might be gauche to judge a TV series based on a few episodes (judge the first one posted above for yourself), but I really tried to stick it out. After MTV announced it's getting a second season, I really don't see this working out. Unless it means we'll be getting a brand new cast and story each season, with some returning characters a la the Scream sequels, I can't see this show continuing. There's a semblance of an endgame in sight, but it's going to be quite a struggle to get there.  So why even struggle? Don't bother with this at all. 
MTV's Scream photo
Do you like scary TV shows? I'm sorry.
Back when MTV first announced they were developing a pilot based on the Scream films, I thought it was a great idea. I have a huge fondness for the films themselves, and barring Scream 3, no other series did more for the slas...

Review: Dragonball Z: Resurrection 'F'

Aug 04 // Nick Valdez
[embed]219696:42515:0[/embed] Dragonball Z: Resurrection 'F'Director: Tadayoshi YamamuroRated: NRRelease Date: August 4-12, 2015 Sometime after the events of the last film Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods, and a few years after the end of Dragonball Z, the remaining commanders in Frieza's army use the titular dragonballs (seven mystical items that grant anyone who collects them two wishes) to bring the long dead villain, Frieza (Chris Ayres), back to life. Seeking revenge against Goku (Sean Schemmel) for his loss, Frieza trains for a few months for their ultimate showdown. Now that Goku, Vegeta (Christopher Sabat), and Frieza have reached a new level of power, it's time for them to settle years of regret and anger. That's quite a bit of story for an hour of punches, right? That's exactly why the film deserves your attention.  I should state this right off the bat: There isn't a lot to attach to if you're not a regular fan of the series. It's made with a certain demographic in mind, and because of that, there's quite a hurdle to overcome. Not narratively, as what little story therein is easy to follow for both newcomers and old fans of the series drawn for a nostalgic romp, but grasping what exactly Dragonball Z is and why the film's conflict is so special. In terms of introductions, however, there isn't a better encapsulation of the series' tone and characters. So to make this review easier, the rest of this will be written with the intended audience and fans in mind.  There have been numerous Dragonball films over the years, but they've all been non-sequitur works which never tied into the series proper. Resurrection benefits from both past and future influences, and it gives the punches thrown in the film (which you can always argue as superfluous) added weight. The film's enemy, Frieza, isn't some random alien or purple cat god, it's a villain with an entire "saga" worth of backstory and thankfully the character work done here can pull from it. In fact, the villain's even a bit sympathetic as you realize he's just a privileged kid who lost for the first time. The film wonderfully highlights this as Frieza becomes more and more visibly frustrated as the film rolls on (which is why he's one of the better villains of the series). Goku and Vegeta also get some great character work in as Resurrection takes their arcs to the next logical step. Now that they've grown to such a power level they're essentially gods, Goku is now an awesomely condescending fighter brimming with confidence. And although the finale takes away a huge moment for Vegeta (that could've settled a series long character arc, but runs from it) Vegeta and Goku have some great bits with one another. There're also some nice scenes for the rest of the "Z Fighter" gang who're usually pushed to the sidelines. After some explanation (which actually makes sense story wise), every one is on an equal playing field. And without dragging in some of the weaker cast, each fighter gets a chance to shine. It's going to be a major pleasure for fans to see these guys back in action, for sure.  On the technical end, the film is absolutely gorgeous. Fully representative of the series, the fights take characters through various landscapes instead of the standard cliffs you'd usually see, movement is slick, and as one of the last proponents for traditional hand drawn animation it's great to see it succeed fully. Other than some odd looking CG that really take you out of the moment, the main fight between Goku and Frieza is a Dragonball fan's dream. I wish the fight between the two would've looked this way all those years ago.  While it's definitely not for everyone, Dragonball Z: Resurrection 'F' hits all the high points with the folks it's meant for. Capturing both the spirit of the original series and hope for the future, this is a full blown revival. Dragonball used to dominate action cartoons, and it's come back to take the crown once more.  Neither gods, hundred strong armies, or golden alien super monsters can stop this juggernaut. 
Dragonball Z Review photo
A legend reborn
Dragonball Z holds a special place in my heart. It was my first experience with more adult oriented action shows, and it changed my childhood for the better. All these years later, here's a brand new movie featuring one of th...

