Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Lets just get this out of the way before we start, I have watched about 20 minutes total of any King Kong movie and I only have this image of him climbing the Empire State Building or Chrysler Building or something or another. But I love creature features and giant monsters interest me so this felt like it was right up my alley.

With that said, let’s check it out!

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Thomas Mann

A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden. – IMDB

Kong: Skull Island is pretty much my first visit into the King Kong universe and let me tell you, it was a thrilling as ever ride. Visually, King Kong and the Skull Crawlers and the other giant creatures here are amazing to look at. The location is also very beautiful which further emphasizes that the more beautiful the place is, the deadlier the creatures in it are. There are exceptions to the equation obviously but Kong: Skull Island is just beautiful to look at with its lush forests and mountains and waterways. Its really very pretty especially the first moment the team breaks through the layer of storm and enters into this paradise. Of course, the next moment turns into hell as their seismic things cause the king of the place to come and attack them and we soon learn, Kong is not the enemy.

Kong Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is quite the action adventure. There’s a lot of suspense as they learn about the truth on Skull Island and what makes its inhabitants fearful. Kong is really just the king and the protector of his land. However, just like any kingdom, other creatures want to take him down. Skull Crawlers are very competent as a villain in their serpent ways. In fact, if we were to talk about villains, humans are probably the darker ones here. Everything starts with John Goodman’s character Bill Randa and his assistant that asks to somewhat tag along to check this island before another country heads out there and discovers it before they do. Of course, they soon realize he has his suspicions that he’s kept hidden to himself and soon, they are caught up on this island and trying to make it to the retrieval spot before they are abandoned here. The teams are separated and each seem to have their own agenda. The mystery and suspense works very well to keep the movie well-paced especially since the unknown territory and villain contribute a huge part to wondering what the true danger is and how to protect themselves and escape.

Kong: Skull Island

The cast here is also pretty impressive. Of course, its hard to deny any of their talent here. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly all have outstanding performances in their filmography to back them up and they all delivered great performances in Kong: Skull Island. I honestly would love to see Tom Hiddleston as his character James Conrad here in more films. He’s pretty bad-ass and very smart. It feels like this character has more to be discovered. It feels like Brie Larson hasn’t had any action films to date, or at least I haven’t seen any of them if there are and somehow she fits very well in this story as a daring photo journalist who can carry her own. John C. Reilly brings a slight comedic value to the otherwise serious and tense situation as well as Thomas Mann’s character who jokes around quite a bit. If you talk about human villain, Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Preston Packard hits the extreme notes in Kong: Skull Island as a man who lets wanting to stand up for the men he lost hide his reason and judgement. In many ways, I can’t say that his character didn’t at some point remind me of the nostalgic moments with Deep Blue Sea. Its probably just me though.

Kong: Skull Island

There’s a lot to love about Kong: Skull Island. The characters are great, the setting is beautiful, the creature designs are done so impressively and the story is pretty decent as well, filled with suspense and adventure. There were quite a few mixed or lukewarm reviews throughout the year and it made me not too sure about where to place this especially since I have no previous visit into the King Kong universe so it turned out to be an awesome surprise.

Have you seen Kong: Skull Island? What did you think of it?

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Recently, The Random Chat show did a podcast on Cloverfield.  It was pretty much well-timed with the release of the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer.  The trailers were obscure to say the least.  We get the idea of a girl in an accident, saved by a man that claims the world is toxic outside and the bunker he stashes them in is the only place that they can survive. Right away, John Goodman is plays the man and its hard to not love anything he does.  Part of it has to be that he brings me some pretty nostalgic feelings about watching Roseanne with my dad when I was young. But then, he’s been doing supporting roles in various movies, the one I remember the most has to be Argo and to me, he’s a competent actor, so this movie looks intriguing to say the least.

Let’s check out 10 Cloverfield Lane!

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 Cloverfield Lane

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Cast: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.-IMDB

10 Cloverfield Lane was a whole level of unexpected to me.  2016 so far has been full of surprises.  10  Cloverfield Lane kind of crept up on my radar in the last month or so.  Its hard to know what to expect when the trailers are obscure.  Its also refreshing to go into a movie with only the basics. For the most part, the movie focuses highly on the level of mystery, making sure to use that to thrill the audience, keep them guessing. I love movies like that. On top of that, 10 Cloverfield Lane is not overly long and keeps things well paced.

10 Cloverfield Lane

One of the best experiences of 10 Cloverfield Lane is truly in who you want to believe. Howard (played by John Goodman) is controlling and off-putting.  Is he good? Is he crazy? Is his theory about chemical attack and contamination believable? Should Michelle (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) try to escape? Is that a better chance? Those questions really just scratch the surface of the myriad of question marks that float and accumulate throughout the movie. Howard is a great character.  There’s never a clear line where he lies and what are his secrets and he definitely has secrets. In many ways, the fear is embedded in the interactions with him from his lack of reaction to his full-on reactions. Who is this person? At the core, isn’t it the most psychologically fearful aspect when you can’t figure out who someone is even when your living space is restricted to the same area as they are. This is 10 Cloverfield Lane and that is the fear of it.  It doesn’t even matter if outside is dangerous or contaminated or whether its survivable. That’s just an additional factor to why the decision to stay down there makes more sense.

10 Cloverfield Lane

No matter how good John Goodman is, the other two characters are really well-balanced to make it all work out.  Michelle is a strong girl.  We get a good idea of who she is by the pieces she drops in conversation.  The same goes for Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr. Both of these characters feel real and relatable.  Emmett is the balance of humor that breaks up the tension that John Goodman’s Howard creates many times.  His randomness comes off as goofy at times and it helps the environment a lot, especially because Michelle is mostly a tense character that regardless of the chemistry and normalcy that builds throughout the story, she still has a tad of suspicion.  She’s strong and smart.  With a movie in confined/single settings, the good ones  portray well the character development and 10 Cloverfield Lane definitely excelled in this aspect.

10 Cloverfield Lane

The last question to ask here is whether 10 Cloverfield Lane is a sequel? In reality, its hard to say.  As empty as the trailer is, there are some snippets and other footage and does suggest that it is related to the Cloverfield events in one way or another.  However, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a much different movie.  Many times, you will forget about its connection because not until the final act will you get the answer.  However, I will refrain from talking about the ending because its for you to discover.  Lets just say that it takes a turn in a very different pacing and tone from the other 80% of the movie before it. While there were some tidbits that I wasn’t a fan of, it worked well enough.  If anything, maybe we’ll see Michelle in the next installment if it happens.

Overall, 10 Cloverfield is a good movie.  The best part is its building of tension and characters.  The cast did a great job and the story was well-paced.  The finale is a no-talk zone for the moment to keep this review spoiler-free, however, any points lost for this might be on the little bits that I wasn’t sure about.  I do wonder how they’d approach it if they were to make another sequel. It would probably creep up under the radar exactly like this one did. 😉

Have you seen 10 Cloverfield Lane? Did you like it? If you haven’t, do you plan on seeing it?

Netflix A-Z: Coyote Ugly (2000)

Wow! Netflix A-Z is on fire! Its actually becoming quite a motivating force for me.

This next movie, Coyote Ugly, has been sitting in my list for a long time. I keep eyeing it and then brushing it off.  That actually is part of the point of this Netflix A-Z and thats to get to those movies I keep pushing away for unknown reasons.

Its interesting that I say 2000s and all the guesses of female lead movies, which is incredibly close. Good job!

Without further ado, lets get right to it! 🙂

Coyote Ugly (2000)

coyote ugly

Director: David McNally

Cast: Piper Perabo, Adam Garcia, John Goodman, Maria Bello, Izabella Miko, Tyra Banks, Bridget Moynahan, Melanie Lynskey

Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) is an aspiring songwriter from a small town in New Jersey who decides to head out to New York City in hopes of getting her big break.  There she realizes that the big city is lot more complicated and a ton of bad news.  On top of that, to become a songwriter, she needs to conquer her stage fright and perform her own songs.  In the meantime, she ends up finding a job at a bar called Coyote Ugly.  This place is run by Lil (Maria Bello) who hires girls to be her Coyotes that tease their (primarily) male customers, hoping for them to order more drinks and get drunk while enjoying a good show/time.

coyote ugly

I’m not going to lie, when Coyote Ugly started, I had scenes of Burlesque, Flashdance and Magic Mike pop up in my head. Small town girl, aspring musical artist and lots of dancing and drinking.  Lets get the crap out of the way okay.  Coyote Ugly isn’t impressive.  I sat around and finished it because I didn’t really want to waste another evening watching it or it wasn’t such a long movie that deserved to be cut in two.  Whatever it was, I finished it. The story is as cliche and predictable as it gets.  There wasn’t much to figure out and the dialogue was equally foreseeable.  Small town girl meets random struggling dude, works at sexy job to pay the bills, hard-ass boss, gets robbed and doors slammed in their face, family problems/disagreements, overcomes fears and happily ever after.  You’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it all. But then, that’s never stopped me from rewatching Burlesque or any of the Step Up movies or whatever else.