Naruto photo
Naruto

Believe it, a live action Naruto adaptation is in the works


Dattebayo
Aug 03
// Nick Valdez
In an effort to make everything you've ever possibly loved into a movie, the searched has moved over to Japan and its ever growing collection of manga comics and anime. One of the more famous over there, Naruto, a comic serie...
Pez photo
Pez

Pez is getting a movie for some reason


Aug 03
// Nick Valdez
SERIOUSLY WHO IS DOING THIS TO US? F**king Smarties would've made a better movie than this. Or Fruit Stripe. Or Runts. Or basically every other terrible candy.  “PEZ Candy is beloved by children and adults alike, with Cameron Fay we’ve created a world unique to Pez and a story that will touch the hearts of many.” UGH WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY [via Collider]
Box Office Numbers photo
Box Office Numbers

Box Office Numbers: Gone Roguin'


Aug 03
// Nick Valdez
Dethroning Ant-Man, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation conquered the top of the box office with $56 million. As we're reaching the tale end of Summer, we don't have a lot of big releases left over. So I'd expect M:I to hold s...
2oolander photo
Water is the essence of wetness...
We've known about Zoolander 2 for quite some time, but after its cool release date announcement we never got a look at the film until now. This brief teaser is all too brief since it doesn't give us a look at the actual film...

Box Office Numbers photo
Box Office Numbers

Box Office Numbers: Ants in the Pants


Jul 27
// Nick Valdez
Despite our circle ranting and raving over Pixels, it seems it's gone largely unnoticed. Ultimately losing out to Ant-Man's $24.7 million with $24 million, Pixels is only in second place. It doesn't really matter since Sandle...

Review: Pixels

Jul 24 // Nick Valdez
[embed]219694:42503:0[/embed] PixelsDirector: Chris ColumbusRated: PG-13Release Date: July 24, 2015 In Pixels, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) was a kid who was nearly the Donkey Kong National Champion. After losing the big match against Eddie "Fireblaster" Plant (Peter Dinklage), he resigns to an unfulfilling life of installing televisions for a Best Buy-esque company while his best friend "Chewie" (Kevin James) becomes a down on his luck President of the Untied States. When a probe full of their videogames is seen as an act of war by an alien race, Sam and conspiracy nut Ludlow (Josh Gad) have to step up and save the world from three rounds of pixel fueled shenanigans. Also Lt. Colonel Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan) and her son are there to give Sam something to fight for, I guess.  Pixels may share some troubling similarities with Adam Sandler's recent glut of films (which I'll get to in a minute), but it's also got a faint sense of the good kind of nostalgia. You see, his standard schlub act works well here since the entire film is meant to invoke that 80s "average guy with inane skill becomes big hero" trope. And because it works so well, the rest of the film almost plays out like one of Sandler's early 90s comedies (albeit without the jokes). In terms of overall tone, once the film delves deep into the premise and Sam starts playing against the aliens, Pixels is a lot of healthy fun. Everything's wonderfully simplified. The aliens (who deliver their messages through stock footage of 80s icons) don't have a motive other than to destroy the Earth (or needing a million allowances worth of quarters to do their laundry), the games involved (like Breakout, Centipede, and Pac-Man) aren't filled with complicated rules to weigh the fun down, and the pixelated monsters themselves are gorgeous. But that's unfortunately where the positive stuff ends.  