Coyote Ugly

Cliche stories just create a little indifference which is where I’m at with Coyote Ugly.  For one, I’d much rather sit through this one than Flashdance.  I haven’t reviewed that one even though I saw it within this past year.  It just got lost in the backlog but I hated the lady in that one.  She was annoying.  At least Piper Perabo playing Violet Sanford was good.  The highlight for this obviously goes to John Goodman playing her father and her boss Lil, played by Maria Bello.  Their roles were dynamic and they had some good fun dialogue.  The guy, Kevin played by Adam Garcia was decent.  He had a good boy next door charm that worked really well and they had decent chemistry to make their relationship believable even if it did proceed pretty quickly (but its a movie so I’m willing to suspend my belief). The other girls said weird things but they were really there for the fun and sexy parts and they did that very well.

coyote ugly

Leading on that point, the dancing, sexy moves and music was really fun.  There were some nice moments.  Talking about that, one of the really fun ones was when this happened.  It was a little weird at parts but still a guilty pleasure moment 😉 Plus, there’s so many ladies up there that its nice to add a little balance, right?

coyote ugly

I don’t really have much to say about Coyote Ugly.  Its an average drama-comedy music-related flick.  There’s a lot of guilty pleasure value to it whether its for the lovely ladies or for the music or that whole moment with Adam Garcia’s Kevin stripping and dancing awkwardly. Its a fun movie even if the story is nothing special.  Go in there solely to see some pretty ladies and some fun and you’ll be having yourself a nice time! 🙂

Have you seen Coyote Ugly? What did you think?

The next one with movie starting with D will be a special double feature.  One is an incredibly meaningless movie (its just here because I  and the other is a horror/sci-fi thriller that I have no idea what to expect. Any guesses?

Raising Arizona (1987)

When I ended my Valentine’s Marathon, I asked what everyone’s favorite comedy is and to that question, Eric at Isaacs Picture Conclusions told me “a MUST see” called Raising Arizona.  All of you probably know it already because apparently I’m missing out on tons of awesome movies and have a lot of catching up to do.  However, I think most of you know about Eric and his blog the IPC in short but if you don’t, you really have to check it out especially since Shitfest 2013 Fall edition is right around the corner and well, I have a submission for it again 😉 Plus, he posts awesome and fun reviews all the time.  Now, lets check out his recommendation, Raising Arizona!

raising arizona posterDirector: Joel Coen

Cast: Nicholas Cage, Holly Hunter, Trey Wilson, John Goodman, William Forsythe, Sam McMurray, Randall Cobb

H.I. McDunnough is a small-town ex-con who has an ex-cop, Edwina ‘Ed’ McDunnough as his wife.  Ed decides that she wants a baby but after trying everything learns that she actually can’t have any.  At the same time, furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona and his wife luckily has quintuplets.  Hearing this news, H.I. and Ed hatch a plan to take one of the them for their own and raise it like their own child. Luckily, they manage to get one and at the same time, H.I. has two jail buddies, brothers Gale and Evelle that bust out of jail and have some big plans to turn their lives around.  On top of that, the situation gets even more complicated when an “emotionless” head hunter (of sorts) approaches Nathan Arizona to search out his baby boy and does so any way possible.

raising arizona holly hunter

Raising Arizona is a very odd comedy.  Is it my favorite? Probably not. I like a lot of weird things but as entertaining as this was, I was absorbed by the different style of comedy that it was.  There was a good many parts that did make me laugh out loud and for the most part, this movie really offered an awesome experience and fun movie watching experience.  And another thing, that whole southern accent thing was totally amazing!

raising arizona nic cage

Number 1 highlight of this movie is Nicholas Cage.  For one, he’s super young.  Was this around when he did Moonstruck because he seems to be sporting that crazy out of control hair style. You know, I’ve always liked the crazy Nicholas Cage act and this one counts as one.  Plus, his whole love struck act at the beginning to Ed (played by Holly Hunter) was pretty hilarious.  Those facial expressions in this one and there was a ton of scenes that just rocked the world.

raising arizona john goodman william forsythe

That’s right! John Goodman is in this! Totally crazy character and I loved it for the most part.  He played a pretty silly character but still, I had a great time watching him on screen.  I’m a huge fan of his from his days on Roseanne and in a few of his movies.  Plus, he had a great chemistry with the on-screen brother played by William Forsythe.  I think if Nicholas Cage doesn’t fully entertain you, these guys definitely will.

raising arizona

I’m running out of reasons as to why I liked the movie so much.  Maybe its because its odd, or its because I found it original and had a lot of style.  I recommend this if you haven’t seen it.  Its fun and pure entertainment.  Nicholas Cage and John Goodman are plenty of awesomeness and as pointless and random as some scenes are, it all wraps up into a pretty amazing comedy.

I think this is the first Nicholas Cage movie I’ve reviewed here.  Let me ask you: Do you like Nicholas Cage? What are your favorite movies of his? What genre do you think he excels at?