Pixels may be a reminder of the fun these kinds of movies used to be, but it also reminds you of how much movies have evolved since then. Because Pixels leans so heavily on the past, it can't help but trudge up all of the problematic elements of the era it wants to embody. For example, there are only two women featured in the film and they're treated horribly (which doesn't reflect well on the current perception of gaming culture as a whole). Lt. Colonel Van Patten is meant to be this "strong" female character, and she even gets one well choreographed bit toward the end, but her first introduction is belittled by Sandler's character. After he compliments her looks, he finds her crying as a result of her sudden divorce not two minutes later. And the second character, a videogame heroine named Lady Lisa, is literally a trophy the aliens give the Earth for winning one of the games which one of the characters ends up marrying. She gets no dialogue, and ends up with most mentally unstable of the "Arcaders" Ludlow, the conspiracy nut who lives with his grandmother and worships the character.  The lack of agency just feeds into the old mindset of gamers being older white males with social misgivings. One of the running jokes is these guys are only acknowledged as "the nerds." In this day and age where every literal kid and grandparent is able to play games on some kind of device, it's jarring to go back to hearing such close mindedness. Especially from a film that wants to celebrate these games (going so far as to have Sam explain why arcades were so important, and feature a scene where he decries the current violent nature of videogames). It's totally a "cake and eat it too" situation where Pixels definitely wants to mirror classic films like Ghostbusters, yet have a cynical eye toward the folks who might enjoy themselves while watching. It's that kind of self loathing that brings the whole film down.  There's just so much more to talk about, yet so little time. That's why I was so confused when I initially started writing this review. Even after all of this, I still have idea who Pixels is meant for, nor do I know who to blame for its existence. I can't even say Adam Sandler did a bad job because he actually wasn't his usual self. Lacking his usual lethargic attitude (which he starts off with then hastily has to change out of thanks to some well placed dialogue degrading his love of shorts), Sandler's never been more physical. There's also a lack of the standard poop and fart jokes you'd expect because the film's not really for kids (there's no way they'd appreciate seeing Paperboy and Joust sprites on the same screen).  Oh right, I guess I should mention there were zero jokes that appealed to me. While there is fun in the way sequences are set up, none of the fun is stemmed from the dialogue. Also, I saw in 3D and would definitely recommend seeing the pixelated monsters in that fashion. Then again, maybe you should avoid this altogether so you don't end up feeling the same confusion? I don't know.  Pixels plays so poorly, it doesn't even get to put its initials on the high score screen. 
Pixels Review photo
Insert coin to ignore
I really have no idea where to start with this. Usually when I sit down to write a review I'll have an angle by which to tackle a film, but with Pixels, I'm at a loss. I don't really know who the film is for. Is it a comedy a...

Sword in the Chest photo
Sword in the Chest

Disney also working on live action Sword in the Stone remake


More like Sword in the Chest
Jul 21
// Nick Valdez
Just after announcing their plans for a live action Aladdin prequel, Disney is literally just redoing all of movies now. Why not Aristocats next? Or a super depressing Fox and the Hound? Hell, give me a live action Goof Troop...

Review: Trainwreck

Jul 17 // Nick Valdez
[embed]219680:42492:0[/embed] TrainwreckDirector: Judd ApatowRated: RRelease Date: July 17, 2015 In Trainwreck, Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) is a woman who's just enjoying her life. She's got a good job writing for a magazine and doesn't see the need to get into a monogamous relationship any time soon thanks to her father's (Colin Quinn) teachings ("Can you imagine playing with the same toy the rest of your life?"). One day she's assigned an article about Dr. Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), a sports medicine practicioner who's about to go through an intense surgery. Then through some ups and downs, the two eventually fall for each other. Through the synopsis you can't really gauge why Trainwreck is great, and that's one of the biggest drawbacks. You have to be willing to accept the film's traditional style in order to enjoy its personality. But this film's been about personality from the beginning.  I've seen so many romantic comedies over the years, I've been able to break them down into four main components: quirky girl is an outsider for some reason, quirky girl meets guy who changes her life, random man candy to oggle, and the quirky girl becomes the most important person in the film's world by the end. Unfortunately, Trainwreck has all of these components. It's completely predictable from beginning to end, but the film would rather you enjoy its components rather than the package as a whole. That's not necessarily a bad thing by any means when all of the individual pieces are as well put together as they are here.  As Schumer has proven in the past, she's a comedic dynamo. Couple that with an amazing cast for her to bounce off of, and we've got a romantic comedy more grounded than anything in years past. Her charm just oozes off the screen and effects the rest of the cast. Everyone in the film has such a natural chemistry it makes Apatow's tendency to run his films a bit long all the more bearable. In fact, I wish there was more of her conversations with Brie Larsen as Amy's sister. There are a bunch of scenes between the two where Brie cracks a laugh, and you can tell that it wasn't an intentional one. It's the little things like that which give the film a lot of character. Something that's always hollow in these romantic comedies. Speaking of chemistry, Schumer and Hader are magnetic. While Hader's character could use more development, Hader fills the role with enough quirk that it elevates it from the material. Schumer's script is amazingly put together too. While there're some jokes that don't work, and Judd Apatow's direction does seep through and you notice a few bits that could've been cut for time (and because they weren't really funny), when the two meet in the middle they knock it out of the park. Like John Cena and Lebron James, for instance. A typical quality of an Apatow directed film are the numerous celebrity cameos from folks you wouldn't usually see in a movie like this. While a bunch of unfunny cameos are here in spades, Cena and James are almost too perfect. As the two fill the conventional "bad bro date" and "quirky guy's best friend," Schumer's writing mixed with their surprising talent completely blindsides. James' acting may be a bit stilted, but he gets the best lines in the film (my personal favorite being a Kanye West riff), and I can't tell you how many times I laughed at John Cena. That guy has a future in comedy. Also, if you wanted to see him naked here's your chance.  Trainwreck is somehow both traditional and unconventional. I don't know how the film managed to find a perfect balance between being an entertaining comedy while still dealing an effective romantic push, but there's so much charm it's easy to write off a lot of the film's technical issues. Normally I'm so jaded with films like these, so I would've torn into how much like other movies it is. But it's not. It's sort of the anti-27 Dresses.  Maybe it's Amy Schumer's persona, or maybe it's how down to Earth it all feels, but when I saw Schumer dancing as a grand romantic gesture at Trainwreck's end (so predictable, I told you), I couldn't help but fall in love with her myself. 
Trainwreck Review photo
John Cena has a great ass
Whether or not you're a fan of her comedy, Amy Schumer is not going anywhere. Comedy's current "It" girl, Schumer's earned all of the accolades through her comedy specials and often hilarious television show, Inside Amy Schum...

Genie  photo
Genie

Disney working on live action Aladdin prequel, Genies


...what.
Jul 16
// Nick Valdez
We're going to get a lot of live action reboots of our favorite animated reboots of old fairy tales in the near future. Disney is working on a fair amount of them themselves (like Pete's Dragon, The Jungle Book, Beauty and th...
Box Office Numbers photo
Box Office Numbers

Box Office Numbers: B-A-N-A-N-A-S


Jul 13
// Nick Valdez
Despite the plea I made in the review, parents are still dishing out tons of money for Minions. With their billion dollar advertising budget, the little buggers have taken over the box office with a whopping $115 million doll...
Warcraft photo
Warcraft

These Warcraft character posters are certainly something


Jul 12
// Nick Valdez
San Diego Comic Con took place this past weekend so that means we've gotten all sorts of news and first looks. But since we're not at the convention we won't see any of the truly juicy stuff until studios decide to show foota...
BvS Trailer photo
...and Wonder Woman!
I've been cautiously optimistic for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. There's lots to like (cool outfits, there's a great cast, the plot sounds like it fixes Man of Steel's biggest problem) and lots not to like (it looks li...

Mockingjay Part 2 photo
Mockingjay Part 2

Comic-Con teaser for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 is red all over


We are a part of the rhythm nation
Jul 10
// Nick Valdez
I've been all for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay's advertising since the beginning. Part 1 had a anti-propaganda take, and Part 2 follows the same route. Although we'll eventually get regular trailers and teasers soon, they'll ...
Batffleck photo
Batffleck

Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns are working together on the next solo Batman film


Affleck to direct and write Affleck
Jul 10
// Nick Valdez
I'm guessing that before Ben Affleck agreed to appear as Batman in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice one of the stipulations was that he'd get to direct one of WB/DC's next films. Either that or Warner Bros just...

Review: Minions

Jul 10 // Nick Valdez
[embed]219629:42476:0[/embed] MinionsDirectors: Pierre Coffin and Kyle BaldaRated: PGRelease Date: July 10, 2015 Before the minions found Gru from the Despicable Me movies, they were a species who've existed since the dawn of time. Attaching themselves to whatever evil creature they could find, they tried to serve as the best henchman they could until their boss' inevitable end. Lost and listless, minions Kevin, Stuart, and Bob set out across the world in order to find a new boss. That search leads them to Scarlet and Herb Overkill (Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm) the top of the villain food chain who want to steal the Queen of England's crown. All of this, of course, leads to the same kind of yellow tinged shenanigans you know and possibly love.  When this was first announced, I had a few hang ups. I really enjoyed the Despicable Me films, but the minions were always a side bit that I never quite attached to. Originally written into the films in order to make Gru more likable, they're the epitome of easy kids' jokes. Burps, farts, and pure gibberish designed to make kids laugh and provide nothing more than an annoyance for the adults watching the films (which actually have a well crafted narrative of parenthood and coming to grips with sacrificing your dreams in order to support your children's future), so I worried that spinning them off into their own narrative would only highlight their hollow design. And that's kind of true here. Thankfully, there's at least an attempt to give Minions the same amount of heart as the rest of the series.  Once you get used to the long stretches of minion language-less dialogue, there's some nice character development here...but you've got to figure it out for yourself. Kevin, Stuart, and Bob all have some unique personality traits (Kevin is the responsible one, Stuart is the party one, and Bob is the young and cuddly one) but don't go further than the surface level. Geared more toward children than ever, this film is light in both plot and all-ages humor. Thankfully the film is just a breeze, and it's over way before you start thinking about it. At the very least, the main trio is built well enough that you'll emotionally invest in them long enough to follow through the film's short stint. Though I'm sure these minions are reaching a point of diminishing returns (hopefully there's no plan to keep these solo films going) that their shenanigans won't be able to sustain a film on their own much longer. This one's barely held together by the skin of its teeth.  The human cast is fantastic, and they're a breath of fresh air in between all of the shenanigans. Sandra Bullock and Jon Ham completely commit to the film's nutty nature, and both of them need more roles where they're allowed to chew the scenery as goofy bad guys. Bullock seems to enjoy her role the most, but close runner ups are folks like Michael Keaton and Alison Janney who're criminally underutilized. Maybe casting such big names just to give them a bit part is part of the film's slight meta humor. But that might be giving the film too much credit.  At the end of the day, Minions isn't made for you or me, but for the kids. But as I've argued every time I review one of these animated films, it's time to expect better for your kids. Sure not every animated film can, or needs to be, like Pixar, but if we keep paying for things like this they'll keep churning them out for an easy buck.  It's a flavor of the month film that'll definitely be forgotten once the next big cute thing comes along. Minions is not as terrible as I expected, but it's far from great.  But whatever, your kids'll love how cute it is. 
Minions Review photo
Papaya banana blah blah
Whether or not you've seen the Despicable Me movies, you definitely know who these little twinkie looking guys are. Perfectly designed to appeal to almost every demographic (a Xanax like shape, a bright and happy yellow, spea...

Marisa Tomei photo
Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei in talks to play Aunt May for Sony/Marvel's Spider-Man reboot


Flawless
Jul 09
// Nick Valdez
Although I'm having trouble deciding whether or not a new set of Spider-Man films (thanks to Spider-Man joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe) is a good or bad idea, I'm definitely looking forward to them now. When they annou...
Goosebumps Trailer photo
Viewer beware... (doo be doo doo doo)
I've been interested in the Goosebumps movie for some time. When it was first announced, it sounded like a neat but very weird idea. In the film adaptation of R.L. Stine's popular line of children's horror novels, Stine (Jack...

Alvin 4 Trailer photo
Alvin 4 Trailer

First official trailer for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip


AAALLLLLLLLVIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNN (again)
Jul 08
// Nick Valdez
While you're waiting for next iteration of The Smurfs, Get Smurfy, there's another long running film series based off a popular old cartoon, Alvin and the Chipmunks. Their fourth (!) film, The Road Chip, takes the show on the...
Box Office Numbers photo
Box Office Numbers

Box Office Numbers: The Outsiders


Jul 07
// Nick Valdez
Thanks to a prolonged July 4th hangover, I totally forgot to see a good movie last weekend. Apparently no one else is having that problem since there was a good amount of change thrown around over the holiday. Jurassic World ...

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